September Salt

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Simon, Garfunkel & Double Entendre

I found it funny, Tuesday morning, when I walked into form. Joey bumped into me as he was running through and immediately started to offer an apology. Seeing who exactly it was that he’d rubbed shoulders with, however, he did the whole reddened face routine and frowned at me, making a show of deliberately turning his head away and walking on to sit by his girlfriend. Guessed he’d taken my words a little too literally—or maybe perfectly so. Just wished the rest of them would follow his lead.

My first lesson was History with Sherry, but we barely spoke through the duration of it due to Mrs Montague bulldozing over slide after slide so fast that I could have sworn I almost burnt a hole in my page trying to take notes. I couldn’t keep myself from blowing imaginary steam from my fingers every now and then, and when Montague caught on she only laughed good-naturedly.

“Spanish next, right?” Sherry asked as the bell rang. I nodded my head, and we both began to pack our things away. “Freddie...” I glanced over at my friend. “You barely speak to me anymore,” she murmured, lifting her hand bag onto her shoulder. The mass of curly, ginger hair she always barely tolerated had been attacked with a crazy amount of bobby pins, hairspray, and a hair bad or two, and was collected in a semi-messy bun atop her head. I liked it like that. I’d told her a tonne of times too, but she rarely listened. I briefly wondered, then, if she’d purposefully placed her hair in such a way to win favour with me or something. Ridiculous, yet oddly sweet though the idea was, it was unnecessary.

“Sherry, I am honestly not angry with you, okay?”

The lip she was biting told me that she did not believe what I’d said.

“I can’t—” I began, before shaking my head and shouldering the strap of my bag and manoeuvring myself around the table we’d been sitting at. “Things are difficult at home, Sherry, as you fucking know-”

“You don’t have to swear,” she muttered, looking at me under long lashes. I shrugged.

“Sherry?” She hummed in reply. “Do you really expect me to be acting the same? Feeling the same way? I am not upset with you,” I told her, stepping out of the classroom. I turned to face her and took her hand, pulling her out of the doorway. I looked right into her eyes, making sure she was taking it what I was saying, because she had a tendency to run away with the thoughts in her head, expand them into something that they weren’t. “I am upset. I am not not talking to you, I am simply not talking so much.” I dropped her hand as I felt a tremble coming along and gripped onto my bag strap, which was always a sure-fire way to stop—or at least lessen—it. “Is that okay? Do you understand?”

Sherry nodded, and after a moment of blinking rapidly, trying to dispel what I realised were tears, she raised her hands up to cover her face.

“Shit, don’t,” I murmured, “Or I might cry too.” And, of course, I felt my eyes water as I took her hand again, uncaring of the shake in my own as I pulled her into me, engulfing her in a tight hug that she eagerly returned.

Due to our pequeño festival de lágrimas, we were a little late to Spanish, but it was all right because Mrs Luy hadn’t arrived either. I had to hide the smile that so desperately wanted to spread across my face when I allowed my gaze to drift over Joey and settle straight on Tom. Happened to see, via peripheral vision, that his cheeks tinted once again, but minus the frown. His eyes fell to his hands below the table he was sat at before he turned to face the window again.

After Spanish I decided to leave school for a little while. It was break time, but after that was the free period that I only ever seemed to share with Lowood and others of his kind. Ashamed though I was of, in essence, running away, I really just wasn’t in the mood to deal with it. Also, leaving at break meant I’d get to spend a lot more time out, considering that lunch was straight after the period; two hours and twenty minutes to wander into town and take myself away from the suffocating atmosphere that was my student body and the coffin it festered in. Then I’d have to be back, for CT with, the one and only, Joey Hartman.

I tended to like people-watching, and I loved journeying by bus everywhere because there was always such a diverse group of people calling those whored seats home, for what could have been anything from a five to a forty-five minute ride.

The bus that I caught into town was heading over to the local University’s Arts campus, so there were a hell of a lot of students dressed in that shabby chic I had always been crazy jealous of. You could never tell if the clothes were store-bought or literally pulled off some homeless guy’s back. Even without the bus’ route map and destination name I could probably have been able to tell the degree course the students were studying due to the eccentric way in which they dressed and the sketchbooks a couple of them carried. I allowed my eyes to wander; everyone wants themselves an art-boy, after all.

And I found myself two.

One of them looked fairly tall, but his pin-straight, attention-grabbingly purple streaked hair was the South Pole to my North; my eyes didn’t seem to want to drift away. I could only see a profile view of him as he faced the other guy, but, damn, was his right cheekbone to die for. The second guy had a duller shade of auburn hair that could very well have been natural were there no signs of the dye job staining the nape of his neck. I could barely see he face. He was looking right a little, too, out of the window, and I wished for a moment that I’d sat at the front rather than at the back so that I could stare with more successful results.

When I finally had to get off, I’d lost track of time and had to run down the aisle, pushing every stop button I encountered on the way down, and in my relief to have been let off before the bus drew too far from town, I forgot to peer behind me and see Auburn’s art-boy features.

JOEY

I was beginning to grow a little weary of the party that had, originally, been planned for my birthday, but due to the events that had taken place, concerning Lewis’ fists and my face, had been moved to the following Friday. I had initially wanted to simply watch a movie at home with Ryan, Kelsey and Courtney while, of course, consuming alcohol and, perhaps, smoking a little considering the occasion, but then Ryan had gone and opened his mouth, throwing the cat out of the bag quite carelessly, as he always did. Having been during our free period when he decided to talk about this, Pete had heard, and latched onto the idea like a limpet on a finger or a dog with a bone. He asked as if he didn’t need to, “Birthday sex on the cards, then?”

“Better be! He can finally lose it, then,” Ryan chimed in. I sent him the most scathing glare I could manage and he looked as sorry as he could manage, being himself. “Fuck.”

Pete laughed, though, and it seemed the damage was already done.

“Yeah,” some guy called Will piped up, eagerly sitting up and trying to garner Pete’s attention. “Courtney told me you two haven’t done shit yet. What’s the problem?”

“Cold feet?” someone teased.

“More like cold dick,” Pete grinned in that charismatic way of his that made you wonder why you felt so threatened in his presence when he was so clearly such a nice guy.

Deception was a skill of his.

He wasn’t particularly funny, nor was he particularly interesting, yet there was something immediately addictive about him, and something we all longed to please, and appease, and do well by.

I couldn’t have been more grateful for the lunch bell ringing when it had.

“Ryan,” I muttered as we both stood up to go and strode towards the door of the sixth common room. I walked fast, hoping we wouldn’t be followed by any of them. “I really fucking hope you’ve told them about the limit—how I can only have a certain amount, right? Twenty at most?”

“Yeah, course,” he said glibly.

Yeah, of course.


Mrs White welcomed Ryan and I into CT with a sickly sweet smile.

“I trust your behaviour will be spot on, this time around,” she said to me, struggling to keep hold of the folders in her hands. Ordinarily, I might have offered help, but her statement was needless and irritating so I kept my hands shoved in my pockets and a blank look on my face. Ryan smirked as we went to take our places though.“Spot on what?”

I was sure she heard, but she decided to ignore it; save her breath. Which was fair enough.

Before five minutes had passed, Freddie hadn’t arrived, but White took us all up to the computer suites anyway, so by the time the guy in question turned up at the door, twelve minutes had gone by, and I’d started on my PowerPoint. I watched the exchange between Freddie and Mrs White with what I imagined was a put out expression. She didn’t shout at him or seem to offer him the same sarcastic dig that she had me. My frown deepened when Freddie started to head towards me, and I turned back to face my computer screen. Ridiculous.

The seat beside me was rolled back, and Freddie sat before rolling slowly forwards again. There was a moment of silence before I continued typing, finding a rhythm eventually, joining in with the constant chorus of keys being tapped.

Freddie said, “Thought I was meant to do you.”

“You want to?” I asked. “I don’t particularly want to do yours, but if you want to do me, feel free. This is boring as.” I pushed the keyboard over to him and let my uncaring stare follow through. His face looked a little odd, with eyebrows pinched upwards, eyes narrowing and lips not entirely visible as a hand loosely covered them.

“Shall I do you now or later?” he wanted to know, speaking haltingly. And then I heard, again what I’d said. Took in the facial expression that I realised was result of an effort not to laugh, felt my own expression drop into something that exposed too much embarrassment, and my face redden all the way to the tips of my ears. I cursed it all as he finally laughed.

Rather than respond, I took my iPod out, pushed my earphones into my ears and heard him say “Later then?” before everything was drowned out by screamo.

Freddie simply turned to his computer and logged on (pointless though it was, considering there were less than ten minutes left of the lesson).

Dammit.

Fuck him. And fuck Ryan too. Fucking determined to fucking jerk off in my house. Fucking had to jerk off with me and then show up in my fucking dreams and fucking jerk the fuck off again, like—fuck.

Gay shit.

Or, just gay.

Shit.

I flinched about a mile in the air when Freddie nudged my arm, retracting the limb as close to my torso as I possibly could. He regarded me with a raised eyebrow and said something I couldn’t hear. I slowly pulled an earphone out.

’Stop kicking the table,” he repeated.

I scowled. I hadn’t realised I’d been doing so, but while still holding his gaze I took to smacking my foot against the metal legs of the surfaces the computers were on again. A slow grin started to creep up his face as he realised, just as I did, that it bloody hurt like hell. I allowed more time in between the taps, waiting until he looked away to stop, but he wouldn’t. Just kept watching me with stupid, unblinking brown eyes.

I tensed, wanting so badly to keep stubbornly on, but my foot was throbbing and my pride was tarnished enough as it was. So I stopped. Freddie’s beam was so bright it could have put the sun out of its job. Wanted to flip him off, but I was too embarrassed to even do that.

Started to put my earphone back in as the bell went, but not before Freddie smirked at me and said, “Simon & Garfunkel.”

Hadn’t known what he was talking about until I tuned into my iPod and heard Paul and Art crooning about Mrs Robinson in my ear.

Double fuck.

FREDDIE

Simon & Garfunkel. What a funny guy.

Sherry caught up with me as I was leaving the room. “You and Joey seemed to be having a whale of a time.”

I chuckled, glancing behind me to watch the one in question storming down the hall, music still in. “He doesn’t want to do me,” I said.

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