The Tide that Turned in Spring

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11. Young Volcanoes

Chapter 12: Young Volcanoes

Monday 28th January

8:10pm

8:10 pm

Even though I've had my fair share of being reprimanded abusing drugs, misogyny, violence, jealousy, bullying people and revenge, none of those confrontations were quite as angry as Mr H that Monday evening when he got the whole house together. He was of course, raging about the tree and he grounds the whole house until the culprit comes forward.  And by that, I mean we're all grounded.  I'm just waiting for the cabin fever to set in. But I can't come forward, I'm too terrified. And I'm the only one who knows what it means.  Oh God. He might chuck me out. Oh shit. I had one last chance. I'm so terrified.

I'm skulking down the corridor towards the tea room to make some tea when I hear very heavy lumbering footsteps behind me.

"Rome!"

I turn around.

"A word in my office, if you please."

 I follow Mr H along the corridor which I guess are year 12 rooms and into his office. His office is on one floor and his flat is below. The loft is directly above and you can hear everyone up there making so much noise.  His office has a sofa at one wall to the left of the door with a window above it that looks directly out onto the tree which has my carving very visibly there.   Between his desk which curves around the rest of the room and the sofa which I am now sitting on, is a flight of stairs which I'm guessing leads into his flat below.  He sits down on the swivel chair which creaks under his weight and  checks something on his computer.

"Can you excuse me for a second?"

He gets up and disappears down the stairs. I sit on the dark red sofa and look around his office. The walls are cream and the carpet a faded beige.

I've only been in here in once before, when Mr H welcomed into Arkansas on my first night here.

"Welcome to Arkansas." He'd said in that gruff tone of his. "I know you're only here for a short time but I hope you'll find a home within here."

I had just scowled. I sit there, the memory  very vivid in my mind and I realise then this room is an external version  Mr H's whole life and what goes through his mind, day in, day out. There is a bookcase on the right of the door and it is double layered with books. There are textbooks and past papers and ringbinder files and forms and photos of Arkansas boys, obviously meant to go up on the walls or in the corridors but have never made it. There is also a pile of those letterman jackets in red and white that everyone seems to have and various piles of house sports kit. On the wall there is a Shakespeare calendar, a framed photo of a large sprawling city which I'm guessing is Capetown in South Africa and another of a sprawling savannah under a pale blue sky. I wonder what it must be like here to move from here to a country as beautiful as that and, yet, to end up back here, at the end of the railway line, the end of the world. There is also a photo of a rugby team which looks like it's in the 80s sometime so I'm guessing a young Mr H in his rugby playing days and one of the globe theatre. There are also two house photos of Arkansas which I'm guessing have been his two years in his hell hole of a house. On his desk is a framed photo of two beautiful blond children with tanned skin, twins I'm guessing , on a beautiful beach, faraway from this shithole and next to it is a photo of a Scandinavian women who I'm guessing is the Mrs H.  I wonder what happened to her. And what happened to Brad's twin.

 I adjust myself on the slightly uncomfy sofa and I wonder how many people have sat where I'm sitting; badly behaved juniors being reprimanded, comforting a year nine with really bad home sickness or helping GSCE students with their English. I imagine him having young and eager junior year nines and tens in here for chocolate fondues and hearing all the gossip or the year 11s for Pizza as a break from revision and talking about girls and sixthform subjects. He must have had so many sixthform get togethers in here, swathes of almost grown up teenagers all gathered around, eating and clutching their cans of cider or their beers, whiling away the long Saturday nights on campus talking about girls and gossip and the future and how they would be all friends for life. He must have seen every aspect of teenage boy adolescence go through this office and sit on this sofa. I find that strangely comforting.

"Ah Rome. Sorry, I had to print something off downstairs cause this one isn't working and well..."

He holds up his hands and they're covered in ink.  I muffle a laugh.

"Yes I know. Anyway Rome, I called you in here because-"

"Am I in trouble?"

He laughs.

"Well, kind of."

I don't say anything.

"What do you see out of the window behind you?"

"The tree Sir."

"So what do you think I saw on Saturday night?

I don't say anything.

"I know it was you who carved that phrase into the tree. My two top students carving something into the tree when they should have either been in the house or at the social."

I think of all the people who sneak off on Saturday nights and go and get really drunk or take drugs in the woods or have sex in the weirdest places imaginable. It's mostly in toilets like the ones in St Richmond's Quad but I also know from Valerie the cricket pavilion is very popular on a Saturday night as is the woods. I can hear Valerie's purr of a voice.

"The ones on the third floor is the best because of the extractor fan. Just don't kick over the sanitary bin. Don't it in the bottom floor toilet near the basement because there was this one in my house a few years above me who lost her virginity in there and she bleed EVERYWHERE and she did a runner she was scared and left him to clean it all up."

I sometimes wonder if that was here. But I don't think I'll be having any kind of sexual relations in any upper floor toilets any time soon. 

"Rome?"

"Sorry. Are you going to expel me?"

He laughs again.

"No no no. Why would I?"

"But you gated the whole house...you were so angry..."

"It was just an act. I was just trying to set a boundary. So I have a deal to propose to you."

I sit up.

"As of January next year, there will be a spare place in year 12 in Vermount because there's one boy arriving in September who is only staying a term."

"So..."

"Just do a year in Arkansas and then you move to Vermount in January 2014?"

Oh my god. Yes. Yes. Yes.

"It would be a really good fresh start for you."

Another one.

"I've spoken with Mr Murphy who as you know is the housemaster of Vermount and he'd be very happy to have you. There are only 20 boys and they're only sixthform but I think we both know that Arkansas isn't the place for you."

There's an awkard silence.

"But judging how things are going in year 11, there might not be much of the Arkansas left that you know by the time we get to sixthform."

Wait what?

"What do you mean?"

"Well Ben is probably leaving, Brad doesn't want to stay and Zook can't stay if he doesn't get the tennis scholarship His mother and the school had to agree on it. But I tell you this in complete confidence Rome."

"What about Jel and Henry?"

"I don't know. But I can just feel it."

I know what he means.

"Anyway Rome, because you carved into the tree, you're still gated. But it's only till Friday cause I know your mother is taking you out for the weekend."

"Thank you so much Sir."

"Honestly, it's no problem. Now go on your way but I'm coming up the loft soon to make sure there is no trouble."

I head back upstairs and to my surprise there is no-one around.  I think they've all gone to activities. Oh no wait, they've been making toast. They all clatter up the stairs and go into Henry and Ben's room. Jel is sharing with Brad and Gwebe but they both only have desks because Gwebe goes home after activities and Brad goes back to Mr H's flat downstairs after dinner. It seems like either they'll there all the time or they're never there.  I hear them stomping into Henry's and Ben room next door, stomp stomp stomp, bang.

"Oh Christ Brad are you taking refuge too?" I hear Jel asking.

"Yes."

"And at my desk?"

"Sorry Henry."

"God, there are tissue paper allergies all around today. I keep finding it everywhere..."

"Zook, I'm trying to work so if you could..."

Bang, stomp stomp stomp.

"Are you working too Rome?" Zook asks as all four of them trawl in.

"No I'm..."

"Good."

They all sit on Zook's bed and I plug myself into my headphones.

"Just so you know Mr H is coming up soon so..."

"Ah who cares." Jel says and get's Zook in a headlock. They start fighting like puppies and then somebody kicks over a light and a glass of water and it descends into chaos.  I decide to go into the corridor and write my journal there.  Stomp stomp stomp, bang. Henry has got to open the door and props it open while they blare music so loudly.  Then Jel comes and sits in the corridor with a bin and the other three take turns in trying to throw it. I leave to it and go and make a cup of tea. I can't wait till I move to Vermount. As I'm waiting for the kettle to boil, I think I hear Mr H's office door slam and that mean's he's going up to the loft. From that day onwards until I left St Richmond's College two and half years later, Mr H and I had an understanding that I can't explain. He was the only person in this hellhole of a school who showed me  a bit of mercy and like when I danced with Jay, I saw a chance of redemption only he had given it to me. I owed him for the rest of my life.


Tuesday 29th January

 

I had my next session with Tina today and I tell about my offer of a move to Vermount next year.

"That's so exciting! I'm so pleased for you. So, where we get to last week? You wanted for redemption. My question for you today is why do you want this redemption? What's the worse thing you've ever done."

I lie back on the couch.

"I accidently got two people expelled. I didn't mean to, I just kind of did."

She flicks through my journal.

"I mean, it was an accident. But I know it was my fault."

"Was it?"

"Well obviously."

She shuts my journal.

"You say in here that you encouraged them to kiss for fun. You didn't tell them to go and get themselves expelled, did you? There's a different between what you tell people to do and what they decide to do.  Doesn't that apply to all of this place? You're told to do one thing but you choose to do another, often the opposite. Maybe they got themselves expelled on purpose or maybe they didn't want to do what you said. You will never know."

She's so right.

"Is that the absolute worse thing you've ever done?"

I think for a moment.

"I slapped someone. A girl. And I encourage someone to force themselves on the same girl. That was definetely my own fault. God. I was such an animal. So horrible. So cruel."

"And why did you suddenly think that was the right thing to do?"

"I was all worked up and angry and vengeful and I'd seen my dad do that to my mum and in that moment,  I thought that was the thing to do. I'm so worried I'm becoming him and then I act on anger and impulse and do something like that and my fears start to come true."

She scribbles things down.

"Did it make you feel good? To be violent?"

"What?"

"Did it give you pleasure? To see others hurt like you were?"

 I think about Jay. I think about what we talked about

"Well?"

"I guess I wanted others to suffer the way I've suffered. You know about my dad right? I think it's in the file. Anyway, just for a moment, it would make me feel better, to see people suffer a fraction of what I'd suffered. That's why I liked picking fights for fun. It made me feel good for a bit."

"Did you wallow in self pity?"

Now I think about it, yes, yes I did. I did all the time.

"If you spend all your time feeling sorry for yourself, most people find that difficult to relate to and therefore can't feel any compassion. It's a downward spiral really, as you know."

Oh my god. That explains so much.

"Just out of interest, are you benefitting from these talks? Is it making what you're feeling easier to understand and control?"

I think for a moment. I think about Jay and how I wouldn't have been to the reels last Saturday if I hadn't spoken to Tina.

"Yes. Yes it has."

"Good. Now, what are you passionate about Rome? What's the one thing you truly love?"

That's a tricky one.

"Well I love...books I guess. And English. I'm predicted an A* in English. The highest grade in the year."

"Wow. That's great. Really great. I imagine you could get high grades in all of your subjects, make your mother proud."

I think how proud my mum will be I get all As or even all Bs. I have to. I have to make her smile again. She's the only person who has still loved me through all of this.

"Why don't you do something that expresses your emotions. Paint, write, play an instrument. Something to release your emotions into. I know forgiveness won't come yet, I understand that and you should a way of expressing yourself until forgiveness or at you at least manage to let this revenge go."

"Well I'm enjoying writing a lot."

"Then keep doing it, tell your story Rome. It might move things about it, maybe even change the world someday."

I fucking doubt that.

"So, what are your plans for this week?"

"Well I have a lot of extra tuition so that takes up all of my time. But now you've mentioned it, I'm gonna make a list of things to try and make me a new person. I quite like the idea of running and maybe even, god, I can't believe I'm thinking this."

"What?"

"Yoga."

"Why not?"

"It's gay."

"Is it? It keeps you fit, helps your metabolism, relaxes you, makes you better at sex...the list goes on and on. It's just like any other sport."

Some of things on that list do not apply to me at all, but I still to be all those things anyway.  Once I've finished what I started, I'm gonna be a new person.  Jay showed I can be redeemed and I will be, even if it takes a lifetime.

"Oh Rome, this is for you.  When you've saved up enough, this is the place you should go. You will heal there. I promise."

It's a business card for an Artist's retreat in the south of France. It's probably full of hippies.

"So here is my challenge for you this week. I believe in doing 3 things in life that I love; one that keeps me creative, one that keeps me fit and one that makes a bit of money. This week, my challenge to you is to find something that keeps you fit and something that keeps you creative.  Next week, we'll talk about your future after school."

When we finished, I'd kept hearing her voice in my head:

"Rome, one of the only things that truly matters in life is that you must do what you love."

I decide as I wander back to Arkansas that I must find these two things. My redemption starts here. This the rest of my life. And I must do what I love.

 

4:55pm

So I'm back in Arkansas, googling this retreat in France when Zook comes back i running back in.

"Where have you been?"

"Does it matter?"

"I'm just curious."

He's always in tennis kit and I wonder when he's going to find out his fate. I had a bad feeling about the result. Something isn't right.

"Wait, do you keep a journal?"

"Maybe."

"If you do, you can just say that you do. I'm not going to judge you."

"If only you'd thought that 2 years ago." I mutter.

"What?"

"I just said that I wish you'd thought that 2 years ago. It would have made my life and your life very different."

Zook sits down on his bed.  But then he is summoned  by Jel.

"Also Rome, please don't go around picking fights. It makes the atmosphere bad." He says, jumping up off his bed.

"If it's when I spoke to Jel, I told him that when I saw him, I remembered that last time we spoke and that was when I hit with my tray accidently and he ruined my life. I wasn't picking a fight. "

There's a knock on the door.

"5pm check in."

The guy ticks Zook off the list.

"Wait, you're not on here." He says, looking at me.

"My name is Rome."

"Yes, I know. Ok well I'll have to tell Mr H."

God, I hate this house. Zook disappears next door and I go back to my researching.

1:30 am

Fucking fire alarm. And of course we all had to stand outside in the goddam rain. I know I'm not gonna get back to sleep. Apparently it's a standard procedure but what a load of absolute bullshit. As I said, I fucking hate this house.

 

3:am

I've just had the weirdest dream. 

We were in a small train station and everyone started fighting. For a brief and simple moment we were consumed by anger, hatred, greed, lust, violence and conflict. For a brief moment, we were creating so much fuss; trying to dominate,  trying to posess, trying to get revenge. So much politics Then the trains came and what consumed my life for so long, is gone forever. I was left on the platform, still bleeding and alone.  I have to tell Tina. She'll know what it means.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Thursday 31st January

Thursday used to be my absolute worst days. But today it was one of the weirdest days of my life so far. It began in Chapel.  Although I have English third period, The chemistry and maths before and physics after make it a living hell. Apart from English, I'm in the dumb third set for all of those other subjects. Therefore it splits into three categories;  those don't speak much English and don't give a shit like German Kat or Celine, those do speak English and still don't give a shit like me or Nicola or Lulu or Lance. And then there's those who are too dumb to give a shit like Gwebe or Zook or Hayley. My three science classes are all the same but Maths is different because although we were mostly the set three crew, there's slightly hard working people like Abbie and Shreyas. Anyway, we used to be the set three crew; Nicola, Lulu, Lance, Tris, Celine and I and we had so much fun. Well we used to. Until today. I was running late and because the science classrooms are on the third floor of the St Richmond's Quad, that's a lot of stairs to run up. Like a lot. I opened the door and Mr Trevance just looked at me.

"Late again Rome?"

I open the door and some guy is scrawling over the board. He is definitely under 30 and is what all the teachers here  not; young, good looking and actually quite keen on what he's teaching.

"Sorry, I guessed that's who you were."

Then I notice the seats are different. Instead of sitting in twos, we're sitting around one big table.

"I'm Mr Trevance. "

He comes up to me and shakes my hand which completely unnerves me. Up until this point, all teachers here have despised me. Maybe this means it's about to change. 

"Rome...but yeah, you already know that."

I sit down in the spare seat and the look he's giving me, I suddenly begin to regret everything I've done in my life. 

"So,  set three."

He looks down the register.

"Where is Gwe_"

"Gwebe. It's pronounced Gweeb." Zook says.

As if on cue, he comes rushing in and Lance pulls back his chair so he goes to sit too and instead, goes crashing onto the floor.  He climbs into his chair next to Jay and I can't see why she's more of a reject than him when he is so beautiful and Gwebe, with his weird grey skin and the grey hair, god, he just creeps me out. No wonder Ivy James left school instead of going out with him.

"First rule of class, be nice to each other. It's the one of the most important things you will ever learn. Now we're all here, I'm guessing you will all be sitting the foundation paper for your mock exams after half term."

Shit.

"I'll take that silence as a yes."

Everyone fidgets nervously.

"Where's Long John?" Lance asks and everyone laughs.

"I'm guessing Long John was your previous teacher?"

We nod. We called him Long John or Long John Silver because we suspected he was once a pirate because he a very twitchy eye and could talk  for hours about boats if we asked him (which we often did.)

"He's had some family troubles so he has gone back to Australia for a month or two. Now, back to business. We have three lessons a week so I thought we could do theory in our Monday lessons, go through past papers on Thursday and something fun and practical on a Saturday. Sound good?"

We nod.

"Now, I want you to know that I want our lessons to be fun but at the same time, you all need to pass. And judging by your previous teachers, you haven't covered as much as the curriculum as I hoped."

As the lesson went on, he realised that we hadn't really covered any of the curriculum at all. Or at least I don't think we have. At the end of the lesson, he stopped our discussion about particles in an atoms and made the class completely silent.

"Did your previous teacher teach you anything?"

There's a long silence.

"He taught us loads about boats." Zook mutters. After a moment, Trevance actually laughs.

"Excuse me for a moment."

He leaves the room and stupidly leaves us all together.

Hayley looks across the table at Kat and Celine. Kat is German and the dumbest dyed platinum blonde I've ever met. Celine is also Scandinavian and in my head, I call her the ice queen because she is pale and cold.

"Isn't he hot?"

"Yah Hayley, he sure is."

"Celine? Would you screw him?"

Celine is filing her long talon like nails.

"Too clever."

Lance just looks at them.

"Are you guys like insane? He's  a fucking chemistry, like, a ruddy teacher."

"Oh Lancey, you vouldn't understand." Kat says, stroking his face.

"Thuglife, would you kiss him? Do you think he's hot?"

Hayley, Celine and Kat turn on her.

"Yeah Thuglife? Would screw another nerd?"

Jay tunes into what they're saying.

"Which nerds have I screwed exactly?"

Then they turn on me.

"Woah, we have not screwed at all. We've never even kissed."

"He's right. What makes you think that?"

The room goes silent.  Zook looks at me, Lulu looks at Jay and the girls look amongst each other.

I look at Jay and I can tell by the look on her face we've done the right thing.

"What do you think Lu? Hot or not?"

Lulu has been unusually quiet and she turns to look at Hayley with so much dislike written all over her face.

"Hayley, I have a boyfriend, in case you didn't notice."

"Oh do you now? Cause last time I checked..."

I eyeball Hayley.

"Just give it a rest, for fucks sake."

Celine looks at me.

"Oh Rome, sticking up for people now are you?"

"Yeah vhat are you, some sort of saint?"

All the girls laugh.  You have to remember, these people were once my sort of friends when I was the year group bully.

"A crackhead more like ." Celine says and they all laugh again. "Is it true you snorted cocaine?"

The room goes deadly silent

"Rome, crackhead and girlfriend stealer... You'll be taking Lulu from Brad next!" Hayley just keeps going.

"For christs sake Hayley, don't you know when to stop?" Lulu says quietly. "You're going to get someone seriously hurt. And no, it wasn't Rome who kissed Jay so stop making assumptions. If you had any idea what Tris was up to when you two were screwing, maybe you'd keep your trap shut."

"Oh I need to keep  my trap shut do I?"

"Yes Hayley, I think you do."

"You don't even like Brad!"

"And he doesn't even like you!" Celine adds in.

"Then why are we still together? You're just saying that cause Tris was so horrible to you!

The three girls; Celine, Kat and Hayley all turn on Lulu and she is about to be destroyed.

"Yeah Lulu, you have no idea what about-"

"Can't you guys just quit it!"

"Oh look who's talking, Thuglife, the cheater!" Hayley sneers.

"Yeah Thuglife, you should just take Brad too! He's just with Lulu to screw so I'm sure he'd have you too! Wouldn't he? He has no standards, so he'll take any kind of trash."

Lulu doesn't react but something flashes across her eyes.

"Look! Just shut up ok !

Everyone looks around and Zook is sitting bolt upright. Then Lulu slaps Hayley hard across the face. This proves my theory that girls hate each other.

"Lulu and Brad are entitled to a private life and just leave Arkansas of this. All you girls are single because of this."

The table is so quiet. Hayley and  Tris were on and off for ages but I think she was heart broken when he dumped her for Lutra.  Yeah there was a lot more going on that you could have possible have imagined.

"Ok class...woah...it's gone silent in here. I don't know if this is a good or bad thing."

Mr Trevance sits back down and the lesson goes on as normal.  At the end , as the clock strikes which means lessons is over, he holds me back.

"A word please Rome."

"But sir, I have to get to Maths..."

"It's fine, Mr Peterson knows you're going to be late."

He sits down and opens a large ringbinder file.

"Rome, at this rate, your aiming for an E and this is only core science. This set isn't sitting the additional paper.  We  really need to get your grades up. Can you come and see me after lessons? Maybe at about five?"

I don't say anything.

"Look, I know this is a difficult time for you but it will be even more difficult next year if you have to resit. I've spoken to Mr H and we've agreed this is the right thing. Will you let me help you?"

After a moment I agree.

"Good. Now get along to Maths, I don't want you to be late."

Maths is super tense and we all actually do some work for once. At break, I go up to the library which is one the top and fourth floor of the lessons wing when I think I hear someone crying. My initial reaction is to just plug myself into my headphones and pretend I don't hear because I really want to have some peace and quiet to read Wolf Hall. I just keep walking. However when Lulu or Brad turn up to English, Mr H has go and make a lot of phone calls. It's one of the strangest Thursdays I've ever had.

 

7:30pm

Zook and I are in our room, working away during evening study time when Zook asks:

"What did you think of Mr Trevance?"

When I say work, I'm filing things pretending to work and Zook is throwing a tennis ball around.

"I liked him. Why?"

"I was just wondering. Things really kicked off in his class and yet he seemed to have no idea. It's like having someone different makes people act differently."

I swear Zook just defined ...not my existance...but something like that.

"There was something about him that felt...weird...it's like he came along and shook everyone up."

I know the feeling.  Then I hear raised voices.

"Oh so this is my fault is it?"

"Yes Henry it is!"

"How?"

"Let me explain."

I notice Zook take out his headphones.  I open my mouth but he gestures for me to be quiet.

"Well, you wouldn't tell Ben when I was away what I told you to would you? Why?"

Henry doesn't respond.

"Because you're too fucking proud! You wouldn't spend time with Ben because he was friends with Augie and you think he's a chav!"

"He was a chav! Like Tris, Rome, India-"

"FOR FUCKS SAKE HENRY! Can't you just get over your class superiority for once and notice what's going around you! If you had spoken to him and got over your class issues involving Augie, Augie wouldn't have got so close to Ben and we wouldn't be here! So therefore it is your fault!"

Between Henry who is so proud and snobby,  Zook's who is so delusional, Ben who can't control himself, Jel who is so controlling, I can't think who is worse.

"Woah, this is so unfair! Why are you so controlling?"

"It's the only way-"

Jel was always a controlling and manipulative bastard. I'm so glad Henry has noticed.

"The only way Jel? The only way?"

"What else can I do?"

"Just let things take their natural course!"

"But it's all going to go tits up! We're going to loose everything here!"

"And being this controlling is going to stop that from happening?"

Jesus.

"And you think just because Zook hasn't noticed, it's ok to do it? It's not fair on him Jel! He's my closest friend for crying out! He's like my little brother and I can't let your control ruin his life!"

"Do you not think I know all of that? He's one of my closest friends too! You and him are the only family I have and I'm only doing this to protect him! To protect all of you!"

I don't listen anymore. I plug my headphones back in.

 

8:45pm

 Henry come's crashing in after house meeting.

"Have you seen Zook anywhere?"

I shake my head.

"Look Henry, we need to talk."

"About what?"

He turns to look at me.

"It wasn't me who kissed your girlfriend. I swear on my life. I don't even know who you went out with."

His face drops. That's a slight lie but he doesn't need to know that.

"Then who was it?"

"I don't know. Don't ask me."

I hear him go through and slam the door. He immediately starts to go for Jel.

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DIDN'T TELL ME THE TRUTH? SHE WAS MY GIRLFRIEND!"

Zook comes in and just looks at me.

"What  have you done now?"

"I told the truth. Someone had to."

"Jel is going to kill you."

And he sure tries to. He comes storming through, grabs me by the shoulders and, hauls me out of the chair and throws me onto the floor. He's all ready to smash my face in. Brad also appears and was looking increasingly worried.

"Woah dude, don't do this."

"Oh and why shouldn't I?"

Brad shrinks into his shell.

"Because he's telling the truth Jel! You can't be violent towards someone who is telling the truth?"

"Oh stick up for him Brad why don't you! This is all your fault anyway!"

"My fault? My fault?"

Zook and Jel both turn on Brad. There is dead silence. I nod.

"What the fuck is going on?"

"Oh nothing Henry." Zook says, his eyes wide with fear at what Jel might do next.

"Nothing? Nothing?"

Jel lashes out and Zook and Henry both have to hold him back.

"Fine if you're going to beat me up for telling the truth, I might as well say it then?

Can I get up off the floor?"

It's like they had all forgotten I was there.

"Please?"

A door slams and Ben appears in the room. It's a very small room remember, and there is barely enough room for two of us on a normal day, let alone for five of us. I wonder what Ben thought when he first entered with Brad  hunched over in a chair, Zook and Henry holding back Jel and me, lying on my back, cowering on the floor.

"Well someone has to tell the truth around here. There are too many secrets in this place. Too many damn secrets."

I get up and push my way through them.

"I'm going for a cigarette. I prefer it if none of you came with me."

And I leave them to their own devices but there is a lot of yelling as I leave. It made me think of what Mr Trevance was saying about how you put a catalyst in something and then it speeds up the reaction. I think that's me and I need to make something happen. Something very soon. I go downstairs and there's a bundle of post on the coffee table in CC.

I look through it and in the middle there are 2, both with American postmarks . One for Jel. And one for Zook. I push Jel's letter under his door and I keep the one for Zook from Allborough. I think I can guess what it says. I go outside for a cigarette and wait for it all to kick off. I wonder what they're all doing; Zook and Jel talking sense into Henry that they didn't lie to him, . Ben. God knows what's he's doing. Jacking off. Or listening to depressing music. I know Brad snuck off to see Lulu and I imagine they're dancing slowly round the reeling room, cause that's what people who are in love do, I think. It's like they know something bad is about to happen and are holding each other as the world is about to end. I lie down in the grass and light another cigarette. I wonder about Val; whether she's happy with the choices she's made or whether she's crying in a toilet somewhere. I wonder about Tris and what he'd think if he could see me now. I stub out my cigarette and just lie there. I know what I need to do now. I really need to talk to Jay.

 


 































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