2024 Chapter 1 Week 1
3rd September (Tuesday)
She sat admiring the sites by the river, the leaves holding their ground till fall which
wouldn’t be far away now. It was a rather fresh morning, so cool in the brisk September air.
Her hair hung over her pierced face and bright red hair. Her new school head disapproved of her many piercings, but they weren’t going anywhere for no one no matter how hard they insisted upon it. She smoked through the disapproval from her mother.
She had many skeletons to hide, would a new high school make more?
She had been booked in to see the school shrink two days a week to explore her background and her school life. She’d rather move to the quiet countryside, she’d rather be dead right now than there.
‘Autumn school in five.’
She doubted out her cigarette pulling herself up, lucky for her her mother drove or she’d be really late for her first day and get detention. Though she clearly had no interest in starting her new high school not ever, yet she had no choice over it she had to finish high school. She opened the car door sliding in closing the door fastening her seat belt. Her head hung low. The eldish lady started the engine changing gear pulling away. ‘I’m sorry for all of this Autumn, but we needed a new beginning.’
She looked through her fringe at her mother into her rimmed glasses, replying. ‘Why, so I wouldn’t be next?’
’Look Autumn it’s not your fault.’
’So why does it feel that way?’
’Please Autumn it was hard for me too.’
‘You really think this place will be any different?’
’Yes I do.’
‘I hope for all our sakes you’re right.’
Autumn’s mother pulled up outside the high school. ‘I’ll pick you up.’
‘I’ll walk I need the air.’
Autumn opened the door getting out of the car. ‘I’ll see you later Autumn.’
She closed the door, looking at the small building a lot smaller than the high school she had come from. An eldish lady walked up to her, straight faced. ‘Miss Cleveland. Mr. Greyson will be seeing you this morning.’
She looked at her new principle. ‘Sure.’
‘I’ll show you to his office. Don’t screw this one up Miss. Cleveland you won’t be getting another chance.’
‘And I prefer if you don’t wear jewellery to school.’
The head mistress escorted Autumn to a small office with a gold plaque with “Mr. Greyson School Psychiatrist” written upon it. ‘Right here we are. I’d like it if the piercings are gone by our next meeting.’
‘Sure what ever!’
She knocked the door. ‘Mr. Grayson. Miss. Cleveland to see you.’
‘Send her in.’
The head mistress opened the door. ‘Go in and remember he’s there to help.’
Autumn smiled vaguely she didn’t speak to her mother why should she talk to a total stranger about how she was feeling right now. She stepped into the regular sized office. ‘Will you shut the door and take a seat.’ The scruffy male with piercings said. She closed the door this was going to be so easy, a fucking breeze even. She walked over sitting down. He looked at her. ‘So how are we this morning?’
She looked at him weird. ‘Okay I guess.’
‘So what would you like to talk about?’
She pulled a confused expression hadn’t this guy got her notes? Was this guy for real?
‘I take it you didn’t want to come here?’
‘No I didn’t. I had no choice.’
‘Like I said I had no choice.’
‘What’s wrong Autumn? I can call you Autumn can’t I?’
‘So what’s eating you this morning?’
‘Miss sour face said I had to get rid of my piercings, none of my old teachers cared.’
He placed his hand on hers nerving her. ‘You should be yourself that’s what makes you, you.’
Why did this guy make so much sense?
‘So Autumn why did you come here?’
‘Must be some pretty heavy stuff to have to resort to a shrink.’
‘Mom thought it would be a good idea to get things off my chest.’
‘But, we’re having a hard time doing that why?’
‘It’s just so hard to.’
‘Just think of me as your friend.’
‘So you can die on me to?’ She snapped slipping up.
‘Now we’re getting somewhere.’
‘I’m here to help.’
‘You’re like nineteen how can you possibly help?’
‘What are you so scared of Autumn?’
‘I don’t want you to die!’ she cried.
‘I aint going anywhere. I’ll help you through this, I promise.’
‘How? My friends are dead! And I’m here to forget, how am I supposed to forget?’
‘You haven’t got to. You just need to find a way to carry on and keep it in here.’ He said tapping her chest.
She looked at him, his eyes sparkled. Why did this guy connect with her?
He edged forward. Another male walked in the room, maybe in his early forties, dyed black hair, distinguished designer glasses , wearing a suit maybe pinstripe. ‘So how are we getting on Mathew?’
‘Remember what I said. You’re here to help not harass.’
He looked at Autumn who had now sunk into herself. ‘You must be Miss. Cleveland.’
‘I’m Mr. Grayson.’
‘Oh, but I thought.’
‘Didn’t Mathew tell you?’
‘No. I didn’t get no name.’
He looked at Mathew disappointing. ‘What did I tell you Mathew?’
‘I’m sorry Sir I forgot.’
Mathew looked at Autumn. ‘I’m Mathew Harding, you’re quiet close with my age. I’m in my third year psychology degree at university. I’m here to learn and gain experience as a psychiatrist . Mr. Greyson left me in charge of your case study, he thought a younger face might help to crack the ice.’
‘I can take over if you prefer me too.’
‘My lecturer will be observing me with you and a few other students for my course. If that is cool with you?’
‘I’m sorry Miss Cleveland, but times up you have English and you can’t be late.’
‘Sure.’ He looked at Autumn. ‘Well I’ll see you Thursday.’
She smiled politely pulling herself up.
‘I’ll show you to the class.’
‘Remember what I said Mathew introduction first.’
They walked out of the office Mr. Greyson closing the door. ‘This way.’ He said veering his arm to the right, Autumn followed him down the long winding corridor. ‘I’m sorry Miss. Cleveland I should’ve told Miss. Strum Mathew was taking you.’
‘He’s a nice lad, he’ll go far if he puts his head into it and listens.’
She smiled he made a lot of sense to her.
‘Well here we are.’
‘I’ll see you Thursday.’
He opened the door looking at the oddly styled lady in her mid-thirties. ‘Miss. Shan, Miss. Cleveland.’
She looked at Mr Greyson for re-assurance. ‘Go on go in, and we’ll talk Thursday .’
She smiled walking into the half full room as the door closed.
‘Take a seat.’
She walked to the back of the room, many of the students cutting their eyes at her as she walked passed finding an empty seat at the back. ‘Right I see Mr. Harborne is still not with us so I’ll begin.’
Mr. Greyson walked back into the office closing the door looking directly at Mathew. ‘I’ll take over from you on Thursday with Miss. Cleveland.’
‘I saw you. I said no closeness.’
‘There won’t be I promise.’
‘I can’t take that chance.’
‘Please. We have a connection; I promise she’ll open up to me. I need this for my final report. She’s so different than the others I can connect and get her to talk.’
‘Fine.’ He sighed. ‘But, no more Mathew.’
‘I won’t I promise.’
Autumn walked out of the class room after her English lesson had finished. ‘I see you didn’t take my advice.’
She looked up straight at Miss. Strum.
‘I was told to be myself.’
‘Mr. Greyson! Impossible!’
‘No Mathew Harding.’
Her eyeballs gauged. ‘Excuse me.’
‘Right.’ She snapped. ‘I’ll see you tomorrow and no piercings.’
The head mistress stormed angrily away.
‘Well it looks like you pissed her right off.’
She turned a sandy haired boy stood face to face with her wearing the same ridiculous uniform as her. ‘Yeah.’
‘Ignore her we all do.’
She looked at him to say “Who the hell are you?”
‘Connor, Connor Harborne.’
‘So you finally show your face after bunking off?’
‘Is that wise? You’ll have your balls strong up.’
He laughed. ‘I like you.’
‘Well, Autumn how’s about we do lunch and we can hang?’
‘Are you digging on me?’
‘Maybe, guess you’ll never know unless you hang with me.’
‘Fine.’ She sighed.
‘Cool.’ He said placing his arm over her shoulders.
She looked at him.
‘Come on lunch waits for no one.’
They walked down the corridor.
Mr. Greyson opened his office door to an angry Miss Strum. ‘Mr. Grayson.’
‘Miss Strum how can I help you?’
’What about him?
‘Why is he taking Miss. Cleveland?’
‘I thought it would be good experience.’
‘We all know his background.’
‘Promises count for nothing in this world.’
‘He’s a good kid give him a chance. He can get through to her, they connect.’
‘Fine.’ She sighed defeated. ‘But, if he screws up.’
‘Make sure he doesn’t.’ She said storming off.
Autumn and Connor sat down after choosing their lunch a pork roast which looked barely cooked, his friends sat opposite them all shaggy haired and pierced. ‘Guys this is Autumn, Autumn these are my bros Ashby, Jae, and Harry.’
‘I said Autumn could hang with us, she’s just joined us and needs to get in with it.’
‘What you desperate?’
‘No. I can do this dump on my own.’
‘Gee girl your stroppy. You on a home game?’
‘No, and wouldn’t you be if you had to up and leave to come to this dump?’
‘Hay this is our dump and it aint that bad for your info.’
‘Sorry!’ She said sarcastically.
‘Just ease up on her guys okay, first days are tough we’ve all been there. Make her feel welcome.’
‘Sure my apologies.’
‘Mine too. Just every time I have friends I seem to lose them.’
‘You won’t lose us, will she guys?’ Connor said looking at his friends for reassurance.
‘Nope, unless we die or something.’
She looked at them her completion paled, her eyes glazed.
‘You okay Autumn?’
Her eyes retracted she looked at Connor. ‘Yeah fine.’
‘You sure you seemed a little phased out for a while there.’
‘Yeah I’m fine.’
They ate their lunch in silence not to upset the new girl.
‘Come on guys let’s have a smoke before lunch is over.’
They all pulled themselves up. ‘You coming Autumn?’
She pulled herself up, Connor placed his arm round her as they walked out of the dinner hall. Mathew walked into the dinner hall staring angrily as she caught his eye in Connor’s company.
‘So do you smoke?’
‘Here.’ He said passing her a cigarette.
‘Thanks.’ She said taking it off him.
He lit the cigarettes. They blew the smoke out.
‘So where do you come from Autumn?’
‘Mmh, must’ve been a big leap coming somewhere so quiet.’
‘So why did you leave the city?’
She looked at them her expression changed.
‘Okay bad subject.’
The bell rang.
‘Great lunch is over. You coming Autumn?’
‘Lesson of course. Geo right?’
‘Come on then.’ He said grabbing her hand pulling her away.
‘I take it you only don’t do English?’
‘Don’t like the teacher.’
They walked across the meeting ground going into the building up the stairs to their next lesson. He sat next to her with his arm Strawn across the back of her seat. ‘We’ll take a look at your time table and sort something out okay.’
They walked out of the class together at the end of the day. ‘Mr. Harborne!’
‘Shit.’ He looked at Autumn. ‘I’ll see you tomorrow.’
‘He’s in shit.’
‘She always cop him?’
‘Nine times out of ten. We’ll walk with you.’
‘Are you sure?’
They all walked out of the high school laughing and joking. Autumn trying to join in but finding it hard to. ‘I’ll see you guys tomorrow.’
‘You live by the river?’
‘We’ll see you tomoz.’
They all parted company going their separate ways.
Connor met Autumn by the bridge. ‘So how are we ready to go?’
He placed his arm around her as they walked away.
‘Hey Con, Autumn.’
They walked over to them. ‘On time. I’m impressed Con get you out of bed?’
‘No my mom.’
‘Ooh that told you Jay.’
‘Come on let’s go.’
They walked into school as the bell rang. They went into registration.
‘I’ll see you in an hour okay.’
Connor kissed her check. ‘Bye Autumn.’
He walked away. Autumn went into her first lesson sitting down. The Latino boy looked at her and smiled. She shot a short smile back.
‘Right class I’d like you to pair for the next few weeks. So, Jarrod I’d like you to pair with the new student Miss. Cleveland.’
Stenton sunk into his chair why couldn’t he have paired them?
‘Hi I’m Jarrod.’
The bell rang after lesson and they walked out of the class room. ‘It was good working with you Autumn. You’re clever for a chick.’
She looked at him.
‘Just most girls around here are dumb and prefer to look pretty and are never off their mobiles, thinking of themselves. Not you.’
‘I prefer to get good grades.’
‘I have to get going.’
‘I’ll see you next lesson.’
‘You will. Later Autumn.’
He smiled as she walked away had he finally met a girl with the same intelligence as him?
She walked into her next lesson sitting next to Ash. ‘So how did your first science lesson go?’
‘Good. I met Jarrod.’
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘He’s a loner Autumn he ain’t got many friends he’s a square.’
‘I like him.’
‘Keep that to yourself.’
Autumn hadn’t seen Connor this morning. Maybe, he was in different classes to her.
She walked down the corridor and out the double doors walking down to the smoking area where she lit a cigarette. ‘There you are.’
She choked, looking at him. ‘Connor.’
‘Where you been? I’ve been looking all over for you.’
‘Must’ve missed you.’ He said walking over to her taking the cigarette off her taking the last few drags, blowing it out, doubting it out with his foot. ‘I’m sorry about yesterday.’
‘Maybe you should join me.’
‘I don’t think so.’
‘Why not? It’ll be fun.’
‘Your fun aint mine.’
‘How do you know?’
‘I just do.’
He edged closer. She stood nervously. ‘Why are you so nervous? We’re friends aren’t we?’
He pressed his lips on hers kissing her, she foolishly returned his kiss, he slipped his tongue in kissing her harder and harder, tears slipped down her check. He moved away looking at her concerned. ‘What’s wrong?’
‘Why are you crying Autumn, it weren’t that bad was it?’
‘No, it’s not that.’
‘So, what is it then?’
‘I.. I don’t want you to die.’
‘I won’t. I aint going anywhere, I aint going to die. Not today anyway!’ He cracked
She looked unimpressed. ‘I’m sorry I can’t.’ She turned walking briskly away, tears rolling down her face.
’What’s wrong Autumn?
She turned looking dead at him. ‘You wouldn’t understand.’
‘Talk to me then.’
‘I have a shrink for that, a good one. Mathew Harding.’
‘Harding! You are joking right?’
‘He’s a prick Autumn. He’ll just listen to get inside you.’
‘And you won’t?’
‘No. I’m your friend. I’d like more, but I clearly aint goanna get it.’
‘I can’t take that chance again.’
‘What happened at your old school? And don’t say fuck all, cause clearly a heap of shit did.’
‘I can’t it hurts too much.’
‘You talk to him.’
‘It’s his job, not yours.’
’I’m your friend you can talk to me.’
‘Maybe one day.’
‘Why not now?’
‘I can’t.’ She cried.
He pulled her close, placing his arms around her comforting her. ‘I’m here for you okay. Any time you need to talk I’m here.’
She cried onto his shirt, she couldn’t deal with anything heavy right now. He moved away looking at her. ‘It’ll be okay Autumn.’
‘It will never be okay.’
‘I really like you, take all the time you need okay.’
She smiled briefly.
’Come on we’ve got an hour to kill before lunch we’ll take a look at that time table of yours.
His arm draped over her shoulder as they walked up the playing field sitting down. They looked through her time table till lunch. ‘Right, so we’re all settled we’ve only got a few lessons without each other. Do you think you can handle that?’
He leaned forward. ‘We can hang after school and weekends, if you like?’
‘That would be nice.’
‘Cool.’ He pressed his lips on hers kissing her. He moved away. ‘Come on lets grab us a bite to eat. I’m starving.’
They pulled themselves up, he draped his arm over her shoulders and they walked into the school and the cafeteria to choose barley cooked jacket potatoes and dressing, choosing their drinks. ‘Hey over here.’
Connor looked over Ashby calling him over to join them. ‘Come on Autumn.’
They walked over to the table where his friends were sitting placing their treys down, sitting next to one another. ‘So today better than yesterday?’
‘Where were you at break Autumn? Connor thought you’d forgot the way!’
‘No. Mr. Conway wanted a word with me about the course work we’d be doing.’
‘So you’ll be stuck in all weekend hugh?!’
‘No, he gave me a few weeks to get it done.’
‘Gee he’s being nice must’ve got his end away.’
‘We’ll he’s a slave driver.’
‘That’s what I was told.’
‘It’s all true babe, we had him last year he worked us into the ground.’
‘Ignore them Autumn he’s okay.’
‘Is he the reason you didn’t take Art up?’
‘No, it’s not our scene. Is it guys?’
‘Nope.’ They all chimed.
‘Then what is?’
‘Stuff that’s interesting.’
‘Art can be interesting.’
‘Yeah right. Doubt it. Art museums, yarn.’
‘You guys have no imagination.’
‘We have plenty .’
‘Come on let’s have a fag before lunch is over.’
‘Autumn already has.’
‘To make up for the one that you missed at break?’
‘Come on let’s get out of here.’
They pulled themselves up going outside. ‘So Con catch up with you when you were having a fag?’
‘Took your time?’
‘We were talking.’
‘So you don’t want to talk about it?’
‘That’s what personal means Ash you nonce.’
They lit their cigarettes smoking till the bell went for the end of lunch. ‘We’ll meet up in the usual place.’
Connor and Autumn walked down the corridor. ‘Thanks for not making me look like an idiot.’
‘I’d never do that.’
‘Well thanks for not telling them.’
‘You didn’t tell me nothing. There wasn’t nought to tell Autumn, even if you had it would’ve been between us okay.’
He kissed her softly on the cheek. ‘I’ll see you later okay.’
The bell rang and they went outside for break meeting the other for a cigarette.
‘So how’s today been Autumn? You finding your feet.’
‘You will. Just give it a few weeks and you won’t even need your timetable you’ll know every lesson you’ve got and where.’
The bell rang and they doubted their cigarettes out going into their next lesson before lunch.
Autumn and Connor sat down. ‘So who’s in your science lesson?’
‘A guy named Jarrod. Well that’s who the tutor paired me with.’
‘He’s a bit of a loner Autumn just watch yourself okay he’ll latch onto you.’
‘Have you met Stenton yet? I swore he was in that class.’
‘No not yet.’
‘Why is he someone else I should stay clear of?’
‘Right class settle down.’
‘Just say he’s a giggalo.’
The bell rang. ‘So what have you got next babe?’
‘I’ll walk with you.’
‘Hey guys where are you heading?’
‘Autumn has Geo. I have history.’
‘Can I tag I’m going that way.’
Harry walked down the corridor with Connor and Autumn.
‘So what room you in Autumn?’
‘Me to you can sit next to me.’
‘Well this is us Con we’ll see you at lunch.’
’You will.’ He kissed Autumn on the cheek. ‘Lunch babe.’
He walked away as Harry and Autumn walked into their geography lesson sitting down. ‘So did you met anyone new in class.’
‘Apart from Jarrod. No.’
‘Surprising guys usually drewl over s new face, a pretty face. Stenton’s usually the first.’
‘Conor mentioned him. Who is he?’
‘Oh you’ll know trust me.’
The bell rang. ‘Come on lets meet he guys for lunch.’
They pulled themselves up going out the class room to the dinner hall joining the que. They chose there lunches sitting down. So what have you got after lunch?’
‘Can’t wait to see you in your kit.’
‘Keep your bonner on Jae.’
They all went for a cigarette before the end of lunch, registration then P.E.
Connor met Autumn for her last lesson. ‘You looked good today. I think all you girls give us a bonner.’
‘There’s only one girl that gives me a bonner.’
‘You.’ He said kissing her.
Mr. Harborne, Miss. Cleveland inside now.’
They walked into their lesson sitting down.
They walked out of school just gone four after having a lecture off their tutor who was not pleased with them at all.
‘I’m sorry Autumn she can be a bitch.’
‘It’s okay Con.’
‘No it’s not.’
‘I was running late.’
Autumn and Connor walked towards the bridge. ‘Look Autumn I’m sorry about today.’
‘No its not. I should’ve realised you had issues with relationships.’
She looked at him. ‘How do you..’
‘Look Autumn I really like you, but it’s obvious you’ve just come out of something long term. So, I’ll try and back away.’
‘I do Autumn. I can’t promise that I won’t try and kiss you. But I won’t push you in to anything you are not comfortable with.’
‘Thanks Con.’ She kissed him on the cheek moving away, their eyes connected he pressed his lips onto hers kissing her hungrily.
He moved away, she looked so lost, so confused. ‘I’m sorry Autumn. You’re just so different.’
She looked at him.
‘Well.’ He said quickly steering away from the present situation. ‘I’ll see you tomoz.’
He smiled turning, walking away she stood confused.
They walked over the bridge. ‘I’ll meet you tomorrow.’
He kissed her cheek. ‘Later babe.’