Death Is Inevitable
Last period on a Friday and for a reasons that were beyond my understanding, I didn’t feel the usual drain of last lesson of the week. Maybe because social studies wasn’t exactly the most challenging subject academically. I refused to think it had anything to do with my new partner, despite Tori’s theory.
“Why do you look like you just murdered someone?” I asked nudging Ryder as we walking to class.
Ryder was honestly one of the most handsome boys in the school. Blaze was an actual model, but Ryder had the whole blonde hair, blue eyes thing going on for him.
Yet, he always looked as though he was coming from a funeral, it was only at school though, when we hung out at his place he literally started bouncing off the walls. No, literally, we tried to attach a zip wire to his bedroom ceiling. His father had scolded us not for doing it, but for doing it so badly, he’d put Ryder in Physics tuition after that.
“Chase, if I murdered someone, you wouldn’t know unless I wanted you to.” He said seriously.
Remember how I said Ryder looked as though he was coming from a funeral? Well, it’s highly likely that he was also the cause of said funeral.
“So how are you and Wild getting on?” I asked with a slight hint of suspicion.
“Fine, she’s nice.” Ryder said casually, but I knew him a little better than that.
“What did you two talk about last lesson?”
“Work, condoms, random stuff.”
But there was a specific statistic I was looking for. Every time Ryder got nervous or impatient, he said the same statistic, somehow he managed to sneak it in to the conversation. He said it almost every time we got test results back and way too many times on his first date two years ago, hence why he was currently single.
“Did you tell her the thing?”
“The thing about the inevitability of life?”
“How did you…” he started.
“Because every time you get a crush on a girl, you tell her that we can only ever really be sure of one fact: 100% of people die.”
He was about to protest but Mr Owens walked in and we took our seats. Blaze was a little quieter than usual, he rolled his eyes as I sat down but no comment, nothing.
“Alright, well, today is an important lesson.”
“You okay?” I asked side glancing at my partner.
“Obviously, my life is amazing.” Blaze replied, he and Wild both had the ability to make sarcasm sound so realistic, everyone else ended up confused.
Mr Owens pulled up a PowerPoint and stood up straight, his hand readily on the mouse, he clicked to the next slide.
“Today, we will be discussing consent and rape.” He said, “I am handing out a worksheet and want all of you to fill it out whilst I go next door and find the video.”
And here I was thinking everything was on YouTube. But some teachers just seemed to like to do things the old fashioned way. Would there even be any up to date consent videos? Certainly not tapes which were made probably before marital rape was made illegal.
“Hey, Blaze, you gonna be okay?” One of the Blackthorn boys asked kindly tapping on Blaze’s shoulder from the row behind.
“Yes, I’ll be fine.” Blaze said with a warning tone.
Did Blaze have a history of abuse? It was one thing to have a father like mine who beat you up, but one who raped you? That was worse. But wait, Blaze didn’t have a father, maybe a stepfather or mother’s lover. Or, what if? What if it was his mother? What if she had abused him?
Blaze elbowed me sharply.
“I can see you creating insane theories.” He said without looking up from his worksheet.
I waited for him to correct me or tell me what it was, he didn’t say anything.
“Okay, found it.” Mr Owens said walking in with a DVD.
Half the Ravenwood kids stared at it in amazement, we weren’t that young, we’d seen DVDs before, they could calm down. All the Blackthorn kids on the other hand grew nervous and I noticed some glance at Blaze.
Mr Owens pushed the DVD in and a blonde girl came up on the screen, she started talking about her experience with rape. She can’t have been any older than 18 or 19 but was in the early stages of pregnancy, she looked vaguely familiar.
“Blaze, pay attention please.” Mr Owens said sharply.
“But we watch it every year.” Blaze said.
Mr Owens was a Ravenwood teacher, so he wasn’t used to kids talking back.
“It’s important you know.” He said.
Blaze looked away and at the floor, not paying attention. The other Blackthorn kids didn’t react, they were being so purposefully casual, it made me wonder if this was a regular occurrence.
“Please can I wait outside sir?” Blaze said.
First of all, Blaze Nightshade never called any teacher ‘sir’. Second of all, Blaze Nightshade never said please. Something was up.
“Blaze, everyone has to learn about consent, just because you’re a boy…”
“I really want to go outside.” Blaze said standing up.
Mr Owens paused the video, I glanced at Wild who was standing up as well.
“Sir, I think it’s best you let Blaze go.” She said.
“Look, this topic is…”
“Mr Owens, just let him go.” Wild said strongly.
All the other Blackthorn kids murmured in agreement which seemed to set Mr Owens off completely.
“I don’t know what game you’re playing Blackthorns, but it stops now.” He yelled, “Consent is important, and all you are doing is messing around and not paying attention!”
Blaze sat back down in his seat, head tilted away from anyone else. Wild was furious and left her seat to walk to him, crouching in front of his desk murmuring something to him.
“Miss Jackson go back to your seat.” Mr Owen said sternly.
“Wild, I’m fine.” Blaze said.
Seriously? What was going on?
“Of course he’s fine. What is going on with you lot today” Mr Owens sighed.
Blaze looked up, he wasn’t crying, but for once his permanent cocky smile had faded and he looked almost drained of all life.
“It’s not them Mr Owens, they’re just worried about me.” He said gently.
“I can see that. Is there a reason why?”
Wild stroked Blaze’s head lightly, smiling softly at him supportively.
“That’s my mother.” He said, “She’s pregnant with me in the video, that’s why I never met my Dad, he’s in jail.”
What? What? Did not see that coming? How are you even supposed to react to something like that?
“Oh.” Mr Owens said, not sure what else was appropriate to say, “Do you want to have a chat with me outside for a second?”
Blaze shook his head.
“Can I just fill up my water bottle?” Blaze asked holding up a mostly full bottle.
Mr Owens nodded but once Blaze had left and he put the video back on I couldn’t focus. That was Blaze’s mother. And that was Blaze inside her stomach. Imagine finding out something like that. Some kids, like Ryder had been mostly unplanned, but being an accident was one thing from being the product of rape.
“Do you want to talk?” I asked quietly to Blaze when he came back and we were all given the rest of the lesson to complete our worksheets.
“Everyone wants to talk,” he said quietly, “but nobody ever wants to listen.”
“I want to listen.”
“Chase, trust me, you don’t.” Blaze said firmly.
But I did. I wanted to listen, I would have insisted, but then I remembered one key fact. We were supposed to hate each other, and I’m pretty sure I was low on the list of people Blaze would want to talk to anything about.
So, I didn’t say anything for the rest of the lesson.
But as Blaze and Wild walked off at the end, and Ryder and I left in the opposite direction, part of me wished that I had asked.