UNHINGED

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Three

“Monsters are real, ghosts are real too. They live inside us and sometimes they win.” –Stephen King.

Gracefully, I slid a five-pound note across the silver-plated counter and into the clutches of the cashier’s broad fingers. I seized my hands around the tray, carefully attempting not to lose my refreshments as I lifted it from the desk.

“Thank-you,” they muttered, huskily.

Several pleasantries later I finally managed to place my tray onto the scuffed dining table – shortly joined my Beth and John.

“How was your last class?” Beth queried; shuffling closer to the desk.

“It was okay. It was more like an introductory class,” I replied in between mouthfuls. “How was your class?”

“Not too bad,” she responded, grasping half of her sandwich in her right-hand. “We have to do research on a chosen topic though,” Beth groaned, rolling her eyes.

“How about you, John -How was your class?” I probed.

John twirled the pasta around the fork on his plate. “It was okay, we’re learning about first aid,” he responded.

“That sounds amazing!” Beth shrieked, placing her diminutive hand onto his arm; flashing the silver dainty ring on her middle finger. John glanced at her hand placement, a smile playing on his lips.

“Maybe you could show me a few tips,” Beth added in a coquettish tone. “Or, I could be your practice dummy?”

Internally, I rolled my eyes. I have always known individuals to be forward, but certainly not this forward.

My hands cradled the chipped ceramic coffee cup - the warm liquid radiating against my ice-cold fingers. I began feeling more alert and human after taking several mouthfuls. Determined to arrive on time to my first period I had skipped my usual morning coffee.

“Yes. Maybe,” John muttered, adjusting the edges of his navy geometric-styled glasses. The grimace plastered across Beth’s freckled face suddenly transformed into disappointment, uncertainty and disbelief -at John’s response. The dash of hope she once had – vanished. Beth’s piercing cerulean eyes fixated on John’s chiselled jawline; her fingers slowly curling tighter around his inked-forearm.

“What are you doing?” John exclaimed, flinging his arm into the air – away from her domineering clutch. Beth’s expression formed into concern. I began to feel like I had front row seats to a theatrical performance. Beth’s façade was first class.

“I’m so sorry. I didn’t realise I was gripping your arm so tightly. I do apologise,” She stated with a hint of sincerity.

“I need to get to my next period,” I stated, physically unable to watch anymore. A feeling of unease overrode the content I momentarily had, as I picked up my rucksack and slung it over my left-shoulder. I draped my jacket over my right forearm and turned on my heels. “I’ll see you later.”

“Yeah, me too actually,” John retorted, trudging behind me. He soon caught up to me, placing his board arm onto the crook of my shoulder. John’s warm hand exuded through my floral chiffon blouse and onto my sensitive skin. I glanced in the direction of his presence; a perplexed look painted across his face.

“Beth is lovely, don’t you think?” he added sweetly; biting his lip. I strolled through the automatic doors and into the block I was located in last period. He followed.

“Yeah,” I replied, politely. It was beginning to feel like a Shakespearian play, as the scene I just witnessed was now interpreted in a different light. I was absolutely certain John was dissatisfied with Beth’s touch, but his statement made me question otherwise.

“I do like her. I just panicked,” he muttered.

I placed my hand left-hand onto the charcoal handrail, gazing at the students who were beginning to bustle up the staircase.

“Maybe you should speak to her about it,” I shrugged.

I wasn’t sure how to respond after the assumptions I had about the previous scene were now up in the air. I did feel like Beth was pleasant enough, but I had not quite made my mind up about her yet – especially after the recent façade which has thrown a spanner into the works.

“I think I will, thank-you,” John beamed, clutching his folders to his chest. “I need to get to class,” he added, sprinting off through the automatic doors.

Perplexed and puzzled, I strolled up two flights of staircase; before turning right onto the hallway. The walls were painted an ocean blue. Numerous cork boards hung on the walls; student’s poems and articles were scattered all over them. The rain pattered hard against the clear glass panes which were dotted along the architecture – breaking up the disorganised display of artwork. The hall curved to the right slightly. I imitated.

A door tucked on to left-and side – the number: two-hundred-and-fifty-six engraved in the middle of the pale wood. Scrambling in the right-rear pocket of my pale azure jeans, I pulled out a crumpled sheet of paper – my planner. Clasping my rucksack with my left, I shook the planner with my right-hand, watching it flap open. I scanned the sheet to see I had reached the correct classroom.

Frantically, I clenched the planner sheet between my teeth; freeing up my right-hand so I could turn the chrome doorknob. The warm air prickled against my cold cheeks as I peeked inside. A fair-faced woman gracefully gestured for me to take a seat. As usual I chose a seat at the rear of the classroom – against a dappled hoary wall and just in-front of the panel of windows. I lobbed my belongings onto the additional rickety chair beside me.

Placing my notepad on the abraded desk with my pen in my clutches; I aimed my gaze at the pear-shaped woman mounted above her cluttered table. Her ash-blonde hair coiled into a bun, revealing her diamanté pearled earrings. A cerise floral dress hung just above her knee; the short ruffled sleeves revealing slim-pasty limbs.

She turned her back on the semi-filled classroom, grasping a scarlet board-marker off of the holder in her right-hand. A scrawl appeared on the wipe-board, which read: Sarah.

“This is my name. I’m so pleased to meet you,” Sarah stated in a cheerily manner.

“Now, today we will understand the effective use of linguistics - including syntax,” she added, picking up a wad of paper in her hands. Her white wedges stomped across the tiled flooring as she placed worksheets onto the desks. I outstretched my arm, grappling the paper from her slender fingers; a silver rock attached to the fourth finger on her left-hand.

After thirty-minutes I had completed the handout, which meant I could finish studying for the day. Flinging my notebook and pen into my rucksack, I headed towards Sarah’s desk and placed the sheet on the edge. Her chestnut eyes met with mine, shooting me a smile; as she leaned back in her swivel chair. “See you tomorrow, Laura,” she stated.

I ambled out of the College and into the outside. The rain bounced off of the umbrella as I marched along the footpath surround by trees, in hope that they would shelter me from the storm. I began to think about Beth’s antics at lunchtime and how I briskly left, without explaining myself further. John seemed to have warmed to her, but for some reason I couldn’t feel anything towards her except uncertainty.

A gush of water poured onto my jeans from a roadside puddle, as a blue ford-focus whipped passed.

Frustrated, I turned around – a dark shadow loitering in the middle of the walkway - an umbrella above them. There were at least eight houses between us, but that was near enough – enough to scare me.

The wind against my face; the umbrella flapped in front of my face restricting my view ahead. I picked up the pace, my combat boots thudding against the pavement.

The trees disappeared and I was out in the open space – surrounded by acres of pasture. I trudged through the puddles, unable to avoid them as I panted hoping I had escaped the unknown shadow.

Glancing over my shoulder, I saw their petite frame sprinting behind me, their umbrella bouncing along behind them. An ache behind my knees formed; gesturing for me to either slow down or stop – I chose neither.

My heart thudded against my ribcage, my breath weak against the cold air. I made a mental note to become more physically active.

I scurried passed the litter-filled trench and slid behind a weather-beaten bricked wall. It was still tall enough to hide a diminutive figure like myself. I inhaled and exhaled several times, as quietly as I could - hoping to catch my breath.

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