LAURAI liked Karen at school but didn’t think much about her nowadays. I mean you don’t, do you? After you leave, you go off and do your own thing. We were never big mates anyway. I can’t even remember when I last saw her, not really.
I was dead surprised when I got an invite from her through the post. It’s been five years since school.
KARENI’m at my graduation ceremony today all because of Laura. I hope she’s here, so she realises exactly what she did.
When I started secondary school, I hated it. One girl took against me. She didn’t like my hair. Neither did she like my glasses, my shoes, the way I was rubbish at PE, got top marks in class. She laughed at me for going to the shops for my Mum after school. Everyone else joined in, The Girl leading the chorus of cackles.
Mum had a go at sorting my hair. The Girl said it was shit.
I tried stumbling around without my glasses, The Girl called me Mr Magoo.
I got Mum to buy school shoes for my birthday instead of a normal present, but The Girl said who does she think she is?
I joined an afterschool sports club, but still got chosen last for Games.
I pretended I didn’t know the answers in class, The Girl called me stupid.
I told Mum to get her own shopping. The Girl didn’t like that either. She punched me.
The next day she hit me again, slapped me in the face and said she’d wait for me outside the school gates at four o’clock. I told The Girl to sod off. She told me her mates were coming after school too, to teach me not to be hard faced.
I got battered.
I hobbled towards home. My ribs creaked. My head was dizzy and thick with the words they called me.
I lashed my books on the path. Enough.
Laura came running after me with my books. You dropped these, she said. And you’ve fallen over, you’re bleeding. ‘Are you all right?’ she asked. Her house was just over there, she said, and her mum dead nice.
What Laura never knew is, on that day I was going home to kill myself. I had enough of The Girl and her mates, the laughter, sniggering, mocking, punches physical and punches verbal. I was tired. Fourteen years of age and tired, just wanting to sleep. Turn off the light, make it dark, let me rest, leave me alone.
I’m here today not because Laura picked up my books, took me home to her mum and the antiseptic, or even because she walked to school with me the next day and told The Girl to ‘Fuck right off’.
She asked if I was all right.
And because of that, I didn’t kill myself. Thank you, Laura.