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One

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Monday

“Yves!”
I’m already awake, but I lay in bed starring at the ceiling. I can see a blurry black dot moving over the cracked plaster above my head, tiny and unremarkable, the spider is going about her business without a care in the world. Sometimes I wish I were a spider.

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“What are you, deaf? Yves!” The thumping on my bedroom door causes vibrations through my room which causes the spider to lose her footing; I jump as she tumbles down to my face, suspended millimetres from my nose by a silver strand of glistening web.

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The bedroom door crashes open and ricochets off the wall, the spider hastily climbs back up to a safe vantage point.
“Morning dad,” I say in an uninterested tone, I don’t bother looking at him. I gather from his invasion into my privacy that he’s having a sober day, he looks livid.

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“Why aren’t you at school?” he demands to know.
I sit up, and slide onto the edge of my bed, stretching lazily.
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“I didn’t bring you up to be a waste of space!” my dad is yelling, “You earn your keep whilst you’re under my roof, if you don’t go to school, you work, ya hear me?”
I bite my tongue, work? I doubt Curtis Black can even remember what it’s like to go to work… I can think of a lot of things I’d like to say to this man, but I keep my mouth shut.
I gather a few of my things. I have no idea what lessons I have today, the last time dad forced me to go was 2 weeks ago – I don’t bother keeping a check on my school time table. A pad, a pencil and myself – that’ll be all I need, I’m not a genius by any means but I’ve managed with less and was still able to get passes on my exams last year.
The man who calls himself my father is still stood there, starring at me – “What?” I say, “You want to stand there and watch me get dressed?”
Curtis Black’s eyes narrow and I can see him trying to think of something to say, but as his brain is so frazzled due to copious amounts of alcohol and what I can only imagine is a hangover the size of Great Britain herself, no thoughts enter his tiny mind, so he does the usual. He hits me.

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Don’t feel sorry for me, I know better than to wind him up… just sometimes I really can’t help it. I’ve learnt to block out his blows, usually when he realises I’m not fighting back he stops.
I hunch up, waiting for the punch, but I’m surprised when it doesn’t come, and then I hear why.
The doorbell is ringing.
Curtis Black grunts as he stands up straight, it’s obvious from his demeanour that he’s in great pain, whether physically or mentally I can never be sure, probably a little of both.

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I feel relief wash over me as he exits my room.
I pull on a pair of scraggy black jeans, zip up my favourite hoody and slip on my scuffed black shoes… I can’t be bothered to brush my hair or teeth so I gather my school bag and slide down the banister (which I shouldn’t, because it’s falling apart and if I break it I really will be sorry) I misjudge my landing and fall forward onto my hands, the naked floorboards splintering my palms.
“Ouch,” I whisper, coming to standing and examining the tiny red mark my fall has resulted in.
“Hi Yves,” a feminine voice floats over to my ears like birdsong on a spring morning, and I look up so quickly I almost jar my neck.

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“I’m sorry to drop by,” the girl is saying, starring at the floor shyly, “but we’re meant to be working in groups for an assignment for school this week… and you’re my partner…”

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I recognise her, Maya Hart; she’s one of the popular kids. I bet they all laughed when she got paired with me… she must have felt pretty unlucky.

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“I thought I’d stop by so we can discuss it on the walk to school?”

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Curtis is stood gawping at her like some kind of nutcase, so I grab her arm and lead her off the porch before anymore weird rumours can start about the man who calls himself my father.

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“We have to write about our interests…” Maya is saying, I’m not really listening, preferring to kick the autumnal leaves instead.
“Ms. Lane paired us with people whose interests differ from our own… so we can learn more about each other… we have to do a presentation at the end of next week…”
I snort loudly, “and I got paired with Maya Hart, daughter of Adam Hart and heiress to Hart Manor? Nice work Ms. Lane…”

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Maya stops walking, and holds her folder into her chest, her eyes narrow. “I didn’t want to do this either,” she says angrily, I half expect her to stomp her spoilt little feet. “I certainly didn’t want you as my partner!” I roll my eyes, is that supposed to hurt my feelings? I walk away from her.
“Are you mute?!” she runs to catch up with me which is amusing, sometimes being tall is the greatest… long legs mean I can out run or out walk nearly anyone.

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“Whatever,” Maya sounds out of breath, “I’m going to speak to Ms. Lane and ask her to swap my partner… you’re never at school anyway…”
Maya doesn’t bother trying to match my pace anymore, so I walk the rest of the way by myself.

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Once I reach the school gates I stand outside at watch fellow students enter the building, laughing and chatting with one another… sharing stories of the weekend with their friends. No one notices I’m there.
“Bianca!” Maya runs past me and through the school gates towards her friends.

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Somewhere within the depths of the school a bell rings, dead leaves swirl past me – dancing in the cold October wind. I turn on my heel and walk away from the gates, I can’t face school today.

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