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Fourteen

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**WARNING** BAD LANGUAGE IS FILTHY AND WRONG. There might be some naughty words.

Fourteen

The corridor is empty as I take my leave.
The sound of the cleaner polishing the floors meets my ears as I walk down the hallway.
I can already feel a difference in my attitude, my step, my persona… I’m lighter, the permanent knot in my gut has finally loosened leaving a fluttering warmth of excitement, I have my first object.
Exiting the school building I’m hit by a blast of icy air – it can’t be above 3 degrees out… but then I suppose it is almost November. The wind has finally died down from this morning, but it’s presence is obvious in the scene around me.
Hundreds of leaves lie in scatters and heaps on pavements, roads, stuck in hedges and gutters; their red, brown and gold colouring garish in the setting cerise sun. Litter, plucked from dustbins lies imprisoned, flapping pointlessly in hedges. Trees and branches, conkers and twigs litter the footpaths and roads, making journeys longer  – more difficult.
I leave the school grounds and round the corner when I hear raised voices.
“…so let me see…”
“It’s not ready yet.”
“Come on, babe… It’s me… you can show me anything…”
“I want it to be right, to be finished…”
I’d recognise Maya’s voice anywhere, and she’s with Fin, who obviously wants her to do something she doesn’t want to.

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“Fin!” I hear her shout, frustration obvious in her voice, “give it back!”
Peering around the corner I see Fintan Quade pulling Maya’s school bag from her grasp, he viciously pulls down the zip, spinning on the spot when she tries to grab her bag back.
“Fin!” Maya protests again, she attempts to pull her bag – there’s the sound of fabric tearing and then all her possessions lay on the ground.

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“Ughh!” Maya growls in aggravation, “Now look what you’ve done!”
Maya bends down and attempts to gather up her belongings.
“Well if you’d have just let me see…” Fin does bother helping her, he leans lazily against the wall and lights up a cigarette. What does she see in him?
“Shit…” Maya’s pencil tin has come open, her pencils and other stationary lie amongst leaves on the ground, she plucks debris from them before placing them back in their case. “Oh no…” she whispers.
I’m at a loss as to what to do… I need to pass them in order to get to Chaska’s cottage… but if Fin sees me loitering I’ll be in for another beating.
“Are you just going to stand there?” Maya snaps at Fin who takes a lengthy drag of the cancer stick in his hand.

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Fin shrugs, “What’s your problem?” he breathes out, wispy blue smoke rises into the cold air.
“I can’t find my pen…” Maya whispers, scraping through the leaves in attempt to find it.
I feel my stomach lurch, the weight of the pen inside my pocket suddenly more apparent.
“Big deal, buy a new one…”
Maya shakes her head, looking through her bag urgently.
“I can’t… my Gran gave me this one… it’s important to me…”
A car horn makes me jump and I glace over to the road as Ms. Lane passes, “Yves!” she calls, “Do you want a lift?”
I shake my head, the heat of embarrassment on my face as she’s given away my position. Acknowledging my response, Ms Lane gives me a small wave before driving away into the sunset.
“What are you doing, Goth?” Fin stares at me, flicking his cigarette to the ground and standing on it, “Eavesdropping?”

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“No… I was just…”
“What?” Fin approaches me, “Speak up, dumbass.”
“I was just walking this way…” I manage a little louder, I resist the urge to look away from him – to look at my feet in submission – so I stare back at him.

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I look past him at Maya who is still on the ground hunting for the pen I’ve stolen, I feel guilty.
“What…?” Fin blocks my view, “What the fuck have I told you about staring at my girlfriend?”
“I wasn’t-”
“Yes you fucking were,” I’m getting used to Fin’s constant pushing, I brace myself as he attempts to send me sprawling.
“I don’t know what your issues are,” Fin says, he pushes me again and once more I feel the anger rising in my chest. “But you stay away from her… you understand me… you fucking,” he pushes me and I’m not ready, I stumble backwards, “stay,” he pushes me again, “away,” this time I stand my ground… I pull back my arm, my hand now a balled up into a fist – and then?

Well,

  then…

I swing.

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