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Nick Pointing

Miss Larkin

I don’t know how it happened. I’m not violent. Well, not really. I remember that time in school though, that day James Turner said all that stuff in front of the class. Nobody really liked him but they still all laughed, all giggled and sniggered. They stopped when I hit him. Not right away though. After the first punch everyone shouted and started chanting fight, fight, fight and they leapt up on the chairs and the tables. After the fifth or sixth punch they got real quiet and stopped but I could still feel their eyes on me, all of them watching me, they didn’t want to turn away.
    Miss Larkin was screaming at me to get off him and I’d felt someone pull onto my arm and before I knew it I’d swung at Miss and cracked her across the face. I hadn’t meant to. She shouldn’t have grabbed me like that, not when I was in the middle of a fight, she could have been one of the other lads. I couldn‘t tell what was going on, it could have been anyone.
    She’d fallen over, well, stumbled over, and blood had shot out of her nose and splashed across the window. That was when Jennifer Riley and all her lot started screaming real loud. I can’t remember what they were saying, probably just stop it and all that. I couldn’t really have stopped though, even if I’d wanted to because James Turner was getting up again. I didn’t see him because I was walking over towards Miss Larkin. I was worried about her and wanted to apologise; she had been nice to me before, not like most of the other teachers, always sending me out, shouting and screaming.
    The blood was pouring from her nose and had covered her blouse, staining it red. She’d seen me walking over and went all hysterical, crying and sobbing. She’d looked scared of me, with her arms flying in the air and her screams filling the room. A slap to the head had made me turn round and remember about James. He was standing there all bloodied up and sticky with sweat, the fist he’d used to hit me was hanging loosely in front of his face. I remember his eyes too. They didn’t look at me, they darted around the whole room and were wide, I guess because he was scared, but I didn’t care.
    It’s a blur after that. I’d leapt on him, saying it was his fault Miss Larkin got hurt, hitting him over and over. Mr Hyde and Mr Mooney from the next classroom along had pulled me off him, dragging me up from his bloody face, both saying that I was in for it now and that I’d better hope Miss and James would be alright. They took me out and on the way I’d seen her in the corner, surrounded by other teachers and some of the girls from class. She was sobbing again with her hair all a mess with her make up all smeared. She hadn’t looked anything like the Miss Larkin that was always so polite and spoke so quietly and so nicely to me. Just before I was taken out I’d seen James and he’d looked bad. He wasn’t really moving and his eyes were all shut up with bruises, and when his mouth fell open you could see his teeth were gone, well, some of them, others were just cracked. I don’t know how I’d felt about that. I know it was me who had done it, but it was James who had made me.  I didn’t really care bout him though, he’d deserved it, embarrassing Miss like that in front of the class. I couldn’t stand it when people joked about sexual things like that, especially if it was about someone like Miss Larkin. I’d seen she hadn’t enjoyed it. It’s always like that though, people joking and laughing about things that they shouldn’t. It used to be like that at my first home. He was always saying sexual things to the girls and to Mum. She didn’t care when it was about her, but when it was about the girls things always got nasty and I’d start shouting with Mum at him and then he’d get all crazy himself.
    Since that day at school I’ve tried telling Miss I did it for her but she never really listened. After all that I was never allowed back and because James ended up so bad, with surgery and all that, I’ve had to spend time away in this hostel for violent kids. I don’t think I should be here though; I’m not like the others who always shout and fight each other, they never stop. Everyday the people who work here ask me stupid questions about anger, and fighting and blood and all that kind of stuff. Sometimes they even talked about all the sexual things, and when they found out I didn’t like talking about it they went on with it even more.
    The only thing that I really looked forward to doing was writing Miss a letter once a week. I’d asked the people at the hostel if I could write her a kind of apology and they loved the idea, saying it would make me look mature and smart and all that. I worked for hours on these letters, spending whole days writing and re-writing and writing again. She replied at first. Saying she appreciated my apology and hoped my time at the hostel would be ‘constructive’. She didn’t really say much. It was kind of like she was marking my work again, only saying little lines and never getting excited or really saying much at all. I was the opposite though and tried to say as much as I
could, writing everything that came into my head no matter how stupid or funny it sounded. I enjoyed it.
    It was after my tenth letter she’d stopped. She didn’t even say why. I wrote again asking, but after that the hostel wouldn’t let me send any more. They promised in a few months I could leave and move back into some new housing with a new family. But I didn’t care about all that. I was more worried about why Miss wouldn’t write anymore. I’d apologised and done the right thing, but she didn’t want to know. I thought that when you said sorry things were meant to be okay again.
    That’s the problem you see. No one ever wants to know what I think. I know I said that the people at the hostel ask me questions but that’s different. They ask and listen and scribble down answers that I’m not allowed to see, only saying things like ‘maybe’, or ‘that’s interesting’ or ‘what do you think?’ They ask, but they never answer, no matter how much I ask and how much I beg them.
    It was after one of these talks that I found the knife. I don’t know why I picked it up. I’m not violent. I found the knife left on the kitchen side at dinner yesterday and had taken it back to my room. After the lights had gone out I’d rolled out of bed and stood at my sink.
    I’m looking at myself now. The mirror light is faint but it shows my face well enough. I’ve got light stubble which makes me look older, and I’ve even got a few hairs on my chest now. My scars are hardly visible in this light. The little circle burns, the slices on my arms and stomach, their very faint in this light, only little stains on my skin.   
    I don’t know why it’s happened but the knife in my hand has slipped across my arm and cut a little which lets blood run down into the sink. I’m not violent, but I cut the other arm too and it makes another trail of blood.
    It doesn’t hurt. The burns and scars had hurt when I was younger but I couldn’t feel anything like pain now. I suppose it must be different when you do it to yourself. Some blood flicked onto the mirror, it was like that day in the classroom again. Except it was my blood this time. That day always seems to come to me.
    I look weird in the glass. The little light from the mirror only shines onto me, so everything else in the room is still in the dark. It was like I wasn’t in the room at all. It was just me, on my own, away from the hostel, away from all the questions and all the carers, away from everyone. The blood was running quickly into sink, draining away into the shadows.
    I wish I was with Miss Larkin in that classroom again, with James Turner on the floor in a heap with the same blood on the glass. If she’d just listen to me this time I’d tell her it was an accident, that I hadn’t meant to hurt her. She’d listen to me. I could tell her this time and she’d still be nice to me, she’d write back to me, she’d care, she’d understand.
    There isn’t enough blood on the glass. It needs to be like before, it needs to be just like that day with Miss Larkin. I’ll cut deeper. She’ll listen to me this time.








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