Saturday, 30 June 2012

Just a little idea that amused me (I'm too easily amused)


 “You think he looks like some tough rich guy?” the boy snorted. “You wouldn’t think so if you saw his teeth.”

“What do you mean?” the girl asked, a frown starting to crease her forehead.

“My mum’s friend’s sister’s daughter said to me,” the boy explained, “that he ain’t brushed his teeth once in his damned life. That sound like some rich man to you?”

As if on cue, the man walked over to the two kids, kneeling to meet their height. “Hello chil’ens,” he smiled at them. The grime on his teeth gave the impression that he’d been indulging in several servings of fudge, though the stench of his breath told the two children otherwise. “Here...” he said, producing two notes from his pocket. “Getch yerselves something nice from me.” And with that he stood, cocking his hat to them before leaving.

“Well he must be rich,” the girl stated, wrinkling her nose. “It’s just he obviously saves the money he should be spending on toothpaste.”

“Y’know,” the boy said thoughtfully as they made their way to the bakery, “for the first time in my life, I think I agree with you.”

Friday, 29 June 2012

War and Peace: The Dilemmas of the 21st Century


Nuclear warfare has been a controversial topic for decades. Since the first nuclear bombs were detonated in 1945, on Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there have been many debates on whether or not nuclear weapons should be used, and how peace can be brought to the world.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has been in opposition to the idea of using nuclear weaponry since 1957. As a beneficial for our General Studies course – since the matter is expected to be a topic of discussion in our end of year exams – we were invited to Lancaster to learn about the effects and morals of nuclear warfare, and the suggestions of conflict resolution CND have devised as an alternative to war, as spoken about by Bruce Kent, the vice-president of the organisation. Bruce is well-known for his work for CND. He decided to join CND in 1960, after serving as an officer in the Royal Tank Regiment, before later becoming a priest and chair of the charity War on Want.

The conference started with a quiz, where we were asked questions about nuclear warfare to see how much we knew about the case already. About eight countries in the world admit to using nuclear weapons, including the US, UK, Israel, and China, with the UK spending over £100 billion on them. We were also shown a film written by a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing, showing the disaster and long term effects that the bomb caused. Although the film was animated, it was still horrific to be able to visualise how the citizens suffered, and perished. The effects of the atomic bombing could have a long term effect on the environment: atmospheric pollution leading to nuclear winter that could last for centuries, maybe even millennia, after the initial attack.

The end of the meeting consisted of answering a series of questions regarding nuclear warfare, and it was encouraging that many whom attended had changed their opinions on the matter. We were also given ten beans to represent the country’s budget, to demonstrate what the money spent on nuclear weapons could be spent on instead, which could prove to be more beneficial.

The trip has not only helped us understand the concepts and opinions relating to the use of nuclear warfare, but also helped us to realise our own views on the topic, and the extreme effects that nuclear weapons have on the world. However, we also realise that the issue of nuclear warfare is not one that can be simply sorted. As a global matter, the world would have to work together to solve it, and therefore bring about peace. Even now, with so many people against nuclear weaponry, other countries are now potentially developing nuclear weapons; Iran has recently been in the news for this exact reason. We can only hope for now that CND continue their work, and succeed.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

I'll See You Again


Running. The corridor was so long; why was it so long? She had to get there fast. She had to get there fast before... Before...

“No!” she screamed. “No!”

The look on the doctor’s face told her otherwise. It was too late. But it couldn’t be. She had to see him. She had to tell him before it was too late. It couldn’t be too late. No. She wouldn’t believe it.

“I’m so sorry...” the doctor said.

“No.” It was all she could say. No other words would form except, “No.”

“There’s nothing we could do,” the doctor continued.

Several voices were hushing her, several pairs of hands and arms steadying her as her legs buckled from underneath her and she collapsed in a sobbing heap on the white tiled floor. She kept uttering the same word over and over, as if the watery mantra would bring him back: “No... No... No... No...”

“I am very sorry for your loss,” the doctor said again. “There was nothing we could do.”


***


“You can spend a few moments to say your goodbyes now,” a nurse said, poking her head around the door. Lines of sympathy gently creased her otherwise flawless face, and her lips tried to smile for her, but to no avail. She led Chrissie into the room. Was it possible for this room to seem even whiter than the corridor? Even colder?

He would’ve looked asleep if it hadn’t been for the bruising that covered his face and the blood that soaked into his hair. Machines were beeping all around him, and she could see his chest rising and falling with each breath, but he wasn’t the one making those breaths, she could see that. He looked so...gone. Gone. He would never come back.

“Hey,” she whispered softly. Her hands went straight to his hand and head, holding him, stroking his matted hair. He was still warm, yet so cold; he was there, but he wasn’t.

“I must say, you always knew how to cause a scene,” she chuckled wryly, “but I somehow think you went a bit too far here.” There was only the steady beeping of the machines that filled the silence after her words. She looked down at their entwined hands...well, her hand clutching his. It felt so weird to not feel that familiar firm grip on her hand, the odd squeeze on her fingers which she would then respond to with a squeeze of her own. Before they knew it, they’d be having a battle to see who could squeeze the hardest, and of course he’d always win, though she could swear he cheated somehow. Maybe he had a certain way of holding her hand so that he squeezed the right parts to make her succumb to him. She would never know now.

“Do you remember when we were kids?” she asked, swallowing the lump that threatened to burst into a strangled sob. “We said that... We said that we have to die at the same time – together. That way neither one of us would have to live without the other.” A sob escaped, and then another. “But you have left me,” she moaned. “You’ve broken your promise! And now I have to live the rest of my life without you!”

The machines continued to beep consistently, and for a split second she had the urge to rip out all the wires that were keeping his body alive. She felt disgusted then, recoiling from the body that was supposed to be him, before cupping his hand once more.

“I would go with you,” she whispered. “I would go with you if I could. But I can’t. It wouldn’t be right. It wouldn’t be fair. And I think you would hate me if I did go with you.” She inspected his features closely. Nothing. “I wish you would wake up,” she sobbed. “I want you back! I want my twin brother back! How am I supposed to live without my twin brother?”

“You won’t have to.”

She spun around to see him standing behind her, that cheeky glint in his eyes featuring in his otherwise sombre expression.

“Jake-?”

“You won’t have to live without me,” he said, “because I will always be right here with you.” Tears threatened to flow from his eyes as ruthlessly as her own. “I will never leave you – I promise.”

“I never had the chance to tell you I love you one more time.”

“I know.”

“I love you.”

“I said I know.”

She smiled sadly. “I love you so much, Jake.”

“I love you too.”

“I love you more.”

“Oh no you don’t!”

“Oh yes I do!”

The nurse came in just as she was giggling, a confused look on her face. “Is everything okay?” she asked softly.

“Yeah,” Chrissie sniffed. “Everything’s fine.” The nurse nodded, a slight frown still present, but nonetheless left without further ado. Chrissie turned back to Jake.

“I’ll see you again?” she asked hopefully.

“When the time is right,” he replied. “But I will always be here with you. Never forget that.” His eyes roved over her reddened eyes and nibbled lips, her swollen belly. “Take care of yourself, Chrissie,” he said.

Chrissie laid her hands on the bump, her eyes filling again with tears as she thought of the new life that she was carrying. She knew even before she looked up that Jake was gone. She took a deep breath; she was going to have to be strong for this little one.

Walking out of the hospital without Jake was difficult, only she wasn’t without Jake; she could feel him walk beside her. With that in mind, she wiped away her tears to make way for the small smile that graced her lips. For she knew that she would not be living without a part of her being – he would forever be by her side.

Friday, 8 June 2012

You know that play I keep going on about that I've written? I've done a summary of it for you guys!


‘How NOT To Be A Dumbass’ is a musical on the issues that teenagers go through, and how the pressure from other peers can make them try to be somebody they’re not, and do stupid things in the attempt to impress everyone else and become popular at school.

The musical tells the comical story of a boy called Joel, who is known as the biggest dork at high school. He’s constantly getting on everyone’s nerves – even the teachers have lost their tempers with him on more than one occasion – as he tries to impress the group of popular kids. The problem is, the more he tries to act cool and ‘badass’ the more of a loser he looks, and the more school bully Danny and his gang pick on him. This really gets Joel at times, and it’s left to Kathy to cheer him up as usual. Kathy is Joel’s one and only friend, and seems to be the only one who can see Joel for the real him: a pleasant and not necessarily stupid lad with a big heart, not the dumbass jerk he pretends to be.

The first scene shows Joel looking out of his bedroom window, watching Danny and the popular kids walk past. Danny notices Joel, and says something to the rest of the group who all look up at Joel and snigger before continuing walking to school. Kathy calls at Joel’s so they can walk to school together, and along the way they awkwardly try to make conversation, but Joel is too busy thinking about how he can become cool and popular. Along the way, Joel spots Lisa with her friends, her giggles sounding very much like the noise a guinea pig makes. Kathy is horrified that Joel can fancy a bimbo like her, wearing a very short skirt and lots of makeup. It gets her down that she’s nothing like that, so Joel will never develop the feelings she’s developed for him.
Meanwhile, Joel catches Lisa’s eye. The two of them smile at one another for a while, until Joel walks into a lamppost. The group of girls giggle at him as he picks himself up off the floor, grins sheepishly and walks quickly away, Kathy tailing after him.

When they eventually make it to school, Joel and Kathy start talking about the maths homework that was due today, and obviously Joel hasn’t done it. The pair bump into Danny and his gang, who exchange a few horrid remarks about Kathy’s geeky ways, and how Joel lacks even half a brain cell. Joel tries to retort back, but his come back makes no sense and just sounds absolutely ridiculous, leaving Danny and his gang laughing in his face as they leave.  Kathy grumbles at Joel before heading off to class on her own. Joel sighs and goes after her.

In the next scene, the bell rings for lunch. Danny and his gang pick on a young girl in the canteen because of how small she is, and shoves in front of her in the queue. However he spots Joel entering the canteen and abandons his space in the queue so that he shoulder shove him out the way and then turn to hurl a load of insults at him before walking away, his gang sneering at Joel as they follow. Joel sighs and goes to sit next to Kathy, who has calmed down since the beginning of school. Kathy tries to help Joel with his Geography homework, but Joel has noticed Lisa and her friends and is too busy staring at her to register what Kathy is saying to him. After a few more minutes of talking, Kathy realises that Joel isn’t listening, and she can literally say anything she wants to him and he wouldn’t hear her. She decides to say aloud her feelings for him, since he wasn’t listening. When she’s finished, Joel finally turns to her and dozily says, “Sorry, what were you saying?” to which she replies, “Never mind, it doesn’t matter.” What Kathy doesn’t know is that Lisa heard every word while her friends had been giggling at the gawky look on Joel’s face...

The next scene shows Joel’s year in PE class, boys on one side of the stage, girls on the other. The girls’ PE teacher takes the girls offstage for Netball, while the boys stay onstage, doing football. Danny and his gang start picking on Joel again about his poor football skills. Joel fights back and starts to exaggerate about how good he is, even comparing himself to David Beckham, despite the fact that he is absolutely useless at the sport. Unfortunately for Joel, the other boys don’t buy it, and they challenge him to take a penalty. After a long preparation Joel runs up to shoot, but misses the ball completely and falls flat on his back in the mud. The other boys roar with laughter, but Danny goes over and lends Joel a hand to help him up. Joel grabs his hand, but at the contact Danny recoils and Joel ends up in the mud again. The other boys roar with laughter again and Joel ends up in the middle of a bully circle, being pushed and shoved around, and eventually being shoved offstage, followed by the rest of the boys.

Meanwhile, the girls are playing netball. Kathy catches the ball and is blocked by Lisa. Lisa starts casually asking Kathy about her feelings for Joel, which Kathy denies as she throws the ball to someone else on her team and runs up the pitch to catch it again, Lisa on her tail. Lisa continues the conversation, and tells Kathy to stop denying it because she overheard her spilling her guts to him when he’d much rather it be her. Kathy throws the ball to the ground and tells Lisa to shut up, even though Lisa stands a head taller than her. Play has stopped altogether, and the other girls have formed a circle around the pair. Lisa says some really cruel things to Kathy and basically humiliates her in front of the rest of the class, and Kathy runs away crying, just as the PE teacher walks over. The teacher sends Lisa to her Head of Year’s office.

On her way to the Head of Year’s office, Lisa spots Joel covered in mud on his way to the boy’s changing rooms. She asks him what happened, and when he turns grumpily to speak to her and realises who it is his mouth opens with a funny noise and he finds himself unable to speak. Lisa asks him again, and after a lot of stammering Joel finally explains to her, to which she tells him that she’s on her way to the Head of Year’s office, but doesn’t tell him why. Joel believes it must be fate that they both end up here. Lisa then invites Joel to a party she’s having at her house, and says he can bring Kathy along as well. When Joel accepts the invitation, she continues her way, leaving Joel absolutely ecstatic.

After school Joel goes to Kathy and tells her about Lisa’s invitation, and asks her to come with him, but she refuses. She knows Lisa is doing this to upset her, not because she wants to be with Joel, but she can’t risk losing Joel as a friend by telling him – he’s like a lovesick puppy. Joel keeps begging her and begging her, and bit by bit Kathy softens, and instead of outright refusing she starts making excuses, like she has lots of work to do, and when that one fails she says she has nothing to wear. Joel asks her to go, for him, and at that Kathy finds herself saying that she will go.

Kathy meets Joel outside Lisa’s house. She looks barely recognisable from the geeky girl everyone knows at school. Instead of in its usual ponytail her hair is down, with a few waves and ringlets. She’s wearing a bit of eyeliner that brings out her eyes and a small amount of lip gloss so she still looks natural, and her dress compliments her figure that usually hides beneath the frumpy uniform or hoodie and jeans Joel is used to. Unfortunately for Kathy, Joel’s eyes are fixed on Lisa who he can see through the window, getting really drunk and dancing with all the guys in her living room. Kathy says she doesn’t think this is a good idea, but Joel is adamant that they go in.

When they go in the house, they notice that only the popular group from school have been invited, and they’re the only non-popular people there. This unnerves Kathy, but Joel loves it. He feels he’s finally going up in the world and that he’s being seen in a different light. He doesn’t realise that Lisa only invited them to upset Kathy. Kathy tries to stick with Joel, but he’s too busy trying to mingle with the others, and before she knows it, Kathy’s alone. She decides to sit on the sofa out of the way of everybody.

Joel, meanwhile, has got chatting to some girls. He’s trying to impress them with his dance moves, which are absolutely horrendous, so the freaked out girls leave him. Danny comes up behind him and tells Joel not to try so hard with girls and Joel nearly jumps out of his skin. Joel quickly recovers and tries to muster up a good comeback but again it comes out really lame. Danny smiles and tells Joel he shouldn’t try so hard altogether – people would probably like him for the real him if he embraced who he was. Joel asks why Danny why he’s all of a sudden being so nice to him when at school he’s always so mean. Danny laughs and asks Joel why he thinks. Joel says he doesn’t know, and Danny laughs again. He tells Joel that he has feelings for him, that he’s gay and he likes him. Joel goes pale and tries to get out of the room, but Danny is in the way and has to push Danny away when he tries to move in to kiss Joel. This hurts Danny, who asks Joel if he likes him too, to which Joel answers no really harshly and leaves.

Joel rushes to the bathroom to get his head around what had just happened, but finds Lisa sitting on the floor next to the toilet, leaning against the wall drunkenly. Joel finds a glass next to her and pours her a glass of water, but she doesn’t seem to be awake so he tips its contents over her head so as to wake her up. Pouring her another glass of water, he hands it to her but she just wrinkles her nose up at it and pours the water into the toilet bowl, dropping the glass in as well. Joel rolls his eyes and tries to help her up. As he gets her to her feet, she throws her arms around his neck and starts calling him her hero and rests her head on his chest. He keeps hold of her at the waist in case she collapses. Danny walks in and sees them together like this, and putting two and two together he storms out again. Joel just looks on, until Lisa vomits all over his shirt. And that is how Act 1 ends.

Act 2 starts back at school after the party, and everyone is gossiping about Lisa and Joel. Danny has spread it around that he caught Lisa and Joel together in the bathroom, and has let everyone’s imaginations take over. By lunchtime the whole school has heard the rumour that Lisa slept with Joel, and when Kathy hears it she believes it and is heartbroken.

Lisa is furious when she finds out. She pleads with Joel in front of her friends to put the record straight, but Joel realises that this is his chance to become popular and instead goes along with people’s rumours, much to Lisa’s horror. Her friends want nothing to do with her as they now think of her as cheap and desperate, while the popular lads pat Joel on the back. Lisa glares at him before she storms off, tears in her eyes.

Another person crying is Kathy. As she sits on her own on some steps, she sings a reprise of ‘For Once’. When the song ends, Joel enters, walking past without noticing Kathy. She calls out to him, asking if the rumours are true. He shifts from foot to foot, before stuttering out a “no”. She then asks him if he’s set the record straight to the school yet, and again he says no. She asks him why, then rolls her eyes when guesses that he’s going along with it, which he confirms. At this she starts yelling at him, how it’s not fair on Lisa and how he should tell the truth to everyone right now. At this particular moment, a voice agrees with her and Joel and Kathy both turn to see Lisa entering, white with fury.

Lisa starts to yell at Joel – how dare he ruin her reputation like this for his own selfish need to be popular – attracting the attention from others. She demands him to tell everyone the truth, which he pretends he doesn’t know what she’s talking about and that they did do the deed. She gets annoyed and then asks him what her tattoo is of on her thigh. Obviously he doesn’t know, and is therefore forced to admit he lied. Everyone is furious with him, and after being slapped by Lisa and her friends, Joel is left alone, apart from Kathy.
Kathy and Joel end up having a bit of a row about the matter, which turns a little more personal when Kathy tells Joel she has feelings for him. With that she leaves. Joel is stunned, and something inside him makes him run after Kathy. When he catches up with her, Kathy starts having a go at him again but he cuts her off by kissing her. The kiss is simple and tender and lasts for about five seconds. When they break apart they realise they didn’t feel the way they should have, and after a few more tries they come to the conclusion that they’re not attracted to one another after all, and decide they’re better off as just friends. Kathy is no longer angry with Joel, and the pair awkwardly shake hands and exit together.

In the next scene Joel goes to apologise to Lisa, but she wants nothing to do with him. He keeps trying however, resulting in her shouting at him in front of everybody again. He starts backing away as if to run away, but then Kathy catches his eye and this encourages him to stand his ground and say what he wanted to say. Everyone is quiet and they watch as Joel apologises to Lisa for all he’s done and for being such a jerk. After a long pause, Lisa awkwardly nods at him and then leaves. Joel hopes that this is her accepting his apology but he’s not sure. But all this is almost forgotten when he sees Danny watching him intently. He starts to approach him, but Danny runs off.

Later Kathy and Joel are walking outside on the school grounds when Joel notices Danny sitting alone, his head down and clearly in distress. Joel tells Kathy he’ll catch up with her and goes over to see if Danny is alright. Danny starts to get up to leave but Joel stops him and sits next to him. After an awkward silence, Joel tells Danny he knows that he was the one who started the rumours about him and Lisa, but he forgives him. Danny snorts in response and says that Joel only forgives him because he got to be the big man for an hour. Joel admits it, but says that that isn’t the only reason he forgives him. He tells Danny he understands that what he’s going through must be very hard to deal with, and that although he isn’t like that he once doubted his sexuality. Danny listens intently and smiles at Joel before looking forlorn again and putting his head in his hands. Joel then asks where all Danny’s friends are, to which Danny laughs and asks what friends. He explains how he came out to one of his closer friends, but he totally freaked out and told the rest of them and now they avoid him like the plague. This makes it even harder for him to come out if he wants to now. Joel tells Danny that he shouldn’t care what people think: he should be him and not listen to people badmouthing him. After all, as Lady Gaga once said, you’re born this way. He then has an idea. He stands up and offers Danny his hand and tells him to get up.

In the canteen, it’s starting to leak about Danny’s sexuality. When Joel and Danny enter, everyone starts whispering, and Danny knows it’s about him. He tries to leave but Joel stops him. Joel then addresses everyone and tells them that although Danny may be gay he is still a human being and still should be treated like one, not some freak. He comes out with a big speech about equality and being born the way you are, and when he’s finished, Danny’s friends go up to Danny and offer their hands in friendship. Danny accepts, and they apologize for being so cruel to him. Some other people go up to Danny to pat him on the back before exiting. Danny smiles gratefully at Joel, and silently words a thank you to him. His friends turn to Joel and decide that he isn’t that bad after all. This eventually leads to another reprise of ‘For Once’, with lyrics of “For once I am a bad-ass” whereas in the original it was “For once I’d be a bad-ass”. After the song, Danny pats Joel on the back and says that although Joel can hang out with the popular lot whenever he wants now, it doesn’t necessarily make him a badass.

The last scene shows Joel lurking in the bushes in the park, watching some of the cool kids smoking and drinking. As he edges around the bushes to get a closer look, he steps on something. He looks down and notices that it’s a gun. He picks it up, thinking how badass it would be to own a gun, especially at school. He daydreams about showing it off at school, however there is a twist of events and he accidently pulls the trigger and shoots someone. This ends his daydream and he decides it isn’t worth it and puts it back under the bush. Unfortunately for Joel, a policeman happens to notice him putting the gun back and comes to the conclusion that it is Joel’s and chases after him. Joel curses and runs away, pursued by the policeman. This ends the play.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

This isn't exactly finished yet, nor may it ever be, but I thought it was worth putting on here...


Opening his eyes, the young fawn was met with a blinding light and he shivered from the chill that ran through his body. The light closed his eyes to his mother, but as he used his new sense of touch and feel, he found her lying beside him, and he snuggled up against her warm belly. The bright light ceased to a small spotlight upon the new fawn, and he was able to look up into his mother’s deep brown eyes which mirrored him exactly, allowing him to notice his pelt – all brown and matted and flecked with a white so pure – and his huge innocent eyes. So young and innocent. And beautiful. His mother looked him over proudly as she gently licked him with such love and care. And he felt safe. He was safe. And then one innocent eye caught the lush vibrant greens about him, and the rich warm browns that he lay upon and had to look up to as they towered above him with the green, intimidating him. Strange and powerful scents, he discovered, flared his nostrils into life. They weren’t normal, not to him. But as long as his mother lay beside him, he was fine.

For hours the pair just lay side by side, the fawn testing his new senses: familiarising himself with the beauty about him which he was intended to call home; the strong aroma of rich dark soil and tints of mint and other flora; the rhythm of his young heart beating against his wheezy chest; the warmth of his mother’s thick body and the thick, damp humidity of the ground and air; and the taste of the atmosphere, so thick and refined upon the buds of his tongue. This was where he was going to learn to belong. And it started now.

His mother got to her feet carefully, elegantly, and he tried to do the same. But he was delicate and too heavy for his legs, which shook and trembled with the strain, resulting in a collapse and a light thud. He looked hopelessly up at his mother, who looked encouragingly down at him. He tried a more controlled theory of getting to grips with the ground, one hoof at a time. But the first leg shook, then the second, and he was back to lying on his heaving belly and looking up at his mother. Their eyes locked and he used this opportunity to silently plead with her using his huge innocent eyes alone. His mother heaved a sigh and moved round to his hind before lowering her head and nudging, gently but effectively. And he was up. He was trembling with frailty and determination, and he lifted a leg. He wobbled dangerously, and breath seemed held. And within a single moment it was down again, a bit further forward than it had been: his first step.

Just a few days of struggle later, the new fawn was bounding around like the rabbits that scattered the woods. The pattern of brown and green was interrupted with a dash of flower every so often as he ran; such beauties like the fawn. Birds joined in the sky to somewhat compete in what seemed to become a race, and the grass brushed the fawn’s legs and polished his hooves. This was what freedom was.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Just a short story I've done


Some days can only get better. Others, on the other hand, can simply get worse. Take today for example, driving to God knows where with a gun pointed at my temple. The cold metal touches my burning flesh every time we go over a speed bump or turn a left corner, and yet all I care about is keeping my temper under wraps. I haven't the patience to be afraid right now; I'm annoyed. I'm annoyed at how ridiculous this day has got. I'm annoyed with the fact that I'm stuck in this damned car driving some lunatic to wherever the hell he wants so that he doesn't stick a bullet through my brains when all I really want to do is go home and shut myself away. I'm annoyed because my son of twenty four years old is probably sat in front of the television, slowly losing his patience with his mother for not being home on time to cook him his dinner and do his washing and ironing for the party he's going to tonight. The notes I left on the fridge and television this morning asking him to do the dishes for me have probably been shoved in the bin, and his dirty washing is probably still waiting for me to move it from the bathroom floor. He's as bad as his father, that boy. Lazy, ignorant, self-obsessed...


“Turn left here.”


The muzzle of the gun jabs at my temple again as we turn. Like getting fired  today wasn't bad enough. The only reason I care is because money is tight at the moment. The job was lousy, and the staff even worse; it was always painfully obvious that they didn't like me. Janet had it in for me from the word go since I explained that the databases she had done were wrong and showed her how to do them properly. So when I was late today she wasted no time in sacking me.


"Second right."


Not that it was my fault for being late; they should have been glad I came in at all. I was dreading walking through those doors after the confession Lydia had had in store for me this morning. Like it wasn't bad enough that my husband had slept with a girl the same age as his son, but he'd been having an affair with my best friend for a year and a half. I can't properly remember how she came about telling me of her betrayal, but I had mentioned the divorce papers arriving in the post last night, and before I knew it I was feeling sick and screaming at her to get out of my car and make her own way to work. After that I just drove.


"Right here."


I can feel tears prickling at the corners of my eyes. I still love my husband, but I can no longer trust him. Our son doesn't make it easy for me as a newly single parent either. I sometimes wonder if he blames me for Jeff cheating.


"Turn left."


I chance a glance at my captor through the rear view mirror. He looks like a normal teenager, about 18-years-old, dressed in the typical tracksuit bottoms and hoodie. His eyes are focused on the road ahead. I shift my attention quickly to the road, then back to the kid. He's wearing a New York Yankees baseball cap tilted to the side, probably thinking he looks cool or something. I catch him looking at me, and he cocks his eyebrow at me questioningly with a slight smirk on his face.


"Like what you see, lady?"


I quickly look at the road ahead, and I can feel the blood rushing to my face. Why does that always happen to me? It's not like I was actually checking him out; I'm old enough to be his mother for goodness' sake! I keep telling myself in my head that it was so that I could describe him to the police when...if...I get out alive. I wouldn't ever consider stooping down to Jeff's level, stop the car and turn to kiss the young man behind me. It's simply not done, especially when the psycho has a gun and is threatening to shoot me unless I do as he says.


"Left here."


Maybe I'm still adjusting to a life with no one to hold me at night, or to laugh with and hold hands with as we walk in the park. I guess I'm just still facing the facts that I'm alone now, with no company other than a slob for a son. What's even worse is that - to be perfectly honest - I want my son to move out. I disgust myself with this revelation, but it's the truth. He will always expect me to clean up after him and pay for all his food and video games. He will never give me rent, or even give me £10 towards everything I do and buy for him, even if I did ask him. I know him; he would fly off the handle and beat me until I'm black and blue, then sludge back up to his room and act as if nothing happened, because in his head, nothing did happen. He won't remember how he lost his temper and snatched the iron out of my hand and pressed it to my forearm, and he will be shocked when he notices the bandage covering the burnt flesh peeping out from under my long sleeved top.


The thing is, I know him. I know he uses his condition to his advantage sometimes. I know that he's perfectly capable of putting away a few dishes and taking his things up to his room. He's just-


"Stop here."


I stop the car. I can feel my heart throwing itself repeatedly at my chest, almost as if it's trying to escape. I keep licking my lips nervously, and I let out a breath I didn't even realise I was holding.


"So what now?" I ask, trying to hold back the fear in my voice. I keep my eyes focused merely on two small boys kicking a football to and fro, not daring to face my captor.


I hear a small snigger escape him, and the sound of the back door opening and slamming shut. "Thanks, lady!" he calls out. I frown, confused, and turn to see the kid walking around the corner.


"Wait a minute! Wait a hot second!" I shout, realisation hitting me suddenly. I get out of the car and run after the lad. "You just wanted a ride home?"


He stops and turns to face me, a huge grin playing on his features. "Didn't have enough for the bus," he shrugs.


"But the gun-"


He pulls the trigger, and my mouth is suddenly filled with bubbles. Bubbles. I splutter, both at the taste and at the ridiculous and utmost stupid of situations I have ever been in. The kid laughs and starts walking down the street again.


"I could get the police on you, y'know! You could go down for this - terrorising a middle-aged woman just so you can get a lift home. How dare you!"


"You won't though," he calls back. "I mean, what are you gonna say? 'Oh Officer, this young chap threatened to kill me with a bubble gun'?"


He's right. There's nothing I can do about it. Even if I was taken seriously he would only get a slap on the wrists and be sent on his way. I decide to leave it. Besides, it's not all bad - maybe I've found a way in which to make my son do those damned dishes!

Nearly freaked with happiness - an editor has seen an article I wrote, and wants to publish it in his magazine!!!!!!!! Boo-yah!

If you want to check out the article, you can find it here:  http://cmiller0161.hubpages.com/hub/Smoking-Ban-Good-or-Bad

The magazine is monthly in Mumbai, India, and don't worry, I've checked it out and it's definitely not a scam. They haven't offered me money for the article, but I'm just happy that it's going to be officially published. I'll be getting a copy of the magazine in the post, so when I receive it, I'll put a scan of it on for you guys!

Happyyyyy!

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