“When something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Or is it?”
I’m tired. Tired of being bullied, ignored, and tired of my dysfunctional parents. I clean out my locker, so no one else has to do it for me once I’m gone. But when someone knocks my books out of my hands, it sets off a motion of events that makes me feel more alive than I’ve ever felt before.
Andreas is the best friend of one of my bullies, but he’s nothing like any of them. He’s kind and compassionate and charming—and he doesn’t seem to mind my scars. When he reveals he’s bisexual and interested in me, it all seems too good to be true.
But who am I to look a gift-horse in the mouth? It’s not like I can’t postpone my plans, after all, and go along with him for as long as he’ll have me.
Three weeks into school and I couldn’t take it anymore. Either I was being completely ignored by everyone, even the teachers, or I was being called names because of my looks, my mannerisms, or my scars. One would think I’d prefer being ignored, but it was just as bad as being bullied simply because of the way I was.
So I was cleaning out my locker. My books were in a stack at my feet and I put a couple of folders and loose papers into my rucksack. I didn’t have much in my locker, but what I did have I was going to take home with me. No one was going to have to do this for me when I was gone.
I was doing it myself, like I did everything myself.
I bent to put a few of the books into my rucksack as well. It filled up quickly, though, and I wrestled with the zipper for a moment before I managed to close it.
Someone bumped into me from behind, sending me crashing into the lockers. I hit my forehead against the cold metal, and I groaned as I squeezed my eyes shut. No more.
I hefted the rucksack on my back, lifted the rest of the books into my arms, and stood up. I closed my locker, but put the padlock in my pocket. No reason to lock it when there was nothing there. When I wasn’t coming back.
My rucksack was heavy, and my back was already aching from it, but so were the books I was struggling to hold onto. Why did we have to have so many books, anyway?
“Oi, watch where you’re going!”
A thick-set bloke walked right into me, sending all my books tumbling to the ground. He looked at me, shook his head, and walked away.
I couldn’t even master the will to look after him in annoyance. Why was he asking me to watch where I was going? He was the one who’d walked into me.
I swallowed heavily, fighting back tears as I bent to pile my books up again.
I could see out of the corner of my eye that someone plucked one of my books up: one that was out of my immediate reach. I reached out for the last book that was lying on the ground, but the person who’d picked up the other one grabbed it before me.
I retracted my hand slowly, then raised my head in trepidation. Either this would be someone messing with me, or someone helping me. I wasn’t sure which one I preferred, but I was dreading it all the same.
“Here.” He crouched down and handed me the two books he was holding.
His eyes, a deep shade of brown, met mine. He swam a little before me, as my eyes were filled with tears, but I could still recognise him. Tall, fit, and tanned, with straight blond hair. He was the best mate of one of the arseholes in my class, so I’d seen him in our classroom several times during the two years we’d been in upper secondary school.
“Don’t feel bad,” he said, cocking his head slightly. “Arseholes like him aren’t worth it.”
Why is he being nice to me? I lowered my gaze and took the books from his outstretched hands. His fingers brushed mine. They were thicker and more calloused than my slender ones.