Part 2 – edited

Comments / Typos welcome.

Kathryn’s been very sweet and advised me that my suspected tendancy to over-write comes out quite strongly, uh, when I write. I’m attempting to turn it down a little. I’ve trimmed this a bit, and I’ll try to trim and edit it based on people’s comments…

——
The room was bathed in the neon glow of the alarm clock. The blinds kept out what little early morning sun was around, leaving the blinking digits to illuminate the cluttered interior and, under the duvet, the lurking figure of a boy.

The radio crackled into life (it was cheap, and crackled into most things), bringing news of a traffic jam on the Westway, again. Not that it mattered; he lived well outside London, but it made him feel part something bigger than his small suburban existence. Not that that mattered anyway; all of the events being earnestly reported were currently falling on the ears of someone deeply asleep. His head buried in the feathers of the pillow, his mind elusively detached.

But slowly, The Clash being broadcast from the little white box dragged him into the land of the living. Well, in a limited way. The actual, perhaps unintended result was that he attempted to burrow deeper into the pillow, making himself one with the mattress. Perhaps, just perhaps, if he thought hard enough about it the day would go away and leave him in peace.

The radio didn’t stop playing though, at least not by itself. After a few minutes a wiry hand crept out from under the duvet and felt it’s way across the bedside table. Hunting along the row of buttons it found ‘Snooze’ before making it’s way back under the duvet. Unfortunately for the boy, the ‘Snooze’ function failed to stop the sun continuing to rise, and the sunlight began to filter through the trees, then the blinds, and finally he could ignore it no more and as the radio crackled into life again bringing forth ‘I Believe’ he crawled from the bed.

Pausing only for a somewhat theatrical switching off of the radio he went, cursing en-route, to find his dressing gown.

“How do you get from London Calling to bloody I Believe in 10 minutes?” he muttered to the room.

Staring at the disorganised clutter he awaited some kind of response.

“No, bloody thought not” he mumbled.

“Kim! Are you up yet?”
“I’m getting there.” he shouted back.
“Getting there? Are you actually out of the bed?”
“Of course I am mum!”

He could here the mutterings about the inappropriateness of the ‘of course’, but decided that discretion was probably the better part of valour and made his way into the bathroom. One brief shower later he was fishing in his battered wardrobe for a school uniform. ‘One more year’ he thought to himself. Then he’d be able to wear whatever he wanted; well, sort of, to school.

And then she crept into his consciousness. Would she be there today? Sometimes she was there, at school, and sometimes not. No one ever seemed to comment on it. At least, not where he’d overheard them. Not being Mr Popular meant he kind of lacked on the gossip front, only catching what was said loudly enough for him to overhear. Being almost invisible, at school at least, helped on that front. Not that he normally cared for such conversations, but since her occasional appearances – and the slightly odd fact that her name was only ever called at register when she was there, he’d become more interested conversations to which he’d normally not be a part.

“Bye Kim. Have a good day at scho..” he heard his mum disappearing out the front door.

By the time he grabbed his coat he heard his mum’s fiat pulling away. He cursed again – he’d missed his lift to school, again.

“Ah well, better late than never”

He chanted his teacher’s favoured comment on his late arrival – then he considered other clich├ęs he could use for his arrival, grabbed his Walkman, and stomped down stairs. At least he’d get breakfast. He’d probably get some kind of warning at school, but so long as he made his first class they’d not care. Mind you, he thought, one of these days if he was early he might see her arrive. He looked at his watch.

Not today though. Today he’d be lucky to make registration, and he’d only make that if he didn’t eat. He perched on the stool and poured out Cornflakes. Breakfast first, then school.

Pretentious? Moi?

I know I’m not the greatest writer in the world, but I’m debating carrying on with this. Sort of. In a way.

—-

Outside the stars glint appealingly, calling her to come out again. She’s done it before many times, and she slips quietly from under the covers. Her family are well used to her nocturnal nature but even years on don’t know what she does when they’ve gone to sleep. She dresses quietly, picking her clothing in the half light of the moon, it doesn’t matter anyhow, at this hour there’ll be no one there. No one but her; exploring alone.

She knew what clothes she was going to wear anyway. Stuffed down at the back, behind everything else, she selects her favourites. Carefully stepping over the crease in the carpet marking the fractured floorboard that hits some pipe or other waking the house, she descends the stairs. Counting each one quietly, stepping with care, and listening for the breathing of her parents. Any change and she pauses. Waiting for it to settle again before placing her foot gently on the next stair.

She’s been here so many times, she skips the steps that creak and stands, quietly, in the darkness of the hall. Her next challenge is one of the harder ones. Extracting her bunch of keys, the ones that will allow her to reenter this world, from the pile of keys on the shelf. Her family aren’t the neatest, and her keys occupy the lowest space in a pile of discarded metalwork. Fingers carefully working she moves each bunch; her Mum’s car keys, her Dad’s office keys, her Mum’s locker key. Finally the light catches the edge of the lettering on her door key, she slips them into her hand, listens once again, before stealing for the kitchen door.

She wonders who thought that sliding doors were a good idea, and she attempts to hold the door mid point between the scraping bottom guide and the squealing top casters; moving it slowly and carefully she is able to peer through the kitchen window. The street is jaundiced by the glow of sodium vapour, but no houses glow anaemically from the opposite side of the street. She slips out, her key holding the lock open until the door is quietly shut, and as she finally releases the key she feels the release of the outside world.

The girl steps out onto the street, still carefully checking, but at this time no-one arrives, and she is free to slip through the world unnoticed. She wanders suburbia, quietly taking in all that surrounds her. Her runners crunch across the gravel, the silence briefly broken but returning and washing over her. This, she thinks is freedom. But it is, as always, short lived. After an hour or two the cold of the night eats through her clothing and she slips back home.

A repeat performance takes her quietly up the dark stairs, praying internally that no-one will awake – there would be too much to explain. Eventually she wraps herself in her duvet, the warmth seeping through her and drifts to sleep.