please be aware that this story does contain spoilers for those of you who have not read my debut novel, solitaire. if you haven't read it, you probably should go and do that like right now.
Ten decisions shape your life
You'll be aware of five about
Seven ways to go through school
Either you're noticed or left out
Seven ways to get ahead
Seven reasons to drop out
Lucas Ryan, 22nd December
Two months ago I decided that Truham Grammar School for Boys was a total shithole filled with arrogant pricks and I did not want to be there anymore. Firstly, I had literally not one friend there, because all the guys I hung around with were too concerned with drinking and football to actually have a decent conversation. Secondly, I’d had enough of the boys-school teaching – the constant need for group projects and ‘going outside’ and playing games in lessons. Like, sometimes we don’t mind just sitting down and learning. I know we’re boys but we’re not complete idiots.
Thirdly- well. There’s another reason but honestly it’s too stupid to even say out loud.
“You’re so embarrassing,” says my sister Darcy. “I can’t believe you left your school because you don’t have any friends.” She stops wrapping up the walking socks she bought Mum. “Actually. Yeah. I can bloody believe that.”
We’re sitting on my bedroom floor wrapping presents at 11pm. Darcy is back from uni for Christmas, having stayed there for the whole of her first term of her fresher year. I think she wanted to be as far away from Mum and Dad and this horrific town as possible, and honestly, I don’t blame her.
I don't really know why she's decided to come into my room and wrap presents with me. Usually she either ignores me or is shouting at me about something completely out of my control.
“I left because the teaching was horrendous,” I say, even though we both know that’s a lie.
She gives me a look. It’s intimidating, despite the fact that she’s wearing pyjama bottoms with cookies on them and a sweatshirt decorated with pugs. I’ve always been kind of scared of Darcy. She probably could kill a person if she had to.
“What’s the real reason, Lu-Lu?” she asks, putting down the scissors. “Seriously.”
I carry on wrapping up Dad’s gardening gloves. My wrapping is so terrible that it takes a good eight pieces of cellotape for it to stop unwrapping itself.
“I’m a bit worried about you, to be honest.”
“That’s a first.”
“Oh, stop being a dick.”
“Well you haven’t been here for like three months, so... I don’t really understand why you care that much.”
Darcy hasn’t taken any interest in any part of my seventeen years of life. This is because she’s always far too preoccupied with things in her own life, whether it’s dancing competitions, a band, friendship dramas, youth theatre productions, university applications, academic achievement, etc, etc. My parents are also far more interested in her life than my life, mostly because her life is like a hundred-year-old encyclopaedia, whereas my life is like one of those joke books you buy at the shop counter to put in your bathroom.
“Oh Jesus, Lucas.” Her laugh is so exasperated that I actually start to feel kind of angry. Why does she have to be so patronising all of the time? Her being alive is enough to make me feel inadequate. “I came in here to see if you were alright. You don’t just swap schools for any old reason. Like, for all I know, you’re getting beaten up every day or something.”
“I’m not getting beaten up.”
“Well I don’t know, do I? You go to that bloody boys school.”
“Yeah, well, I just hated it.”
She doesn’t say anything for a moment, then rips a piece of cellotape with her teeth. She doesn’t stop looking at me.
“What did you hate?”
Which is true. I hated everything about Truham. And to be honest, I’m pretty sure I’m going to hate everything about Higgs. It’s just school. I hate everything about school.
School ruins people.
I’ve seen it happen.
I finish another present, the wrapping paper making the mug resemble a lump of rock. “Darcy, I really don’t want to talk about this.”
I really don’t want her to guess the real reason.
“So you’re running away.” Darcy stands up, sliding her finished pile of presents to one side of my room, and slumps into my desk chair. “You’re just leaving because you’re finding it a bit hard.”
“You’re being such a dickhead.”
“Lu-Lu, I’m just saying it how it is.”
“You don’t understand anything about my life.”
She cackles. “Oh my god, you are hilarious.”
It takes a lot of effort not to start shouting at her. “Can’t you just leave me alone, for God’s sake!”
“Higgs isn’t any better, though. Higgs is literal academic hell. The teachers don’t give a shit about you and the sixth form is like American high school rom-com levels of clique-y-ness.”
“It’s better than Truham.”
“I think you’re wrong.”
“I don’t think you’d fucking know, would you, Darcy!?”
That time, I actually do shout a bit. This seems to shut her up for once, so I continue.
“You can’t just come home and tell me that you know better than me about the decisions I’m making for my life when you haven’t once paid any attention to anything about me.”
She stays silent for a moment more.
And then she says, “Fine,” and picks up her presents and leaves my room.
I sit still. She doesn’t understand my decisions and she doesn’t need to. She doesn’t deserve it, really. Nobody does. I make the decisions for my life. I fix the things that need fixing. I used to know someone who understood my life but I learnt to be okay without them here. I’m okay by myself. And if I want to change schools then I’m going to do it. I care about things, even if nobody else does. I can change things if I want to.
I stand up and change the music playing from my iPod speakers from a Christmas album to something much better, something from a film I watched the other day. I sit at my desk and go onto Facebook on my laptop. I keep wondering how I’m going to tell the people I know at school that I’m leaving.
Maybe I just won’t tell them.
Maybe I don’t really need to.
A picture pops up of a few of the guys on a night out. I shut my laptop and spin around in my desk chair. I listen to the music for a bit. I really, really hate school. I know this is a typical teenage thing but I'm going to tell you again - I really don't care what you think about me. I think maybe it’d be better if I didn’t go at all.
If I didn’t have to go. If it
If it just
If it just
hey! hope you enjoyed day 2 of the 5 Days of Solitaire, featuring the lovely Lucas who you probably love or absolutely despise. it turned into a rather serious story today... i didn't expect this! writing's such a fun thing, you have absolutely no idea what's going to happen until you do it. writing one story per day is proving very interesting.
you can check out day 1 of the 5 Days of Solitaire also on this blog if you scroll down a bit! look out for tomorrow's day 3 story - place your bets as to who the day 3 protagonist will be. if you guess correctly, i'll send you five golden rings and a christmas reindeer's dream. *** jolly christmas joy to all ***