Equals // Excerpt from a story I'll never write

14 March 2017

"ELLIE!" I froze. My reflection stared back at me in confusion as we tried to process the shout of my name from the street below. I furrowed my brows and tilted my head towards the window, hovering on the edge of my seat, heart hammering in my chest with confusion and fear. "ELLIE!" I knew that voice. "Oh no." I whispered as the flood of realisation hit me. I turned my head back towards the mirror and acknowledged my naked face and unwashed hair in horror as laughter erupted from the street. "Shit."

I could just ignore it... Defying all my instincts, I slowly rose from my stool and tiptoed towards the window in a low crouch before peering through my cotton curtains, hidden behind my bedroom wall. I drew in a breath as I saw the gang of boys on the pavement opposite my house: red caps facing backward, monster cans resting on the handles of their £10 scooters, adidas jogging bottoms hanging just a little too low. You know the type: think they're invincible, don't have a single functioning brain cell, arseholes by blood, bored and irritating. My 13 year old self was terrified.

As I stood, back pressed against the wall, I longed to hear the roar of my mum's car bump up to the drive or the blare of the television in the living room below to indicate that my dad was home, but nothing. Deafening silence. Deafening silence and the continuous, manic laughter from the boys who had now chosen to perch themselves on the curb of the pavement, waiting like crows for dead meat. Try to understand: my thirteen year old self was confused, self-conscious and a little too excitable for her own good, so when this situation presented itself to me, I was conflicted; I could just ignore them, but I knew if I waited much longer they would start throwing stones or calling me up just to freak me out. Plus, there was a small spark of excitement in the pit of my stomach that was urging me to go out and see what it was they wanted.  Ten seconds must have passed, but it felt like ten years had gone by while I stood by my window observing the boys who had chosen to annoy me on what was supposed to be a relaxing sunday morning. I sighed, dropped the curtain, sat back on my stool and surrendered to the inevitable by picking up my mascara brush and starting to apply.

In hindsight, I realise that we were more alike than we had assumed. At 13, we were both confused and frightened by a world where people judged you whatever you did. My perseverance and creativity was heavily mocked and criticised, which, despite my outward appearance of nonchalance, left me feeling scared and a little lonely. Their lazy attitudes and stupid hats were mocked but their embarrassment resurfaced in the form of anger and defiance, leaving us both frightened and confused. I knew they wanted me to be frightened, I knew they were the cause of my distress, I knew that I was an easy target, but I didn't know why. Perhaps we related to each other.

As I sat on my stool, I played over their teasing and mocking and humiliating in my mind and felt myself getting angry. They had no right to be here! I put down the mascara brush and looked myself in the eye. What the hell was I doing? I didn't need to be frightened of them! I pictured the scene: I would run downstairs and fling the door open, my face would be composed as I walk across the street, pause in-front of him then punch him in the jaw. There would be uproar. I would hear their shouts fade behind me as I walk away feeling powerful and satisfied, an equal. I smile.

I jumped off the stool and ran down my stairs, tripping over my own feet. I flung the door open. The shouts and sarcastic claps began to erupt as I took a few steps forward. My face was composed as I walked across the street and looked him in the eye. I stopped in front of him. For a moment, there was silence. I felt everyone draw in a breath as I stood there, frozen. I was so tempted, I could almost see the bruise and the tears welling up in his eyes. My hand itched; it would be so easy to do it, I could have the final say after all this time. Maybe I just wanted an end to this, because before I knew it, I was holding out my hand. A flicker of confusion passed across his features and he hesitated. Suddenly, he smiled and he held out his own hand. As I feel my hand hold his as we shake, the torment we put each other through is shared between us and acknowledged for the first time. Equals.

// Jeani

I hope you enjoyed this piece of creative writing based on an event from my life. Writing this put the whole situation at rest for me and helped me understand myself a little better. Thank you for reading!



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