Paper Cuts - Teen Fiction
My hand wavers over the blank page, grip tightening on my pen, face contorting in confusion. Blurry clouds shroud my mind, surrounding it, causing my thoughts to become warped and unclear to me.
I sigh, clicking my pen shut and dropping it onto the paper a little too loudly before staring again at my plain canvas. Other students around me shift in their seats, clicking their pens to their own tunes, stealing glances across the room to see who has finished. Or hasn't, in my case.
Come on Rosi. Just think. Put your pen to the paper and write something; anything.
Eyes squeeze shut. Teeth bite down on supple lips. Limbs cramp up and clench tightly, too tight for my liking.
I wince as I open my eyes again; the light too bright, dark spots lining the edge of my vision. Taking a deep breath, I click my pen open again and push it to the thin sheet of wasted woodland.
Anything is better than nothing. Just get something written down before...
"And your time is up. Please hand your paper to the end of each row. You may pack up now."
Brilliant. As everyone stands up and starts chatting about what they wrote, I frantically scribble away, writing whatever comes into my head.
"Rosina Waters. Your work. Now."
I look up to see Mr Andrews frowning down on me, and with sweaty, shaking hands, I hand him my almost empty sheet of A4. Averting everyone's stares, I pack up my things, sweeping my pencil case and English book into my bag in what can only be described as a daze. An immobilising daze.
Mr Andrews' voice seems tinny in the background as I stand at my desk, fumbling with my locker key in an attempt to distract myself from the unmissable thrum of my heart in my chest. I am surprised that no-one has turned to see what the noise is.
The people around me filing out of the door signals to me that it is the end of the lesson. I slip my rucksack on my shoulder and speed out of the classroom before Mr Andrews can lecture me on my lack of work.
My heartbeat calms down as I walk home. I breathe in time with my footsteps, falling into an almost trance as I take my familiar route to one of the only places that I feel at ease.
I manage a smile as I walk up my driveway. Through the kitchen window, I can see my Mum dancing around in her apron, her singing inaudible from outside although I know all too well how well she can sing.
I hadn't seen her looking at me, but she must have noticed me as she opens the door, my hand paused mid-air, grasping the door key.
"Hi, honey! Fancy seeing you here!"
She tells the same joke every day, but it never gets old. I laugh every time, perhaps with less enthusiasm each time but a laugh all the same.
I step into the hallway, warm and bright, decorated in autumnal colours. Our favourite season.
The unmistakable scent of chocolate chip cookies fills my nose, reminding me of how hungry I am. I had been so busy hiding from Madison at lunch break that I hadn't gotten my food from my locker, terrified of leaving the safety of the library. She wouldn't be seen dead there, and anyway, I am happiest when surrounded by books.
Slipping onto a bar stool, I debate telling Mum about my day, considering what might happen if I do and what might happen if I don't. My brow furrows as I consider my options.
But she knows me all too well, and slipping a warm cookie into my hand she says "What's wrong Ros?"
I look her in the eyes. Her kind, warm, gentle eyes. Taking a deep breath, I voice my day in the simplest way that I can.
"It was Madison again. I'm fine really Mum... I'm just being sensitive, that's all".
She frowns, disbelieving.
"I still can't believe how much Madison has changed... she was such a sweet girl just a few months ago. How can someone change so quickly and so... so drastically?"
Exactly what I have been thinking Mum.
"Yes, I know. But I'm over it now, I promise. I was just a bit sensitive but I'm fine now, OK?"
To distract her from the problems of today and ease the worry lines that are etched on her forehead, I take a bite of the cookie and make appreciative noises.
"Mum, this is amazing. No, that's an understatement. This is life-changing!" I say through a mouthful of cookie.
She smiles her infectious smile, her expression at ease, grinning far too wide for her face to handle.
"Thanks, sweetheart. I spent ages on them; this is my third batch! I think I have finally made them perfect."
"They are just that: perfect", I say with a grin, grabbing another one from the plate and kissing her on the forehead gently. I taste flour on my tongue and pull away, coughing and spluttering.
Her expression instantly changes, flooding with concern and worry, her hand reaching for mine.
"Ros? Are you OK?"
"Yes-yes I am fine just-just coughing!" I say through splutters, pushing her away. At my touch, she pulls her arms into her chest, wrapping them around her body, making herself look small and lost. Her flour-splattered apron hangs limply, a messy bun sitting on top of her head, her pale skin contrasting against her now obvious tired under-eye circles that I didn't pick up on earlier.
This new way of seeing my Mum scares me and I wrap my arms around her, no longer caring about the flour in my mouth.
"I love you Mum", I whisper in her ear.
She nods, takes a deep breath and smiles again, with less enthusiasm than before.
"I love you too Ros."
The atmosphere has changed drastically; the radio, which is still as loud as it was when I first stepped into the house, seems out of place. It's too cheery, too loud, too upbeat.
I grab my bag from the floor and, with one last look at my Mum's hunched figure, I leave the kitchen and ascend the stairs to the first floor before climbing the ladder to my attic room.
I'm not sure what happened just then in the kitchen, but I never want it to happen again.
Light seeps gently into my bedroom, the eco-friendly lightbulbs I insisted on buying provide a gentle glow and gradually light the room. I like that.
I discard my uniform and slip into my comfiest pyjamas; panda-patterned and child-like, they are my favourite clothes in the world. I am warm and cosy and, at least for now, I can act as if the day never happened.
Sinking my teeth into another cookie, I position myself at the desk with my laptop.
Click. I instantly open Chrome.
My body freezes and the cookie in my mouth turns to dust. A new message. A private message.
It's from Madison.
I feel sick to my stomach, the cookie previously in my mouth melted, leaving a sickly sweet aftertaste lingering.
A knife stabs me in the chest, again and again, twisting and pulling, my stomach churning, over and over, until I can't take it anymore.
Lying on the floor of my bedroom, squeezed into a tight ball, is how my Mum finds me.
"Ros? Ros! What's happened, Ros?" she is instantly by my side, a steaming cup of coffee in her hand in my favourite mug. She places it on my desk gently and begins to stroke my hair.
"Ros, why are you on the floor?"
I can't gather the energy to reply. I feel drained and motionless, being stabbed all over by thousands of tiny pins. I shut my eyes and tell my brain to stop it; to stop feeling sick, to stop shivering, to stop reacting so much. But no matter how much I tell my brain this, it ignores me, disregarding my desperate pleas.
I hardly notice my Mum gently easing me to my feet until I am already standing, wobbly and numb, feeling as if I have been detached from my body.
After a few moments of steadying myself, I brush off my Mum and sit on my bed, hiding my hands in my sleeves.
"What's wrong Ros?"
The repeated sound of my name begins to irritate me and I'm not sure why. I sigh impatiently.
"Nothing Mum. I... I fell."
"Rubbish, Ros. Do you expect me to believe that?"
Of course not. But I wish you would.
She slumps into my desk chair, exhaling and seeming to deflate as she does so. I close my eyes so that I don't have to watch her grow even smaller.
"What's this? Madison?!"
I open my eyes to see my Mum's shocked expression as she scans the message displayed on my laptop.
I want to shout at her for reading it, protest that it was nothing, but I know that there is no point. She finishes reading and sits for a moment, her face pained, clearly thinking about what to say.
"Ros... I... I don't understand! Why would she say this?"
"I don't know Mum, maybe because she hates me?"
My response comes out of my mouth harsher than I had intended.
"Well, it's not true darling. We will always love you! You have nothing to worry about sweetie."
I try to believe her... I really do. But there's something inside me that holds back.
"Why would she say these things then? If they aren't true?"
"Because girls are mean," she says dismissively, standing to signal the end of the conversation. Her tone has changed since her last comment and I pick up anger and resentment in her voice.
She takes a deep breath, smoothing down her hair and looking me dead in the eyes.
Her kind, warm, gentle eyes.
"And what is this about the English test?"
"It's nothing Mum. I just had a bit of a mental block like I normally do during tests, and I didn't manage to write much. I will probably get a detention from Mr Andrews but that's all..."
"A detention? You have never had a detention, Rosina, and I hope you don't intend to start having them now, in Year 10? They put far too much pressure on you, honey, that's why you struggle in exams. You do so well in English class normally, right?"
Of course, I do. It's my favourite lesson.
A look at my face answers her question.
"Right. It will be fine sweetheart, I promise."
She leans down to hug me on the bed. I don't feel like hugging her back for once; this doesn't feel like comfort.
"I brought you up a coffee. It's on your desk."
She blows a kiss at me and walks out of the door, closing it gently behind her.
For a few moments, all I do is stare at the wall in front of my bed. When I can finally accumulate enough energy to stand, I do, gingerly taking steps to my chair where I slump, exhausted.
I take a deep breath, close my laptop and walk silently back to my bed where I crawl under the covers, not ever wanting to surface again.
ur such a wimp rosaline waters. i know u were hiding at lunch, just cuz ur scared of me. u need to learn to deal with it, cuz one day the cotton wool u've been wrapped in will wear thin and u will see life as it really is. ur parents won't always protect u, they won't always love u. stop being such a freak trying to get attention, i saw wot happened in mr andrews class i thought u were meant to be a nerd? do us all a favour and leave the school. u have no friends anyway
END OF CHAPTER
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hi! I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of 'Paper Cuts'!
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I'm not sure what my schedule is going to be like for uploading chapters but I will let you know when I have sorted that out.
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Thanks for reading :) x