The Moment  You Were Gone

The Moment You Were Gone by Nicci Gerrard Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: The Moment You Were Gone by Nicci Gerrard Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nicci Gerrard
guess, we had these discussions in class. I don’t know why it happened, but people really talked about what they felt about things in a way I’d never heard them do before. Even ones I thought I knew quite well, or boys who thought that talking about emotions was sissy. You know, it was quite touching - the boys with their number-one haircuts and their tattoos and their swagger, or the girls with sideways ponytails and fake nails and bottles of vodka in their schoolbags who call you ‘boffin’ and ‘sad’ if you read anything except stupid magazines, or anyone who’d been having sex since they were thirteen – and you realized they were quite like you, after all, not just hard and indifferent but worried about things, with troubles at home and trying to cover it all up.
    So there was this one week – we were probably discussing peer-group pressure or something – when we were talking about the need to know who you are and to be strong andconfident in that. It started off with Mrs Sadler saying it was dangerous to try to impress people by pretending to be someone you weren’t, and it didn’t work anyway. It was better to be yourself, and people would respect that in the end. But Theresa suddenly said, ‘What if you hate who you are?’ Everyone knew she’d been cutting herself with the blade of her pencil-sharpener. Then clever-clogs Alex butted in and said that he didn’t think there was a real ‘you’ – you were just made up of everything that had happened to you in your life, and you could decide who you wanted to be – and Lee said no, he thought you were born the way you were and you couldn’t change that. You were stuck with yourself and that was that. It sounds a bit obvious when I write it down, but it didn’t feel like that at the time.
    I remember I started to feel all strange and agitated. I put up my hand to say something, and everyone turned towards me. And I burst into tears. It wasn’t silent, graceful tears, the way they have in soppy films, that trickle down your cheeks and don’t change the way you look – oh, no. Great, gulpy, snotty, noisy, ugly crying. I knew my eyes were swollen, my nose was red, my skin was all blotchy. I felt as if my chest was trying to come up my throat and my whole body was shaking. It was like I was turning inside out, all the raw, pulpy bits of myself I keep hidden coming to the surface. But I couldn’t stop. I cried for ages. Mrs Sadler told Goldie to take me to the medical room where I lay down on the bed and sobbed even more while people fussed round me and someone said I was probably on my period. I think I was as well. No one knew what to say to me afterwards. I don’t think I’d ever cried at school before, even though I’ve been there since I was eleven. I’m just not like that. (I’m the boffin, remember.) Afterwards,I felt completely drained. I could hardly move. And I didn’t know where it had come from, all that grief.
    Anyway, so the point is that next week is my birthday: 6 September. Perhaps that’s why I’m writing this down rather than saying it in my head. I’m going to be eighteen. Eighteen years old. Officially an adult, though I don’t feel it. Then I can drink (I already drink). Go to any film (I already do that as well). Get married without my parents’ permission (I’m not about to do that, I promise; I don’t see any reason why I should ever marry). Get into debt. Gamble. Vote (the Green Party, I think, though I’ll have to wait and see). I’m already old enough to join the army and kill someone. But on the day I turn eighteen, I’ll start school again for my final year. That doesn’t seem so exciting, does it?
    But Mum and Dad are throwing a party for me in the hall down the road at the weekend. They insisted, and kept going on about what a big day it is and how I deserve it to be properly marked, and I don’t dare tell them I’m kind of dreading it. I’m not
good at big parties anyway, and at my own I’ll

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