Page 21 - Demo
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JoyridingbIy KATE MITCHELL’m already awake when I hear Mum come in but I keep my eyes closed so she can’t ask me nothing then I don’t have to lie to her face. Don’t be late for school, love, off to see your brother.It’s Wednesday so she’ll be with Jack all day. She’s done a rota for the other days so she can go to work and pay the bills. Monday’s Gran, Tuesday’s Auntie Lynne, Jamie gets Thursdays off college specially, Friday it’s Dad in the mornings because he can’t get much time off work even though Mum says he could if he wanted, then I take over from him because school agreed to call it study time. Everybody’s in and out all weekend. Mum’s there every night after work until ten. She’d stay all night if she didn’t have to look after me and Jamie. Sometimes I wish she would stay. When she’s here, she just stresses about homework, and bangs round washing and ironing, then she’s bawling her eyes out and blowing her nose on one of Jack’s tee-shirts. Gross.I text Layla and when Mum’s car’s driven off I get up. I’m literally bricking it, thinking what if I get caught. My fingers are slippery on my buttons. Jamie shouts me to hurry up and I’m like, you think you’re the boss of me just cos Mum’s not here? He thinks he’s too special to get his own breakfast. But I don’t say any of that cos he’ll grass me up if he twigs I’m bunking off.Layla’s mum’s at work so we get changed out of our uniforms and put our makeupon at hers and she says I look about 19 and I’m like so do you, then we go for the train. They’ve moved Ethan to near York but he says there’s a train station and we can walk from there. About 20 times I check the visiting order that Layla’s printed off. It’llbe the first time I’ve seen him since. He’s written, I’ve written back and his writing’s better. He says he has to go to classes because he didn’t go to school much, before, and he likes it, he’s thinking about going to college when he comes out.I know all the stops to York, from coming here with Mum and Dad for Christmas shopping and stuff. Last year we came to the panto and Jack went on about how this crap was for kids and he’d rather be out with his mate Ethan and Mum said, make an effort, for the family. There’s a big poster on the platform for Jack and the Beanstalk, and that makes me tear up, cos I want to hear Jack banging on again.After we change trains in York I feel proper scared and my nail art’s gone soggy round the edges from me chewing and Layla laughs and I’m like it’s all right for you, if my Mum found out she’d skin me alive. Outsidethe station we ask the way and suddenly there’s this giant fence with barbed wire on top and HMYOI across the front. A guard checks my visiting order and makes us put our phones in a locker. Nobody checks our age. A guard takes us to a building that looks like the health centre, and we wait in a lobby, exactly like waiting at the doctor’s. After a bit, the guard comes back holding a bunchof keys that are attached to her with a chain and she calls our names and we follow her down a corridor into this big room that looks like the school canteen.There’s a row of boys sitting at tables, with their backs to the wall, all wearing grey jumpers. I’m looking round for a skinhead, then a boy waves and it’s Ethan, but with his hair grown. It’s blonde, I didn’t know that,he looks different, softer. He nods, alright? I sit down and look at him and look away and watch the people sitting at the other tables because I can’t get how he’s the same but not the same. He’s had his teeth fixed from the accident; last time I saw him was in hospital with the police taking him away. Mum and Dad saw him in Court but I wasn’t allowed. He smells like soap. He’s chunkier as well. His mum and dad never fed him proper and he used to eat at ours after he was friends with Jack.Layla says, I’ll get us some teas, and heads off to a hatch next to the kids’ play area.I look at him and he looks at me, and his face is pink and I feel hot and red and we look away. He says, I’ve got me date. What? Tagging. What’s that? I get out early with a tag that goes round me ankle, I have to liveat me Dad’s and have a curfew. Three weeks, on Christmas Eve.He got two years for stealing the car and dangerous driving, how come he’s out in three weeks?You can’t come home, Jamie and his mates, they’ll kill you. He looks tragic, tearing up, then he makes a pfff noise with his teeth between his lips, like the old Ethan, not scared of nobody. Layla puts the teas down and goes back for hers, then stands watching the kids playing. I’m like, can’t you live somewhere else? He shakes his head. I’m bricking it but I know he’s going to ask and then he does. What about us, are we sound? Are we still going out? I think what if Mum and Dad found out, and Jamie, he’d probably kill me as well, but if I finish with Ethan, I’ll lose them anyway. So I nod. He smiles then. His new teeth are nice. It’s not your way of telling me to get lost, then? No, Ethan, really, listen, Jamie’ll kill you for what you did to Jack. He pulls his head back until his eyes are little slits. What I did to Jack?I was scared when Jack brought him home first. He stood in the hallway, looking round him, and saw me peeking through the banisters, and stared at me with these little slitty eyes and his lip curled. I was literally gooseflesh all over. Everybody knew Ethan’s rep. Jack and Jamie fell out. They’d been twins all the way, they did the same and talked the same, and there was times even I couldn’t tell which was which. But then Jack started hanging with Ethan, and Jamie was like a bear with a headache. Mum tried to talk sense to him, but Dad said itshowcasemslexia Mar/Apr/May 2017 21PHOTO: RIHARDZZ / SHUTTERSTOCK

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