By Michael Anderson
The weekend was less than three hours away; I’d just packed up from lunch when the bell rang. Another hundred and eighty minutes and I could make for the exit, rush home straight to my room, and seal myself off.
It had been a nightmare start to the day, and I was praying for a heavenly finish. That frickin’ new kid Margaret Maddison had me jinxed from the minute she walked in the class. How could she take my place on the register! I was always safe! And now? Well, not so much. Who even joins a new school on their birthday, right? What kind of a present is that? And I never did get why the day started with English. I always hated whatever moronic story we had to listen to. Pissy Pants Pete was stood at the front droning on about his ski trip from weeks ago and how he had broken his leg on some double black diamond run or whatever. I knew he was lying; he is such a frickin’ liar. Margaret had slipped past and took the empty seat in front of me two rows from the back. I could barely see Pete now, meaning if he did actually piss his pants I’d miss it. I zoned out and killed the time counting the criss-crosses in Margaret’s braids.
I was pretty idle in art. Another class that I couldn’t stand. It just seemed so pointless. I drew a really crappy outline of a car and spent about the last 47 minutes colouring it in.
‘Mags’, as she was now telling everyone her name was, seemed to be causing a stir. She’d made friends pretty quickly with the cool girls over lunch and they were getting along famously. I’d spotted her pull a fancy paint set out across the dining hall and it looked like she was finishing her masterpiece off now. Indy whipped a huge can of hairspray out of her designer bag and sprayed it across the Sistine crapel of glitter and paint to make it all shiny. Christ I couldn’t wait for math. Numbers I knew. Numbers don’t lie.
I settled into the test nicely. I love the threat in the air around an exam. You can see who’s been sweating it for weeks from the back row. I race myself in that sort of environment since nobody can keep up with me. I like to finish as fast as possible, have a quick back track to make sure I didn’t miss anything, then relax and watch the unworthy competitors around me strain their eyes at the same question over and over. I’d folded the last page over and reclined back… only to be met by the unsavoury sight of my new number one rival, sitting comfortably, doodling on the back of spare paper. Had she really finished before me? Surely not. Maybe she’d just given up. There’s no way, no chance, I was always the best at this sort of thing! Maybe she’d been held back a year and she’d done this test before. That had to be it!
I signalled Jason to take a toilet break the same time as me. There had to be some sort of comeuppance. After a brief meeting, Jason turned Judas and refused to help me out in my quest for revenge. He did, however, after much deliberation, agree to lend me his wrist rocket slingshot. I tucked it into my left sock and made sure it wasn’t noticeable through my pants before heading back into the exam. The last quarter of an hour flew by. I didn’t even bother watching the clock, I was too busy planning the perfect shot from the perfect vantage point.
The school emptied out into the suburbs, the winter sun low and sluggish. Margaret must’ve lived on the west side of town since she headed that way with Pissy Pants, of all people. Dawdling along, they approached the busy carriageway crossing. The school field ran parallel and at the far end were the trees I could sport a shot from. I took my position, opened out the elastic cord, and lined up.
It all happened so fast. There was screaming from Margaret and Indy, then I remember seeing Pete’s crutches on the floor, maybe ten to fifteen feet away.
Indy just appeared out of nowhere and it sort of threw my aim out. The remnants of a can made an unnerving sound, jangling down the street towards the distraught driver.
Michael Anderson is a student of creative writing at the University of Wolverhampton.