I am undertaking the AtoZChallenge this April by writing little pieces prompted by a throw of Rory’s Storycubes. I am trying to write in the day (which is probably why I am currently running more than a day late again. )
Warren was always the Hard man in our class. He was never top on any tests and often didn’t bother turning in homework or assignments. He said with a shrug that his parents didn’t care how he did so why should he? So he sat at the back of every class room doodling and passing notes and heckling junior teachers. His trips to the principal’s office were weekly but she too knew that his parents were unresponsive and after a couple of suspensions she gave up. It was effectively official mitching as the time off was an incentive for the bad behaviour.
On a sunny Spring day our class found ourselves free of the classroom on a field trip to Lugnamaken Castle. The gardens of the castle were huge and varied and ideal for a botany class preparing projects. We all split up and went in search of subject matter and I soon found myself lost deep in the maze. With no sense of direction I wandered up and down the narrow walkways in the sunshine and tried to memorise the steps I was taking. Left, right, right, dead end. I was in a small enclosed picnic point with a little fountain and a bench on which lay Warren apparently asleep in the sun.
I headed over to see if he knew how to get out and realised that a swarm of wasps were circling his slumbering form, presumably attracted by the apple cores that littered the space. I screamed and started trying to swat them away with my hands rousing Warren who sat bolt upright into the swarm! And was promptly stung all over his head. He looked dreadful, the stings on his face and neck were beginning to swell and I knew we had to get him to medical help quickly but we were trapped in the maze. The normally tough jock had dissappeared and in his place was a terrified tearful boy. Faced with such a serious dilemma I promised him he would be alright and feigning confidence started to slowly retrace our footsteps all the while calling out for help.
Long story short, after many wrong turns and some thinly veiled panic we got out and found a teacher who took us both to hospital, where we were both treated for multiple stings. My parents rushed to the hospital to check on me even though my injuries were very small. However nobody answered at Warren’s house and so he was returned alone to the school by the teacher.
In no time at all Warren was back to his sullen self. When asked about his injuries it was ‘no big deal’ – this retorted with a little bit of menace. But I now knew better. I had watched the mask slip and saw how vulnerable and unprotected he actually was. From then on I looked directly at him, the boy behind the bravado.