A dozy silence settles throughout the dark room, merely lit by the blank grey sky outside. Desks are littered in edgings probably dating back decades and the gas taps don’t work anymore. The radiators must not work either. My shirt clings to my skin and my feet seep into my marshy socks.
The door next to the whiteboard at the front of the Class swings open. Mr Scrivens, the maths teacher, waddles in. The strict one with the sleeping disorder who unlike most teachers, dresses informally, wearing dirty looking t-shirts and loose cargos. His saggy eyes ignore the class in front of him.
Everyone around me is writing already. How did they come up with ideas so quickly? What if I don’t write something good down? I don’t want to be the only one. Whirlpools cascade around in my stomach and slam my lungs. I must write something down. I don’t want to be the only one. I don’t want to get told off.
An orange glow from behind the black trees across the playground strokes its way it the room. It leaves a hazy warmth that starts to dry my uniform.
Gradually I think of something to write about. After I have finished I read it through and am quite proud of it.
Suddenly the room darkens as the sky turns a darker grey and starts chucking rain down again. The orange glow has disappeared.
‘Have you finished then Carl?’
‘Yes.’ I reply to his surprise, feeling my cheeks heating up.
He marches towards me with an expression of suspicion and almost looks confident. Confident that my work won’t be up to standard. But I’m rather confident I will prove him wrong.
He picks up my work and takes a moment to read it. I wait for his expression to change, but it doesn’t. He shakes his head with disgust and walks back up to the front, with my work in his hands.
The rain outside seems to get heavier.
My throat begins to tighten.
‘Right.’ He says addressing the whole class, ‘Listen to this example of – well I’ll let you decide what it is.’
As he begins my face really starts to heat up. He doesn’t like it. In fact, he’s mocking it. I see people in front of me shaking their heads and can see one girl withholding a laugh. Surely it can’t be that bad!
Once he finishes reading it he asks the class for their opinion. No one responds at first.
‘It doesn’t really make sense!’ belts out from behind me, a female voice.
For a few seconds, there is complete silence. Suddenly the whole room starts bursting out laughing. My eyes work hard to stop tears from cascading out. I can’t let anyone see me cry. That would be the end of me.
‘How was your first day back?’
I sort of shake my head, not knowing exactly how to answer.
Soon the dull grey will fade, leaving a black nothingness in the sky. Everything ahead of me looks grey; the concrete, the leafless trees, the houses. The only thing that ever seems to have any colour is her. Golden smooth hair. Blue eyes the colour of ice.
‘What happened?’ Although she has a genuine look of concern, she almost doesn’t seem surprised.
‘Mr Scrivens read my work out to the class.’
She looks at me more scrupulously to better gauge how I’m feeling, pushing her bottom lip out to show pity in an obvious way. She says nothing.
‘He was taking the piss out of it. - Then he asked what the class thought - fucking Katie Molloy belted out “It doesn’t make any sense!” - the whole class just laughed.’
‘What a dickhead!’ she said perking up angrily.
She paused for a minute, looking down the road ahead.
‘I’m sorry Conor.’
She rests her head on my shoulder whilst we walk on home. A little warmth enters my chest and recent memories start to dissolve. I don’t feel quite so frail.
I hold my ticket up to the screen.
‘Welcome aboard the Green Air Airship C350 - Conor. Please make your way down the plane to your seat - WING 2 – Row 3 – seat F.’
Becca looks back at me from down the aisle as a sort of signal for me to catch up with her. This feeling of excitement comes over me. A shockwave of newly found energy rushes throughout my limbs.
‘I’ve never had wing seats before.’
We step into the wing and find that Dad and Donal have already found their seats. The seating layout is the same as the main part of the plane, in that they are forward facing and in rows. The only difference is that there are only five rows and they are twice as long. Collectively the seats form a triangle, fitting the shape of the wing. There are two isles splitting the seats into three sections with windows at the front and the back of the wing.
We make our way over to our seats that are in the third row from the back.
‘Yep.’ Says my dad.
I stow mine and Becca’s bag in the overhead storage above.
‘This is weird.’
‘You can already feel the heat.’
Me and Becca stand waiting for Dad and Donal to get through security. The eye and fingerprint scanners don’t seem to be working for them.
‘Finally!’ I say to my dad as he walks over with Donal behind him.
‘Those bloody scanners never work for me.’ Says my dad as we begin to make our way over to the exit to go outside.
It smells different here. I can’t put my finger on what the exact smell is but it just smells – fresh. A distinctly different smell to the air back home in London. All the people around me look Italian. Men with dark hair and olive skin, dressed just as well as the women. I can’t spot one person around me that isn’t good looking.
‘This is quite a small airport isn’t it.’ I say addressing everyone.
I conclude to myself that it’s a lot smaller than the one last year.
I cross the pebble stone road by myself to take a further look at the view. A lustrous blue gloriously graces the huge expanse of sky above and below me, so bright and incandescent that everything below it beams its most vivid colours. Below me and in the distance the earth rises and falls where it pleases, leaving little to big hills and immense mountains. Every shade of green I can possibly imagine sits in front of my feeble eyes. Looking down at the steep descent below me, I see blooming trees overlapping each other and little houses appearing in the breaks of them. Then at the bottom of the hill which looks like well over 100 metres down, the landscape slowly ascends back upwards and outwards leaving a huge expanse of hilly but open land below my level which only ends when it meets a group of mountains far away in the distance. Whilst looking at this land with awe, I notice that every field looks slightly different to the next. I spot some with cows in, some empty and some containing vast vineyards. A beautifully ancient looking town sits on a hill with stone houses sitting at slightly different heights. Bell towers belonging to stunning and impressive churches, stand tall peering over the buildings next to them. Past this town and fields that I can make out, the green blanket of earth greets imposing mountains, monstrous in size, wearing an array of rock forms. Nature just sits there boasting its immaculate features.
It’s like trickery, like someone has just placed a hugely detailed painting in front of me. Part of me wants to cry and part of me wants to laugh. I am entranced, enchanted by the sheer sight of this view. Everything seems so simple right now. Right now, in this moment. A moment of pure silence. Just me, on the edge of a cliff, looking out at world I have never known and never want to leave.
‘Conor!’ Becca shouts at me from behind.
I take a deep breath, look at the view again and then turn away. Becca and Donal are sitting on a bench just left of the airport doors. They are both looking at the view as well.
‘It’s beautiful ain’t it.’ I say to them with which I get a silent reply of agreement.
‘I don’t know.’
Stella appears from underneath the bench we are sitting on, stiffing the ground freely. A Border Collie walks over to greet Stella. They exchange a few sniffs and circle each other and start playing, chasing each other. Stella’s mouth opens and she displays her tongue, almost like she’s smiling.
After the Collie leaves to catch up with its owner, we continue to gaze at the view.
‘Mmmmm … mmmmm … mmmmm … mmm-‘
My eyes open and my body and mind hesitates to comprehend my reality. The sound slaps me in the face and my hand instinctively reaches out for my phone. I sit up and open my blinds to see a grey sky.