Dedicated to Charlie. Cause she's never had one of these before. :P Smile.
She was sat on the swing in the empty park, staring at the hard floor, waiting.
“Too many problems, oh why am I here, I don't need to be me,” she sang softly.
“Anna!” A boy’s voice called. She turned.
“Will,” she acknowledged. His smile faltered as he heard her tone of voice.
“You called?” he asked taking the swing next to her. He looked at her, taking in the way her black hair was brushed in front of her face and her eyes were outlined heavily in eyeliner. The way she was in head to toe black. The way she was wearing fingerless gloves. “What’s happened?” he asked warily.
“What did Benji Richards do to you?” she asked hoarsely. There was silence for a minute, before she ventured a “Will?”
“What have you heard?” he asked as he picked at the hem of his Black Sabbath T-shirt.
“Nothing,” she replied honestly. “But Rick told me to ask.”
Will laughed. “Dear old Fredrick. He likes you too much for his own good, you know. Doesn’t want you to get hurt at all. You two are such good friends now. If I wasn’t his best friend I’d be worried that you were pushing me out.” He sighed. “The main thing is that Benji Richards is a jerk. He’s homophobic, and a slut.”
“What did he do Will?” Joanna pressed. “I’m fed up of hearing what people think of him. I want cold hard facts.”
Will laughed again, but it wasn’t a happy laugh. “Oh Anna. You’re too sensible. Anyone else would just accept a picture of him wouldn’t they? But you’ve heard the schools version of him and our version of him. And they’re so different. But then again if it wasn’t for what he did I’d still have the school version.”
“What did he do?” she repeated.
He sighed. “Okay, I’m going to tell you a story. There once was a boy called Benji Richards. All the boys wanted to be him, all the girls wanted to be with him. And then there was another boy. This boy looked up to Benji. Admired him. But the two never moved in the same social circles. Now this other boy had a secret. One that he’d known since he was ten. He was attracted to other boys. The only person he’d told was his best friend. But then one night by some coincidence Benji and this boy were at a party. And the boy met this really cool dude. Who was also gay. And they kissed, well, made out would probably be more appropriate. Then on Monday it was all round school that the boy was gay. The only person from school who could have seen was Benji. There was photographic proof. It was pinned on all the school notice boards, pinned on the boy’s locker. He got pushed down stairs, trapped in lockers, spat at.” Will shrugged. “It was the start of a hate campaign. He was locked in a portable toilet, which then was rolled down a hill. He was really lucky not to break his neck. He’s been burned several times with cigarettes. He still has some of the scars. He’s got other scars from where he started punishing himself.”
“Oh Will,” Joann breathed, facing him fully for the first time.
“Don’t,” Will said simply before carrying on with his story. “Then June last year Benji suggested to the boy that he should just die, cause no-one would care. The boy started to agree with him. Went home. Got a knife. And then his best mate came round. Talked him out of it. Persuaded the boy to go to the principal. Cause of that it died down. He still got shoved a bit in the hallways but nothing anywhere near as bad as what had been happening before. Thing was, the boy was me.”
“Will…” Joanna whispered. Will shrugged.
“I was going to tell you that I was gay. You’re cool. I guessed you’d be okay with it.”
Joanna didn’t say anything, but her gaze transferred to the floor again.
“I guess Rick told you to ask me because Benji’s coming on to you.” When Joanna didn’t reply, he added, “And I guess you’re not protesting too much.”
“I-“ She never finished her sentence. They sat there in silence for about five minutes.
“I have to go Will. Mom’ll have a fit seeing as it’s a Saturday,” she murmured eventually. They both stood up and he hugged her. It was the first time she’d hugged any of them, but Will figured she needed it.
“Rick’s only looking out for you. Honestly,” Will told her as they hugged. “Getting hurt by Benji isn’t pleasant. And I said about being another notch on his bedpost? I think there’s a handful of girls who haven’t made out or slept with him at our school. You don’t want to be the next in a long line.” She nodded, her hair obscuring Will’s view of her face but it looked as though the heavy eyeliner was now streaked down her face.