I started to share Jude’s story with you last week, and you can read that first part here. as well as some backstory.
I slump in the back seat, clutching my notebook. My back begins to cramp. I wind my ponytail around my wrist. My dad’s eyes flicker to the mirror.
‘Your hair needs a cut.’ He says. ‘Before you start school.’
‘It is fine like this.’ I murmur.
‘Well, I don’t like it. It is going to be cut.’ My dad told me. ‘We can have it cut today, if you want. That’ll please your mum.’
I say it louder this time. ‘I don’t want it cut.’ I open my notebook.
I chuck my pen on the floor, resting my head on the door. I look up when we start to drive through town, and past the supermarkets, and library. The leaning lamppost, that looks ready to crash down on the pavement, is still standing. I grip the door handle and peer up. There is a block of flats that were not here five years ago. We pause in traffic, and I lean against my seat. ‘Alright?’ My dad asks.
We slide into a side street. I notice alleyways slotted in between houses, and my dad points out my new school. My stomach tenses, and I am glad when we reach our new home, which is sat on an estate of mixed flats and houses. ‘Tell me if it gets too much.’ Dad extends his arm and squeezes my hand.
‘I feel sick.’ I whisper.
I wait for my dad, and when he exits the car, I follow. The estate agent is on the doorstep of the house and sipping coffee from a plastic cup. My dad shakes her hand. I glance around.
‘Can I go and get a drink?’ I ask my dad.
‘Don’t go far.’ He nods, and continues talking with the estate agent. I take a step forward and then begin walking. I light a cigarette, stretching my arms out as I walk along a curb. I sky off of it, and scuff my feet in a pothole in the road that snakes around the estate. A horn beeps and I move aside. The passenger window opens. ‘Wanker.’ A head pops out to yell at me. I gulp, blinking rapidly. I scratch my wrist and stub my cigarette on my arm. Stupid. Shouldn’t do this. I brush off the fag ash. I shake myself.
I need somewhere to sit.
I walk into a cafe on the corner of a street and I order a milkshake, which is pink, and tastes of dishcloth. Not strawberry, which is what I had requested originally. ‘Can I sit here?’ I ask a boy. He is dressed in black and surrounded by school books.
He is beating his head on the table. He looks up, and around at the empty tables in the cafe. ‘Yeah, I am lonely.’ I say. Sitting and looking, I ask. ‘Algebra, is it?’
‘Seems complicated. What does this mean?’ I point at a tiny two above a number.
‘That’s squared.’ He explains.
‘Oh, you can do this stuff?’
‘Yes, kind of.’
‘I haven’t a clue. I’ll let you get on with it.’
Squared? Ten minutes later. ‘But what does it mean?’ I ask. ‘This smaller number.’ ‘Squared, it means squared. You have to times it.’
‘Right.’ Times as in tables? ‘Can I buy you anything?’
‘K.’ I swing up on my feet.
‘I am Jude.’ I introduce myself on my return.
‘Nice one. Do you play?’
‘Yes.’ Chess laughs, and brings out of his bag a board. ‘Want to play?’
‘Are you good at this too?’
‘You have talent. Wish I had a talent.’
‘But you can play?’
‘Course.’ I agree.
We play a couple of games and I lose – twice. We have a laugh and Chess buys me a milkshake, chocolate this time. ‘Have to go.’ Chess says, sighing at his watch. ‘Good meeting you.’
Yeah ‘n’ you. Cheers.’ I watch him gather his books.
He leaves me with a smile. His adam’s apple higher up his throat. I drum my fingers on the table. I suppose I had better find my dad.