– 1 month earlier –
The ear-piercing shrill of the alarm clock shot Finn O’Reilly out of bed. His heavy eyelids opened and he squinted at the red digits glaring at him.
Great. Monday morning. He grunted as he heaved his heavy body into wake mode. Muscular heavy. He took care of his body all right.
He plodded over to the mid-length window and peered out onto the town below him. He sighed. He hated this town. He couldn’t wait to finish his exams and leave this dump forever.
He glanced over to the right and his pupils widened at what he saw.
His old treehouse, sitting comfortably in the large oak tree in his back garden, looked a little different to yesterday.
Yesterday, the wood still bared the scratches and tears from the years of playing, sleepovers and bad weather conditions.
This morning, the wood shone in the early morning sun. It looked pristine. As if something had flew in overnight and refurnished his treehouse.
He didn’t know whether to be pleased or terrified.
He decided to shrug it off and get ready for school. He couldn’t be late for the bus again; Mr Mackles had already humiliated him once for being late, he didn’t want to face that fate today.
He threw off his Elmo lounge pants and grabbed his bathrobe hanging on the back of his door and headed for the bathroom. He jumped into the shower became submissive to the warm, relaxing shower spray. He exhaled deeply and hung his head back. So many questions in his mind.
How did his treehouse transform in a night?
There’s no fresh wood around the town, or any place for miles and miles to get wood. Where did it come from?
What kind of thing is living inside his treehouse?
“Finn, out of the shower right now! You’ll be late again otherwise!”
The shriek of his mother’s voice snapped him out of his little world of thought. He switched off the shower and threw on his bathrobe.
Suddenly, a dark figure moved in the corner of his eye. He turned sharply, only to face the frosted glass window above the toilet.
“Strange, I’m sure I saw a…never mind,” he muttered to himself. It’s only Monday morning and he’s already going insane. He wasn’t even in school yet. He groaned. Oh God, why did school exist?
He towel-dried quickly and dressed in his school uniform. He liked school uniform; no one can judge you for what you wear. He knew if the school had a ‘no-uniform’ rule, he would be alienated for the rest of his life.
He straightened his tie and looked in the mirror on his wardrobe. His blonde hair, fluffy and damp from his shower, his white school shirt hung out, just over his black skinny jeans. His black classic Converse shoes sat comfortably under his desk, begging to be worn once more.
Finn loved his Cons, they were his father’s. He had always loved seeing his dad wear them. Whenever they went out, just father and son. He loved those days. Missed them.
He picked them up and slid them onto his feet, lacing them up in a double knot. The way his father had taught him.
He stood up once more to look in the mirror. He smiled. Even though he liked school uniform, he didn’t like their trousers, or shoes. He tweaked them slightly and no one noticed. He smirked. Ninja-style.
Once again, he noticed a dark figure in the corner of his eye. This time the dark figure lingered and when Finn turned to face it, he saw it flee. A dark shape just escaping from his window. He walked over to the window and pushed it open. He peered out, the chilled morning air clinging to his face.
He looked at the treehouse again, and noticed something he hadn’t before.
A lilac coloured blanket. The corner hung lowly out of the treehouse entrance, as if it had just been shoved there.
Finn’s right eyebrow arched. That blanket was not there before I had a shower.
He looked down at his watch. 7:55 AM
Crap! The bus was going to be at his street in five minutes! He grabbed his ‘Get A Life’ backpack and threw it on his back and sped down the stairs. His mother lounged on the sofa, hugging a Smirnoff bottle while the TV blared Breakfast. He walked into the living room and picked up the TV remote that had fallen on the floor and switched it off. He slowly grabbed the neck of the bottle and slowly pulled it out of his mother’s grasp. She wriggled and groaned, like a child protecting their favourite toy. He pulled it gently out of her small hands and replaced the bottle with a pillow. She gripped the pillow tightly and curled up on the sofa and started snoring softly. Finn looked down on her with pity in his eyes. He brushed her curled, greasy hair behind her left ear.
The loud honk of the bus horn snapped Finn out of his trance and he sprinted to the front door. He threw it open and dashed out onto the porch. Mack, the bus driver, honked again, a grim look on his face. He knew this was the late one. He tried so hard not to push the acceleration pedal right before the kid got onto the bus. That would be hilarious.
Finn skidded to a stop in front of the bus doors, giving an embarrassed smile to Mack. Mack grunted under his thick moustache and opened the doors for him. Finn hung his head and treaded onto the bus. He walked up the aisle, sticking his black earphones into his ears. The other students who took the bus gave him the usual looks. The ‘Outsider Alert’ looks. One girl sneered at him and lifted her bag up in the space next to her, as if he were a nasty disease and she didn’t want the infection.
He found an empty seat, away from most of the annoying people that he had the displeasure of sharing a bus with. The song Pieces by Sum 41 blasted through his earphones as he leaned his forehead against the cold window pane. Perfect bliss.
However, his usual routine was interrupted. The scenery of the picturesque town was a blur. He couldn’t stop thinking about his treehouse. All these weird changes. He hadn’t been near his treehouse for almost a year, and thankfully no ‘cool’ gangs from school had come up and trashed it either. He knew this was going to fester in his mind until he knew who the culprit was.
The bus halted outside the school and Finn waited until everyone had emptied off the bus as usual. He stepped off and he froze on the spot. His breath snatched from him. Standing outside the reception area was a young girl, about his age, talking with one of the senior staff members. He could tell instantly that she was new; her reserved body language, folded arms, nervous smile. She was in the uniform, but had made a few tweaks to it: the tie had little pin badges scattered on it, skirt a little shorter than the knee, giving Finn a lovely sight of her slender legs, and she wore black Doc Marten boots. Her long dark hair, black like a raven’s wing, obscured most of her face, but he had seen that smile. It was engaging, enticing. Her white skin shone in the sunlight, even whiter than her school blouse. Finn’s eyes widened and his feet automatically stepped forward.
Wait. He stopped dead in his tracks. He didn’t want to be too upfront to this new girl and make her instantly dislike him and reject him forever. He needed the smooth approach, like some of the rugby boys. How did they do it?
He stuffed his hands in his pockets and looked up at the girl. She was walking down the corridor with the senior staff member. Probably to her registration class. Finn peered at the signs, looking in what direction she was going. She was going to the Chemistry rooms. Maybe Mr Mackles’ room. Finn turned to the vending machine to grab a Pepsi when the reality dawned on him.
This new girl, who he was suddenly so interested in, is heading towards Mr Mackles’ room.
Mr Mackles was his reg teacher.
This girl could be in his class.
His brain switched on and he turned towards Mr Mackles class. The bell was going in a minute, anyway, and if he was early Mr Mackles couldn’t ridicule him. He could also see this new girl.
As he walked down the corridor, Finn’s smile grew wider and wider.
Maybe this would be the first time that a girl would have a decent conversation with him.
He grew excited at the thought as he entered the classroom.
Maybe Mondays can be good for once.
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