It was Friday, 3.27pm precisely, and I was sitting in the dullest class of the day – Maths. I couldn't wait for those 3 minutes to be over, so that I could go to my form room, grab my coat out of my locker and get out of school for the weekend. I wasn't going to go home. I barely ever did, if I could help it – home was hardly my first choice. I was going to sit in the park for a few hours, until it was dark enough for my uncle to go out to the pub. Then I'd go home, and reside in the sanctuary of solitude, or as most would call it, my bedroom. And I wouldn't come out for a lengthy amount of time. I smiled slightly to myself, as I glanced at the clock – another minute gone. I began to doodle absent-mindedly on my right hand. It might have been distracted doodling, but it was always my right hand. As I thought this, I tucked my left hand further up my jumper and then rested it on my chair. 1 minute left. I picked up my homework planner, to put it into my schoolbag, but a piece of paper slipped out and floated downwards before falling face-up on the tiled floor. I picked it up hurriedly, before anyone had the chance to look at it. It was a drawing of Harry Potter, my favourite book character of all time. And above his head, I had written in bold calligraphy 'The Boy With The Lightning Scar' and had underlined it several times. I sighed as I slipped it back inside my homework planner. There were certain times when I felt that The Boy Who Lived and I had a lot in common. The bell rang at 3.30 exactly and it took me about 5 seconds to fling my pencil-case and planner into my bag. I didn't bother shoving my maths books in too, because I was going to leave them in my locker.
I rushed out into the corridor, and in my hurry, bumped into somebody which made me drop all of my schoolbooks on the floor. My bag also had fallen, and the contents were spilled out all over the ground. Without looking at the person whom I had crashed into, I murmured a heartfelt and highly apologetic Sorry. I had dropped to the floor to gather up my belongings, when I felt a person squatting down beside me, trying to help me.
"I figured you could use some help." said an all too familiar voice in my ear. I turned around, and found myself looking into the eyes of my Spanish teacher.
"Yeah, thanks. Sorry for bumping into you by the way." I said, forcing a fake-smile onto my face. Mr Somers shrugged and gave me a slight smile back.
"No problem, and you've already apologised once." he replied, with yet another shrug of his shoulders. I concentrated on collecting the huge amount of my stuff up from the floor. My teacher took my bag, and began to load my possessions into it. I didn't bother to stop him. In fact, this probably made it a lot easier, being as I was only using one hand to gather up my things.
I reached for the last book to hand it to my teacher, unthinkingly using my left hand. His eyes fell to my hand. I pulled it away. But it was too late. He'd seen it. My heartbeat quickened, and I gave a sharp intake of breath. I pulled my jumper sleeve back down over my left hand, concealing it once again. I kept my gaze on the floor; not wanting to make eye-contact with my teacher.
"Caitlin, can you please come to my office?" he asked in a strangulated voice. I bit my lip. I followed him duly to his office. I felt suddenly nervous and scared, as though I was going to get into a lot of trouble. Which, I supposed I was. However, it would not be Mr Somers or the school that I would be in trouble with – it would be my family member, if Mr Somers chose to ring them.
"Can you please sit down?" Mr Somers instructed in a soft tone, walking over to the window and gazing out over the grassy courtyard. With a deep sigh, I did as he asked. Though, I managed to keep my left hand hidden inside my jumper sleeve. Turning around, my teacher walked over me and sat down in the chair on the other side of the desk.
"Caitlin, can you please show me your hand?" he asked quietly, looking pointedly at it. I nodded, and a small smile appeared upon my face, as I laid my right hand upon his desk. Mr Somers clenched his jaw slightly and looked hard at me.
"Your other hand. Your left hand." he said, specifying what he meant with as much detail as possible so that I would properly carry out his orders as expected this time. I felt a slight pang of admiration; this was one command I couldn't worm my way out of, no matter how hard I tried. I glared sullenly at him. However, I still laid my arm out on the table in front of me. My teacher pulled back the sleeve of my jumper to reveal my hidden hand. And the long, red, raised scars that were etched into it. I winced as he ran his hands down my arm, fingering the marks. It seemed to me that he was checking if they were real. Like the story from the bible of Thomas the doubter, who had to feel Jesus' wounds before believing that he had come back from the dead.
"What happened to your poor hand?" Mr Somers asked sympathetically, leaning closer towards me. I sighed. I hated sympathy of any sort, well, except for self-pity. I quite often indulged in self-pity – I had to sometimes, as a means of survival. I held my breath. Although I hated the sympathy, the real hesitation was down to the fact that I really didn't want to answer the question. I stayed silent whilst my brain vainly tried to find a suitable excuse that I could tell to my teacher.
"I...um...I had a fight with a holly bush and lost." I said, flashing a wan smile in my teacher's direction. He frowned, looking entirely unconvinced, which I could completely understand being as it was a weak and incredibly poorly-formulated excuse thought up under pressure. I was usually quite good under pressure, but this was a different nature of pressure to the type I was quite often put under.
"What really happened?" frowned Mr Somers, seeing straight through my feeble lie as I had quite honestly expected. I tilted my head backwards in agony, for this intense interrogation was frustrating me greatly. I frowned, and bit my lip so hard that I felt it was going to bleed. I couldn't lie for very much longer without blushing. I knew so. Blushing was a very large and completely unavoidable problem of mine that worked so nicely as a lie detector to anybody questioning me. Luckily, I did not usually blush too much when telling simple white lies. Thank goodness, for my life would be a living hell if I did.
"I...I...I don't know." I stuttered timorously, knowing that at some point, I was probably going to have to tell the truth. Yet, it would be in my favour to evade that particular point if I could. Mr Somers leaned across the table towards me. He looked deep into my eyes, as if searching for the truth in them. I clamped my teeth down on my lip, and was immensely surprised that it had not begun to bleed yet.
"Caitlin, just tell me who did this to you." he said quietly. I shuffled my feet anxiously beneath the table, and began reciting lines of Shakespeare in my head. Hamlet. Romeo & Juliet. Othello. A Midsummer Night's Dream. The Merchant of Venice. Anything to keep me calm and sane whilst I was in this situation. For some absurd reason, reciting Shakespeare always seemed to calm me when I was in dire need of relaxation.
"It's not one of the other pupils is it?" my Spanish teacher frowned. I shook my head quickly; I really didn't want to give him the wrong impression, nor get any other innocent pupil into trouble, no matter how much I disliked some of them. I pressed my long hair tighter to my face with my right hand, half-consciously and half-unconsciously. I winced in pain, and hurriedly averted my eyes to the desk and pretended to be suddenly interested in the woodwork. Unfortunately for me, Mr Somers noticed the wince.
"Caitlin, let me see your face." he frowned, gazing at the part of my hair which my hand was tightly clamped upon. I bit my lip harder, knowing that I couldn't refuse an adult, let alone a teacher. I might be acting rather stubborn, but deep down, I was actually quite a good pupil who would barely ever disobey a teacher.
"Please." he coaxed, coming closer towards me. I nodded my head slightly, and then immediately wished that I hadn't. But it was too late as he pushed my long, dark red hair behind my ear. Then stumbled backwards in shock at what he saw. I nodded my head wordlessly; I wasn't shocked at his reaction. In fact, I had guessed beforehand that anybody would do that if they saw the marred cheek that lay behind my flawless curtain of long red hair. That's why I had never showed anybody before now.
"Your face..." he whispered. I nodded again for I knew that a long, thick, deep, crimson scar was carved into my cheek for the entire world to see. My teacher stood staring at it for a long time, shaking his head in disbelief every few minutes. I held my scarred hand to my ear, holding back the hair that usually covered my marked cheek. I didn't need to push it forwards anymore when I was in here. Not since my teacher had seen my disfigurement. My ugly, hideous, imperfect wound engraved on my face. I hated it. I had always hate it. Would always hate it. It was horrible and ugly to look upon and I was sure that any other person who would see it (if I ever would allow another human to look upon it) would recoil in horror and disgust. That is why I had hid it from the world, until this moment in time.
"Caitlin, this is beyond serious! Who did this to you?" he glared, not at me, but thinking about whoever had hurt me so badly. Tears threatened in my eyes. I wasn't entirely sure why. Perchance it was due to the fact that I was thinking of the person who had hurt me badly, although I could not fathom that idea entirely.
"Does your guardian know?" Mr Somers asked, still peering at the mark as though it was the most interesting, and yet grotesque, sight in the world. I blinked; he had used the word guardian, so he must know that my parents were dead and had been for a long, long time. They had died in a car crash when I was four years old. I remembered the day clearly, even though I was so young at the time, but I cannot remember the accident itself, even though I was in the car.
"My uncle?" I frowned, just making sure that my uncle was the person he meant. My uncle was my carer and the only other person who lived in my house. Or rather, I lived in his house.
"Yes. Does your uncle know about your scratches?" Mr Somers asked. I hesitated and contemplated my answer inside my head for a very long time. Eventually, I shook my head slowly. My teacher came extremely close to my face, staring deep into my eyes yet again. I averted my eyes and began to stare out of the window.
"You hesitated." he murmured under his breath, but just loud enough for me to hear. I bit my lip harder, and this time, I could feel the warm, crimson blood spurting out of my lip. I would have licked it away with my tongue, apart from the fact that my tongue was too dry to move. I crossed my fingers, even though it pained me ever so much with my wounds.
"Your uncle did this to you, didn't he?" Mr Somers whispered to me gently, but with an icy, angered tone to his voice. I knew that tone of voice very well. I put my right hand up to my face defensively, before lowering it again almost instantly. I blinked – that had come to be a natural reflex where that tone of voice was concerned. I was at a loss of what to say, so I didn't say anything, I just shook my head stiffly.
"Caitlyn. Just tell me the truth." He sighed softly, sounding tired. I frowned. I was just as exhausted of this game as he was, but I still had to play it for all my life was worth. I looked at the floor, rather than at him. Then, some pure defiance and fury kick-started somewhere within me and I snapped insolently "I'm not lying." Mr Somers shook his head at me, almost pityingly. This made me scowl; I may have been an orphan who could barely lie to save her life, but there was no way that I needed my Spanish teacher's pity.
"Just leave me alone." I glared, grabbing my bag and getting up from my seat. I pushed my hair back in front of my cheek, and pulled my jumper cuff back over my left hand, hiding the disfigurements that I loathed with all of my heart. I headed towards the door, until I felt a warm hand grip my shoulder. I mechanically turned around, although it may have seemed like the wrong thing to do.
"Caitlin. I know that your uncle did this, and I'm going to sort things out for you." muttered Mr Somers fiercely. I raised one eyebrow at him, before opening the door and walking out, pretending to be oblivious to his words. I could hear him shouting me from behind:
"I'm going to fix it Caitlyn." he called after me. I sighed and shook my head; I didn't need his help. I didn't need anyone's help. I would cope on my own. I had been coping with my awful life for fifteen years and I didn't need help now. Anyway, even if I did, there wasn't much that anyone else could to help me anyway.