The day passed without event, and suddenly it was the evening, and I was walking home from the park. I pulled my blazer tighter around me, because even though it was a summer night, it was getting rather cold. I shivered slightly – were July evenings always this chilly? However, I began to suspect that my mind (and my body apparently) were playing tricks on me due to the fact that it was cold and I was all alone, unprotected and vulnerable. This thought sent an icy cold chill up my spine, and I tried to ignore it and soon began to wish that I'd never imagined that idea in the first place. I heard footsteps behind me, and whirled round, but nobody was there. I shook my head – I was getting paranoid. Was it always this dark, or was it blacker than usual? I looked cautiously around me, feeling very susceptible and timorous. The waft of air on the back of my neck felt like someone's breath. The branches of passing bushes felt like someone's fingers touching my arm. The sound of rustling leaves behind me sounded like footsteps. The shadows of post-boxes and other objects looked like people anticipating me, ready to pounce upon me when I passed. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was being watched, but I put it down to my paranoia. But, I quickened my pace anyway, and broke into a run. To get home even sooner, I decided to take a shortcut down an alleyway.
I cursed under my breath as I realised that, in the darkness, I had headed down the wrong alleyway and was now facing a stone wall in front of me. I turned around, to head back to the road, when I realised that five shadowy figures were walking towards me, somewhat unevenly. It occurred to me that these men were probably drunk, for I had seen the symptoms enough when at home. I closed my eyes as they came closer.
"Hey kid, what're you doing out so late at night?" remarked one slurring his words as he staggered towards me drunkenly. As he approached, I could smell the stench of alcohol on his breath; White Strike if I wasn't mistaken. The stink of White Strike was almost unmistakable to me, for it was a favourite of my uncle's. It's a cheap cider but has very high alcohol content. My nose wrinkled in disgust.
"None of your business." I replied hotly, but my voice cracked slightly out of trepidation. I bit my lip, for I didn't want the men to think I was a scared little girl, because they would be even more likely to hurt me then. The one who'd spoken to me gave a loud, drunken laugh.
"Quite the stubborn little wretch, aren't we?" he chuckled, his words still very much slurred. He was so close to me now that it was unbearable. Yet, he had me pinned against the wall; with no hope whatsoever of escaping. I wanted to scream, but proving my horror would not be the smartest thing to do, as I very well knew: I'd been in this position far too many times to screw up now. Just because it was a different drunkard, the situation didn't change too much. Of course, there was also the fact that we were in a pitch black alleyway.
I opened my mouth to respond, but at that second, a car swerved down the alleyway, it's headlights almost blinding me and clearly disillusioning the men in front of me. A man's silhouette appeared hanging out of the driver's seat. I couldn't distinguish his features, in the bright light, but they looked somewhat familiar but I put it down to wishful thinking and imagination.
"CAITLIN, GET IN THE CAR!" the man in the car shouted to me, in a vaguely familiar voice that I still couldn't place. I blinked, but ran round and got in the car anyway. This may have seemed dangerous, but there was no way that it could have been any more risky than staying in the pitch black alley with the group of drunkards. I jumped in the car seat and put my seatbelt on. The driver shouted some rather rude words at the men, before sitting down in the driver's seat. My mouth dropped open in shock as I instantaneously recognised my saviour.
"How'd you know I was here, and in danger?" I frowned, staring at him, half in amazement and half in irritation. Mr Somers shrugged and smiled. I scowled slightly: I didn't need rescuing by anyone, let alone a teacher, and I told him as much.
"I didn't need rescuing. I'm not a damsel in distress." I snapped angrily at him. I instantly regretted it though, because no matter how annoyed I was, deep down inside of me, I knew that I had needed help and that I should have been thanking my rescuer as opposed to shouting at him. I think, somehow, Mr Somers understood that my pride was important to me, and seemed not to mind that I was shouting at him.
"Caitlin, it's alright. I'm sorry for interfering in your personal life, and I know that a capable and strong kid like you would have been able to handle people like those horrible men." Mr Somers said, keeping his eyes on the road but keeping a gentle and genuine edge to his voice "You have the scars to prove it."
His eyes flew to my left hand, and for once, I didn't cover it up or even scowl: I smiled at him. A warm feeling spread over me and I didn't have a single clue why, but it felt nice, so I felt determined not to argue with or be mean to my teacher any more. I laughed as I ran my fingers lightly across them, and my teacher looked entirely perplexed at my sudden change of attitude since a few days ago.
"No fool is going to want to mess with me, if I show them my battle scars." I grinned at my teacher, who chuckled in reply, but I swear that I had seen a tiny tear on his cheek before I had glanced away. I looked again, but it had gone. I shrugged; I'd probably imagined it.
"Even if they did, you'd be able to look after yourself pretty darn well, in my opinion." he replied, averting his eyes from the road to look at me. I gave a snort of laughter, before cracking up completely. I ran my hand down my leg, still snickering quietly to myself, whilst Mr Somers looked on with a bemused look.
"You really think I can protect myself? Honestly, I wouldn't have stood a chance if you hadn't come and rescued me, Mr Somers." I replied in disbelief, wondering how he had missed that or whether he was just leading me on so that I wouldn't get discouraged. He was silent for a long while then, and I began to wonder what he was thinking. I let out another snort of laughter, which made my Spanish teacher stare at me again.
"I was just thinking, Bella Swan got Edward Cullen in a shiny silver Volvo, and I get you in a bashed up, incredibly filthy, dreadfully old..." I started.
"Okay, okay! I get it! The car is awful." Mr Somers interrupted, rolling his eyes at me, which made me laugh loudly. The car might have been awful, but if it hadn't been for it showing up, complete with driver, I probably would have been lying dead in that alleyway right now. I shuddered at the morbid thought. Wow, I was getting pessimistic. I shrugged; I'd always been sort of pessimistic. I kept my eyes on the dark road for a while, trying to keep my mind off the men from the alleyway. I shivered slightly; partly because of the lugubrious nature of my thoughts, and partly because of the bitterly cold weather. My teacher saw me shivering.
"There's a blanket on the back seat." he said, keeping his eyes on the dark road ahead. I nodded gratefully at him, which I think he saw, and turned around to get one. I took one and wrapped it around myself, feeling instantly warmer and tons cheerier. I frowned at Mr Somers concernedly.
"Don't you need one?" I asked, my eyebrows furrowed. He looked away from the road and turned to me, with a small smile on his face. I frowned even deeper. Why the amused grin?
"I'm not the one that's been skulking around dark alleyways on a coldish night. Anyway, fear makes you feel colder, and my fright was minimal compared to yours." my teacher responded simply, gazing out the window at the road lit up by the headlights of the car. I should probably say headlight, for one was far dimmer than the other, and the dim one was barely giving off any light whatsoever.
"What frightened you?" I asked curiously, picking up on the last part of the sentence. I peeked inquisitively at his face, to see if anything was given away in his features. My Spanish teacher looked suddenly uneasy, and kept his gaze even more fiercely on the road, and I had noticed that his grip had tightened considerably on the steering wheel.
"Well, you frightened me half to death back there. First night of the summer holidays, and you almost get yourself killed." he replied, with a shudder and I don't think it was because of the cold. I pondered over this surprising reply in my mind, contemplating over what he meant by it.
"Why do you care? I'm just a student to you." I frowned persistently, trying to get a more detailed answer out of him, but he wasn't folding.
"Students matter." was his incredibly abrupt reply. I sighed, and began to trace over my scars with my right hand. It tickled, but I didn't feel like laughing, for some reason. I had decided not to pursue the topic, for it was obviously heading nowhere and I did not particularly feel like infuriating my knight in dented tin can armour...
"Cait, we're home." came a voice. I opened my eyes sleepily; I must have dozed off in his car! I gasped, and sat up instantly, accidentally hitting Mr Somers in the eye. But, he didn't seem to mind too much. I thought about what he'd said: Cait, we're home. It seemed very informal, as though he was very familiar with both me, and the house, to call it home. Almost as if he was my father. I shook the silly thoughts out of my head.
"Thanks." I croaked, and put the blanket down on the seat. I got out the car, and shivered slightly as a blast of icy air hit me.
"G-g-good n-night." I stuttered. I wasn't one hundred per cent sure why I was stuttering, but I put it down to the awkwardness of the situation, and the fact that I both dreadfully cold and amazingly tired. Mr Somers was frowning at me concernedly, and I thought that it was because he could hear my stutter. Then I listened. There was a sound. The sound of a man shouting. It was coming from my house.
"I'LL TEACH THE LITTLE COW, TO COME IN THIS BLOOMING LATE! WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS? I'LL GIVE HER A PEACE OF MY MIND, AND A GOOD BEATING!" screamed the voice. It shouldn't have been audible outside of the walls of the house, particularly considering that the house had cavity wall insulation which should have reduced the noise. I scraped my foot along the pavement; not really wanting to go in. Mr Somers was glaring at the house, and he was shaking, but I think it was out of anger, not cold.
"I-I-I'd better g-go." I stammered, in a voice no louder than a whisper, and I began to make my way up the front path. But I'd barely pushed open the front gate, when my teacher said, in a very firm and commanding voice "Caitlin, No.". I stopped still, with my hand resting on the front gate. I tilted my head to one side and looked at Mr Somers.
"I'll go talk to him." he said, in a quiet voice, but something about the firm way his jaw was set, and the angry undertone of his voice made me feel rather unnerved. I nodded stiffly, my voice was frozen in fear, and I wasn't able to speak. He marched up to the door, and beckoned for me to follow him. Somehow, my legs moved, and I stood behind him at the door. Mr Somers knocked, and then my uncle was there, standing at the door with his fist raised. Then it happened...