"When you're young, everything feels like the end of the world. But it's not. It's just the beginning."
I nodded politely as a soft clink reached my ears, meaning yet another coin had been added to my guitar case. My swift fingers continued to strum lightly against the instrument I was playing, my head swaying slightly to the gentle tune that flowed through my ears. My small, delicate figure seemed almost too small for the large guitar I held and my frame was hidden by my baggy, brown heavy jacket that was ripped and torn in places. Yet I smiled as another clink indicated one more coin being thrown into my case, unbothered by my shabby appearance.
My fingers strummed one last time, bringing the song to a close and the strings on the guitar vibrated, drawing out the last note. There was light applause, several more chinks and then retreating footsteps. I moved the guitar away from my arms.
Once the guitar was placed safely against the elephant and mouse statue behind me, I smiled slightly again to myself.
Then, I opened my eyes.
"Rory! Good show today." A boy approached me happily, a wide smile across his face. I turned to smile at my friend before crouching down and resting my sharp elbows on my knees. I fingered the coins that I had collected in the guitar case and happiness spread throughout my body as I picked up a five-pound note.
"Looks like we'll be having dessert today, Spike." I reached forwards hungrily and picked up handfuls of coins, thrusting them into my deep trouser pockets until the case before me was empty. Spike watched me with gleaming, bright eyes.
"You're brilliant, you know that?" He complimented, lifting up the empty, heavy guitar case for me. I watched him struggle with it before leaning forwards to take it from him with ease, slipping my guitar inside it with one hand. Spike watched me in amazement, snorting to himself when I raised one eyebrow into his direction. I slipped the case onto my back, unbothered by its weight.
"You're also inhuman," Spike joked, pushing my head playfully. I swiped him away and glared at him, moving the case further up my arm. Spike ignored my hostile expression and snorted softly.
"Alright, I'll keep my hand to myself." He shoved his hands back into his pockets and sucked in the cool air like he had only just emerged into it, a smile twitching around his thin, chapped lips.
I watched my friend with one corner of my mouth upturned into a half-smile and tightened my grip on the guitar case as they ventured into the busy depths of a typical London street. I'd rather have myself trampled then have one of my most prized possessions stepped on – the prized possession being the guitar. Frowning, I held back my feeling of repulsiveness as shoulders bumped into me, feet tapped my shins and hands brushed my arms.
I didn't like being touched. I hated being grabbed.
"Rory, I'll meet you back at the camp!" I heard Spike yell over the heads of the crowd. I didn't bother to turn and acknowledge him and instead pushed and squeezed my way through the people.
Finally, I emerged, gasping for air. Glaring at nothing in particular, I pushed my short hair back and readjusted the guitar case, hurrying my footsteps to join the bustle of people waiting to cross the road in front of me. I shuffled on my feet impatiently, then sprinted across when the beeping indicating their crossing. My tired legs carried me along the dirty, grimy pathway and I noticed with relief that I was almost at my destination.
Just round the corner...
I turned the corner at an incredible speed, clueless to another person turning the corner at exactly the same time.
It took a few minutes for me to realise that I was no longer on my sturdy feet, but on the floor. I groaned and rubbed the back of my head, stretching a hand out to massage my aching back. I had landed on my guitar case. I opened my screwed up eyes to glare at the person whom was responsible for my fall, then scrambled to my feet in anger when I found they was still standing – me having been the only one who had fallen.
"You have eyes on the front of your head. Why don't you use them?" I snapped at the figure that stood in front of me, sucking in a breath when I clenched my fists, mistakenly putting pressure on a graze. I lifted my hand up to my face and started to examine the wound, keeping my eyes firmly on the red mark as I bent down to lift my guitar case back onto my shoulder. Frowning intensely, I dropped one arm back down to my side and another grasped the strap of my case. I glared at the person and then hurried up my small footsteps to barge past them.
A firm hand grasped my upper arm and my eyes widened when I was pulled back in front of them.
"It appears you too, have eyes on the front of your head," a cool, deep male voice informed me. I snorted and stared at the shadowed face in disbelief.
"Yeah, and I use them," I replied with forced calmness, bristling up inside at my challengers comment. I shook the arm that was still in a tight grip, but the long fingers remained wrapped around the bicep. My angry glare switched from the man's hand to his shadowed face. "I'd very much appreciate it if you released me. I've got somewhere very important to be and I'm not in the mood for-"
The words that had planned to float out of my mouth shot straight back in as the male stepped forwards into the light. Momentarily, I was blinded and screwed my eyes shut as the sun's warm beams stung my eyes. When I reopened them, they weren't focused on the face that had been hidden. They were staring right at his white shirt. The white shirt that was now covered in a brown liquid. It looked like it had spilt out of the coffee cup that was being gripped tightly in his other hand.
I let out a nervous laugh and scratched the back of my pale neck, noticing that the man had released my upper arm slowly and cautiously. My brown eyes finally reached his face.
I cleared my throat and flicked my short fringe out my eyes, letting out a big breath, fully aware that at that current moment, the good-looking man's full attention was on me.
My eyes subconsciously moved to his finger as he pointed at the soon-to-be stain on the crispy white shirt.
I swallowed a subconscious lump that had appeared in my throat and scratched the back of my neck again with forced casualness. My heart thumped once.
Then I ducked past the man, my feet pounding the dusty pavement beneath me. What other option did I have? Was I supposed to offer to pay for it to be washed when the cost would mean nothing to that man anyway?
As I ran, I heard no cry of objection and no footsteps following me, so I sprinted round the corner and stopped outside the small supermarket that had been my destination. Adrenaline still pumped through my veins as I looked over my shoulder, checking for a suited man who looked like he could be in pursuit. There were several suited men who were rushing, pushing and shoving.
Letting out one last puff of breath, I rested my grazed hand on the warm glass door and pushed it open, a shrill bell alerting the cashier of my arrival.
I walked around, carefully selecting the items that I would need for that day before approaching the till and purchasing them. Nodding my head in thanks, I turned and exited the supermarket, clutching my bag happily as I walked along the half-empty pavement, heading towards my home.
"Marshmallows, Rory. Really?" Spike smirked to himself as he poked one of the soft, powdery sweets onto a stick and then stuck it over the small fire that sat in front of him. I grinned and pushed one onto my own stick that was being clutched tightly in my patched up hand. I pushed it beside Spike's marshmallow.
"With marshmallows, it feels like we're just two friends out camping," I quipped, wiggling my stick around. He snorted and removed his marshmallow from the fire, carefully extracting it before popping it into his mouth. He jiggled around his seat as a look of pleasure spread over his face.
"God, I love marshmallows," he said in a sticky tone. I peeled mine off and shoved it into my mouth, shutting my eyes as I savoured the sweet. Spike examined me, taking in the shortly, cropped brown hair, baggy brown jacket and ripped jeans. He leant forwards and plucked another two marshmallows out of the bag, handing one over to me.
"It's funny. To everyone else, you're a guy. But to me, you're as girly as they come." He dodged an oncoming slap coming from my direction and laughed at the displeased expression on my face.
"Keep it down," I hissed, looking cautiously around the camp of shacks that was lightly illuminated in the darkening sky. Spike shook his head, picking off his marshmallow that had begun to burn and discarding it on the grass beside him.
"All you have to do is look carefully and it's so obvious." He made out that he was muttering this under his breath, but it was directly aimed at me.
"I won't ever let anyone get close enough to be able to look 'carefully'," I retorted, poking the fire angrily with my stick and watching as the marshmallow on the end of it charred. Spike smiled and poked the fire too, watching as the embers finally began to die out. They both sat in silence for a moment.
"Bed?" He enquired, getting up. I nodded, getting up too.
We split off into two different directions and crawled slowly and tiredly into our tiny shacks made of cardboard and waste.
I coughed and screwed my eyes shut tighter as bright, warm light seeped in through the cracks in my shack, shining onto my pale face and illuminating the pain that was spread across my elf-like features. I sat up as slow as I could, leaning on one arm as I massaged my back with the other, wincing.
"Another rough night," I whispered to myself, scratching the back of head and attempting to dry my throat with my saliva. I edged myself onto my knees and crawled out of my small shack onto the chilly grass, pushing myself up after I had exited completely. Once I was on my aching feet, I rubbed my muscles, sighing in pain when I prodded a particular tender area. Trying to ignore it, I picked up my guitar case and flung it over my shoulder, readjusting my shoes before I set off for the elephant and mouse statue.
As I approached the usual crossing – the same crossing I had used for the past five years of my life – my feet slowed, eventually coming to a stop on the grimy pavement. My copper eyes flicked from side to side, examining the scene in front of me.
Builders were lounging around on bright, dirty orange fences, sipping hot coffees and laughing loudly. The cars stuck in the traffic jam due to their closure of the road were squeezing through a single lane.
This wasn't right. I stood for a minute, feeling increasingly uncomfortable at this change. I shook off the feeling, shuddering as though I was cold. My feet began to move on their own, taking a detour around the builders and carrying me along the gray slabs, through alleyways and across roads. I didn't take in my surroundings, just continued to walk until I could see the statue in the distance. It was then I stopped.
It wasn't right. Something definitely wasn't right.
My frantic eyes searched and picked out everything I could see from my point of view, looking for that one thing that would stand out, the one thing that shouldn't have been there.
I saw the grocer on his usual round of delivering milk; I saw the business man with the side-parting; I saw the old woman who never changed out of her old purple shawl; I saw the oldest hobo in the area. Everyone was in their usual place.
My shoulders sagged with relief, a nervous laugh escaping my hoarse throat. Why was I getting so fussed over some little mishap?
Smiling again, I approached the crossing, rocking my feet impatiently as I waited for the light to show that I could cross. A sharp flash of colour caught my attention and my eyes swiftly moved to the source.
It was only a glance, but I knew.
A young woman was walking precariously close to the roads edge, a careless, happy smile on her face. People from the city didn't smile like that. No one was that carefree.
No one was stupid enough to walk that close the road, during lunch hour. My eyes widened and, as I predicted, the woman was soon nudged harshly on the shoulder, causing her to take a step out onto the busy road.
A white van sped towards her, the driver too focused on changing the radio to notice the surprised person he was about to drive into.
Without even logically thinking, I flung my guitar case to the floor and my feet thumped loudly against the pavement as I sprinted towards the woman, stepping into the road. I threw my arms around her and, as hard as I could, pulled her backwards onto the curb.
A loud screeching flooded my hearing and my ankle protested as it twisted violently. I clenched my eyes shut tightly as I spiralled and rolled along the concrete, pain stabbing at my arms and legs before finally enveloping my head. There were voices, shadows looming over my form, blurred images and screeching before finally, I fell into darkness.
A/N: I've changed chapters 1-6 from third to first person - please tell me if you spot any mistakes.