Monday, January 16, 2006

Green, Red and Black. (A story for K)

“I like the black ones best”

“I like the red ones.”

“Nah, green ones are way the best.”

“Green? Yuk. Green is disgusting. It’s broccoli flavoured.”

“No it’s not, take that back.”

“Ok, I take it back. They’re SNOT flavoured.”

Green lunged at Red, Red ducked and leapt up laughing,

“Ha! You eat snot flavoured sweeties…Ha! You’re weeeeeiiirrrdd.”

“No I’m not!” Green’s hands were fists by his sides. His eyes flashed dangerously.

“Yeah and your dad’s weird and your mum’s weird and your dog is weird. You’re all weird….” Red was shouting right in Green’s face. ‘Go on,’ he thought, ‘you’ll never punch me.’

But Green’s face just crumpled and his arms hung limply by his side. He couldn’t look Black or Red in the face. His cheeks burned.

That was it. So his family was weird. ‘Told you so, told you so,’ said a voice in his head. He fought back the tears.

He heard his father’s voice too, ‘Don’t let them get to you. Folks don’t understand. It’s not their fault.’ Dad was always saying that:‘It’s not their fault. It’s not their fault.’

‘I bet he would even defend Red if he was here,” Green felt suddenly bitter.

‘Well, dad’s right, it’s not their fault. It’s his! It’s your fault Dad’

The anger gushed up out of nowhere straight through his right arm. It swung wildly and connected with Red’s nose. Blood spurted everywhere.

“Don’t you ever call ME weird,” he yelled over Red who had collapsed on the ground. Then he ran as hard as he could. He just ran and ran and ran until it felt like his heart was in his head and beating in his ears.

He sat down on the edge of the road and cried.

His family never fitted in anywhere they went. And they were always moving. Because of Dad’s job. Stupid job! He leapt up and kicked the curb.

“I hate that job. I hate moving all the time and I hate you!” he shouted at his father in his mind.

Dad’s stupid job was secret. He was some special kind of scientist so he couldn’t tell anyone what he was doing. Even Green didn’t know what his dad was doing. The kids at school thought that was really dumb.

Dad didn’t even wear normal clothes. He always wore these stupid chunky jumpers that mum knitted for him. Mum made all their clothes – she didn’t like high street clothes ‘cos she said they were all made in Bangladeshi sweatshops by children suffering from malnutrition.

But normal dads didn’t wear big, bright green sweaters – they wore suits. And they had sensible jobs like being an accountant, or working in an office. Or being a driving instructor.

He kicked the curb again. He hoped he’d scuff his shoes. Why couldn’t his dad be a driving instructor?

He could get one of those special cars that his brother told him about. His brother was a lot older and he learned to drive last year. They have two sets of controls. Two brakes so if the person learning makes a stupid mistake the instructor can jump on the brake.

He liked the sound of jumping on the brakes. “I’d like to be the instructor when dad’s driving the car. Cos then I could jump on the brakes and make him stop! He’d have to stop.” He started to sob. “He’d have to listen to me then. He’d have to ask me what I wanted to do. If I wanted to stop or go. To stay or move.”

Tears of powerlessness rolled down his cheeks.

“And my dog’s NOT weird!” he yelled at the street. “He’s just different!”
He was one of mum’s experimental matches - a poodle and a Labrador. He was a labradoodle.

‘My dog is kinda weird too,’ he realized. He sniffed hard to stop the river of snot running out his nose.

‘But I like him. I like him a lot.’

He heard footsteps and turned around. He was the picture of misery, with red-rimmed eyes and a swollen face.

It was Black and Red.

‘Oh great and now I get beaten up as well,’ he thought. He put his weight on his backfoot like his mum had taught him to if he ever got in a fight.

But Black and Red held out their fists. And opened them. Their hands were full of green sweets.

“Hey Green,” Red’s voice was slurry due to his bashed nose, “We picked out those sweets you like.”

“Yeah, “ smiled Black, “You can like whatever flavour you like as long as you don’t hit us!”

Red grinned. Black snickered. Green managed a small laugh.

“Thanks guys, “ he looked hard at the ground, “Sorry, for…er, before.” His eyes flicked up to their faces to see if they thought he was even more weird now.

“Yeah we think you’re REALLY weird now,” said Red, “but that’s ok, cos weird is cool with us.”

“I’m not sure weird is cool with me, “ mumbled Green, “I’m pretty sick of weird.”

“My mum’s weird, my dad’s weird, my brother’s weird and even my dog is weird. I don’t like it.” He kicked the curb as hard as he could.

“Huh,” said Red.

“Right,” said Black

Nobody said anything for a while. Red started to eat one of the green sweets while he was thinking. “Yeuch!” He spat it on the road.

“If it helps, “ Black was the first one to speak, “If it helps, you can punch me too. I don’t mind.” He stepped forward and turned his right cheek towards Green.

“Uh yeah. Guess you can punch me again if it helps. Just not on the nose again…” Red grinned. “Maybe a nice black eye this time?”

Green shook his head and smiled. “Well if anyone, Black should get the black eye. You’ve already got a red nose.”

“Yeah and you’ve got a green one snotty,” Red taunted, “No wonder you like the green ones. Taste of snot do they?”

“Actually everything tastes of snot right now,” Green sniffed it down as hard as he could.

The three boys turned and started walking in the direction of their normal, normal and weird homes. They scuffed their shoes along the edges of the road.

“So what is your dad up to?” Red asked Green.

“ I dunno. Researching a new energy source that’s going to save the planet….finding a cure for cancer….figuring out a way to feed Africa….whatever it is. It’s weird!”

He scuffed his shoes extra hard.

Red looked over at Black. They were impressed.

“But weird can be cool you know…”

“Yeah,” Black agreed, “weird is alright you know. He wished his dad was a mad scientist. He was just a boring old driving instructor.

“Mmmm. Maybe,” Green said. “I’ll take some convincing.”

“That’s ok,” Black replied, “Take your time.”

“It takes me ages to get convinced about something. I think that’s just normal, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” said Red, and grinned, “I think that’s just abso-pigging-lutely NORMAL. “

He elbowed Green in the stomach,

“See, there is something about you that’s normal. Here have another green-snot sweet to celebrate, you freak…!”

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