P.S. Its been raining non-stop in Scotland, but on the bright-side, I've got a day off tomorrow! Going to spend it baking and Christmas shopping :D
The Feral Boy
“Why don’t you just go talk to him?”
“I can’t just go talk to him! He’s an Unregistered! He’s feral!”
“Come on, Amelia, we all know the real reason you don’t want to talk to him. Come on. I dare you. No, I triple quadruple dare you! You can’t get out of it now...”
Amelia stood on the pavement and stared out at the abandoned wasteland. The wind whispered in her ear, teasing her to lift her foot, to step across the line, to find the feral boy...
“Ha! There’s nothing you can do now!”
Amelia glanced up at her friend. Jessica stood across from her, a grin painted across her face. They were as close as sisters, but sometimes Jessica annoyed her. She always went too far.
“I can’t talk to him - you aren’t allowed to talk to the Unregistered. It is against the law, Jess!” Amelia took a deep breath. “Section 5.3 of the Skyy Laws and Statutes says ‘The Unregistered, or ‘feral’ as they are sometimes known, are classified as citizens who have failed to sign the agreement of Skyy laws and statutes. They are outlaws and citizens of Skyy must not-”
-“talk to the Unregistered under any circumstances.’ Yeah, I know, I know...” Jessica bounced on the balls of her feet and shrugged. “Who cares about the law? It’s a dare, a bit of fun. It’ll take you two seconds to go talk to him! Look, you can see him from here!”
Amelia squinted. They were standing on what used to be an old warehouse, before it was knocked down. Now all that was left was a pile of rubble, grey and brown, glinting with silver specks of metal. It was a prime place for the Unregistered to gather - well, it used to be until the cops cleared the place out. Now there was only a single boy roaming the barren plot of land. Amelia could just make out his blurred figure on the horizon, bent in his hunt for scrap metal.
“Can you see him?”
“Well then, on you go!” Jessica pushed Amelia forward, making her stumble over a large chunk of rock.
“Hey! I told you already - I’m not going to talk to him.” Amelia righted herself and crossed her arms.
Jessica frowned. “I’ve talked to a feral before. And she didn’t try bite me or anything.”
Amelia sighed. “I know. You talked to a girl when you were on holiday. But that’s not the point! My mum and dad would kill me!”
“Too bad. I dared you. You can’t chicken out either.”
“But I don’t want to go!”
“Aw, come on! One little chat won’t hurt!” Jessica whined. “You can dare me afterwards.”
Amelia smiled. She never got to dare Jessica. Her mind started racing with the possibilities.
“Fine. I’ll do it.” Jessica whooped with joy.
“Thank you! I’ll be over here if you need me!”
Amelia smiled and closed her eyes. One foot lifted off the ground and stepped onto the cold, hard clumps of rock. Another foot forward and then another. She could feel Jessica fading away and the boy getting closer. A few more steps and she opened her eyes.
She was a few metres from where she started and the boy was as far away as ever. Amelia whipped her head round to shout at Jessica, but she was gone. The pavement was empty.
Amelia smiled. Jessica always knew when to disappear, when to give Amelia some space. She was good like that. She always knew what to say, what to do, how to react...
Amelia glanced up and her mouth opened in shock. The boy was lying at her feet, a hand pressed to his side. She must have walked farther than she thought.
“Oh! I’m so sorry! Did I hurt you?” She reached out to help the boy up but he pushed it away and struggled to his feet.
“Only if standing on me counts as hurting someone.” The boy rubbed himself down, a shower of dust coming off his ragged clothes. He was wearing a pair of tatty jeans and a vest top. It probably was white some time ago, but now it was stained brown with dirt and dust.
The boy glanced up and suddenly tensed. His body became rigid and he backed away, his hands clenched into fists at his side. Brown hair swept along his forehead, hiding his pale blue eyes.
“I don’t want any trouble.”He raised his hands above his head. “I didn’t touch you, ok?”
Amelia creased her brow and took a step forward. “No, you didn’t touch me. Why? What’s wrong?”
The boy laughed, but it was fake and hard like plastic. “You aren’t allowed to talk to me. That means you’re either here to get me in trouble, or here to get me in trouble. I didn’t do anything wrong! Why are you here?”
“I-I just wanted to speak to you...”
“Speak to me? Me? A feral?” The boy laughed again, but this time it sounded genuine. “You must be crazy.
Can’t do me no harm.” The boy lowered his hands.
“Javen. And you?”
“Amelia.” She reached out to shake the boys hand and then thought the better of it.
“So...what age are you?”
Javen pushed his hair back. “Thirteen.” He bent down and picked up a shining piece of metal. Shoving it into his pocket, he shrugged as a way of explanation. “Gotta make a living.”
Amelia nodded. “I’m twelve.” There was an awkward silence. “So, eh, what do you do?”
Javen shrugged again. “Same as every feral. Run from the law, find metal to sell on, eat people...”
Amelia jumped backwards in surprise. Her heart was beating in her chest at a million miles an hour. “E-e-eat people!”
Javen laughed and tentatively placed his hand on Amelia’s shoulder. She felt a spark of electricity travel down her body, tingling and quivering as it went.
“I was joking,” he laughed. The noise echoed through Amelia’s ears, as rich as chocolate. Javen’s hand dropped to his side and he grinned. “What are you doing up here? Don’t get many Comforts up this end.” He bent down and grabbed another shard of metal.
Javen nodded and shoved the metal into his pocket. Straightening up, he said, “Yeah, Comforts. You’re not the only one with the nicknames. You, you guys are comforts ‘cause you don’t have to live in the wild. You’re comfortable. So, what you here for? I saw you standing over there by yourself but I didn’t think nothing of it.”
Amelia swallowed. “This might sound bad, but my friend wanted me to come talk to you. She dared me.” She glanced up and smiled. “It’s not that I didn’t want to talk to you or anything...it’s just, well, you’re...”
“...a feral, I know. Get it all the time.” Javen hopped to the side and picked up a bent square of iron.
“That wasn’t what I was going to say. I-I’ve,” Amelia gulped. “I think you’re cute.” She blushed bright crimson and buried her face in her hands.
Amelia took a deep breath and looked up. “I like you. I’ve been watching you for a while. You seemed...lonely.”
Javen’s mouth was hanging open. “You, you like me?”
Amelia nodded. Her eyes were wrought with worry. What if he started laughing, or if he ran off?
Javen gently placed his hand on Amelia’ shoulder and said, “Look, I’m sorry, but I’m taken. We can still meet up though, ok?”
Amelia felt tears well up in her eyes. He was taken? She suddenly felt a deep pang of jealousy as she thought of the lucky girl.
“Amelia? We can meet up, ok? Please don’t cry...”
Amelia looked up and crossed her arms. “I wasn’t going to cry.” She blinked the tears back into their ducts.
“I’ll see you around Javen, ok? I have to go, my friend Jessica is waiting.”
Javen nodded and beamed. “It’ll be nice to have some company. I’m here every day from 9am. I’ll tell you when I change location.”
“Thanks. Bye, Javen.” Amelia turned around and started walking back towards the pavement. She felt quite good, despite the crushing disappointment that had inhabited her a few moments earlier. She had talked, not only to a feral, of all people, but to the one person she had a crush on! Amelia’s heart started beating like a butterfly, fluttering in her chest. She had actually talked to him! And they were going to meet up again! Amelia grinned and started skipping across the stones. She had a lot to thank Jessica for...
“You mentioned my name!”
Amelia looked up. Jessica was skipping alongside her, her golden hair flowing as she moved. “So...how did it go?”
Amelia laughed. “You know how it went! You were there!”
Jessica paused and tilted her head as though deep in thought. “Oh, yeah, so I was! That went well, I think. So what if he’s got a girlfriend? Maybe they’ll argue...”
Amelia flew her hand out to whack Jessica, but of course, it fell right through her. “Ha! You missed!”
Amelia slowed to a walk. “Come on, Jess. Leave me alone for a bit, will you?”
Jessica shrugged. “Suit yourself.” She vanished and Amelia smiled. She had a lot to thank Jessica for. Making her more confident, making her stand up for herself...after all that was what friends were for. It didn't matter that she was annoying sometimes, or that she went too far. She was there to push Amelia into doing things she wanted to do, but couldn't. That was her purpose.
Amelia stepped onto the pavement. Who cared if she was imaginary? She was the best friend a girl could have - she didn’t bitch about you behind your back, she was always there for support - she was just generally amazing.
Jessica appeared and said, “You wanted someone to walk home with.” She spread her arms wide. “Well, here I am. Oh, and thanks for singing my praises. I’m not all amazing though. Remember when I told you to shave your doll?”
Amelia giggled and linked arms with Jessica, entwining real and fiction in one never-ending circle. “Come on,” she said. “Let’s go home.”