Authors: Kara Karnatzki
RAIN IN MY
Kara Karnatzki 2015
Whenever it rains, I go back.
I might be happy, curled up on the living room sofa, listening to music or checking my phone. I might be quiet or busy or half-asleep, but when the rain comes its always the same. The first drops fall. I hear them on the window, see their globular bodies hit the glass. That familiar feeling tightens inside me, like I ca
t breathe, ca
t swallow, ca
t matter if
m in my pyjamas or if
ve just washed my hair and applied three coats of mascara. It doesn't matter who I'm with - my family, my friends, or alone. When the rain starts i
s always the same. Rapid heart beat. Sweat on my brow. Shaking hands. The Fear takes over, takes control. The only way to stop it is to go outside. While other people open umbrellas and seek shelter in shop doorways, I run into the open, arms outstretched, let the downpour do its worst.
My doctor likes to use the word
. He talks about stress hormones and adrenalin surges and how the body reacts to frightening situations. He thinks I need to relax. Trouble is, he does
t know what goes on in my head. He does
t have the memories I have.
People watch. They talk. If they know me, they whisper:
s that girl, the one from the school, the one who was in the news.
When my neighbours see me shivering in the garden, they worry. The
re always asking my parents if
m okay. I guess it must look a little crazy - an otherwise normal sixteen year-old girl who flips every time it rains, flees to the garden to hyperventilate beneath the thunderclouds.
It must look a bit odd.
But, the truth is, if yo
re me, i
s not odd at all.
s how I cope.
My name is Kate Archer and this is my story.
Before I started sixth form, my opinion of Leon Prentice was fixed: a guitar-playing football god with plasters covering his ear piercings, who somehow managed to be popular with pupils
teachers, always surrounded by an entourage of team-mates, band-members and pretty girls with hair extensions. We did
t talk, had different crowds. And that was fine - until six weeks of summer flip-flopped through my head and my eyes were opened to his effortless smile and diamond eyes.
By the time the autumn term came round, I could barely eat, drink and blink without thinking about Leo
Prentice. So, what changed? Me? Him? Both of us? Was it the evening I saw him deejaying at the end of term concert? Or the bowling trip, where we had our first proper conversation and discovered we liked the same bands? I guess trying to find the answer is like trying to explain what makes people fall in love.
Everything and nothing.
know is the summer we started talking, I needed something good to happen. I needed romance.
d finally stood up to my universally-hated-evil-ex, Marshall Finch, and dumped him. Done. Done. Done. Our relationshi
if you could call it tha
was one hundred per cent over. I was desperate to move on, to put the past behind me and meet someone new, someone happy, someone
Enter Leon Prentice, our form-group alpha, who played lead guitar, got good grades, did sport, had a laugh. No social malfunctions. No temper. No warped obsessions. In other words, the total opposite to what
d been used to.
First day of the summer holidays, my best friend, Gemma, dragged me to Central Bowl after hearing that her own not-so-secret-secret crush, Greg, would be there with his friends (Leon included). After layering eyeliner in the toilets and lurking like dorks by the fruit machines, we decided the only way to get Greg’s attention was to play in the lane next to them.
It worked. As soon as Gemma and Greg made eye contact, they disappeared. I didn’t see them for another hour, which gave me ample time to look like a lemon and bowl badly. Eventually, Leon crossed into my lane - maybe he felt sorry for me - and explained that I was holding the ball wrong. He demonstrated the correct way, offered me a sip from his smuggled hip flask, then made some comment about how I never talked to him at school.
The change didn’t happen straight away. It was the next morning. When I woke up, it was like a switch had been flicked. I’d dreamed about him. I’d replayed bits of our conversation over and over in my head. That dull clench in my stomach had been replaced by a gorgeous, light fluttery feeling.
For the rest of the holidays, Leon and I continued to hang out, just casual, with our friends. There were rumours he liked me, but my problems with Marshall Finch had made me shy. I struggled to know how to be, what to say, what to do. The new term started and we were still at the ‘slightly embarrassing chat’ stage, made worse by the fact that Leon was always busy with football trials and band rehearsals, or otherwise surrounded, lots of followers, lots of girls. I started to question whether I’d ever get the chance to spend time in his company without distraction or interference.
Then the art room got trashed.
And my fortunes reversed.
I was the first to arrive. I ducked beneath my umbrella and marched through the car park. Gemma came next, her hand in Greg's, with their his' n' hers black eyeliner and matching pale skin. They were sharing a plastic carrier bag for shelter, holding it lopsided, because she was so short and he was so tall.
Gemma pulled her dip-died hair from her eyes and frowned.
s with this rankweather
’ she moaned
You tell me
I've got no idea what the sun looks like anymore
We walked up the path that ran alongside the car park, taking care to avoid the muddy rivulets either side. The rain slanted in our faces.
ll never forget the feel of it.
And can you believe w
re here on a weekend
’ she continued.
Shameful. I can think of a zillion things
d rather be doing
- then she gazed at Greg
but at least
get to spend the afternoon together
They rubbed noses and kissed - for a couple of Goths, they were pretty soppy.
Get a room
I joked, covering them with my umbrella.
t get me wrong, I was happy for them. It was good to see them getting on, because when they didn't get on, it wasn't pretty. They both had their issues. Gemm
s parents had recently divorced and Gre
s mum had died of some horrible illness, so being in love was a big deal. It's just they were always falling out, making up, then falling out again. High-maintenance. My sister thought I was mad to put up with it, but I didn't mind. Beneath his gruff exterior, I quite liked Gre
s dry sense of humour. And Gemma and I had been best friends for ages. Years ago, when we'd first started at Hurst College, we'd made a pact to look after each other - no matter what.
d never been in Saturday detention before. To be honest, it was how the strict teachers reprimanded the cocky kids who talked back or bunked all their lessons. Itwas
t something routinely issued to sixth formers, who were supposedly to
to need punishments, but there you go. Miss Nevis had decided our actions in the art room had been childish enough to merit a Saturday afternoon in school.
She had a point. I mean, I was pretty embarrassed about what we'd done. I loved the art roo
it was the place I escaped to. All I can say is that it hadn't been intentional.
d been working on a coursework project during lunch-break. Gemma had turned up for a chat. As usual, she'd dragged Greg with her. Greg had been followed by Leon and Leon had brought his best friend, Curtis. And Curtis - being Curtis - had taken one look at the art room's ceramic equipment, picked up a handful of clay, rubbed it in Greg's hair, and declared mud war. Leon had copied, scooping a lump of grey mush and wiping it on my nose. I’m not the sort of person who normally trashes classrooms, but I was hardly going to tell him to grow up, wash his hands and leave me alone. Oh no. With a flirtatious giggle that hadn’t quite come from myself, I’d thrown a ball of clay back at him. Five minutes later, we were a lost in the game. Until Miss Nevis walked in.
It felt weird being on the school premises at the weekend, just us and the empty building. No lockers slamming, no shouts across the hallway. We burst up the steps towards the Visual Arts Block, otherwise known as Vis A, which was where Miss Nevis had told us to meet. The art room was at the top, a tired glass box with views across the whole of Hurst. It was built a long time ago, maybe in the Seventies. All the teachers went on about how ugly it was and how it needed to meet with a sledgehammer. Personally, I quite liked it, but I expect I was the only person who did.
Just as we pushed through the entrance doors, a black Fiat pulled into the car park. I recognised it straight away. Curti
(his words, not mine). The tyres crackled to a halt next to Miss Nevi
s yellow Mini. The sound of the Fia
s car stereo, mostly bass, pounded the air. Curtis stuck his butt through the window and shouted:
Fear not chicas locas! Curtis La Mont is in your area!'
know this is supposed to be a detention, does
Just Curtis, is
t it, Curtis being funny
She arched an eyebrow.
about to spend the rest of the afternoon in the company of that moronic busta and his prima donna bff? Is there no way we can trick them into thinking ther
s a house party in the next village
Or the next planet
It was obvious whom Gemma meant by prima donna, for as much as I fancied Leon Prentice, she had her doubts. I guess she felt somewhat protective. She did
t want to see me hurt again
But, in my eyes, whatever Leon Prentice had done, could do, or would do, he
Marshall Finch - and that made him worth the risk.
Okay, so the rumours about Leon were massing - the latest being some Twitter rant from a girl in the year above, who'd apparently dated him for two months only to discover he'd snogged her older sister in a cinema toilet. But I'd heard she'd done this loads of times, some kind of anti-boy vendetta. Besides, gossip should
t always be believed, should it
Some people spread lies just to make others look bad. Not everyone can be trusted.
I ignored Gemma's scowls and gave Curtis a wave. He jumped out of the drive
s window, even though there was a perfectly good door handle, did
t quite make it, caught his foot, and stumbled into a hedge.
Greg rolled his eyes.
t believe they gave that goof a driving license
’ he muttered.
Curtis pulled his hood over his ever-changing hair - this time it was punky peroxide white spikes - and galloped through the rain. He was wearing a pair of mirrored sunglasses, (some kind of Curtis-World joke about the weather, guaranteed to irritate Gemma) and a pair of neon yellow jeans. Anything to get himself noticed. Just as he reached the steps, he started hooting like a monkey. Meanwhile, I had a moment to smooth my hair before the other car door opened.
Leon Zachary Prentice.
My stomach lurched. The wobble-gulp wooshed through me. I felt the red flourish on my neck before he even put a foot on the ground.
Did this mean he was annoyed about being here? Annoyed to be giving up a precious Saturday? Meaning he wasn't bothered about spending time with me? Meaning he did
t care? The wobble-gulp bypassed my stomach and went straight to my gut.
Leon made no attempt to avoid the downpour. He strutted through it like he was invincible. He did
t have a coat, just a thin unzipped hoodie and skinny jeans. As he reached the steps I smiled and made a little noise, which was supposed to b
, but came out a
. Thankfully, he did
t notice. Gemma did though. She gave me one of those sideways looks that said: do
t be a fool.
Leon Zachary Prentice, dishevelled black hair, bright blue eyes, wearing the same Ramones t-shirt he wore at the Kiln Farm Festival, and a new stretcher earring, which was like a miniature elephan
s tusk. He caught up with Curtis, turned to Greg and they all fist-bumped. I waited and smiled and hoped h
d greet me, that
d get my own invite to tap his knuckles. Instead, Curtis jumped in, leaned between Gemma and I.
t you just
being in school on a Saturday? I bet yo
ve been looking forward to this all week
Actually, I had.