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It was a different time, as the last embers of a shoddily rolled joint reached your fingers, passed to you by your favourite English teacher. A small bottle of Bacardi Breezer in your left hand as you pretended to indulge in both, when the reality was you barely touched either. The last evening of camp, gayly sat around the haze of a dying fire as you found yourself mocking your peers whilst the teachers somehow joined in. Them, all flirting with the popular girls before the next day pretending like life was the same as they shouted you out of bed. 

Or at the final assembly when the school band broke out into an elaborate version of Stacy’s Mum with just the first word changed. Trumpets, sax and keys jamming along whilst you held cards aloft spelling out the new name and all but one individual in the room sang along. A sea of swaying arms in a strange, gentle wave of school unity.

Or down by the school bush, nervous to walk past it in fear that one of the older boys would pounce and send you flying over. Sprawled flat on the Warden’s lawn, army crawling your way to safety through the flower beds. 

Or watching your dear friend sprint as fast as his legs could run across the school field. Hurtling onwards, hood up, as the grizzled English teacher chased after him, a hastily thrown down cigarette lying crooked in the grass. 

Or when your Maths teacher called you to begin and instead you all looked to the clock. Then, when the minute struck quarter past, you threw your books off the table and pretended like nothing had happened as she ran from the room in despair.

Or when the Sex-Ed group came to share their wisdom and one kid shouted out a crude joke that you all laughed at, even though most of you were afraid, virgin teens who didn’t even understand.

Or when the new short-haired sub teacher was in and that older kid you were always wary of ran by and shouted that word at her from the doorway. That word you’d never heard before and you’ve never since forgotten. And while everyone snuffled their mindless laughs, one person in the room knew what it really meant and especially how it hurt.

Or all those lost hours on the school bus, like when the permanently-in-trouble final year stole a pig’s heart from the science class and threw it straight into the face of the boy from next door. A slap that could be heard in every seat, causing all hell to break loose as the heart was launched from window to window whilst you all dove for cover. 

Or the time you ripped up a school textbook and sent the pages flying out the sunroof. Sheets of algebra and history flapping their way down the motorway causing cars to swerve and break whilst the whole bus roared along. 

Or when your red-headed friend lifted the new boy to hang from the roof of the bus and you joined in, cheering all the way until his dad knocked on your house door a few hours later and reduced you to tears. 

Or finally when the village racist, a young pinched-nosed girl from down the road, called your friend a word that didn’t even make sense because his dad was Iranian, and he lost his cool and screamed back and you shouted with him, even when she was reduced to a puddle of her own tears. 

When things that felt right were wrong and things that felt wrong were right and things that felt right were actually right. 

It was a bad time, it was a good time, it was a different time.


  • Ben Davies is a writer based in California. Originally from the UK, Ben has had fiction published in Firework Stories and articles published in magazines including Huck, Lost and The International Times. He is currently finishing a short story collection, And So I Took Their Eye. In their free time they enjoy putting on a record, clean waves and the first pages of a new book.


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