Never Again

The school hall was just how he remembered it.   A wooden stage at the front, worn steps, a slight whiff of cabbage and maroon brocade curtains covering the full-length windows.  His tummy was already playing up and he’d long-ago sweated a damp patch between his shoulder blades.   Faces turned to say hello and he nodded quietly at those he recognised.  Even after twenty years, school-boy tension gripped his neck.  He felt queasy and unsettled.   Suddenly more than a few faces turned toward the entrance and he knew:  Kevin Johnson had arrived.  Salty water dripped down his back as he slowly turned and looked at the man-boy who’d made his life a misery.  His pulse took off and he tried to walk towards the stage, but his thin legs had obstinately taken root in the shiny wooden floor.  He put his head down and tried to breath.  All he could hear amidst the chatter were steel-tipped shoes walking in his direction.  Then the voice that had haunted his teenage dreams called out to old friends near the drinks counter.   He swallowed back the bile that had risen up and ran to the Boys toilets just outside the Hall, and dry heaved over a toilet. The mirror said it all, clammy forehead, dark shadows and the beginnings of a headache that would eventually burrow its way into his eye sockets.   Time to go he thought.  Not the time to face his fears as his wife Angela had gently suggested.  He literally ran to the Fiesta and as he passed the school gates he felt exactly the same relief he’d felt twenty years earlier.  Never again.

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Categories: Just Stories

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