‘Thanks for your help,’ I said to Dean in a muffled voice from under my tissue, which was held firmly on my throbbing nose to soak up any excess blood. We were both sitting outside the nurse’s office, waiting for me to get the all-clear to go back to class. I felt so undignified in front of Dean like this. I hadn’t seen myself, but I was sure I looked a right state, especially with my once bleached-white polo shirt now dyed scarlet.
Luckily for me, though, the only damage done was a burst blood vessel and a bruise the size of Britain across the middle of my face for all my trouble - no broken bones just yet. I wasn’t exactly sure how qualified the sick bay nurse was at giving out such diagnoses, but I chose to trust her judgement. I mean, my nose did still feel like it was in its usual place, and I wasn’t bleeding as much anymore.
‘No worries, mate,’ Dean said. ‘It’s just the luck of the game sometimes, I guess.’
‘You call this luck?’ My voice must have sounded funny with tissue up my nostrils, as I could see him trying to suppress a giggle.
‘…You know what I mean.’
I harrumphed. ‘Well, I suppose it doesn’t really matter much, does it? I know I’m crap and the others know it, too--’
‘I do know it was on purpose, Loz,’ he interjected. ‘And don’t worry, I’ll be giving the little shit who did it a thing or two to think about later!’
‘Oh, no, you really don’t have to! This kinda thing is pretty routine for me…Well, not so much bloodied noses, but you know…’ I shrugged.
‘Yeah, I know.’ He smiled understandingly. ‘Just leave it to me, though, okay?’
‘Dean, I appreciate it, but…’
He put his finger to his lips as if to silence me, and gave me a mischievous wink. I blushed fiercely.
I was in awe of his apparent protectiveness of me, and as I scanned his beautifully symmetrical features, I didn’t know what else to say. He just looked back at me, empathy written all over him. When the awkward silence finally dawned on me, I pretended to be all hot and bothered.
Why did he want to look out for me? Nobody else did. Well, except Zen and Frankie, but then they were my best friends and would always defend me to the ground. But Dean was virtually a stranger, and he was only living with me for the time being. Other than that, we had no ties. Why did he care so much?
‘Anyway,’ he continued, ‘I have strong morals, and just because you’re strong it doesn’t give you the right to pick on those weaker than yourself.’
I was a little stung by his tactlessness. He was just acting charitable, and saw me little more than a defenceless coward.
T. E. Shaw was born in Surrey, England in 1988. He has a BA (Hons) degree in Visual Communications: Illustration from the University of Derby, and enjoys spending a lot of his time pursuing independent creative projects. Being a rather emotionally in-tune person, himself, Shaw hopes his voice will give an insight into the complex battles that rage on inside the developing minds of a young minority.
People like to know their place in the world; who and what they are - or which “category” they fit into; it’s important to them. Sometimes, however, it’s important just to be. Remember, you are you, first and foremost.