He wanted to just pull the plug on the whole thing. Why bother? He knew he could not painfully endure another eight months of it. Eight months of solo uncertainty, emotional and social torture, limbo; mock interviews for University, presentations in front of scrutinising, judgemental fellow college classmates… Yet, to his family, he was selfish, self-important and self-indulgent. Yes, stupid, self-centred Leon – the rotten apple in the basket, with the spine of a dying jellyfish his so-called father would tell him. Why couldn’t he be more like his perfect brother and sister? Perfect Percy and Patricia. Still, he had long ago resigned himself to the fact that he would never level up to the likes of his perfect siblings.
He shifted his rucksack (deposited with those Godforsaken Psychology and Sociology books which he been accustomed to despise just within the space of two months, and gin and lemonade) more securely over his right shoulder as he approached the double electronic-door entrance gaining admittance into the college. The burly college’s security man, who stood aloof, stared him daggers (in his deluded opinion) contemplating the bag of unorganised sh*t which stood in front of him as he was withdrawing his college card, declaring it to his eye level and then passing through without further ado before feeling it thud down to the bottom of his front pocket. Realising he was already five minutes late, he bolted up the stairs like a rat up a drainpipe, and crunched another polo just in case.
“Look what the cat dragged in.” Derek the D**khead announced. This opinion was trodden into long grass by Mr Green who pretended to be deaf to it. As he got to his usual desk at the back of the classroom, he sat down in the dreary slowness of the habitually depressed with thoughts on nothing but the next time that heavenly long sip of his favourite golden poison would touch his lips. Each move, a conscious act. Tragically aware of the staring eyes boring into him.
“Only two weeks time now,” Mr Green said in his boring, monotonous voice, “until I shall be interviewing each and every one of you, as a practice in light of your interview with your University interviewer.” Interviews. The creation of the Devil himself. Half a bottle of gin should do it, but then he hadn’t the foggiest about the requirements, what he needed to do…say…know…
“I find it pays to have written down and memorised a collection of questions and answers written in …shall I say…a sublime manner, guaranteeing your seat for the ticket to your future!” and he for some reason then gestured a horizontal line going across the air – not much unlike Hitler, earning a puzzled look from some of the students in the room.
“Here I have a sheet which shall now be passed around the room (thank you, David) and I would like you all to answer the questions stating why you should be given a place at your chosen designated University next year.”
Hope eroded even faster for Leon come the end of the next two lessons. You never quite quit in your mind, but you must in other demands, he had often thought. As the flood of students passed out from the classroom, near came a flood of tears from Leon. So today was apparently not going to be the day when one of the boys asked him if he wanted to hang out the front with them, play PokemonGo with them or do do whatever it was boys his age did these days. He was only a trifle surprised. He loathed them for it as he walked half-heartedly down to the toilets. Bang went the door, thud went the bag, and whizzzzz promised him entry into his rucksack. May as well have a whizz whilst in here, he thought. His heart lifted slightly as he picked up the litre and a half bottle split into divisions of gin and lemonade. No saint in heaven could have resisted it. Sixteen was too young to drink, sure, but it wasn’t going to be forever, only it dug him out of this hole (which seemed to be becoming deeper) he thought begrudgingly.
He would have to drop out, just drop out and hope for the best the following year. Yes, he thought slyly, as he necked more of the gin. He imagined the little devil on his right shoulder morph into an angel (and thought nostalgically of Tom and Jerry or an old Loony Tunes cartoon) reassuring, ‘Yeah, Lee, why put yourself through all that emotional abuse, stress and hurt, you’re going backwards. And don’t feel so guilty about the booze, it won’t be forever, besides, it’s the only way you can cope.” He took another swig, this time in a more vulgar fashion, and thought that’s enough for the day and decided to trek home. I can no longer gin and bear it, he agreed, with a flicker of a smile etching onto his face, his rapid thoughts considering and rejecting the idea of quitting college.
“Ah, Leon! Come! May I have a moment?” although she sounded as though she had already had her mind made up about taking that moment. “Who’s ruffled your feathers, now?” interrogated Mrs Richards. Ruffled? His feathers felt as though they had long ago been plumed.
“I wanted to give you the last module. I believe you were absent when it was handed out.”
He nodded quickly, a bit quicker and he might have succumbed to whiplash.
“Want to drop out.” The words came easily, gracefully only this time. Having been burdened with Selective Mutism for sixteen years, he had discovered that he could only speak when there was that expectation to speak. This expectation removed the intensity of that anxiety
“I’m sorry, I…” she queried whilst walking along, “dropping out, did you say? Of the whole course?”
He nodded, almost imperceptibly. “Yes.”
“Well, well, well. Is there a method in this madness?” Eyeing him with narrowing eyes. What was that look? Was it pity? Yes. That would be it. Pitiful Leon. Of course. It was quite at odds with his usual teacher’s scowel. He was a worthless, pathetic worm. What was she even doing speaking to him. Was he even worth her words?
He walked back down to the bus stop, swigging at his gin more eagerly this time. Gin was a pussies drink, as he had more increasingly been told. A pussies drink it may be, but a discreet pussies drink which left little aroma on your breath. Win.
The prospect of the looks on his parents faces when they would find out that he dropped out drained the world of colour (and of the colour on his face, he thought as an afterthought).
He sat at the bus stop, his zitty face each bit as spotty as his attendance had been over these past two months at college. Di**head Derek, Chris and Tom passed, no doubt on their way to the Golden Arches. Leon doubted Mcdonald’s would even take him on. Even take Derek on for that matter. Although Leon had a sneaking suspicion he might end up in prison first.
Surely, he had exhausted all efforts now. What would he do? Where would he go? Who would help him? How much more difficult would things get for him? he thought as he, subconsciously, tightened his grip on the three little pots of paracetamol hidden deep inside his interior jacket pocket.