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I dunno why. It’s just what I do. If anyone asks I make things up. Not one person at school knows the reality but around the village I tend to cover it up. They’d call bullshit straight away.


I mean, it’s only little things most of the time. Things that no-one will even notice so they’re pointless really, but I dunno. It makes me feel good about myself. Like, I sometimes scrape my knuckles on the brickwork of my house to make the skin harder. Things like that make you look like you’re always fighting. Someone will notice that one day though.

I love the game ‘knuckles’ for the same reason. You know, where you put your knuckles down on the table and someone fires a 50p at you. I never give in first. My fist always ends up a bloody mess, I’ve got scars all over me knuckles. They look proper mint.

I’ve started smoking cos then my voice will go all gruff and sound wicked, it’ll be like Jeff’s from the top row. He sounds proper hard, like. When no-one’s in the house I sometimes just like do grebby music voices so that it makes my throat hurt and sound dead good.

I bet my Dad would talk like Jeff and have dead hard knuckles. I bet he’d have scars all over his body and drive really fast in his car. He’d not take any shit. His car would screech to a halt when someone pissed him off and he’d get out and batter them. He wouldn’t mess about. He’d look after me Mum as well.

I’ve got a new one I’ve started doing. I hold my arm over the steam of the kettle for as long as I can. It don’t make you look hard or anything, in fact I hide the red blotches cos they look horrible, but it makes me feel good inside. Just for that little bit of time it feels dead nice. Like my head’s light again. Like there’s a stream of fresh air wafting through.

It doesn’t take long for the weight behind my eyebrows to grow back though.

I like to make it look like I’m one of these tough guys on telly but, if I’m honest, I’ve never been in a fight before. They don’t know that at school, they just think I must be hard coming from the Vill.

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The Vill scares me though at times. I go out and play football and that but there’s always someone kicking off. You see them storming over and you know they’re going to do something. I just peg it now. Last time I played the hard man and stuck two fingers up at Kez. He’s two years bellow me at another school that my mum didn’t want me to go to. He might have been two years bellow me, but he still knocked my front tooth out in one punch.

I rode off on my bike to my Granny’s. I didn’t let myself cry until I was around the corner. The first thing my Granny asked me was if they saw me crying. Even she knows that you’ve got to try and look hard. I bet she was a bit disappointed inside that I didn’t hit him back.

I didn’t tell her that I stuck two fingers up at Kez. I didn’t dare. So when she stormed round to Kez’ house with me I was bricking it. She opened both barrels on Kez’ Mum. When Kez’ Mum informed her that her Grandson shouldn’t be sticking two fingers up at him then, she asked me if it was true. I said no by shaking my head and when we got back told her that Kez was a liar.

She had to believe me but she wasn’t so sure really. I could tell.

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