Find out how Matt Dickinson's latest teen thriller originally ended ...
I wake up in Feltham for the very last time. There’s a nice day out there by the looks of it. Blue sky through the bars.
Becca never replied to my letter. I have no idea if I will ever see her again. I take a good look around while I’m waiting for midday. Just for the memories. Because I tell you one thing. I’m not coming back to Feltham Young Offenders Institution. No sir. Once I walk out that door that’s it for me. Goodbye to the jangling bells. Goodbye to the shiny tiles and the flickering fluorescent lights. Goodbye to the sarky guards. Goodbye to the treacle sponge that sticks to your teeth; the stink of 750 smelly lads who aren’t allowed aerosol deodorant because they’ll end up sniffing it.
Goodbye to the gangs that will pounce if they see the slightest weakness. Goodbye to some mates as well. See ya! I’m out of here.
I kick my heels in the library while I’m waiting for them to chuck me out. Say thanks to Andrea, the lady that runs it. She’s been good to me. Got me all the books I asked for. Made me secret cups of tea when she wasn’t really supposed to.
Then it’s time to pack my little bag. Pass through the clanking doors. A nod from the guards.
Pauline is waiting in the office. It’s nice to see her.
‘How are you, Joe?’ She holds me so tight I can hardly breathe.
I’ll be living with her now while we wait for my dad to be released. It’ll be all right, I reckon.
There’re some papers to sign. Release forms and stuff. Then we’re out of the front gates and I’m back in the real world. And it feels so good. To get that clean air inside me. And look out further than the wall in front of your nose. And feel you can go in any direction, not just the one the guards tell you to go in.
And to see Becca standing on the other side of the road.
I swear my heart stops beating for a bit. Then it starts racing out of control.
She’s wearing this white kind of gypsy dress. With her wavy reddish hair flowing down. And she’s looking well brown. And well hot. And those curves in all the right places I kind of got interested in all those months ago? Well, they’re still there but, like, even more so if you get my meaning. And there’s this nervous kind of cute smile on her face.
‘That’s my friend,’ I tell Pauline. There’s a huge lump in my throat.
‘We’d better go and say hello then.’
We cross the road and the closer I get to her the more I can’t think what to say. Or do.
‘Hello Joe,’ she says. We don’t touch or anything. We just stand there like we’re two total strangers.
‘I came up by train,’ she says. She blushes bright red.
There’s a horrible pause. Then Pauline steps in.
‘Tell you what,’ she goes. ‘I know this park where there’s a cafe. Why don’t we all go and have a cup of tea?’
So we do. And suddenly talking’s not difficult at all. And laughing doesn’t seem to be in short supply either. And Pauline gets on with her really well and I eat a piece of chocolate cake and it tastes so damn good after discount baked beans and chewy bacon and crappy margarine for ten months that it makes me want to cry.
‘I need to do a bit of shopping,’ Pauline says later. ‘You two can take a walk if you like and I’ll pick you up in a bit.’
We head into the park. And Becca can’t stop talking and smiling and telling me about her horse and asking if I’ve ever been on one. Then she explains about her university place, how she’s delayed going there to have a bit of freedom so she can recover from the bullet wound and spend a bit of time with her mum and dad.
And the sun is warm. And there are kids playing football with jumpers on the ground for goalposts. And ladies with pushchairs chatting cheerfully on the benches. And we’re getting closer to the corner of the park, closer to the place that’s a little bit hidden by the trees, the place where my mum’s butterfly is painted on the wall.
And somehow that’s where we end up. And the conversation seems to get a bit … sticky. And I can feel my heart thumping in my chest because Becca is looking right at my mum’s graffiti.
‘That’s beautiful,’ she says. ‘Is it one of yours?’
I tell her the story. And it all comes out in a rush. The story of how my mum did the butterfly and what she told me that day.
Becca leans back against the wall, right in the middle of the butterfly. It’s like the wings are her wings. Like she could take right off and fly away.
I’m looking right at her and thinking I never saw a more beautiful thing in my whole life.
And she says, ‘I think our stories just came together.’
And suddenly I feel this powerful thing, like my mum is actually there beside me, or in my head, telling me to be happy, to be free of everything and get some more love in my life.
Becca pulls me towards her. I melt into her body. And she gives this sort of sigh. She wraps her arms right round me and holds me really tight. I can feel her breath warm and fast against my ear. She smells so good; it’s like the nicest bunch of flowers ever. I fold my arms around her. And the fabric of her dress feels so soft at the bottom of her back it’s like it’s hardly there and really I’m touching her skin.
It’s the first time I’ve held a girl. But I’m not worried about doing it right. I know I’m doing it right. And they talk about this stuff, and how it’s the best thing in the universe. And they’re not wrong about that. But it’s not just the doing of it, is it? It’s the knowing that the other person wants it as well. That they need it as much as you do.
My lips brush against hers. For a few moments they just stay there, kind of slightly glued together, and the sweetness of her breath is awesome and then we push a little harder against each other and we kiss in this gentle kind of way.
Then we’re not playing at kissing any more. We’re doing it for real and there’s this incredible kind of hot vibe to it that just makes me want to scream or something it is so good. And she’s kind of giving as good as she’s getting if you see what I mean and I think, well, this posh girl is pretty grounded after all and the heat of her is making my whole body go to jelly.
Then I hear Pauline, calling from over near the playground.
‘I’ve been looking for you two!’ she calls. ‘Come on!’
We pull apart, laughing. We go to join her. And it feels right to hold hands even in front of her. And Becca’s squeezing my fingers in this way that’s like a conversation.
Then we take her to a tube station and its time for her to go home. She holds me close but we don’t kiss again. We don’t need to. We know we’ll be back together again soon so it’s cool to wait.
Pauline and I stay in the car, watching her walking towards the station entrance.
And Pauline says, ‘She’s a lovely girl, Joe. Hang on to her won’t you?’
Becca pauses just before she goes in. She gives this smiley wave and locks eyes with me.
And I think, yeah, I will hang on to her. I definitely will.