2. A Little Queer

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I must've told Darren a hundred times after he floored me that I'd keep his secret. He said that if I told anyone what I'd seen, that he'd punish me so hard I'd beg him to stop. And just to remind me of it, every time we passed one another following that incident, he'd snatch me up by my collar, spit in my face and smear it all up to my eyebrows.

He never did it in front of his friends though. I could consider myself relatively safe all the times I'd catch him hanging around the back of B Block with a clutch of Special Brew, showing off his Nokia 6160. He didn't want to hurt me then, because he knew his mates would wonder why he was roughing up a twelve-year-old kid in the first place. So even though he would stare me down with those dark, haunted eyes, I knew I could at least avoid his unwarranted face wash.

Except for that, things were pretty normal for quite some time. Although... my version of normal and your version of normal probably don't align in many places. For starters my mum was binge addict – fast food, B-class drugs, cheap alcohol, it didn't ever matter – dole dossing off post-natal depression that ended eleven years ago. On the other end of the scale, my dad was Robert Breese. The film director? One and the same. He was always too busy abroad working on his latest production to call. But I didn't mind that much, I guess.

I think it's because of my mum and dad that I didn't make friends that well. I kept getting suspended. I'd get told I'm a bad kid, but I don't think I am. I'd be labelled a bully, but I never really meant to deal with things that way. I understand why people would call me that after all my tantrums, but Miss Martens never listened to me when I'd tell her I'm not bad.

Regardless, I'd been suspended for the fortnight after my ribs had healed for taking model glue into school.

There was a bag check. I'm guessing somebody grassed me in. I got called a glue-sniffer, had a letter sent home to mum that she never read, and got a suspension for it. I only had it in my bag because I was selling it to a kid in Year 11 who signed his street tag Bazmactix. I didn't even know who Bazmactix was, but the decision had been made by that point, because Miss Martens is constantly out to get me anyway.

You see, I was always getting mixed up in things with the older kids that I didn't understand, and because I didn't understand it, I couldn't defend my actions.

It was because of this that I lost my hearing, if only partially, but that's bad enough. You've probably already guessed who else it involves, and if you said Darren Worter, you're smarter than you look. But it was so long after I caught him making a move on Ervan that I'd almost forgotten about it.

Now... what I want to tell you next is a secret. A really big one. And you have to promise you won't tell anyone. But... sometimes when Mum is out at her boyfriend's for the day, I play dress up. Not like X-Men and shit. Just sometimes I wear my mum's jeans and her shoes, find out a cool top and a necklace to make it nice. Some people might stop me there and say it's sort of weird, and on the surface I never thought so, but there must've been a subconscious reason I'd always kept it a secret.

Sometimes I even went into her make-up bag and put some on, and I got pretty good at it, but at first I looked like a car accident. And I know what you must be thinking – this Rainer kid? He must be gay. That would be okay with me, but I'm not gay. I'm 12. It doesn't always work like that. I just get bored, and some kids read Harry Potter or watch cartoons, but me? We don't even pay TV license, so instead I like to play pretend.

This is just the thing I do.

Dressing up like my mum makes me happy though. It takes the edge off the blandness. If I had friends they would probably think this makes me extra weird. It don't really see it that way. I pretend I'm her for the day and I'll do all the dishes, read one of her magazines and then whiz around with the vacuum cleaner. There's usually something blasting out of the knock-off tape player Fat Steve gave me, too. I even pick up the landline and pretend to have a long conversation with somebody the other end who loves me and wants to know all about my make-believe day.

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