“Simplicity is complexity resolved.” - Constantin Brancusi
My class gets let out early because a kid sets the textbooks on fire and throws them in the bin. We all run out into the hall and I swear someone is screaming. Everyone except me is going home, I am going to the willow to wait for Nick. I hear a twig snap and I look up. Nick.
“What happened, Clara?” Nick asks.
“Some kid started a fire,” I reply.
“Did anyone get hurt?”
“Thank goodness,” He says, pulling me into a hug.
“Look what I found, mates,” a boy sneers. “Little Clara found a boyfriend.”
I pull away. “He’s just a friend, Jeremy.”
“Leave her alone,” Nick snaps.
“You gonna make me, Hollbrooke?” Jeremy laughs.
“I will,” Layne replies, coming from behind the tree.
“Two against eight? You’re on.”
“Bring it,” I challenge, kicking him in the gut.
“You want it, you got it,” Jeremy snarls.
He throws a punch at my face and I duck. I hit him in the gut and he doubles over. I bring my knee up and he grabs it. Shit. He flips me over and I hit the ground face first. I grunt at the impact and get up, blood pouring from my nose.
“You got a boo-boo,” Jeremy teases.
I kick his gut again and he groans. I punch him between the eyes and he collapses. Everyone gasps and I look up. Jeremy’s ‘friends’ are staring at me with a mixture of awe and fear. I glare at them and they flinch. I kick Jeremy and he mutters.
“Take him and leave,” I growl.
They do as I say.
“Clara, are you alright?” Nick asks.
“Yeah,” I reply. “Where’s Layne?”
“Some kid knocked him out.”
“Get me some water.”
I walk over to Layne and shake him. He mumbles and I sigh in relief. Thank goodness he isn’t out cold. Nick hands me a bottle of water and I empty the water on Layne’s face. His eyes fly open and he sits up quickly.
“Why am I wet?” Layne mutters.
“I dumped water on you,” I reply.
“You were out.”
He scans my face. “Clara, you’re bleeding!”
“I’ll live. You, on the other hand, may have a concussion.”
“I don’t care.”
“You hit the ground pretty hard, Clara.”
“Harriet will kill us when she sees you.”
“She’s seen me with worse.”
“Broken wrist, sprained ankle, concussion and cuts all on the same day.”
Everything suddenly blurs and I lean against the tree for support. I force my eyes to stay open and Layne watches me carefully. Nick calls someone and I can tell that it’s Harriet by the way the other person answers. I stumble and Layne catches me before I hit the ground. I smile and everything goes black. Layne catches me and yells at Nick before I pass out completely.