Apple Tree by Joanne Tedds
Written by Lazy Gramophone Press on Sunday the 24th of January 2010
Melvin never made any friends. Not only was he extraordinarily shy, he was small for his age, had unusual hair (which felt and looked a little like a rusty cheese-grater), he blushed at the slightest thing, and, to make matters worse, there were paving slabs that were more athletic than Melvin.
He was an easy target, so preoccupied was he with his ruminations that he rarely noticed his classmates. Even when one dedicated peer sat down next to him and spent the entire double Maths lesson chewing graph paper and spitting the tiny balls into Melvins velcroesque coif. It was four hours later when, by happenstance, he caught his reflection in a shop window. While he was rightfully disgusted, he was thankful to be on his way home and to have narrowly avoided another public blush-fest; although, as he expected, his next day at school was torturous.
On another occasion, during English, he opened his dusty maroon exercise book while gazing out of the window, and taking the flat of his palm, he creased the middle of the double page. Rapidly, he adopted the sleeves dark rosy hue. He had failed to notice that someone had stuck an unwrapped (though thankfully unused) sanitary towel on the first available blank page. Wings spread, blue-square of super absorbency highlighted by the crudely scrawled: This is the closest youll ever get to a girls knickers, exposed to not just him, but the whole class because Melvin, of course, sat at the front, on his own.
The class sat twitching with excitement behind him, waiting for the fireworks. The fever flushed his face. His head got hot, though his cheeks quickly cooled with profuse sweat. Dizzied by the shock, Melvin was overwhelmed, Why is it always me? Why is it so much fun for them?
Melvin felt a tear. Its natures bad-joke that being embarrassed perpetuates embarrassment. Festering in his memory were hundreds of these episodes. We all know one, theres at least one in every class, and it could even be you. He was that boy. This was Melvin.
So he did what he always did. He ran, in his fraggle-like way, out of the classroom and the school. With only horrible replays for company, he went to his hideout until it was time for him to arrive home from school.
The tree was bare and offered little shelter, but its position near the abandoned allotments was obscure and ugly enough that nobody else visited it.
After ripping a branch (well a twig) about the length of his forearm from the already stark trunk, Melvin paused. The wave of humiliation finally broke and he began to cry. Only a little cry though. He didnt make any sound, it was just that his eyes had got too wet to see and he was forced to blink. The salty tears ran down the creases that joined his nose to his mouth and finally they dripped from his chin into the soil where the roots burrowed down into the unknown.
He chased the tears with the twiggy branch and began scrawling, Cry baby into the soil. He covered it over quickly using the side of his shoe but began again. He dragged the stick through the dirt until he wrote Stupid, and then Weirdo, Ginger Whinger, Strange face, Odd ball, - he could almost hear the class chanting. The sun lowered and Melvin thought it was probably time he turned up at home. He tried to snap the twig but couldnt, he twisted it and although he broke the bark he couldnt break it in two, exhausted, defeated by a twig, Melvin finally lost all hope.
All I want to do is he whispered, and began scratching a line, then a curve.
He made the D easily in the now soft dirt, another line for an I and just as he was starting the fourth scrape to complete the E, an old woman appeared out of nowhere. She started shouting at him. He dropped the stick and ran more like hobbling at speed to and through the gauntlet, and then eventually to his room.
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Title: Joanne Tedds reading Apple Tree
Lazy Says: Joanne Tedds