Tag Archives: teenagers

Dan’s Signed Book Giveaway!

Hey everyone,

 

I will be giving away two personally signed copies of my debut novel, ‘The Lighter That Shone Like A Star’ to celebrate its release onto paperback!

There will be one Facebook and one Twitter competition – you can enter both to double your chances of winning!

The rules are easy-peasy.

Twitter:

- Follow @TheDanCash

- Retweet the tweet that I will tweet soon. (You’ll see it, I’ll make it obvious. And I’ll do a couple over the next few days, too.)

- Wait ’til 4pm Sunday 22nd June where I will reveal the lucky winner!

 

Facebook:

- ‘Like’ my page.

- Like and share my post that tells you to like and share! (You’ll see it, I’ll make it obvious. I will only do the one, but I’ll make sure it’s at the top of my page!)

-Wait ’til 4pm Sunday 22nd June where I will reveal the lucky winner!

 

See, how simple.

Obviously, the winners must be willing for me to have an address to which I can mail the book. I will use this address for the competition purposes only and destroy all records once the parcel has been sent.

Entrants must be human.

 

Thank you everyone!

 

For more information about the novel up for grabs, its UK Amazon Kindle page is here, and US page here!

Obviously, paperback copies are also available from Amazon UK, Europe and US, or Createspace.

 

Thank you and good luck!

I hope you win.

 

Dan Cash

 


Bullied.

Safely tucked under a duvet cocoon
Alarm rings to say that school will start soon
Arm reaches out and hits the snooze button
An act of defiance, fear – not glutton

Breakfast is quiet, chew slowly on toast
Mum stares, looking worried; angry almost
Toothpaste squeezed on brush, glance a reflection
How did you catch this nasty infection?

Walk to school with a friend who is drifting
Afraid they’ll catch the pain that’s inflicting
Criss-crossing fence, buildings, sign on the gate
School bell is ringing, don’t care that you’re late

Swerve round a corner and met with a sneer
A punch, kick, malicious words in your ear
Teacher as your witness turns a blind eye
Kids being kids, no real problem, a sigh

Worse day by day, week by week, let it end
Infinite problem, can’t even pretend
That the abuse will stop, life is consumed
Hoping someone might help, pain be exhumed

Can’t tell an adult, ignored by a mate
Perhaps it’s your fault, or all down to fate
Food goes untouched, body smaller and hunched
Internal trauma ev’ry time you are punched

What will it take, a hospital visit?
Before words explain, so it’s explicit
Because silence is pain, invisible
But not you, a soldier, with your own war

Temporary darkness, an end in sight
Words are the answer, not physical fight
Speak out, shout, find a saviour, finally
Because youth is too fleeting to be wrecked by a bully.

DC


A boy and a girl

Friends since they were six years old, Jamie had never planned to tell Collette that he loved her. He never even realised it himself until ten years later, when Collette went on a date with an arrogant, underachieving arsehole. For the next year, two months and twelve days, Collette was in a happy, if not turbulent, relationship until eventually she decided that they had had one argument too many. After storming out of her now ex-boyfriend’s front door, she wondered mindlessly to Jamie’s house. Collette knew that she could rely on Jamie. He was her best friend, he had helped her through her entire relationship, he had never judged her for making the wrong decisions and most of all, he had always been there.

Jamie had spent one year, two months and twelve days of his life in complete turmoil. He had always loved Collette but it wasn’t until she became unavailable that he truly realised just how much. The jealousy that filled him from head to toe was unbearable and seemed to grow with each passing day. Her beauty overwhelmed him. Her smile sent waves of joy through his soul. When Collette was happy with her boyfriend, Jamie put his own feelings aside and was instead grateful that she was content. When Collette’s boyfriend caused her hurt or upset, Jamie’s blood boiled with a venomous anger.
Now, with Collette standing on his doorstep in the pouring rain, Jamie’s heart ached.

They talked and hugged and eventually laughed. Jamie comforted his friend in exactly the way he knew how, and Collette appreciated every second. He listened and he understood. He said only what she wanted to hear and what she needed to comprehend. He made her laugh and he made her smile. And that made him smile. Jamie offered Collette his bed for the night so she would not have to discuss her break-up with her parents, and she immediately accepted. Jamie would sleep on the sofa.

The next few weeks were some of the best; Jamie had his best friend back all to himself. Summer rolled around which meant Sixth Form had ended. Exams had seemed a lot better than they would have before, because Collette revised with Jamie. He admired Collette because she worked so hard every day, starting from early in the morning and carrying on until everyone else had gone to bed. They were studying two of the same A Levels, but Jamie was revising French while Collette trundled through History notes.

Jamie and Collette had become completely inseparable. Their other friends enquired frequently into their friendship, wondering if it was possibly more than ‘just friends’. Collette was always first to respond with a final ‘no’. Even though that was the truth, a hot blade pierced Jamie’s lungs each time the word passed her lips. The boy was infatuated and besotted. Collette was all he could think about and not being able to kiss her was impossibly frustrating. But then they got drunk.

Collette had just turned eighteen and so the pair could finally go clubbing together for the first time. They were bad influences on each other and soon lost not only their other friends, but all sense of what they were doing. As Collette slipped on a spilt drink on the dance floor, Jamie miraculously managed to catch her mid-fall and they walked off laughing hysterically to a booth. Neither of them could remember the conversation that followed when they awoke the next day, but they did have a vivid image of Jamie leaning over and planting a sloppy kiss on Collette’s mouth.

Collette had pulled away in shock and asked Jamie what he thought he was doing. With the elegancy of an elephant on roller-skates, Jamie then mumbled and slurred his way through a declaration of his undying love for the beautiful girl sitting beside him. Inadvertently he offended Collette when he began to discuss her ex, stating that she was naïve to have stayed with him for so long. In his clouded mind, Jamie thought he was being romantic and saying that she had true love right in front of her eyes. He was confused, then, when Collette stormed away from the boy and out of the club.

The next morning, the pair did not speak. Nor did they talk during the following week. Jamie made attempts to contact Collette, but she had ignored every text message. They did not see or talk to each other for a few weeks, when results day finally arrived. Both Jamie and Collette arrived at their Sixth Form as soon as it opened to collect their results. Collette opened her envelope first and Jamie smiled when she squealed in delight, obviously getting the results she needed for her first choice university.

It was with mixed feelings that Jamie celebrated his results. He had also managed to secure the results he needed for his first choice university, but he was not sure if wanted to go. In fact, nobody except Jamie and his parents knew what his first choice university was. Now it was becoming real, he had to tell Collette even if she did not want to see him. He walked over to her and she turned her back on him.

“Hi.” He said, timidly. There was no response. “Look, I’m not going to apologise again because I know it’s pointless. I just wanted to say congratulations on your results, I see you got in to university. I’m proud of you.”
He expected a reply, perhaps she would congratulate him, too. But still she was silent.
“Well, anyway. I thought you should know I got in as well. But I lied before. My first choice university wasn’t Southampton. I guess I was just scared because I kind of regretted making my decision straight away but now I’m in and…”
“Where is it?” She asked, surprising Jamie with a reply.
“Paris.”
It was in complete silence that Collette walked away from her old best friend.

Jamie was at the airport. Collette was at home, packing. The pair had not spoken since they collected their results. Jamie never understood what he could have said to hurt her so badly and he did not remember much of their conversation. But he had told his friend that she was naïve, that she was stupid, and that she had caused Jamie unbelievable heartbreak during her relationship. And that was why Collette knew she had to stop talking to Jamie; because she did not love him back. She had caused her best friend the most hurt he had known. She had been the reason for his unhappiness for over a year. She loved Jamie, but as a friend and nothing more, never anything more.

Collette was sitting on her bed, tears rolling down her soft cheeks. The clock in front of her ticked, each second passing by with a soft thud. She never moved an inch, remaining still and silent for over two hours. Finally, she watched as the minute hand and the hour hand formed a horizontal line. Jamie was on his plane and it was time for take-off.
Collette began to cry. She crawled over her bed and peered out of her window, where she could see Jamie’s rooftop.

Tears streamed down her face, her eyes were sore and red and her throat began to ache. Her phone vibrated. It was a text message from Jamie.
‘This isn’t goodbye.’
The girl began to cry even harder, regretting the last few months and the sheer stupidity that both of them had shown. Jamie would always love Collette, but Collette could never stop being Jamie’s friend.

Collette smiled. Then she looked at the sky and sighed…


Silence part 2.

Scissors and knives,
Razors and blades.
Not the solution,
Nor are they to blame.

Internal trauma,
Wounds in your mind.
Pain on your body,
Scratches and lines.

Tears do not fall,
A frown is a smile.
Hiding away,
Alone in exile.

No-one to listen,
Nobody to hear.
They see the scars,
Flooded with fear.

Scared you’re not happy,
Is it their fault?
Truth is you don’t know,
Why life came to a halt.

Scissors and knives,
Razors and blades.
Not the solution,
But they help ease the pain.

Internal trauma,
Wounds in your mind.
Pain on your body,
Scratches and lines.

And healing is hard,
These cuts will heal.
But you’ll always be sad,
No-one knows how you feel…

But somebody knows,
Someone understands.
People do care,
That you always feel sad.

It isn’t your fault,
You are not alone.
Don’t suffer in silence,
Pick up the phone.


Going home…

The train was surprisingly empty. I had just finished my first year at university and so I was on my way home for the summer. It was a brilliant year. The best of year of my life. I was sad to be going home, if I’m honest. Don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to seeing my family and friends, but I would miss university. The people, the parties, and even the lectures. But I had next year to look forward to, so I was happy.

The only other people on my carriage were a woman and her son, an old couple, and a girl. The little boy was listening to his mother read him a story, resting his head on her arm and pointing out what he could see in the illustrations. The old couple were eating sandwiches. Egg, guessing from the smell wafting through the carriage. I sat on the seats in front of the girl. She was crying.

I put my earphones in and sat back, wishing train seats were more comfortable. We pulled away from the platform and began the three hour journey home.

After about ten minutes, I realised that I’d been listening to the same song on repeat. I tried to change track, but I couldn’t. Regretting spending the last of my student loan on alcohol and McDonald’s, I turned off my iPod and took out my earphones. The girl was still crying. I turned back and saw her through the gap in the seats. She was staring out the window, her face covered with tears.

“Hi,” I said. “Would you like a tissue?”

She looked at me, slightly startled, before nodding. I reached into my backpack and handed her a packet of tissues.

“Are you okay?” I asked, feeling instantly stupid. Of course she wasn’t okay, you didn’t have to be a genius to work that out. She nodded again.

“Thanks,” she said, attempting a smile.

“What’s the matter?” She looked at me. I couldn’t make out if she was confused or annoyed. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have asked.” I began to turn back around.

“No,” the girl responded. “No, it’s nothing really.”

“Okay. My name’s Tom by the way, if you do want to chat just nudge me or something, yeah?” I offered.

“Thanks Tom.” She managed another half-smile, “I’m Charlotte.”

I returned the smile and shuffled back around, not sure how to fill the time now my iPod had decided to stop working.

I must have fallen asleep soon after. When I woke up, the old lady was sleeping too. Her husband was reading a newspaper, trying not to rustle the pages too loudly. The mother was reading a different book to her son. I caught a snippet and thought it sounded like The Little Match Girl, a book my mother used to read to me when I was little. Charlotte must have seen me wake up from my nap and tapped me on the shoulder. I moved to sit next to her.

“Are you okay?” I asked again, feeling slightly less silly than before.

“I will be, I’m sure,” she replied sadly. “Did your iPod run out of battery?”

“No, it just stopped working. It would only play one song.”

“Oh, which song?”

I didn’t want to answer. I tried to think of a song that might not make it seem like I had a questionable taste in music. I had paused for too long. She laughed softly. I shook my head.

“Okay, don’t judge. I was listening to Time to Say Goodbye.”

“Ooh, a classical boy.” She mocked.

“No, it came on shuffle and then when I got on the train it just stuck on that song!” I protested. She didn’t believe me and laughed again.

The train came to halt. A short, middle-aged man stepped on with a golden Labrador. He sat near the doors, his dog laying down in the aisle.

“I expected it to be busier today.” I said to Charlotte. She looked at me sadly, I didn’t understand why. “What?”

“Nothing.” Charlotte quickly replied. I looked at her inquisitively, but decided to drop it.

“So, where are you heading?” I enquired.

“I was going home.”

Was?

“Yeah… well, I’m not any more.” Tears began to fill her eyes once more. I fell silent. “You have no idea do you?”

Her question confused me.  “No idea of what?”

She sighed and turned away from me, looking out of the window at the countryside that passed us by. It had started to rain.

Just I started to try and work out what I had said to make her cry again, the train slowed down. It stopped. The little boy began walking towards the doors. His mother cried out, waking up the elderly lady. She reached out for her son, but he escaped her grasp. The boy continued walking forwards, edging past the Labrador and out onto the platform. The woman ran to the doors. She began to thrash her hands against the windows, screaming hysterically for her son. As the train pulled away, she sank to the ground. Her body shook as she sobbed uncontrollably.

I made to stand up and comfort the woman, but Charlotte grabbed my wrist.

“There’s nothing you can do.” She told me.

“I can at least try to comfort her.” I retorted.

“No, you can’t. Listen, Tom.” Charlotte pulled me back into my seat. “Just… think a minute.”

“About what?” I asked, frustrated and confused.

“How did you get here?”

“What?”

“How did you get on the train. Think.” Her voice was soft, almost pitiful.

I thought back. I remembered waking up late in the morning, my head hurting from the night before. I threw all my clothes and books into my suitcase and packed away my laptop. My housemates helped me down the stairs and the taxi driver lifted my heavy case into the boot of his car. I hugged everyone and said goodbye. Then I arrived at the train station, got on the train and met Charlotte.

Charlotte listened to my account of the day and shook her head.

“No, think!” She urged. “Really think. Something happened. You never got to the train station.”

“Of course I did! How would I be on this train if I didn’t go to the station?” My frustration had taken over and my voice was too loud. All the passengers, the old couple, the man with the dog, and the distraught mother, were all looking at me. Sadly. But I didn’t know why.

I closed my eyes. I was in the taxi. The driver and I were talking about the summer and our plans. He was going on holiday with his family. I was telling him about my summer job in a bar. But I never finished. He pulled out onto a main road. I heard a car screeching towards us and slam into the side of the taxi and… And then I boarded the train.

I wasn’t going home.

I cried. Charlotte placed her warm hand on mine. The train stopped.


School: A poem

Adults say school was the time of their lives

They forget all the worries and troubles and strifes:

Teachers who told them they’d never succeed

And the classmates who constantly mocked, scorned, and teased.

 

The life that you led was shrouded in fear

Of bullies who beat you whisp’ring threats in your ear.

Intimidation bred pain and upset

Angry faces are those that you never forget.

 

Friendships were forged only lasting a while

Because when school is over new friends make you smile.

You look back with fondness, forget the bad

Remembering the jokes and the fun that you had.

 

School is a challenge but also a game

If you win then your life will never be the same.

So enjoy the days of learning new things

Relish not knowing what each different day brings.

 

When you get older you will miss all the madness

And regret is what truly causes us sadness.


A Reason to Live

Henrietta and James were watching their favourite film which happened to be on TV, balancing their laptops on their laps. James was unhappy, Henrietta did not need to ask him to know. He was usually so upbeat and positive, even when things were not going his way. Not tonight, though. Tonight he was quiet, sombre and troubled.

It was Friday evening – exactly four days, three hours and twenty-seven minutes after James’ parents had announced that they were getting a divorce. As soon as the ‘D’ word had passed his father’s lips, James had run upstairs and into his room, pushing his bed against the door. He ignored his parents’ pleas and remained silent, cradling his head in his arms whilst tears streamed down his face. That evening he had not spoken to anyone, not even his best friend, Henrietta.

The next day after school, James was sitting at the desk while Henrietta adopted her usual position, propped up comfortably against her bed. They had been chatting for a few minutes before Henrietta realised that something was not quite right.

“James, what’s up?” She asked her friend.

“Nothing, I’m fine!” Replied James, not at all convincingly.

“Just tell me, you know I won’t leave you alone until you do.” There was a long pause, before James hesitantly responded.

“My mum and dad are getting a divorce.”

Henrietta did not know what to say. She knew that his parents had been arguing for a few months, but then her parents often argued too. There was a long silence while Henrietta attempted to find the right words; the words that would comfort James and make him feel better. But there were none.

“I’m sorry.” She finally managed. “That sucks.”

“Yeah, it does. Henrietta, I’ve got to go. I’ve got loads of homework to do.”

“Okay, bye James. Just let me know if you want a chat, yeah?”

“Yeah. Thanks.”

James had not spoken to her again until Friday evening. The two sixteen year-olds were sitting in their usual positions, getting ready for the movie. Henrietta reached into her bowl of microwave popcorn, listening to James tell her about his week. It sounded horrible. His parents had stopped speaking to each other, or even near each other, meaning that James had not talked to them much either. They had both come to his room on several occasions, but whatever they said made him feel worse. His mum was going to move out and James would have to stay with living in the house with his father. They thought it was the best option but they had not asked James. They did not ask him what he wanted. All he really wanted was to escape; to run away without looking back.

James talked and Henrietta listened, crunching un-popped kernels between her teeth . That was all he needed: someone to listen. Henrietta just wanted to reach out and hug him. But she couldn’t. She wanted to tell her best friend that everything would be alright. But she couldn’t. The film began and James got comfortable, opening his bag of Maltesers.

“I’m so jealous.” Whined Henrietta, “Maltesers are my favourite things ever!”

“Well, they’re all mine!” James replied, wearing a mischievous smirk.

Henrietta loved it when James smiled, even sarcastically. It had been a while since she had seen his face had broken out in a grin and he was so handsome when it did. When he smiled, she smiled. That was one of the many reasons she loved James. She loved him as a younger brother, even though he was seven months and sixteen days older than her. James loved Henrietta, too, but in a very different way. She was beautiful and she was funny, she made him happy even when he felt trapped in the darkest of corners. But she could not make him happy now. Nobody could.

His parents’ divorce did not come as a shock to James, but it was the final straw. They used to be so happy together. His home was once a haven of happiness and laughter. But that all changed seven months ago, when James’ sister Rachel passed away. That was a shock. Nobody could have expected it to happen. She was older than James by more than three years but the siblings were closer than a lot of other brothers and sisters he knew. They would spend lots of time together, playing on computer games, watching films, going for bike rides along country lanes. On this particular Saturday, James and Rachel had gone for a stroll in the summer sun. On their way home, they reached a zebra crossing. James stopped and bent down to tie up his shoelaces for what seemed like the hundredth time that day. He did not realise that Rachel had already stepped out onto the crossing until he heard it. The screech of the tyres. The blunt thud of body hitting bonnet. The screams of passers-by. James lifted his head and his eyes confirmed what had happened. His sister’s body lay broken in the road. He ran to her side, crying her name and plummeting to his knees. He knew before the ambulance had even arrived that his sister was gone.

After the funeral was when things really began to fall apart. His parents’ arguments became more frequent and more aggressive. They could not cope with what had happened; they could not deal with the pain. Their daughter’s death tore them apart.  James kept to himself. He stopped going to school, stopped talking to his friends, and stopped being happy. He was devastated by the loss of his sister. He was angry with her killer. He was angry with Rachel for walking into the road without looking. But he blamed only one person: himself. He blamed himself for his sister’s death because he should have been paying attention. He should have stopped her. It should have been him. And he blamed himself for his parents’ divorce. Henrietta did not know this. She did not even know that James had had a sister because he had never told her. He had only started speaking to Henrietta a month after the tragic incident. He did not want to tell her, just in case she blamed him, too.

The film came to an end. Henrietta and James said goodnight, both feeling exhausted after a long week. When Henrietta woke up the following morning, she checked her phone to find a text message. It was from James and had been sent at 4:39am. All it said was, “I’m sorry. Goodbye. X”

`               Henrietta found James in her contact list and called. No answer. She sent him a text demanding that he reply. She left identical messages on Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Skype and even sent him an email just in case. She rang his phone again and again. Still no response. There was only one option left. The ginger haired teenager threw on the first clothes she could find, grabbed her purse, sprinted down the stairs and out of her front door. If she wanted to know that James was okay, she would have to try and find him.

James was alone in his bedroom. He was alone and he was lonely. He missed his sister. He missed the life he used to have. It was past midnight, so James knew his parents would be asleep – his mother in her bed and his father in Rachel’s old room. He tiptoed down the stairs, not wanting to wake his parents, and into the kitchen to pour himself a glass of milk. He remembered when he was younger and his sister would hear his bedroom door creak open. She would follow him downstairs and pour them both a glass of cold milk. She’d make sure he was okay and if he could not sleep, read him a story until his eyes closed and his breathing grew deep and steady. Then the next morning, she would wake him up by jumping on his bed and they would go downstairs to his parents making breakfast before his father left for work. Not now. Now, James poured his own glass of milk. The stories that James read in bed were Facebook statuses and Tweets. Breakfast was no longer quality time lovingly spent with his family.

Sleep escaped James for hours. He tossed and turned. He thought about what life used to be like. He thought about how much he missed his big sister. He cried for a while, then shook himself until he stopped. After a few deep breaths, he turned onto his other side and closed his eyes. All he could see was his sister’s face. She was sad. He could not remember what she had looked like when she smiled, even though he had never seen her cry. His imagination had replaced his memory. He felt the tears building behind his eyes once more. He let them fall. He sobbed until his body convulsed. He felt sick but still the salty tears streamed down his cheeks, soaking his pillow. He did not remember using his duvet to wipe his face. He did not remember leaving his room and going into his bathroom. He did not remember taking a selection of pills from the medicine cabinet. He did not recall slipping on the wet floor, crashing to the ground and knocking himself unconscious. He only remembered saying goodbye to the only person in the world he still loved, but who did not love him in return.

James blinked. His eyes struggled to adapt to the bright lights in the ward. He saw his parents’ faces staring down at him, their eyes red from crying or tiredness, or both. He could see the silhouette of a third person but he could not make out who it was. He heard the beeping of machines. He heard his mother cry out for a doctor. He heard his father’s deep sigh of relief. He heard a choked sob from the blurred outline of a person. James tried to focus, blinking a few times and trying to sit up. His father pressed a firm hand against his son’s chest, laying him back down. The silhouette edged nearer. James could see red, the bright lights reflecting off the girl’s hair. He knew who it was, but he could not believe it.

“Henrietta?” He croaked.

“Yes, James. It’s me.” She whispered, her voice shaking.

The two best friends looked at each other’s faces for the first time. They had known each other for six months, but they had only ever spoken through their computers. The few times they had spoken face-to-face was through Skype. Six months ago, James found a girl on Twitter who had been to see his favourite band live. She had the brightest red hair, the most radiant smile, and a quirky fashion sense. The teenager had never expected her to reply when he tweeted to tell her that she was so lucky to have seen the band. But she did reply and the strangers spoke briefly. And then they realised they shared more interests. They listened to the same music, enjoyed the same films, read the same books and they were both lonely. As they spoke more often, talking on the phone and eventually on Skype, they became close friends. James was the brother Henrietta had always wanted. Henrietta was the girlfriend that James had never had.

The friends met for the first time in a hospital ward, after Henrietta had travelled over three hours on a train to make sure he was okay. James was far from okay, but he would get better in time. He was lucky. If he had not fallen, if he had not woken his parents after crashing to the tiled floor, it would have been too late. James was not happy, but he was grateful. He had wanted to see his sister again. He had wanted to escape. But now, as he looked into Henrietta’s emerald green eyes, felt her warm breath on his face, felt her lips press against his forehead, James realised he had a reason to live.


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