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Pretty, Still - 5. Stingray

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Realistic Fantasy
‘Hydrogen Chloride,’ he said dully, his heavy heart pounding with stress, more than that: guilt.

Submitted: August 28, 2019

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Submitted: August 28, 2019



Pretty, Still - Stingray


‘Hydrogen Chloride,’ he said dully, his heavy heart pounding with stress, more than that: guilt, weighing down his soul, heavier than it had ever felt before.

He thought of Esme, waiting for his return, in her catatonic, vegetative state.

Josie, dearest Josie, who had always been there for him, his shoulder to cry on. The fear in her eyes as she backed off, and slid into the prep room. The look of hate, her disrespect for him when he lost control, made himself look such a fool.

If she went to Rita Goodman and made a formal complaint about his behaviour, then he would be shamed. Dr Goodman, despite her affection for Michael, would be forced to act, to take the matter to Mr Humford, who would enact his immediate suspension, pending a full, if not lurid, investigation into his act of sexual assault on a 14-year old girl.

The game was up for Dunster. If Benson reached Goodman. He tried to wrest himself from Lin, but she refused to let go of his hands.

‘What is it, Michael?’ she asked, seeing the tension in his face, his right eye: rolling up, wildly, as it had a tendency to do when his restless mind was in turmoil, ‘Why are you upset with me?

He looked down at her sad face. There were tears in her eyes, shiny tears. His first reaction was to hold her tight. There wasn’t time. The whole of 3D1 would burst into the lab at any moment. Instead, he brushed her long, blonde hair, her soft cheek, with the back of his trembling hand.

He had initiated the act, he had held her body to his. He thought of Linda: being gently lectured by her form tutor, Ms Gina Bracewell, on the facts of life, the facts of love, in the aftermath of his summary dismissal.

Linda, his reason to live.

He didn’t have the heart to tell her that they had been caught, red-handed, en flagrante, by Mrs Benson. Instead, he apologized to her.

‘I’m sorry Lin,’ he stumbled, ‘I should never have touched you down there, I got carried away.’

Linda sniffed, and wiped her nose on his shirt, ‘It doesn’t matter, I like it when you touch me, it feels… nice.

The disturbing innocence behind Lin’s words stung Michael’s heart like the shock of a stingray thrusting its tail inside his chest. Emotionally shattered by guilt, his heart torn apart, his feelings imploding, then exploding: recklessly, he uttered the dreadful, uncaring words of the desperate:

‘Linda, this childhood fantasy of yours, this obsession you have with me, it has to stop, do you understand?’

Devastated by his cruel, heartless barb, Lin clawed at him, clutching at love-straws, burying her weeping head in his chest. 

‘But I love you, Michael. Can’t you see that? You’re my world?’

‘You can’t love me! I’m old enough to be your father!’

They shared a ruinous silence as Linda remembered her dead father, Leonard. Her ever-loving, proud dad who bought her a chemistry set for Christmas when she was 12-years-old. Who took her on the green train to Victoria, then by number 38 bus across London, on his day off work, to buy hazardous chemicals from the odd back room chemists in Stoke Newington. Who would never see his beloved daughter receive the coveted Academic Award for Third Year Pupils.

The fractious tension between the broken hearts ended abruptly as the sneering hordes of 3D1 piled into the laboratory - with a vengeance…

‘Good Morning Mr Dunster! Sorry, were we interrupting? Like us to wait outside while you...?’

‘Hello Linda! Fancy meeting you here! Having a nice kiss and cuddle with Dunster were you?’

‘Morning, Mr Dunster, Linda! Well get you two!’

The children changed into their lab coats. There was a screeching of stools as they each took their place at a bench. Miserably, Linda joined David Miller, Cara Stephens and Gary Hassler at the front. The gibbering wreck that was once Michael Dunster took up position on his plinth.

And double chemistry began…

© Copyright 2019 HJFURL. All rights reserved.

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