"Eeeeeeeeeew, yuk, I don't want to sit next to HIM, Miss, that's so unfair!"
I went through so many comments like that every day. Everyone thought that if they were put next to me they would catch my 'outcast disease'.
I've never had a proper friend. You know, one who would give you their last Rolo, or spend hours trying to explain the homework to you, even if you didn't get it by the end.
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All the years through infant school, then primary school and then secondary school were hell. My school grades were always bad. The teachers would say that I was lazy and couldn't be bothered to do the work, when really that couldn't have been more wrong. I tried so hard, I really did, but my mind just couldn't concentrate. The words got muddled up on the page and letters switched around. All of this made it practically impossible for me to read and write. However I was thought of as idle and sluggish, because my speaking was almost immaculate.
(Spider walking up a path)
My bad grades were just another reason to spark off an argument between my parents. They used to love each other. It was fine when I was very small, I had no worries in the world and a loving mother and father. Then, when I was a little older, six or seven, maybe, my father had an affair. The affair only lasted a little while and my mum agreed to take my dad back, but they were never the same again. Dad would come back from the pub very late, maybe even very, very early in the morning, stinking of beer and fags. Then mum would start an argument with him.
I used to hide in my room whilst this was going on. I would crouch under my bed-sheets, and hum to myself, trying to block out the shouting and screaming going on below me.
I left school as soon as I could after my GCSE's. I didn't get any good marks in them either. My life was over. Would anyone actually notice if I just curled up and died?
I had no qualifications and no college or sixth form to go to. Not that I would go anyway. I had put up with bullying all my life, college would be just the same, nasty comments, no friends, not being able to get to sleep, dreading what the next day held.
The next few years of my life wasted away to nothing. I had no job, and not having any qualifications meant I wasn't going to get one either. I just stayed at home, with mum nagging at me every day, telling me what a failure I was. I tried not to pay any attention. I think it made her feel better to take out her anger on someone. I didn't take anything she said personally.
Then, one morning, as I stared into the mirror, I stepped back and took a look at my life. Was this really what I wanted? No job. No friends. No life. If I did die, I think less than 20 people would turn up to my funeral. That thought really scared me. So, I decided I was going to do something with my life. Anything, just so I could say that I had done something and everything hadn't been a complete waste. I made the biggest decision of my life. I sold my pride and joy, my beautiful, red Harley Davidson. It was given to me as a gift by my granddad, just before he passed away. Granddad never thought I was a failure. He believed in me, always encouraging me. I was devastated when he died. You have to move on though and that's what I am doing now.
I almost cried as I parted with it. I managed to get quite a good price for it though. That day I left my home for good. I left mother a note on the kitchen table, which simply said;
"Mother, I am going away to make something of my life. Maybe I will come back to visit some day . . . Love you always, Gregory."
I left home, armed with the ï¿½2000 I got for the bike and with my life in a blue hiking bag.
* * *
"Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of British Airways, I would like to wish you a pleasant flight. If at any time you require assistance, please press the red button above your head and a flight member will be with you soon to help. Have a nice flight!"
I sat on the plane and stared out of the misty window. This was finally it. I had left all my problems in Bristol. Time to start a new life. I hadn't thought about where I was going to go, I had just picked up a cheap, last minute ticket to Africa. I didn't know much about Africa, well, nothing really. I'd watched a few documentaries back at home, but I hardly knew anything about it as a country.
Five hours later I arrived in Morocco.
(Four months later, Spider is now sat in a tree)
I trudged through the wet, cold rainforest miserably for days on end. I lived on the food I could find, which was hardly anything.
From the lack of food and what it was, I was experiencing excruciating hunger pains and I had a terrible bout of food poisoning. All this meant I was constantly in agonising pain. The only thing that kept me going, was the thought of how much worse it had been in Bristol. You see, mental pain hurts so much more than physical. Tablets can not obliterate pain inside and somehow the physical pain felt slightly comforting. I guess it was the same sort of adrenaline you would get if you cut yourself.
After struggling my way through the rainforest for a few weeks, I came across a town of natives.
First of all I saw a group of little straw huts, with a fire blazing in between them. Around this fire, coloured African men with war paint on were doing an astounding dance. Whilst they danced they chanted an indescribable verse of strange sounds, which was accompanied by the steady beat of a large drum. I gazed upon them in awe, not completely sure what to do or think. My brain told me to run away, I had heard that natives do not take kindly to intruders, but my heart told me to stay a little longer and watch this fascinating ritual.
Then, all of a sudden, a big chief native bellowed out something in African, which made everything come to a halt. The dancing stopped, the chanting stopped and the booming of the drum halted. I started to become very nervous and was just about to leave, when all of the natives started charging towards me! My heart jumped into my throat, as I stood there dumbfounded. I tried to run but my feet wouldn't move an inch, they were getting closer and closer to me. Finally I started to run but it was too late. I felt my arms being twisted back as they grabbed hold of me. I struggled to get away but they were too strong. Then I felt a blow to the back of my head and that was the last thing I remembered.
I woke up later that night with a thumping headache. It was dark and cold. I looked around me, then as my eyes adjusted to the light, I vaguely made out the hard walls beside me with one small hole looking out to the starry sky. I was lying on the floor of some kind of cell, a prison-like cell, on top of some straw. It was then that I realised the full extent of my actions. Obviously, the natives had captured me and there was no escape, minus the tiny window about five feet above the floor, and the iron barred door.
"What would they do to me?" I asked myself, shaking at the thought. If only I had stayed back in Bristol, none of this would be happening now. I could be sat at home, watching the television, back with all my problems . . . "No" I thought again. I came here to get away from all that. Anything is better than that, even if it does mean being eaten alive by natives.
(Spider is now looking quite upset, the shot is of him sat by a river)
After that I must have dropped off. Strange how that happened in the given circumstances. I guess I was pretty tired, I hadn't had a decent night's sleep for ages. Everywhere I tried to sleep was freezing and damp and believe it or not nothing had been as comfy as that straw on the floor.
I was awoken again by a deep, loud voice. I opened my eyes startled and saw before me a very large man with a very big spear and a plate. My eyes widened with fright. Looking gruff, he then placed the plate on the floor, which had what looked like a collection of small oranges on and shoved it along the floor to me.
"Man eat food now," he said, then grunted, and stomped out locking the door behind him. I sat there, my emotions mixed with confusion and fright. Should I eat it? It could be poisonous. Then again, the other option was to die from being eaten alive so . . .I opted for eating the food. Besides, I was so hungry.
I grabbed some and shoved them in my mouth, hardly bothering to chew. They actually tasted really good. They were the sweetest things I'd eaten in ages. The plate was soon empty and my stomach growled for more.
For a while I just sat there thinking. The sun shined brightly through the little hole in the wall and I heard the chirping of birds from outside. Then, all of a sudden, one bird flew straight through the tiny gap and banged headfirst into the wall on the other side of my cell. It fell to the floor; it's small body motionless.
A wave of sadness flowed over me as I stared at the poor creature. Then I heard a little "cheep, cheep" and the bird hopped up onto it's feet again.
"Thank goodness" I thought. It is saved. I looked at it again and as it tried to fly away, only one wing would work. It twisted and turned frantically trying to get away, but sadly it couldn't.
It soon ran out of energy and flopped to the floor again. I went over and saw it's tiny chest beating, it's wing was obviously broken. I studied around me for anything that would help the bird. I spotted a twig that looked quite strong and I gathered up some of the hay off of the floor. I then carefully attached the twig to the bird's wing with the straw, to act as a kind of splint. The little thing was now too exhausted to be frightened which was good. Now aware that it's wing was better, the bird stood up and tried to fly. At first it was just small jumps, which progressed to get bigger.
I heard loud footsteps approaching the cell door and I backed towards the other side of the room. It was the same man as before, he had come to collect the plate. As he unlocked the door and came in, he saw the pretty bird hopping around with my attempt of a splint on. He stared at it in amazement.
"You help this bird?" he questioned.
"Yyyyesss", I stammered, shaking like a leaf. He looked surprised.
"Man is good, he help bird", he said. Then did what I presumed to be a smile, I wasn't too sure though. Then he left.
A few minutes later, the man from before came in again, but this time followed by another member of the tribe.
"You will come with us now", the new man said, in an even deeper voice than the first one. They led me out of the cell and took me to the place where I had first laid eyes on this village. It was pretty early in the morning, so there wasn't a fire, but everything else was pretty much the same. I was greeted by the faces of at least fifty natives, all covered in war paint and wearing native dress, staring at me like I was some sort of alien. I felt so out of place and scared. Whispering went on between the audience as I was led up to the front. Then, everyone went silent as the steady beat of the drum began once more. All of the tribe bowed down, as who I assumed to be the chief came out of one of the biggest little huts.
He was wearing a beautifully ornate head-dress, accompanied by long, beige, cotton robes with tassels coming off. He walked solemnly up to me and stared at me straight in the eye. The whole tribe was silent now and even the drum had ceased it's beating.
"Man, you trespassed onto our land. Punishment for trespassing, is death!" he said, almost shouting at the end. Everyone gasped and started their whispering again. I just stood there trembling.
"But!" he carried on "you have shown great kindness and selflessness in helping little sacred saskarpelli bird. Therefore your punishment has been lifted. You will no longer die" I sighed a huge sigh of relief and my heart returned to it's normal pace.
"And," he started again, "As a show of our gratitude, I would like to make you an honorary member of our tribe", he smiled and the crowd started shouting and cheering. Before I knew it I was being dressed up and having war paint painted on my face. I spent the whole day with them, chanting and dancing, like I had seen them do the night before. It was truly the most amazing, strange and scary forty-eight hours of my life!
The next day I bid my farewells and carried on my journey. I had a full stomach and plenty more food to keep me going on my way until my next adventure . . .
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