Kamali By Carrie Hynds
Life is hart today.
I look at the words scratched into my arm, trace my fingers over each letter. Notice the spelling mistake too late.
Ashamed, I pull down my cuff and hide the compass in my clenched fist. Pair of compasses, Mrs Bingham always says, because a compass is on ships and this one draws circles. Except mine are never circles, they’re almost-circles with a bump where my finger is. How does everyone else get their fingers out of the way in time?
Imagine if nobody could. We’d have knobbly bits sticking out of roundabouts and clocks.
“Oi, Marley! Think fast!”
The apple core bounces off my head and I look up in time to see George fist-bumping his mates. They honk and snort and cackle and I wish I had powers like Matilda because I’d make the apple fly back towards his smug face and then make the stick bit at the top go up his nose.
And by the way my name’s not Marley, it’s Kamali, and my family’s not even from Jamaica. George actually stinks but he scores goals so he gets fist-bumps and everyone pretends they can’t smell him. Except Mrs Bingham who says he Should Take A Minute To Freshen Up but it would take more than a minute.
Then the bell rings which means the end of playground torture but more sums torture. I stare at my page. The numbers jump around. I lean closer to Becca who sits next to me but the numbers are jumping around on her page too.
“Ow,” she complains, and then Mrs Bingham is against me too because I Shouldn’t Be Cheating and Should Tie My Hair Back Because It Distracts The Other Students.
I am given an elastic band and Excused. In the girls’ toilets I stare at my reflection over the tiny sink and wish, wish, wish I could disappear.
My reflection winks.
Startled, I step back. The Kamali in the mirror has the same uniform, same Afro, same elastic band dangling from her fingers, but she’s taller and she’s smiling.
She rolls up her sleeve and shows me her arm. It has the same words as mine but in black marker pen:
Life is hart today.
Then she rolls up her other sleeve. It says:
Try again tomoro.
Then I blink and regular Kamali is back.
I try to tie my hair up but the stupid elastic breaks and I hear Mrs Bingham cry Help and wonder how she knows already.
Then she makes a weird noise like PEEPEEPEE.
In a flash I am in the corridor at the First Aid Kit, then at Mrs Bingham’s desk and her face is grey and I roll up her sleeve and without a second’s thought I stick the epi pen into her arm.
And there is silence but I know it has worked and I say, “You’ll be okay now,” and Mrs Bingham smiles as if those words are meant for her.