scene: a classroom. Fans whirring. Pens clicking. Teacher nattering. Otherwise- dead silence.
Girl, about eighteen, stain on her shirt, crumpled collar, rumpled spirit. Glances around. Takes out phone. Begins texting.
– get me out of here omg
Girl puts phone facedown on desk. Seconds later, phone buzzes. Phone is picked up. She glances at the screen, reading the message.
– ten more minutes.
– it’s been, like, ten days and she still hasn’t shut up
– u got this
– no i don’t
– yes u do
– no i don’t i’m about to die
– i’m serious i wanna kill myself
– u don’t have the guts
– try me
Phone goes silent. Two minutes later, screen lights up with a new message.
– people can do anything they set their mind to
– except listen to her
A pause. The girl looks up. The teacher has stopped talking, is looking at her. She puts the phone in her lap. Teacher turns back to board. Girl picks up phone again.
– almost got caught.
– serve u right
– ok????? rude much
– i was joking.
– i hope u get caught texting
Silence for a while.
– lol what
– imagine if someone walked by me right now
– lol you’d be screwed
– u know u would be.
– btw i was joking about u getting caught
– i know. Where r u now
– i kinda just wandered here.
– what do u mean
– idk where i am.
– ?? how can u not know. r u in school
– what why
– i’m just kidding.
Phone goes silent for the third time. The girl waits, eyes narrowed, at the phone screen. Did her friend cut school? Then, a message pops up.
– i was joking. i’m in maths.
– yea. Sucks.
– life sucks.
– what topic?
– why do u need to know
– i’m just curious
Phone falls silent again as the girl waits for elaboration. She scratches her nose, then picks up her pen and draws a squiggly line across the paper to pretend she’s doing something. Phone buzzes.
– do u ever feel like
– do u ever feel like
– tell me!!!!
– like your life is so meaningless
– like no matter what u do you’re never gonna get anywhere or do anything
– i mean i’m in physics right now
– but i dont mean that kind of thing, i mean… have u ever felt like u just couldn’t take any more from life and you’ve failed so many times at everything you love and
– and that everything was so unfair and that you just kinda wanted to
– nvm lol. Maths vibes
– u ok?
– yea i’m fine. go back to work.
– u sure u all right?
– i will be, just need some time
– see u in the canteen? If u have time
– ok. See you.
– deal? Don’t abandon me like u did last time
– i’ll consider
– u better not
Girl puts phone back on the table. She is mildly worried, but brushes the feeling aside. It will pass.
Scene change: a rooftop. It’s early afternoon. The air is hot and full of birdsong and the smell of pollution.
Another girl is there. Tall, big eyes, slippers. Hasn’t brushed her hair. Her phone dangles thoughtfully from her fingers and sweat clings to her neck. She steps forward, looks down. Blinks. Looks at her phone. Thinks a moment. Types a word, and deletes it, and types it in again. Drops her phone on the ground. It cracks.
A bird swoops past. The girl hesitates. Another bird flies past.
The girl squares her shoulders, and takes a deep breath. Chokes on it and the weight of her decisions. She clenches her fists. They are trembling. The girl lets out a breath. Steps forward. Joins the birds in their flight.
. . .
Phone lies on the ground, broken screen, but with the texts still legible. If you picked it up, you’d be able to read the last message she ever sent.
– sorry man, i ran out of time.