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Lucas Kettering

Then your everything hits the ground

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Lucas Kettering

A steady gray mist dampened both soil and color after the morning rain. That meant most students would keep to the castle where they could play exploding snap or otherwise listen to themselves talk. Lucas had taken the opportunity at lunch to tell his mentee to meet by the lakefront in the afternoon. He went out alone first to breathe in what he couldn’t in Hackney: freshness blown in over mountaintops. It was a blessing to know by end of the year, he’d always miss the noxious exhaust from malfunctioned cars and the penetrating odor of many-times-used oil from fast food joints. They weren’t home as much as things that kept him grounded, as if each scent carried its own weight.

 

“Dumb.” Lucas turned a rock in his hand. That had weight. Two weeks in; he wasn’t about to get sentimental. He certainly wasn’t going to be soppy because Jessie also came from Hackney. He’d become a mentor only to show that Hufflepuff wasn’t just a giant pillow fort with errant cookie crumbs. The boy aimed the rock over water, but it sunk in the dark depths before a single skip. Bloody movies made it seem so easy. He’d have better luck throwing rocks through windows. He crouched down for a round pebble, smudged with dirt, and tried again. It skipped once before a great splash downwards.

 

His attention shifted, however, when he was no longer alone. Lucas cast a glance back, palm flattened with another pebble. “Knaggs throw a fork at you yet?”

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Jessie Winthorn

The air smelled like fresh rain water, and it reminded Jessie of the shampoo her mum used. It made her miss her mum, her best friend, but she'd never be such a baby and admit it. Neither would she admit that she was struggling to make friends, or that she actually cared about making a friend. Ugh. Jessie squinted through the fog, the sky the color of pewter, her skin dampening and worn boots sinking into patches of mud as she trudged toward the lake after lunch. Her bucket of rocks clinked with each step. It was the kind of gray and damp, cloud-blotched day that most people would consider bad weather, but Jessie didn't mind it.

 

She inhaled clean, unfamiliar air.

 

The only reason she'd signed up for mentoring was because she didn't want to fall behind - to miss out on learning the inside scoop, the knowledge that older kids must know. She hadn't recognized her mentor from name alone, but upon spotting him, the familiarity was instant. Lucas Kettering: the boy, the other person, from Hackney. She felt a spike of relief.

 

..also not anything she'd admit. 

 

No. She would jut her chin out, tuck her shoulders in, and act tough. 

 

"Try a flatter stone, maybe," Jessie suggested, offering him a rock from her bucket. She only kept rocks that were fascinating - most of the ones she had with her now were throwaways. "Has he done that before?" She frowned, focusing now on rifling through her bucket of rocks in search for one she wanted to skip. "Nah, he's only screamed about needles, and popped three veins. Pretty civil. Some people could use a good fork-to-face." She finally found another flat stone and tossed it, but, similar to Lucas's, it only skipped once then sunk with a plop.

 

"So, I guess my advice is rubbish."

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