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Authors: Keren David

Almost True (38 page)

BOOK: Almost True
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Thanks, Ellie,
I think, and I say ‘I do care. I really do.'

‘The paper says you made a big difference to the trial.'

‘Claire, I sent my friend to prison. He's going to be there for a long time.'

‘He killed someone. He deserves to be in prison.'

‘I feel bad,' I say, ‘about my friend. I feel like I should have – could have – stopped him. He shouldn't be in prison. It was my fault.'

Claire snorts, as only Claire can. ‘That's just rubbish, though, isn't it?' she says, ‘It's like I used to feel guilty because Ellie was in a wheelchair and I wasn't. Your friend did what he did, that was his choice. He was in a gang and he armed himself with a knife. He threatened someone with it. He had a fight, and
he killed someone. And now he's in prison and you—'

‘I might still go to prison,' I say. ‘They've charged me with carrying a knife. Twice. They could send me away. You won't want to know me then.'

That's it. Said. Out in the open.

‘You might,' she says, ‘and it'd be bad, but it won't be forever, will it? They had someone come to our school the other week, telling how he got involved in crime, how he messed things up. You could do something like that one day. When you're a top athlete, you can be a role model, tell kids how to stay out of trouble.'

‘Yeah . . . right . . . maybe. . .' I say. The relief that she doesn't hate me, that she understands, is fantastic.

,' she says. ‘Decide to do it now and you'll be all right. We'll be all right.'

And I'm half-laughing and nearly crying, because it feels so good to be talking to her and to know that she believes in me. That she can see a future that I didn't think I had.

Then I tell Claire about Alyssa, how cute she is, and my new school and what it's like doing GCSEs, and she tells me she's joined the drama club and she's got a small part in
Romeo and Juliet
and she's slightly gone off
but she still thinks I should see the film.

‘Claire,' I say, ‘My dad's getting me a laptop. We'll have an internet connection.'

‘Download Skype,' she says. ‘I can go to Zoe's house and use her connection. Get Archie to help. And I'm on Facebook and we can chat online . . . and you've got my number now. It'll be fine. We can be in touch all the time.'

Then she says she has to go, because her mum's calling her and she tells me she'll ring again and she says she loves me. She loves me. And I tell her I love her too, and then the phone goes dead, and I make sure I save her number before I lie down again, re-running the conversation in my head over and over again.

I lie there quite a long time, thinking. About everything she said. About the past, and how all the bits fit together. About Arron. About friendship and love, truth and betrayal. Can I live up to Claire's belief in me? Can I take control of my future?

I start looking through my stuff, and I find the new trackie my mum bought for my Christmas present and I dig out my trainers. Joe's trainers. The trainers I was wearing on the beach that day when Alistair got shot. My hands shake as I lace them up.

Then I go back into the living room. Three faces look towards me. They've all done bad things in the past, made stupid decisions and told lies. Even Gran. They're all doing just about OK now. And they all really care about me.

‘Are you feeling better now, darling?' asks my mum, and then, hopefully, ‘Going out for a run?'

‘Yes,' I say, ‘I am.'

Then I let myself out of the flat, go down in the lift and sniff the toasty Birmingham air. I fiddle with my iPod. I haven't listened to it much recently. Too many memories. But I find the Black Eyed Peas,
Let's Get it Started.
One of my top ten favourite tracks of all time. Sometimes the old songs are the best.

I start at a slow jog to warm up. I stretch. I'm stiff and unfit – I've got a lot of work to do. I'll have to find a gym . . . there's the athletics club at school . . . a guy in my tutor group is a member, maybe I could talk to him. . .

And then I lengthen my pace and my breathing kicks in and I remember how this feels.

And it feels good.

The End


Deep and heartfelt thanks to the following:

For their knowledge, wisdom and experience; Jeremy Nathan (hallucinations and stabbing wounds), Tony Metzer (courts, law and the way lawyers talk), Karen Wilson (police procedure) and Saviour Pirotta (hellfire).

For constructive and re-constructive criticism and the occasional hobnob; Amanda Swift, Anna Longman, Becky Jones, Lydia Syson, Pauline Rochford, Fenella Fairburn and Jennifer Gray. Hannah Marcus, fast and perceptive reader; Phoebe Moss, great proofreader; Jimmy Rice and Cat Clarke for much helpful advice, and Mum for spotting Alistair's little problem.

For making dreams come true; my agent, Jenny Savill and everyone at Frances Lincoln Children's Books, especially Maurice Lyon, Emily Sharratt, Nicky Potter and Jane Donald, designer of great covers.

For their love and entertainment value; Laurence, Phoebe and Judah, Mum and Dad, Deborah, Jeremy and Alun, Josh, Avital and Eliana, plus assorted relatives and cavies. And all my friends, corporeal and virtual.

Almost True
is dedicated to the memory of three extraordinary, inspiring women, all terribly missed – Min Moss, Melissa Nathan and Nina Farhi. Always remembering Daniel, whose name is written on our hands.

Keren blogs about her life and books at

You can also follow her on Twitter


or find out more about
When I Was Joe

Almost True
on Facebook on the
When I Was Joe

Growing up in a small town in Hertfordshire,
Keren David
had two ambitions: to write a book and to live in London. Several decades on, she has finally achieved both. She was distracted by journalism, starting out at eighteen as a messenger girl, then working as a reporter, news editor, features editor and feature writer for many and various newspapers and magazines. She has lived in Glasgow and Amsterdam, where, in eight years, she learnt enough Dutch to order coffee and buy vegetables. She is now back in London, and lives with her husband, two children and their insatiably hungry guinea pigs. Keren's debut novel was the acclaimed
When I Was Joe

BOOK: Almost True
4.48Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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