Matt opens the greasy containers of Chinese food we just bought from the food court; his blue eyes instantly turn red as the pungent smell of chilli wafts into his nose and eyes. I look towards Rachel as she pushes her red hair behind her ears, her cheek and lip piercings glistening. She cheekily grins at me. Matt can’t handle spicy food.
We are sitting in the Myer car park with views of Goulbourn Road and Forest Oval in front of us. The black and white logo sits above my head, alongside other stores’ advertisements and colourful graffiti kindly left behind by local teenagers. I lean my head against the grey wall and watch as Matt rolls the sleeves of his black hoodie up to his elbows, accentuating his scrawny arms. The trees along the oval thrash against one another as the wind picks up, but I don’t care too much as I rush to lift the lid on my favourite chicken noodle dish and smell the spice and soy.
It’s school holidays.
I squint my eyes as I notice other students from my high school playing with a soccer ball on the other side of the oval. I scoff, as Amanda screams for apparently no reason, probably just wanting attention. Rachel snorts loudly as Matt spits out a mouth full of food and attempts to skull an entire bottle of water.
‘Hey you little shits. Time to clear out.’ A security guard snaps. The large round man stands with his tattooed arms crossed in front of his chest. There is a small Security badge written over his left chest next to a brown stain. I groan, not again.
‘Leave now or I’ll call the cops.’ He runs his hand through his greasy blonde hair, purposefully showing off a scar that runs from his pinkie finger to his elbow. Tough guy.
‘What? Why should we leave?’ Rachel’s voice booms, mimicking the security guard’s attitude and stance. ‘We are sitting eating lunch, what is wrong with that!’
‘Show some respect.’ He snaps as spit drools at his lips, ‘You have been using monstrous language, not to mention you draping yourself over this guy.’ He points to Matt, ‘How am I meant to know if there is actually water in that bottle? Leave. Now.’
‘Are you fucking serious?’ I look at Matt, worried, but he’s mad and there is no stopping him. ‘You can come here and swear at us, but we can’t swear amongst each other? That is so hypocritical.’
I stare at the security guard in disbelief. Yeah, sure. Pick on this kids in hoodies. I wonder where he would like us to go? Maybe down a hole until we come out as adults? Yes, we had been laughing loudly in the mall and probably swore a handful of times, but hey, so does every other teenager and adult in our town – how else do they expect us to act?
The security guard’s eyes are black and soulless as he stares at the three of us. He’s at his limit and so are we. Neither Rachel, Matt nor I make an attempt to move from our spot. I almost feel sorry for the security guard. He’s only doing his job, but his random hatred of us has left me with little empathy.
‘Leave. I’m done asking you.’ He smiles as a woman and her toddler walks past, as if he is doing them a favour.
The three of us look away from the man and sigh, realising that this is a fight that we are not going to win. Plus, who wants their holidays ruined by having the cops called on you? I’d be grounded for life. I reach for my tote bag and help Matt pick up our food containers. I laugh quietly as Rachel mutters dirty insults to the security guard. I’m not sure if he hears or is purposefully ignoring the comments.
‘We aren’t leaving because you told us to, but because it will probably rain soon.’ Rachel is putting the lid back on the container in the slowest most deliberate way ever. The security guard snickers in response.
‘I can’t believe he said that to us!’ Matt exclaims, ‘That guy is worse than Mr A. If you’re not at home, you’re in trouble at school, if you’re not there then you’re in trouble at the mall!’ His eyebrows are lowered and close together in anger. Rachel and I have similar expressions. I have so many thoughts racing through my head that I can’t put a complete sentence together.
I speed ahead of Matt and Rachel and walk to the other side of the oval; kicking my white shoes into the freshly cut grass. I am aware that the families who witnessed the conversation with the security guard probably think that I am having a tantrum, but I really don’t care what they think. I chuckle to myself remembering that he thought Matt had alcohol in the water bottle. If only he knew about the things Rachel has stuck in her pocket that she hadn’t brought out. I can feel the eyes of the security guard watching us like a hawk, I turn around to see if I am correct just as he brightly beams at a family beside him as if he just slayed the bad guys in a villain movie.
I make eye contact with the mother of someone I go to school with, her striking blue eyes and neat blonde hair pulled back in a tight bun. She looks me up-and-down, taking in the oversized grey jumper and blue tights I am wearing. She clears her throat and raises her perfectly shaped eyebrows at me. She must be happy that her daughter and I stopped being friends in primary school. To her I am just another teenager that comes to public areas to create havoc by swearing and yelling at anyone who looks in my general direction.
Thunder booms and I catch the final glimpse of blue sky before the entire oval is concealed by grey clouds. I feel a sprinkle of rain onto my forehead as the clouds begin circling in a distressed manner, ready to release at any moment.
‘Hey, Elena!’ I hear a small voice call behind me, ‘Did that security guard just ask you guys to leave?’
‘Oh hi Skye,’ I recognise the black-haired girl from a year below us at school, ‘Yes he did.’
‘He said the exact same thing to us yesterday! Apparently we looked like we were going to cause trouble because we were wearing hoodies and trackies! It’s literally winter, what does he expect us to wear?’ Her response holds the same sassiness as Rachel, I laugh. It’s a good question.
‘Did he actually?!’ I know that talking to Skye will only fuel our anger and I suspect that’s Rachel’s intention.
‘He only heard us swear once, I mean, how else were we expected to describe the Principal when he suspended Jade for having her skirt one centimetre shorter than school rules. It was so stupid!’ Skye rolls her eyes. I remember that story coming out, I didn’t know that it was true.
‘You’re joking?’ Matt suspects to Skye, ‘You swore once and that is what pushed the security guard off the edge?’ They propel each other’s anger.
I turn my attention away from the three to look over to where we were just sitting. Most families and groups of kids playing around have since left, probably from the fear of being wet from the dooming rain, leaving only us on the field and the power-hungry security guard. If looks could kill, we would be goners. The annoying thing is that I understand why the security guard assumes us for the worst. I get annoyed when students back chat our teachers and when people bring unnecessary attention to themselves. But we were just sitting down eating, not close to any other families, and enjoying each other’s company. I can think of a lot of inappropriate things teenagers inside the mall are actually doing. So, why are we the ones being punished?
Distracted by my own thoughts I don’t see Matt, Rachel and Skye walking with intention in their step towards the security guard. He stands leaning against the same wall we were once sat at, with his arms crossed and a smug smile inching over his face. From afar, his eyes don’t look human, but almost demonic circles of black. I widen my eyes as I realise that my friends look like small zebras marching into a lion’s den. From this distance I can see the word Protection written down the leg of his pants, more like Devil I think to myself.
His deep and patronising voice rings through the empty oval one last time, ‘Keep walking you shits and don’t come back! I’ll be waiting!’ He has courage to speak loudly as most families have left. My friends immediately stop walking. I sneer at his vulgar language.
My blood boils as I start to lose all sight of what surrounds me. I can’t feel the cold breeze sending goosebumps across my neck and face. Rather, the trees scream in agony, coercing me to change. My jaw begins to involuntarily twitch at his insulting words, how he made my friends feel like we were committing a crime. My eyes darken, I am the predator now. I can hear the faint shouts of Matt in front of me growing closer and closer.
Is this the monstrous behaviour he refers to?
Zara McElroy is an Australian writer residing in Sydney. She is interested in writing Young Adult fiction focusing on the passionate emotions and struggles of the everyday youth. You’ll find her reading romance novels and questioning the meaning of life. Zara enjoys spending time with her dog and dancing.