The Boy With the Thorn in His Side

The boy with the thorn in his side
Behind the hatred there lies
A murderous desire for love
How can they look into my eyes
And still they don’t believe me?
How can they hear me say those words
Still they don’t believe me?
And if they don’t believe me now
Will they ever believe me?
And if they don’t believe me now
Will they ever, they ever, believe me?
Oh …

The boy with the thorn in his side
Behind the hatred there lies
A plundering desire for love
How can they see the Love in our eyes
And still they don’t believe us?
And after all this time
They don’t want to believe us
And if they don’t believe us now
Will they ever believe us?
And when you want to live
How do you start?
Where do you go?
Who do you need to know?

© 1985 The Smiths


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“How come they don’t believe us? And if they don’t believe us now, will they ever believe us?” asked Oscar whining, the unshed tears shining in his eyes. His words reverberated around the cold, damp stone atrium. It was drizzling.

“Don’t be a nonce,” replied Jack who promptly punched Oscar in his chubby arm. “Whaddaya go and tell them for anyhow? You’re gonna make us look like right ol’ tossers.”

“They’re the adults.” Oscar continued to blubber on.

“We’re orphans. No one gives a rat’s arse what happens,” said Jack, getting right up in Oscar’s face. He was riled up as usual.

“Alright,” I said, giving Jack a shove. “He was only trying to help.”

“What are you Fatty McFatFat’s boyfriend now?” quipped Jack.

“Cut it out,” I growled. I took a step towards him.

Jack might’ve been the ginger roughneck in our little group but I was at least three inches taller than him. Sure, I was all arms and legs, but my height had advantages in times like these. I pushed my black mop of damp hair out of my face, giving Jack the evil eye.

“Fine. Keep your knickers on,” groaned Jack.

“What are we going to do?” whimpered Oscar. In another few seconds, he was going to burst into tears. The jelly wobble of his double chin gave it away. I tried to avoid his blue eyes and instead focused on the white cloud of vapor that billowed out of my mouth every time I exhaled. I hated winter days at Hallow Park.

“Come on,” I said to them. “We’re not having this conversation out here.” I turned on my heel, and trotted down the garden path towards the dormitory.

“I still don’t know what we’re supposed to do,” complained Oscar as we entered our room. He was past crying now thankfully. I set my books down on the desk that I shared with Jack, and turned on the small desk lamp.

“We ain’t gonna do anything, are we Rory?” said Jack, staring at me expectantly. He’d dropped his wet parker on the floor, where it sat forlornly in a puddle of water.

Oscar groaned. “But what if the boy with the thorn in his side comes back?”

“A great big sodding garden stake, more like,” muttered Jack. He flung himself down on his bed before crossing his arms across his chest.

“Look,” I said exasperated. “Let me think.”

Oscar sank down on the corner of my cot, a roll of flab sticking out over the waistband of his corduroy trousers. The springs complained under his weight, but he didn’t seem to notice. He looked down at his wellies instead of looking at me or Jack. His blond hair was plastered to the sides of his thick head, but once it dried, it would be curly again. He had a girl’s haircut, which didn’t help him out when we were out in the yard with the other lads. That and the crying, of course.

I pushed my hair back out of my eyes again. “As duly noted by Oscar’s actions, no one is going to believe us so we’re going to have to take care of it ourselves.”

“What? Are you a solicitor now?” snickered Jack. I threw a pencil at his head, but he ducked just in time. It ricocheted off the dirty wallpaper before landing on the floor and rolling under his bed.

“Hey! What’d you go in do that for?” complained Jack.

“Stop being a prat,” I replied.

“It’s just humor,” said Jack. “You know lighten the mood a little, that’s all.”

“Will he come back?” whispered Oscar, the fear in his eyes real.

I shrugged my shoulders nonchalantly like it was no big deal, but that was a lie. It was a big deal. The dreams had started over a month ago. At the beginning, each of us had had a different dream: Jack always at the fun fair, Oscar in a sweet shop, me, I always dreamt of my mum’s flat. We’d each be in our own happy place and then weird things would start to happen. Weird things that turned into creepy things and finally horrible things. It always ended with a vision of the boy with the thorn in his side. He’d be smiling, beckoning to us to follow him, but we never did.

Then at some point our dreams had begun to merge into one.

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