All she wants is to know why he hates her so much. But is she really prepared for the changes that the truth could bring.
Unchallenged as the most powerful word in the English language.
Years of clichéd overuse may have wasted away its true meaning but I alone know all too well its hidden power. I know because hate is the only thing I feel. Hate overpowers any joy, hope, or love that I am capable of feeling. Hate is the only thing I know, hate is the only thing I have. Without it I would shrivel and disappear, my life caving in around me. I would remain an empty shell, living out a hollow life.
My name is Aaralyn, an uncommon American bred name meaning ‘with song’. Though it has been years since I have acquainted myself with music. Hatred has even taken my appreciation for music away from me. Music is for those who aren’t bitter, for those who can still dream.
My appearance is no longer something that concerns me. I’m just the generic short, brown haired model of a lower than average seventeen year old. My small oval face, the delicate curve of my jaw line and the layered fringe that carves across my forehead all conspire together to hide my hatred. My slim physique reflects vulnerability, and my eyes are a hazel that shines amber in the sunlight. I hate my indecisive eyes. They lie about me. They say I can’t stick to my decisions, when I’m better at that then most others I know.
In summary, I am not your average teenager. In fact, to say I was anywhere near average is a lie. I cannot be classed, as I do not belong anywhere in the typical teenage cliques watched on daytime television. I am just Aaralyn. I fit in with no one and that is just how it is.
I am in my final year at Belleville High School in New Jersey. Education is one of the only things I trust. Thus, I work hard for it. Education never changes its mind last minute; it never lies to you. It guarantees a light at the end of the dark tunnel. While I didn’t necessarily look forward to it I was grateful that it was always going to be there.
My background is also not that of a typical teen. My parents were Mary and David Green, common names for common people. I never knew my parents and nor do I wish I had. My mother died giving me life and my father, driven crazy but his sorrow for his wife's death, committed suicide not long after. I have been told that I look like my mother, a spitting image of the great woman she was said to be. All that separated us were my father’s amber eyes, which had mixed there way into my genetic code without much gratitude.
I hate my parents. I hate them for leaving me; I hate them for making my life difficult. But what I hate most is that they had left everyone that knew them with a constant reminder of themselves; me.
From the tender age of three months I was left abandoned, parents dead and unable to fend for myself. I was thrown in an orphanage for nine years where I learnt the harsh truths about reality. It is not an era of my life I revisit much. Though I may be a little over-pessimistic here. My days in the orphanage were not terrible. I was a happy child for the most part, my deep depression and hatred for life occurring in later teenage years. As a surprisingly optimistic child I was rarely disheartened despite the hundreds upon hundreds of knock backs and obstacles that faced my youthful being. That was soon to change when I was forced into a normal life, to take part in normal activities. It was simply not who I was.
As I slipped into the double digits I was adopted by Linda Iero, a single mother recovering from a painful divorce with a lot of extra love to give. She lived in a small rented house in Belleville, New Jersey, close to the local high school that I still attend to this day. She has one son, Frank Iero. I should refer to him as my older brother. You’d have to torture me before I’d admit it these days.
Frank Iero is currently a few inches taller than me, with a short black fringe that cuts across the better part of his face. He is slender but well built, doing nothing to curb his huge ego. To defy conformity, his ears, nose and lip are pierced. His hazel eyes sparkled even in the dark. Unlike my eyes his are always the one green-brown. I hate him for it.
Frank is three months older then I so he is also in his final year of high school. What possessed his mother to adopt me, a girl of the same age as her son, eludes me. Maybe she was trying to make up for the loss of his father, maybe she thought I could make him happy. Whatever her intentions may have originally been the consequences were devastating.
Frank Iero is the reason I am who I am.
I hate him more then anything else in this world. Needless to say, the feeling is mutual. The worst of enemies living under the same damned roof. Ironic? The saddest part was that it had not always been this way. My first year as Aaralyn Iero was rather blissful. Frank and I got along quite well. It may have been a stretch to say, but we were practically best friends. This fact became vitally important when I was violently rejected from the social world of my new high school. Frank was my only friend; the only one I had. Now, I knew better. He had befriended me out of pity, not because he had actually liked me. I had taken him for granted, a mistake I would never make again. The Frank that I knew, the Frank that I thought I loved, betrayed me in the worst way possible. And I will never forgive him.
The day was bright and happy, and I awoke with the dread of knowing school was awaiting me. Groaning, I dragged myself out of bed and dressed for the day, pulling on random clothes from my bedroom floor. There was a silver lining though; today was the first day of my final year at Belleville High School. It would soon all be over. After acing this year like I have intended too, I can escape this godforsaken suburb and mope in a brand new city, brand new town, one free from Frank and everything else I despised. The day could not come soon enough.
I fumbled down the hallway appearing in the brightly lit kitchen, shielding my eyes from the early morning rays that streamed through the open curtains. It would take a few more minutes before the grogginess of a decent night’s sleep wore off.
“Good morning, Aaralyn.” My mother chimed as I sat down on a stool behind the counter.
Mother had long since decided to play the ignorant card. I didn’t really blame her. I had pushed her to the edge so many times before, it was no surprise she had all but given up on finding a cure for my depressive mindset. The truth was that I was more than a little stubborn, a quality I apparently inherited from my mother. The people in the orphanage had always said things like that. I hated it. It is not like I needed reminding of what I had lost. It was an insult to my parent’s memory to have them brought up so often and in a saddened tone. Anyone who did I resented. Maybe that is why the orphanage was so happy to finally get rid of me. I resented them for that too.
“Morning,” I muttered back, straining my eyes against the light, trying to force them to adjust. I knew at that moment that my amber glow would be with me today. I groaned to myself at the mere thought.
Our kitchen was relatively small but had a very cosy feel to it. The walls were a warm beige that reflected the glow of the early morning sun, easily lighting the entire kitchen. The stovetop and adjoining oven were an unnatural burnt black, their surface uneven and scarred from many years of unappreciated hard work. The wooden cupboards that lined under the laminate bench top were a grained brown paper; the corners were torn and revealed the murky orange that the wood beneath had turned. It was not in its best state but it fulfilled its purpose. We were always kept well fed.
My mother had just placed a small stack of irregular shaped pancakes onto my plate when my delightfully cheery brother entered the room. In one look, his hazel eyes darkened and his face dropped. The bright smile he reserved for his friends quickly switched to the all too familiar smirk I had experienced most of my teenage life.
I had to stop eating and stare when he sat next to me. His smirk only grew. I soon understood when I saw that mother was watching us closely out of the corner of her eye by the stove.
“Morning, sis.” Frank drawled, not quite suppressing the rage behind his greeting.
My stomach churned with anger; my teeth clenched, “Good morning.”
Mother practically beamed. She started humming as she flipped the next lot of pancakes in the frying pan. Frank’s eye twitched violently as he took a stab at my pancakes. I pulled the plate out of his reach and glared with the utmost fury. Frank returned the glare with a patronising smile, his teeth coated with what was supposed to be my breakfast. I sighed and shoved the plate towards him, forcing a smile after my actions when mother rounded on us with a second stack.
“Make sure you two look out for each other!” Mother yelled to us both, once we had finished breakfast and headed out the front door. Our eyes rolled in unison as we ventured from the security of our home and into the world before us.
It was hard for me to accept that Linda had no idea about our relationship. She had to be in denial, she had to be. Surely, she could sense our intense dislike, even if she didn’t know the cause. Whether she knew or not, Frank and I had a mutual, yet undiscussed, agreement to keep our mother as placated as possible. If she really did believe that we were the perfect brother and sister that we had been years earlier, it wasn’t either of our right to change that. Not even Frank could justify breaking his mothers heart.
I increased my pace as we reached the end of our driveway, the need for false pretence dissipating with each step we took. Years earlier Frank had explained to me with perfect clarity that we were never to be seen together in public. I had no issues with this. Why on earth would I want to be seen with him either?
At the corner of our street, which I reached first, we stopped. Frank avoided my eye and pulled a single cigarette from the overflowing pack hidden behind the dark denim of his jeans pocket. I sighed obnoxiously as he fumbled around for his lighter.
“They’ll kill you one day.” I muttered, staring off across the road in the direction of our school with crossed arms.
Frank snorted beside me, “You’d love that wouldn’t you?”
I rolled my eyes, not caring if he saw. Sure, it was horrible to wish death upon someone, but after the things Frank had done to me, not even death seems enough.
“You’re going left, dear sis.” He said through a sharp drag of his cylindrical death trap. I huffed angrily.
“If you think I’m going to let you walk all over me this year then you’ve got another thing coming!” I stuttered through a clenched jaw.
My stomach churned. Lately, my hatred had manifested into physical illness. It acted as an indicator for just how much I hated the boy standing next to me. Yes, he was still a boy. No matter how manly he felt by destroying my life, he was always going to be a immature boy in my eyes. He couldn’t be anything more than a child, as he knew nothing of right or wrong, or common sense, or the feelings of others... The list just goes on.
“It’s your turn.” Frank whined, much to the pain of my own ears.
I cringed, “How the fuck did you come to that conclusion?”
“Because it was my mother who adopted you, it was my mother who raised you and it was my mother-”
“Alright! I get it.” I would rather not elevate my blood pressure so early in the morning. Especially knowing how it infuriated me when he used the fact I was adopted against me. Yet another of my weaknesses I despised with such passion.
Frank smirked wildly knowing I was beaten. I tried not to think of it as much of a loss. Winning little scoffs like this wasn’t my main goal in life, as I tended to judge my actions on potential consequences. Frank however, lived for the glory of every win. Consequence wasn’t even in his dictionary. Unless we were in front of his mother, there was absolutely no restraint. I tended to loss just to prevent conflict. Perhaps all this defeat is what explained why I was depressed and not Frank. I sighed, giving Frank the guiltiest look I could muster. It was a futile effort. He was already walking away from me, another cigarette perched between his still smirking lips.
There were two ways to get to our school; the short way and the long way. Needless to say which way I was just forced to take. This argument occurred almost every school day, but the result really depended on what Frank wanted and what friends he was meeting up with that morning. I guess I was weak like that, caving to his demands more easily that I wanted. Since being seen together was out of the question, walking to school together was an impossibility; God forbid his friends ever found out we were related.
As I walked past an array of neatly kept front lawns I reassured myself that I wouldn’t let Frank bother me this year. So what if he hated me? So what if he spent the majority of his teenage years making mine a living hell? I’d long since learnt he wasn’t worth it. But I couldn’t help feel a stab of pain in my chest over his actions. I guess there was still a part of me that vied for his approval. I clenched my teeth as I thought it. I was so incredibly pathetic!
I sped down an alleyway between two houses and appeared on another street eager to suppress my weak thoughts with tiring school work. This one was filled with the early morning march of students heading towards the school. I fell into line behind a group of senior boys who dragged their feet along the grey concrete with such drama that to passers by it may have looked like they all had severe leg injuries. I scoffed at their immaturity. School was inevitable and bitching about it was nothing but a waste of everyone’s time; my time particularly. I edged closer to the pack, contemplating how I could sneak around the pack unnoticed.
I had thought too soon. Before I could take a step closer, the boy closest to me, flicked his head back and caught my eye. I flashed him a timid grin of politeness before averting my eyes awkwardly. My shoes were so much more interesting. His head whipped back to face his friends where he whispered something inaudible. The crowd of males was suddenly filled with a cackle of ‘oohs’ as the boy slowed his pace even more. When he drew level with me he matched his pace to mine, a kind smile adorning his face.
This is Alex Scott, a boy of around six foot two with golden blonde hair that delicately framed his square face. His pale blue eyes were capable of piercing the strongest of souls with one glance; an ability I was sure he was aware of. Just like the stereotypical jock Alex’s goal in life was to score with as many chicks as possible. But unlike his fellow Abercrombie wearing friends he could actually be a nice guy when he made the effort. This or course meant he could be a conceited bastard when he wanted as well.
“Hey, Aaralyn,” He winked, the all too familiar cockiness of a sex-driven teenager filling his voice.
The group of smug jocks Alex called mates sped up, assured that their friend was successfully putting the moves on the helpless girl behind them. I groaned to myself. Were all males bastards?
Once they were out of hearing range Alex spoke again, “Sorry about that.”
I smiled unconsciously, “No worries.”
“So, excited about school?” The smirk on his lips was nothing like the one that Frank gave me, yet it still made me a little uneasy.
“Yes.” I answered, rather defensively.
He laughed as if it was a joke but stopped as soon as he saw the seriousness on my face.
“Not seeing you for three months has made me forget your sense of humour.” He grinned adorably, eyes sparkling with hope.
Now it was my turn to laugh. Not in humour but how pathetic this all was. Was he flirting with me? My laughter doubled. Of course he wasn’t. He only felt compelled by pity to associate himself with me at all. I was sure he would be mocked for the weeks because of this.
The sparkle in his eyes faded, “See you round, Aaralyn.”
I was still giggling to myself as he caught up with his now distant friends, as they entered the school yard. He did not look back. I felt no remorse for upsetting him, only hate for the fact that he even bothered to talk to me. He didn’t want to be friends with me. He had to know it was social suicide. A new thought pushed itself into my mind; what if he did want to be friends? Even if that was remotely the case, it was still right for me to push him away. I cannot have friends. I do not deserve or what the pity of others. I shook my head as if to shake the new thoughts from my mind. Though pointless, the act comforted me.
As I walked the concrete path up to the main school building I spotted Frank laughing hysterically with his mates, yet another fresh cigarette barely stable between his lips. He was standing with three other boys and one girl, all of similar appearance to my brother, otherwise known as the alternative clique. I knew that Frank had manipulated their attitude towards me too, as I received as little attention from them as I did from Frank. Despite their actions, or lack thereof, I did not blame them; they knew nothing of the real Frank Iero, or me, for that matter.
Avoiding all contact with the students around me I made my way to homeroom, and so too did the people around me ignore me. Today I was particularly grateful for it. I felt no desire for human contact after the situations with Frank and Alex this morning. I reached my conveniently placed locker, two steps from my real best friend; the library. I sighed, not quite sure why the sight of the school library stirred feelings of safety in my stomach. However, the feeling quickly deserted me.
“Aaralyn?” A most hated voice sounded behind me.
I gulped before turning around. I was not scared of Frank but I was strongly intimidated when his group of misfits stood menacingly around him. “Frank.”
“You’re in the way,” He spat.
Yes, that’s right. Frank’s locker was beside mine. Quite conveniently the school allocated lockers in alphabetical order despite my last name being different to his. No matter how often I told the school office that my last name was Green, not Iero, they continued to struggling between my birth and adopted names. Why they thought I’d prefer his last name evaded me completely.
“Is that so?” I said, acting as slowly as I could to annoy an egotistical Frank.
“Get out of the fucking way!” The only girl of the group shouted, beaten by her impatience.
The entire group turned towards her, even Frank wearing a look of shock I barely recognised.
How rude was that? I think her name was Kerry or Kelly, something generic like that.
I nodded slowly in forced agreement, still confused by her sudden burst of anger, “Of course.”
Giving Frank an emotionless smile, I shoved through the tight circle of black clothes and over-pierced ears and made my escape.