'I look scary, not scared and that’s exactly how I want it. People never notice that the scariest people can be the most scared...'
I awake to the familiar soft sounds of faint voices drifting up from the kitchen downstairs, the incessant bullets of rain drumming against the cold, grey windowpane of my bedroom window, and the distant chug of clogged-up traffic trundling through the bleak, winter rain that washes the polluted city with murky tears.
Groaning sleepily, I rub my bloodshot eyes and blink blearily in the dull grey morning light that streams into my messy room, dreary and bleak, stumbling over the haphazardly stacked piles of CDs, magazines and clothes on the indigo carpet, seeping into the deep blue, poster embellished walls and the endless grey tears of the sky rolling down the windowpane reflected in the grimy glass of my mirror.
Blissfully oblivious to reality from the thin cobwebs of sleep that linger over my mind, I yawn and run a hand through my scruffy chestnut hair, turning over and burrowing back into the warmth of my duvet.
For those few, blissful moments where the cobwebs of slumber linger, I can half convince myself that when I open my eyes properly, they’ll open to a world where I get dressed in a royal blue grade three sweater and skip along the road to a school; a school where I still sit beside a fiendishly determined girl with scarily pointy incisors and cherry red hair bobbles, making mud pies at playtime and pretending to be zombies in class.
But then I yawn and stretch, and my lips stings, my wrist throbs; my eyelid feeling horribly puffy and swollen, and I know it’s a long time since I live in the world of wobbly crayon-drawn ghosts, toothless grins and fun lessons.
I open my eyes to the dull, rainy grey winter light of my reality, and have to accept that I’m no longer that happy, wide-eyed ten year old with a lopsided grin and a first pair of proudly worn green doc martens, trailing laces and scabby knees.
Instead, I’m a skinny, scowling teenager with a battered, bruised face and red eyeliner who seems to feel angry at everything and everyone.
I sigh heavily and roll over onto my stomach, relieved that at least it’s the weekend; two days of peace before I go back to the crowded school corridors, snarling teachers, vicious peers, and the evil dinner lady who just won’t accept the fact that I don’t like to eat mangled animal carcasses.
And then it hits me.
Not the mangled animal carcass- the events of yesterday; being so mercilessly beaten on the sidewalk, having my wrist bandaged by Ocean, and then dinner with Mom and Steve, dinner where they announced the fateful news.
My life is about to get worse; something I didn’t even think was possible at this juncture.
I sit bolt upright in bed, horrified and blinking blearily in the harsh grey November light, hand frozen in my ruffled hair.
“Fuck…” I groan, grabbing my slightly crumpled pillow and hurling it angrily across the room where it collides with my mirror and knocks my eyeliner pencils, straightners and little pot of band badges to the already littered carpet, achieving nothing but the addition to yet more things to my bedroom floor and re-awakening the dull, angry throb in my bandaged wrist.
I groan again and throw my duvet off me angrily, jumping up out of the comforting warmth of my black bed sheets and shivering violently in the sudden cold air that seeps through my window.
Today, hell descends.
I’m not even fucking joking.
Having to share the one place I don’t have to tiptoe around, scared and anxious, unable to be myself, with two guys who will almost certainly hate me as much as the entire teenage population of New Jersey does, and are almost certain to make my life hell at home as well as in school? Not something I can say I’m skipping with joy about.
Okay, so fair enough, I don’t actually know that they’re gunna hate me, but seriously, who doesn’t?
Well, I guess Ocean doesn’t, but she’s just weird.
It’s not exactly like I’m the most likeable person in the world- in fact, I’m probably the furthest from it you could get; I snap at anyone who tries to be nice to me, never talk to anyone or let anyone new into my life, and scowl at just about everything, even the people I care about. If someone likes me, they’re insane. Or Ocean. Which is actually pretty much the same thing.
“Fuck, fucking fuck…” I mumble crossly, teeth chattering as I stumble around my room in search of my Black Flag hoodie which I discover in a crumpled heap under my bed, along with the purple eyeliner Ocean lent me last month.
Even I should have known it was a bad mistake to wear it to school.
Especially on a day I had football.
I shudder at the memory, tugging the hoodie on over my black tee and red checked PJ bottoms, trying not to wince as the fabric grazes the gashes on my face and stomping over to the window to yank back the curtains, letting the murky grey November light seep into my room, watching the rain dribble listlessly down the glass.
I sigh, rubbing absentmindedly at the large scab forming on my lower lip and staring aimlessly out into the thick, dismally grey winter drizzle that washes away all traces of silvery frost clinging to the bleak bark of the trees lining the street.
It’s all a blur of crashing tears, rotting leaves, endless grey pavements and tiny little red berries clinging helplessly to the skeletal trees.
I let out another heavy sigh that drains me, all my angry energy seeping out across the cold glass of the window in a misty cloud and I brush my tangled hair out of my eyes wearily just as there’s a soft knock on my door.
“What?” I snap grumpily, ducking behind my hair so as to conceal my battered face as the door swings open to reveal Mom standing slightly nervously in the doorway, hair falling in soft brown waves around her face, eyes wide with honey brown concern.
“Hey sweetie…how did you sleep?” Mom asks tentatively.
“Fine.” I say bluntly, continuing to stare out into the murky rain in stony silence.
“Frank…about yesterday…the last thing Steve and I want to do is hurt you…we just-” she starts before I cut her off abruptly.
“I don’t want to hear it, Mom.” I growl, still staying hidden behind my hair. It’s easier that way. I don’t want to worry her when I know there’s nothing she can do.
“Okay,” Mom sighs. “It’s just…well, Steve left for the airport to pick Gerard and Mikey up at seven, and he should be back here any minute,”
“What?” I look up, horrified, almost letting the hair and the scowl fall away from my bruised face, catching myself just in time and returning to my hunched, defensive posture, as the familiar angry fear courses through me like boiling scarlet blood and grimy, polluted oil.
“It’d be lovely if you could at least come down to meet them,” Mom suggests nervously as I flatten my disobedient hair angrily across my burst, scabby lip, trying furiously to squash the rising feel of panic in my chest that reminds me so strongly of the place I spend five days of the week at.
“I’m going out,” I growl from behind my scruffy fringe.
“But…Frank honey, you-”
“Now,” I clarify furiously, leaping up off the window seat and rummaging through my chest of drawers for something to chuck on, not daring to look up.
“Honey, you’ll have to meet them sometime,” Mom points out gently.
I know she’s right, but right now, I can’t. I just can’t face meeting another two people who will loathe and ridicule me for being myself. There’s only so much a person can take of shit like that.
I say nothing; it’s easier that way, just remaining in stubborn silence and not looking up until I hear my bedroom door close with a soft click, Mom’s footsteps growing fainter down the stairs.
I let out a heavy sigh of frustration and slam my drawer shut, making the whole chest of drawers shake, getting up and going over to my CD player where I punch play angrily, letting Black Flag blast into my silent room, poster filled room.
Sometimes, just sometimes, when I’m lying wide awake late at night, trying not to drift off into the world of nightmares, I wish I could tell Mom what’s really wrong.
But I can’t. I don’t want to scare her.
Instead, I keep it all bottled up inside; my own personal poison.
I’m dragged from my thoughts by the soft buzz of my cell phone sitting beside me on my bedside table, and grateful for a distraction from my own mind, I snatch it up and look at the little screen.
One new message: Ocean: Heerroow there Frankiestien xD how are you this fine day? xxx
Sometimes, I swear Ocean knows exactly when I need her most.
I quickly text out a reply and press ‘send’.
To: Ocean: Meh :L you? Wanna meet? xoxoF
While I wait for her reply, I reluctantly wander over to the mirror to inspect my injuries from yesterday.
The boy who looks back at me is pale with dark circles under his eyes, dark chestnut hair falling scruffily across his face and shrouding his expression; only the tip of his nose, the silver ring pierced through his lip and his eyes peek out, wide and vulnerable.
I take a deep breath, and pull my hair away from my face.
The boy’s face is battered and bruised, his lip swollen and crusty, stained with the remnants of crimson; smooth skin marred with scarlet gashes and scratches; pallor tainted with blotchy yellowish and purple bruises, eyes big and full of russet vulnerability, the puckered skin over the left one swollen in a deep purple
Sometimes, I really want to stab the boy in the mirror, but I guess the last thing he really needs right now are more injuries.
My phone buzzes softly once more and I gratefully look away from the mirror, letting my fringe flop back across my injuries as if they were never there.
From: Ocean: suuuure…park in ten? xxx
I reply quickly saying I’ll see her there, fling down my phone, trying to ignore the dull, tugging ache in my wrist and tugging on my scruffy black skinnies, followed by my The Misfits: American Psycho tee and a stripy red and black safety pin adorned hoodie that nicely covers up my bandaged wrist, before returning to the mirror and scooping up my white foundation.
I pull back my hair once more, and, wincing at my reflection, start applying the white powder to cover up the worst of my wounds, followed by liberal amounts of my favourite red eyeliner seeing as it’s the blessed day of freedom that is Saturday- I’ve learnt to never, ever wear any eyeliner to school unless I’m actually suicidal, which after the first time, I nearly was.
I still don’t understand what’s so bad about guys wearing make up- I mean, almost all girls. And probably at least half the guys wear it secretly too, trying on their Mom’s red lipstick and blusher when no one else is around.
At least I have the fucking confidence to wear it in public. Actually, make that the stupidity to wear it in public.
The horrible, harsh ringing of the doorbell echoes up the stairs, slicing through Black Flag and making me jump, my stomach lurch uncomfortably.
I need to get out of here. Now.
I hurriedly finish applying the red liner and step back to survey my reflection.
The boy in the mirror looks defiant and angry, rebellious and stubborn with eyes rimmed in blood red, hair falling in scruffy, careless strands across the pallor of his face as he scowls defensively at the looking glass, small and skinny, silver lip ring poking out from behind his hair.
I look scary, not scared and that’s exactly how I want it.
People never notice that the scariest people can be the most scared.
There’s a quiet knock on my door suddenly, making me jump and drop my red eyeliner on the carpet.
“What?” I snarl, shaking my fringe defensively further in front of my face as the door swings open and Steve pokes his head through into my room.
“Frank, please come downstairs and meet Gerard and Mikey?” He asks tentatively. “We just got back from the airport.”
Wow, well doesn’t that just make me jump with joy.
“No,” I say abruptly, grabbing my guitar from beside the window and shoving it angrily into its case, fingers shaking slightly, wrist throbbing infuriatingly.
“You’d like them, really-” Steve begins, opening the door more fully and stepping slightly nervously into my room, invading my space.
“I highly doubt that,” I snap, zipping the case up and trying to ignore the persistent ache of my bandaged wrist which needles me in tiny little stabs of frustration.
“Well, at least give them a chance,” Steve says, beginning to sound slightly irritated.
“Why should I?” I ask, looking up at him properly and fixing him with a questioning glare.
“Because… Oh, Frank…” Steve trails off, suddenly looking appalled. “Your face…what-”
I suddenly realise that my fringe has flopped away from my face and my injuries are on full display. My stomach drops horribly and I grab my guitar case, slinging it over my shoulder and pushing blindly past Steve before he can say anything else, shaking my fringe furiously back across the purple bruises and scarlet scratches that taint my skin.
I storm down the stairs, Doc Martens clunking loudly on the polished wood, past the living room where I can hear the soft murmur of unfamiliar voices, and out the front door; out into the bitter rain, slamming the door loudly behind me and splashing furiously through the puddles down the path, cursing my own stupidity as my feet pound the endless pavements relentlessly.
I use the back streets to get to the park, weaving my way in and out of the winding, overgrown lanes in the bitter November bleakness, hood up, hands shoved in my jeans pockets as I splash through the grimily grey overflowing puddles in my Doc Martens, head bowed, icy needles of rain drilling through the thin fabric of my stripy, safety pin-adorned hoodie.
I’ve shoved my headphones on, letting the raw, angry screams of Black Flag leak into me through my ears, hating the very air I breathe with every furious step.
I’m shivering violently, teeth chattering, hands red and raw with the cold by the time I reach the park.
The park is mine and Ocean’s usual haunt; it’s halfway between our houses, and since the council built a new playground at the other side of town, this one’s been left to rust in abandonment. Hardly anyone else ever comes here, except occasionally a gang of Goths who like to graffiti the climbing walls and carve pentagrams into the spiky trees by the rusty, broken swings.
It’s quiet and different and calming; one of the few places I feel safe.
Now the only place, seeing as my only other safe haven has been invaded.
I start walking more furiously, pushing all thoughts from my mind and just concentrating on the raw, screaming fury of Black Flag, splashing through overflowing puddles and stomping through the clumps of decomposing Autumn leaves that collect at the edge of the sidewalk, not looking up at the passing life until I reach the park.
Ocean’s already there; a shock of blue hair and red tartan skinnies sitting on the old red and green roundabout under the gnarled old oak tree, its once bright paint now cracked and peeling, eaten away by rust and rain and age.
She waves at me as I jump over the fence and cross the worn tarmac the rain slowly seeps into, grey and thick, dribbling along the surface and soaking into the cracks like serpents.
Hey, Frankiestien,” Ocean grins at me from under her violet hood and sweeping fringe of electric blue, eyes glitteringly jade and rimmed with red similar to my own as I slump down beside her on the cold, grey metal of the roundabout, hooking my arm round one of the rusty red poles and pulling my headphones out.
“Hey,” I sigh grumpily, shaking my fringe further in front of my bruised face and pulling my stripy hoodie more closely around me, protecting myself from the needles of icy rain that fall between the gnarled branches curling overhead.
“How are you on this beautifully dismal day?” Ocean asks, turning the volume on her lime green iPod down and letting her Skullcandy headphones cling round her neck, the soft crackle of bass leaking out of them and into the silent park.
“Fucking shit,” I scowl, kicking moodily at the golden and brown leaves scattered at my feet.
“Wow, who pissed in your cheerios?” Ocean says, putting down her iPod and nudging me with her shoulder.
I stay starting dismally at the rain-soaked ground, pulling my feet up to my chest in attempt to try and retain some of the minimal body warmth I have, leaning back against the hard metal bars that poke into my spine.
“Life fucking sucks,” I scowl, shoving my battered old guitar case across the muddy ground beside me and shaking my fringe across my face so as the scruffy chestnut stands fall between me and the rain, shielding me from the world.
“You don’t need to tell me that,” Ocean sighs, leaning back and putting her feet up on my knees and playing absent-mindedly with her snakebites. “Are they sending you to an all girls school then?”
I look round at her, utterly bemused, picking at a tiny fraying hole in my black skinnies. “What?”
“Y’know, the ‘important news’ your Stepdad wanted to tell you last night?” Ocean reminds me with a roll of her scarlet rimmed eyes. “The reason I was so cruelly kicked out of your house and into the pouring rain and the dark where there could have been rapists and muggers and murders or escaped mental patients with hatchets and-” Ocean’s cut off as I put a hand across her mouth in attempt to stop the seemingly endless flow of words.
“Oomph!” She mumbles indignantly into the soft flesh of my palm, and then something sharp sinks into my skin and I yelp in pain, wrenching my hand away.
“Did you just bite me?” I yelp, nursing my hand.
“No, Frankie, I stroked you with my teeth,” Ocean says sarcastically, rolling her glimmeringly green eyes at me. “You should know by now not to do things like that.”
“I get enough shit without you adding to it,” I scowl sulkily, kicking her feet off my knees to sit cross-legged on the cold, rusty metal of the cobweb incrusted roundabout, pulling my guitar case closer to me.
“You’d miss me if I wasn’t here though,” Ocean grins devilishly, poking me in the side with one of her pointy fingers and making me twitch.
“You don’t know that,” I say, still scowling, pulling my guitar out of it’s case and setting it across my lap, knowing I’m being grumpy and unfair, but past caring.
“I know everything, Frankie,” Ocean sighs as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world, poking my side again and making me wriggle moodily away from her.
“Yeah, yeah,” I roll my eyes, strumming out a chord on my beat up old guitar that fills the silent rain of the abandoned park, echoing off the spiky, blackened trees embellished with carved pentagrams, the rusty, half broken swings and the graffitied metal of the climbing frame.
“I know that you’d miss me if I decided to step under a bus, I know that you aren’t really as moody and don’t-carish as you pretend to be, but most of all….I know…HOW TICKLISH YOU ARE!” she cries, and suddenly she’s diving at me, knocking me to the damp ground and tickling me to death, squealing and squirming and trying to escape her nimble fingers.
A middle aged woman walking past the fence, looks over anxiously at my screams and yelps and Ocean’s more than slightly scary snakebite grin as she tortures me.
“It’s okay, I’m just raping him!” Ocean calls cheerfully, waving at the woman with a skull and crossbones fingerless glove clad hand, baring her snakebites brightly and the woman scuttles as fast as she can round the corner, not looking back.
“Jeez, people these days,” Ocean says in disgust, flipping her off as the woman scurries out of sight. “Imagine if I really had been raping you! Fuck load of help she’d have been then. Bitch.”
“Urummph,” I mumble from under Ocean, beginning to feel more than slightly trapped under the skinny but extremely strong frame of my best friend, feeling extremely glad for the millionth time that she’s one of the people who beats me into bloody pulp daily; if she was, I’m not sure I would still be in the land of the living.
“Oh yeah, sorry, I got distracted, didn’t I?” Ocean grins evilly, turning back to me with her smile of death. “I was tickling you, wasn’t I?”
“Nooumph!” My squeal is muffled, but it seems to get the message across.
“Oh, you don’t want that?” Ocean says in mock surprise, easing her tickling slightly.
I shake my head pleadingly, eyes wide, hair falling off my face to expose the wounds from yesterday, but Ocean doesn’t bat an eyelid, ask me if I’m okay, or look appalled they way Steve did.
That’s what I like about her; she knows there are just some things you’d rather not have gawped at or asked about. She knows when to keep her mouth shut.
That and the fact she’s probably so used to me having bruises and cuts on my face that she’d stare if there weren’t any.
“Hmm, well do you promise to cheer the fuck up?” She asks, making very sure I can’t escape.
I nod, still unable to speak due to the fact my best friend is crushing what’s left of my ribs after the incidents of yesterday.
“Fine. But if you go all misery guts on me again, I’ll tickle you so much you’ll spontaneously combust,” Ocean says, narrowing her steely emerald eyes at me before finally clambering off me and sitting back down on the roundabout.
Panting slightly and massaging my ribs, I plonk myself down beside her, scooping up my guitar from where it got knocked flying to on the cracked tarmac when I was suddenly hit by a large amount of blue hair, red tartan skinnies and jasmine perfume intent on death by tickling.
“I hate you,” I mutter under my breath, starting to strum at my guitar again.
“I heard that,” Ocean warns me, poking me in the side and making me flinch. “Now, tell me what bombshell your parents dropped last night.”
“You really don’t wanna know,” I sigh, not looking up from my guitar, letting my fingers flow over the calming notes and chords.
“Why do you think I asked, fuckface?” Ocean rolls her eyes to the heavens. “Shall I make it a little clearer for you? TELL ME. NOW.” She’s suddenly got hold of my hair, pulling me round to face her.
If that’s not clear, I don’t know what the fuck is.
“Jeez, okay, okay, let me fucking go!” I yelp, trying to pull myself out of Ocean’s fierce grasp.
She loosens her grip slightly, but doesn’t let go.
“Okay…y’know Steve has two sons about my age?” I sigh, trying to find a comfortable way to sit while having a fiendish, blue-haired girl with snakebites and steely determination hanging onto my unwashed hair.
“Yeerrp?” Ocean replies, still not letting go of my scruffily chestnut hair which means my fingers can’t find their way to strum across the soothing strings of my guitar.
“They’re…” my voice goes all hoarse. “They’re…um, they’re coming to live with us,” I sigh out, heart sinking horribly the second I’ve uttered the words.
I suddenly find myself sprawled on the floor as Ocean rapidly lets go of my hair in shock. The floor seems to be becoming my natural habitat; I must find myself sprawled on it at least once a day, whether it’s from the guys at school or my own friend.
“What?!” Ocean cries, seemingly oblivious to the fact she’s just sent her best friend flying to the ground.
“Ouch,” I say indignantly from the rain-soaked tarmac.
“Oh, sorry,” Ocean suddenly notices me and hauls me back up onto the roundabout beside her. “But, what…seriously?”
“Yup,” I sigh heavily, picking up my guitar. “Today.”
“Today?!” Ocean yelps incredulously, arms flailing about and narrowly avoiding my face.
Yup,” I say again, trying hard to ignore the increasing sinking feeling of dread in my chest.
“Fuck,” Ocean says, which is her response to many things, including almost anything and everything her teachers or parents say.
“I know,” I say moodily, starting to tug at the hole in my jeans again.
“Are they umm…nice?” She asks me, fumbling in her pocket for something.
I shrug, starting to strum softly again. “They won’t like me,”
“Frankie!” Ocean yells, making me jump out of my skin and nearly drop my guitar. “Stop thinking people won’t like you!”
“But they don’t,” I point out.
“They might if you stopped thinking the whole world hates you!” Ocean sighs exasperatedly.
“Well, it fucking feels like it does,” I snap, strumming more fiercely.
“Why would you think that?” Ocean cries indignantly.
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe because I spend almost every fucking day being teased and laughed at and beaten? Why on earth would that make me think people hate me?” I say sarcastically, strumming harder and ignoring Oceans glare boring into the side of my hood.
She’ll just never understand what it’s like to not have the confidence to stand up to people; she’s so strong and scary that no one would dare cross her path more than once. I wish I was like that, but I’m not, and I seriously doubt I ever will be. I’m just weak and scared and small, and there’s nothing I can do to change my fate.
I strum harder still, strumming and strumming furiously until my hand slips and my already twisted wrist contorts fiercely, fiery pain shooting up my arm and making me drop my guitar.
There’s silence for a moment or two; thick, heavy silence, buzzing with anger, my heavy breathing, and the icy needles of rain that drill into the cold, leaf-strewn ground as the fury slowly drains out of me like the rain draining from the ominous grey cloud overhead.
“Sorry,” I say quietly after a moment.
I turn to look at her, and suddenly she’s not the scary, pierced, blue-haired teenager who worships heavy metal, but the cute, freckled ten year old who accidentally on purpose bit the maths teacher for giving us a fractions lesson and flicked an entire tub of red finger paint at a snub-nosed little boy who called her weird.
“It’s fine,” Ocean sighs, sweeping her indigo fringe out of her red-rimmed eyes and looking at me, slightly uncertain for once; less fearsome and almost concerned. “I didn’t mean to upset you or anything….and you know that if the guys are fuckfaces that I’ll use your smoothie blender to teach them a lesson.”
I smile weakly at her violent humour, picking my guitar back up from the ground. “Thanks,”
“No worries,” Ocean says brightly, fishing a slightly squished Mars bar out of her jeans pocket and starting to unwrap it. “And hey, you never know…they might be cute,” she winks teasingly at me, chucking me half of the slightly squished chocolate.
I roll my eyes, catching the Mars bar. “And then you’ll be over all the time, right?”
“You know me too well,” Ocean grins, popping a piece of Mars into her mouth and cranking up the volume on her iPod so as Suicide Silence bleeds out into the grey rain of the park. “Or one of them could be your soul mate.”
“Ocean,” I sigh. “They’re guys.”
“I know,” She grins.
I retaliate by flicking a piece of chocolate at her.
She retaliates by flicking it back a lot harder.
I wish I could stay on the rusty roundabout in the deserted park with Ocean for ever, flicking Mars bar at each other, listening to Suicide Silence and letting her cheer me up with her blunt attitude and violent tickling until I’m laughing along with her at the fucked-up world and it’s like all the shitty stuff doesn’t exist and never has.
But it does.
I know that eventually, I’ll have to trail home through the icy rain, to a home that will no longer be mine, to a home invaded by yet more people ready to loathe and ridicule me.
And I know that, as always, I’ll have to face it all alone.
Frank’s a cheerful little soul, isn’t he? xD Please let me know what you think of this- I’ve really lost confidence in my writing recently, which sucks :/ I was pretty nervous about posting this again, cause I’m really worried it’s not good enough…please tell me if it’s okay and I will post the next chapter up within a week.
You’ll meet the lovely Gerard and Mikey in the next chapter too (: so…yeah..please, please rate and review if you’re still wanting me to continue this.
Thanks for reading- I seriously love you guys!