'“Jeez, there’s no need to look as if someone’s just died,” Ocean’s irritated voice cuts through my thoughts. “You’re going home, not attending a fucking funeral.”....'
Anyway, hope you all enjoy and please keep the awesome R&Rs coming :D
By the time I eventually relent and trail home, the thick, grey cloud looming overhead has turned to murky ebony, swamping the once blue sky and shedding relentless bullets of November rain that crash from the bitter clouds to the endless, grimy, grey sidewalk, stinging my raw, shivering skin with icy tears of injustice.
It’s almost totally dark now, the long, rain-drenched city streets lit only by the dull, artificially yellow glow of the streetlamps that line the edge of the sidewalk; their lifeless glow seeping into the slickly damp, rain-soaked surface of the chewing-gum speckled tarmac which Ocean and I trudge wearily along, hoods up, heads down against the lashing icy rain and bitter November world.
The road seems to stretch on and on endlessly in front of me, crammed with a thousand cars, their blinding headlights slicing through the lashing rain that falls so thickly from the night’s sky, and illuminating the murky clouds of tainted pollution that seep copiously up from the incessant jam of impatient traffic and into the glowering ebony dusk.
My heart is heavy in my shivering skeleton, concealed only by my sodden stripy hoodie and hunched posture, my feet aching from relentlessly pounding the never-ending city streets all day long, soggy from trudging through the million overflowing puddles of rainwater that collect in the cracks of the chewing-gum speckled pavement.
“Jeez, there’s no need to look as if someone’s just died,” Ocean’s irritated voice cuts through the dark illuminated by artificial light, my thoughts and the loud, congested chugging of traffic from the rain-washed road beside us. “You’re going home, not attending a fucking funeral.”
“It feels like I’m attending a fucking funeral,” I mumble dispiritedly, shoving my hands deeper into the pockets of my hoodie and shaking my damp fringe into my eyes as yet another car roars past us, showering us in tiny droplets of polluted rainwater from the filthy surface of the tireless road.
“You’ll be attending my fucking funeral if you don’t cheer the fuck up, misery guts,” Ocean growls, shaking the icy droplets of rainwater out of her face crossly and turning round to flip off the car who just so kindly decided to give us an unwanted shower.
I sigh and ignore her, continuing to trudge wearily through the murky puddles and grime-clogged gutter in attempt to regain some of the feeling in my frozen feet, huddling further into my hoodie and not looking up into the bitter night and incessant cues of contaminated cars beside me.
We walk in silence for a while, the chug of clogged up traffic and tires slashing through the rain loudly alongside the sidewalk, spattering our shoes with murky, rainwater that’s tainted with the same contamination that curls up into the black clouds, smoky and glutinous.
“You could always spend the night at mine, I guess,” Ocean sighs after a few moments, sounding tired and annoyed. I don’t blame her; we’ve been walking the streets and shivering in the park all day, just because I can’t quite bring myself to go back home knowing the fate that awaits me.
Ocean of course, refused point-blank to leave me wandering the city alone when after several hours of shivering, I tentatively suggested she might want to return somewhere warm, like her house.
I look up at her, lips blue from the cold, eyeliner streaky from the incessant lashing rain, fringe clinging to her forehead in damp indigo waves. Her eyes gleam in the dull glow of the streetlamps, green and weary. She shrugs at me, pulling her hood closer around her face in vain attempt to shield her from the icy wind that whips through us.
I sigh, looking back down at the grotty grey sidewalk and my scuffed, battered old doc martens with trailing stripy green laces, soggy and grubby from hours of being dragged and trampled through endless puddles and clumps of greying, deadened leaves incrusted with mud.
“No, it’s okay…” I sigh, shivering and looking back down at the dismal, damp grey of the sidewalk my feet so wearily tread unrelentingly. “You’re right- I’ll have to face them sometime.”
“Sure?” Ocean asks, looking round at me with the tiniest hint of concern in her red-rimmed eyes, her face pale and tired in the dull, lifeless glow of the streetlamps overhead. She looks as exhausted as I feel.
I nod, not trusting myself to speak. If only it was that simple; if only I could just go home with Ocean and not have to face Steve after him seeing my mangled face this morning, tainted with purple bruises and scarlet slashes; if only I didn’t have to face lying to Mom again and again, keeping her in the dark of the horrible reality of my life; if only I didn’t have to face the addition to two more people in my life who will almost certainly judge and ridicule me as almost everyone else does.
But I know I’ll have to, sooner or later, and I’m tired of walking the streets in the rain, tired of running away from everything difficult, tired of being scared.
And I know that Ocean’s tired too, tired of having to put up with a grumpy, scowling best friend, tired of trying to be cheerful and positive, tired of spending hours walking the streets in the bitter rain all day.
“Well, I’ll walk with you, yeah?” Ocean offers, stopping to dig her iPod out of her hoodie pocket and handing me an earbud.
“Thanks,” I say, taking the earbud and plugging it into my left ear. “But it’s okay, I’ve made you walk around in the freezing rain long enough for one day.”
“True,” Ocean says, scrolling down her playlist, the artificial light of the screen illuminating her pale face, smudged red line and indigo hair eerily, making her look like some strange, morbid undead being. “But you’re my best friend, for some bizarre reason I can’t remember, so I’m gunna, okay?”
I roll my eyes, half smiling tiredly at her backhanded comforting, pushing the earbud deeper into my ear as Iggy and The Stooges bleeds out of it, filling my mind with music and blocking out the whirling, swooping thoughts that churn sickeningly inside my skull. “Thanks, Ocean.”
We walk in silence for a while, through the murky tears that wash the grimy pollution of the city, through the endless, chugging traffic and dull streetlamps that seep into the black night air and accentuate the lashing rain, linked only by Ocean’s iPod.
My stomach is gradually tying itself into knots of nerves at the thought of meeting Steve’s kids. I know they aren’t going to be brutal murders or rapists, but neither are the guys at school, and they’re fucking terrifying.
It’s kind of strange to be so scared of your own species- but with the exception of Ocean, I feel far more comfortable when I’m alone, or with animals. Actually that would make sense, as I don’t really think anyone could class Ocean as human.
We finally trudge off the sidewalk beside the main road and turn into the quieter side street that leads to my house. We’re starting down yet another seemingly never ending road of dark clouds and rain and dull streetlights, just as a battered looking blue van drives past and sprays us copiously with murky rainwater from the road.
“Urghhh!” Ocean stops in her tracks, wiping cold, muddy and polluted water from her face, hoodie and jeans furiously, not even bothering to flip off the driver this time. “Okay, maybe I’ll just walk you to the shop at the end of the road so I can get some chocolate,” she says hastily.
I have to smile, however much a half-hearted attempt it is, weakly wiping the rainwater from the front of my already drenched stripy red and black safety-pin adorned hoodie.
“You don’t mind, do you?” Ocean turns to look slightly guiltily at me, what of her fringe poking out from under her hood utterly drenched, her eyes tired and emerald in the cold night air, tiny droplets of rain clinging to her spiky lashes like tears.
I roll my eyes and shake my head at her, even though I wish she didn’t have to leave at all. But I keep my mouth shut; she can’t always be there for me when I need her. I need to learn to stand up for myself and face things alone.
We’re nearly at the end of the road now, the rain still unrelenting and soaking bitterly through the fabric of our hoodies, lashing against the vulnerable skin of our cheeks and drilling into our backs along with the ebony wind.
Ocean turns to face me as me as we reach the little newsagents shop at the corner of the street, the dull, artificial glow of its harsh, artificial strip lights seeping out into the darkened, rain-soaked street through thee thin glass window emblazoned with the green and red store logo.
“You’re sure you’ll be okay?” She frowns as I take out the earbud and hand it to her with numb, slightly shaky hands.
I nod wordlessly, pulling my hoodie protectively around me and shoving my hands into my jeans pockets, shivering violently, hair dripping tiny droplets of rain down my bruised face as I shake my fringe further in front of my face as a shield from the outside world.
“Well, make sure you’re online tonight, yeah?” Ocean says, pocketing her iPod and moving towards the doorway of the shop, tucking her hair behind her ear.
I nod again, trying my best to ignore the gloomy dread trickling into me along with the teardrops of the ebony night’s sky.
“Oh, cheer up, Frankiestein!” Ocean gives me a sympathetic poke in the chest and envelopes me in a quick, tight hug, electric blue hair tickling my nose along with the heart-tuggingly familiar soft scent of her jasmine and cinnamon spray, and I feel a horrible lump rising in my throat.
I swallow furiously, pushing Ocean off me. “See you,” I mutter, shoving my hands into my pockets and trudging off, leaving my best friend standing alone in the rain behind me, half ready to turn back, expecting her to call my name.
But she doesn’t. All I hear is the clink of the shop door opening and shutting, and she’s gone, melted into the darkened, rainy city just like everyone else.
The road seems even more endless now, my guitar weighing a ton on my back, the strap of the rain-drenched case cutting into my shoulder, my heart heavy in my chest, my feet frozen and soaking, hands numb with the cold as I slouch on and on through the rainy winter night, the world passing in a blur of rushing traffic, artificial streetlamps and incessant rain.
When I eventually reach my road after what seems like an eternity, every step seems to be more effort, my legs feeling like led, and by the time I’m walking nervously up the garden path, I feel as though I’m wading through stodgy treacle.
The lights are all on downstairs, making the house look warm and homely and inviting in the bitterness of the November night; the kitchen curtains drawn across the golden light that seeps through the red and cream flower-patterned fabric, smoke curling up out of the chimney into the inky sky, the dulled sounds of laughter and chatter trickling out from the slightly open kitchen window.
It might be where I live, but it doesn’t feel like my home anymore, and I haven’t even set foot inside yet.
Standing, shivering and soaked to the bone on the doorstep, I feel as if I’m the outsider, looking into someone else’s home and searching desperately for somewhere that feels safe.
A particularly harsh gust of the bitter night sweeps right through me, and I shiver more violently, taking a deep, shuddery breath of the cool night air and unlocking the front door.
Even the second I step into the familiar darkened, green-carpeted hallway, it doesn’t feel like my home; it feels foreign and different and there’s a faint, lingering scent of tobacco, caramel and peppermint in the air, that makes me uneasy, my palms clammy with nerves and my stomach churn uncomfortably with uncertainty.
The door of the kitchen’s open; warm, golden light spilling out into the half-dark hallway as I kick off my soaked doc martens and set my guitar down by the coat rack, soaking up the wonderful warmth of the house after the icy November night air, but it somehow doesn’t make me feel any easier.
Unfamiliar voices drift through from the warm kitchen and I panic slightly, wondering if I can just scuttle past the kitchen and go straight upstairs to the safety of my room without having to set foot inside the kitchen and face Mom’s hurt eyes, Steve’s concern, and the judging, accusing stares of his sons.
I’m nearly past the open kitchen door when Mom’s voice echoes through from the warm interior.
“Frank? Is that you, honey? Come and have some dinner?”
“Not hungry,” I call slightly shakily, furiously trying to stamp out my fear by storming towards the stairs. I shouldn’t feel fear here; I shouldn’t feel scared and uneasy and trembling with nerves in my own home.
There’s silence for a second, and I’m nearly at the stairs when Mom appears in the hallway, brown hair scooped up into an elegant bun, eyes worried and warm as she approaches me and I shake my rain-soaked hair hurriedly across my face, suddenly horribly aware of my injuries and the fact that the endless rain I’ve been out in all day will have washed away all traces of the concealer I applied this morning.
“Honey? Please come in and have dinner with us…we’re almost finished anyway,” Mom says gently, touching my shoulder in a way that’s probably meant to be reassuring, but just makes me flinch jumpily away from her.
“I…I don’t want to, Mom,” I whisper, ducking my head and letting my damp fringe flop further across my injured face.
“I know,” Mom smiles sadly. “But please, Frankie? I never see you these days…”
I shrug in a way I hope looks careless, but my chest’s heavy with guilt and little blunt daggers of hurt.
“I wish I knew what was wrong, Frankie…you’re so different these days,” Mom says softly, looking at me in the half-light of the hall with concerned eyes of honey-brown worry.
“I’m fine,” I mumble automatically, not looking at her.
“Really?” Mom asks as if she doesn’t believe a word. “Where’s that smiley, stubborn little kid you used to be, Frankie? What happened?”
The words laced with Mom’s pure, innocent concern tug horribly at my battered chest, and I drop my gaze to the floor, letting my fringe flop defensively in front of my eyes. “People change, Mom,” I mutter, not quite daring to look up.
“I know they do, Honey,” Mom replies gently. “But you haven’t changed, it’s more like you’re…hiding.”
“Hiding?” I make what I hope is a derisive snort from under my soaked fringe, ignoring the way my heart’s pounding at just how closely Mom’s scraped to the truth. “What would I be hiding from, Mom?”
“You tell me,” Mom says quietly as if she knows exactly what I’m hiding from, as if she knows me inside out and can see through all the pathetically transparent lies and past my scruffy fringe to see my bruised and broken face.
Maybe she can.
There’s silence as I shove my hands further into my pockets and try and hide behind my damp fringe, turning in defeat to carry on up the stairs.
“Frank, please come down and have dinner with us,” Mom’s pleading voice stops me, and suddenly she sounds so like me; a scared, concerned Jersey accent.
I sigh, looking up at Mom’s sad, honey-brown eyes.
“…Fine,” I hear myself mumble in defeat, too tired of arguing and from walking the rain washed streets for so long with aching feet and a heavy chest. Tired of having to fight, tired of pretending.
“Great,” Mom smiles at me, but the silent concern still lingers in her warm eyes as she turns back towards the voices from the kitchen and gesturing for me to follow her.
I sigh, locking all nostalgic memories and emotions firmly away in a little black box at the back of my skull, and shaking back on the defensive scowl before slouching after Mom into the kitchen.
Sitting at the table, wearing a slightly apprehensive smile and a boringly patterned tie is Steve, and opposite him with their back to the doorway is a skinny, slightly hunched unfamiliar figure.
“Frank,” Steve smiles warmly at me as I peek out from behind my damp hair and the unfamiliar figure turns round expectantly, holding a glass of juice with long, trembly fingers.
I’m met with geeky glasses, slightly spiky mousy hair, an Anthrax t-shirt, a long, skinny face and wide, unblinkingly hazel eyes almost as nervous and uncertain as mine.
“Frank, this is my son, Mikey,” Steve introduces the skinny, nail-nibbling teenager with an unnecessary wave of his fork.
“H-Hi,” Mikey stutters nervously, eyes flickering up to meet mine briefly before dropping uncertainly to the tiled floor, his straightened mousy fringe flopping across his glasses, cheeks turning slightly pink with embarrassment.
“Um, hey,” I mutter, ducking further behind my fringe, but feeling slightly reassured by the boy’s obvious nerves. He doesn’t look like the sort to beat people up or pick on them for being different. In fact, he looks like the sort that is beat up and picked on for being different.
“Good day, Frank?” Steve asks conversationally as Mom propels me gently towards the table and pushes me into my seat.
I shrug, not looking up from the knots on the pine tabletop.
“How’s Ocean?” Mom adds, pouring me a glass of juice.
I shrug again, staying silent despite their obvious attempts to make conversation.
“Yeah, how’s she getting on at her school?” Steve asks, scraping his fork round the plate to gather up the remains of the pasta sauce.
“Fine,” I mumble, taking a shaky sip of juice and taking great care to keep my fringe flopped across my face.
“She done anything interesting recently?” Steve asks, not knowing when to back the fuck off and let me hide in the shadows in silence like I want to.
I sigh, setting down my glass with a slightly louder clunk than intended, making Steve’s son, Mikey, jump slightly.
“She pierced her friend’s bellybutton in the school toilets and got excluded for three days, let off a small explosion in the latest class assembly, and broke the record for most detentions in a month,” I say monotonously, and Steve blinks, looking awkward, while Mom bites her lip and looks faintly embarrassed.
However, I glimpse the corners of Mikey’s lips twitch slightly, the nerves in his innocent hazel eyes melting ever so slightly for a moment or two.
There’s a slightly awkward silence for a moment, broken only by the clink of knives and forks on Mom’s best blue patterned plates and my intermittent sips of juice, and then the sound of light footsteps descending the stairs echoes through into the kitchen, getting closer and closer.
I glance up apprehensively from behind my hair to see a slim, pale teenager appear in the doorway with dishevelled ebony hair that falls across his face in careless, wispy tendrils, into his almond-shaped hazely-green eyes that are rimmed heavily with smoky black and tickling his slightly pouty pink lips. He’s dressed exclusively in black; a beat up black leather jacket adorned with band badges and silver safety pins, jet black skinnies that cling closely to his slim legs, black belt decorated with a silver bat buckle, slung round his skinny hips.
He’s also annoyingly good-looking, but somehow at the same time an obvious Misfit; he looks like instead of hiding from the crowd for being different, he looks like he stands out a mile in it instead. I bet no one would even think about picking on him; there’s a sort of silent defiance and rebellion that lingers about him; a sort of steely, defensive shell.
The guy raises his eyebrows slightly at my rain-drenched form sitting, hunched at the table, his startlingly hazely-green eyes carefully empty of emotion, concealed with a film of carelessness.
“Oh, Frank,” Steve looks up as the boy strolls over to the vacant seat beside Mikey and flings himself down. “This is my eldest son, Gerard. Gerard, this is Frank.”
Gerard looks up briefly, eyes sweeping over my small, shivering, scowling and rain-drenched form, and a small smirk plays across his pink lips. “Descended from elves, are we?” He asks me lightly, raising an eyebrow disdainfully and taking a delicate sip of what looks like red wine, his long, slightly spidery fingers curling artistically round the stem of the glass.
My cheeks flush angrily and I duck behind my hair, heart thumping furiously, hurt prickling my insides in a thousand tiny, spiked, venomous needles.
“Gerard!” Steve says indignantly, putting down his glass and looking uncomfortably round at me as I scowl defensively and shake my hair further across my face, catching sight of Mikey’s silently worried expression as I do so.
“Sorry,” Gerard shrugs carelessly, picking up his fork and spearing several shells of pasta. “I just thought I’d ask the obvious, seeing as you’re about the size of a stunted leprechaun. No offence meant, dude.”
I say nothing, biting my lip furiously to hide the hurt, scowling angrily at Gerard from behind my hair.
“So, Gerard,” Mom begins, obviously sensing the conversation is entering dangerous waters and hastily steering it in a different direction. “What subjects will you be doing at the school here?”
“Art,” Gerard replies, swallowing his mouthful of pasta and reaching for his glass again, running a careless hand through his dishevelled raven hair as if it’s almost a practiced, carelessly sexy gesture. “Music and English.”
“Frank takes those subjects too,” Mom smiles nervously, nodding in my direction, obviously trying to include me, when I’d much rather just be left alone to sit in stony silence. “If you two were in the same year you’d probably share all your classes.”
Well, wouldn’t that be something to skip with fucking joy about.
“Mikey will be in your year though, Frank,” Steve interjects, draining his glass and setting it back down on the table. “Right, Mikey?”
I glance briefly over at Mikey who nods silently, takes a nervous gulp of juice and promptly choking.
Gerard leans over to pat him on the back. “You okay, Mikes?” he asks, sounding softer than before as his younger brother nods, cheeks now flooded with pink embarrassment.
“What subjects do you take again, Frank?” Steve asks, directing the unwanted spotlight away from Mikey.
“Um,” I mumble, shaking my fringe further in front of my view line and looking down at the tabletop. “Music, Art, Chemistry, Maths, French, English and Geography.”
“Oh, hopefully Mikey will be in some of your classes then,” Steve says brightly.
Mikey remains silent, and I don’t blame him; I try and disappear further behind my fringe.
“Jeez, what do you have hidden behind that fringe of yours that’s so fascinating?” Gerard asks, raising a sceptical eyebrow at me and I blush furiously, ducking my head.
“Gerard-” Steve begins in defence to me, no doubt because he now knows exactly the reason why I hide behind my fringe.
“No, Gerard has a point,” Mom cuts across him. “C’mon Frank, Honey, you look so scruffy these days…we can hardly see you!” And to my utter horror, she leans across the table to sweep my fringe out of my face.
I manage to leap to my feet just in time, shoving my chair back so hard it topples over with a loud crash to the tiled floor and I push wildly past Mom, ignoring Steve’s calls of apology, storming from the room and up the stairs, Gerard’s sceptical gaze burning into my back even after I’ve slammed my bedroom door shut behind me.
And that’s when I notice.
Not even my room is mine anymore. It’s still got the same posters, the same CDs stacked haphazardly on the desk, the junk littered across the floor and the rain dribbling down the window, but there’s a subtle, lingering scent of caramel and coffee, and set down in the corner by the door are three small bags and a bass guitar case that aren’t mine.
Hurt prickles all over me, a tiny epidemic of violent goose bumps that chill right into my bones in silent anger that cuts to deep to find it’s way to the surface. I storm across my room to the window seat and fling myself down on the cushioned surface, breathing heavily, heart pounding with the writhing anger and hurt that engulfs my being.
I really did think my fucked up mess of a life couldn’t get any worse.
I know it’s not exactly cheerful yet, but it just kinda has to be that way at the moment for the story to make sense…hope you’re all liking it okay anyway. Please review and let me know what you thought of this update? I’d really appreciate it, especially as I ditched my revision to get this up and will consequently be killed by my evil parents :/ but…yeah, thanks for all your awesome R&Rs on the last chapter- they’re the reason I posted again so soon :D so yeah…pweetty pwease rate and review and I’ll update as soon as humanly possible (the more reviews, the sooner xD) :D thank you all so much for reading, it means a lot especially seeing as I’m still kinda uncertain about this. LOVE YOU ALL!
p.s. hope these chapter’s aren’t too long…:/