When the misunderstood misfit Emma Hayes starts her new life in Belleville, New Jersey, will people understand her? Will she ever fit in? What does her new life hold?
“Emma?” My mum yelled up the stairs to me, her voice slightly marred. “We need to talk,”
I rolled onto my face, wincing against the pain from the contact and the fact my lip ring was biting into my pale skin, trying to ignore my mother’s calls.
It was the weekend; couldn’t her shit wait until later? She yelled my name up the stairs again, elicting a sigh from my tired body and forcing a response out of my mouth.
“Mum!” I groaned into my pillow, trying to bring back the dream I was having before she rudely interrupted. “It’s Sunday! Let me sleep in!”
“It’s midday! Get down here now, or I’ll confiscate your iPod, young lady!” My mum yelled to me, her feet thudding on the wooden floor as she walked away. I groaned, rolling out of my bed stiffly.
“Evil bitch,” I muttered as I gave up the hope of re-living the dream I was just having and looked on my messy floor for something half-decent to wear. There was litter scattered everywhere on my black carpet, mixed in with pencils, shavings, pens, old pieces of crumpled paper, paintbrushes and various articles of my clothing.
I picked up a pair of black skinnies, throwing them over my shoulder as I grabbed a studded belt, a slightly crumpled Anthrax tee and an old Misfits hoodie. I threw the clothing on; wandering what my mother could possibly want me for.
I was an only child, living with her single mum in not-so-sunny Devon, England. My dad had left my mum for reasons she refused to explain to me, only saying that my dad was good for nothing and went off marrying another woman. I don’t blame him though, if I’m honest. I wouldn’t want to be married to my mum if I was him.
My mum was an alcoholic, and she had no notion to change that status. She was constantly drunk, even though I threw out as many bottles of her (sure to be) liquid death as I could without her noticing. She just bought more and more, and threw us more and more into debt. I was surprised that we still had money at all.
“EMMA!” My mum roared from downstairs, breaking me out of my thoughts and making me jump.
“Coming!” I yelled back, stuffing my hoodie over my head and pulling it on as I ran down the carpeted stairs. I shook my messy, bright crimson hair in front of my face in a weak attempt to hide the cuts and bruises that lay on the delicate pale skin. Not all of these were due to my mother, but a fair few of them were.
“Sit,” Was all my mother said to me as I skidded to an abrupt halt in the living room. I did as I was told, flopping down onto one of the scabby loveseats that sat in the corner of our living room as my mum took a swig from a bottle of cheap vodka. She looked as if she was drunk already.
“Now. There are a lot of things that I’ve never told you about. Things about your sad little life that I honestly don’t give two shits about, but you’re not to interrupt me when I tell you this, or you’ll be sorry. I don’t want any questions from your petty little mouth, I’ve sorted this out and I don’t want you fucking things up,” She slurred, pointing her finger at me and narrowing her eyes as she took another swig from the bottle. She was definitely drunk. I nodded once, making sure my face was covered and waiting for her to talk again.
“Firstly, you have two brothers. They sided with your father and took off with him and left me with you,” She slurred. I almost blurted out a question, but I refrained.
I wasn’t an only child? I had brothers? What?!
“Second, we’re out of money. We’re being kicked out of here,” My mum burbled, breaking my train of thought. I nodded; I had expected that one pretty soon anyway.
“Third, you have two hours to pack your shit before a taxi is bringing you to the airport. You’re going to New Jersey to live with your good for nothing dad, his sleazy wife and kids. Your tickets are on the kitchen table. Now get the fuck out of my sight, you useless waste of space. Go on!”
I blinked, ignoring her insults and taking in this information. I was moving? To New Jersey, America? The state that was renound for its violence? Wha-?
“I SAID GO!” My mum roared, making me jump and scattering my confused thoughts. I sprang to my feet and scuttled out of the room, grabbing my pristine, brightly coloured airplane tickets from the grimy kitchen counter and running up to my room.
I slammed my door with my foot once I was safely enclosed by the blood red walls of my room, and collapsed onto the floor, tears leaking out of my eyes unintentionally as I searched for my old travel case.
I didn’t ask questions about what was happening, like my mother had told me to do, but I was thankful for two things.
One; I would have a fresh start to high school. I was 15 and would hopefully be paid some respect.
Two; I would hopefully never have to see my mother again.
Two hours later, I had everything packed and I had concealed the majority of my bruises with concealer. My band posters were all tucked away in my travel case, along with every article of clothing I owned, my stash of emergency money, some headphones, my make-up bag and some converse – not much, really.
I pulled my old, scuffed up Purple Doc Martens on quickly, shoving my iPod and phone into my jeans pockets as a shiny black cab pulled up outside of the house. I picked up my suitcase, my guitar (which was in its battered old travel case), and my hand luggage, opening the front door and dumping the stuff outside as one of the taxi’s windows rolled down, revealing a middle-aged man with a balding head and silver stubble framing his double chin.
“Are you Miss Hayes, headed for the airport?” The man called to me, his voice thick and northern. I nodded, and he gave me a short nod in reply, rolling his window back up as I struggled towards his cab with my luggage.
I didn’t bother saying goodbye to my mum, knowing that it would probably earn me a slap rather than a goodbye, my face was already covered in bruises and cuts; I didn’t need any additions right now.
After shoving everything but my hand luggage into the back of the taxi, I flopped down into one of the faux leather chairs in the back seats. I buckled myself in and smiled awkwardly at the taxi driver. He nodded to me in a gentlemanly fashion, starting up the vehicle as I plugged my headphones in, blocking out the world that thrived around me.
A moment later, the taxi pulled away from the muddy, grey curb. Rain began dribbling listlessly down the grimy windowpane of the cab as we drove away from the place I would no longer call home, and towards the place I would be living from now on. The place where I would start my new life.
Belleville, New Jersey.
A few hours later, the taxi pulled up outside Exeter airport. I paid the driver for the ride, telling him to keep the change hastily as I clambered out of the black vehicle, throwing my hand luggage over my shoulder as I retrieved my guitar and my travel case from the boot. The steel grey bullets of rain had ceased to fall as we drove, thankfully. I didn’t want Jinx - my guitar – getting wet, let alone his case.
I dumped everything on the floor beside me, slamming the boot shut and hitting the taxi’s bumper twice with the palm of my hand. It pulled away, slowly being submerged in the sea of cars that trickled listlessly down the grimy, polluted highway.
I sighed, finding a trolley and dumping my stuff onto it before wheeling it into the airport. I stopped for a moment, leaning on my little trolley as I dug around in my pockets for my flight ticket. I fiddled with my lip ring as I scanned over the small piece of in-offensive card. It said the plane was departing at 3:15. I glanced down at my old, battered watch - the little display told me that the time was currently 3pm exactly.
“Shit,” I muttered under my breath as I shoved my ticket back into my pocket, looking for someone to show me where I needed to put my bags and where I needed to go to board the plane.
“Need some help?” A female voice asked kindly from behind me. I jumped; making sure my hair covered my face as I turned to the helpful woman.
She was pretty, was the first thing I noticed. Her natural blonde hair swept back into a ponytail, a few tendrils falling gently to frame her peachy face. She was wearing a smart blazer and a matching iron-grey knee-length pencil skirt, small heeled black shoes slipped on her dainty feet. She had a bright nametag on the lapel of her pristine blazer that read ‘Jenny’.
She seemed pleasant enough to talk to.
“Yes – thanks,” I sighed after I looked her over, setting my trolley next to me as I fumbled for my ticket again. I had a habit of looking people over before I talked to them. I wasn’t sure where I got it from, but it was just something I did.
“I’m not sure where to go or what to do. I’ve never been to an airport,” I laughed, showing the lady the ticket, still playing with my lip ring absentmindedly.
“Oh, okay. Aren’t you with your parents?” The face I made told her all she needed to know.
“Alright, if we go put your luggage on this carousel, you can board the plane through there,” The woman told me gently, pointing to the places I needed to go to with a daintily manicured hand.
“Uh… Could you show me what I need to do?” I asked meekly as the woman smiled and laughed, nodding as she walked towards the slowly revolving, rickety luggage carousel. She motioned for me to follow with her head, and carried on walking.
“Thanks,” I called to the helpful lady with a small smile as she waved me onto the plane.
“No problem, honey. Have a safe flight, now!” She called back as I stepped on board. I nodded, waving with one hand until she disappeared from sight. I slouched through the first class area, getting a few stares from some posh snobs as I made my way to my economy class seat.
I managed to find my seat near the back of the plane and flop down into it, placing my hand luggage on the empty seat beside me. Thank god I wouldn’t have to put up with an annoying neighbour for the duration of my flight.
The seats were hard, lumpy and uncomfortable, with curiously coloured stains occasionally showing through on the cheap fabric. This didn’t really shock me, what with it being an economy class seat.
Quickly enough, the plane’s crew went through safety procedures, going back to their cabin as the plane took off of the runway. The seatbelt light above my head flashed, telling everyone to buckle up as we rose steadily into the air.
I stared out of the window for most of my journey, watching the icy bullets of harsh rain stream down the clear pane of glass beside me, playing with my lip ring again as we flew thousands of feet high in the sky. I had plugged my headphones back in, drowning out everything around me as I melted gratefully into to the raw sounds of Black Flag pummelling my ear drums mercilessly.
I fell asleep sometime during the flight, to be woken by a polite flight attendant. I realised with a start that everyone was leaving the plane.
I shook my crimson hair in front of my face like a protective screen as I yanked my headphones out of my ears, thanking the attendant rashly as I gathered my bag and shoved my iPod back into my jeans pocket. I hadn’t even had time to look her over in my rush. An odd thought for some, but to me, it was slightly unnerving.
I shuffled my way out of the plane, mumbling thanks to the crew while giving them a look-over as I went to retrieve my luggage from the carousel.
I grabbed Jinx and my travel case into my arms as soon as they made their way towards me on the rickety conveyor belt, struggling under their weight as realisation hit me.
What do I do now?! Is this the part where I realise this has all been a sick joke, that my dad doesn’t really know I’m here and my mum has just left me stranded in New Jersey? Is this the part where I find out that I really am an only child, and this is just some prank my mum pulled on me? Is this the part wher-?
“Emma?” A gentle voice asks from behind me. I whip my head around, turning my body with it as I take in the man that is stood before me.
He’s tall, with greying hair and laugh lines stretched across his pale, warm face.
He’s wearing a Pink Floyd shirt and some loose jeans, black Vans peeking out from the frayed ends of his trousers. I don’t recognise him, but he seems familiar somehow.
Behind him, I spot three people looking on at us intently.
There’s a scrawny twig of a boy not much younger than me with intensely straightened, straw-like hair, geeky glasses that are slowly but surely slipping off of his nose, an Anthrax shirt that matches mine and dark skinnies trying unsuccessfully to hide behind a slight taller boy to his left.
The taller boy is ghostly pale, his dishevelled raven black hair flopping carelessly in front of his hazel brown eyes and tickling his chapped, shell pink lips, which are quirked into a small smile. His clothes consist of dark skinnies, like the smaller boy, and a Black Flag tee. He has several bracelets slung around his wrists, and a silver necklace chain peeking out from underneath his shirt. He reminds me somewhat, I realise with an inward grin, of a vampire.
Beside these boys is a woman. The woman has blonde hair piled neatly atop her head in a bun, pulling stray strands of wispy blonde out of her hazel brown eyes which sparkle happily, illuminating her warm smile. She wears a simple, flowing, flowery cream dress, which cuts off just below the knee. Over her shoulders is a lime green shawl, attached to the dress by a thin brown belt.
I blink once, my little analysis of the group taking all of five seconds. I look back at the man in front of me, who is now bearing a small smile. I blink again, realisation flowing through me as I returned his small smile meekly, shaking my hair in front of my eyes routinely. I blink again, finding my voice and whispering the only word I can muster at that moment in time.