'All I can see are those two, spiky black lettered words that are boring into my skull, my mind, my soul...'
I just stare at those two, tiny little black words printed into the cheap white paper for several moments, blood slowly rising inside me, bubbling and boiling and choking me with its scarlet rage as my eyes burn unblinkingly at the list before me.
I’m half frozen in horror, unable to do anything but remain glued to the spot, eyes gritted over the two little black words that are going to change so much, feeling all my suppressed fury and self hatred and everything else I keep crushed so tightly inside it feels as though sometimes it might choke me. But now it’s uncurling and fragmenting apart from where I’ve kept it concealed so well, rising up and up and up in my gullet like vile, soured blood that makes my skin erupt with a thousand charred goose bumps of horror and fury.
The two printed words bore right into me until they’re all I can see apart from the raw red that rips across my vision from the blood of fury rising inside me, staining the world around me in my own flaws and failings and the bitter, glutinous jealousy I loathe so much.
I feel almost unreal, as if I’m trapped inside some kind of surreal, obliterating nightmare that’s engulfing me in bitter icy cold and boiling, scarlet anger at the same time, the two colliding in the middle and numbing me into pure horror.
There’s so much crashing and colliding and combusting on the inside that the outside is numbed and I can feel nothing, see nothing outside my own tainted emotions. All I can see are those two, spiky black lettered words that are boring into my skull, my mind, my soul until I can’t take the shuddering emotions curdling so sickeningly inside of me.
Those two, tiny little deadly black words are possessing me. All I can hear is the sneering hiss of his voice and the self-satisfied swish of his leather jacket. All I can smell is the sickening scent of cigarettes and cinnamon and coffee mingled with soured jealousy. All I can feel is the hurt and the hate that overwhelms me every time I lay eyes on the skinny, black clad figure of smugness. And all I can see are those two typed little words, churning round and round my skull, smashing me to pieces slowly and agonisingly.
Everything I’ve been working so hard to keep hidden and silent inside my skeleton for so long is suddenly rupturing violently through my whole body, tearing viciously apart and flooding dangerously through me, drowning me and drowning me.
I have to look away, get away, run away as far as I can; run and run and run from the two tiny black words, from the list, from the stuffy music room that used to be a safe haven, from the enclosed metal fencing of school, from this stained city of pollution and depression, from everything and everyone, from my stepbrother, but most of all, away from me.
The damn of suppressed emotions that’s been slowly towering up inside me suddenly bursts, flooding me in everything I hate and drowning everything else I feel other than this raw, boiling anger.
I reach out with trembling hands and pick up the list, staring for a second at the name beside mine, feeling the fury course through me like magma.
And then I’m tearing and ripping and shredding the cheap white paper, scratching wildly at the list of black and white furiously, frantically, until it’s just fragments of crumpled white spattered on the floor like innocent blood at my feet.
I’m shaking furiously still as the last little piece of destroyed paper falls limply from my angry hands to its death on the floor. I stamp on the little pile of vulnerable paper, again and again and again with my shabby converse, and then before I can trash the rest of the music room, I hurtle from the classroom, blood boiling right up and over my clenched skin that smarts in fury as I bash into the desks and the doorway on my way out.
I’m flinging myself down the stairs, schoolbag swinging wildly out behind me and bashing relentlessly against the wall, echoing my angered footsteps that stumble their way blindly down the chewing gum speckled stairs until I’m finally at the bottom, slamming my way through the double doors and out into the murky grey drizzle that settles on my raw, exposed soul like a thousand tiny needles that provoke the fizzling anger inside me further still.
Blinded with an anger that smothers all the more true emotions curdling inside me, I shove my way through the little gaggles of students shivering in the dull grey lunch time air, tripping and stumbling over the uneven, bleak concrete as I make my way ruthlessly towards the cast iron gates in the distance.
I’m suddenly brought to an abrupt halt as someone a great deal stronger slams into me and I’m burled off course, panting angrily as I look up, rubbing my already bruised ribs, my breath curling into the dank air like smoke from the boiling, charred blood smothering my innards.
I’d recognise that deadly soft hiss anywhere, especially in a place and time when I’m feeling at my worst.
I look up, from the damp grey tarmac of the schoolyard and straight into Danny’s cold greeny grey eyes that are oddly emotionless, almost dead, like the zombified gaze of a shark.
For possibly the first time in my life, fear doesn’t flood through me, icy cold and spiked with dread to snag on my confidence and self esteem, dragging me down with it.
I’m already too full of emotion that’s brimming dangerously over the edges like venomous lava from a volcano of imprisoned hatred left to steep on it’s own for far too long.
I’m too full to feel anything else other than the raw, pure anger that writhes through me with angst tainted tentacles that curl their way deceptively round any other emotion, trapping everything else under a layer of fury.
“Get the fuck out of my way,” I spit furiously, shoving Danny in the chest.
Shock shoots through his cold eyes for a moment, before he glazes their unnervingly sea green depths with the usual threateningly poisonous hatred.
“What did you just say to me, Freak Iero?” He asks, his husky voice deadly quiet as is the yard surrounding us; everyone nearby has gathered in a curious little cluster round us in the driving December rain that soaks through my thin hoodie and bloodstained school shirt but in no way quenches my anger with it’s coldness.
“I said GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY!” I yell, shoving him harder so as I can escape and get away from the bottomless depths of hate churning in his eyes, away from the shocked stares of my peers, away from the irritatingly gentle rain that just infuriates me further with every icy little pinprick that falls to my boiling skin.
I’m halfway up the bleak grey yard before I hear the dull, thudding footsteps hounding me. One tiny glance behind me tells me that Danny’s on the warpath, sprinting through the drilling rain and murky grey cloud of the yard behind me.
For the first time since I saw the list in the music room, the tiniest dribble of varying emotion enters my system; the smallest, tiniest, unsure little droplet of fear that tells me I need to run. Now.
The gates are mere metres away, and Danny’s closing in, his venom riddled gaze predatory and fiendish.
Adrenaline is pumping furiously through me, fuelled by the anger as I turn and start sprinting towards the rusting gates, ignoring the nagging prickle of fear creeping up my spine as Danny approaches.
There’s so much adrenaline fused anger and energy pumping through my battered body that for once, I can barely feel the many cuts and bruises that contaminate me.
Danny’s getting closer, hounding in on me like a predator and it’s prey.
Frantically, I fumble with the icy cold metal of the rusty gate and fling myself through it, out of the imprisoned sea of uncaring, raucous students and churning sea of injustice, and into the tainted outside world of endless grey streets and murky fumes of pollution and bleak, dead skies that stretch wearily overhead.
Glancing back fleetingly, I realise that Danny’s leapt over the gate and is close on my heels. Not only that, but his little posse of thugs are not far behind him, their merciless feet pounding the pavement like an army of mindless brutality.
Usually, I’d stand no chance of escape, especially when I’m already injured, but the anger and hatred that’s been boiling an bubbling through me like poison venom since I saw the list up in the music room seems to have given me the adrenaline to sprint recklessly down the damp street, feet splashing wildly through the grimy puddles in the cracked concrete, rain slicing through me with icy talons that are starting to percolate the swirling sea of self disgust and pure, undiluted hate.
I’ve never felt a hate like it before; such a pure stream of undiluted loathing coursing through me like lethal poison, so overwhelming that it engulfs everything else and won’t let me make sense of anything but the boiling, smoking hatred.
The drumming of threatening footsteps behind me is growing louder, echoing loudly in my eardrums as I race frantically through the bleak streets, winding my way in and out of deadened looking pedestrians huddled up in layers of colourless grey to match the murky, deadened city.
“Don’t you fucking dare run away, you coward!” Danny’s furious yell ruptures through the dull air, slicing through all the thick fumes clogging up the congested road beside me and echoing ominously in my eardrums, macabre and menacing.
I can hear the wheeze in his voice though, despite his threat. This obvious sign of defeat only pushes me to flee faster, feet just a blur of shabby converse, spattered grey grime from the gutter and adrenaline beneath me as I dash round the corner, narrowly missing collision with a peeling, graffited phone box that sticks out starkly in the city of grey with it’s decaying red paint, almost like a shock of blood spilling over into the colourless city.
That could be my blood.
I can feel my whole body slowly exhausting; my ribs are aching more than ever, my feet burning despite the icy rainwater that seeps through my scruffy converse, my lungs desperately gasping for breaths of the contaminated city air.
The anger and adrenaline is slowly draining from my body and leaking away with the tears of listless, thick rain that dribble down my soaked school uniform and numb skin.
I glance behind me once more, the horribly familiar feeling of fear starting to eclipse the slowly decaying anger in my skeleton. Danny and his gang are still in view, but they’re right at the end of the street, leaning weakly against the blood red phone box I sprinted past what felt like seconds ago. They’re not looking for me anymore; they’re panting up into the overcast, murkily grey clouds and massaging their chests.
Before they catch sight of me; nothing but a rain drenched, pale streak of fear reeking of victim, and before all the angry adrenaline that allowed me to escape drains away, I duck out of sight into a dank little alleyway beside me, flopping down by an overflowing bin bag that’s spilling wasted food and rotting, mushy newspapers onto the cracked, dirty floor riddled with cigarette butts and discarded chewing gum.
Panting desperately for the polluted air that swirls thickly around me in contaminated mist, I lean back weakly against the damp grey wall behind me, gazing out into the drizzly world and misty sky beyond the mouth of the alleyway.
Almost all my anger has drained out of me now, leaving me utterly exhausted and defeated; emotionally and physically. All the hate and fury I felt at the idea of having to share the only thing I truly love and put all my soul into with someone I bitterly loathe has leaked away, leaving me feeling raw and hurt and horribly, desolately alone and alienated.
I’ve got no energy left to feel anger, so a horrible, billowing, bleak depressive sadness chokes the battered remains of my insides, such a horrible feeling that makes me just want to curl up on the cold, grimy floor I’m sitting on and moulder away like the rubbish decomposing on the cracked floor under me, or let Danny catch me and pummel me endlessly, relentlessly, until I’m nothing but a vivid scarlet stain in a colourless city of endless greyness and depression.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been subjected to feeling so alone and lost in a world that doesn’t understand me. Usually, it’s easy enough to lock away and forget about and never let anyone else see, but my shock of rage has left my soul raw and vulnerable to the fractures and failings of my reality.
A million tiny jagged shards of lost soul and angst tainted existence, slowly fragmenting apart and shattering on the cold, unwelcoming floor.
I don’t know what to do. I can’t go home because it’s not really home anymore. I can’t go back to school because I can’t face my elder stepbrother’s empty eyes and smug smirk or Danny’s deadly fists.
And I can’t sit here forever, wishing I was rotting away like the mushy newspapers beside me.
I think, long and hard, trying to think of someone, anyone to turn to for help.
And then, for what feels like the first time in months, I do something I’d previously been too proud to do.
I call Ocean.
Twenty minutes later, I’m sitting at one of the window tables in the local Starbucks, waiting for Ocean and staring listlessly out at the rainy, darkening grey city stretching out in vast repulsion beyond the grimy glass of the window beside me.
It’s raining more heavily now; big, heavy bullets of grey that tumble from the sky and crash to the polluted streets relentlessly, as if they’re trying to wash away all the fractures and failings of a reality contaminated with murky pollution. The same bullets soaked unrelentingly through my already damp school uniform as I limped despondently from the shelter of the cold alleyway to the warmth of Starbucks where Ocean arranged to meet me.
I was so lost in my world that had just been smashed into desolate ruins that I hadn’t really considered anything else, like the fact that Ocean would almost certainly have been in lessons when I called her mobile from where I was slumped and shivering in the alley, broken and bruised and lost, unsure of what to do, who to turn to.
Ocean was in lessons; a physics one to be precise, but the second she heard my voice and the tremble of my words, not to mention my description of being chased by Danny and his posse, she barged her way straight out of the classroom, deaf to the teacher’s fury, saying she’d meet me in Starbucks in fifteen minutes, totally disregarding my protests.
So this is where I’ve been ever since, waiting for my wild haired, reckless best friend and watching the tears of the sky trickle down the glass of the window, ignoring the warm, bubbly chatter of the tables around me and focusing on a solitary droplet crying it’s way down the window, until it mingles with the grime at the bottom and is lost forever.
I sigh listlessly, ineffectively blocking all thought of the events of my abruptly shortened school day. Mikey, Gerard, Danny…I might have had a half day from hell, but it certainly wasn’t uneventful. Sometimes, I wonder what it’s like to have a normal life; one that isn’t torn apart by violence and jealousy and social status and lies.
Watching a particularly uncertain raindrop make its trembling way down the glass beside me, I suddenly feel an unexpected pang of sympathy as I remember Mikey; remembering the fear in his wide, hazel eyes so similar to the fear churning in the depths of my stomach. I hope to god he survives the rest of the day…it’s not easy being the new kid anywhere, let alone when you’re as shy and so obviously terrified as Mikey was.
My wispy train of thought is suddenly interrupted as someone flops down in the vacant seat opposite me and pokes me none too gently in the chest to get my attention.
I jump, eyes snapping up only to see the comfortingly familiar wild indigo hair and glitteringly emerald eyes of my fiendish best friend.
“Hey,” I mumble, looking ashamedly down at the slightly smeary tabletop.
“Frankie? What’s happened?” Ocean asks, unusually gentle as she eyes me with concern and takes off her beat up leather jacket and purple fingerless gloves, sweeping her slightly damp hair out of her eyes.
“Nothing,” I say automatically, and then wince as Ocean punches me none too gently on the arm.
“Don’t give me that bullshit, you fucker,” Ocean rolls her eyes exasperatedly. “Since when do you call me in the middle of school and sound like you’re having a mental breakdown? Actually, since when do you call me at all these days?” she adds as an afterthought.
“Um,” I mutter guiltily, not meeting her eyes and starting to pick at the fraying sleeve of my stained school shirt.
“Hey, I’m not mad at you, Frankiestein- I just want to know what’s wrong,” Ocean says, poking me softly on the hand. “You never tell me anything these days and I fucking worry about you, you know. I’m not actually all evil.”
“Sorry,” I mumble, ducking behind my hair.
Ocean looks like she wants to punch me again, and I recoil quickly before she can do so, eyes wide.
“Don’t be sorry, you idiot! Just tell me so as I can help,” She sighs, rolling up the sleeves of her regulation navy school shirt to reveal several hundred spiked and coloured assorted bracelets.
I open my mouth, unsure of where to begin. There’s just so much I don’t want to say that has to be said, and I don’t want to voice all the things I wish didn’t exist.
“Hold on, I’ll go and get us a coffee,” Ocean says, fishing out her skull purse and getting up. “Be right back- don’t go anywhere, Frankie. Oh, and well done escaping the clutches of the evil Danny,” She throws me a pleased grin and she’s sauntering over to the counter and joining the small queue, tapping her foot casually in time with the stupid pop song that’s playing softly in the background.
I sigh and look back out at the falling rain that’s like a thick blanket of grey tears across the city that’s choking in its own stagnant fumes.
I feel like I’m the one choking.
Choking in my own failings and feelings.
I sigh again and put my weary head down on the smooth surface of the table, closing my eyes on the world around me and focusing on the soft patter of rain against the window beside me and the background chatter surrounding me so as I don’t have to face my own thoughts.
All too soon, Ocean’s slipping back into the seat opposite me, balancing two steaming cups of coffee and smiling slightly, which is slightly scary. The last time she smiled, she was about to tell me that she beat some guy who asked her out with his own shoes. Steel toe cap shoes.
“Here you go,” She says, pushing one of the mugs across the table towards me.
“Thanks,” I manage a feeble smile, wrapping my cold hands round the warmth of the ceramic mug and inhaling the comforting smell of hot coffee which somehow, along with Ocean’s familiar jasmine perfume and cranberry shampoo, soothes the raw feeling inside me a little.
“You’re welcome,” She smiles, taking a sip from her own mug. “Now, tell me what’s up. Take your time and start from the beginning.”
She suddenly winces, a look of horror spreading across her face.
“What?” I ask, worried.
“I sound like my therapist,” Ocean says in horror, and I can’t help cracking a smile. A small, shaky smile, not unlike the one I smiled at break with Mikey today. A real smile that tickles the corners of my lips and thaws the horrible numbness inside me ever so slightly.
And suddenly, she’s just Ocean and I’m just Frank, and it’s just how it used to be. I don’t need to feel scared about telling her things; she’s my best friend and she always has been. She won’t judge or laugh or tell me I’m fucked up, because she is too, and that makes it a little easier.
“Okay,” I take a deep breath, wrapping my hands round my coffee mug tightly and looking away from the crowded café. “Well, as you know, Steve’s sons moved in at the weekend.”
“Yep,” Ocean nods, surprisingly silent, waiting for me to go on and chipping away at her lime green nail polish.
I feel my chest tighten thinking about it, but plough on determinedly. “Well…” I falter slightly.
“What are they called?” Ocean asks encouragingly, stirring her coffee and looking up at me across the table.
“Mikey and Gerard,” I say, feeling my teeth clenching at the latter name. “Mikey’s my age and Gerard’s a year older.”
“What are they like?” Ocean asks, taking another sip of her steaming coffee.
I shrug, taking a gulp of coffee and letting the hot liquid trickle slowly down my throat. “Mikey’s alright, I guess,” I manage.
“And Gerard?” Ocean raises her eyebrows.
“I fucking hate him,” I spit, slamming my coffee mug down on the table in front of me and making the tables surrounding us jump and look up.
“Sorry,” I mutter, shaking my hair defensively in front of my eyes and dropping my gaze to the tabletop.
“Quit apologising,” Ocean rolls her eyes. “Fuck what people think,” She glares pointedly at everyone looking at me, and they hastily recoil, going back to their coffees.
“So, why do you hate this Gerard guy?” Ocean carries on slightly more quietly, leaning across the table towards me, tucking a strand of electric blue hair behind her multiply pierced ear.
“He’s…He’s just…” I shake my head. “He’s smug and he seems determined to make my life hell. He makes fun of me and tricks me and invades my space. He likes all the stuff I do, and yet everyone at school loves him.” I’m spitting the words out like they’re poison staining my mouth.
“What a dick,” Ocean says brightly. “So why aren’t you in school, and why are you sitting here with me in Starbucks with, if you don’t mind me saying, one hell of a split lip.”
I put my hand up absent mindedly to my lip, and feel the swollen, puckered skin that’s inflamed with scarlet incrustation. I’m so used to things like this I’d completely forgotten about my fresh injuries in the rush of the last hour.
“Oh, that?” I shake my hair back across my face. “It’s not really to do with that, it’s unimportant. Danny and his gang. Okay,” I take another deep breath. “Well, you know how I have guitar lessons after school twice every week?”
Ocean nods, stirring her coffee again.
“Well, I had to go and put my name down to say that I’m continuing after the Christmas holidays, and guess who’s name is also down in my group?” I sigh, chest suddenly heavy as I force myself to think back to the list.
“Oh no,” Ocean says sympathetically, biting her lip and looking straight at me.
“Oh yes,” I sigh, taking a gulp of coffee in attempt to get rid of the horrible heavy sourness in my stomach.
“Not…” Ocean trails off, looking at me with her perceptive, violet-rimmed eyes that show I don’t need to voice the name for her to know.
“Yes. Gerard,” I say through gritted teeth, putting my coffee mug down slightly harder than I’d intended and wincing angrily as the action ruptures through my injured wrist.
“Oh.” Ocean bites her lip, surveying my clenched jaw and raw eyes sympathetically. “Well. That’s pretty fucking shit,” she finishes bluntly.
“I know,” I growl, clenching my fists to prevent me from breaking my coffee mug, despite the fact I feel too physically and emotionally wrecked to do anything more than sip from the mug, I don’t trust myself. “I don’t know what to do.”
“Hmmmm…” Ocean pauses from her coffee drinking, staring thoughtfully across the bustling café. “Kill him with your guitar?” She grins evilly.
“Seriously, Ocean,” I protest.
“Okay, okay,” Ocean sighs. “Well…you could always ask your teacher to switch groups?” she suggests finally.
“I could,” I agree, taking a gulp of my now lukewarm coffee. “But I’d still have to go to the first lesson.”
“And?” Ocean says, a slight edge in her voice.
“I don’t know if I could face it,” I admit, looking into my half empty mug and not meeting her steely eyes.
“Yes you could- show him you aren’t scared, Frankie. Don’t let him win,” Ocean says quietly, finishing her coffee.
“I don’t know….maybe I should just stop going,” I venture.
“What?!” Ocean yelps, making everyone nearby turn to stare at us once more. Ocean ignores their stares completely and just stares incredulously at me across the table with wide eyes and rain dampened hair.
I shrug, shaking my hair further across my battered face under the gaze of at least half Starbucks’ customers.
“Frankie!” Ocean cries incredulously. “You can’t just stop going! Guitar is like, your life- don’t let some smug fucker take away the thing you love most!”
I sigh and look away from the warm interior of the café, to the cold, bleak outside that’s slowly darkening beyond the rain spattered window separating me from the polluted world.
Christmas lights have started to light up across the congested city, but their shining colours and magic are marred by the stained smoke that seeps up from the crowded main road, touching everything on its way with tainted tentacles of reality.
Sighing again, I let my exhale mist up the glass and blur the marred magic of the dusky, slowly darkening world of drizzle beyond the warm bustle and clutter of the café.
“Frankie?” Ocean sounds uncertain, almost as if she isn’t sure who I am anymore. “You…you’re not going to give it up, are you?”
I look up into the violet-rimmed eyes of my reckless best friend and know I have to answer her honestly.
“I don’t know,” I mumble, looking back out at the clogged up street so as I don’t have to face her expression.
“Right, that’s it,” Ocean says, setting down her empty mug decisively. “Lets go.”
“We’re going to yours,” Ocean announces, pulling on her badge-adorned leather jacket and zombie scarf.
Sharp stabs of panic shoot through me at the thought.
“No,” I say, wide eyed. “I can’t face it right now, Ocean.”
“You’ll have to sometime,” She says, uncharacteristically gently, and I know that she’s right.
“I guess they won’t be there anyway,” I tell her, reluctantly getting to my feet as well. “It’s still school time.”
“No it’s not,” Ocean says, gesturing to the green clock behind the busy counter. “School ended half an hour ago.”
“But I can’t face them,” I repeat, panic reborn.
“Yes you can,” Ocean reassures me as I pull on my hoodie with trembling, bruised hands and follow her reluctantly to the door.
“Frankie, you escaped Danny. You can beat some smug gothic fucker,” Ocean says, smiling slightly as she propels me out of the door, into the cold, bleak, dusk where the December rain drills into us.
Yes, maybe I did escape Danny and his gang, but how did I do it?
I didn’t stand up for myself. I ran away, just the way I do with everything else.
How was it? Let me know? Your thoughts and support really is what keeps me writing. I’ll update BMD soon, but I actually kinda have writers block on that right now! D: Anyway, I hope you liked this- things are going to get interesting in the next chapter xD Rate? Review? I’ll update soon if you do :P Thanks for reading! Love you guys :D
[*p.s Hope it wasn’t rushed- like I said, my stupid parents are about to kick me off the computer and I’m kinda pushed for time- grrrr! D;