'I catch, then and there, the first, tiny little glimpse of something that might just be honest in those empty eyes...'
Exhaustion has overwhelmed me, skeleton and soul as I trudge despondently through the fine, misty drizzle of endlessly grey streets, wending my weary way home in the murky indigo city dusk with a sour stomach of dread.
I’m completely and utterly drained of all energy; my weary feet ache dully with every reluctant step I slouch through the grimy puddles of fallen, tainted tears soaking icily through the worn fabric of my grubby converse; the fraying black strap of my shabby schoolbag is cutting deeply into my stinging shoulder blade with the tedious weight of a gluttonous world I despise so much; and my eyes are raw and gritty from the bleak tiredness that washes over me along with the thin, bitter mist of seeping, grey rain mingling with the murky car fumes that scratch and sting at my bloodshot eyes.
Ocean is trudging along beside me, a ghostly streak of rain-soaked indigo hair, battered rainbow black leather and spiked attitude in the sheer vastness of the colourless, brainwashed city trundling along beside us in a fug of dull gloom and tainted tyres whimpering along the grimy road, casting a shadow of contaminated reality over the whole, slowly darkening city.
My battered body is protesting feebly with every grudging step I take down yet another seemingly unending, deadened street of shattered dreams trudged into the slick, damp, chewing gum speckled tarmac beneath my aching feet, washed away into the grime filled gutters by the frail rain, and left to moulder and decay amongst the cigarette butts and crushed beer cans.
Sometimes, I think that just maybe, if I lived in somewhere sunny; somewhere with leafy green trees and the earthy smell of freedom, unpolluted by the fumes of a breaking generation, I might be a different person altogether.
Because sometimes I think it’s the fault of the thick, grey sky, never seeming to cease crying salty tears of depression over the dying city below. Tears that mingle with the murky smoke and fug and endless sighs, all of them slowly seeping into you, zombifing you into just another pallid, feeble ghost of the corrupted streets, drifting listlessly through the infected, dirty mist in defeated silence.
And sometimes I think it’s just me, and that no matter where I was in the world, I’d still be haunted by this empty, hollowness and bitter angst I’ve come to be so used to day after day after day, it’s hard to remember or imagine an existence without it.
I must have let out a heavy sigh into the icy dusk, because Ocean tucks her fierce arm through my shivering one and squeezes in silent sympathy, dragging me from my numbing thoughts of exhaustion and dimly reminding me of her support.
The darkness of my thoughts lightens the tiniest inch of a fraction; dull and heavy grey like the dusky clouds above us, rather than jet black like the ebony emptiness that smothers the skies at midnight.
“C’mon Frankie,” She sighs as we pass under yet another greasy, dulled yellow pool of artificial streetlight and turn, at long last, onto the slightly more secluded and less traffic teeming street that leads to my house.
My injured skeleton protests dully with every step I take down the damp, darkening, suburban street; my bruised ribs contort painfully with each sullen limp I grudge and my burst lip throbs painfully in the needles of grey ice shivering down from the overcast clouds lamenting limply over our heads.
It suddenly feels as through my best friend’s skinny arm is the only thing keeping me upright in the slowly thickening rain; I can feel every spiked wristband and beaded bracelet of rainbow recklessness under her dripping leather jacket, and the dim familiarity of them soothes me slightly, reminding me that although I might be a fucked up mess, I’ve got someone who cares, even if she doesn’t always understand completely.
She’s always there for me when I need her most.
The dusk is dense and potent and indigo grey, hanging thickly over the flickering, dim light of the rusting streetlamps lining the shivering street as we near the house that no longer feels like mine.
Shards of sneering dread suddenly shatter through my deadened system at the thought of returning home, but I’m too devoid of energy after the events of the day to protest to Ocean and try and avoid returning to my invasive stepbrothers. I haven’t even got enough energy to feel the raw, pulsing anger I did earlier as my thoughts drifts past my elder stepbrother and I think of his empty smirk and black leather…and the fact his sceptical, disenchanted presence is going to contaminate the only thing I love.
All I want to do is curl up into a tiny shell and dream away the nightmare that’s drilling into me with icy talons and soured emotions, congealing inside me in the misty dusk. I’m too tired to be anything but scowling and sarcastic and bitter.
“Hey, cheer up, Frankiestein,” Ocean nudges me gently with her elbow, pulling me along the icy street faster. “Nearly there. I’ll make you a hot chocolate when we get back, yeah?”
“Fanfuckingtastic,” I mutter sarcastically before I can stop myself, shaking my damp hair across my bruised face in rain-drenched tangles of chestnut, scowling at the frowning cracks dividing the grimy pavement before me.
“Jeez, there’s no need to be so overjoyed about it,” Ocean snaps, her voice dripping with sarcastic venom and she wrenches her arm none-too gently from mine, leaving me to walk alone.
I sigh, feeling guilty. “Sorry. I didn’t mean it like that,” I mumble, stomach dropping uncomfortably as the gate to my house looms closer and closer.
“Forget it,” Ocean says grumpily, but she tucks her arm back through mine and pulls me close, feeling me shaking as we reach the paint-peeling gate to my house, pausing momentarily in the dribbling rain and darkening dusk.
The walk back seemed to take forever, but now we’re here, it’s suddenly all too soon, and little shards of panic stab through the numbing exhaustion inside of me.
“Chill out, Frankie,” Ocean rolls her eyes, shaking back her damp indigo hair as she feels me tense anxiously beside her. She pushes open the ivy incrusted gate and marches decisively down the overgrown path, hauling me along beside her, deaf to my silent protests.
“Key,” Ocean demands as we reach the rain spattered front door and come to a halt, both of us shivering in the greying indigo dusk that curls around us.
I sigh, but realising I have no option, and certainly not having the energy to argue with Ocean, I grudgingly fish for the keys in my pocket with shivering hands, red and raw in their fraying fingerless gloves.
“C’mon!” Ocean says exasperatedly, tapping her foot up and down on the step impatiently, shivering violently in the December dusk, until I finally drag out the little bunch of keys and slap them down into her awaiting hand, turning back towards the grizzly grey dusk and glowering cloud lurking grumpily overhead as she fumbles with the lock, stomach clenched, teeth gritted, chest scrunched up in little knots of panic.
I suddenly notice that the driveway is empty, which is kind of weird; it must be nearly half past five by now, and Steve is always home by five at the latest. It also suddenly occurs to me that the kitchen window is darkened and unwelcoming, which almost certainly means that Mom too isn’t here; she’s always at home when I get back from school, bustling about making dinner in the warm glow of the pine kitchen.
I’m about to comment on this when Ocean bangs open the front door, grabs the back of my sopping hoodie and hauls me across the threshold, into the darkened, green-carpeted hall, dripping rainwater everywhere.
The second she slams the door shut behind us on the icy sky that’s being drained slowly of light, leaving it bleaker and greyer than ever, the now sickeningly familiar scents of cigarettes, cinnamon and carelessness hit me like a slap, my stomach churning in disgust.
I wonder when I’ll get used to it and face up to the reality, instead of almost being able to half kid myself it’s just another nightmare I’ll wake up from to a world I smile in.
Then again, I’ve been half kidding myself that for years.
And I haven’t woken up yet.
I sigh heavily, slumping sullenly against the cream patterned wall beside me as Ocean flicks on the soft, golden light of the hall and pulls her soaking jacket off, chucking it onto the coat rack beside me and running a raw hand through her damp, wild blue hair.
She looks at me and rolls her eyes that glimmer impatiently in the soft hall light; green and rimmed with smudged violet.
“Get your hoodie off before you actually freeze to death, and then go sit in the living room, okay?” Ocean commands firmly, but there’s a hint of sympathy in her fierceness as she peels my rain drenched hoodie off my shivering body. A very tiny hint, but a hint all the same.
I always know things have got bad for me when Ocean is visibly sympathetic.
“Leave off!” I snap irritably, humiliated at my feebleness, batting her away and shaking my damp fringe crossly in front of my injuries, despite it’s only me and Ocean here. I don’t feel like even letting her see them right now, even though I know she wouldn’t care or judge me.
“Okay, Okay!” Ocean rolls her eyes. “Jeez. Look, fuck off into the living room and I’ll make the hot chocolate.”
“I don’t need any fucking sympathy,” I growl irritably, raking a hand through my tangled hair and kicking my soaked, muddy converse off angrily.
Ocean raises a perfectly plucked eyebrow at me. “I said hot chocolate, Frankie. And last time I checked, that’s not sympathy.”
Before I can retort snappily, she’s chucked her buckled biker boots off and padded through to the homely, pine kitchen in her ghost socks, leaving me alone in the half darkened hallway with an irritable mind and aching feet.
Sighing in defeat, I tug on my old Green Day hoodie that’s hanging on the coat rack, and stomp through into the warmth of the living room where orange flames are flickering and dancing in the crackling fireplace, hoping to god that seeing as Mom and Steve aren’t here that Gerard and Mikey aren’t back either.
I mean, if Gerard and I were left alone in the house, there would be a very high possibility it would end with funeral.
I let out a soft, shuddery sigh at the familiar spicy smell of joss sticks and burning wood that mingles in the comforting air of the homely, plush-carpeted, high-ceilinged room, trying very hard to ignore the tiny hint of smug cinnamon and cigarettes lingering in the air.
Hopefully, I can pretend for a little while longer.
I’ve just flung myself down into the squashy red sofa and closed my gritty eyes when a small, soft cough drifts uncertainly across the room from the window seat over by the fireplace, and my stomach clenches uncomfortably.
My eyes flicker open and I peer out cautiously from behind my tangled tendrils of rain drenched chestnut hair to see a familiar, skinny, mousy-haired figure hunched up on the window seat, eyeing me apprehensively with wide hazel eyes half-hidden behind a pair of geeky glasses.
A sharp pang of guilt suddenly splinters through me as I realise I ditched him earlier; he had to survive the horrors of lunch break and afternoon lessons all on his own. I picture him, mousy and trembling, all alone in the churning sea of uncaring students, and feel absolutely horrible. And that’s saying something as I really didn’t think I could have felt much worse right now, after today, which, even by my standards, has been shit.
“Frank?” Mikey says uncertainly, shifting slightly as I blink and sit up properly. In the kitchen, I can hear Ocean clattering about with mugs and spoons and hear the familiar hiss of the kettle boiling.
“Um…hi,” I mutter, shaking my hair hurriedly across my face.
“Is Gerard with you?” Mikey whispers, his eyes wide and fearful as he disregards my greeting completely,
My teeth clench angrily just hearing the name.
“Why would Gerard be with me?” I spit venomously, kicking the coffee table in front of me and making Mikey jump at my irrational venting of hatred.
There’s an awkward silence for a second, broken faintly by Ocean’s distant singing of, unless I’m very much mistaken, Be Your Dog by The Stooges as she potters about the kitchen she knows so well it might as well be her second home.
Actually make that first home; she hardly spends any time at her actual home because she hates all the pressure her parents put on her and the lack of freedom she has there. She says it makes her feel trapped, so if she’s not skiving school, she’s usually here, at the park, or at one of the houses of one of her ever changing line of reckless friends. I’m the only friend she seems to have stuck with.
Mikey’s eyes are filled with undiluted panic, glistening with unshed fear in the soft flickering light of the fire that illuminates the darkened room and almost seems to dull the endless rain battering at the window pane.
The anger drains out of me almost as quickly as it erupted, only to be replaced with dragging, heavy shame at my unjustified outburst.
“Sorry,” I mumble, hiding my embarrassment behind my damp hair.
Mikey disregards this too, continuing to stare out at the little tears of rain trickling down the dark glass beside him and nibbling anxiously at his lower lip.
“Um…how was your day?” I ask tentatively after a few moments, feeling intensely awkward as I gnaw away at the already bitten down nails of my left hand.
“Gerard’s missing,” Mikey bursts out, turning to face me with those wide, scared hazel eyes and trembling lower lip.
“Missing?” I frown, looking up in confusion.
“No one knows where he is…he didn’t come back from school,” Mikey whispers, glancing back out at the darkening world.
Before I can respond, Ocean comes into the room balancing two mugs of hot chocolate and still humming. She jumps as she sees Mikey, hot chocolate dribbling down the side of the spotty pink and blue mug.
“Oh, um, hi Ocean,” I mutter, taking one of the mugs from her grasp and feeling more awkward. “Uh…this is Mikey,” I stutter, taking a sip of the drink to try and break the tension, consequently burning my tongue.
“Hi,” Ocean says, eyes narrowed, and her tone not exactly what I’d describe as warm.
The silence is getting more and more awkward with each tick of the mantelpiece clock that echoes across the tense quiet of the room. I take another anxious gulp of my hot chocolate and choke as the front door bursts open, shattering the silence suddenly.
“Fucking hell,” Ocean jumps, spilling more hot chocolate as Steve blunders into the room from the icy dusk in a rain-drenched blue cagoule and a worried expression, totally ignoring Ocean and me, and looking straight at Mikey, who’s tensed worriedly at his father’s abrupt entrance.
“Is he back?” Steve pants, pulling the hood of his waterproof down and looking straight at Mikey with his grey eyes.
Mikey’s face falls horribly. “No,” he mumbles. “I’m guessing you didn’t find him?” he bites his lip, face falling.
Steve’s blanches. “No, we didn’t…we went to the school and they said he’d left at the same time as everyone else. Frank’s Mom’s looking round the parks for him- I wanted to come back and check if he’d arrived.” Steve looks incredibly worried; his usual neutral face is contorting into lines of desperation as he turns and spots me.
“Frank, have you seen Gerard anywhere?” He breathes, unzipping his soaking coat and raking a shaking hand through his sandy coloured hair, looking intently at me.
I shake my hair nervously across my face, not wanting him to see the truth etched so viciously across my skin.
“Frank?!” Steve repeats frantically, eyes desperate.
“Why would I have?” I snap, taking another scalding gulp of hot chocolate to try and drown my prickling anger and discomfort with the warm sweetness, but it only curdles in my stomach, leaving me with a soured aftertaste.
“Frank, I know he hasn’t exactly been polite to you so far, but this is really important- PLEASE tell me you’ve seen him somewhere. This is not the time to bear a grudge,” Steve pleads. I’m starting to feel slightly unnerved; I’ve never seen Steve so stressed- it’s usually me or Mom causing drama in the house; he’s the calm one, neutralising every acidic situation or just provoking it further with his lack of reaction.
“I haven’t seen him anywhere,” I scowl from under my tangled hair. “Sorry,” I add as I see Steve’s face fall and Mikey bites his lip so hard a little bubble of scarlet blood appears, although he doesn’t seem to notice; he looks far to caught up in a nightmare of thoughts.
“Oh god,” Steve sinks down onto the sofa beside me, showering me in little icy droplets of rain as he puts his head in his hands.
There’s a very awkward silence, during which Mikey looks like he’s about to burst into tears, and I want very much to slip off upstairs and escape from the horrible, nagging silence that’s slithering, serpent-like, across the room. I’m bad at the easiest social situations, let alone a freaky one like this, which I think would faze just about anyone.
“Uh…would you like a hot chocolate?” Ocean breaks the horrible silence with her usual blunt attitude.
Steve looks up as if he’s only just noticed my wild haired, recklessly colourful best friend with the ghost socks. He looks blankly at the proffered steaming mug for a moment, but then smiles a little shakily and accepts it with trembly hands.
“Thank you,” he says slightly hoarsely.
“You’re welcome,” Ocean says brightly.
There’s another silence as Steve gulps from the mug, but it’s not so scary this time- more just normally uncomfortable.
Suddenly, there’s the sound of keys in the front door, and both Steve and Mikey leap up expectantly, Steve spilling a large portion of the hot chocolate over the sofa as footsteps sound in the hallway.
Seconds later, Mom’s face pops round the door and both Mikey and Steve visibly sag in disappointment.
“I couldn’t find him anywhere, sorry,” Mom bites her lip worriedly as she too comes into the living room and pulls off her trench coat, slinging it over the arm of the sofa and patting her husband reassuringly on the shoulder.
“Oh fuck,” Steve sounds like he’s choking.
I’m starting to feel seriously unnerved; Steve never loses control or swears or anything like that. In fact, his lack of his emotion is frequently infuriating. But now, seeing pure, undiluted emotion flooding through my stepfather, I realise I much prefer him his usual calm, neutral self. This is ever so slightly scary.
“Don’t worry, Mikey,” Mom tries for a reassuring smile at Mikey while soothingly stroking Steve’s shoulder, although I can see the worry in her honey brown eyes too. “He’ll turn up soon…he can’t have gone far.”
Mikey nods wordlessly, blinking rapidly as if he’s trying not to cry as it looks like Steve’s doing.
I glance fleetingly at Ocean, who’s looking totally freaked out and is slowly edging towards the door, nibbling at her snakebites. She’s not so great with stuff like this either. I jump up to follow her, not wanting to be left alone with a hysterical Steve, a frantic Mom and an almost wailing stepbrother.
“Frank, you haven’t seen Gerard, have you?” Mom turns to look at me, eyes serious as she sinks down into my vacated seat beside Steve and wraps an arm round him.
I shake my head wordlessly.
“I’ve got to go out and look again,” Steve stammers, trying to get up, but Mom pulls him back down firmly.
“Steve, honey, there’s no point in searching any more just now. I think we should have a nice, warming dinner and just wait for him to show up. If he doesn’t, we can go out again later, but there’s no point in going again now. You’ll only get drenched in this rain and even more panicked,” Mom says sensibly, and Steve nods grudgingly in defeat.
“Frank, you and Ocean go upstairs with Mikey, okay?” Mom says firmly. “Listen to music or something, yeah?”
Seeing I don’t really have any option, and also feeling a surprising amount of sympathy for the quivering, skinny teenager by the window, I nod. Maybe it’s because I can see the same, writhing fear in his eyes I feel every day, and I know just how horrible it is to live in fear.
Uncertainly, Mikey slips off the window seat and follows Ocean and I shakily out into the half darkened hall, up the pine staircase to the dimly lit landing and the haven of my room where we can escape the drilling needles of reality and Steve’s frantic eyes.
“This CD is shit,” Ocean remarks carelessly from where she’s lounging upside-down on my unmade bed in the soft glow of my fairy lights, chipping away her lime green nail polish and gazing up at my giant poster of Billie Joe Armstrong on the purple wall above my desk.
It’s at least an hour later; the street outside is totally dark now, and the soft smell of Mom’s cooking is slowly drifting up the stairs. I’m feeling slightly better after finishing the mug of hot chocolate, but I’m obviously alone in the slight recovering of emotion; Ocean is clearly bored out of her skull, and Mikey’s eyes are slowly drowning in anxious anticipation with each bullet of black rain he watches roll down the windowpane.
I roll my eyes at her tactlessness; I’d deliberately let Mikey pick the CD, hoping listening to his favourite music might calm him slightly. However, apparently Ocean doesn’t like Smashing Pumpkins, and isn’t afraid to voice her opinion. I guess tact has never really been her strong point; on her eighth birthday, I got her some fairy hair slides, and she cried and threw them in the paddling pool, not, however, before stabbing me with them. She’s always been charming like that.
Over on my window seat, I see Mikey tense and nibble more frantically at his lip as his eyes rake the street below, searching and searching for the thing that isn’t there, walking the pouring rain in black leather and dishevelled hair.
“Shut up, Ocean,” I say bluntly, shooting her a pointed look and turning to Mikey, wondering how the actual fuck to distract him from Gerard’s absence.
I can’t say I’m distraught about it, but Mikey obviously is- not to mention Steve- therefore, despite my loathing for the guy, I seriously hope Gerard’s okay and returns here in one piece. I never thought I’d say that about him, but hey, I’m usually wrong about…well, just about everything, actually.
Ocean chucks the CD case at my head.
“Oww!” I say crossly, chucking it back at her and hurriedly shaking my fringe back across my injured face from where the CD case knocked it askew.
She sighs heavily and drops it on the floor, staring back up at Billie Joe with dreamy eyes. “Can’t we go out and do something?” She sighs heavily, starting to flick little pieces of blue tack at the CD player. “I’m dying of boredom!”
“We have to wait in until Gerard comes back, you fucktard,” I growl, snatching the blue tack away from her. I’m not any more thrilled about the situation than she is, but I’m not going to ditch Mikey twice in one day, especially on one as shitty as this and when he’s so obviously vulnerable.
“Why?” Ocean asks tactlessly.
I roll my eyes heavily and don’t respond.
Ocean rolls her eyes in a similar fashion at my lack of response and turns over on her belly to face Mikey’s hunched form on the window seat.
“Oi, Mickey!” She calls, chucking the CD case at him.
“It’s Mikey,” I hiss angrily, lunging out and deflecting the thrown CD just before Mikey turns round to face us with his fearful hazel eyes and trembling hands. His hunched posture, bitten down nails and jiggling, fidgety legs just scream the silent fear I know possesses him.
“Y-yeah?” He stammers, half hiding behind his straightened mousy fringe and looking terrified. I don’t blame him.
With her multiple face piercings, vivid hair, multi-coloured attire and blunt, fearless attitude, Ocean doesn’t always make the best first impression. Or any impression, actually. But hey, I guess that’s why I love her.
“What’s the big deal with this Gerard guy being like, a couple hours late home?” Ocean rolls her eyes tactlessly, chipping away more of her remaining nail paint that shines dully in the soft glow of my darkly purple, cluttered room.
I look up at Mikey too, suddenly curious; I mean, loads of people might take a slight detour on their way home from school. I’m frequently an hour or so late from being brutally battered into the sidewalk outside school or because I’ve spent what feels like hours since the final ring of the harsh bell trying to find a way to get down from the goalposts where I’ve been marooned.
And even though my parents really should be worried due to the reasons I’m late, because they’re totally clueless to what goes on in my life, they don’t give a flying fuck what time I get home. Apart from that one time I didn’t get home until seven the next morning; I’d been locked into one of the school lockers, yelling and screaming for hours until my voice was hoarse and ragged and I couldn’t shout any more. Luckily, the janitor must have heard me when he opened up the school the following morning, and let me out.
It’s safe to say that Steve and Mom were beyond worried that time, but I just told them I’d spent the night at Ocean’s. What else would I have said? I wasn’t going to tell the truth. Neither was I going to tell them that was the source of my claustrophobia.
I drag myself from my darkly reminiscent thoughts that are starting to make my stomach churn uncomfortably, and turn my attention to my mousy haired stepbrother sitting across on the window seat.
He bites his lip worriedly, ducking his head and breaking our curious stares as he jiggles his skinny leg up and down faster still.
“It’s a long story,” he mumbles almost so quietly it’s impossible to hear him with the incessant bullets of grey rain battering against my window.
Knowing that whenever I don’t want to discuss something, I tell people it’s ‘a long story’, I drop it immediately and look away, trying to dredge up some other conversation starter to distract Mikey until Gerard returns. That is, assuming he does.
Ocean, however, doesn’t take the fucking hint and just drop it.
“Well, we’ve got plenty of time, thanks to being stuck here,” She replies tactlessly, fishing for something in her hoodie pocket while I groan inwardly at her bluntness and wish that just, for once, she could think before she speaks.
“Ocean!” I hiss angrily, shoving her.
She shoves me back a lot harder, and I overbalance, smashing into the load of CD cases, old Kerrang! magazines and sweet wrappers littering the floor.
“Um,” Mikey looks seriously uncomfortable by this point, his hazel eyes shimmering with painful reminiscence in the soft light of the golden fairy lights strung round the dark room.
Ocean looks questioningly at him with those steely emerald eyes of hers, and I almost visibly see Mikey recoil in fear.
“Uh…Gerard’s been through a lot of…shitty….uh…stuff,” Mikey mumbles, not meeting our eyes. “Like, last year. Before we moved here…He…he was…really badly bul- I can’t…” he trails off, blinking rapidly and hastily turning his back on us, looking back out over the sullen city and falling tears of rain like the ones he’s so self-conscious to shed.
I’m appalled. Ocean opens her mouth, but before she can start spouting more tactless shit, I stumble up, shove her so hard she falls off the bed with an indignant squeal and a soft thump, and I go over to the window seat to tentatively sit down beside Mikey, who’s still got his back to us.
“Thanks a lot, Frankie!” Ocean growls from the floor, swiping her mussed up indigo hair out of her emerald eyes and scowling at me. I scowl back equally sourly and gesture pointedly to the silent, trembling boy beside me on the window seat.
A look of realisation spreads over Ocean’s face and she bites her lip. “Oh. Um, yeah…I’ll just go downstairs and get us some…um…”
“Cookies?” I suggest, although I’m not the slightest bit hungry; my stomach’s writhing too much to want to eat, and the thought of the rich, sweetness of Mom’s choc chip cookies makes me feel queasy.
However, Ocean nods and tactfully removes herself from the room.
As soon as my bedroom door clicks shut behind her, I get a tiny little spasm of panic and wish I hadn’t let her leave; I still feel incredibly inept in any social situations, especially one as delicate as this with someone as clearly scared as Mikey.
I mean, I’m not exactly the most calming, sensitive person in the world.
“Um…are you okay?” I mumble tentatively into the silence that’s broken only by the soft notes floating from my stereo and the pattering of black raindrops on my darkened window.
Mikey nods, sniffing furiously and not turning to face me.
“I’m...uh…I’m sure he’ll be okay, you know,” I lie wildly, totally unsure of what to do or say.
Mikey does turn round this time, and gives me a small, watery little smile in the dull light, his eyes red and bloodshot behind the lenses of his well-polished geeky glasses.
“Thanks,” he says quietly. “Even though I know that’s total bullshit and you just made it up to make me feel better.”
I blink, but Mikey just smiles again, lips trembling slightly, and turns back to the crying, gloomy grey city and slowly unfurling dusk that’s creeping across the polluted world with thick, ebony tendrils.
I’m about to say something else equally stupid, but before I can get the words from my mouth, the front door downstairs bangs loudly and Mikey jumps to his feet, eyes wide and expectant.
We both hesitate for a moment, listening, ears craning in the silence, and then the sound of loud, slightly wild and uncontrolled giggling echoes up the stairs.
Something flashes across Mikey’s face and he flees from my room in a shot, just a skinny, mousy blur of adrenaline and anxiety. I follow him, stumbling out onto the landing and down the stairs, where I collide with Mikey’s frozen body halfway down, gripping to the banister with white knuckles.
I look down to the hallway before us over Mikey’s skinny, trembling shoulders and tufty mousy hair.
The door’s hanging open on its hinges, letting in the icy dusk from the outside world, icy indigo rain spattering the carpet to where the hall table’s been knocked askew; someone in rain-drenched black leather is leaning unsteadily against it in a vaguely haphazard manner, sniggering stupidly from under his sopping wet, dishevelled, messy raven hair.
The putrid, soured stench of alcohol smothers the air.
“Gerard?” Steve’s come rushing out of the kitchen, eyes wide and hopeful, Mom at his side. Both their faces cloud as they see his intoxicated form sliding and slipping and squeaking on the wood of the hall table as those high, slightly scary giggles bubble from his lips like blood.
Ocean’s standing awkwardly in the doorway, biting her lip, and beside me, Mikey’s torn off half of the nail on his thumb without even noticing; his hazel eyes are fixed resolutely on the unruly form of his older brother, unable to drag his gaze away, almost as if he’s watching a gothic train wreck stumbling to its erratic death.
“Gerard?” Steve says more uncertainly, worry tainting his quavering voice.
His elder son finally looks up, sopping ebony hair plastered to his ghostly face, smoky black eyeliner smudged and running down his face like blackened tears, lily-white hands shaking on his grip of the table as he stumbles for balance, and suddenly the hiccupy giggles cease, leaving the hall horribly silent, almost as if everyone’s holding their breath.
Gerard’s greeny hazel gaze sweeps the staring pairs of eyes around him from beneath his tangled hair, and his slightly wild, detached black-rimmed eyes linger for a second on me, and that’s when I see something wavering behind his tangles of drenched, gothic hair; something shocks through me like rancid electricity.
For the first time, it’s like that careful film of careless arrogance has been peeled away from those emerald swirled orbs, leaving them raw and defenceless, all their secrets revealed to the harshness of reality.
It might all be smothered and choked in the potent tentacles of alcoholic poison and intoxication induced raucousness, but I catch, then and there, the first, tiny little glimpse of something that might just be honest in those empty eyes, beyond that careful emerald film of smug carelessness.
It’s something real.
It’s something living and breathing and writhing and seething, something raw and hating.
It’s something hurting.
Hope that was okay and it wasn’t too long…I did enjoy writing it, but I don’t know if that means it’s any good! …things are starting to happen now- sorry it’s a bit slow, but I want the characters to develop to fit what’s going to happen ect. So…yeah…what did you think? Please R&R, it’s what keeps me motivated- I really love knowing what you guys think! Thanks so much for reading…love you all for being such amazing readers (: