I scuttled after him, shadowing his footsteps as we marched down the sullen, grubby hallways. Heads bowed, eyes down. Nothing new here then.
“Don’t waste your breath, Emma,” Gerard ushered me as we were bustled into a precariously empty corridor.
“They’re not worth it,”
“Shut the fuck up now, you emo twat - I have a fucking knife and I know how to use it. It’s something your wrists are used to, no doubt. Knives,” The jock holding me threatened snidely as we were shoved towards an old, peeling door that read ‘Janitor’s Closet’ in black lettering.
I bubbled with rage at that comment about knives. Some people were so fucking stereotypical and judgemental.
I couldn’t even… I just wanted to scream. I just wanted to scream and kick and protest until I was blue in the face.
After an inward argument of the annoying voices in my head, I decided that I should hold my tongue, sighing as I shook my bright red hair in front of my face some more and focused on the smeary white walls that lined the corridor we were being roughly jostled down.
In my head.
Yeah. I’m so fucking normal.
I seriously doubted that these jocks would pull a knife on us, especially on school campus where there were nosy CCTV cameras lining the grimy halls, but I did as Gerard had suggested and shut my mouth.
“I’m terrified,” Gerard muttered under his breath, showing that we were thinking along the same wavelength as the peeling wooden door in front of us was roughly wrenched open by another ugly-looking jock that had been swaggering along behind us.
Gerard was shoved roughly into the darkened room with a guttural grunt from the jock that had been holding him, and he fell forcefully to the concrete floor with a loud thud that echoed ominously in the room.
“You’re just fucking twats that get a sick thrill out of making mine and my friend’s lives a living hell,” Gerard spat from his place on the floor, writhing about slightly and wincing in pain. He must have hurt himself when he fell.
“Just do us all a favour and fuck off, okay?”
“Shut up, faggot,” one of the stocky jocks sneered from behind me, striding forward cockily and sending a harsh kick to Gerard’s gut.
I was shoved into the darkened room as well as Gerard groaned in agony, clutching at his band-shirt adorned chest desperately as I landed flat on my scar-riddled face with a spectacular crunch.
Through the pain of my nose cracking, I managed to feel proud of my big brother. His little speech was definitely something to be proud of, no matter how short or feeble it was.
“Twats!” I hissed as the door was locked via the outside of the Janitors Closet and I heard the jocks running away, laughing stupidly as they went.
There was no keyhole or lock to pick from this side of the door, so I guessed that we just had to wait to be let out by someone outside of the room. It was too dark to see in the room at the moment anyway, let alone enough light to be able to pick a fucking lock.
“Gee, are you alright?” An unfamiliar, hesitant voice asked from the darkness tentatively, footsteps thudding ominously towards me and Gerard as I picked myself up off of the dusty cement floor and shook my fringe in front of my eyes.
“Oh, who’ve you brought with you?”
“I’m fine, Frankie,” Gerard sighed in light annoyance to the figure that was stood before us, getting to his feet as well and dusting himself off with a frown.
“This is my little sister, Emma,”
As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I managed to make out the outline of the petite figure that stood before me and Gerard.
The figure was definitely on the short side - around 5’3 - and had messily arranged hair that stuck up at odd angles. In the weak light, he looked as if he had been dragged to hell by his ear, left there for a while, then dragged back through a mentally disturbed, insanely spikey hedge.
Maybe he had been.
The boy was pulling the sleeves of his hoodie down over his hands, slipping his thumbs through the holes that had probably been cut there purposely. He shuffled about on his feet as he took in the information Gerard had given him, shaking his hair out of his eyes as I shook mine in front of my face again.
Unconsciously, I pulled my thumbs through the holes in my black hoodie too. I was wary of the criss-cross of scars that ran across the pale skin, and certainly didn’t want to scare of a possible friend by letting them show.
People just didn’t understand.
“I didn’t know you had a sister, Gee” The boy eventually said to Gerard, stepping closer to us as my eyes adjusted some more.
“Nor did we until a few weeks back,” Answered a semi-familiar voice from behind the boy.
“Mikey?” Gerard asked disbelievingly, surprise saturating his voice as he shook his head in dismay. Our little brother walked into view, a small limp obvious in his unconfident, shaky stride. His light footsteps echoed through the small, cramped room like a weak heartbeat.
“Yep. They got me before I could find Suke. She should be here to get us out in a minute… like always,” Mikey answered with a sigh, shoving his hand into his pocket and fishing around a bit.
The minute, glowing light from the little display screen on Mikey’s phone was reflected in his geeky glasses and illuminated his shy, slender face, casting odd shadows across his pale features as he fumbled around with it hastily. He appeared to be somewhat disgruntled, what with the frown that sat stubbornly upon his chapped lips and the way his warm hazel eyes had lost their usual gleam, his eyebrows knitted together over them in either concentration or annoyance, I couldn’t be sure.
“This has to stop,” Gerard muttered in exasperation, breaking me out of my thoughts slowly as I heard the feint sound of the peeling door behind me being fumbled around with.
After a short period of time, I slowly became more and more aware of the steady trickle of warm, rusty smelling liquid that was making its way sluggishly down my bruised face, sprouting from my cracked nose and burst lip.
“Shit,” I mumbled under my breath, trying to staunch the crimson red flow with the sleeve of my hoodie.
I wasn’t too great with blood. Not something you’d expect someone like me to say, I suppose, but it was true. I was pretty damn squeamish too, which was simply fan-fucking-tastic.
“What’s up?” Gerard asked, yet again breaking me from my rambling thoughts. My eyes had finally adjusted to the dim light and I could just about make out 3 pairs of hazel eyes staring at me in confusion.
“’m bleeding,” I mumbled tersely back around my hoodie sleeve, trying to ignore the rusty smell of blood that was most certainly invading my nostrils at that moment. You’d think I would be used to it by now, the smell of my own blood, but no.
Life simply seemed to hate me in that way.
Maybe karma wasn’t in my favour after all.
“Likewise,” Gerard sighed as the grimy door swung open with an audible creak, flooding the little room with a yellow, artificial glow.
I’d all but forgotten about someone fumbling around with it earlier.
“Suke to the fucking rescue,” I heard a warm, sarcastic voice chuckle from the doorway. The voice was definitely American, but hinted at New Zealand and possibly even English roots.
“Thank fucking god,” Mikey sighed from somewhere beside me, stumbling his way to the door and encasing the girl that stood there in a bone-crushing embrace.
Now that he was in the light, I could clearly see the crimson blood that was slowly seeping its way through Mikey’s dark skinny jeans and dripping down his slim leg. There was also a small pool of scarlet forming around his right foot, soaking into his scruffy black converse and no doubt staining the grubby, scuffed up lino too.
“Jesus, Mikes. What did they do to you?” Gerard breathed in disbelief as I shied away from the crimson liquid into my saturated hoodie sleeve, wincing against the metallic smell of my own blood again before shaking my hair into my eyes some more. He had obviously seen the blood as well.
“Got shoved in and landed on something sharp,” Mikey mumbled evasively, looking down at his bleeding leg warily and tightening his arms around the girl. He pretended not to care, but I could see the unmistakable pain in his bespectacled, hazel eyes.
“C’mon, Mikey. I’m cleaning you up. We’re skipping, okay?” The girl sighed warily, pulling back from Mikey and lacing her dainty hand through his. “Gee, Frank, tell- oh. Who’s this?” The girl questioned politely, gesturing to me fluidly with her free hand.
“The Way brothers apparently have a long-lost sister,” Frank explained, his voice sounding as if he was smiling as Gerard was left gaping into thin air like a fish out of water, the words he was about to utter no longer needed.
“Sweet,” She grinned, fixing her chocolate-brown eyes on my awkward figure and flicking me a friendly wave. “I’m Suke,”
“uhm… h-hi..?” I stuttered, taken aback by the girl’s obvious confidence and friendliness. She appeared to be everything I had ever aspired to be, but failed to become.
She was slightly shorter than Frank, and about a head shorter than Mikey, measuring her up to about 5’2. Her body was thin and curved in all the right places, her black skinnies and deep grey Anthrax hoodie hugging her slender figure perfectly.
Her cherry red, knee-high converse contrasted brightly against her dark jeans, but fitted perfectly with the electric-blue streaks that ran through her poker-straight, just-below-the-shoulder length, jet black hair.
Her face was fairly pale, a silver Monroe piercing glinting up at me cheekily in the fluorescent light of the hallway from above her upturned, blood red lips.
“See anything you like, sugar?” She asked cheekily, peeling herself off of Mikey and giving me a little twirl.
“I- uh… I’m sorry,” I mumbled, my cheeks burning bright red in the dim light that had flooded the room Gerard, Frank and I were still stood in.
“No problem at all, honey. Sweet accent, by the way,” Suke chirruped perkily to me, bouncing on the spot and lacing her hand through Mikey’s once again as she beckoned us out of the cramped room with her free hand. I simply nodded my thanks, which was probably not seen, but still.
“I’d just advise you to get the hell out of there and clean yourselves up around now. The bell for registration goes in 10. See you in home room, yeah?”
“Sure thing - later Suke. See ya, Mikes,” Gerard agreed, waving to the couple as he stepped into the grubby hallway, Frank following closely behind him. “C’mon Emma, let’s get you cleaned up,”
I simply nodded, stepping out into the hallway and shaking my hair like a protective screen in front of my eyes, internally hiding from the day that was most certainly looming ahead, like a monster waiting to pounce upon its prey.
I was some pretty pathetic prey, if I was honest.
I pressed my sleeve closer to my face as I realised Frank staring at me, looking me over like I had done to Suke just a few moments ago.
I hid further behind my fringe; inwardly worrying to myself about stupid things as Gerard began striding in the direction of what I supposed was the closest bathroom, pinching the bridge of his heavily-bleeding nose. I scuttled after him, shadowing his footsteps as we marched down the sullen, grubby hallways. Heads bowed, eyes down.
Nothing new here then.
“C’mon, Emma. You’ve gotta clean your face up!” Gerard whined to me for about the thousandth time, holding a wetted tissue out to me earnestly. I just shook my head at him once again, keeping my face tilted downwards.
I refused to let anyone see what lay behind the flaming red fringe that acted as my potential barrier between myself and the broken, corrupted world. Nobody had ever seen what lay behind it, and I intended to keep it that way.
Family that I didn’t know existed a few days prior to today was no exception to this rule.
“Would you clean your face up if we left you to do it alone?” Frank asked gently from beside my place atop the row of sinks in the disused, mixed-gender bathroom.
I considered it briefly before nodding gently once. If they weren’t watching, they wouldn’t be able to see my pale, bruised, scar-riddled face. They wouldn’t be able to see the failure that I had become.
“If you’d wait outside for me, then I guess,” I mumbled quietly, shooting Frank a look of thanks as Gerard exhaled quietly, in either annoyance or gratitude - I couldn’t be sure, wiping his blood-free nose once more before discarding of the wetted tissue and trailing out of the small bathroom, leaning on the door nonchalantly as he waited for Frank.
Frank simply nodded at me once, hopping down from the sink and checking his reflection in the grimy, cracked mirror before hitching his faded black, safety pin-adorned bag over his shoulder, looking into my eyes steadily.
It unnerved me, his deep hazel eyes boring into my own, seeking out some kind of secret that I wouldn’t let him in on. His gaze was so intense… I swear could almost hear his thoughts, but they were too far away for me to make out what they were saying…
I shuffled uneasily on the spot as he began to speak; his words hanging densely in the suddenly thick air around me as he slouched out of the grimy room, Gerard in tow.
“I have no idea what you’re hiding, and I have no idea if I ever will, but trust me on this one. You won’t be hiding it forever,”
I hope that was alright! Sorry about the insanely long wait .______.