"You end up as some freak that hides in bathrooms and speaks to spiders." Read, review, rate and feel my love! :P
I click the lock into place, my fingerless-glove-covered-hand pressing gently against the flimsy door to ensure it’s stability, and clamber up to be sat atop the water tank of my toilet like a cherub perched restlessly on it’s cloud, just waiting for something interesting to happen. I guess it is “my” toilet, it’s the one that I come to every break and lunchtime at school; in fact, I’m pretty sure that nobody else has ever even had the chance to use it in the three years that I’ve been stuck in the snake-pit of Belleville High.
But that’s alright; it just makes my cubicle all the more special. Because it’s the one thing that everyone can relate back to me, something that I can say is mine.
Yeah, because having a cubicle in the boy’s bathroom at school is so something to proud of. You deserve a medal, Frankie-boy.
It’s fucking pathetic, isn’t it? That I spend more time in the school toilets than everyone else spends trying to avoid them. I don’t even have a halfway decent excuse for skulking in here like a vampire in it’s cosily gloomy crypt; it’s not like I’m shy or bullied or even openly disliked at all, I just can’t stand hanging out with the other kids here. This may sound a little pretentious, but I just haven’t found anyone out there who’s interesting enough for me; to make me feel like I matter in a world where nothing that isn’t something can be important. Of course there are people I talk to in class, people who are generally walking stereotypes waiting to be told what to do next with their lives, beyond that though, I have nobody. And as much as I’d like to say that it’s not my fault, I know full well that it is.
Besides, it’s not like anyone would actually like me if I tried to like them. They’d probably do what my last friend did; figure out that I offset their calculations and therefore simply cannot exist in a world where everything is numerically ordered, in a world where everything has to be like a jigsaw and everyone has to just be a smaller part of the bigger picture. Whereas I just want to be my own little picture, to not have to align with anyone else because that would make me, well, it would make me not be me at all. Not really, anyway. And being me is all that I have left. My parents are always telling me to try harder, pushing me onwards with the cattle-prods of their tongues and, once upon a time, I may have actually tried to please them; in fact, I know that I did. That’s why I learnt the guitar, because I thought that it would finally make them proud of me, but apparently knowing pretty much every Green Day, Misfits and Nirvana song off by heart isn’t something worth anything. So I just gave up, wound up as the reject who rejected society.
I think, in all fairness, that I’m giving myself an unfair representation; I do care, really I do. If I see someone getting hurt, I go over to help them when no-one else will; when I hear someone crying I always try to cheer them up with my bouncy, or obnoxious depending on who you ask, personality; when I see someone struggling I always try my hardest to help. It’s just being a decent human being really, but nobody ever does the same back. Ever. Because it’s human nature to expect help but never expect to be the one having to give it. I guess that’s another reason as to my blatant lack of friends; my realism.
I see people for who they truly are and, to be perfectly honest, I hate them. Not everyone of course, just the general idea of people. People are so hypocritical; they always want to receive things that they’d never give, and I just can’t stand it. So I just keep to myself, smiling at people who smile at me and replying to people who ask me questions but never actually making any friends; I’m too strange for that. Like I said before, if anyone ever got to know me than I doubt that they’d want to be my friend anyway; I’m just some emo-loser with a self-centred view on the universe who wears girl’s eyeliner and does everything that everyone tells him not to do.
Yeah, great friend material.
So I just come here instead, to my cubicle. It’s a place where I can just think about things; about what song to learn next on my beautiful weapon of peace-destructing awesomeness, about what record I should save up for next, about what will happen to me if my parents break up.
Apart from that last one; I don’t think about that. Not ever. Not here at least, not where someone might see the red smears that those thoughts paint onto my pale cheeks.
I reach into my rucksack and pull out my Skittles sandwich, yet another reason why I eat my lunch in here through fear of being judged, and crunch thoughtfully down on those bright pellets of pure sugar; each mouthful erupting into the stagnant silence of the deserted restroom like a firework into the dull night. It’s not always deserted, sometimes I’ll even hear two guys going at it in the cubicle next to mine, but today it is and that’s just how I like it. It makes it feel like I’m the only person in this frosty world, like I can be whoever I want to be because there’s no-one else to tell me to be anyone different.
I gulp down the last mouthful of my meal, which my mother refers to as a “heart-attack between bread”, and reposition myself on the solid structure of the water tank, swinging my legs up to be nestled securely into my chest as though my body’s longing for the human contact that it probably will never have. My eyes dart to the top left corner of the cubicle, searching out the one friend that I do have; Fred the Spider.
I used to be terrified of those eight-legged onyxes, but then I realised that they’re just like me; alone, misunderstood and ignored for the most part. When I first saw Fred’s web hanging there, like beautiful wedding-dress lace glinting in the glaring light of the restroom overhead lighting, I very nearly tore it down in disgust that my biggest fear had infected my only refuge. But then I saw him, so small and insignificant, just trying to survive in a world way too big for one spider to handle; just like me. Sometimes I even speak to Fred, when there are too many thoughts spiralling into a whirlwind in my head for me to keep them all inside. He never replies, of course he fucking doesn’t, but then again, nobody ever does.
The creeping hands of my watch pronounce the time to be five to one, twenty minutes until the end of lunch bell goes. Great. Twenty minutes of my vindictively honest thoughts pecking away at what’s left of my black little soul.
Wow. That sounded emo.
Apparently that’s what I am; an emo. I like to think that I’m more of a punk that an emo, but obviously wearing skinny jeans and donning the personality that I do makes me an emo. Which, by default, means that I must cut myself. I don’t, not anymore, but I bet if you asked the school they’d either respond with a “who the fuck is Frank Iero” or a “yeah, kid’s an emo, of course he’s a cutter”. Thus only adding to my hatred of society; a society that constantly churns out stereotypes and slaps them straight onto the foreheads of people that they just can’t explain away.
Eighteen minutes till the bell. I wonder if time passes quicker when you have a friend to talk to? Or if not, if it just makes the minutes more bearable?
The sound of the door to the cubicle directly to my left slamming shut with all the force of a machinegun bullet impacting soft skin shoots me straight from my thoughts. Looks like I can’t even think to myself anymore. It was a really loud slam though, the kind that I often find myself doing after my parents have had a particularly nasty go at me for things that I don’t understand nor want to. Maybe the kid’s upset; if he is, what should I do?
I know that I’ve just gone on about how much I hate people, but I’m one of those rare few that actually gives a damn when someone’s suffering. I just can’t stand the thought of someone going through the same things as I am; nobody deserves to feel as alone as I do. No; I’m probably overreacting, people slam doors all of the time.
But not like that, not like he wanted to be the one getting slammed.
Hang on. Is that… God, the poor kid’s sniffling. As in there’s some boy less than a meter away from me, crying to himself and nobody has even followed him into the restroom to see if he’s alright. See what I mean now? People, to quote Slipknot, equals shit.
“Fucking idiot, why can’t you just be better? Why can’t you just die?” A hate-broken and misery-clogged voice calls out into the awkward lack of noise, his sniffles turning into sobs as the steady beat of my heart turns into an erratic pounding of sympathy; I’ve never heard someone like him before, someone so genuine in their self-loathing that they make it sound like they truly believe it.
The worst part is that he didn’t even say that for the attention; as far as he knows he’s the only person here, all alone against his anguish. Well, he isn’t. Not whilst I’m here anyway and, if he’s the sort of person that the honest tone in his voice makes me think that he just might be, not ever. There’s something to his voice, a kind of naïve quality to his husky tone, that’s just making me ache to help him, he just sounds so weak; so undeserving of the words he has just directed to himself.
“Hey, um, you alright?” I call out to him, not even thinking before I open my mouth. As per usual. “You okay in there, Kid?” I try my hardest to make my voice more calm and gentle than pitying, but I can’t help the sympathy that floods my tone where equality should be.
Immediately his sobs stop and I hear him gasp frantically, trying to cover his tracks through an obvious fear of being laughed at for crying. Because that’s what people do. But I’m not “people”, I’m Frank Iero; someone who isn’t leaving this restroom until I know that the kid is alright, it’s the only decent thing to do. Anyhow, he already seems different from the others, just by the way that he’s not begging for attention and is quite clearly a sweet kid. How can I tell that he’s sweet? He doesn’t want any attention and he’s trying to blame whatever someone else has said to him on himself; he’s just too sweet to want to blame or bring anyone else down. And that in itself is enough to make my heart ache for the obviously innocent boy.
“I know you’re in there, I’m not gonna judge you, Buddy.” Buddy? “I just wanna help you, I’m not gonna laugh or hurt you or anything.” My words get more and more desperate as my plea carries on; I have to get this kid to talk to me. I don’t know why, but everything about him and everything within me tells me that I have to help him; that he might just be that interesting person I’ve been waiting for. “I know what it’s like to hide in bathrooms, I do it all of the time.” I hear a soft chuckle at this, the kind that makes me grin a little bit myself because of it’s sheer cuteness, and that just makes me all the more determined to hear his voice again. “I’m Frank Iero, you can call me Frankie.”
I leave a gap in my speech for him to reply with his own name, or maybe just a simple greeting, but the silence of the restroom just swirls between my ears and dances tauntingly with my hope, leaving me with nothing but the still air and the occasional drip of the faulty tap that hasn’t worked properly since last March. My soul sinks a little at his lack of cooperation, but I just can’t bring myself to resent the boy for it; he’s not doing it to be difficult, he’s doing it because he’s afraid.
I guess I’ll just have to make him unafraid then, won’t I?
“I don’t know why you’re crying, hell, I don’t even know your name, but I do know that I want to help you.” As I say my words I catapult myself gracefully from my perch, knowing that I have to be there when the boy with the captivatingly sorrow-stained voice emerges from his hiding place. Which I will make him do. “I used to be like you, used to run into bathrooms whenever I got sad. I just stay in them now, prefer isolation to people. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I get it, I get why you’re hiding.” I swing my rucksack over my back, listening intently for any sound coming from the adjacent cubicle. Nothing; just sniffles. Sniffles that break my heart with their utter innocence and empty loneliness. “If it’s about something someone’s said to you, then I guess I should say don’t listen to them.” I wince as he lets out a cry, a cry that tells me all I need to know; this is a result of one nasty word too many. Or maybe one nasty word enough to make me find my interesting person. “I should say that they’re just words, but I won’t because I’m not a liar. Kid, you know that saying about sticks and stones?”
I carefully unclick the lock, the first time I have ever done so without the bell beckoning me, and step out onto the linoleum alleyway of the boys’ restroom, my eyes training immediately onto the door that’s hiding my new friend. Because I think that’s what I want him to be; he seems to be the sort of person that I want to hang around with, someone who understands what it’s like to be alone and who doesn’t act like the world owes them a favour. Besides, it sounds like he could really use a friend right now and, like I’ve said several times before, I’m all up for helping people. Especially boys with voices like ripped velvet.
“Y-yeah.” He stutters shyly back, his voice shaken but determined; like he’s actually scared of replying to me, to the first person to offer him help in what has obviously been a long time.
“It’s bullshit. Wounds heal, words don’t. Not unless you learn to forget them, but that takes a hell of a lot more than going to the nurse with a black-eye. Because words hurt on the inside, where nobody can kiss it better. And the more you get hurt, the deeper it goes. So please, Kid, let me help you before it’s too late and you end up as some freak that hides in bathrooms and speaks to spiders.” I blink back some of my own tears at the sincerity driving my words; these are the exact sort of things that I wish someone would have said to me before I did wind up as the aforementioned freak.
Everything stops, other than my heartbeat which increases sevenfold, as I hear him blow his nose softly and then stand up, taking shakily unsure baby-steps towards the door.
“Let me help you.”
As if by magic, the door opens and out steps the boy; a tall, lanky, slip of a boy with adorable glasses framing the artwork of his eyes. Eyes that have been stained red with the pain of being hurt in a way an uncountable number of times more painful than any physical agony, eyes that are regarding me nervously as though I, the punk (not emo) kid who’s just spent the past ten minutes trying to get him to feel better, will hit him or tease him or any of the things that I’d never do to anyone, let alone to a porcelain-skinned angel wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt.
“It’s alright, Buddy, I’m not gonna hurt you. I’m your friend, okay?” I give him the first genuine smile that I have given anyone other than Fred the Spider for an excruciatingly long time, and then I do something that I have never done before; I reach out a tentative hand and, doing it ever so slowly so as not to frighten the poor kid, catch one of his tears on my thumb, refusing to let another one of his diamonds of anguish shatter on the bathroom floor. “See?”
Before I know it, I have a chest full of sobbing boy; the poor kid driven into my arms by an insatiably uncontrollable need to be comforted by the closest thing to him that doesn’t pose any sort of threat.
The last person to try to hug me was this girl two years back, she was trying to prove something to her giggling gaggle of girlfriends and my response had been to push her away from me as quickly as possible due to my lack of desire for physical contact. This nameless wonder, however, seems to be forcing my arms around him like a frightened toddler clutching a teddy in a storm because I honestly don’t want to let him go; not when I can help and certainly not now that he hasn’t told me straight to my face that nobody in their right mind would want me to be their friend. Because he’s different, because he’s the sort of person I all but gave up hope on ever finding.
I just hold him, letting the perfect stranger cry into me as though we’re closer than any set of best friends that I’ve ever seen, and stroke his back, letting him know that he’s not alone. Not alone in either physical terms nor in the way that he feels. Because I’ve felt exactly the same way, I just never had someone to help me through it. Which is exactly why I’m going to help him through this. It’s what friends do.
“Sorry, Frankie.” He mutters up at me, smashing my soul to smithereens with how desperately remorseful he sounds.
He shouldn’t feel bad about accepting my help; if anything I should be thanking him for letting me in. But that just makes me like him and his adorable mannerisms all the more. I think that this could be the start of something special. Of a great friendship.
“Don’t be, Buddy. It’s what friends are for, right?” I smile down at him, his own watery grin turning up my smile to megawatts. “So, Kid, you gonna tell me your name?”
He nods into me, tears no longer blotching over his eyes and his frown replaced by the single most stunning smile ever to stop my heart.
“I’m Mikey. Mikey Way.”
“Pleasure to meet you, Mikey. Mikey Way.”
A/N: Thank you very much for reading, I hope that this was alright! I gave myself the prompt “cubicles”, which birthed this tedious ramble. Anyways, thanks for reading and please let me know what you think! :)
P.S. I am kinda thinking about making this a two-shot, anyone have anything they'd like to see?