In the morning I dress slowly so I don’t aggravate the new injuries on my body. I do my make-up, a foundation that hides the worst of the bruising and some red eye liner that makes me look angry. Looking at my clock I see it’s half nine. Good. School starts at quarter to nine. I
unlock my bedroom door and go downstairs. I put my usual routine into practice and walk past the kitchen door and slam the front door. I don’t eat breakfast. Or lunch, but my mother doesn’t know that. She thinks I use the ten dollars she gives me every day to buy hot food, but I save it for things like concert tickets and comic books and stuff. If she knew I didn’t eat lunch she would make me take a packed lunch. That would cause more teasing, or worse, I could put on weight. And I really didn’t need that. I already hate my appearance. I don’t need to be any fatter.
I wander the familiar route to school through polluted streets filled with homeless people, prostitutes and the self-righteous well-off people who ignore everyone of lower stature than themselves. At ten I look up to the sight of my school. How fun. At least it’s second class; it started fifteen minutes ago, so by the time I get my books and stuff it’ll be ten past and there’ll only be thirty-five minutes left, then break.
Second class today is music. I realise I forgot Pansy. Shit. When I get to the classroom, Gerard is sitting in the seat beside mine. Mine is the only empty one in the class, and I hurry to take it. The teacher notices my lack of guitar and is over at the desk so quickly I don’t get a chance to even greet Gerard.
“Where’s your guitar Frank?” He asks, sounding bored and monotonous.
“I forgot her- it. I forgot it in the car.” I say. He doesn’t seem impressed.
“Well you can explain to me why you weren’t in my class yesterday so.” He says, still bored.
“I was in the hospital.”
“Oh really, you were, were you?” He says, his tone really disbelieving.
“Yes sir, I was. I don’t know if you can see through your cheap glasses, but my nose is in fact broken.” I stand up and raise my Anthrax tee-shirt. “And these bandages, sir, are there to repair my broken ribs. Is that a good enough explanation?” I say angrily. The majority of the class is staring at me now but I. Don’t. Care.
He seems taken aback, not sure whether to pity me, or reprimand me for cheek. He decides four broken ribs, yes four, and a nose are suffering enough.
“O-oh. Okay then. Have your guitar tomorrow if you can play, if not I want a note from your mother.”
“Yes Sir.” I say, knowing he doesn’t appreciate the implications I lay on the word ‘sir’, but he gives up, exasperated. I sit down.
“Well Gerard, how was your first day at Hell Hole High?” I enquire.
He looks at my face, my bruises, and I can see the guilt in his eyes.
“I’m so sorry man, I should have stayed, I should have helped, if I did-“
I cut him off.
“No. If you stayed then you would be just as pretty looking as me today.” I roll my eyes. “1. I told you to go. 2. You’re the new kid; you don’t need to have those asses on your case. 3. I didn’t exactly discourage them, did I now? I should be the one apologising; I left you alone in a new school.”
He looks into my eyes after my little outburst, and I can’t help but notice how very pretty and hazel they are. He doesn’t say anything to me about my rant, though I can tell he wants to.
“I wasn’t alone,” he says instead, “I sat with my brother, Mikey.”
“Mikey Way... sounds like the chocolate bar!” I say smiling. I’m relieved when he smiles too.
“Yeah... don’t let him hear you say that though, he knows karate.”
“So how old is he?” I ask. “Wait, how old are you? I’m fourteen” It’s so easy talking to Gerard that I forgot I know nothing about him other than a name.
“Well, Mikey is fifteen and in our year. I kinda stayed back a year so I’m sixteen. And a bit.” He says, looking a little embarrassed.
“They wanted me to stay back. My mom refused to let them make me.” I say, and it’s true... the year I was eleven, still healing the sadness in me and creating my protective shell, the one that kept me hidden enough from the world that most people didn’t pay any attention to me anymore.
The teacher throws us a look that says ‘I hope that’s coursework you’re talking about.’
“So, we do theory on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we write pieces to perform for practical’s at the end of the year and sometimes the teacher gives us an after school time slot and listens to what we’ve done so far. You said you play guitar?” I say to him loudly, and she looks away.
“Yeah, but I won’t be playing it for the practical, I’ll be singing.” He says. He plays guitar, draws AND sings? He must have been popular at his last school... if he had attended.
“Cool, you ever get lessons?” I ask, curious.
“Erm, no not really... I played Peter Pan in a school play in my last school... and after the play I kinda stopped going,” He says, an easy smile on his face, his eyes somewhere a long time ago, presumably remembering green tights and merry men and what not.
“Well it’s an achievement of some sort.” I say.
“Yeah, everyone wants to put ‘I wore tights in front of a hundred people’ on their C.V.” He jokes. I can’t help myself; I smile, even though my gut is telling me to scream.
“So tell me about yourself. This class isn’t getting any more interesting and there’s still forty minutes left,” he says, his eyes hiding something as he throws the smile again. My stomach twists; in apprehension or at his smile I don’t know.
“No. You don’t want to know about me.” I whisper.
“I do! We’re friends, right? Friends should know things about each other!” He says cajolingly.
“No man, talk about you.”
“I already told you some stuff, your turn!” he whines jokingly, but I can’t take it as a joke.
“PISS OFF AND SHUT UP!” I yell. The class is deathly quiet. The teacher seems to have smoke blowing out his ears. I know I have. I get up and grab my bag and leave. I’m outside, on the path to the football field, when I realize someone is following me. I look around to see... Gerard. I slow down for him; I feel bad for blowing up at him.
When he’s level with me I start walking again. I lead him to the bleachers. We sit.
“I’m sorry,” We both say at the same time.
“No, I’m sorry, I kept at you. It’s just, well, my past isn’t a happy one. I’m rather ashamed of it...” He sighs.
“Mine isn’t either... we both can say that much.” I tell him.
“Do you want... do you want to hear about my past?” He whispers, and I can see he’s relieved to say those words.
“Okay.” I reply.
“My father left when Mikey and I were kids. I don’t remember him much. He never paid any child
payment or whatever to my mom. She sometimes found it hard to make ends meet. We lived in one of the rougher neighbourhoods of Jersey. I didn’t attend school a lot. I was always picked on and beaten and stuff, and so when I started finding my mom’s stash of vodka and stuff, I started helping myself. Not long after I started doing drugs and the bullying got worse. I started lashing out, and turning up to school drunk. I got suspended and in the end expelled, so my mom went bat shit crazy and got me sober, along with Mikey’s help, and got me clean and stuff. This dump is meant to be a fresh start, a clean slate.”
Some parts of our stories are similar.
“Do you want to hear my story?” I say. His nod is almost imperceptible.
“Well I was always a good enough kid. A bit too loud for the teachers, but never in trouble. I always had loads of friends. When I was ten I came home to find my dad was gone. He had left a note to my mom, and disappeared. He said in the note that he couldn’t put up with me anymore, that I was always in hospital from bronchitis or a chest infection, and he was sick of being tied down and stuff. My mom didn’t tell me, but I found the note. She started to withdraw from me. She blamed me. Now she doesn’t; now she’s guilty. We didn’t eat together or anything. I used my lunch money to save for Pansy, my guitar, and began to isolate myself from my friends more and more. By the time I was eleven they were all picking on me. I got my plug piercings, my lip ring and nose ring, I even got a tattoo. My mom doesn’t know about it. When I got to high school things got worse. I was bullied too. I came home limping and bleeding and shit. Mom never noticed. When she did, I told her I had fallen, or gotten too into my guitar and fell or something. She believed it. When I was twelve my dad showed up. He wanted to start taking me out on the weekends. He...he took me places for a few weeks, but then he started bringing me back to his house. He would be drunk, He lived in a tip. When he was drunk, he used to... do things... to me. Eventually I stood up to him, and told him to fuck off and never come back or I would call the cops and tell my mom. He never called again. The night I last saw him I climbed onto my windowsill and jumped, but I only broke my foot. I told my mom I was sneaking out to a concert. She believed me. Now I’m still bullied. Nothing new. I’ve learned to be late or early to school to avoid the crowds.” I finish, and look in his eyes. I can see sadness, horror, anger, all these emotions and something else. What I can’t see is pity, and I’m grateful.
“What’s the worst they’ve ever done? The bullies?” He says quietly, and I don’t have to think.
“They stuffed me in a locker and didn’t let me out til the morning. Sometimes my dad used to put me in the cupboard and lock it. I don’t like small spaces. What about you?”
“Umm one day they set me on fire in science... that was pretty bad... they also wrote a lot of stuff about me everywhere. Everyone called me fag boy cause I’m bi.”
“I get that shit too. People are so unaccepting.” I say.
Suddenly the bell goes. I really don’t want to go to class.
“Want to come to my place? My mom won’t notice, she’s drunk.” I say, and I know it’s true. She’s always drunk. Or just sober enough to notice my bruises. I’m not sure which I like more.
“Sure” Gerard says, and I don’t know why but there’s butterflies in my stomach at the prospect of a day with the new, older kid in town.
A/N: So I was bowling today... we broke the alley :’) And then I was feeling sad for a while... but then we broke the alley again... anyways, the point of this rambling is it gave me an idea for the next chapter :D We may be seeing some Frerard yet!