'Everyone has a shell; it’s human, it’s safe. But it starts to get dangerous when you become the shell, and forget who once breathed inside...'
Oh, and if you have the time, please check out my other story, Translations of Blood? If you dropped a review, it would honestly make my day, 'cause the reviews seem to be dwindling at the moment..I hope people are still liking it. http://www.ficwad.com/story/185813
Chapter Twenty Two
I spend the rest of the damp, bitterly cold Saturday alone, hidden away from the world in the safe, silent sanctuary of my room. It’s pouring mercilessly outside, and the soulful, moping lyrics of The Smiths oozes gently from my stereo system as I huddle up vulnerably on the edge of my unmade bed, rocking back and forth and staring bleakly out a the grey winter rain scouring the windowpane. My legs are going dead, but I still hug my knees as close as I can to my cowering body- almost if by doing so, I’ll block out the horrible, tugging, raw numbness that grazes my chest in anguish.
After seeing Gerard, after hearing Gerard, I didn’t even attempt going back to the park or letting Mikey and Ocean know I was okay. I didn’t want to do anything but cower away from everything- including myself.
I didn’t go back to the park because I’m too confused. I didn’t face Ocean or Mikey or the truth because I’m too ashamed. And I didn’t confront Gerard because, quite honestly, I’m too scared.
So I’ve sat here, alone, my bedroom door staying slammed shut since I stormed through it a couple hours back, seconds after witnessing my enigmatic stepbrother doing exactly the same thing. Since then, all I’ve done is sit here and watch the nostalgic grey rain dribbling soullessly down the glass of my window and trying not to remember. Gerard must have been doing the exact same, because nothing but soft, tangled quiet has ebbed down the landing to my ears; no dull bass of rock music or intermittent blink of footsteps pacing the floors. And no singing.
No destructively beautiful, anguished, heart-skinning singing that could tear your soul in two and then stitch it back together; battered, but enlightened; stronger and braver and redder with new blood.
I’ve listened to a whole load of singers in my life, but never, never, have I heard something that even halfway compares to what I heard of Gerard’s It was amazing- so raw, so bleak, so purely, heart-breakingly honest; as if, in singing, he wasn’t just making music, he needed it. Needed it to breathe.
Just like I need my guitar.
I suddenly remember Mikey telling me that ‘You and Gerard really are a lot alike’. It’s only now that it strikes me that there was actually far more truth in Mikey’s words than I thought. Cold goose bumps of realization gush down my back as I start to piece the theory together in my mind, lots of tiny, mismatched shards of glass to make a stained glass window of honesty. I’ve only just scraped the very surface of the elder Way brother’s psyche, but now that I think truthfully about it, already I can begin to see just how true Mikey’s words were. There are things that Gerard and I share, strong, deeply-rooted things that no one would want to share.
We both live in fear. We both mistrust everyone. We both lie about the truth. And we’re both sitting in indecisive, mangled silence in our solitary spaces, listening to the rain because it’s the only thing that washes out the tears we’re too proud to cry.
Just two beings, sitting alone with scarred souls like pieces of hacked-about meat, sharing so much and so little- with nothing but two closed doors blocking the way back home.
I let out a shuddery sigh that doesn’t quite expel as much as I wanted it to, and pull my thoughts reluctantly away from Gerard, instead turning towards the window to dolefully rest my chin on my knees as I gaze emptily out at the persistent winter rain. It’s getting dark now; a hopeless, dreary charcoal twilight is invading the murky, incessant rainfall of the day, cloudy tendrils of darkness infiltrating the bitter, cold city. My room’s bathed in the soft, golden glow of my bedside lamp, making the world howling outside the windowpane look even more formidable; so cold; so dark- and with more than mere twilight. It looks almost as raw as I feel; a skinned, blood-oozing sky that throbs and stings from the salty greyness trying to wash the wounds away like shame.
Before I can let my thoughts drift back to things I wish I didn’t think, there’s a gentle knock on my bedroom door and my heart leaps wildly as I whirl round expectantly, pulse suddenly hammering hopefully at my skeleton.
“Who is it?” I call out. My voice trembles a little, but I ignore it, heart still plummeting while the ground-up gristle of rain spits at the window.
In response, the door swings open and my heart sinks to the congealed, murky-green depths of the marsh rotting at the bottom of my soul. A pin-neat grey suit and shirt, accompanied by a boring navy tie and equally boring, washed out face. Steve.
I turn back round to face the window, the great, gaping hollow where my heart was gouged out moments ago aching dully. “Oh,” I mutter, resting my chin on my knees and letting out another shuddery sigh that seems to wrack my whole fragile body.
“Hi,” Steve says slightly awkwardly, and I feel the bed behind me dip as he sits down on it. I inch away, closer to the edge, not wanting him to see me without my angry shell. I try and summon it up, but it’s drowning in all this salty confusion I don’t know what to do with.
“So,” Steve says when I don’t respond to his greeting. “I just wanted to say that your Mom and I are back- we thought you were out with Ocean and Mikey. Is…is everything okay, Frank?”
I hesitate, and then nod in defeat, my scraggly hair falling limply in my eyes. I don’t even bother brushing them away. It’s just easier to nod and agree so everyone can move on and forget.
“Are you sure?” Steve asks worriedly. “You seem awfully…down.”
“I’m fine, Steve,” I say blankly, watching the way the gutter outside my window gushes out the clear rain like an urban waterfall.
Steve doesn’t seem convinced. Then again, he’s probably just wondering why I’m not yelling and screaming and punching things; after all, that’s what I usually do- especially when I feel all churned up inside like this- I want to destroy everything, because it’s destroyed me. But today, it’s just too much. There’s too much to be angry at- so instead, I’m angry without the anger; I’m lost and small and alone. An insignificant speck of dust in someone else’s coffin.
I’m just vulnerable, sitting here, limp and alone in this washed-out city of washed-out lives, watching the shadows the golden glow of my bedside lamp causes and letting all the thoughts unfold as they please. They all cascade through my thoughts like a taboo of purity, and for once in my life, I let them consume me. What else have I got now, anyway?
“Frank?” Steve’s kind voice breaks through my mushy thought, dragging me from dusty-bottled memories of stroking raven split-end hair and murmuring all my secrets into the night to someone I thought I hated.
“What?” I sigh, not turning round.
“Look, we’re going to sort all this out,” Steve says quietly, patting me awkwardly on the back. It makes my spine prickle vaguely with annoyance, but I can’t be bothered reacting.
“Sort what out?” I ask tonelessly. The rain’s getting harder to see now, in the dark.
“You and Gerard,” Steve replies and my heart stumbles a beat.
“What?” I blink.
“Well, this really can’t continue,” Steve says, sounding guilty. “I mean, you didn’t even want my sons to come and live here in the first place, and now, well, the way Gerard treats you just isn’t right. For instance, last night at dinner- It was completely out of order! He might be my son, but you’re as good as and I can’t have him treating you like that. And it’s clearly making you unhappy. I can’t let him be responsible for that.”
For a moment, I just sit there, stunned. Graciousness at Steve’s unexpected kindness prickles at my throat suddenly, and I swallow furiously, feeling stupid. I also feel oddly touched that Steve cares. I suppose I’m usually too angry to notice when people care.
It’s easier to be angry. Anger doesn’t make your eyes prickle and your throat choke. Anger swallows everything else up so it’s all you feel.
“It’s…” I manage eventually, voice rusty. “It’s fine, Steve. Thanks and everything, but honestly, I’m not bothered.”
That’s sort of a lie, but in all honesty, I’d completely forgotten about how Gerard treated me last night at dinner. All I can think of is the Gerard curled up in my hoodie last night, tears glittering on his chalky cheeks. I think of his quavering, spidery fingers threaded fiercely through mine.
I swallow again.
“But Frank, it’s not right- you have enough to contend with,” Steve points out gingerly, and I know he’s referring to my scars. He might not know the full truth of them, but he’s seen them- and that’s enough. My gut clenches uncomfortably at the thought of Monday morning School. “We’re going to sort this out, okay?” He sounds sort of exhausted when he says that. “I promise.”
“You don’t need to, honestly,” I mumble through the lump in my throat.
“Of course we do!” Steve exclaims. “Frank, your Mom’s worried about you. I’m worried about you. Yes, it must be difficult for Gerard right now, but that’s no reason for him to treat you like this, okay? I’ll have a discussion about it at dinner.”
“Please don’t,” I mumble, choking slightly on the words.
“It’s for the sake of the family, Frank,” Steve says as a way of closing the conversation. I feel the mattress shift as he gets up. “You and Gerard need to at least be civil to one another, and I think we need to nip this in the bud. I mean,” Steve’s voice is gentle now, “Look at you, Frankie.” He touches my shoulder briefly before crossing the room back towards the door.
I want to call after him and tell him I don’t matter and he doesn’t understand Gerard at all; can’t he see that all Gerard’s arrogance and attitude is just a protective shell? I have a shell too. Everyone has a shell; Gerard’s is of arrogance, Mikey’s is of shyness, Ocean’s is of confidence, mine is of anger. Everyone has a shell; it’s human, it’s safe. But it starts to get dangerous when you become the shell, and forget who once breathed inside. It becomes dangerous, when you let your own shell eat you alive.
I want to call after him and tell him all this, but I don’t.
I’m too busy trying to swallow back the tears threatening to spill over.
About half an hour later, my misty thoughts and moody daydreaming is derailed by another knock on my door. This one is shyer, more scared, and I jump, jerking my thoughtful gaze away from the harsh rain lashing out at the rickety windowpane. The door opens, and seconds later, Mikey pokes his head round the corner. His hair has gone all fluffy in the rain, and his glasses are steamed up from the sudden warmth of the house in contrast to the jaws of winter.
“Um,” he says quietly, scuffing his foot against the threadbare blue carpet and not meeting my eye. “Hi.”
“Hey,” I mumble from behind my hair, snapping the lyric book I’ve been attempting to use to unravel my mind shut and staring at a tear on the cover instead of my younger stepbrother. Embarrassment colours my cheeks a little as I bite my lip, remembering shouting a lot the last time I was with Mikey. I seem to spend a lot of my time shouting at innocent bystanders or people that are trying to help- I suddenly realise I never actually shout at the people who make me want to shout.
There’s a heavily awkward pause, before Mikey bravely steps fully into the warm room, shutting the door behind him and setting down his iPod and mobile phone beside the stereo where The Smiths still seeps sorrowfully out into the rainy silence battering against the dark windowpane.
“Um, how’re you doing?” Mikey mumbles awkwardly, pushing his glasses up his nose and looking seriously at me.
My cheeks burn and I turn away, picking at a loose thread on my duvet. “How do you think I am?” I mutter gruffly, looking away and hiding behind my scraggly hair.
“I’m really sorry,” Mikey blurts out suddenly, and I feel a twinge of guilt, because I’m pretty sure it should be me the one that’s apologising, not him. I look up, feeling insecurity skinning my chest like sandpaper as I do so.
“I think I uh, owe you an apology about…Earlier…” Mikey’s saying nervously.
“It’s really me who should be apologising,” I heave a great sigh and shift over a little on my bed, motioning for Mikey to sit down on the other end of my unmade mattress. He blinks owlishly at me for a moment, but then gets the idea and perches nervously beside me, fidgeting apprehensively.
“I shouldn’t have got so mad,” I admit, chewing at the metallic flesh-taste of my lower lip and sighing again as I look back out at the darkened window. “It’s kinda a fault of mine.”
“No, it is,” I insist, toying with the thread on the duvet and keeping my hair falling across my eyes so I don’t have to meet Mikey’s. I suddenly feel even smaller and more insignificant. “Really. And I totally overreacted earlier- I didn’t mean to yell at you. And I’m rude to you all the time too. I don’t mean to be, really,” I blurt, bright red and wringing my hands in my lap as I try to apologise. “It’s just sort of…instinctive. I’m sorry. Honestly, Mikey.”
“I don’t mind,” Mikey says shyly, but he looks sort of flattered at my apology. “And really, about earlier, Frank…”
“I shouldn’t have yelled,” I mumble, ducking my head further and rocking back and forth on the bed.
“No, I really shouldn’t have made any assumptions,” Mikey apologises, looking at me sincerely with those hazel eyes that gouge right through me. They’re so like his brother’s eyes. His brother’s eyes when they’re alive and screaming; when they’re just as vulnerable and stripped of pretence.
“It’s fine. People make assumptions all the time, don’t they? It’s human,” I take a shuddery breath and resting my chin on my knees, drawing them closer to my vulnerable chest. It feels as though someone’s skinned it of a whole layer’s protection, and the raw flesh below is snagging and rubbing uncomfortably on the rough fabric of my outsize hoodie.
“They shouldn’t, though,” Mikey says guiltily. “I only thought-”
“It’s fine, honestly,” I mumble, peeking up vulnerably from behind my tangled hair and meeting his anxious eyes.
His rigid face relaxes a little. “Thanks,” he says gratefully, sniffing slightly as he pushes his glasses further up his nose and looks properly at me. “Are you okay, Frank?”
“I’m fine,” I say automatically. “What happened to Ocean?”
“Oh, um, she went to see Gerard,” Mikey says a little awkwardly.
That hurts a lot more than I expected it to; my ribs graze against my heart, making it red and raw and insecure in my bruised chest. I can’t stop thinking, feeling, remembering, confusing. And it hurts. It really, really hurts.
Why does it have to hurt?
I said I felt hollow, but this emptiness has been gouged out by raw, tugging hurt, whose ghost still threads its way violently through my mind. But the hurt is so hollowing it makes me feel emptier than ever. I feel almost emotionless; like a zombie; a husk of someone I think I once used to be. I guess there’s just too much curdling inside for even my emotions to be able to decipher what they’re meant to feel. I want to be alone, though. I know that much. Alone to watch the world howl by and to think of crumbling disguises and broken boys and forbidden singing.
“Frank?” Mikey’s gentle voice disintegrates my dangerously escalating thought and I blink, hugging my knees closer to my chest for comfort and hiding further behind my fringe.
“What?” I mumble, eyes fixed on the dusky rain outside the window.
“Are you okay? Honestly?” Mikey says gently, and to my horror, for the second time today, I feel a lump rising in my throat and tears prickling the back of my eyes. I swallow furiously and look away, eyes still smarting as though someone’s injecting their whites with acid. Why am I such a mess? Everything’s all churned up and doesn’t know where it belongs anymore. I don’t know where I belong anymore.
“I’m fine,” I mutter gruffly, trying to subtly wipe my eyes on my jeans without Mikey noticing me dragging my eyes across the raggedy fabric. I think I fail, though, because his eyes cloud with that warm honey empathy and he scoots tentatively up the bed towards me, lip quivering a little.
“Okay,” he says quietly, looking at me seriously. “But you know you can always tell me things if you need to. I’ll never judge or anything- promise. I mean, I have Gerard as a brother,” he smiles dryly, shaking his head and staring at the floor. Before I can question just what he meant by that, the CD grounds to a halt, Morrissey’s voice lilting out into silence, and Mikey jumps up.
“Want me to change the CD for you?” he asks, hazel eyes all hopeful and eager to please and it slightly warms the numbing cold that’s been seeping out from the icicle, lodged, in anguish through my ribs all day.
“Thanks,” I smile weakly, making sure my hair is still covering my face.
“What do you want to listen to?” Mikey asks, eyeing the slightly haphazard stacks of CDs swamping my chest of drawers.
“Um, you pick,” I say, shrugging feebly.
“Do you have another Smiths album?” Mikey asks quietly, flicking through my battered CDs. “Morrissey’s brilliant.”
I nod silently and lay my head on my knees, letting my eyes flicker shut as the rush and roar of thoughts screams behind my closed lids, a million tiny little shards of broken glass tearing at my flesh. How long can I ignore them for?
“Uhm, what…Uh…” I mumble incoherently into my knees, not opening my eyes. My heart’s suddenly racing as the familiar, soulful croon of Morrissey’s voice starts to lilt out into the room, but it doesn’t steady my mind, which feels as though its freefalling, plummeting through black emptiness, until it’s impaled on the broken shards of my own lies. “What if…what if I…was…?” The words don’t even sound like mine, and my heart’s jugging against my chest, anxious and wet.
There’s a small pause and I feel the bed dip slightly as Mikey’s insignificant weight sinks down beside me, and he lets out a small sigh. Then- “What difference would it make?” he asks quietly, his murmur only just audible over the music.
I blink and look up properly, hair falling away from my face as I stare at him, worries about scars and bloodshot eyes spilling secrets evaporating on the spot. “What?”
“What difference would it make, Frank?” Mikey asks sincerely, eyes full of hazel honesty. “You’re still you. You’d still have the same people in your life, the same fears and the same dreams. You’d still love music, you’d still be sarcastic. It wouldn’t change you, because it is you. What makes you.”
I just sit there for a moment, stunned. Then, eventually, I manage to croak out a “Thank you.”
And quite honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever meant those two words quite so much.
After that, not much is said, and Mikey and I just spend the remainder of the evening in slightly nostalgic but not uncomfortable silence. He strums away slightly tremblingly at his bass, playing along with Morrissey, and I return to my lyric book, finding the words flow from my fingertips as easily as blood this time.
I’m lost in a world of metaphors and chords and carnival mask similes when, eventually, at around half eight, Mom knocks on the door to tell us that dinner is ready. Still feeling fragile and a little lost, I trail downstairs after Mikey, hugging my arms across my chest in some feeble attempt to numb the ache in my chest, which intensifies every time I inhale of the peppermint tobacco fear still clinging stubbornly to my t-shirt from last night. It’s faded a lot, only a whisper now, but it still tears at my throat.
I feel oddly apprehensive at the prospect of seeing Gerard, but half of me doesn’t even expect him to have considered venturing from his room- so when I follow Mikey into the warm, homely kitchen where the vicious rain batters at the window in black crystals, my whole heart jolts.
There’s a skinny, black-clad, impassive figure hunched at the table, spine rigid with suppressed secrets and fears. His eyes flicker up as we enter, just a flash of cagey green hiding behind raven hair. They linger fleetingly on mine, but then drop to the table, their expression unreadable, almost…ashamed?
That confuses me completely, so I look away, dropping my gaze to the floor.
“Hi honey,” Mom smiles at me from where she’s dishing plates of casserole out.
I manage to manufacture some kind of feeble one in response, sitting down in my usual place beside Mikey. My heart’s thudding uneasily against my ribs, as if I’m nervous, palms clammy with sticky anxiety.
Gerard is sitting opposite me, bent over his plate so as his frayed-ribbon hair dangles forwards. I suddenly find myself too scared to look up from my lap and meet his enigmatic eyes- I’m not sure who I’ll see in them. Instead, I gaze at the stone floor, heart thumping, face burning.
“Good day, guys?” Steve asks conversationally, sitting down at the head of the table and pouring water into everyone’s glasses.
This is met with silence.
“What happened to Ocean?” Steve tries again, digging into his plate of casserole.
“She went home,” Gerard says quietly, his voice rough and unexpected.
“Oh,” Steve says. There’s another awkward silence for a while, broken only by the clink of cutlery on plates. I don’t even pick up my fork; my stomach’s too churned up to want food. Plus, I’m not really sure covering Gerard in puke would make things any clearer.
“So,” Mom says after several minutes, swallowing her mouthful and looking up at the table. “Steve and I have some news.”
My stomach clenches uncomfortably. Last time they said this, Gerard and Mikey landed here the next day.
“Oh?” Mikey asks politely, sipping his water.
“Well, we’re going to have to be away on a business trip all of next weekend, so we’re going to have to leave you kids on your own. After all, Gerard is nearly eighteen now, and you two will be sensible, won’t you?” Mom asks nervously, her honey-brown eyes full of worry.
There’s another silence.
“However, before we’d even think of going away, there are a few little things we need to discuss,” Steve puts in, and my stomach tightens again, suspecting what’s coming. “Gerard.”
“What?” Gerard snaps moodily without looking up.
“We need to have a serious talk about your attitude,” Steve says bravely, pointing his fork accusingly at his elder son.
“Oh, how thrilling,” Gerard says sarcastically. I finally get the guts to look up at him and my stomach lurches. He looks awful; disheveled, unkempt hair and pasty skin. His eyes are as bloodshot as mine, weighed down by angry purple bags, and he’s shaking slightly- I can see his fingers trembling rough his full glass. But his eyes are dead; concealed in that perfect mask once more.
“You’re just proving my point, Gerard,” Steve sighs, putting down his fork.
I let out a small sigh, wishing I could be somewhere- anywhere- else right now. I don’t want to see Steve misunderstand Gerard; I don’t want to see Gerard’s mask.
“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Gerard sneers, making me jump. “Are we boring elf boy?” His insult shakes as he utters it, but its still there, a dagger in the air between us.
It hurts a lot more than I though it would- even though it was kinda what I was expecting. I don’t bother replying, just huddle further into myself, refusing to look up and meet his eyes that hold all my secrets now. I can feel my face burning with humiliation.
“Gerard!” Steve sounds uncharacteristically angry. “This is exactly what I’m talking about! You cannot carry on being so rude to Frank. It’s completely unacceptable.”
“I’ll do whatever the fuck I want to,” Gerard says coldly, but I can see his fingers gripping his fork so hard his knuckles are turning white.
“Oh Gerard,” Steve shakes his head solemnly, the two words sounding horribly defeated- as if he’s given up on his own son. “This simply cannot continue.”
“What can’t continue?” Gerard asks with a tone of sarcastic politeness.
“Your behavior,” Steve says awkwardly. “The getting drunk, the staying out late without telling us where you are, the rudeness, and Gerard, you nearly attacked Frank yesterday! This attention-seeking playing-up has gone on far too long, it’s not acceptable. This morning, you were incredibly rude to Frank’s mother, and I can’t have that. If you can’t pull yourself back together…” Steve takes a deep breath and looks Gerard straight in the eye. “You’re going back to your mother’s.”
There’s a horrible, crawling silence. I realise that my heart is thudding out in fear for Gerard. He’s contorted over his meal, knuckles clenched, greasy hair shielding his reaction from all of us. I have a sudden, unnerving urge to stroke his inky hair and soothe him, stroke away all the tension until he’s real; just like I did last night- but I squash that thought angrily, not even letting it finish.
“I can’t go back,” he whispers very, very softly.
“Well if this continues, you’ll have to,” Steve says simply, taking a gulp of water.
“I CAN’T!” Gerard shouts suddenly, slamming down his fork and snapping his head up to look at his father. His eyes are blazing.
Steve looks awkward, which possibly has something to do with the fact he’s choking on his water. “Gerard-”
“You know I can’t! Where the hell would I live? Mom sure as fuck wouldn’t even let me set foot in the front fucking porch again,” Gerard spits, seething with fury.
“Gerard, you just need to stop with this attention seeking beh-”
“Stop shunting me from place to place as if I’m some kind of parcel! You’re meant to be my Dad!” Gerard’s voice tears on the last word, and he’s suddenly on his feet, breathing hard as if he hates everything. This anger isn’t plastic, even if this Gerard might be.
Much to my surprise, I suddenly find that I’m seething with anger too- anger at Steve. I want to stand up and tell him that he hasn’t got a clue about Gerard; he doesn’t want the limelight, he wants the shadows- but in order for the real Gerard to have the shadows, this plastic, emotionless one needs to shriek so vividly into the limelight no one will ever notice the real one, the screaming, hurting, breathing one. No one will ever notice him again, because he’ll be buried by the plastic one.
“Gee…” Mikey offers tentatively. “Please, just sit down.” His hazel eyes are so beseeching and worried that Gerard relents, slumping down hard in his chair. He’s still shaking, and refusing to look at anyone.
“I hate you,” he whispers, teeth gritted. “I hate you all.”
“Oh, Gerard, stop being so dramatic! You have to stop all this- it’s what’s tearing apart the family!” Steve says, somehow diminishing the value of Gerard’s anger- making him seem petulant and childish. I can feel the anger bubbling up inside of me, stronger than ever, suddenly hating Steve. Can’t he see?
“Yeah. Family,” Gerard laughs, but the sound is so empty and bitter it makes me feel cold all over. “That’s a laugh.”
“No, really,” Gerard snarls, pushing his chair back violently and glaring at Steve. He’s shaking, and I can almost see the invisible tears glittering at his smarting emerald irises. “You call this mess a family?”
“Son, I don’t want to send you away- I won’t, but only if this attitude stops! You cannot treat Frank like this. What’s he ever done to you?” Steve asks. Unwisely.
“Oh, maybe the fact he’s alive?” Gerard spits venomously, seething with fury. He turns on me with those blazing emerald eyes, and then it all comes tumbling down.
Something inside me falls apart. Something breaks, because he says those words so potently, so forcefully. They must really be true. No one could say those words so poisonously, so furiously, with such fiery eyes- no one could say it like that and not mean it.
I think that’s what breaks me.
“Gerard,” Steve’s eyes are cold. “Get out of this room. Now.”
“With pleasure,” Gerard snarls, casting his chair aside and striding angrily from the room. I watch him leave, listen to him storm up the stairs and slam his bedroom door so no one can invade him.
A shocked silence descends over the kitchen. Feeling completely numb with that raw, tearing feeling in my chest, I rise, trembling, from the table. I’ve never felt so vulnerable; so exposed to the truth. Usually, I keep the truth so far away from the surface, buried under layers and layers of protective skin. Today, when I was brave enough to let it surface a little, all the layers were stripped away by my stepbrother’s serrated glare and now I’m bleeding in tears I’m too proud to shed.
“Frank,” Steve’s voice sounds very far away.
“Please, honey, don’t go,” Mom’s voice sounds anguished, but I ignore it. I ignore them all and bolt for the stairs, bolting for a room that belongs to someone I’m not sure I am anymore.
My shaky feet fumble and stumble on the stairs, the resounding sounds of breaking objects and Slipknot’s screaming shrieking out from behind the closed door of Gerard’s room. The boy who let me breathe again- and then took away all the oxygen. Left me to suffocate in myself.
I stumble along the landing, dazed. It feels like I’m breathing razorblades. How was I stupid enough to let myself even hope someone cared about coward little Frank Iero? No one does. Apart from maybe Mom and Ocean.
But suddenly, I don’t want them to care. I want him to care; him that I half-hate, him that I should hate- yet am inexplicably drawn to.
He sure as hell doesn’t care, though. I was wrong when I thought he must have more to him that just cold, mask-like indifference. He was just drunk. His cold, arrogant spite isn’t just his shell after all. It’s his blood, all the way through.
I want to hate him, I should hate him, but I can’t. I just hate my soul instead.
Why can’t I hate him?
I make it into my room with acidic, burning self-directed fury rising furiously up inside me, hot and fierce and hating, ready to smash everything in sight. But then I freeze, all the blood draining away like the rain draining from the clouds and dribbling greyly down my window to wash away all the spite.
Sitting, carefully folded, on my bed is the slightly faded black hoodie I lent to Gerard last night. I just stand, staring unblinkingly at it for a moment, remembering wrapping it round his quaking body to soothe him as he shuddered and shivered and gripped my hand as though he needed me to stay alive.
I stare at it until my eyes are misty and stinging, until the lump in my throat starts to ache too much to bear, and then I stumble forwards and collapse onto the bed, burying my head in the soft, black fabric. I smell stale alcohol and someone else’s tears and fear and peppermint tobacco- and then the tears that have been threatening to spill over all day are suddenly streaming out, soaking into the raggedy black fabric as all my pretence shatters and I close my eyes against the material, just letting the tears flow, hoping, somehow, they’ll wash me away in the process.
So…thoughts? As you’ve probably gathered, Frank’s feeling a bit messed up right now. I know nothing big happened in this chapter, but bear with me- like I said, a lot stuff’s gunna be happening now- the next chapter should be very interesting. Sorry if this wasn’t, but it had to be done to show various things important to the plot. Anyway, please Rate and Review? Pleasies? :D It’d make me so happy, ‘cause I worked super hard on this and I’d love to know what you’re thinking of the whole thing at the moment! Sorry if it’s not too good- I’m not sure whether it is or not. Thanks so much for reading- I love you all, and I’ll update soooon!