Surely it was better to live your life with a little hint of danger than to sit on the sidelines, watching everyone else?
I’ve actually just planned out the next twenty chapters of this, and feel kinda psyched for it now- this is gunna be one exciting story! Anyway, I’ll shut up so you guys can read…enjoy! Oh, and if you guys checked out this smut oneshot I wrote and reviewed, I’d be super happy! :D http://www.ficwad.com/story/192238
Frank hadn’t expected to wake up again. On the off chance that he somehow, magically did wake up again, he’d half-thought he would have become part of some twisted fairytale world, where he’d been asleep for so long on the decomposing, autumn ground that the creatures of the forest would have woven dewy memory-webs and glutinous, dark green ivy ribbons across his sleeping body. Seeing a fresh, minted new day ebb up from the darkness was something he thought he’d never be lucky enough to witness again; he’d accepted that those gaunt, whimsical jade eyes, sunk deep in their hollows from the flickering, amber firelight, to have been the last thing his own innocent, golden-tinted gaze would ever see- that and the obliterating, almost obscene blackness that smothered the frail woodland.
He’d honestly thought he was going to die.
But here consciousness was, playing devil’s advocate and oozing stickily, scratchily through his senses like some kind of rotting, honey-glazed miracle.
He was awake, he was alive, and daylight’s wispy tendrils were beginning to curl shyly up from the horizon; new and pink and freshly laundered, smudging the shadowed sky in their icing-sugar hue. A new day was dawning, and it was spreading a wake of dreamlike goose bumps across Frank’s cold skin as he realised he was breathing, he was really breathing in the cold, frosty dawn air. It sort of froze and hurt his lungs, leaking from between his chapped, pink lips in iced, powdery puffs, but it was an ethereal pulse, it must mean that he wasn’t trapped timelessly in a world of burnt-vein trees and blood red fear and trembling hands…He was still alive.
Blood-hot, pulsating relief flooded Frank’s frozen body at that realisation, and tentatively, heart holding its breath, he peeled open his swollen, sleep-crusted eyes and winced as light instantly stung across their sensitive irises.
But he didn’t care, because he could see the world again and there were no tormented eyes glimmering in flames, no mythical forest creatures weaving frosted webs across his sleeping body, no fraying, split-vein red ribbons or gnarled faces. The only sign of life was the thin, reedy cawing of the raggedy-winged crows circling overhead, torn silk wings flapping clumsily over the skeletal, frosted trees. It was an oddly reassuring and familiar sound; it awakened innocent memories at the back of Frank’s mind, where he could remember listening to the crows calling in the forest when he was small and toothy-grinning- when he’d make mud pies out of the pine-needle coated earth or dens from the bracken and ferns, humming away contentedly because it was all he knew existed.
But so much more existed than the tranquillity of the rambling fields and woodland he’d grown up with. So, so much more. He’d barely tasted what lay beyond the pure veil his parents seemed to have drawn over his eyes, but already, he knew that there seemed to be a whole universe of things he needed to comprehend.
It was a darker world, a more scarred world- but it was real.
As the harsh, sticky consciousness drooled thicker into Frank’s senses and the overwhelming relief to be alive dulled a little, he began to realise just how terrible he felt; everything inside his skull felt as though it was swimming and grinding metallically together as he coughed feebly, attempting to raise his thumping head from the cold, crinkly-leaf ground. His vision swum more sickeningly still, along with the stale contents of his gut, but he was able to decipher that he was lying on the verge, between the deserted, early-morning country lane and the now peaceful, rusting October woodland, probably exactly where he’d lost consciousness.
Much to his own surprise, Frank found that he could recall almost every nook and cranny of the predeceased night, as though there was a live slideshow running through his stodgily stuck-together thoughts. He could remember the childishly fizzy, jumpy feel of excited adrenaline in his gut at the prospect of going to his very first gig. He could remember Robbie calling for him and their dark, terrifying walk through the woods. He could remember the red ribbon that sent prickles of horror up his spine. He could remember the sweaty, human heat and cool, dirty taste of beer at the gig. He could remember running and running and running through the cold, warped woods with someone’s footsteps hounding in on him.
He could remember the violent flash of headlamps and the violent flash as his head hit the ground; he could remember waking up to tangled crucifix-branch hair and those tormented, skittish eyes that burnt a hole right through his soul. It all blurred a little then, and Frank assumed this was because he could dimly recall fading in an out of consciousness.
His head throbbed dully as he tried and tried to dredge up the soggy thoughts rotting at the bottom of his subconscious, but it was becoming harder and harder. Trying to ease the horrible, grinding throb of his dehydrated skull, he swallowed the rough, sour-gluey texture clogging up his mouth and frowned, trying in earnest to remember more, but the last few moments before he must have blacked out still refused to become more than a blur of glimmering amber light and cold fingertips and stammering, anxious words.
Sighing shakily, Frank ran a clammy hand through his tangled chestnut hair and tried to sit up properly, but his stomach plummeted nauseatingly, and suddenly he was groaning, gagging and rolling over on the crackly, dead-leaf ground to throw up. It was horrible and sour and stale; an acid gush of a night that should never have happened to someone as dull and boring as ‘perfect’ Frank Iero. It seemed more like a charred dream, a broken chapter from someone else’s life- or one of the adrenaline-pulsing adventures he’d always daydreamed about.
Suddenly, he half-wished he’d never dared venturing from the predictable, boring Frank Iero, who would only live in such adrenaline-threaded danger in his darkest daydreams- but before he could even finish the thought, the nagging, itchy little thirst of curiosity that lived in the darkest shadows of Frank’s psyche and had led him here in the first place, was disagreeing. Surely it was better to live your life with a little hint of danger than to sit on the sidelines, watching everyone else?
Once he was done puking and reliving the putrid taste of beer and the nasty combination of curiosity and peer pressure, Frank managed to weakly push himself up into sitting position, shuddering uncontrollably into his fleecy, navy blue hoodie as his wavy, toffee-coloured waves of hair blew across his untainted face. He kept his back slumped against the lichen-encrusted, frosty bark of one of the trees guarding the outskirts of the forest as he closed his eyes, willing himself not to throw up again as the bone-chilling coldness of the oak’s trunk seeped through the torn-about fabric of his hoodie.
After a few moments, the nausea had subsided enough for him to open his eyes again and zip up his hoodie properly, huddling away vulnerably into its minimal warmth. He wished he hadn’t felt so self-conscious last night before meeting Robbie- then he’d have worn gloves or a scarf or something.
Trying to distract himself from the churning nausea still present in the sunlight, Frank stared nervously round at his surroundings. In daylight, the forest looked as peaceful as ever. It seemed hard to believe that it had held home to such a violent, annihilating fear that crushed the oxygen out of silence. Now the woods were light and frosty and tinted by the crisp, icing-sugar pink light streaking the autumnal skyline, the safe, timeless haven Frank had played in as a kid for hours on end.
As daybreak began to peak on the horizon, a rusty, autumnal kaleidoscope of sugary pink and burnt-out amber making the frost glitter, Frank wondered if last night had really happened. It seemed so unreal now, so far away, but he supposed it had, because why else would he be lying on the forest floor with an aching skull and a churning stomach? All the same, though, it was so much like a dream, it was hard to hold onto as a reality. He cast around his mind for something that would prove its truth, but before he could get frustrated with his muddled-about thoughts, he spotted something on the frosty, leaf-strewn grass beside him.
Something that made his heart turn over in his chest and his eyes go wide in disbelief.
Something that made the little itch of curiosity lurking inside of him go wild.
Something that made remembrance flash so abruptly through him, it was like an injection.
Something that proved it all.
Lying, forgotten, on the mud and frost tangled verge beside him, was a small, battered yellow lighter. The lighter the Escaped Convict had used. Vividly, Frank remembered it flaring to life and illuminating the convict’s gaunt face and hollowed-out eyes as he jerked and flailed around skittishly, trying to…help…Frank could hardly believe that was the truth; after all, the guy had been convicted for murdering his best friend. It seemed so real, but maybe it was just Frank’s muddled mind making things up.
Heart trembling, Frank edged over slightly, trying not to unsettle his nauseous stomach, and picked the lighter up in his clammy hands. It was cold and rough, a small layer of frost covering the chipped plastic, but it was there, it was real; like something brought back from a dream to prove it was more than just dark imagination. He held it anxiously in the palm of his hand, staring apprehensively at it, almost as though he expected it to explode into flames.
But it didn’t. It just sat there, living proof that Frank really had been shoved out of the path of a motorbike by the escaped convict with the haunted eyes. He’d really, really been there, in Frank’s dull, mundane little life of A-level coursework and revision and helping out on the farm. Someone the complete opposite to Frank; someone who’d possibly lived too much, rather than too little.
He’d really been there.
Something unnervingly like a thrill of excitement shot through Frank as he stared, wide-eyed at the rusty yellow lighter in his hand.
Frank’s excited thoughts were abruptly stalled by a small, crackling sound just behind the cold, mossy trunk of the tree he was slumped against.
Jumping out of his skin and wincing as the movement unsettled his uneasy stomach, Frank instinctively jerked round, shoving the lighter fumblingly into the pocket of his creased navy-blue hoodie, eyes wide and untouchably golden in the minted, early morning light, as they searched anxiously round the apparently lonely, pine-cone dusted woods, ears peeled for another sound.
Nothing moved apart from the shards of broken daybreak falling like ghosted amber into the shadows of the skeletal trees and illuminating dying pollen and dust particles like fireflies from some kind of far-away poem.
But suddenly, despite the silence, Frank felt sure he wasn’t alone. There was that unmistakeable, whispered, crawling feeling at the base of his spine that could only mean one thing; someone’s eyes were on him.
Heart thudding at his ribs, contrastingly hot to the frosty dawn air, Frank squinted round the surrounding forest, eyes peeled wide. He wished he’d worn his glasses last night, because without them, everything was a little fuzzy round the edges, and nothing was quite clear. Oddly, though, despite feeling watched, Frank wasn’t really sure he felt…scared. In the soft, murmuring amber dawn glittering down into the woods, it was hard to feel terrified, the way he had last night. Now he just felt vaguely uneasy, and maybe a little apprehensive- but definitely not scared. Which, in all honesty, was just plain weird.
Suddenly, ‘Chasing Cars’ blared out into the suspicious tranquillity of the October woods and Frank jumped out of his skin, scrabbling in his pocket for his mobile. It took a second for his shaky hands to fumble to the ‘accept call’ button, as he vaguely thought it was probably a slightly odd time for someone to be calling him.
“…H-hel-lo?” Frank managed, feeling distinctly uneasy. “Who is it?” The words felt as though they were scratching his throat as he uttered them, and they tasted lingeringly of the remnants of his stomach, curling out shyly into the air, a frosty whisper in the delicate, rusted-cherry light. He still gazed anxiously round at his surroundings, nibbling worriedly at his lower lip.
“…Robbie?” Frank squeaked anxiously. His voice sounded intrusive and loud in the dawn silence of the dying woods, bouncing off the stripped trees and making the crows flap and take off. He kept expecting to hear rustled footsteps skittering away, but none came to his ears, which only made him feel more on edge.
“Who else calls you Frankfurter?”
“What are you doing awake?” Frank managed weakly, guessing from the height of the sun in the sky that it was probably around five in the morning- he’d gotten top marks in his last Geography exam for sundial reading and directions.
“Shit, is it morning already?” Robbie sounded dismayed. His voice was vaguely muffled, and there was an odd sound a little like breaking china in the background. Frank fleetingly wondered if it was The Black Rainbow Lies.
Before he could answer Robbie’s question, there was another sound of cracking branches a few metres behind him, and Frank whirled round, eyes all wide and apprehensive russet, matching the vulnerable remaining leaves clinging to the birch tree beside him.
“Frankiefurter? You okay?”
Frank relinquished his gaze and nodded, leaning somewhat tensely back against the tree trunk. His mind was a little to fuddled and thudding to realise that Robbie couldn’t actually see him.
“I’m at a party, though it’s kinda gone to shit now. Anyway, I was just making sure you got home okay- you were pretty pissed earlier, Sausageboy. Naughty.” Robbie reprimanded him, sounding amused. There was another odd, smashing noise in the background, followed by someone crying ‘No, Venom!’.
“I…I feel awful,” Frank whispered into the receiver, raking a clammy hand through his tangled chestnut hair and swallowing uncomfortably. He blinked, trying to get the fogginess from his eyes, but they just scratched irritatingly.
“Yeah, that’s called a hangover, Sausagekisses. It’s a grown up thing.”
“Stop treating me like a kid,” Frank managed to mumble indignantly from under his crusty straggles of usually soft, chestnut hair. Sickness was washing over him again in horrible, thudding waves that pounded at his dry, swollen brain. He wished he was just a kid, because if he was, he wouldn’t be stranded, nauseated, in the cold morning forest, unsure of what to do next- or how the hell to get home,
“But you’re so adorable.” Robbie sounded as though he was beaming his trademark shit-eating grin.
“Yes, and more naïve than my three year old cousin,” Robbie announced. “Dude, were you raised without human contact or something?”
Usually, Frank’s pride would have resulted in him saying something indignant, generally glaring and pushing his glasses haughtily up the bridge of his nose at the same time, but he didn’t have the energy, he wasn’t wearing his glasses, which made him feel distinctly insecure, and he also thought that actually, maybe Robbie kinda had a point. That made him annoyed, though, because he didn’t want to be the little innocent little kid that every patronised. He wanted to have the same experiences as all his peers, to be just a little bit messed up and a little bit angry like every teenager, instead of considerate and obedient.
But most of all, he didn’t want to be what everyone else wanted him to be. He wanted to be him, but he wasn’t really sure who that was. Was it the earnest, studios Frank who buried his head in textbooks and worked his hardest? Was it the shy but brave Frank who did decidedly stupid things to feed the curiosity? Or was it the dreamy, head-in-the-clouds Frank who only came out occasionally, but liked to sit and dream at the sky?
“…Sausage?” Robbie’s voice crackled over the line, making Frank jump slightly, pulling his head from the clouds of thought. “I didn’t mean to upset you.” His voice sounded gentler that time.
“It’s okay, you didn’t,” Frank mumbled, but he realised that that wasn’t true- although it wasn’t really Robbie who’d upset him; it was the truth.
“I did,” Robbie sounds guilty, once again displaying his uncanny knack of reading people. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine,” Frank brushed it off, sighing a little. He could feel sourness rising in his dry gullet again, and swallowed determinedly.
“So, did you get home okay? Sorry we didn’t walk you back properly last night. We probably should have, but Venom was having one of his episodes, and we needed to get him somewhere with hard liquor.”
The mention of alcohol provided the final lurch for Frank’s abused stomach.
“It’s…” Frank choked out, before abandoning the phone and retching onto the mouldering red and brown frosty leaves, groaning and spluttering.
When he finally crawled back to the phone, he managed to mumble out: “I think… I’m dying.”
“That’s the spirit,” Robbie sounded as though he was grinning sympathetically. “Hey, chin up, Frankieboy. I’ll come round and see you later, yeah?”
“I’ve got French coursework that has to be in on Monday,” Frank remembered, nibbling his lip worriedly at the thought. His parents would be so disappointed if he didn’t get full marks at his test on Tuesday, and he hadn’t even started revising.
“Oh, coursework smoursework,” Robbie said flippantly. “Where’s the fun in that, Frankfurter?”
“I really have to get it done, sorry,” Frank apologised, feeling very small.
“Oh, well it is your choice. Whatever floats your boat, Sausagey. Personally, I’m going to see if I can get myself signed up to go skydiving. Anyway, call me if you change your mind,” Robbie said cheerfully. “And in the wondrous language you’re going to devote your day to, Salut!”
The line went dead before Frank could timidly point out that actually, Salut meant ‘hello’, and he was left in the shy silence of daybreak, shivering and alone.
He was sort of grateful to have heard Robbie’s voice, though; it made him feel more as though he was back in the real world- a world devoid of escaped convicts and drunken escapades and heart-wrenching fear.
Shaking off the feeling that someone’s eyes were still on him, Frank shut his own eyes for several, long moments to try and shake off the nausea, listening to the birdsong and rustling of dead leaves and the little rustle of icy October air that whispered through the pink dawn and dry leaves, sounding like someone’s slightly shaky breathing.
Eventually, somehow, Frank managed to prise himself up of the frosted ground, gather his stormy stomach and aching skull, and stagger the mile and a half, through the minted, early morning light, dewy fields and amber hedges back home, where he let himself in through the backdoor as quietly as possible, trailed wearily up the stairs and collapsed into his bed, feeling as though he was re-entering his room as a whole different person to the one that had left it the night before.
Frank’s eyes flitted shut the second his bruised body hit the mattress and he drifted into a peaceful sleep, just as the late autumn sun started to rise over the farm outside, soft and ghosting and golden in the October sky, making the dying leaves glitter and flicker, just like a thousand pairs of tarnished, once golden eyes watching over the countryside.
Watching over him.
The time had come. The clock had stopped ticking, and Innocence’s ashes fell, grieving, from the hostile sky, drenching the colorless-brick world in a bleak dawn of silenced fears and unrecognized demons. A horrible kind of feeling snagged on the air- a whisper that hinted something twisted had crawled under the whole world’s leathery skin, infesting everything in its poison, casting an eclipse across all clarity.
His footsteps were shaky, pacing the potholed grey forcedly, sub-consciously searching for some recluse, some escape as he wound his cowering way closer and closer and closer- but there was none.
He’d slowly come to accept that the only places he could escape to were those within a charcoal-woven world- or those where fireflies would shimmer around him in a golden haze, shielding him from reality. Now, there was no escape. The grey firefly blood that fell all around him was drowning all sense of safety. The striped tie knotted round his neck choked him with its regulation sins. The patchily-rambled concrete beneath his feet only led to one dreaded place of things only he would know.
A place that forced the secret he tried so hard to swallow down up again, covered in bloodied terror and guilt and everything he wished didn’t exist.
Dread curdled more and more in his gut with every time he was forced to relive the route to his fears. Because each time, every time, it always led up to that scarlet moment where he’d have to look into the Secret’s tangled-up, inhumane eyes and watch as it sought its unharmonized revenge.
It would never stop, it would never give in, never relent, because the Secret had no heart, no patched-up, sin-oozing soul aching in it’s chest.
This Secret could destroy everything, and that’s why he could never bring himself to utter out loud things that would define the Secret, things that would give it a name or a mind or a pulse that would thud in the rhythm of stalking footsteps.
But some secrets are like poison; keep them locked away inside and they will slowly
And this Secret was no exception.
Normally, Frank hated getting up any later than eight. After nearly eighteen years living on a farm, he was decidedly a ‘morning person’- sleeping in made him feel sluggish and lazy; something he despised. Frank liked to feel awake- liked to see the day when it was fresh and untainted and feel the wind sweeping away the cobwebs of his mind as did his early-morning round of chores on the farm.
Therefore, when Frank finally awoke at just after twelve noon, he leapt out of bed with a yelp of horror, just for a split second forgetting everything- at least, until his head rasped nauseatingly in protest to his sudden movements, and Frank moaned slightly, hand jumping up to try and smooth away the dull throbbing as, out of habit, he stumbled across his room to peek out at the world outside his window.
Down on the tumbledown yard, Frank could see his father firing up the rusty old tractor, Rosie the collie barking at his heels as the ancient engine coughed and spluttered reluctantly, omitting stagnant clouds of dirty grey oil into the cold, pure autumn air.
Weak, watery autumnal sunlight basked the fields stretching out onto the curdled horizon of mingling seasons, where Frank could just see the shivering woods, clawing their naked branches up into the rain cloud, as if they were trying to escape themselves.
With a small, discontented sigh, Frank tore his gaze from the window and trailed across his room, rubbing his hand across his aching forehead. His legs felt uncomfortably stiff, and one of his ankles felt all weird and twisted as he half shuffled, half limped towards the bathroom with the vague thought of having a shower.
He grabbed some clean clothes from his open closet on the way out, wincing at the thought of it having been left open all night. Clothes moths were a bitch at that time of year, and Frank liked to keep his room neat and tidy so he knew here everything was. It was one of the few areas of his life he could know every inch of and map out at will.
When he caught sight of himself in the bathroom mirror, he actually let out a small squeak of horror; Frank was used to looking clean and well-groomed- which was perhaps why he was so utterly horrified by his current reflection; his eyes were swollen and heavily bloodshot, weighed down by angry purple bags, his hair was tangled and had various bits of twig, leaf and mud caking its usually soft chestnut strands, and there was a large, dark red graze gashed across the unhealthily pale skin of his forehead. The boy didn’t look one bit like him. Almost in disbelief, to confirm the reality, Frank reached up to touch his cheek and got muddy fingertips.
Shocked, he blinked, wide-eyed, at himself in the mirror, and then scowled.
The one thing that hadn’t changed was that look of pure innocence that Frank hated so much. It still lingered, golden and sweet, in his heavily-lidded russet eyes, making him look so much younger than just seventeen.
Somewhat annoyed, Frank dropped his gaze from the mirror and limped over the tiled floor to turn the shower on. It took him at least twice as long as usual to tug his muddy, torn clothes off over his head, but eventually, he stumbled dazedly into the shower, hoping to wash away not only the grime from the night’s happenings, but also the horrible, sleepy fogginess clouding his mind.
The warm, steady gush of the shower washing away the horribly dirty feel on his skin did make Frank feel considerably better after a while, although the steamy water against the cut on his forehead stung and smarted horribly. By the time he stepped out of the shower, towelling himself dry, his headache had lessened slightly, and he was able to relax a little, feeling properly clean again as he cleaned his teeth thoroughly and carefully towelled his hair.
After dressing in his comfiest old pair of jeans and a cable-knit ivory sweater that was unravelling on the left sleeve from last weekend, when Frank had helped his Dad fix the fence on the sheep pen, Frank trailed downstairs in search of water to quench the horrible dry, scratchy feeling tearing at his throat. His vision still swum slightly, but he didn’t feel properly dizzy anymore. The feeling reminded him a little of swinging wildly on the local park swings as a kid and giggling at how everything spun when he moved his head afterwards.
Linda looked up in surprise when Frank ambled somewhat dazedly into the kitchen, rubbing his eyes blearily and blinking a little like an owl in the October as
sunlight filtering softly through the kitchen window.
“Frank?” Linda’s voice made him jump guiltily and stumble as his disorientated head jerked to see his Mom making Blueberry pie at the kitchen bench. The windows were all steamed up from the Aga cooker, and the sweet, spicy smell of cinnamon tickled Frank’s senses.
“I didn’t know you were home- I thought you were staying over at your friend’s house after the concert?” Linda frowned, looking concerned as she abandoned the mixing bowl and turned to face her son, wiping her hands on her apron.
“Oh,” Frank bit his lip, panicking. “Uhm, he dropped me off on his way to work this morning.” He invented, feeling the lie taint his tongue. He hated lying- to anyone, but especially his mother. He felt as though it was somehow betraying her, because he knew she’d trust him with anything.
“Oh, I see,” Linda said, but she looked faintly sceptical as she poured Frank a mug of tea and stirred in milk, the spoon clinking against the china and making Frank’s head buzz uncomfortably. “So, did you have a good time?”
“…Huh?” Frank mumbled blearily, flopping down at the table and combing a hand through his damp hair, inhaling the comfortingly familiar smell of his lavender shampoo. It made him feel slightly calmer- until he caught sight of his French coursework all piled up at the head of the table and inwardly groaned at the thought of trying to do irregular verbs with a headache like this.
“At the concert,” Linda said, beginning to look a little concerned.
“Oh,” Frank tried to pull his thoughts together. “Um, yes. Very…exciting,” he elaborated, not feeling quite so guilty this time, because that wasn’t a downright lie at all. In fact, he’d sort of forgotten about the gig in all the confusion of the night, but looking back on it, he’d forgotten just how much he genuinely had enjoyed it. “Yes, it was really good thanks, Mom,” he added a little more convincingly.
Linda sat down opposite Frank, handing him the mug of tea, which he accepted gratefully, managing a slightly feeble smile.
“Thanks, Mom,” He said sincerely, cradling the warm mug in his hands and suddenly noticing his glasses on the table in front of him, putting the mug down to scoop them up gratefully.
“You forgot them last night,” Linda smiled fondly, as Frank polished them on his jumper and slid them back on, making his big, golden eyes of innocence slightly magnified. Much to his surprise, his heart sunk a little at the familiar vision- despite it being clearer- he felt so much more like boring, nerdy Frank with them; seeing the world through predictable eyes.
Safe, but uninteresting. He sighed heavily, blowing on his mug of tea and wishing he didn’t thirst for the unknown the way he did. He was sure it would be the death of him someday.
“So, tell me all about it,” Linda smiled, tucking her flyaway mousy hair behind her ears and looking eagerly at Frank.
“Um,” Frank took a long, needy gulp of the sweet tea, feeling the warming liquid trickling down his parched throat. “Well, it was-”
“Oh my god, what happened to your head, Frankie?” Linda exclaimed suddenly, her eyebrows knotting together in panic as she leant across the pine table and swept Frank’s still damp hair back, wincing as she saw the wound properly.
Frank winced too, although not because of the wound. He was about to blurt out another cover-up lie, but found he couldn’t bring himself to. Instead, he started gnawing anxiously at his lower lip, looking beseechingly at his mother, praying she wouldn’t ask what happened so he wouldn’t have to lie again.
“How on earth…?” Linda trailed off, eyes anxious. “Wait, never mind. Let me go get the antiseptic. I’ll ask questions later.”
Frank groaned quietly and let his head flop down to rest on the mound of French coursework, forgetting he still had his glasses on so as the wire frame dug painfully into his flesh.
After convincing his suspicious mother that he’d gained the cut on his head from walking into a lamppost due to absent glasses, Frank was plied with another steaming mug of tea and a plate piled full of toast and marmite, gently shunted through onto the sofa in the living room at Linda’s instructions to ‘take it easy with a bump like that’.
Frank wasn’t complaining. It felt sort of like there was a troop of hobnail-boot wearing leprechauns Irish-dancing in his skull, which, strangely, was not a sensation he welcomed. Plus, he wanted some time to think, because now that the sleepy, stale fug had lifted somewhat from his mind, curiosity was overwhelming him, powerful and tugging.
Everything swilled round and round his skull in a mass of tangled colours and broken answers, and he needed to figure it out, because, ironically, Frank hated being in the dark about things. If there was a question that nagged at the back of his mind, he wouldn’t be able to rest until he’d understood its answer. Perhaps that’s what the unrelenting itch for the unknown was at the back of his mind- a thirst to answer all the questions about the world he’d been starved of all these years.
With a shuddery sigh, he flopped down weakly on the dog-hair coated, ancient green velveteen sofa and absent-mindedly flicked on the old box-TV, setting his tea and toast down on the haphazardly-stacked coffee table and eyeing the toast and marmite slightly apprehensively. He was sort of hungry, having not eaten anything since yesterday lunchtime, but he also still felt distinctly queasy.
Deciding to wait a little before testing the stamina of his stomach with food, Frank curled up on the sofa, pushed his glasses up his nose more securely, and took a sip of tea. The living room was slightly dark and dingy, being north-facing, but beams of burnt-out October sunlight filtered weakly into it, illuminating all the dust particles drifting through the air and settling on the flickery TV.
The news was crackling across the screen, but it wasn’t anything to do with the escaped convict, just something mildly boring like flash floods in England. With a small sigh, Frank huddled up more protectively over his tea, and, with uncharacteristic reluctance, scooped his French revision booklet up off the piled-high coffee table and opened it at the assigned page.
For what felt like the first time in years, the words just swum about, glassy-eyed fish on the endless sea of a page, not willing to be absorbed. For several moments, Frank just blinked in disbelief, straightening his glasses and glaring furiously at the page, trying to force the knowledge in. But still, the verbs and sentence structure tips refused to sink into his thoughts.
After ten more minutes earnestly trying to get the irregular verbs memorized, Frank threw his text book aside and slumped back properly on the sofa, feeling all churned-up and confused. He was usually so good at concentrating and memorizing things, but today…his thoughts just wouldn’t stick. They meandered about all over the place, searching for unattainable answers. Memories of tormented green eyes and trembling, icy fingertips filled his mind; red ribbons and crackly news announcements on the radio, the unending itch of curiosity, the fear smothering the forest, the collision of his head hitting the muddy grass verge, waking up to the sugar-icing dawn, being shoved from the murderous, yellow car headlight’s path, and that Stonebridge Prison logo on his saviour’s clothing that unravelled everything…
It was all jumbled up, not sure where to go, but Frank was sure it all meant something that wasn’t just the obvious. Frowning, he delved deeper, trying to figure more out, needing to figure more out. He was clever, but his intelligence hadn’t been required to stretch in this direction before, so it was frustratingly difficult- Frank was used to answers coming easily when he tried to work things out.
But this was different to before- it was reality, dark, twisted reality that he’d never even thought about before the last couple of days. It was completely different to schoolwork, which suddenly seemed so tame and irrelevant in comparison.
As his mind trawled the brain’s misty caverns for truth, Frank absent-mindedly, reached into his pocket and drew out the rusty, chipped lighter, turning it over and over in his palm like a worry rock, staring at it in awe as he remembered, so vividly, so violently, its flame illuminating those haunted, muddy-green eyes.
The eyes of a killer.
But…Frank was still alive.
More than that; without those eyes, without the eyes of a killer-
Frank would be dead.
Thoughts? I really, really hope that was okay, ‘cause, like I said, I’ve not been feeling great, but I did work really hard on it- you guys really deserve a good update. Feedback would be utterly amazing right now…Are you guys still liking this okay? I hope so :/ Thanks so much for reading, I’ll update really soon (: