'All the way to the music room, I feel as though there’s someone screaming along with the howling winter wind and rain, just a semi-tone too quiet for me to hear...'
Oh, I've started this Music and Writing challenge thing- if you haven't already, check it out? http://www.ficwad.com/story/192519
Chapter Twenty Three
I don’t speak to anyone the next morning- not even Mikey. Instead, I sit in sullen, stitched-up silence as Steve drives us all to school through the dirty, dull rain and congested blur of greasy, yellow headlamps clogging up the city roads. It’s not even properly light yet, but it’s hard to imagine there could be anything above the endless thick, charcoal-grey rain pouring down from the glowering December sky anyway.
The car is uneasily silent, the thick, airless atmosphere of tension and secrets leaking from clamped-shut mouths only intensified by the dour, relentless drumming of grim rain on the windscreen and the irritating squeak of the windscreen wipers. Steve hums in false cheeriness, but the sound is tuneless and bleak. I can tell Mikey is trying to catch my eye and shoot me an ‘Are you okay?’ look, but I keep my brooding gaze locked firmly on the rain and pollution glossed window, jaw clenched as the grey rush-hour slogs wearily, wetly past.
Gerard is sitting tensely in the front seat, features taut and tweaked into their typical flawless mask of cool arrogance- but I can see him digging his nails into his palms so hard they’re leaving angry, red grooves on the soft, pale flesh.
To his credit, I hadn’t expected him to crawl from the comforting dark of his room for another grinding-through-the-mill six hours in a place where the colourless walls are peeling as much as the humanity. But, to my intense- and hurriedly suppressed- surprise, Gerard was sitting coolly in the passenger seat, drumming his long, pale fingers against the gloomily rain-spattered window when I clambered into the synthetic freshness of Steve’s car, heart fumbling for beats, stomach stirring with sick, hand clasped clammily round the handle of my guitar case for comfort.
Steve greeted my entrance cheerily, which I returned with a stony glare. Mikey looked up, a smile hopeful behind his glasses, and I just about managed not to scowl.
Gerard didn’t even turn round.
Like I cared. He’s clearly nothing but arrogance and snide remarks, and I don’t want to be bothered with someone who can compel me to pour my heart out to them one minute, and then smash it at my feet. I was wrong, when I thought he might have more to him. Sure, he gets scared- but who doesn’t? Just because he gets scared doesn’t mean that he’s a good person. He’s exactly how I’ve always thought him.
I fleetingly wonder if he’s scared right now, knowing that Danny awaits him along with school. If he is, he’s hiding it as masterfully as usual; only someone like me who knows he could be scared can spot the tiny little give-aways like the way his fists are clenched and his stance is angry and defensive. After Danny’s threats at the club on Friday night, I’d be prepared to bet his stomach is knotted up as uncomfortably as mine.
Realising what I’m doing, I furiously clamp my mind shut and clench my fists, trying to retain the cold and angry exterior I slipped on along with my school shirt and tie this morning so no one will come near me- but inside, my gut’s all tangled up in messy, ripped loops of dread and anxiety at the thought of the looming day ahead. I don’t care. I need to not care.
I don’t care if Steve doesn’t know how to deal with things. I don’t care if I’m hurting Mikey. I don’t care if Gerard’s as scared as I am. From now on, I walk alone. I don’t need to care about anyone- and more significantly, no one needs to care about me.
That’s the easiest way.
“So, have you two got guitar today?” Steve’s tactless voice drags my thoughts away from my dark and my gaze from the greyly gritty window and the still not light, grubby road, bathed in dead yellow lamplight.
He meets my eye politely in the mirror as the car slides to a halt for yet another red light, and smiles awkwardly. I respond by glaring mutinously back, until he looks away with a sigh. “Gerard?” He questions hopefully, turning to the shadow Gerard’s casting in the passenger seat.
“Why else do you think I have a guitar with me?” Gerard asks tightly, lips barely moving around the sarcasm. He doesn’t relinquish his gaze from the polluted rain lashing against the windscreen or un-knot his clenched hands.
“Good point,” Steve says good humouredly, but I can hear the awkwardness in his voice as he releases the hand brake at the green light and revs up the engine, squinting through the dense rainfall. “So, what are you doing today? Frank?”
“Compositions,” I say monotonously.
“Ah. Lovely,” Steve says brightly.
There’s a heavy pause. The rain drums harder as we pull out of the congested city centre, tyres grinding through the endless oily puddles and potholes.
“So…Has your composition got a name, Frank?” Steve asks after several thick moments of silence, once more displaying his wondrous knack of not knowing when to shut the fuck up.
“Yes,” I say bluntly, trying to distract myself from the sourly billowing fear in my stomach by concentrating furiously on anything but the things milling round my skull; the dark grey rain tinted by red and dirty yellow traffic lights, glossy on the window beside me; the whiny pop song the local radio station that’s playing; the artificially sweet smell of the car’s air-freshener that makes my insides squirmy with nerves and nausea.
Anything to make me forget what’s going on inside.
“What is it called, then?” Steve questions brightly after another few moments.
I think I hear Mikey face-palm beside me.
“H.E.L.P,” I sigh tiredly, shaking my hair across my face and staring out the window at the blurring world of run colours.
“Aww, how adorable,” Gerard says callously from the front, his voice quiet and deadly. “And how true.” He smiles in a coldly amused sort of way, and my stomach knots tighter and tighter round my soul.
“What?” I snap, eyes flickering half-apprehensively towards him.
“Well, I hate to break it to you, Elfie, but you clearly need help- it’s just not natural to be that height,” He smirks plastically and I clench my fists angrily, trying to ignore the rip of hurt tugging at my chest. It stings and burns, but I grit my teeth and block it out as if I need to for my life.
“Ger-” Steve starts crossly, taking his eyes off the road, but I cut him off, trembling.
“What’s yours like then, Gerard?” I ask evenly, although inside I’m seething. “Will you be…Singing?”
Instantly, at the kind of shocked silence that follows my impulsive sneer, I know I’ve crossed some kind of invisible line. Gerard’s face turns unnervingly blank, as if I’ve killed his soul and he’s completely empty and devoid of all emotion.
Regret floods through me like blood from a wound, and I bite my lip, ducking my head so as my hair falls forward, obscuring my face. The rain drums harder than ever on the roof of the car, each drop drilling guilt through my skin, until I’m clenching my fists, furious with myself for so many things that are all tangled up so I can’t see quite which one it is that’s the real reason.
No one speaks the rest of the ride to school. The silence builds up and up until it’s screaming in my ears and howling through my skeleton. It only reminds me of all that isn’t voiced; all I need to block out; all the things that just remind me that something, something small yet hugely significant, lurking in the cobwebby shadows of my soul, has changed. I never want to look at it. I won’t look at it.
I’m actually wishing we could reach the school faster so as I can escape this intoxicating muteness and let the shrieking December rain wash away all my rawness.
I don’t know what I touched on with mentioning singing, but it’s something painful, something unspoken; I know that much. And I think I’ve hurt Gerard like he hurt me, because I can see his spine rigid under the black leather shell, and his hands have that tell-tale tremor as he rakes one seemingly carelessly through his silken midnight hair.
I remember the feel of that hair, something all broken up making the softest black waterfall ever as-
Furiously, I turn my thoughts away from memories and into the present; the bleak, dreary December rolling by in a smudged blur, jaw clenched angrily.
My stomach gives a dizzying lurch as I realise the car has turned into the endless, bleak road of colourless brick and grimy gutters and no skies that leads to school. Nervously, I clutch the handle of my guitar case and mentally prepare myself for another bleak day tasting my own blood and trudging wearily through the endless corridors as if I’m alone. Panic swelling, I glance towards the front of the car to see just how close we are to hell.
It’s a bad time to look up.
My eyes fall into a pair of unfathomable, stormy deep emerald ones. They’re rimmed flawlessly with smoky black and smothered away in their own smouldering depths. I struggle, trying furiously not to let myself become consumed by the eyes I’ve been trying so hard to avoid looking into all morning.
Not that it’s been particularly difficult- since I first ambled moodily into the kitchen for breakfast, Gerard’s acted as if I’m about as relevant as a piece of wallpaper, mouldering in the background- unless he’s throwing snide comments my way.
But now his eyes are locked with mine, all intricate and intelligent with whispers of terror, and I don’t quite know what to do. My heart’s thumping so loud I can hear fierce, scarlet blood pounding in my skull and telling a horror story that that has nothing to do with the approaching hell hole.
“Apparently it’s forecast to snow tomorrow,” Steve’s voice hacks through our shared gaze, making me start and drop my gaze guiltily to my Converse, cheeks suddenly flaming as the perplexing connection shatters like a torn cobweb. For once, I’m immensely grateful to Steve’s tactless timing, but I can still feel the ghost of the intensity of Gerard’s gaze burning through my skull- even though he’s turned back round to blankly face the front, hands trembling on his lap.
“Really?” Mikey asks, enthusiastically seizing something Steve’s announcement to drag us all from the suffocating silence.
“Yes, and for the next couple of days, apparently,” Steve says, chugging into the school car park behind a rusty red Polo. It’s still pouring with dark grey rain that batters relentlessly at the windscreen. Steve flicks the windscreen wipers onto full, and they squeak irritatingly at the wet glass, making me grit my teeth with irrational annoyance, fuelled by my increasing apprehension and dread.
“So,” He continues tactlessly when no one says anything. Gerard looks like a trapped animal as we trundle through the potholes and muddy puddles of the car park- I can almost taste his fear, share his fear that snags on everything else like poison in water.
Furiously, I turn my head away, biting my lower lip and gritting my teeth more forcefully as I look out at the bleak, rain-washed building that’s starting to run like the colours in a black and white painting. I don’t care about him. I hate him, just like I should.
And he clearly hates me too.
When the car finally slides to a halt in front of the school, it’s actually a relief.
Gerard’s spidery fingers are on the door before Steve even turns off the engine.
“Wait a second, Gerard!” Steve calls as Gerard stumbles out into the bitter December rain, stumbling slightly on the uneven ground as he pulls his leather jacket nervously around him and shakes his hair out of his zombie eyes.
“What?” he turns round, snarling at his father. His eyes are still blank, like someone’s ripped their secrets out and spattered their bloody guts on the floor at his feet.
“You forgot your guitar,” Steve sighs, looking troubled as he gestures to Gerard’s smart black guitar case still sitting on the passenger seat.
Without a word, Gerard snatches it up and bolts off across the dreary yard lit with cheap, flickery, cheap amber flood-lamps that highlight the violent grey rainfall. He bolts away from the car and melting into the cheap-biro ink crowd like a silent infection. He bolts away from my careless, hurtful remark that still hangs in the confused air between us, adding to the silent dagger tally.
With a small sigh, I hitch my guitar onto my shoulder and step out into the icy, dark grey rain. It’s colder than it looked and lashes viciously at my skin like razors.
“Thanks for the lift,” I mumble at Steve, pulling my hood up before hoisting my schoolbag more securely onto my shoulder, swallowing the fluttery, flapping moths rising in my gullet and getting their wings all tangled up with my saliva, and turning away. I shakily but determinedly follow Gerard’s invisible footsteps into the consuming crowds, not waiting for Mikey.
As I walk, I find myself anxiously watching Gerard’s progress through the sodden masses, just waiting for him to bump into Danny, or to look back and show some sign of fear that will spill out into the cold air like blood into the deep, merciless ocean- fear for Danny to hunt out with his dead eyes and dead soul, a shark of the shadows.
But he reaches the main entrance unscathed, where some scene chick with orange hair and snakebites greets him with a kiss on the cheek and a wiggle of her chest. He wraps a skinny arm round her waist and pulls her inside, laughing emptily.
I stomp towards the back entrance to the locker rooms, wondering why my heart suddenly feels as though the fluttery moths have laid eggs of bitterness in its pumping red, and now the larvae has hatched, tearing their way out with tiny, venomous teeth, leaving it raw, stinging, and even emptier than Gerard’s laugh.
The school day gets off to a seriously bad start, which honestly, is really saying something seeing as it’s a Monday and I’m timetabled for Maths first period. I swear, whoever organises the timetables is some kind of sadist. Thank god I only have to endure ten minutes of the lesson before heading off to my guitar lesson.
But things go wrong before I’ve even reached the Maths corridor.
As soon as registration’s over, I’m out of the room like a shot, trying to shake off Mikey as I stumble down the rapidly filling corridors- but he trails persistently after me, eyes full of hazel concern in the colourless sea of school ties and harsh expressions. I half feel bad for leaving him behind, but more just annoyed. I wish he’d just leave me alone.
I fumble faster through the masses swarming up and down the greasy corridors, shoving people out of the way so as they look disapprovingly round and sometimes yell things after me. I don’t take any notice. I just need to get out of this humanity crush so I can breathe in air that isn’t full of the flesh of sins, because suddenly, I can’t breathe. Their hollow laughing and chattering rings in my ears and their repulsive bodies buffet against me.
Just as I reach the locker room door, I burl into someone steely and look up, heart sinking into my stomach. My stomach drops when I see who it is, legs going weak with dread. Everything in my mind slips away, truly forgotten as fear consumes me.
“Well, well, well,” Danny says slowly, the familiar sneer dividing his face as he looks down at me gleefully. “What’s the hurry, Freak Iero?”
I mumble something unintelligible and try and sidle past in the decreasing surge of students, heart thudding thick and clammy in my chest.
Danny reaches out harshly and grabs hold of the back of my school shirt, making me jump and my heart struggle to escape. But Danny’s too strong.
“Where the hell do you think you’re going, Freak?” He laughs coldly, eyes boring into me like a cursed morgue, all dead grey-green and putrid deeds.
“Maths,” I say truthfully, hoping I sound determined, but it just comes out as a little squeak from where I’m hiding behind my raggedy chestnut hair, shaking.
“Don’t you think you owe me something first?” Danny spits, fixing me again with those brutal, dead, deep-sea eyes that chill right through my soul. I suddenly think of how many times those eyes have ruined me. I remember their sadistic gleam in the club on Friday night. I remember what those eyes did to Gerard, and against my will my chest tears in two, hatred bleeding fast and free from the wound. I grip the handle of my guitar case tightly and look up, thin-lipped and trembling, but this time with anger.
“Well?” Danny demands, shoving me back against the doorframe so as the peeling plaster smacks into my flesh painfully. Behind his soulless sneer, I hear Mikey’s sharp intake of breath and will him to see sense and leg it.
“Don’t you think you owe me something?” Danny is spitting forcefully, right in my face, so repulsively close I can smell his rotting soul on his breath.
“Yeah, actually,” I stammer out shakily, heart thundering for what I can’t believe I’m about to do. But in that moment, I don’t care. I really, really don’t. I hate this boy for everything he’s done. Every single thing he’s ruined and everything he’s torn apart.
Every emerald-eyed boy he’s ripped into pieces and left, broken on the floor.
I draw myself up, shake my hair away from my face and look Danny straight in the eye, blood snarling in my veins.
“How about a punch in the fucking face, you twat?” I spit harshly, mind overwhelmed with the fury coursing through me. My hand flies up, but before it can hit home, Danny grabs it and twists it fiendishly behind my back, making me yelp out in agony and Mikey make another anxious noise. I daren’t look round in case I draw Danny’s attention to his presence, but silently will him just to leave me to the vultures.
“Awww, is Freak Iero angry?” Danny jeers coldly, face right in mine as he twists my wrist so hard back against the peeling grey wall that I cry out, pain like fire ripping through my hand. “Why is ickle Fwankie mad?” He twists more forcefully, and I can’t even feel my fingers any more. It feels like the bones are splintering into my veins, puncturing them.
“Let go,” I manage weakly, still struggling in his vice-like grip. “Please.”
“Did you finally realise that no one cares about you?” Danny gloats, snickering.
All the anger drains out as I look at him and swallow. There’s a horrible truth in his words, and it scrapes painfully close to the bone. Sure, people care. But the person I want to care doesn’t the slightest little bit.
But that doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t care either now.
“What on earth is going on here?” The dulcet tones of our deputy head slices through the tension, and Danny releases my throbbing wrist carelessly, turning round to face Mrs. Ellis’ grim expression with a slimy look of self-satisfaction plastered across his chiselled features, jagged and ugly.
“Get to class- the both of you!” She snaps tiredly, not even bothering to work out what’s going. She’s striding back down the waxy linoleum corridors in her spike-heeled boots before Danny’s even stepped away from me.
I tremble, wishing first lesson hadn’t started- if it hadn’t, there’d be more people around to hear me scream; but the corridors are almost completely deserted now.
“Well…I’ll be off then. Lucky escape, midget,” Danny hisses. “But I’ve got bigger fish to fry, anyway.”
Before I can work out what that the darkness to that statement was, Danny sneers, spits in my face, and strides off, down the corridor, leaving me to slide weakly down the wall in relief, breathing shallowly and rubbing my aching wrist where he gripped so hard angry red imprints of violence remain, like ghosts of blood.
Mikey comes rushing forwards, eyes wide.
“Frank!” He squeaks, trying to help me up as I wipe Danny’s spit from my face in disgust.
“You should have just cleared off,” I tell him irritably, rejecting his hand and pulling myself up to standing position on my own, wincing as pain shoots through my wrist. “He could have got you too.”
“I had to make sure you were okay!” Mikey protests, stepping closer.
“I’m fine,” I say gruffly, pushing Mikey away. “And I’m not worth that, okay?”
“But, you’re bleeding-”
“I’m fine, okay?” I snap, storming down the now nearly empty, dimly lit corridor.
“You’re not!” Mikey insists nervously, trailing after me.
“I AM! I’m fucking fine, okay! Leave off!” I shout, whirling round. “Leave me alone, Mikey. I’m best on my own, okay?!” I glare furiously at him, wincing at how harsh my words sound in silent air. They buzz angrily round the empty corridor, as I wish I could snatch them back yet force them into Mikey’s face at the same time.
Mikey just blinks owlishly at me for a second, his hazel eyes filling with hurt as if he didn’t realise I could be so mean.
“Sorry,” he mumbles after several moments, ducking his head and ambling away down the corridor in his navy blue duffel coat and turned-in knees. Guilt nudges at my armour, but I grit my teeth and refuse to acknowledge it.
All the same, I watch him until he’s turned the corridor and I’m left alone and hurting with a lump in my throat I can’t quite seem to swallow.
When I tentatively slope into Maths 7 ten minutes later to explain to Mr. Jones that I am present, but I have to go for my guitar lesson, I’m somewhat perturbed to see Danny’s seat right in the middle of all the jocks is uncharacteristically empty.
There’s something off about his absence, something that makes prickles of unease slither down my spine as I stare at his vacant seat- something other than the fact I know he’s in school because he punched me in the face just over ten minutes ago. There’s something wrong.
“Off you go, then,” Mr. Jones tells me wearily, rousing me from my worried thoughts as he hands me back my permission slip.
Heart cold with unexplainable fear, I take the slip and, with one last anxious glance at Danny’s empty seat, set off for my guitar lesson, unease still prickling at my spine like needles injecting me with deceitful vaccinations.
The corridors are uncomfortably silent- my Converse sneakers squeak loudly on the cracked linoleum floors, and I keep half-expecting to hear a victim’s screams- but all that shrieks is the silence.
And the silence doesn’t reassure me one little bit.
Something is very wrong. I can taste it in the air, feel it curdling in my blood and my soul and my pulse. I couldn’t explain what it is, lamenting the musty air, but there’s something there. Something cold and dark and forbidding, as I walk cautiously through the silent corridors, ears straining to hear something above the pounding rain.
The sound of rain only increases as I ascend the stairs to the music block, making me feel edgier still, because it drowns out everything I need to hear. But I continue up the chewing-gum speckled staircase, watching the dark, bleak winter howl round the building and lash against the rickety, grimy window panes.
All the way to the music room, I feel as though there’s someone screaming along with the howling winter wind and rain, just a semi-tone too quiet for me to hear.
For some reason, when I arrive for my lesson, I’m not surprised to see Gerard not there- but his absence greatly increases the feeling of cold, stormy unease churning in the pit of my stomach. For several moments, I just stare at the empty wooden stool and the rain battering against the window behind it like someone’s unheard tears, something building in the rawness of my chest.
Where is he? He had his guitar with him today, so he must have been intending to come. Not that I care, obviously. But there’s something weird about his non-existent attendance. Something that chills right through me.
Something that scares me.
“Hello there, Frank! How are you today?” Mr. Hallow’s cheerful voice snaps me from my thoughts and I hurriedly cross the small room to plonk myself down on one of the wooden stools, unzipping my guitar case with shaky fingers and trying to block out my rapidly escalating thoughts of panic.
“Um, fine thanks, Sir,” I lie, pulling out my guitar and fumbling in my pocket for a plectrum. My hands are trembling so much it takes me several moments.
“Good weekend?” Eric asks me, as good-mannered as usual.
“No,” I snap, tuning up somewhat fiercely and nearly breaking one of the strings.
“Oh,” Eric looks a little hurt, but says nothing, just starts warming up.
Mr. Hallow looks surprised, but instead of remarking, says- “Do either of you know where Gerard is? Again?” He sighs, checking his watch. “We’ve only got twenty minutes for this lesson.”
“Sorry, Sir,” Eric replies with a shrug. “I’ve never even spoken to him.”
I just shake my head silently, hair hanging limply across my vision.
“Oh dear,” Mr. Hallow says lightly. “Well, shall we get started? Who wants to play their composition first? Eric?”
“Sure,” Eric beams, strumming out a couple of test-chords, when suddenly one of the strings snaps, making him jump as it spirals to the floor.
“Ooops! Not to worry, Eric,” Mr. Hallow says kindly. “I’ve got a spare one in my case- Frank, would you like to play us your composition while I get this fixed?”
I don’t reply, just sit sullenly under my hair, watching the way the greasy strip lighting flickers with each particularly strong gust of wind to buffet the window.
“Frank?” Mr. Hallow probes gently. “Did you get the lyrics finished?”
“Yes,” I reply reluctantly, trying not to sigh. “Do you want me to sing?”
“Please,” Mr. Hallow smiles, eyes twinkling.
Slightly encouraged, I shift around on my seat until I’m facing the window. The rain is still gushing from the gutter and the leaden sky in a torrent of bleak December, the clouds murkier than ever over the yard below.
But that’s not what makes my heart freeze, my breath catch, my pulse forget to seethe, just for that split, half-forgotten heartbeat.
Where the colourless schoolyard, lit up dimly by the cheap flood-lights, is visible from this storey, I suddenly catch sight of a starkly familiar figure is streaking past, making wildly for the peeling veranda. He’s running furiously fast; a blur of skeletal skin and hiding black as he sprints through the torrential winter rain as though fleeing for his life to the shadows.
Before I can even realise it’s Gerard, he’s disappeared from sight, and my heart sinks in unacknowledged disappointment.
But before I can breathe again and fill my spluttering lungs, three ugly, twisted figures thunder past on his ghosted, wispy grey trail in the rain, feet thundering brutally in the rhythm of nightmares on the worn concrete as they hound in on Gerard, their soulless breath spiralling up into the grim winter light like vaporous sins, choking everything. They’re only visible for the darkest of flashes, and then they’ve disappeared from sight too, like a mangled shiver into the bleakness.
My heart’s thumping and thumping and thumping with fear for my enigmatic stepbrother and what’s about to happen to him. I don’ care about him, I hate him- but I can feel panic rising up in my chest as I think of him, alone in the rain-drenched world, being pounded and bruised and beaten with no escape, no alibi-
“Frank?” Mr. Hallow’s concerned voice makes me jump and whirl round. The artificial strip lighting flickers again as the winter storm of brutal wind and rain worsens. Both he and Eric are staring at me, worry tainting their gazes.
“Y-yes?” I stammer, trying to squash down the fear I feel for someone I should hate. Someone I do hate. What’s wrong with me?
I turn back round angrily, trying to ignore the throbbing in my wrist as I position my guitar and attempt to force away any thoughts of sympathy. The rain gushes down the window, reminding me of tears that need to be cried- that are being cried.
“When you’re ready,” Mr. Hallow says gently, looking concerned.
“Oh.” My mind fumbles for a minute. “My composition.”
“Yes,” Mr. Hallow replies, looking distinctly worried now. “Are you quite alright, Frank?” He frowns, coming to sit down beside me, his amber-tinted brown gaze full of empathy as he surveys me closely.
As always, I duck behind my hair and drop my gaze.
“I’m fine,” I mumble.
“Sure?” Mr. Hallow probes tentatively.
I nod determinedly and get my guitar into place, clearing my throat as I try very hard not to think about the last time I sung this- or that I know exactly where Danny is now- and what he’s going to be doing to the person who I sung to like the lyrical melody was some kind of fear-tonic.
A horrible, cold shiver ghosts over me and I shudder, feeling sick.
“Off you go, then,” Mr. Hallow tells me softly, pulling me back to the present.
I close my eyes and start to play, letting my fingers feel their way across the strings and trying to let the rain drumming against the glass beside me become a lullaby for my anxious mind. I need it to fall asleep so it’ll stop whirring; stop feeling; stop thinking. I need to be nothing but the music, because it’s all that heals.
“…I know I’m in this alone…My heartbeat is lonely, my footsteps fumble solo…the high of my day is it’s end- how can my bruised soul…ever contend…?” I sing, voice hoarse and raw. It feels as though the lyrics are tearing up my throat as I force myself on, strumming away at the strings, but for once, it’s not working.
I can’t stop thinking, my mind won’t stop churning, it won’t relent, won’t let me forget…Pictures of Gerard fumble through my mind, violent and honest and painted red. My eyes are closed, shut against the world, but I still can’t stop seeing.
Angrily, I force myself to continue playing, but my chords are strummed to fiercely now so as they twang with disenchantment.
“…My scars tell my horror story, my screams silence my fears…Can no one hear? Can no one HEAR? I walk the school corridors as if I’m alone, but I always have This Shadow…”
I can see him; slumped against the lockers, masquerade shattered on the floor, blood and bruises and a broken façade, tears of emerald tumbling lower…
My fingers snag and slip on the strings.
“…School tie nooses and Prozac blurred nightmares are my best hope! So dead, so DEAD INSIDE! …I’ll spend the rest of my empty days smoking dope…”
I can feel him; clinging to my hand like it was the only thing keeping him alive, listening to all my deepest fears and telling me I was brave, dark lashes fanned shut as I sung to survive…
My voice crumbles.
“Or waiting…For a NON EXISTENT BETTER!”
I can see him right now; alone and screaming, breaking, bleeding- but trying to hold it all together so no one can see the mess that’s all tangled up inside, because he’s anything but empty on the inside- it’s raw and hurting and seething…
My chords stumble out of sync. My voice is fraying. My fingers are shaking.
“IS EVERYONE EMPTY? I SEE YOUR… CARNIVAL MASK….YOUR PAINTED-ON SMILE A-AND W-…I Can’t- no….No! Fuck off, fuck off, fuck off!” I scream the words out as though they’re burning my gullet.
I can’t play anymore. I’m shouting and shoving my guitar to the floor and standing up, eyes blazing, veins hissing. I can’t stand it. It’s eating me alive.
Eric drops his plectrum and Mr. Hallow blinks at me.
The air is burning me with its suppressed fear.
I know what I have to do. Trembling furiously, I stuff my guitar into its case and haul it onto my back, not looking at either of them.
“Frank-” Mr. Hallow starts.
“Leave me alone,” I choke, and then I’m bolting for the door and stumbling wildly down the grimy polished stairs with my guitar case clunking at my back and my hair in my eyes and my feet fumbling over one and other more frantically than the rain battering the world outside.
Only one thing is crystal-clear in my befuddled mind- one thing screaming out so loudly it’s impossible for me to ignore- even though I don’t know why. I just know I do;
I need to find Gerard.
I need to save Gerard.
I need Gerard.
Soooo, what d'you think? Like I said, there was gunna be more to this, but it ended up being too long to put it all in, and I think it kinda ended quite well there anyway...? I don't know. Anyway, it means the next chapter is already part-written, and ooh, the drama xD Anyway, I'd love to know what you guys thought- I felt oddly nervous about this chapter as I haven't written this for a little while. Really hope it was okay. I'll update real soon, promise. Rate? Review? Thanks so much for reading, I love you all so much!