This first chapter is for informational rather than entertainment purposes. So just hang in there :)
Freshman year was finally over. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I wanted it to end. All things considered this past year was arguably one of the best years of my life. I'd been accepted into to the new magnet school, Belleville School For the Performing Arts, where I had the opportunity to major in Musical Theatre, I'd been cast in three major musical roles as a first year and I'd received a standing ovation in Belleville's First Annual Talent Show when I totally rocked Phantom of the Opera on the piano. All this within the first few months of school (And did you know that I can juggle with one hand while hand feeding African Orphans with the other?)
Sure I had the ever so predictable relationship with a "Bad Boy", Richard, but had it not been for his Cro-Magnon tendencies I never would have met my current boyfriend, Sky, who is most likely the sweetest guy I think I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. I know, I know, I'm a walking romantic comedy cliché, but it's better than the alternative.
Despite Hollywood portrayals of downtrodden and alienated freshmen, my first year of high school was pretty damn fantastic. When I was in eighth grade I decided to audition for the school musical, purely as a joke, and wouldn't ya' know it? I got the lead. I'd been in plenty of newspapers since being cast as the lead in my first musical, and my local fame followed me into ninth grade. Complaints you ask, my fair reader? Well, I had none. Life was awesome back then. I'd give anything to have it back
I guess I should probably tell you about myself. At the start of this story I'm fourteen years old. In present time I'm no longer in high school and my life is no longer so simple, but we'll get there soon enough. As the goddess Julie Andrews once sang, "Let's start from the very beginning. A very good place to start." I was, and still am, five foot three inches, with auburn hair that I was constantly cutting into different horrific styles as I "tried to find myself". My eyes are and always have been brown, only changing to the color green when I cry (so says my mother anyway). This story kicks off in the beginning of the 1990's and like I said before, I really loved life, and little did I know, but winter of my first year of high school things were going to get a whole lot better. In hindsight do I regret it all now? I'm not sure. Some days I wish it never would have happened. Then other days I think it's his fault for existing and showing up to school that day, but I'll never know how much better life would or wouldn't be had I not done the exact things I did and made the choices I've made. Enough of this though. As I said, we'll get there...
Thanksgiving break had just begun and like any self respecting teen I was rocking out to Nirvana when my phone rang. At first I didn't hear it, but when my mother came in excitedly whispering that it was for me I paused my boombox and grabbed my phone off my nightstand.
"Hello?" I panted, still out of breath from screaming along with sexy Kurt
" Yes, hello Miss Magnoli, my name is James Bellairs." the name meant nothing to me, and so I stayed silent. "I'm a casting director." I immediately stopped twirling the cord around my finger and I sat up, giving this man my full attention.
"Oh my god!" I practically shouted into the phone, because I couldn't think of anything more intelligent to say.
"Yes, I have some great news." I sat quietly. Not that I couldn't think of anything to say, but I know that if I opened my mouth I'd ruin whatever news he was about to share. "Would you like to hear it?" I nodded, then slapped my forehead knowing he couldn't see me.
"Yes I'd very much like to hear it." breathing was becoming an increasingly difficult task. It didn't help that my mother was standing over me, grinning like a loon, it was evident she was already in on the great secret.
"Well, an up and coming director is making a new movie called Daddy & Me. Now we've been looking for an actress to play the daughter for quite a bit now, and we happened to stumble upon your name. We've been hoping for an unknown actress to portray her." If I didn't breathe soon, I'd need medical attention. Taking a deep breath I managed to squeak a sound back at him letting know he could continue. "Yes, well we were wondering if you could maybe come in for an audition? Of course you're not the only girl we've invited, but we still hope you'll come out to New York anyway."
I almost screamed. "I'd really love that." I said calmly.
I'd go into all the details, but to be completely honest I don't remember them. It all happened so quickly that before I knew it I had managed to land myself a lead role in a film. Ma walked into my room as I was reading the script I'd been given to memorize. "So how's it coming?" she asked, sitting on my bed.
"Well," I mumbled through a mouth full of string cheese, "Basically this girl is sexually abused by her dad, but nobody believe her or tries to help her, so she tracks everyone down and kills them. Not the best script in the world, but people eat this kind of stuff up." I began flipping through the script stopping to read some parts over again.
"Wow, that's really, uhm, not too great. You really want to do this though don't you?"
"Sure why not. It couldn't hurt."
"Well you know that you'll have to leave school, and you'll be tutored on set so that you can jump right back in with your class when you return next year." Ever the buzz kill, I just grumbled at her and asked her to go out and buy more string cheese.
The next thing I knew I had been a part of a massive Block Buster Smash. How you ask? I have no idea. The movie received two Golden Globe nominations. Best Movie and Best actress. Guess who won best actress. This kid. It was a wonderful start to what I hoped, would be a wonderful and totally cliché life. But we don't always get what we want.
It was a deathly cold New Jersey winter morning, and my friend Stephanie and I ran off the bus to get into the school. When the door opened the heat hit us in the face making our hair fly everywhere. We both cursed under our breath as we walked in and started taking our gloves off to fix our hair. As we dropped our things off at Spanish class Stephanie bitched" God I hate this class." as she flung her bag at the wall. I just looked at her and shrugged, there were worse things than Spanish Class. The two of us made our way back to the lunch room where we promptly sat down at our usual table. Within minutes it filled up. It was quiet for a bit as everyone ate their breakfast. Munching on some toast I wondered what surprises would unfurl that day, and then I laughed at myself for hoping for such a nice thing. It would be boring and educational just like every other day. I snorted to myself. My friend Georgia turned to me. Georgia was the most level headed out of the lot of us. Visually resembling a pixie, with her tiny pretty features, she was forever calm, and forever dying her hair some crazy neon color. Currently it was green. "Anything wrong, Bri?" I shook my head and she snorted back at me like a piggy, making us both laugh.
The conversation at the table was pretty sucky and barely hanging by a thread until Stephanie opened her mouth.
"So Bri, how's the whole Richard thing going?" she asked with a poor effort to look concerned and innocent. As I turned toward her I could feel everyone stiffen. Squinting my eyes I debated with myself. Did I kill her, or answer her? To kill, or not to kill. That was the question. I'd been getting really sick of her lately. We were textbook frenemies as awful as it sounds. Our guidance counselor said we needed to try and put our best feet forward Sophomore year. It wasn't easy, and it sucked more Take 25 on a movie.
"Not well, Stephanie." I wanted to leave it at that, but she didn't, so she probed on, treading into more dangerous territory.
"Well how come Sky hasn't done anything about it? I mean, he IS your boyfriend. Isn't he? You always tell me that he ISN'T a pansy-ass, but where is the proof?" Everyone looked at her. I drew the line at Sky. As corny as it sounds I really loved him. As much as any Sophomore in high school could love someone anyway.
"Do you WANT to die?" Lucas asked, his blue eyes piercing her. Good old Lucas was one of my best friends, unlike Stephanie, he was for real and I loved him like family. I could probably count on him to have my back in a gun fight, should I ever find myself in one. She looked at him and finally decided that she needed to be quiet, but I didn't want to be. The whole bus ride to school she sat there talking about her latest sexual conquest (that didn't happen) and how my boyfriend was a girlie man.
"What is your problem?" I asked calmly.
"Dude, chill. What's wrong with you?" I hated her. "Calm down."
That was what pushed me slightly over the edge. Have you ever been told to calm down even though you're already calm? Drives you nuts right? Makes you anything but calm."My boyfriend is better than any sex fiend you've ever dated." I snapped. "Maybe I just don't want to bother him with stupid petty shit? I know you might do that to your boyfriends, but obviously that method isn't working out too well for you is it? SO LEAVE ME FUCK ALONE!" I couldn't think of anything better to say so I sat down with a superior huff and stared at my food. Not to mention I felt ashamed because the real reason I didn't tell Sky about my current Richard problem was because I didn't want him to know. Not because it was petty and silly and not worth bothering him over, but because it was the exact opposite. It was very much an issue that need to be dealt with. She always knew how to ruin a morning. Glancing at my Reptar watch I saw that it was about 8:30 AM. 30 more minutes with her.
"Cursing that loudly and in an area heavily populated with teachers no less? That's gutsy, even for you, kiddo." Everyone froze at the sight of our behemoth principal, Mr. J. He was cool, until you got in trouble. He was like the white version of Barry White. I mentally beat myself with a shovel until I bled. Turning slowly I looked up at my principal and smiled nervously.
"Bri, you're lucky this is the first time this has happened. Next time you'll get written up." It was times like those I regretted telling everyone I wanted to be treated like a normal kid. I had been about to return to mentally harming myself when I noticed there was a shadowy figure hunched slightly behind Big J. The boy standing next to Mr. J. was odd and staring at his feet. He wasn't ugly but he certainly wasn't good looking. There was nothing really wrong with him that I could physically see, but something just wasn't right. He was fairly chubby with baby-fat that had yet to go away, and his nose was pointy with eyes that were dark brown, almost black. He kept pushing his greasy hair away from his eyes, a nervous habit no doubt. It was in dire need of a trimming, and wasn't exactly a cool hairstyle, but it looked kinda grungy I guess. His clothes were the only things that seemed perfectly normal. They were pretty stylish actually. He was wearing some severely damaged Chucks and beat up blue jeans. The over sized leather jacket must have been new once upon a dream...or longer, but I had to give the kid humungous props on the Bruce Springsteen t-shirt that was barely peeking out from the plaid shirt he had on under his jacket. "Cool shirt." I said offering what I hoped was my Red Carpet smile. He awkwardly scratched his head, but otherwise kept staring intently at his untied laces.
"Oh good." J said. "Guys, this is a new student. He moved here a few days ago, and I need someone to show him around." J looked around the table and then looked at me, raising his eyebrows.
I slowly turned and looked at all the faces around me. Some were curious, but not curious enough to consider helping, others were judgmental but they were ALL looking at me. Dirty traitors, I thought to myself, not really wanting to spend some one on one time with this kid. He was weird, but I liked to consider myself a good person. Sighing and feeling bad for the him I said grudgingly "I'll do it."
Big J smiled. "Good." then he left.
The poor kid stood there awkwardly, picking his head up just enough to peer at us from under his matted hair. I glared after Mr. J. "So much for introductions." Putting my big girl panties on I stood and thrust out my hand. "Brianna Magnoli, I'm a sophomore." His eyes widened so much I thought they'd pop out of his messy head. Inwardly I cringed, not wanting him to cause a scene or even worse...ask for an autograph and photo. All the same I just smiled as he tentatively shook my hand and started to talk.
"I-" His raspy voice was still in the process of fully deepening and it cracked. He cleared his throat. "I'm Gerard Way, I'm a sophomore too." his voice was a little louder that time. There was a short awkward silence in which Gerard rocked back and forth a little, fiddling with the spirals on a big notebook he had in his arms.
I sucked in a breath, "Well, uh, welcome to Belleville. Um. Oh yeah! Introductions, okay, um well, I'm Brianna obviously, but you can call me Bri if you want. Most people do. This is Lynette." I said pointing to an eclectic Wiccan girl who was my female version of Lucas. "That's Georgia, Stephanie, and Leasha." Leasha was a delightfully intelligent stoner. She was a great friend, albeit a tad abrasive. Rough on the outside she was a total puppy lover once you got to know her. Turning to the other side of the table I resumed my introductions. "This is Lucas," Lucas lift a hand and said Yo, "And that guy right there," You said pointing to a very short boy a Mohawk the same shade of green as his girlfriend, Georgia's "That's Frankie, he got himself kicked out of Catholic School for putting a sausage in his pants and making the Nun's think it was a- well they thought it was something else." You smirked and Frankie looked up, his mouth twitched at the corners a little as he nodded before he went back to staring at the table. Gerard looked a little uncomfortable. "Frankie's cool though, he's technically supposed to be a sophomore, but he'll be considered a freshman until he retakes math and passes. He's an awesome guitarist." Gerard seemed to perk up slightly at this.
After another awkward silence I decided to change subject, "Let me see your schedule" He looked at me through a sheet of dark hair, and slowly reached into his pocket pulling out a crumpled piece of paper. I took it and carefully unfolded it, reading it as it slowly flattened in my hands.
First Block: Spanish II Morton
Second Block: Honors Biology Lauren
Third Block: Honors Theatre II Roberts
Fourth Block: Art II Everly
Blinking I shook my head slightly. It was exactly the same as my schedule...honors classes and all, so he was obviously smart. As I glanced up at him he quickly looked down, his cheeks flaming as I caught him staring.
Turning away from my friends I addressed the new comer, "Well, I'm going to show you around okay? Come on." I turned and started walking away. My friend's stares burning through my back, but I didn't turn around or slow my pace. At least not until Gerard asked me to slow down. Stopping, annoyed, I turned around to face him. He was a good ten yards behind, waddling as fast as he could to catch up. Just as fast as I got annoyed, I felt bad. When he finally caught up, he stopped and bent over to catch his breath. A small laugh escaped my mouth, and he looked up at me and frowned a bit. "No, no. I'm not laughing at y- " I stopped abruptly as Gerard straightened up and looked me directly in the eye. Slightly taken aback I tried to apologize, "I'm sorry. I-" Still panting, he raised an eyebrow. "Sorry." I managed to squeak out. He just nodded and looked at his schedule, which was still in your hands. My face was burning. I was so embarrassed at having been caught laughing at his expense.
Finally reaching Spanish class I told him "Just go ahead and drop off your bag. It's okay, nobody is going to take it in this school. Even if they wanted to, they'd be caught on one of our tens of thousands of cameras." I forced a laugh out, but Gerard ignored me and quietly looked up and down the hallway at all the camera's. "Soooo, do you want to go and see the biology room?" His nose crinkled slightly as he looked back down. I guess that's a no. He's so weird. I thought, looking at him. He'd only said about six words the whole time. Even Frankie said more than that and he never used to talk. Shaking my thoughts away I looked at the book he still clutched in his arms and saw that in messy block letters it said : GERARD'S SKETCHBOOK, TOUCH IT AND EVERY DEMON THAT HAS EVER HAUNTED YOU WILL REVISIT YOUR NIGHTMARES. The kid definitely had some issues going on. I took a half of a step away from him.
He glanced up and spoke the longest sentence I'd heard yet. "Could you please take me to see the art room?" his voice was so quiet, yet his facial expressions looked hopeful and excited.
"Uh, sure?" I shrugged and took him there, not knowing what the big deal was.
Mrs. Everly was sitting at her art desk grading some artwork. She didn't even glance up when she said "You know Bri, your pretty talented if you apply yourself. All this not handing in homework is really killing your grade." I shifted uncomfortably and could have sworn that Gerard laughed under his breath. Wonderful. Mrs. Everly finally looked up. "Oh! I'm sorry who's this?" she stood up and brushed her hands on her pants.
Clearing my throat, "Erm, this is Gerard Way. The new student. I'm supposed to show him around and he asked to come here." Mrs. E. smiled but Gerard was looking around the room.
"Hi Gerard I'm Mrs. Everly." Gerard's head snapped back to reality.
"Oh, hi. Nice room." He stared at his shoes.
"Well, I have to go to a meeting. But you're welcome to show Gerard around, Bri." and with that, Mrs. Everly left.
After the art teacher was gone I sat down while Gerard stayed in the same spot, his eyes moving across the room. I wasn't too thrilled at being alone with him again. "Hey Gerard?" He turned slightly toward me, but didn't actually look at me. I took it as an invitation to speak. "Uh, can I look at your sketchbook?" He turned to look at me and his face twisted into a smile. It was a quirky smile that spoke of mischief. Then he laughed. He laughed really loud. Oh my god, I thought, he IS a loon. Then he realized that I was staring at him in confused horror so he stopped abruptly and cocked an eyebrow. He did that a lot. He still does.
"Oh, sorry, you were serious weren't you? Well, okay. But look at it at your own risk." He handed me the sketchbook. "It's a bit morbid, well not to me, but my mother doesn't like it." He must have seen the look on my face because he paused, and then added "Don't be scared now." I wanted to slap him, but I didn't, because that meant touching him. Instead I tried to play it cool.
"Yeah okay." I snorted. Well let me tell you. That book creeped me out a little bit. It was morbid, yet beautiful at the same time. He was incredibly talented. What really struck me was when I reached the last picture. It was incredible, yet really simple and weird and cool all at the same time. It was a sketch of three people. Two guys a girl. One of the guys was making out with the girl, but the girl was inconspicuously handing the other guy a condom WHILE she was kissing her boyfriend. It was weird and appealed to me. I closed the book and handed it back. He sat there looking at me, as if waiting for my critique. "It was alright."
Unprepared for that response he was completely flabbergasted. "Wh- what?" He almost choked out the word. Then he got really serious and didn't say anything. I think I had offended him. On that note the bell rang. Gerard calmly got up and waited for me by the door. I remember thinking how strange he was, but I couldn't help being compelled to find out more about him.
So we both walked to Spanish.
The awkward silence between he and I was deafening yet we kept walking along when I felt two hands grab my waist, making me giggle. "Very funny, Sky. Quit it before we get written up for touching each other." Still chuckling, I turned and it was definitely not my boyfriend who grabbed me. There, in all his blonde hair and blue eyed glory, was Richard. "Get OFF me." I snapped quietly. At this point I'd stopped walking, silently hoping that Gerard had been lost in the crowd. Richard walked closer toward me and I backed up until I bumped into the lockers and he placed his hand under my chin gentle enough to not hurt, but firm enough that I couldn't pull away. I crossed my arms defiantly and angrily raised an eyebrow.
"Now don't be like that." Richard smiled his signature smile. It was the kind of smile that did terrible things to a girl's right mind.
I felt my eyes narrow as I hissed "I told you not to do this here." Richard ran his thumb over my bottom lip, making me shiver in pleasure before I came to my senses and hit him in the face. He immediately jerked his hand away and looked in the nearest window to make sure I didn't ruin his precious money maker. Had it been any other time, that would have been funny. When he saw he was okay he walked forward and grabbed my arm, jerking me forward. He got in my face. I didn't hear a single thing he was saying, all I heard was noise. I was distracted by the fact that his face was so close to mine. I was distracted by the sweet minty smell of his breath. I was snapped back to reality when I saw some students staring at us, and, not wanting this to get back to Sky I snapped to my senses. "Seriously let me go, people are staring at us." He let go. "Now leave me the hell alone." Before turning to leave I took a step forward hoping to get one more shot at his now vulnerable nose when a silent hand reached out and brushed my elbow. Whipping around I saw the new kid standing there. He shook his head slightly as if to say, "He's not worth it." Great. Just skippy.
I turned back in time to see that this moment was not wasted on Richard. A smirk snaked its way across Richard's tanned skin. "What do we have here?"
"Lay off ass-hole." I growled, surprising myself when I took a tiny step in front of Gerard. This didn't go unnoticed by Rich who looked angry, then amused.
"So, Buddy, what's that you got in your hand?" He tossed his head toward Gerard's sketchbook. The word Buddy was spit out like a dart. "Ooooo a diary?" Richard snorted, "God what a fag."
Gerard frowned. I was fuming "You are so disgusting!" shooting one last glare at Richard I twisted the new kids shoulders around and stalked off with him. "I would like to apologize for that horrid display of what I'm sure he thinks is manliness." Gerard just looked at his feet.
"I don't care." Then he paused and looked up at me. "I'm not gay." The look on my face must have been confused, because he added, "Just for the record you know?" Then he turned away and waited for me to keep walking. Staring at the back of his head, I was astonished. And there I was just an hour earlier thinking that this day wouldn't be exciting.
Neither Gerard nor I spoke again until we reached Spanish Class. Turning to Gerard I warned "She's a bit, uh, energetic. But she's nice." As I began to continue walking, I paused again. "Oh yeah." he glanced over at me curiously. "She's going to make you talk Gerard." he smirked and rose an eyebrow. I raised my eyebrow in return. "In Spanish."
He chuckled. It was no easy feat trying to understand that strange boy. Sometimes even now I still don't think I fully understand him, but I'm nowhere near as clueless now as I was then.
The two of us were about to sit down when Good Ole' Stephanie opened up her yap for what was unfortunately not going to be the last time. Expecting her to keep it shut was like thinking Elvis was still alive. It just wasn't realistic. "Señora Morton! We have a new student." As Stephanie jumped up and down I began to think of an ape, and from Gerard's smirk I concluded that he was thinking the same thing. The teacher looked up from across the room where she was conversing with a group of Puertorican students and upon seeing Gerard an overly hyper smile took over her face. As she started walking over she clasped her hands together.
"Ah! A new estudiante! Buenos dias!" she clapped her hands as if applauding him. He just stared at her, obviously not prepared for this onslaught of hyper. "Hablas espanol?" still smiling she looked expectantly at the new student. Wincing I slowly turned toward him. The poor kid was screwed.
Gerard cleared his throat and sat up a bit. He then proceeded to return the teacher's stupid smile. She continued to look expectantly at him. "Realmente yo hablo español fluídamente. Mi nombre es Gerard Way."
After I'd put my eyeballs back in my head I blinked incredulously at Gerard who sat there quite pleased with himself as he looked to me for approval. Which I gave.
Ninety minutes and three homework assignments later the bell rang. Off to Biology.
Stephanie, who 'conveniently' forgot about our earlier argument, was overly hyper and annoying. "Wow Bri! You like, haven't been a smart-ass yet today! Dude, are you like sick?" she felt my forehead. Pulling away I walked into Biology.
"New kid, you can sit behind me." If Gerard was offended by my curt tone he didn't betray himself. Not that he did a whole lot of sharing of the feelings back then.
"But? I always sit behind you." Stephanie said in a horribly tragic attempt to sound sad in a cutsie way. I forced a smile and said with the exact same voice inflection.
"Wouldn't want you to get sick now would we?" batting my eyes I pouted at her. Stephanie clenched her teeth and went to go sit on the other side of the room with the smelly kids. She pouted, but nobody cared. Soon after, Lynnette and Leasha walked in the room and began making their way over to the row next to me where they sat down one behind the other.
When Frank walked in he stopped abruptly and looked back and forth from me to Gerard, and back. Then he glanced curiously over at Stephanie. After rubbing his head he looked at Gerard one more time before saying "What the fuck? I must still be baked..." You cringed visibly at his choice of words as he sat down behind Gerard.
Class was uneventful. Though I did manage to break yet another beaker.
Yes, yes, I know, my lovely readers. You’re wondering why I have to give you so much background, and why this first day is so important. Well, to be honest, for me the first day I met Gerard was rather unimportant. A mere blip on my radar, if that. Had I not briefly mentioned it in my diary that night, and had I not asked Gee or Frankie or any of my other friends what happened I probably wouldn’t remember at all. He was, at the time, nothing more than a slightly interesting annoyance. Interesting like a car accident. You don’t REALLY feel like becoming invested in what happened, but you still wanted to know about it, you know? I know it sounds harsh, but that’s how I felt. Did he feel the same as I did? Did he think I was just some teen star brat? At the time I didn’t know, and I really didn’t care. I kept him around because he looked so lost and awkward and in desperate need of a shower. I felt bad for him. Had myself or my friends not accepted him, he would have be toast in a world where how you looked and who you were friends with were the ONLY things that mattered. Nobody cared how beautiful or how screwed up a person was on the inside as long as they fit into one of the social molds provided for them. Anyway, I’m giving you all this background because the things we do, and the choices we make help shape our futures, and let me tell you. My future was like modeling clay.
Right now I’m at a point in my life where I’m so in love that it’s painful. It makes my stomach flip and my head spin. The idea of losing the person I love makes me feel like I’m going to throw up. Without him I’d be lost. Without me he would be lost. I’d have no purpose if he wasn’t here. The ache in my heart that results from his absence is constant and burning until he returns. Making even the simplest physical contact with him is something that I live for. Something that I crave with my entire being. Whether it be brushing my cheek with his finger, or allowing our arms to touch as we stand next to one another. We don’t have to have sex to allow our bodies to speak with one another, and I think that’s what makes what we have so beautiful. It's a pity that what we have is also one of the most tragic and broken things to ever exist, but I’ll get to that later. You don’t need to know who he is yet, because it doesn’t matter. You still need to find out what happened then in order to understand what is happening now
"Don't eat that!"
Gerard hissed viciously as I slapped his wrist away from the cafeteria's deadly Wednesday Medley. Glaring at me, he rubbed the spot that I hit. It seemed that the only time he ever made eye contact with me was when he was angry. "Gosh, I barely touched you. Stop overacting. I was only trying to save you from the inevitable bathroom attack that accompanies that entre." Without a word he quickly stopped rubbing his arm and looked down at his food. He also started holding up the line, because he wasn't grabbing any food for his tray. Much like a Robot, Gerard didn't appear capable of doing anything on his own, so I grabbed some P.B.&J., a green jello and some chocolate milk which I promptly dropped on his tray before grabbing it and sliding it down the counter toward the cash register. "It's a buck twenty for lunch. Just in case they failed to tell you before you came to school today." I paid for my lunch and then decided to wait for him, so I could bring him to sit with my friends and I. There is nothing worse than having to sit by yourself during lunch in high school. It's social suicide. I was a brat who didn't really care about the new kid, but I wasn't going to abandon him. I was given a task, and I intended to complete it. Someone had to show him around, and I decided that he couldn't be left to the likes of Richard or one of the other jocks. Tapping my foot impatiently as he looked through his wallet I looked longingly over at the table my friends were sitting at. Sky was eagerly waving me over, and Georgia was giving me a weird look. I mouthed "hold on" and motioned toward Gerard who was still digging through his wallet.
"Sorry hun, but if you don't have any money I can't let you get lunch." Turning back toward the line I saw Gerard silently and dejectedly replace his wallet to his back pocket without bothering to argue or stick up for himself. Pissed off at his inability to man up for himself I stepped forward.
"What's wrong, Gerard?" I made a point to look directly at him when I asked. For some reason I didn't know, I hoped he'd say something to fight back against the cruel fate of hunger he was being dealt. When he kept silent Linda, the cashier, answered for him.
"He doesn't have any money. You know the rules, Miss Magnoli." it was evident that she was once pretty, soft and feminine but years of smoking and other hardships left her wrinkled, compressed and raspy voiced. "We treat everyone the same. Even new students."
"That's not fair, Linda, and you know it. He can't help if he forgot to put money in his wallet this morning." I pouted at her, trying to appease to whatever grandmotherly instinct she still possessed.
"Put that lip right back where it belongs, Brianna. Rules are rules. I'm not bending them. I don't care who you are or what movie you've been in. I'm not bending them." It was all becoming a bit ridiculous, and kids in line were starting to yell at Gerard. Naturally, Richard was amongst them. Rolling my eyes I looked at Gerard and I looked at my friends and I looked at Linda and then I locked eyes with Richard, who for a fleeting second made genuine and confused eye contact with me as I reached in my purse, pulled out two dollars and slammed them on the counter.
"You can't deny a kid food. It's illegal, and I have to power to tell Hilary Clinton about it." I lied through my perfect little actress teeth. "You know how she is currently up the ass of the education system, and I'm sure Big J. won't be pleased to know that you were the one responsible for bringing her Hell Fire down upon this institution." Not knowing why I stuck up for someone who I didn't even like, I grabbed Gerard's tray and shoved it into his stomach, "Come on, kid, you're sitting with me." And I stalked off, making my exit as dramatic as possible to achieve the desired effect. Once we reached the round lunch table I sat next to Sky and turned to make a goofy face at my friends who were clapping and laughing uproariously at my performance.
"You're a class act, Bri." Lucas said giving me the O.K. sign with his hand, "You seriously had everyone in there going! Hilary Clinton? REALLY?" he laughed and took a bite out of his homemade Tuna Sandwich as he shook his head.
"Yeah well, you know how I have a knack for the dramatic..." I leaned over and kissed Sky on the cheek as I opened my milk to take an unlady-like pirate swig. "Yummy scrumboes. School grade milk, my favorite!" Georgia lovingly called me an idiot and threw a french fry, which then landed in my milk. Lunch was one of my favorite parts of the day, we all had a chance to be together and act like total apes without caring who was watching. Things settled for a moment when I realized that Gerard was still hovering a few feet behind me. He was curiously staring at Sky. "You can sit down with us you know. I mean, that's the least you could do after I bought your lunch. This is my boyfriend by the way. Sky this is Gerard. He's new." I absentmindedly tried to get the fry out of my milk before it started to dissolve. Gerard sat right next to me. I scooted my seat down a bit trying to get away from him.
I poked Gerard with my pencil as he and I sat backstage during theatre class. Frankie was having issues with the light board again and we were plunged into another blackout that would last for who knew how long. It was too dark to see him. His black hair and jacket made it impossible to make his shape out in the blackness, but I felt the air next to me move, so I assumed he was acknowledging my poke. "Can I ask you something?" He mumbled something, and without asking for him to speak up I took it as a positive response. "Why on earth are you in theatre? How did you even get in? It requires talking, and some sort of show that you are aware of and part of the outside world." He chuckled. I was getting somewhere, and though I was surprised I didn't speak for fear he'd clam up and I wouldn't ever find out what was going on underneath his dirty hair.
"I'm not an actor. I write music and songs and play instruments and I know how to set up a sound system." I felt the air stir next to me and I thought he must have gotten up to leave when suddenly the lights turned back on and I realized he had turned and was looking directly at me. It made me uncomfortable. Saying something about the bathroom I got up and moved.
"Alright class, I've showed you the proper use of oil paints over the past few days, so you have the next hour and a half to jot some ideas down and get cracking." Mrs. Everly wiped her paint stained hands on her paint stained pants and walked over to the massive desk Gerard, Georgia, Stephanie and myself were sharing. Wherever she walked she carried the smell of turpentine with her. It was comforting and familiar and she was a teacher I enjoyed being around. "So I'm going to assume that's a sketchbook you carry around with you like a child, Gerard? Let me see it." She grabbed it from off the pile of school books he had next to him before he could protest. Mrs. E. wasn't a woman who ever mixed words or apologized. She told you how it was and while she never held your hand, she was always there along the way to help you out when it was needed much like a mother would. Flipping through the book, her face remained passive until she placed the book back. Gerard was looking up at her tentatively. "It's obvious you're very talented, and you seem to know your way around when it comes to various mediums of art. I have no doubt that you can jump into this assignment with the rest of the class. There are no rules other than you must use oil paints. It's due next Wednesday. You've got promise. I think you need some guidance, but I'm glad you're here. Other teachers would try and refine your skill. I don't want to do that. You've got a wonderful gritty passionate feel to your art. I want to help you tap into it and let it soar." with that she walked off. Gerard stared after her in slight aw, then glanced at his book. Without a word he got up, grabbed the necessary supplies and went to sit in a corner where he began painting in a room full of student who hadn't even begun to think about their rough sketches yet.
About three weeks later as we all sat together picking on toast and drinking our morning coffee, Gerard walked up and sat down without saying a word.
His hair was washed.
That was not usual.