Thirteen-year-old Evan Williams is alone. His beloved sister doesn't speak to him anymore. He has no other living family members and is an outcast at school. Though he has a few comforts in his life, he has no-one to share them with. He wondered if he'll ever find someone who wants him, or if he suddenly disappears, would someone look for him? That was his daily life, until one day someone--or something just as alone as he is finds him.
"Sis! I'm going now!" I call out with my left hand by my mouth to project my voice while my right palm was upon our glass door.
She doesn't answer.
The T.V is all that answers back to me.
"Eh, chompchompchomp, Whathss up doc?" I hear Daffy-Duck saying, trying to impersonate Bugs-Bunny. "Havin' any luck with thothse duckths? I'ths duck stheason, you know?"
"Just a daaarn minute," I heard Bugs-Bunny's voice coming in, impersonating Daffy. "Where do you get that duck STHeasthon SThuff?"
I frown as I remembered how we use to watch the Looney-Tunes relentlessly together when I was little. We'd each be up early, a bowl of Lucky-Charms or Fruit-Loops in our palms. Bits of sugar and milk would be spilling out of our mouths as we laughed our butts off while Bugs threw a lighted match into the oven that Mugsy and Rocky were hiding in while he was impersonating a cop to get them off his back.
Those days were always filled with fun and smiles. Those days are long gone now.
Now, the couch is just for her. I watch the T.V from the kitchen-table and eat my cereal by myself. Sis doesn't say a peep even to greet me in the morning. She'd stop talking to me for a month now. She doesn't even look at me anymore...
My chest feels a little heavy, and I tighten my palm around the strap of my back-pack. A tight knot swells in my stomach as I think about her smile, and her shinning eyes of sapphire full of love when she had looked at me.
"Evan, come here!" I could hear her say, her lithe arms opened wide for me, her smile brighter than the sun...
...She's not like that anymore. Now that's all in my head.
"See you!" I call again.
Elmer Fudd's gun answers back. My chest constricts.
"See you, little bro!" Her voice calls back in my brain while my eyes envision her right-hand waving back and forth. The right hand that taught me how to write; the right hand that felt my head and cheeks when I had a fever; the right hand that stirred her world-famous macaroni-and-cheese almost any time I asked for it; the right hand she used to teach me how to draw when I said I wanted to be an artist as great as her.
I take in a sharp breath as her voice as sweet as honey echoes through my head, growing fainter and fainter. My heart slowly beats faster and faster. I intake another deep breath, the cool air travels down my throat and into my chest, but it doesn't calm down the rapid beating.
Deep breathes use to calm me down, Now they don't, even though my body keeps trying. Old habits die hard I guess.
I push open the door and moist, cold air slaps against my cheeks; goosebumps slowly begin to prick my flesh. I take a big step forward out of the house, the door slamming shut behind me, and rain gently falls upon my face. I slip my umbrella off my wrist and open it up.
It's the bright-green one sis got me last year. She said it matched my eyes. I didn't really like it that much. I wanted the blue one, but she bought this one instead because she was the big sister and as the only authority figure in the house she had the final say.
I can just hear the superiority flowing from her voice from that moment, and the morbid, wide grin stretching across her face as her pale, elegantly long finger waved back and forth. She always did that, flaunting her age over me. It was made worst because she was taller than me. Her eyes would be sparkling with the kind of affection that one would say only older siblings showed when they were teasing their younger ones. That sparkle though was different from any other older sibling--it was the kind only she could make that no other older sibling could.
That sparkle was called Anna, my sister, the sparkle that showed everything about her: her sense of humor, her love, her slyness--everything. It was the look only Anna could give that only I, her little brother, Evan, would receive.
I miss that. I miss my sister from then. I wish she'd come back.
But she won't...
Bitterness seeps into my throat, and suddenly I feel hot anger slowly rising within my veins. I feel so mad right now. Mad at her.
How could you, Anna?
I quickly bite my lip and shake my head. Being mad at her won't change anything. It'll only make things worse. I chastise myself, and involuntary take another deep breath despite my mind knowing that its magic doesn't work on me anymore. The body always betrays the mind, though.
I loosen the grip on the handle of my ugly umbrella and take a few steps forward--looking up from the ground and to what's out in front of me: our garden. Mostly Anna's garden. I tried helping once but I got kicked off the project since I just kept screwing up everything. Luckily, she had some help from our Aunt Abigail--a sweet, round woman with a heart almost as big as her appetite.
Between the path of the large smooth stones inlaid into the ground, from our porch to the wide-wooden gates of our front lawn, holds nothing but natural beauty lovingly nurtured by sweet, gentle and careful hands. Four large bushes of azaleas blossoms in shades of reds, purples, and pinks. They stand proudly across the healthy grass; two on one side of the path and two on the other side. Shrubs of butterfly-bushes are scattered around both sides, with some rose bushes too; groups of pink and lavender cosmos were planted on one side, while another of white gardenias were on the other side. Both sides of the lawn are sprinkled with some wild flowers here and there. Some are white, some purple, and some yellow.
Looking closer I can see that some of those yellow wildflowers are actually dandelions. Weeds, Anna would hiss as she ripped them from the ground; their roots splayed out as if panicked that they had been torn from the lawn--their source of life.
I always liked them because they would eventually turn into white and fluffy seeds that I could blow away with my breath and make a wish with. I hope they would transform into those seeds soon so I can wish my wishes again. This time I hope they come true.
...Maybe if I wish hard enough...Anna will...
...I imagine her smile again, her cheery voice...calling my name...her warm, secure embrace...soft palms cupping my cheeks as she lovingly kisses my forehead...
My grip on my umbrella handle is so tight it's almost shaking, and I scold myself for it. I knew I shouldn't have paused to gaze at the garden. I knew it would just make me more upset. I should have just kept my head down on the stone path and not even have bothered! I take another useless deep breath and end up scolding myself again for this unbreakable habit as I take a timid step forward.
And then I nearly jump back.
Not a moment after I took that step forward did I see something black scurry across the stone path just a couple inches away from my sneakers. My head whips to the direction it went to and I sigh.
"It's another one of those rodents." I grumble, half-disgusted.
They've been scurrying around here a lot lately. Usually, I would find them along the paths to and from school, but for awhile now they've been showing up around the house. I know that where we live is more of a wooden and forested area, and that we're prone to having a few deer and some possums showing up here and there, but these rodents are entirely new visitors. I've never seen them around our home before and I never get a good enough look at them considering they run so fast. As far as I know we hadn't had any black rodents popping up around here before. If I knew what they really looked like though then maybe I could figure out what kind they are, why they're showing up here and what to do about them. I set up a few traps early this morning though, so hopefully I might be able to catch a few. Hopefully. I don't want them ruining sis's plants.
I tighten my grip on my handle again, my heart slowly beating faster and faster once again. I look back to the door, my face crinkling with concern. "I sure hope they won't bother sis. She hates rats." I whisper to myself, almost terrified as I think about their long, jagged teeth, biting into her feet...
No. I tell myself. She'll be fine. There's no way they could get into the house, and it's not like sis comes to do her gardening anymore...
...but...but maybe she might...I stop myself before my brain goes any further into anymore imagery of sharpened teeth, and of her walking out of the house...
No. I tell myself again, banishing those thoughts from my mind, shaking my head. No...
With the rain drizzling against my unpleasantly green umbrella in my ear, I turn my head back towards the gate, shaking off the emotions my previous disturbances caused. It won't do me any good, dwelling on those stupid things.
My eyes begin to wander and I find myself looking up above. I welcome my eyes to the gray sky, watching as the needle-like rain drops fall from those full clouds. I then look back towards the garden again, watching as the rain plops onto the ground, mixing the dirt into mud.
Screw it. I say to myself and tip my awful umbrella away from my head, welcoming my skin to the rain.
I take a hop-step purposely to the side away from the stone slabs, splashing through the puddles of water and mud in the grass instead, dirtying my sneakers, and the cuffs of my jeans.
Without my umbrella shielding me, cool water pleasantly drips down the strands of my hair, wetting my cheeks and neck; mud I collected from the jump I made runs down my ankles and into my socks, and my toes curl delightfully with the feel of my sneakers pleasantly soaked. As my skin prickles with pleasurable goosebumps, I smile. I always loved rainy days. My deep breathes may not calm me down anymore, but at least the rain and mud still do.
I let out a light chuckle--if only I didn't have school today I'd take off my shoes and run around in the rain. Mud would be splashing all over my skin, my body soaked right down to the bone. I wouldn't care if I started getting sick cause I'd be to busy catching raindrops.
I continued hopping through mud and water (avoiding the stone slab path the whole way~) until I eventually come up to the front gate. I noticed that I splashed some mud onto my umbrella as I tip it back over my head, and I feel my mood brightening up knowing that a nicer color has been painted over some of the green of this gross umbrella.
I chuckle again. I undo the clasps of the gates and put a few steps forward.
Before I'm all the way out though I look back to our house and cast my eyes straight up over our black, vine streamed roof towards where a large tree hovers behind it and see the gray roof peaking within. That roof is part of my square-shaped wooden tree-house faded with blue and grey paint cocooned snugly within that trees leaves and branches (it's always covered with mushrooms and weeds in all sorts of places).
It's my tree-house that our Uncle Cady (a large physically built man who loved laughing just as much as constructing) built. Anna helped paint it--she knew my favorite colors--it was a surprise for my eighth birthday five years ago and I was ecstatic when I saw it.
To this day I love going in it with all my supplies, and keeping my most favorite and personal things inside. I love hearing the squirrels barreling across the roof and the birds feet tapping against the wood. And I love popping my head out the little window to listen to the voices of the birds, and the crickets; the calls of nature....
With it raining like this, the place might get all wet. I felt delightful chills run down my spine at the thought of it. I couldn't wait to get back in there.
I step all the way out and swing the gate closed, shutting the clasps, and then I reluctantly look down the concrete steps leading downward to the sidewalk below.
All there is left to do now is to head down these steps and make a right, walking across the sidewalk and heading down the street passed the strip mall, and to the first of many traffic lights. Fifteen minutes of walking, stopping, waiting for lights to change, and weaving through seas of people (if there are any today due to this weather), I'd arrive at my school surrounded by other students either coming from the cars of their parents or older siblings; descending the bus-steps or walking together in groups from their houses.
It wouldn't matter how they came to school though because they'd all be jabbering on and on with their friends, smiling to each-other, teasing one another, making plans together. Everyone's able to get through the school day because they are comforted with companionship each step of the way.
Well...almost everyone. I frown. Almost but not quite.
It must be nice. I think as I unravel the memories of seeing my fellow students with one-another.
I sigh deeply and force my way down one slow step at a time. I'm not really looking forward to going to school. I never do.
Long claws dig grievously into the rain-soaked ground. Bits of grass and mud grimed the jagged, rock-hard, surface.
Heavy, hot breaths hitch in and out
from a fanged encrusted mouth
flowing with blood, and dribble.
It had to have it. It had have those juicy, raw, tender muscles upon bones;
beating organs filled with sweet blood between its teeth,
Its teeth would cackle heartily from the constant tearing and shredding, and mashing. The iron flavor, bits of bone, tantalizing the enclosures of its parched mouth, and swallowing them down into a belly ravenously calling for its company.
It had to have it. It had to have it now. If not soon, it would go mad.
Crawling on hands and knees across the ground, at what seemed like at a snails-pace, it felt like it had been trudging through mud and grass for hours. It felt so exhausted like it was carrying nothing but a heavy weight tied to its body.
...Its body...it's body...
It paused it's agonizing slither. Drool fell out of it's mouth in big globs as it remembered that it's own body was made up of the syrupy blood flowing beneath bone and raw, delicious
M E A T...
It's stomach screamed as it looked directly at one of it's arms: the flesh, the veins; would it really be so bad if it had just a nimble of the skin? Maybe a finger? Just the hand? Or perhaps this arm outlived it's purpose and it could just....
....It opened it's mouth, thick threads of drool gushing outward...It could almost taste the limb on it's tongue...
It hears something and it stops (It was just a hair's breadth from clamping it's teeth shut onto it's arm). It looks to its right and tears of joy fills it's eyes as it spots some living creatures running around just a few feet away.
Finally! It found some meat to eat....
...now it didn't have to devour its arm.
(The arm itself could have cried out with relief).
It slithered onward, salivating more then it had looking at it's arm. That delectable flesh filled with succulent innards would soon be in it's teeth. Mercy had smiled down upon it.
Finally. Finally. At last...
When I finally got to my locker, I hung up my backpack on the steely hanger, and shoved my umbrella at the bottom. I unzipped my back-pack and tore out what I needed: the book we're reading for first period English, my two Math work books for my next period; two spiral notebooks labeled English and Math (filled with more doodles then words and numbers) along with two colored folders labeled the same.
All the useless stuff I need for the beginning of another boring day at school.
But then...I begin taking out what I really need.
I pull out my sky-blue sketchbook. I have two free periods after those two classes and instead of using them to do boring, useless school-work I would take advantage of the free time and draw to my heart's content. However, I needed the most important things for that first and I eagerly, yet carefully, take out my periwinkle pencil-case. It has a white rabbit illustration printed on the middle, surrounded by only sunflowers. The golden petals spreading out to the rabbits delicatly thin whiskers.
A smile curved my lips as I also look over and admire the features added to it from all the years of use. Dusted up and down with charcoal and pencil smudges, it made it seem as if there were shadows all around, making the initial innocent and adorable appearance almost foreboding and somewhat unsettling, as if the rabbit was being stalked by some indistinguishable forces from the beyond. It made me imagine that those shadings were spirits from the deep shadows, waiting, waiting to take it's innocent little soul far, far away to some other place.
I smile, squeezing my pencil-case in a gentle clutch, like it was a delicate treasure, and placed it between the hard-cover book and my chest. I shut the locker door, and instantly my mood is ruined when one of the sleeves of this awful sweater unravels down (once again!) from the scrunch I bundled around my elbow. It falls all the way down my arm, covering my fingers in a roll of striped black and dark green.
I groan irritably. How annoying.
This wasn't the piece of clothing I had picked out to wear to school today. I'd never wear something like this if I could help it.
Of all the shirts and sweaters in the lost-and-found she had to pull this one out...
After I walked through the school doors, I was immediately pulled to the side by one of the staff members patrolling the entrances before I even got to finish closing my dripping wet umbrella (sadly the mud was washed away from the rain, not even leaving behind a nice little stain). The staff member was Mrs. Peters. During the time classes are in session she roams the hallways looking for anything out of place, and unfortunately her side job is to eyeball the students coming in and out from the front doors--like a hawk looking for a mouse--before and after school hours.
She's a rather skinny woman, her skin stretched too tight over her sharp bones like rubber. She wears bright clothing, has clearly dyed brown hair, and is always wearing make-up that is always too heavy and too flashy. Today she had on layers upon layers of too bright-blue eye-shadow and coral-pink lipstick smeared across her lips. Needless to say it did not look good on her.
I had to bite my tongue hard to keep myself from bursting out laughing when I saw her up close and personal. I mashed my lips tight together and forbade any bubble of laughter threatening to escape my throat as her shrill voice screeched like a banshee in my ears. "You will not be attending class literally looking like a fish out of water! What's the matter with you?! Take pride in your appearance, young man!"
Shamelessly, I admit that the temptation to be showered with the rain all the way to school had been too much for me. I kept tipping my umbrella away from over my head from time to time as I crossed the streets and weaved through the people that braved the rain. I was dripping wet by the time I reached the school, like I had taken a swim in a nearby pool, but I didn't care. Getting soaked made the walk to this institution a little bit easier, funner.
She ordered me to go straight to the office and ask the staff there for a change of clothes from the lost-and-found. I left her still screeching behind my back, slowly walking towards the direction of the office, with my hand clamped tightly over my mouth. When I was finally far away enough from her I loosened my hand and let lthe laughter that I had kept so desperately from trying to escape my throat free. I laughed in my palm the whole way to the office.
Catching my breath when I stepped through the door of the office, all dripping wet, a portly lady with frizzy brown hair, trailed with lines of solid silver, quickly came up to me. She told me to wait outside the door while she would go and fetch me a pair of clothes from the lost-and-found. I didn't even have to sputter out a single word. My appearance said it all.
She asked me what my shirt and pant sizes were first, and I had to tell her twice since my first reply was too low for her hearing aid to pick up. While waiting for her from the threshold, I saw her skedaddle to a black plastic box sitting underneath a desk to the right. A piece of onion-skin paper was taped haphazardly to it, scribbled messily with 'Lost and Found', as if they had a Kinder-Gardener write it. I watched as she rummaged through it, and I winced as she pulled out this awful black and green stripped sweater from it and a pair of muddy brown jeans (those I didn't mind at all though). She said the jeans were just my size and that the sweatshirt was close enough (as everything else was too big for me) and shoved them into my arms, waving her wrist and said. "Now go to a nearby bathroom and ring yourself out."
I tried to ask her if she had a better sweater, that I wouldn't mind if the others were a bit big, but I guess my pleas didn't reach her hearing aid cause she closed the door in my face without another word. She didn't even give me a towel, so I dried myself off with the paper-towels in the bathroom. But it's not like I really minded that. I didn't want myself to be too dried. Least my hair is still wet (my wet clothes were rung out and folded on-top of my locker, where they won't be drying a whole lot).
The only thing that bothered me from that whole ordeal was this damned sweater. I could see why it was in the lost-and-found. I'd want this thing to be lost too. I almost wish I ran this sweater under the sink till it was soaking wet all the way through right down to the hem. I wouldn't care if I got a XXXL sized shirt instead, so long as it wasn't dyed this rancid color. But if I did that, they'd probably try and call my sister about my behavior. And I didn't want that.
This sweat-shirt is so ugly though.
Groaning again, I move everything under my shoulder and reach over with my now free hand. I begin rolling up the sleeve as far as I'm able to. I intend on scrunching it up into an even tighter wad this time.
But then the most aggravating thing has to happen while I'm doing it: my pencil-case slips right out from under my armpit and drops right down to floor! I grumble and bend down to pick it up, clutching everything in my other arm tight against my chest so they won't tumble out onto the floor too.
Unfortunately, a grimy hand covered across with band-aids swipes it from the ground before my fingers are able to touch it.
"Aw, is this pretty little pencil-case yours?" A sniveling voice pierces my ear-drums like a burning arrow. My nose wrinkles as I look up to see, Danny Miller, my arch nemesis, surrounded by his three cronies: Davis Wilson, Zachery Langley, and Harvey Brown. Nearly all of them are grinning down maliciously at me.
Harvey's isn't really much of a grin the way it looked so forced and painful, as if his lips were being stretched out by invisible clothe's pins. It might as well be...
I stand straight up, glaring at Danny. I could feel my blood boiling just looking at this piece of trash in front of me. "Yes," I say, trying to steady my voice. "And I would like to have that back, thank you." I reach over as quickly as I can to try and grab it from him before he does what I know he's going to do.
I wasn't quick enough though (because of all this useless crap I had in my other arm weighing me down!) and as I expect he tosses it right over to Davis whose catches it in his grubby hands. Davis starts to back up a few steps away, waving my pencil-case above his head. His palms greasing with the delicate pencil and charcoal shadings.
I grit my teeth tight. He's going to ruin it!
"Over here, Count-Fagula!" He sneers at me. I only make a few steps towards him before he ends up tossing it over to Zachery "Oops, too slow!" He didn't even give me a chance.
Zachery gives me an equally mean-spirited sneer as we lock eyes. "No over here, girly-boy!" He taunts, dangling it by it's zipper.
I clench my fists with rage. These ass-holes always try so hard to ruin my day, every day, even before it starts. And I am so not mood for them now! I feel like I can't stand it anymore, always letting them do whatever they want to me.
My arm, I feel, is shaking, the urge to take my hardcover of To Kill a Mocking Bird and swipe it across each of their stupid faces, is nearly overpowering. The yearning to slam the rock-hard cover against their heads, with their pea-sized brains knocking against their skulls as they all thud to the ground and trampling my foot into each of their crotches is running boiling hot in my systems. I am so sick to death of them and their antics against me! I just want them pay for it. For all of it!
If only I could....
But then I think of her face, pale as the moon, wrinkling. Her eyes casting downward to me with a disapproving glare. I think of that; the cold seas in her eyes, and I just can't do it.
I force the tense nerves in my arm to calm down. I bite my lip hard. I can't. I tell myself I can't. If I do, then all I'd be doing is disappointing Anna...
...more so then I ever did.
I just can't...
I force my fingers to loosen, one agonizing uncurl after another. "Give it back." I say through gritted teeth, trying to level the irritation from creeping onward.
This is why I hate being at school. Too many aggravating things happen here...and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it.
In my tree-house...at least I have control over there. Everything I want to happen, happens.
Zachary's grin widens. "You'll have take it back from us if you want it so bad, fucktard!" He chucks it over to Harvey, and I am helpless as I watch my precious pencil-case sail across the air and into--wait!
--right over Harvey's head, missing his waving hands by a sheer inch!
"You idiot!" I hear Zachary yell. "Go pick it up!
Without waiting for it to skid across the floor, I dart after it and bend down, swiping it off the floor seconds after it hit the ground. I felt my heart burst with joy, the rage I felt moments ago began to settle, and my veins didn't feel like liquid-fire anymore.
But, because of the weight in my other arm, I'm unable to straighten myself back up, and my feet keep running. I look up, and I'm unable to doing anything when--
--I end up slamming myself, nose first, right into another locker.
"Owwww.....!" I drop everything in my arms, and I grasp my burning nose, my fingers tightly squeezing the bridge. Everything around my nose is tingling, the insides screaming with agony. "Urghhh!" I groan sharply. The pain feels so bad, I wonder if it'll start bleeding.
Cackling reminiscent of crows strikes the air. I look up, my vision is blurry from pain-induced tears, but I can still see that there's a circle that's gathered around me, it's not just Danny and his idiot pack, though. It's almost everyone that was still in the hallway. Everybody that I can't stand.
"Nice trip, loser!" Cody Smith snickers.
"Aww, looks like fag-boy's cwying." Kurt Sawyer says, balling his fists and twisting his wrists up and down from under his eyes.
"Is the pain too much for the wittle baby?" Link Sweeney cooes mockingly.
Danny walks up to me, bending down to my level. His grin is malicious. "Does wittle Evan need his sissy-wissy to make him feew bettew?"
I pick up one of my math work-books and chuck it straight into his dirty face. Danny reels back, clutching his face as the book slides off his chin and down to the ground with a hard 'thud!'
"Oooooh...!" Everybody caterwauled. A real damn shame I did not have enough textbooks to throw in everyone elses faces too.
Danny glares daggers at me. His face slowly changing to a fierce crimson color. His teeth grit hard. His finger nails dig deep into his cheeks from the rage settling into him. He's furious that I actually had the balls to fight back.
Grasping my aching nose, I flash him a grin. Not backing down. Not ever after what he said. "You get what you give, ass-face!"
He grabs the front of this sweater with one fist and reels his other one back into an even tighter fist. I'm prepared to defend myself though, and I put my arms up crossed in front of my face to at least soften the blow. But before he even has the chance of slicing the air with that fist, a different voice instead cuts through, and freezes everything in it's tracks like a cold spell.
Everybody stops laughing and cheering and I lower my arms to see walking up towards us, Alex Magnum. Or as everybody else calls him--
"Bat-boy." Danny spits out. "You wanna save fag-boy or something? Got a thing for him?"
Small laughter erupts from a few in the crowd, but some sounded a bit forced, I could tell that even for someone like Danny, by how his fist is crinkling this sweater tighter then before, has lost a sense of bravado now that Alex is in the picture.
Alex stares through Danny, unfazed by that infamous nickname the whole 7th grade had given him. Alex was called "Bat-Boy" because he likes to dress in the goth fashion. Everyday he wears black as if he were in mourning; all the shirts he wore, pants, socks and foot-wear--all in different styles but in the same color nonetheless. He colors his nails black; sometimes he wears dark-colored bands around his wrists with different kinds of studs, and sometimes fish-nets on his arms. The only thing that he wears everyday though is a black bat-shaped charm around his neck. That charm is always polished to a fine sheen, taken care of very well--that charm though is probably what sealed the title they chose for him.
But not only does he dress the part of a mourner, but he has the expression of one too. He has an eternal frown on his face, his eyes as black as the charm he wears around his neck. As if he had no joy, like it had all been wretched out of him.
He's also older then all of us because he was held back last year for consistent absence. He's taller then all of us, stronger then all of us, and he's not afraid to use it to his advantage--but only if someone tries to challenge him. For the most part he's kept to himself, but almost everyone in our grade was scared shitless of him irregardless, and they all hated him for it.
They all hated that this boy didn't even have to show his fists, or usher a threatening word, or even pick a fight with anyone for them all to the get the message that he was a force to be reckoned with. His dominating stature and shape, complimented by the blank look in his eyes, and his dark taste in fashion, paralyzed them from ever trying to mess with him. They couldn't do anything to subjugate him to the same level as someone like I. In-fact from his view-point they were all at the same level as I and they all knew it. They were nothing but weaklings to him, easy targets. Bottoms of the barrel.
But they wanted some form of power over him, so they all started calling him "Bat-Boy". A small act of rebellion against the one person that was otherwise untouchable. Nobody could really tell if it bothered him or not, he never really showed it, but rumors said that last year he had hated it when people made fun of his taste in fashion. So everyone was hoping that even if he wasn't showing it, that nickname at least crawled under his skin, something that would give them the relief that he wasn't so cold, and untouchable, and tough as he appeared.
Danny was the worst of them all. He couldn't stand Alex, and his unshakable exterior, it ate away at him regardless of the name. He wanted more then just to get under skin.
Danny stares him down, his grip on me tightening more. I can hear Danny gulp, but he stands his ground, refusing to back down, even though I'm sure that that little voice in his head is telling him to stop while he's got the chance.
Alex finally spoke. "It's my locker, you know? You're both blocking it. If you want to continue your little pent-up sexual frustrations, do it somewhere else."
Danny lets go of me, and does something pretty brave. He grabs Alex by the front of his shirt, and looks straight in those onyx eyes of his. "You wanna say that again?" He challenges. Some of the kids cheer for Danny, congratulating him for doing what they all never had the stomach to do but dreamed of doing. However, others are looking to the side, shuffling a bit on their heels, and some are just slowly backing away, trying to make a quick and clean get away, not wanting to be apart of the ugliness they all know is about ensue. I would be right behind them too but...I am interested in seeing what could transpire, especially if it means Danny might get his comeuppance.
Alex, calmly, oh so very calmly, put a single hand on Danny's chest and shoved him away like he was nothing. I moved out of the way just in time as Danny's spine slams into the locker, and before he could gasp for air, Alex grabs fists fulls of his sweater, much tighter then how he had grabbed Alex's shirt and the sweater I wore.
Alex glares starless night skies at him, bitter, and blank, hardly any mercy sparkling within. It was a death glare. His mouth pulling into an even tighter frown.
"Don't ever pull something like that again with me, kiddo." He hissed in Danny's face. "I'm not in the mood for this. Not now. Not ever. So know your place and get the hell out. Or I'll give you something to be even more afraid of." And he tossed Danny away like he was garbage; light as a feather.
Zachary and Davis and Harvey quickly come to Danny's aid. Davis helps him up, while Zachary pats him on the back comfortingly. "Let's just leave this alone for now, Dan." He says smartly for once. "You know it's like trying to fight with a junkyard dog."
Danny's face was flushed beat-red from the humiliation. From the look in his eyes, you could tell he didn't want to back down, that he wanted to win this fight, go down ten times if he had to, just so he could land one little punch on Alex. But I could also see that at the core, encased in all that fire, was the clear as day fright, right down to how the muscles in his lips and eyes were twitching, and how the joints in his fingers are quivering.
He wasn't just scared of Alex, he was terrified of him. In-fact I'd have to say he was more scared of him then anyone else here was. But he has an ego. One he is fiercely protective of.
Danny relishes in the triumph of his bullying, his victories over the weak, the respect he gained from the entire 7th grade from it. The strength and power of it all, like he was the lion of a pride. And the thing about lions are that they hate sharing the riches they gained from their strengths, loathing the competition whenever it stepped in. When another lion comes into the picture, much stronger then the other lion with the pride, that lion is in danger of losing everything if the other proves to be better. It's the same way for Danny whenever Alex shows him up.
Danny feels if he doesn't show that he's the stronger one, then all the respect and glory he gained from dominating over the weak will be lost forever.
Danny really looked like he would pounce on Alex, but as if fate was on his side, the second bell rang, signaling the last five minutes everybody had to get to class before they would become tardy. If any of us got a certain amount of tardies within the month, we would get a week of lunch-detention and a call to our parents/guardians. I can tell that nearly everyone surrounding this area was dangerously close to that fate.
Danny now had a very good reason to leave without sacrificing his dignity as a bully, and pulls himself together as the rest of the crowd began to disperse with a caterwaul of moans and groans. I bet most of those groans were out of disappointment because they wanted to see some blood shed. Danny dusts himself off and glares daggers at Alex, who is too busy spinning the dial on his locker combination to glare back.
"I'll make you regret this, you know?" He spat out like a wounded feline. And Alex didn't give him the time of day; the true lion of the pride knowing he has nothing to worry about. I think that only wounded Danny's pride more, and ignited the flames of hatred he has for Alex much more passionately then ever.
He lets out a growl, and orders his group to disperse to their lockers to get their things so they could get to class. He added though, that at this point he didn't really care if they were late, and he walked away quickly with his tail between his legs. His friends following behind him, loyally.
Even if Danny ends up losing all the respect he gained by bullying others, his two friends, Zachary and Davis will never leave their alpha's side.
I feel something stinging my chest. I hate to admit it. I really hate to admit it. But I think I feel a little jealous of him...
Harvey looks back, and we lock eyes. His irises are soft and melancholy, his lips fumbling like something desperate was trying to escape from his mouth. He said nothing though, and quickly turns his head away catching up to his so-called friends. I can hear them spouting their disappointment in him for missing such an easy catch, and getting Danny into that mess, and Harvey only sputters out a timid apology.
He always looks at me like that, so uncomfortable whenever they all come to torment me, especially after its all over, like he knows he's committed an unforgivable, heinous sin.
I know he doesn't actually enjoy bullying me, or any others at all. He's only hanging with the bullies and picking on me, the weaker target, so he himself doesn't get bullied. And I know why. He's just as easy of a target for bullying as I am.
He's got bright red curly hair, hot-chocolate-brown eyes and freckles sprinkled all over his face like dots of cinnamon. He transferred from another school most likely due to relentless bullying from his old school. It was in the middle of the semester and he was shaking like a leaf at his desk when he had to stand up and introduce himself. He asked to be excused not long after and ran out to the hallway, pale as a ghost. He had been throwing-up in the bathroom most likey due to nerves cause when he got back, he looked dizzy and exhausted. And if you were unfortunate enough to be close to him, you could smell the odor of his nasty digested breakfast flowing from his mouth every time he breathed. I was one of those unfortunates.
I remember that Danny was following closed behind him when the class was dismissed, his mouth upturned into a mischievous grin, his eyes gleaming. He was probably happy that he found some new toy to play with it. He probably feigned being concerned for him, offering to take him under his wing, telling him about the dos and don'ts of this school (the dos and don'ts about the student body--whose weird and whose weirder), and that as long as he stuck with him and his friends, and followed through with everything they did and everything they told him to do, he would be treated like gold. Nobody would mess with him anymore. Harvey took it like bait, only so he could survive this new environment he was thrown into, and spare himself another agonizing experience of being tormented until graduating from school entirely.
He's just crawled himself into an even bigger hole then he was in before, though. I think as I bent down to pick up all the things I had dropped, shaking my head with pity.
As for me. Reasons why I'm an easy target for bullying is because I like to draw pretty things and love my sister. It's plain and simple as that. It doesn't even have to make sense. That's just how things work...
"Here," I'm snapped out of my thoughts by that gruff voice and look over to see my precious pencil-case now in the hand of Alex, offered back to me, it's owner. "This is yours, right?"
I'm awe-stuck at first, wondering if this was some kind of trick, or...maybe there was some sort of compromise he would spout once I reached for it. I look back at his stone-cold face, into his eyes. I couldn't read anything in those inky, black seas.
I reach for it, hesitating for a moment and then reaching for it again. I snatch it up and clutch it protectively against my chest along with the rest of the things I had in my arms to shield it just in case. He doesn't say anything else as he stands back up and locks his gaze back to his locker and unlocks it. The only sounds now in this deadened hallway are from his hands, putting his backpack away and slipping off his ebony light-jacket.
I stand back up myself, figuring this was the end of our brief interaction, and I turn around to begin my way to class.
"If you bring something like that to school," I freeze, his voice suddenly cutting through the empty air, after I had just taken the first step. "Especially if you're a guy, you're just begging to get yourself harassed."
I feel my face burning, but not from embarrassment. "Thanks," I say, obviously without meaning it. "I'll keep that in mind."
"Suit yourself." He says, taking the hint that I did not appreciate his flippant comment. I hear him unzipping his backpack; he says nothing more.
I bite my bottom lip and walk away. Now I'm in an even fouler mood then I was before. I can't believe he said that! Just who the hell does he think he is?! Even if he got me out of that mess, even if his intentions were his way of being helpful, commenting negatively on my pencil-case is crossing the line! It's unforgivable!
I squeeze it tight to my chest, my heart beating rapidly against it as my shoes tap against the dirty floor. I shut my eyes tight, imagining the sight of Anna's face when she saw me hold it up from the brightly colored Christmas bag I had torn into that had been lovingly labeled with my name in her beautiful calligraphy. She knew I adored rabbits back then, and that also I liked sunflowers. She always knew what I liked, like the back of her hand.
That's why this pencil case is untouchable. After all, Anna gave it to me...she always knew what made me happy.
It always got me through the school day back in elementary, and even now that I'm in middle-school, it's still hasn't lost it's magic. I had stopped bringing it here for awhile and used a normal pencil-case because I didn't want Danny and his band of idiots to ruin it. But now that Anna has stopped speaking to me, I've started bringing it with me again. It gives me the motivation I need, because her warm presence is still lingering within it...
"Evan!" I hear her cheery voice again, and my fingers curl around the pencil case, tight. I wish that it was her hand instead.
My eyes, I can feel are burning when her voice, within my psyche, is suddenly replaced by the voices of fictional characters from the T.V.
I gulp the lump down deep in my throat, and make my way towards the direction of the staircase leading to the second floor where my class, awaits. I'm almost out of breath by the time I get there, but not from exhaustion.
Despite this mornings aggravating antics, I'm almost hoping that this school day will go slowly. I don't think I really want to go home anytime soon anymore
I stop dead in my tracks and look around back behind me, from where I left Alex. I could still see him clearly from this distance; I see him still by his locker. His eyes still concentrated on it, arms weaving through the things in his back-pack. I doubt he looked to give me another glance. I inhale another sharp, painful and completely useless deep breath. I scold myself for it, again and turn back to finally go up the flight of stairs, clutching everything to my chest tighter then before.
Forget what I said earlier, now I just want the school day to be over with quickly so I can go back in my tree-house...
It ate them.
It loudly smacked its lips, crunching and mashing them all into bits and pieces and trapping the others within it's many long, sharp claws. Inescapable. Ready and waiting for their deaths.
It didn’t listen to their cries, and screams of agony and terror for the brief moment its fangs sliced into their bodies. It silenced them once it wretched out their hearts with its teeth. Crushing the warm, juicy, still-beating organs with sweet ecstasy.
It was a quick death for them, but a terrifying and painful one none-the-less.
They didn’t want to die. Not like this. Not by it.
They wanted to live.
But they were prey and it was a predator. Ravenous and unrestrained. It would tear up their lives, everything that they are, without a second thought. It needed their lives in order to sustain its. It needed their flesh, muscles, organs, blood and bones. Everything...right down to the tips of their fingers and toes.
And they were all here, ripe and ready for the picking! None of them would escape with their lives! Why would it let them?! This was a feast for it! A glorious banquet of meat!
How fortunate! How wonderful its luck had been! Guiding it to this fantastic place of glorious succulent meats! Riches in the mud! So much! So much!
But it needed more. It needed MUCH, MUCH more.
And it would eat every last one of them. Every last one. It would dig into every nook and cranny in this place until all was in its belly. It would eat.
Swallowing them all…!
It would make them all a part of its flesh, and it would not spare a single bone. Not one little piece of calcium, nor a drop of blood would be left untouched.
…It would eat them all…every last living creature it could find…
Ugh…This still doesn’t taste right. How exactly did Anna make these things tastes so good, anyway?
I wrap up another failed attempt of making my favorite ham-and-cheese sandwiches back in its plastic-wrap. I shove it straight back into my lunch-bag and groan dejectedly (though it was another failure I did place the ice-pack right back on-top of it. I'm not one for wasting food, so I figured maybe I can find something to enhance the flavor once I get home and finish it that way).
Silently, I unfurl the wrap from the chocolate-bar I brought as well, and begin to pick it apart piece by piece, popping them into my mouth one by one. I swirl the rich confection around the walls of my mouth— something sweet to brighten up my pallet after disappointing it with those poor excuses for sandwiches I made.
Anna used to make me ham-and-cheese sandwiches for lunch every day. I practically lived off them. It had been one of the perks about having my lunch chosen for me when I was still in elementary. Though after I graduated to middle-school, she had given me more liberty to pack my own lunch (so long as it was nutritiously balanced but I was finally allowed to bring at least one sweet with me), but even after receiving that freedom, I begged her to still keep making me those delectable sandwiches, since there was no way I’d ever be able to make them the way she did. She was happy to continue to make them for me, telling me that I didn’t have to be so frantic about it.
I just couldn’t imagine going a day of lunch without having at least one, it was one of the rare good things that came with coming to school. She’d always pack me at least four, cut in neat triangles, stuffed with crisp lettuce, rose-pink ham and slathered with the homemade mayo our Aunt Abigail taught her how to make, along with slices of mouthwatering Colby-Jack-cheese to tie the whole thing together. They beckoned me whenever I opened up my lunch-bag, my mouth salivating, and I would never hesitate to shove them into my mouth; one in straight after finishing the previous.
Sadly, those delicious treats are far, far away from me now. With my “skillful” hands they are now cut in choppy shapes that don’t even remotely look like triangles; I still can’t figure out a good substitute for the mayo, or what seasoning she used on the ham. I think she also soaked the lettuce is something other than just water too...
I sigh heavily, and bitterly. It’s just like the time I tried to help with her garden. Though sis at least told me what I did wrong and how next time when I got a little older—and allowed to use the gardening tools—I could try again. Now, she’ll never tell me what I’m doing wrong. I have to figure it all out on my own now.
All by myself…
…Ugh…lunch is making me too damn depressed. I’m just going to head to the library and spend the rest of the lunch hour there instead. I already had enough food to keep me somewhat full for the rest of the day, anyway.
I re-packed almost everything in my lunch-bag, and stood up from my empty table. I toss my empty can of orange juice in the garbage as I walk towards one of the teachers supervising the cafeteria. I ask him politely if I could go to the library. I lie, saying it was because I had some homework I needed to get done before the next period.
The teacher, Mr. Yolk (a slovenly middle-aged man who ironically has an egg-shaped head and an even bigger egg-shaped body), gave me a dirty look. “You should have gotten that done last night when you had plenty of time,” He scolded me gruffly. “You’re lucky I’m one of the nice ones or you would of had to of handed in an empty report and face the music!” Spittle flew out of his mouth like embryonic fluid as he spoke. I resist the urge to shield myself with every fiber of my being.
Yeah, so lucky. I wanted to roll my eyes, but I was so close to getting what I wanted that I refrained from doing that as well. He writes me up a pass, and sends me on my way, telling me that I better shake a tail-feather, and to not waste my time like I had last night.
Oh, I wasn’t going to waste my time. Not. At. All.
Luckily, the library isn’t far away from the cafeteria—it's actually on the same floor right around the corner, and once I got there, hardly anyone was in it. There were only the librarians and a few eight-graders scribbling in their notebooks with large, opened books next to them.
Everything was quiet, and peaceful, like all the other times. It’s why I often come in here whenever I get the chance. It’s the perfect place for me to draw…
I handed in my library pass at the front desk to one of the librarians, and she stamps it, saying that once the bell signaling the end of my lunch-time rings, she hopes to see me outta here. “No lolly-gagging, young man.” The worn and ragged librarian warns me, her prickly gaze piercing through the glass of her large, plastic-red glasses.
I nodded my head, and speed-walked towards the non-fiction section, the furthers place in the library, where no-one would bother me. I plopped myself on one of the plush chairs—the orange one that was at the farthest back, facing one of the book-shelves, and my favorite spot. Nothing would distract me here.
I placed my lunch-bag right beside me on the ground, and eagerly opened my sketchbook, flipping through the pages. I got a lot of sketching done during the free periods I had. I sketched some of the faux-flowers on our teachers’ desk; the lovely vases they were placed in and the charming pencil holders—the one shaped like a bird-house was my favorite to draw. I also drew up the delicate floral prints on some of my female classmates’ dresses and skirts, the laces and frills too, and I imitated the delicately woven calligraphy that was across their clothes as well as I could.
Focusing on my drawings helped distract me from not only this awful sweater I got stuck with but also from this morning’s bitter altercations. And since everyone had to be quiet and to mind themselves, no-one bothered me. All the anger, and disgust and distress I felt previously melted away the moment my pencil touched the crisp, snow-white pages. I kept on at it until the hours were over with, feeling a little brighter in spirits then I had before…
…that was until when I filed out of the classroom and everybody that passed me by whispered nasty things in my ears…
But I’m not going to think about that right now! I’ve got twenty-five minutes of more free-time, and I wasn’t going to spend it dwelling on unpleasant things. I gently unzip my beloved pencil-case and carefully take out one of my pencils (my favorite brand—made of recycled pencils the stores have been recently selling. Not only are they cheaper, they erase lines perfectly). The one I chose is somewhat longer then my other pencils, (that were all shrunken to a pitiful size by all the constant sharpening), but the eraser had long since disintegrated, but it wasn’t really a problem for me anymore because now I have kneaded erasers that works much better and hardly leaves any of the those annoying depressions that carve deep into the paper even when you’re pressing the pencil as lightly as you could.
I lean back in the chair, getting comfortable, with my pencil-case resting safely on my lap. The end of my pencil is nearly touching my chin, as I scour my mind for what I could draw next since I couldn’t rely on the environment around me for ideas. As much as I like the library, it wasn’t a very good place for finding something to sketch.
It’s wasn’t like the library was an ugly place, there were some pretty things here worthy of being immortalized, but they’re mostly colors. The splashes of popping oranges, deep reds, and vibrant golds splattered the walls in haphazard but tasteful steaks; the carpet is a zig-zag pattern in the same but darker shades with spots of dark browns and blacks to contrast the walls. The square tables for studying were polished and a beautiful mahogany brown; the plush chairs are dyed lemons and oranges and the squared couches are worn yet a striking black. It’s a very homey and colorful environment, rich with inspiration, but I couldn’t use it unless I had my paints, or preferably, my Copic-Markers.
Anna always told me not to bring my markers here considering how much money she had to sacrifice to buy them for me for my birthday last year.
I chuckle remembering the piercing look she gave me that day: If you lose those things, I will kill you. It had read.
I’ve been a good-boy and haven’t brought them here since her warning, but it was still a bummer that I couldn’t color things…especially since I was surrounded by it.
Pining over what I can’t draw, suddenly made my mind wander towards what I haven’t been drawing. And in a long while too: my family.
I used to make Anna squeal every time I drew our aunt and uncle in whatever my imagination envisioned. I once drew them as a rhino and a hippo but she told me that even though she liked the picture I made; it would be best not to show Aunt Abigail. I didn’t get it as a nine-year old, but now that I’m thirteen I understand that that would have had a disastrous effect on her, and she would have probably gone on one of those crash-diets that would have made her as thin as a Weeping-Willow's branches.
I’m really glad I listened to Anna, cause just the thought of our sugary sweet, plump aunt regressing into something like Mrs. Peters is enough to send icy chills down my spine. Ugh...!
Besides, it wasn’t even that good of a drawing. Whenever I see that picture now, I’m almost tempted to rip it up considering how disproportionate and clumsy it looks to me now, but Anna always advised me to save all my drawings so I could learn from them. That if I did throw them away I would regret it deeply later on. I can see what she means, but the urge to chuck my old drawings down into the garbage and be rid of them forever still tempts me. She’s the true artists though, so I won’t deny her advice even when I blush bright red from the sight of those awful pieces.
I wonder though…now that’ve I progressed from the horrendous artist I used to be, how would I be able draw our aunt and uncle now? And more importantly how, if it were possible, would I like them to see themselves as…?
Suddenly, my eyes look up and catch the silvery words written on the spine of a blue book nestled between others on the shelf across from me, and it reads: Victorian Period.
My mind is then taken in by images of the fashion that trended that time: the petticoats, the puffy-sleeves, the lavish ballroom gowns, the jeweled fans, the Jabot-collared tail-coats and other striking suits…
And just like that I found my inspiration!
My pencil begins to draw in gentle strokes of gray across the virginal page. I draw my Uncle Cady first: his square head, strong jaw, and his middle-aged body, fattened by age with his round belly, yet toned muscles budging from his arms and legs—due to the years of hard labor he had done for his passion in constructing—blossoms across it.
Then I draw the clothes I wanted him to wear. Around his body, I draw him a spotless suit, fancy trousers with buttons, and topped him with an enormous top-hat. I drew his beard and mustache perfectly and gave him a nice-looking cane in one hand and a stem-glass of wine in the other, held up in celebration. I finished him off with some gym-shoes on his feet though instead of a pair of fancy boots. I did that because Uncle Cady would always want to bring a little of himself whenever he had to dress-up all fancy like even for something like a wedding. He had a mind of his own, the kind of guy who did what he felt was right in his head, and didn’t care if others said differently. Even if it was Aunt Abigail who told him how he ruined his appearance with his lax touches, he would just laugh it right off, saying he didn’t care if it did, that this was him and that all that mattered was him having a great time.
I finish the drawing of him off with his signature expression plastered on his face: extremely content, and wise-cracking, one eye-brow raised up as if changeling anyone to say something about his gym-shoes.
I lifted my pencil away from the paper, admiring my uncle in all his glory. I started to feel really happy again. I cracked my knuckles, stretching by arms over my head, feeling completely refreshed by my work. But I wasn’t done yet. He needed Aunt Abigail by his side.
After brushing the eraser shavings off from the page, I went to work straight away and drew Aunt Abigail in all her roundness, emphasizing her plump curves, making her look just like a sugar plum. Her beefy arms and sausage-fingers are spread out as she proudly displays the exaggerated gown I draw for her. I lace the bodic with shoe-lace thin ribbons; layer the balloon-shaped skirt with frosting-like ruffles, and decorate it up and down with lots of bows in all sizes and jewels in all kinds of shapes. I finish her outfit off with an elaborately-large hat with plumage reminiscent of a peacock’s, large ringlets spilling out, and I gave her a glamorous and joyful expression, the ends of her lashes in exaggerated curls.
Just like my drawing of Uncle Cady, I captured her perfectly in personality. Aunt Abigail loved the outrageous. In her cooking, baking, decorating and sewing, she always believed more was perfection. Years ago, she once made a dress for Anna that was, in sis’s words, just too much for a party. She did wear it eventually…when she was taking me out trick-or-treating for Halloween the same year, much to our aunt’s chagrin. My memories of that dress are as clear as water—she looked just like a butterfly coming out of her a cocoon that looked like it had been spun of rainbow silk.
She was right. It was a lot for just a party. It would have suited her better at a ball set in a fairy-tale. It looked absolutely lovely on her. Magical. It had captured her inner beauty very well…too breathtaking for this world of the mundane. It’s too bad she only wore it that one time. If it had been a little simpler, I’m sure she would have worn it again.
…I decided then that I would draw Anna next and design my own outfit for her, something that wouldn’t be as much as what Aunt Abigail had designed for her but something just as beautiful. Something she would defiantly wear again, and again.
After I drew Anna’s petite frame, slender arms and legs, I began to work on her dress. Using the stuff I had drawn this morning for inspiration, I crafted her an outfit that was fit for a princess: a knee-length gown in the shape of an upside-down rose, with long detached sleeves in the shapes of petals, and laced with delicate frills; her arms are extended gracefully making the sleeves looks like wings ready to take her up into the sky. I drew her collar square-shaped, and embroidered it with frills and ever so gently and carefully, a single rose in the middle of it all with short ribbons spilling daintily from it. I drew her hair smooth and long ending at the tips in delicate curls, and then I gave her a bonnet, also veiled with frilly lace; a silk-bow tied under her chin, and I covered the top of the bonnet with swaths of roses—it almost looked like a basket of flowers, but prettier.
I made her expression soft, dreamy and faraway, framed by long eye-lashes; her eyes sparkling like gem-stones.
I finished with an accent of rose petals falling down around her. I withdrew my pencil to look at my work. It took my breath away; I didn’t think I had it in me. She really does look like a princess—a fairy-princess who came from another land. Absolutely alluring.
I looked back over at Uncle Cady and Aunt Abigail. I realized that all three of them looked out of this world, but I shouldn’t be too surprised they were spun from dreams after all.
I awed at them, so very proud of the job I had done on them, that I almost couldn’t believe that this came from my hand. I’m not nearly as fantastic of an artist as Anna is (she’s an artist I believe would put Van Gouge to shame); I know I can draw better than how I had when I was kid, but had I really drawn this?
“You don’t give yourself enough credit, Evan.” I can hear sis saying. “You’re really a great artist! You’re making strides that I couldn’t do when I was your age. You shouldn’t put yourself down so much!”
I feel my lips upturn into a smile as I remember her encouraging words. I still don’t think that I’m anything special, she’s the true artist after-all, but perhaps I shouldn’t be too surprised with some of the quality of my drawings. These drawings, after-all, came out better then anything I’ve made so far because it’s of my family.
However, it's these types of drawings that only come out the best. They are the most fulfilling to create because instead of just for practice, these drawings come from my heart…
From the very bottom of it…that's why they're the best.
I loved looking at them again, like this, almost like they used to be…
…. If our aunt and uncle could see how I made them, would they find it far more appealing than any drawing I had ever done of them before?
Sadly, I’ll never know the answers. They’ll never tell me what they think of my drawings anymore, because our aunt and uncle are no longer apart of this world anymore...
Poor Uncle Cady died four years ago. He lost his battle to cancer. It started in his liver, and unfortunately spread at a rapid pace throughout his whole body. They gave him about a year, but he died three weeks later just after being diagnosed, his body completely ravaged by the disease. Aunt Abigail didn’t let me or Anna see him even before he died. She didn’t want us to see how he was withering away. He was the one who told her to do that because he wanted our last memories of him to be of his cheerful, strong and bright, sunny self. He wanted us to think of him whenever summer blossomed through, not when the fall came to take it all away.
And then, as if to continue the cruel joke played upon us by fate, Aunt Abigail, two years later, was killed in a horrific car accident. She was out buying some sweet treats for the both of us because we were all going to go out on a little summer picnic later that evening, and she wanted to spoil us a little. She was crossing the street when it said for her the walk, but some…idiot was too busy texting on his phone that he went through the red-light and plowed right into her. The car had smashed her bones, puncturing her lungs, pulverized her stomach, and crushed her heart. She died instantly. They said that there was not a shred of hope in saving her life, and that it was actually a blessing that she died so quickly.
We had to have a closed coffin for her at her wake just like we had for Uncle Cady’s. And just like the last time people gave us food and condolences, but that was about it.
Since then it’s been just me and sis. She was crushed after Aunt Abigail died; crying so much, completely and utterly in tatters. I remember her frantically questioning to nobody in particular after our Aunt’s funeral about how she was supposed to do things all by herself, that she still needed them, that she didn’t know what to do next. I held her hand and I told her that she could leave everything to me, that I would take care of her, so she wouldn’t have to worry anymore.
She held me close for a long time before retiring into her room, and after a few days, she came out, pulled herself together it seemed. She told me that I was the sweetest thing, and she thanked me for keeping it together when she, the adult, had crumbled to pieces. She said that though she appreciated what I said, she was the adult, the only one now in the household and it was her job now to take care of things and keep us both happy and healthy.
It’s not like she needed a job right away though. Thanks to the very large inheritance they both left us, we’re able to live a comfortable life for perhaps many years, but sis was determined to work anyway. For a while though she wasn’t having a whole lot of luck in finding a place that would hire her. She told me that it was because she would freeze up during the interviews, her words becoming complete gibberish the moment they asked her the first question. She would gently bonk herself on the side of her head, with her tongue sticking out, playfully. “So much for being the adult in the house.” She would say.
I kept telling her not to stress herself out too much, that we were fine as it was, but she wouldn’t hear of it. “We can’t just rely solely on our inheritance. That stuff depletes. Bad stuff can happen so it’s best if we have some emergency money just in case.” She would tell me.
I didn’t want her to push herself so hard but eventually I backed off because I started to realize that sis had come back to her old fiery self, the same bright smile full of optimism she always wore on her face was back with a vengeance. It eased my own heavy heart a lot to see her that way again.
Eventually, her tenacity paid off and she finally found work as a dog bather at a nearby groomers in town, and though she said it may not be much money, she was thankful for the start.
“If I move my way up from a bather to an actual groomer, I’ll be able to find work in bigger grooming businesses and eventually we’ll have plenty enough to even spend instead of just saving. And when that happens, I promise to treat you to that fancy cake-buffet auntie always wanted to bring us to, and we’ll both pig out on desserts till our stomachs burst wide open!” She was glowing with positivity for the future. She put the horrific events of losing our dear aunt and uncle behind her at last. She was happy again, and so was I.
Things had been going so well, on their way back to normalcy.
Everything was going so right, so well….
Why did it suddenly turn so sour? It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
I look at the drawing of Anna I made, and I feel my heart constrict, my eyes begin to feel wet.
“Why Anna?” I whisper, thinking of her dark pony-tail hanging over the couch, no longer swishing to turn towards my direction, her lips saying nothing more to acknowledge my presence.
A tear-drop plops onto the page, and blurs the center of her collar, the rose, I had so delicately pained to make perfect washes away into an indistinct smudge. I hiss, and wipe my eyes. Now I’ve ruined it. I ruined the pretty picture I made of sis.
I shouldn’t be surprised. That’s all I ever do now….
The bell that tolls the end of the lunch hour screeches in my ears, and I groan. I’ll worry about that tear-stain later, that the best thing to do is let it air out anyway.
So much as it pains me to do so, I’m going to have to go and put it back in my locker, (with it opened to that page, so it doesn’t get damaged worst). It’s not like I had a choice though, with science, P.E, and social studies being my next (and final) classes for today, I wouldn’t have even the beginning of any of those classes to sketch even a doodle. The teachers in social studies and science expects to see all their students’ noses buried in their text-books the moment they walk into the classroom. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. And P.E says it all.
I groan again, agitation creeping within me as my patience for the rest the time I have left in this prison wears thin thinking about all the hours I’ll have to spend without drawing. I take in a sharp breath, and almost curse myself aloud for repeating that stupid useless habit. I wish my body would realize that it doesn’t work on me anymore. Why can’t my body listen to my mind? I’m getting irritated the more I dwell on it though.
I get up to stretch my arms and legs, my pencil-case and sketchbook placed neatly down on the chair. My muscles sigh with relief as I stretch and it does a little bit of good for my mood. A little. But no matter how small I need something to make me feel good, I need it now more than ever. The yearning to go into my tree-house is stronger then ever now.
It’s just three more hours, I try to tell myself. Just three more, and then you’ll finally be in there. It doesn’t help me though, because while my brain is telling me to be patient, my heart is thowing a fit, screaming for my sanctuary now.
Maybe if I draw up a quick flower on my way to my locker (a rose, maybe a daisy, or perhaps both), it might be enough to calm me down. Maybe. I don’t know. I just wish school was over with now. I hate it here. I hate that I’m still trapped here, in this infuriating institution.
I spin around to do more stretches, doing anything now to calm my burning mind but then I suddenly catch a brisk shock of red-curls swishing away behind the wall from away from my spot. Gym-shoes, I hear, are swiftly slapping against the carpeted floor in a hurry, like the person they belong to saw a wolf and is trying to get as far away as possible from it.
I tilt my head in confusion. That wasn’t Harvey, was it? There aren't that many kids in this school with bright red curls, but it couldn’t be. Could it? If it was him what was he doing here? Was the loud and crowded atmosphere in the cafeteria proving to be too much for his delicate nerves to handle? If it was, why would he come to the library? I thought the bathroom was his favorite place to duck into.
Hm, maybe he just needed a private place like me to relax in. A jittery guy like that does need to be in a quiet place at times or else he might start throwing up again. Oh well, if it was him, he didn’t make the attempt to bother me, so it’s not something I need to dwell on. It probably wasn’t him anyway, I mean what would be the reason for him to be stalking me from behind?
I bent down to pick up my lunch-bag, but then I pause, finding something placed carefully on-top of it. Something I don’t remember ever putting there.
It’s…it’s a chocolate cookie almost as big as my palm, wrapped neatly in clear plastic wrap. I pick it up, examining it, and I see that it’s studded with M&M’s. One of my favorite candies. I look back to the spot where I saw the flash of red-curls, thinking of how quickly they had darted away before I even got the chance to see who they belonged to…
…Harvey’s not the only red-head in this school, but he is the only one I know and who knows me. He even knows that I love M&M’s since the small celebration we had for Valentine’s day in our second free-period where the teacher had brought in a big bag of different kinds of candies and told us we could have a much as we wanted. I grabbed as many od the small bags of M&M’s as I could, and I pissed off a lot of my classmates doing that.
Harvey’s also the only one who ever looks at me with a lot of regret whenever he had to be mean to me, his gaze was the one of rarest, sincerest looks I had ever gotten from anyone throughout my school career, but I never received gifts of apology from him before. This is a first. Had his conscience been too much for him that he started to gain some courage?
I unwrap a small section of the plastic wrap around the top of the cookie, and sniff it. It smells like sugar and cocoa. Nothing amiss. I take a small bite, and it’s soft, the M&M’s crunch easily between my teeth.
It tastes normal. Homemade. It’s good.
I take another bite. I wonder if his mom made it. I can’t imagine his dad had. For some reason, the image of a grown-ass man in a frilly apron mixing cookie dough in a pastel bowl doesn’t look right in my head. I blame Uncle Cady for that. He argued with our aunt when it was close to Anna’s birthday one time about how he wouldn’t be caught dead in the only other apron we owned—Aunt Abigail’s specially designed purple one laced with pink ruffles and studded with a rainbow of rhinestones that read Smooch the Cook— to help her decorate the three-tiered-cake she had just popped out of the oven. He had said that he wasn’t banking on losing his pride as a man unless he was "playing on the other team". My Uncle Cady was also a traditional guy when it came to the male role, another trait that annoyed our aunt to no end. She got him back though by “accidently” squirting a ribbon of yellow frosting right into his face.
I giggled at the memory of him doing the same thing to her not a moments later, but with blue frosting. They ended up decorating themselves instead of the cake by the end of that day.
Hehehe…I wish they were still alive, I miss them very much. But strangely, I feel a little better now.
It had so much.
It needed more…
MORE MEAT. MORE DELCIOUS, MOVING, LIVING, BREATHING MEAT.
It told itself.
It was out in the open for too long now.
It needed to find shelter, hide, rest.
But it wanted more…
So much more…
There were still left scattering around
In the dirt.
Up the trees…
Instinct for preservation kicked forward.
It needed rest. A hidden place surrounded by shadows…
Somewhere where it wouldn’t be found...
It looks up over yonder.
And it breathes with relief.
There it was just up above, shelter.
A perfect little place cocooned in all those branches.
Curtained in all that foliage.
It decided it would rest there for a bit.
And then it would feed again.
It had too…
It NEEDED too.
It needed rest and shelter, yes. But feeding would immediatly come after that.
Yes, it would rest and hide. But afterward it would feed again.
It just couldn’t let any wandering flesh and blood go so easily, now. Could it?
Especially in such a place as rich as this.
This place truly was good to it. Food. Shelter. FOOD.
Once it had rested for a while. It would hunt and feed of them again.
It had to. It NEEDED to.
It crawled again, claws digging into mud, rain washing its face, as it slithered up to its shelter.
Only for a little while.
Just a little while.
Just a little...
Threads of drool already dripping down it's large mouth.