Part 4 - Nails

Part 4 - Nails

A Chapter by Kelsey
" many months now? Whatever, after a long time, here is part four.


          Michael sat at the top of the slide with me sitting in his lap as we waited for the sunset. We'd spent the whole day at the park laughing and teeter-tottering. At one point Michael had found a disposable plate and we'd played with Sasha using the plate as a frisbee.
         Now Sasha was sniffing around the base of the slide, whimpering slightly because she was alone and couldn't climb up to join us. I kept whistling to her every few minutes to let her know that she hadn't been abandoned.
         Michael tapped my shoulder with his pencil and I reached back to take the pad of paper from him. My eyes strained to read the words upon the surface of the paper as it was darker here in our section of the park.
              'Thank you for today. I haven't had this much fun in years.'
         I smiled a little, my eyes closing against the tears I felt trying to come. It's amazing how much a person can break inside from people who want to be cool in front of their friends and so tear them down in as many ways as possible to maintain this status.
         I didn't know what to write back to him and so merely kept the pad and pencil in my lap, half-wanting to reach back again for his hand but knowing he would only pull away. No matter how much he'd laughed and smiled today I knew by the look in his eyes that he wouldn't be holding my hand again any time soon. Always in his gaze had been that small look of fear. It never quite left.
         My only sense of insecurity regarding this fear was the fact that I had no clue what it was that he was afraid of exactly. Had he risked getting close to another person? Perhaps another girl? Maybe she had hurt him bad enough that he was afraid I would turn out to be the same way. I had no intentions, however, of doing anything of the sort.
         He seemed slightly let down that I hadn't responded to his letter and so reached around me to take the pad and pencil back, scribbling quickly another message before it could become too dark to read. He passed it back over to me and I hesitated in reading it.
         'Is everything all right?'
         No, everything wasn't.
         'Yeah, just tired.'
         This time Michael didn't respond and I think he knew I was lying. Thankfully, the way we were sitting he couldn't see my eyes and so could not possibly know what was going through my mind. I closed my eyes against the bright gold and crimson colors melting in the sky, seeking solace in the darkness behind my eyelids. I was jolted out of my trance sooner than expected as I felt Michael's arms tighten around me and both of our bodies sliding forward and down the slide. I barely had the chance to squeak in surprise before we'd already reached the bottom and I was being greeted by sloppy wet kisses from Sasha. Laughing, I stroked her head and got to my feet.
         Michael was already fumbling in his pocket to take out Sasha's leash and I moved aside so that he could fasten it to her collar. Even in this darkness I could tell that he wasn't keen on going home, that same curtain closing over his eyes as before. Before even considering my offer and going through the consequences in my head, I had taken the pad and pencil from him and written him an invitation to stay at my house for the night. If his mother was as much of a drunk as he claimed her to be, she would not even notice her son was gone. However, I didn't even stop to think that my two very sober parents might not like this arrangement.
         Michael looked shocked but nodded his head, obviously not thrilled at the idea of going home to deal with his messed up mother and the overwhelming smell of alcohol. I was thrilled to see that the curtains over his eyes had opened wide and so I ignored my own fear at the idea of what my parents would say.
         It took longer to get home than it did to get to the park, skipping down the sidewalk and dancing with our shadows as we passed under the orange glow of the streetlamps. My parents were home but, judging by the lack of light glimmering in the windows of the house, were obviously already in bed. That was one of the few benefits I had -- they never seemed to mind what time I got home as long as I got there unharmed and still virginal.
         I helped Michael to tie up Sasha's leash on the back porch and set out a small bucket of water that I retrieved from the water hose in the yard. Sasha gave my hand a thank you lick before lapping up the water greedily. I decided it would be easiest to enter through the back door and motioned for Michael to follow me, taking off my shoes before unlocking the door to let us in. When I looked back at Michael it was to see him barefoot and I giggled, surprised that his toes didn't appear to be at all hairy. I had been looking forward to teasingly calling him a Hobbit and now that dream was ruined.
         Michael seemed to understand why were tiptoeing through the house and up the stairs and so did not pause to ask pointless questions. I took a deep breath as we passed by my parents room and I let him into my room first, casting a quick glance back at their closed door before following him in.
         I cast a quick glance around the room, wrinkling my nose at the small mess on the floor, hurrying to scoop things up and out of sight so that he wouldn't think I was a pig. Michael must have thought I was doing this for different reasons because he laid down on the floor as if he meant to sleep there. I shook my head, trying not to laugh, pointing over at the bed. For the second time that night he looked shocked. I wasn't surprised to see the pad and pencil in his hand again, quickly scribbling across the paper before tossing it to me.
         'But where will you sleep?'
         I blinked. I had not even thought for a moment that it would be awkward for us to share the same bed. Obviously, we weren't good friends because we'd not known each other that long, but we were still friends and nothing more, no matter how much my heart rate accelerated when his hand brushed against mine. I pointed at the bed and he looked slightly surprised but didn't argue.
         I was reluctant to break our silence and so drew a quick map of the upper levels of my house so that he'd know what rooms to avoid and where the bathroom was if he needed it. Michael smiled, nodding his head in thanks, getting up and leaving the room quietly. While he was gone I changed into a t-shirt and pajama pants. He was gone longer than I had thought and when he came back I almost died of a heart attack.
         He had returned with a towel wrapped around his waist, his dark hair plastered to his pale face with water from the shower, his dirty clothes bunched up in one hand. I averted my eyes as I got to my feet, holding out my hand for the clothes. I could have them washed and dried within the hour. He blushed sheepishly, handing over the clothes without comment. Obviously he had not thought this would pose much of a problem.
         I gestured lamely at my closet before fleeing the room and moving down the stairs as quickly and queitly as possible, wanting to put distance between us for a while so that I could gather myself and my raging hormones. It didn't take me long at all to start the washer and I stood there for a long time before finally making my way back to the upper levels of the house. He was towel-drying his hair when I came back into my room, wearing a pair of baggy shorts that I normally only wore during the summer when at summer camp.
         Michael dropped the towel, getting to his feet, already waving his hands in an apologetic gesture but I just smiled and shook my head. There was no need and he seemed to realize that I didn't mind. I was surprised that he was so pale, his skin flawless, and so I was shocked that when he turned his back on me to see the scars that ran across his body. Long and thin and deliberately done by what may have been nails, and I don't think they were the nails of a human being.
         I reached out to touch the scars, running my fingertips along them like the lines on a road map, my mouth hanging open slightly in shock. Michael's body stiffened beneath my touch but he neither tried to stop me or move away. I closed my eyes, letting my fingers pass down along the longest of the scars, feeling the way that his fear and anger seemed to seep through the raised welts there. I slowly withdrew my hand, opening my eyes, wanting to ask but not sure how.
         Michael turned around and sat down on the bed, looking up and meeting my eyes. The green seemed brighter somehow than when I had first met him and the idea that maybe I had helped bring about this small change made me feel better. I grabbed the pad of paper and pencil and began to write out the question but Michael took them both away from me and set them aside.
         I had expected his voice to be soft and delicate like butterfly wings -- frail from lack of use -- but was surprised when it came out stronger than most men's. Low and gravelly and somehow soothing at the same time, like feathers being passed over your skin. "I dated a girl about a year ago. Julianne. She was cruel and cold-hearted. She only dated me on a dare from some of her friends."
         I felt sick, my eyes never straying from his as he spoke, not interrupting him for fear I'd never hear his voice again if I did. He didn't seem like he had any intentions of looking away either, going by our usual method of letting most of the story communicate though his eyes. In a lot of ways, the look in them told me more than words could have ever done.
         "She pretended to be sympathetic about my situation with my mother and my father. Said she knew exactly what I was going through, only the other way around." he said, pausing to lick his lips and take a deep breath. I had been so focused on his eyes that it was only then I realized he was shaking. I didn't reach out to him, afraid that he would close down altogether. A curtain not only over his eyes but over his whole being. I couldn't risk it.
         "There was a night my mother was particularly cruel, and I went to Julianne's house for comfort. When the door opened it wasn't her but a guy. I don't even know his name and I don't ever want to, but he's the one who dragged me inside and through a side door into the garage." His voice did not shake or change in pitch, sounding quite calm as he told his story, but he was shaking a little more now and he licked his lips again before going on.
         "Julianne was there with several other people. Boys from football and girls from cheerleading. She had a bunch of the poems I'd written her. Her friends were reading them, laughing, smiling like it was the best joke they'd ever heard. When the guy threw me into the garage they all got up except for her, pointing like I was some sort of an attraction at a museum." For the first time, his voice shook, and instead of looking away or reaching out to grasp his hand I maintained eye contact and just held out my hand for him to decide. He grasped my hand tightly in his own without breaking our gaze and continued.
         "One of the boys had grabbed a hammer, threatening to bash in the side of my skull with it, laughing and saying that if I wanted a beautiful end like the ones in my poems he could give it to me. A girl had grabbed a saw, standing beside him and laughing and blowing me a kiss. Another girl had grabbed a handful of nails and she was the one who got to me first." His eyes closed and I followed suit, not wanting to embarrass him by watching him cry. "The guy who brought me in there in the first place was yanking my shirt up and over my head and it didn't take long before I felt her driving the nails into my flesh and dragging them across. Somehow I managed to get out of their before ever having to deal with the boy and his hammer..." he trailed off and I did not ask him to finish.
         The bed shifted beneath me and a moment later his arms were around me and I just held him without opening my eyes. His hair was still damp and small droplets of water dripped onto my t-shirt and I felt the difference between them and the warm tears. We didn't speak and I wondered almost selfishly if now that he had gotten this all out if we would now be resorting back to the usual method of communication.
         "May I ask...what dream came true?" I asked him softly.
         He chuckled, something dark hidden behind it, "Someone finally cared enough to ask."

© 2008 Kelsey

Author's Note

To read the other parts that precede this, please go look at my whole gallery.

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Added on October 6, 2008




I'm 22-years-old. I am a Christian writer-singer girl who enjoys fried chicken, the color green, and the ability to dance about ridiculously in the rain. I hope you enjoy my writing (new and old!). more..

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