Breathe chapter 3

Breathe chapter 3

A Chapter by LunalitSol

          “Hell, there are no rules here. We are trying to accomplish something.”

                                           ------Thomas Edison.


 Chapter 3: Rules are rules are rules are made to be broken

    1. Colby:

    The words of Journey bounced across the room. Colby tapped his pencil roughly against his smooth maple-wood desk, biting his lip against a tide of thoughts and images. He recalled his girlfriend’s words earlier that day: “That weird Asian art-girl is looking at you again.” 

    Loren’s snooty voice rang clearly in his mind. He sighed, pressing his hand to his forehead wearily. He had to break up with her; she was just too judgmental. It had been okay at first. Tolerable. But now it was getting ridiculous. She was getting ridiculous. She cut into just about every girl (and GUY, for Christ’s sake) that dared look his way. Even her friends were subject to her condescending taunts. And he was just getting so sick of it.

    “Colby! Come here for a second,” his mom called up to him. He sighed again, rubbing his eyes tiredly, and standing slowly, arching his back and stretching a bit, then proceeding to slowly make his way down the stairs. 

    Francesca Spencer smiled weakly at her son, turning around at the sound of his footsteps. There was paint splattered on her apron and charcoal smudges on her long fingers.  

    “Hey baby,” she murmured, in her quiet drifty voice, tucking a loose strand of honey-brown hair behind an ear. 

     “Hey mom.”

     “What were you doing?”

     Colby shrugged. 

      “Just sketching.”

      “Good boy,” she laughed softly, reaching to lightly ruffle his hair.

      The corners of his lips upturned slightly. 

      “I guess. What’s going on?”

       She blinked, as if remembering for the first time that it was she who had called him down here. She turned back.

      “I wanted you to take a look at my latest project.”

       Colby glanced around her frail frame to the painting. It was their family, though drastically different somehow. His mom’s bones jutted out conspicuously, and she was wan and drawn looking. Charcoal had been smudged into dark hollows about her crystalline blue eyes. Her honeyed hair was thinner than ever and she had her skeletal arms brought upwards, so that each hand was placed on the side of a neck, his and his father’s respectively. A huge smile lit up her bony face. Golden light sifted down on her and reflected on the faces of her son and husband, both of whom were also smiling softly, though with tears edging in their grey eyes. 

       Colby inhaled deeply.

      “It’s beautiful mom.”

      She beamed, skin stretching taut over her obvious cheekbones. 

      “Thanks sweetheart,” she murmured. 

       He nodded simply, then stepped abruptly forward and brought his arms about her fragile frame, clutching her close to him, working against the urge to hold her tighter and tighter so she could never flutter away. He could feel her protruding stomach and struggled suddenly against a rush of bile at the thought of a baby, a little sibling, being held within his frail mother. He couldn’t decide who to resent for that, his father, his mother, or the fetus. 

      His mother  leaned down, placing her head on his.

      “I love you,” she whispered.

       He nodded into her shoulder.

       “I love you too, mom.”

        All he knew was that she had to be okay, she had to make it. She had to.  

2. Alyssa: 

      Alyssa traced circles onto her paper with her nail, sighing inwardly. She was so bored. She glanced across the room, eyes catching on Travis. He was reading the passage they’d been assigned to analyze, brow slightly furrowed and lips turned downwards in concentration. She watched him until his head gave a little jerk towards her and she turned quickly away, flushing a bit. She could feel his steady brown gaze, silently accusing her. She pretended to be engrossed in her paper, all the while knowing that this act was as see-through as cellophane. 

     She felt his gaze leave her at last and let her  head fall onto her desk with a loud bang!  

     ‘Way to be inconspicuous Alyssa. Congratulations,’ she thought irritably to herself. He was staring again. She groaned, head lolling. She was just so f*****g bored, and mad and frustrated, and sad and so, so bored. 

       Usually she’d be spending this time passing notes and texting Travis back and forth, but since Maria had dumped him he’d been giving her the silent treatment same as she’d given him that first day. This, of course, left her only wanting to talk to him even more. And, worse yet, they had five of their eight periods together. Including lunch next period. She let her head thump onto the desk once more. 

        The teacher cast Alyssa a stern glare and started over. 

        “Ms. Reyes, where’s your book?”

         “At home,” Alyssa mumbled grudgingly. 

         “And what is it doing there?”

         “I, umm…it prefers being there to here?” she suggested, sheepish now. 

          “Is that so?”

           Alyssa nodded rapidly at Mrs. Shapiro.

          “Well then I’d wager your homework felt the same way.”

            Alyssa bit her lip. Aw crap….Mrs. Shapiro rarely called you on your s**t unless she was getting really annoyed, from what she’d seen so far this year. 

           “Sorry Mrs. Shapiro. It won’t happen again.”

           Mrs. Shapiro nodded sharply.

           “See that it won’t.”

            Turning around, the teacher’s eye caught on Travis, who had his cell phone out.

            “Mr. Longoria put that away or hand it over,” she reprimanded.

            Travis winced and shoved his cell into his pocket.

            “Sorry,” he muttered. 

            She sighed and shook her head, tongue clucking her disappointment.

            “One more time, Travis, and I’ll be forced to hold it until the end of the day. Understood?”

            “Yes ma’am,” he replied dutifully, opening his book and absolving himself in its contents once more.

            The teacher cast an observing look about herself, then  moved back to her desk and began typing grades once more into the computer. 

            Alyssa turned her gaze to her paper once more, attempting to look studious. Suddenly the vibration of her phone shook its way through her. She jumped a bit, surprised, and everyone, teacher included, glanced her way, many of them breaking into guffaws. The teacher raised an eyebrow at Alyssa, and she blushed. 

            “I…had an idea…and….it, uh….excited me.”

             It didn’t help that her voice was breathy with shock. The class’s snickers rose in volume. Crimson swam swiftly across her face and Mrs. Shapiro’s eyebrows continued to rise until finally…

             “I’ll see you after class, Ms. Reyes. Is that understood?”

              Alyssa swallowed hard and nodded jerkily. 

              “Good. Now get back to work. All of you.”

              Her steady, stern, glance swept the room and the snickers withered away beneath it. 

              Once things had regained their calm to some degree, Alyssa inconspicuously slid her phone from her pocket. 

              One new text. She cast a dubious eye on her teacher, then at a few of her classmates that had a rep for being narks. 

    She surreptitiously pressed the button, opening the text. Then glanced at the top. Travis. 

     Alyssa suppressed a gasp and looked over at him. He was staring  at the book, brow creased in concentration, yet his eyes weren’t moving so much as a centimeter. Suddenly, his brown irises flew to her and met her own in a fierce, searing look.   
        
     She was transfixed for several moments, caught in him, finding herself unable to escape from him, and not even wanting to. Finally, her heart in her throat, she tore her gaze from his to the text, which she proceeded to drink in hungrily. 

     “I miss you. I want to talk to you. I’m sick of this bullshit Lyssa. Please. Find me during lunch. I’m outside in the woods behind the caf. If you don’t come, I won’t try again. Please come though.”

     She looked back. His eyes were still on her, smoldering. She swallowed and inclined her head sharply. The shadow of a grin crept onto his face, then was gone. They both turned away.

      3. Travis:

       Humming softly, Travis kept his eyes steadily on the lush green grass and roots of the trees surrounding him. He was still trying to figure out what he wanted to say to Alyssa. He knew he was mad at her. He had been since he’d figured out she’d known about Maria breaking up with him before it had even happened. Of course, that alone would have only gotten him a little ticked. He understood, after all. Maria was her twin sister. But Alyssa, he knew, had also been attempting to break off their friendship, and that really pissed him off, especially since he knew she really didn’t want to. She always put her sister first, even though her sister was a total b***h and walked all over her. He’d only given Maria a chance on Alyssa’s word, in the first place. 

       He was also mildly hurt by it all. Obviously he couldn’t mean much to the girl he’d considered to be one of his best friends if she was that willing to give him up. This, however, he was trying his best not to think about. It wasn’t the sort of thing he liked to dwell on, after all. He heard it enough from his dad; he didn’t need it from himself. 

     Footsteps crunched towards him, but he resisted the urge to look up. He missed her, he missed having someone to confide in and mess around with. And he was letting these feelings overwhelm the rest. He knew he needed her. And that was more important then everything else. 

     “Travis?”

      He looked up. 

      4. Casey:

     “Come on Baby. Let me see it.”

      Casey bit her lip nervously and typed in “idk…”.

      The man, a Gregory Iselin, quickly typed back. “Please baby. I miss you. I miss you so much. Don’t you care about me?”

      She looked into her webcam, feeling trapped and guilty. 

      “Of course,” she typed. “I just don’t know…”

       Almost immediately his response appeared on the screen.

       “You’re an ugly tease. B***h. Just go away, alright? F*****g liar.”

        “Wtf?????” Casey was bewildered and hurt. “You don’t even know me!”

         “I know enough,” he replied. “S**t.”

          “Stop,” she typed back, feeling frantic and fighting the urge to cry. 

           “Then show me babe. Prove me wrong.” 

            Casey shuddered but nodded into the cam and slid off her shirt. 

             “Put the cam down baby.”

             She swallowed and nodded, lowering it. 

              “Oh that’s nice….Now take off your bra. Slowly. Slide the straps down ur shoulders first.”

               Casey nodded and did as she was told, until finally it was off. 

               “Now what?” she asked.

               “Play with them.”
  
                She swallowed and followed instructions, feeling threatened, yet somehow simultaneously…excited. She was always scared…but then…these guys wanted her. They thought she was beautiful. And that feeling was something she valued, no matter the circumstances. 

      “Now stand up for me and strip.”

      She did so.

      “Wow babe…you’re so f****n hot! You make me so horny.”

       She bit her lip.

       “Thanks,” she typed.

        “U horny too?”

         She knew what he wanted to hear.

          “Ya.” 

           “I make you hot, huh?”

            “mmmm, yeah.”

            “Good. Lie down, babe. Show me how much you want me.”

             She lay back and did as she was told, all the while watching as he told her how beautiful she was. It made her feel so good, but beneath that she felt guilty too. And oh so dirty. When it finally ended, she quickly told him she needed to take a shower. He wanted to watch, but she told him no, quickly said bye, and exited the chat before he could reply. 

             Casey stripped once more and went to the shower, crying and scrubbing at the filth that never seemed to come off. 

   5. Blake:

          Haley laughed softly and relaxed into his arms. 

          “I missed you, babe,” he murmured into her ear. 

          “I missed you too, Blake,” she sighed. 

           He kissed her temple. 

           “How bad was it?”

           “Pretty bad,” she sniffled sorrowfully.
  
           “I miss him Blake. And I don’t understand why it happened. He was an amazing guy. A caring cousin. He didn’t deserve this,” her voice rose in a note of angry righteousness on the last part. 

          Blake nodded. “I know Haley. I know.”

          It was a hard thing to grasp to him, what Haley was going though. Her half-brother who lived in Virginia had been murdered in cold blood. He was only twelve, three years her junior. She’d always been with him, always playing with him and taking care of him before she’d moved to Vermont with her mom. Even  then, she’d kept close contact with her little brother. And now he was dead, and Blake’s girlfriend was lost in the grief. It dissolved so much of her typically happy disposition. And it hurt him too. He hated seeing her like this. 

         “Vincent,” she whispered, then turned into Blake. “Why’d he have to leave me?”

          And then she was crying, sobbing, and he felt awkward and sad for her and desperately uncomfortable. He wanted to run away and pretend none of this was happening. But he fought the feeling and stayed there, holding her. 

        “Blake,” she whispered.

        “What?”

        “Do you think that you could go get my songbook from the car? The keys are right here.”

        He nodded, took the keys, and kissed her softly.

       “I’ll be back.”

       He went out to the car and unlocked it, fishing the journal instinctively from the glove compartment. He locked the door and sprinted back, opening the door quietly. 
The notes of  ‘No Air’ by Jordin Sparks drifted to him. Haley was singing loudly, beautiful voice brimming with emotions so intense he could scarcely breathe past them. He slowly ventured up the stairs, taking it in.

       “No air, air/ I walked, I ran, I jumped, I flew/ Right off the ground to float to you/There's no gravity to hold me down for real/But somehow I'm still alive inside/You took my breath, but I survived/I don't know how, but I don't even care/So how do you/expect me/to live alone with just me/'Cause my world revolves around you/It's so hard for me to breathe/No air, air/No air, air/No air, air/No air, air/No more/It's no air, no a-” she cut off then, breaking once more into sobs. 

      He was by that point at the door and, as he entered, she rushed to him, throwing her arms about him, shoulders heaving and tears streaming. He hushed her gently, hating how helpless he felt. This was all just so unfair.  It was unjust. And it hurt, like hell. 

       “It’ll be ok,” he told her softly. 

       “Really?” she breathed, voice filled with agony. 

        He inhaled deeply, resisting the desire to punch several walls as hard as he could. Anything.  

        “Yes,” he lied.
   
         He didn’t know that it would be. He didn’t know anything. But he had the terrible feeling that no, it wouldn’t all be ok. 

       6. Kiwi:

         Lucas was still asleep, curled up on the floor. Kiwi hadn’t gotten much out of him last night, only that he needed a place to crash for a few days. She had a feeling that was all she was going to get out of him, anyways. She’d still been interrogating him when he’d fallen asleep, plainly exhausted, and she’d dropped off soon after. 
  
        Now she’d woken to find him still fast asleep. This gave her the chance to examine him more closely. She woke him up briefly, telling him to take his shirt and stuff off so he’d be more comfortable and he sleepily listened to her, before being swiftly swept away once more by sleep’s gentle tide. 
    
         As Lucas slept, Kiwi got a few washcloths and some bandages, Neosporin, saline, and medical tape. The majority of the cuts he had were surrounded by dry blood, but some were still going, most of these oozing but a few truly streaming. These she applied pressure to initially, until her eye caught on a sparkle. She quickly withdrew the pressure and looked closer, a hand going to his shoulder to hold him still. There was glass. Crap. She quickly went to the bathroom and grabbed some tweezers. 

       When she got back, she knelt beside him once more, murmuring worriedly. How the hell Luke dealt with all of this the way he did, she’d never know. But neither did she know how much longer she could continue to keep quiet. Much as she wanted to deny it, this all scared her a great deal. 

        He squirmed in his sleep, whimpering softly as she began to remove the shards and clean the cuts with a normal saline solution, then Neosporin as the bleeding stopped. A few of the shards were small and kept being pushed deeper into his chest, terrifying her, to the point where she was beginning to consider calling for her mom. As she continued her futile struggle to extract the stubborn glass, though, the door opened and her mom walked in, taking the option from her hands. 

       “What happened to him?” Cassandra Hanson asked Kiwi, pulling her blonde hair into a messy ponytail, much like Kiwi’s own, as she went. 

        “He…fell into a vase at home,” Kiwi told her slowly. 

       Kiwi’s mom nodded in understanding and knelt as well, hands finding their way deftly to the wounds and feeling them. She then took the pair of tweezers from Kiwi’s hands and moved them towards the lacerations, eye fixed on them with a determined precision. 

       She picked the glass out after a few tries then quickly applied pressure and proceeded to drip on some saline, then Neosporin, then to finally bandage it. 

       “It looks like his wrist is broken as well Kiwi. I think we have to take him to the hospital.”

       “He’ll kill me!” Kiwi exclaimed worriedly. 

       Her mom gave her a stern look. 

       “The bones need set and he’ll probably need a cast.”

       “But-”

       “Catherine Nicole Hanson, you’ll do as I say and you’ll do what’s best for your friend if he’s as important to you as you claim.”

       Kiwi recoiled from the use of her original name (she’d convinced her adoptive parents to have it legally changed when she was nine. Everyone called her Kiwi now, except for her parents when they were either very angry or very serious). 

       “But what are we supposed to say?” she asked desperately.

        Her mom looked at her for a long moment. 

       “The truth?” she offered at last.

        Kiwi looked at Lucas. He lay there prone and vulnerable, exposed, flinching in his sleep. 

         “What truth?” she asked challengingly.

         “Well I’m not sure Kiwi. The vase story, which is the truth as I know it. Or maybe the truth.” 

          Kiwi looked at her best friend. He needed help…but he’d hate her. She wanted him to ask her for help. If he didn’t, then he’d positively loathe her forever for saying so much as a word. He hadn’t even told her what was going on, anyways. She only suspected, with substantial evidence granted, what was going on. But she didn’t know, not for sure. Lucas could easily be that clumsy or whatever. He could!…somehow….

         Kiwi’s mom eyed her searchingly.

         “The vase story is the truth mom,” she whispered at length. 

         Her mom sighed heavily.

         “Well then I suppose that’s what we’ll have to tell them.”

         A pause. Then: “Can we tell them that it happened here though? It’d be easier to explain.” 

         Kiwi’s mom nodded.

          “I guess we have to,” she said softly. 

          Kiwi nodded, and watched as her mom lifted Lucas easily into her arms, and followed her down the stairs. Her mom dialed the number of the hospital and told them the situation. They said to bring him in and they’d fit him into their schedule as soon as they could. 

         Lucas was then carried to the car, still unconscious, and they drove to the hospital in silence. 

7. Parker:

      15 laps around the block, 50 pushups, 10 more laps around the block, 100 crunches, water break, stretch for 10 minutes, 15 more laps, and finally 70 sit ups. Start at 4 a.m. End preferably at 7:30 a.m. Go take shower, throw on clothes, go to school. Every Monday-Friday was the same thing. And it was not working!

      An apple, a banana, or a hamburger on a day he felt like being self-indulgent, or he knew protein would be important. 

     Everything was regimented. Everything was controlled. He had power. He was making himself better. It was all self-improvement. This was his mantra.

   An apple a day….

“Parker. Parker…Parker!” 

  He looked up from the apple he was taking apart.

  “What do you want?”

   “Well I was kind’ave hoping you’d take me and the freak upstairs to school…since you know you are the only one at home with a car… and you said you would.”

     “Yeah but I said we’d leave at 7:50.”

      “Parker….”

      “Huh?”

       “It’s 8 o’clock…”

       Parker rolled his eyes. 

      “That’s not possible. You’re wrong Frieda. My cellphone says right here…oh.”

       She gave him a look. 

      “Exactly. Now can we go? You can just take the apple in the car…pig.”

      He frowned. Where the heck had all the time gone. He tried to think back, but his head seemed unable to work right….

      “No….I’ll just…leave it here. You and Sean go out to the car. I’ll be there in a sec.”

       Frieda nodded and walked away, yelling “Freak boy get your a*s down here,” as she went.

       Parker paused, glancing at the apple, then threw it away, grabbed his back pack, and followed his siblings out to the car. 

       
8.Frieda:

     The car ride should have been a quiet affair, with Blake focusing dazedly on driving and Frieda, herself, annoyed enough that talking seemed fairly ludicrous. Plus, usually those who had really pissed her off (*cough cough*SEAN*cough cough*) were quiet in fear of her wrath. But Sean-Ray, being him, had to be the exception and chattered on an on and on. 
 
 “Oh and did you know that if you put two lighters together, the flames both go together at an angle so it looks like a heart. It’s weird. Kiera brought it up to James yesterday, ‘cause she was obviously wanting him to do it for her or whatever. She’s cheesey that way, but James is really oblivious and he never notices, so she got all pissed and stormed off. I don’t think that’s the only reason though. I bet she was PMSing or something. I mean, girls aren’t that stupid are they? Besides I consider myself a PMS expert, thanks to Free, here.” He stupidly nudged Frieda with his elbow as he said this, and she caught it, fuming. 

   “Shut.Up.Moron.”

   “You still mad then?” he asked, grinning despite the obvious pain he was experiencing at his sister’s hand. 

    “Oh no not at all,” she hissed, grip tightening. “In fact, I think I love you all the more for it, can’t you tell?” 
       
     “Guys, cut it out,” Parker muttered.

      She huffed and allowed her nails to dig more into her brother’s arm. 

       “If you’re gonna insist on not shutting up, then you’re gonna tell me the names of the guys you sold my bras to, understood pipsqueak?”

       Sean laughed.

      “Sure, why not? Ummm….Oh! Well there was that Taylor dude-”

      “Taylor? What Taylor? Do you know how many Taylors there are in our school, let alone our entire district?”

       “Ummm….I don’t know his last name!”

       “Well than what did he look like, idiot?”

       A pause. Sean scratched his head a few moments, then moved to stroking an imaginary beard, a growing smirk twisting his lips. Frieda slammed her palm against his “funny bone” and he winced. 

      “Freeee,” he whined. 

       She raised her eyebrows menacingly, pushing back the first rushes of guilt.

       “Spit it out, kid.”

       “Fineee….Well…he had the…uhhh…blondish brown hair….and, uhhh, I never remember eye color…But his hair was kinda’ve...I don’t know!retty tall and stocky and stuff….the one that’s always horny Frieda! The jock dude! The one Parker hangs ‘round with…”

        “You gave my bra to one of our brother’s best friends? I guess you are that big of an idiot. F**k, Sean….Parker? Can you get my bra back from your stupid friend?”

        “No! Don’t Park! He paid me twenty-five bucks!”
 
         Frieda whirled back on him.

        “Twenty-five bucks? What the hell’d he give you that much for a bra???”

        Sean reddened.

        “Ummm…..well, seee….”

         “Sean,” she warned.

          He pulled as far away from her as he could. 

          “It wasn’t just a bra…it was some underwear too…”

           Frieda’s freckles disappeared beneath angry tomato red and the vein in her forehead pulsed dangerously.

          “What?” she shrieked.

          “It‘s not a big deal! It was just a pair of old underwear! So what?”

          “Oh my God! You creep!”

          She shoved him hard so his head slammed into the car window. 

          “How could you do that. He’s probably gonna show a bunch of people! God, Sean, why can’t you just disappear or something?”

         “Um….Free…”

         “God, just shut the f**k up already! I wish Mom and Dad never had you! You’re ruining my life!”

          “But Frieda, I didn’t-”

          “Why don’t you just drop dead or something huh?” Frieda harrumphed, shoving Sean-Ray’s shoulder hard and turning away, arms crossing furiously across her chest.

            “Frieda! Park-”

          CRASH!

9.Eden:

           “Hey Eden. These are my friends Shay Moreno, Kayley Aspensin,  Olivia Price, and Haley Marks. Guys this is Eden…I don’t think you’ve ever actually told me your last name. Hmm….So?”  

           Eden’s face burned and he ducked his head. What was with this girl???? He’d gotten almost used to her after two weeks of enduring her presence. But now, not only was she entreating upon his territory, she was also bringing in other inane freshman girls. People were starting to think it was ok to talk to him now. Which meant they weren’t afraid of him anymore. Which meant they would be able to hurt him once more. That part of his life had diminished immensely once he’d figured out the proper schematics of intimidation. But now? This had to stop.

            He glowered up at them, but faltered under their sincerity. This was ridiculous….He was not giving in to these superficial harebrained numskulls! He….

            “It’s Thorsley. Eden Thorsley.”

            Ame-…The girl smiled at him. 

            “Great. Thanks Eden.”

            She plopped down beside him and the other girls followed suit, so that soon he was surrounded. Fantastic. 

             “So…..how old are you?” The girl who had perched herself opposite him asked, blinking coquettishly.  

          He watched her for a moment, unimpressed, then turned away with every intention of not answering. After all, why bother? She meant nothing to him. None of them did. To what end did informing these childish girls of his personal details help him? None he could think of. 

           He caught the sharp jolt of an elbow in his side and groaned inwardly. Oh yes. To that end. Amelia gave him a cheery smile, and proclaimed:

           “Now that I think of it Eden, I hardly know anything about you at all, aside from your name. Then, I do have a habit of filling silences with self-centered rambling, I guess. I don’t mean to, honest, so I guess I’m sorry for that. I’m fifteen by the way. My birthday’s on August 20th. So, I really just turned fifteen a few months ago. Oh! How about we go around the table and everyone can say their age and birthday and-”

            “Wow calm yourself ‘Melia. Why are you so hyper?” one of the girls-Kayley?-asked, laughing. 

             Amelia’s own laughter bubbled up, and the other girls wasted no time joining, while Eden’s eyebrows shot further and further up and he stared perplexedly at the gaggle of giggling girls. ‘What…the….hell….’ 

              At long last, the chords of happiness settled into muffled hiccups and Amelia…the girl….‘oh, f**k it. AMELIA’ found the strength to command the “game’’s commencement.  The jovially smirking girl across from Amelia who had asked Amelia about the cause of her hyper-ness took up the reins unhesitatingly.

              “Well, I’m fourteen and I’ll be fifteen on April 30th. How bout you Shay?”

              “Shay” looked up, running a slender finger through her black waves, then flinging them back. ’Wow….I wish Beth had this lunch…she’d get a kick out of these chicks…they’re about as shallow and asinine as Isabella…then she’d kick them out…obviously she’s much stronger than I am…D****t….’ 

              “-fourteen, too. My birthday’s December 6th.” She cast a flirty glance at Eden.
              
              “How about you green-eyes? When’s your day?”

               He looked about himself, annoyed. He wasn’t gonna be able to get out of this…

               “I’m sixteen on October 29th.”

                The girls looked at him interestedly, excluding Amelia who was picking her pepperoni off her pizza and placing them on a girl’s -Hallie‘s?- lunch tray. 

               “Are you gonna have a party?” pepperoni-girl asked, taking a piece of the greasy meat and popping it in her mouth. 

               “Of course he is Olivia! Right, Eden?” Shay’s eyes were glittering with confidence. 

               Eden winced inwardly. This was where he drew the line. 

               “No. I don’t like my birthday. And I hate parties. They’re stupid,” he informed her coldly.

               Shay rolled her eyes.

               “That’s dumb, Green-eyes. You have to have one this year….Oh! How about you have it on Halloween?!? That would be awesome! You can have costume theme and creepy stuff everywhere. I’m sure you have loads of that weird crap lying around!”
 
              “That’s it,” Eden growled, standing roughly. “I’m not having a party. I’m not going to deal with this. You,” he turned to Amelia, who looked up innocently, “What the hell? First you invade my space. Then, when I start to get used to you, you drag a bunch of chicks I don’t know over here and force them on me!” Amelia’s smile had faded from her face at this point and the other girls were eyeing him with a mixture of wariness and, to his astonishment, increased interest. What the f**k was wrong with these people?????????

          “I’ve had it,” he snarled quietly. 

           He considered leaving again. He was annoyed as hell. Of course logically he knew they wouldn’t understand why he hated October, and his birthday in particular, so much. They had no idea what had happened on that day, nearly seven years ago. Only Beth and his father knew, and even they didn’t know the details in full. Yet, still, he was furious with these girls he didn’t even know for trying to force him into partying on the worst day of the year…..But he wasn’t about to leave. This was his spot.

         “Green-eyes…your fly’s down…and everyone’s officially staring at you so I’d sit-”

         Eden’s face heated up and he got the inexplicable urge to cry or punch something. He settled with the latter, fist shooting down and obliterating a very full carton of chocolate milk, which proceeded to spray all over the girls, him, …and multiple classmates. Within seconds, everyone at their table was standing, either furiously or gleefully. Retaliation ensued in what could be only described as the first and last food fight at Rutland High School. And an epic one at that. 
   
        Eden retreated into the bathroom, nursing a bruise on his arm from being slammed into a lunch table or two amidst the chaos. He sighed and turned on the faucet, examining his food-covered reflection briefly. 

         “Hey, did you see when I spilled milk all over Amy and her shirt turned see-through?” 

         “Yeah. That was a classic. Cold milk too, so you could see her…Oh look. It’s f*g alert.”

          Eden’s back stiffened, but he kept his expression stoic as Sam Daws and Troy Bentley, two of the jocks he’d known nearly his whole life, strode in, sneering pompously at him.

         “Watcha doin f*g alert? Haven’t seen you in a while. Where’ve you been huh? Crying in your emo corner?” Mongrel number one (A.K.A. Sam) jeered, swiping at a bit of green bean caught in his sandy hair. 

          Mongrel number two (A.K.A. Troy) made slashing movements over his arms. 

         “Awe, nobody likes me. I’m Gonna CUT MYSELF! Ha,” he laughed cruelly. 

         Eden’s jaw hardened, but he remained silent.

         “Come on little f****t,” Mongruel number one smirked, stepping closer to his prey. 

          “You wanna suck my big, fat c**k don’t you? Say it, f*g alert. Say you wanna suck-” he grabbed at his crotch- “thisss. You wanna so bad, right f*g alert?” 

            He was by this point directly beside Eden to the right. Mongrel number two advanced, placing himself on Eden’s left. Eden ignored them, extending an arm past mongrel number one…Sam…whatever…. to get a paper towel from the dispenser. Mongruel number one caught his arm in a vice like grip, giving him an ominous Cheshire cat grin.

          He struggled now, fury mounting. Mongrel number two reached abruptly forward and grabbed his other arm pulling it taut behind his back, then extended a foot and kicked Eden’s ankle from beneath him. He collapsed heavily, glaring at his attackers. They both wore identical cheeky grins, as if it were some kind of sport. It probably was to them, actually. 

          “Give up now, Eddie? Hmm?” 

           Eden rolled his eyes and stared emotionlessly past them, beginning narrate a story mentally. It was The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allen Poe, one of the many horror stories he’d managed to memorize. 

          ‘Okay…so…Latin first…Oh yeah….“Impia Tortorum Longos hic turba furors. Sanguis innocui, non satiata, alit. Sospite nunc Patria,…fracto..nunc funeris antro, Mors ubi dira fuit vita statuesque patent…I was sick, sick unto death with that long agony; and when they at length unbound me,…”’

           Their words were a bleary haze as he narrated, though he knew on some level that he was pissing them off even more, grins fading alongside their unheard words. Until-

           A hand slammed hard, palm first, onto Eden’s throat, and he gasped, mind blanking. 

           “Listen to us, f*g alert,” mongrel number two growled. 

           He nodded rapidly, still gasping. Even he knew when it was time to give up pride and just smartly go along with them, and that time was now. 

             “I saw you with my girlfriend out there. Now I have no idea why she’d wanna hang around you, of all people,” Mongrel number one eyed him in conceited disgust. 

              “But if you so much as look at her again, I promise you that what happens will make what happened when you were nine look like a fun time. Got it?”

              Eden gave him a hard look, holding back the terror threatening to overwhelm him as best he could. He knew they had no real knowledge of what had happened, aside from a few basics they’d gleaned only from being his next door neighbors at the time of the incident. Still, even without details, the rumor had apparently been gruesome enough to terrify a fair few of his classmates and their families into moving.       
  
              “Oh yes. I did say that.” Mongrel number one said sharply. 

              “I think he gets the message Sam,” Mongrel number two laughed.

              “He’d better hope he does,” Mongrel number one said, standing.

                He aimed a hard kick at Eden’s side for good measure, then started towards the door. He and mongrel number two were half-way to the door when he halted and looked at Eden over his shoulder.

               “Remember Eddie. I’ll be watching you. You look at Shay once and you’re not even gonna have enough brain left to regret it. C’mon Troy let’s go.”

                The pair of them exited the bathroom. 

                 Eden pulled himself tremulously to his feet, face emotionless once more, and began to wash himself off. He lightly patted his face with water, then looked down at his hands. He stared for a moment, then began to scrub them raw, only stopping when he saw blood and was ten minutes late to class.  
        
   10.Hanna:

           Bobbing her head to the neat sounds of The Goo Goo Dolls, Hanna strode down the aisle, searching out her best friend Megan Daniels. Meg smiled and waved from somewhere in the middle of the buss. Hanna returned the expression in kind, falling into the seat. Meg beamed at her.

           “Guess what!”

            Hanna raised an eyebrow, laughing.

             “What?”

              “I made second chair in my section! Out of eight people!”

               “You’re kidding,” Hanna exclaimed, delight sketching itself on her features.        

                She pulled her best friend into a tight hug.

                “Oh my gosh, I’m so happy for you Meg. That’s amazing! I knew you could do it, of course. You’ve always been an amazing clarinetist.”

                 “That’s not even the best part!”

                 “Well then, what is it?”

                 “Colby asked me out!”

                 “No kidding! Oh my god that’s amazing Megan!”

                  She grinned happily.

                  “I know. I mean he only broke up with Loren three days ago. And to ask out me of all people…”

                   Megan toyed with her braces.

                   “It was so shocking Hanna! And then when I said yes it was completely calm and nonchalant and everything. I was so stunned, it was like some stranger’s voice! But it was me and he finally asked me out. I don’t think anything can kill my mood today!”

                   “Good,” Hanna replied. “You remember what today is?”

                    “October 16th?”

                     “Well yeah,” Hanna rolled her eyes. “Duh….Meg, it’s Ben’s birthday. And he’s not been feeling well, so we need your good mood there.”

                      Megan frowned.

                      “I forgot,” she whispered. “I can’t believe I forgot…Hold on….I have an idea….”

                      “What’s going on?” Hanna questioned, confused.

                       “I…planned my date with Colby to be tonight….”

                         “Oh.”

                        “But I was thinking….Why don’t we just invite him? I mean he knows Ben doesn’t he?”

                       “A little….I guess, it could work…” Hanna hedged, biting her lip. 

                        “You know what…sure. Knowing Ben, he won’t mind. Okay! It’ll work.”
 
                      “Thanks,” Megan sighed, sinking down into her seat with a smile of satisfaction.

                     Hanna nodded. Ben was so messed up lately, she doubted he’d care about another person attending the birthday party he didn’t want all that much in the first place. He hadn’t been well for awhile. Hopefully the company would put him in a better mood. 

 11.Judah:

          “Happy birthday Ben.” 

           Ben smiled thankfully at Judah, running a shaky hand through his short, dark curls. 

           “Thanks dude.”

           Judah nodded. 

           “It’s no big deal. And,” he glanced around, then took a step closer to Ben. 

           “One of my buddies hooked me up. Tomorrow, the two of us, as my present to you, are gonna go to Sunset Bakery and you’re gonna get to go back there and talk to the bakers and help them bake their orders for the day. Sound good?”

            Ben’s face lit up briefly, then dimmed. 

            “Mom and dad want me avoiding that sort of thing right now. Plus I’m sick. They’ll never let me.”

            “Which is why we’re not telling them, okay? And, if all goes well tomorrow, you may be allowed to come back.”

            A ghost of hope shrouded Ben’s face.
 
           “Really?”

            “Yes. And we’re telling Mom and Dad that we’re just chilling at the park and dropping by Clara’s place and just sort of hanging out. Ok?”

             “Very ok,” Ben affirmed, the beginnings of a grin creasing his face for the first time in at least a week.

           “Cool. Now I know you don’t want to do this whole party thing, but just try to deal for a bit okay? Clara and I are gonna work on an escape plan so you can get out after a bit.”

           “Thanks Jude. That sounds way better.”

           “Good. Now I’ll see you in a bit. I’m meeting Clara at the park then we’re walking over to the hall.”

            “Of course you are,” Ben smirked. 

             Judah laughed. 

             “I’ll see you in a few,” he replied over his shoulder, grinning despite himself. 

             He shrugged on his windbreaker and slid his cell into his pocket. 

              Ambling down the street, Judah took in the sight of the leaves strewn about and the breath of the wind on his neck, felt chills course down his spine, and heard the sweet lament of silence. It was like a scene from a classic horror movie or some sappy romantic comedy. He puffed the air from his lungs a few times, watching with simple pleasure it’s appearance in the air.

              Clara appeared suddenly in the distance, grinning and running toward him. Her hair was ribboning out behind her, quite literally. Long black strands were mixed with red and blue and gold and orange and purple and pink ribbons woven throughout her flyaway hair. She beamed as she reached him, laughing and grabbing his hand.

             Judah laughed and shook his head. This girl was crazy. 

             “Hey Jude,” she laughed, dancing ahead of him and pulling at his hand.

              “Clara,” he groaned, pulling a face then laughing. She giggled and whirled about then faced him, still prancing backwards and grinning.

              “‘Hey Jude! Don’t make it bad. Take a sad a song and make it better. Remember to let her into your heart then you can start to make it better. Hey Jude don't be afraid. You were made to go out and get her. The minute you let her under your skin then you begin to make it better. And any time you feel the pain, Hey Jude, refrain. Don't carry the world upon your shoulders. For well you know that it's a fool who plays it cool by making his world a little colder. Na na na na na….” she crooned at him, still dancing goofily about in the street, her hand twined with his. 

                “Eh, stop it, Clara,” he laughed, tugging her back to him and looping his arm through hers nonchalantly. She smiled at him. 

       “Why on Allah’s green Earth should I do that, huh Jew-boy?”

        He rolled his eyes at the gibe.

         “I will never understand you, Clara. Why is it again that you refuse to go into choir? You absolutely must explain it to me.”

          “Oh, I absolutely must, huh?”

          He nodded, smirking jauntily.

         “Well then…No I can’t be bothered to. You must beg. Go on.”

         Judah pulled a plaintive look, doing his best to halt the twitches of his lips. 

         “Please oh great one. Please, oh please, explain it to me one more time.”

          She sniffed haughtily, a playful sneer jerking her mouth.

          “Well, that was the most awful begging I have ever heard, but I suppose it’ll do. I- Oh Jude! You already know the reason! You’re being ridiculous!”

          “Oh, I am being ridiculous,” he laughed, amusement coloring the words that were supposed to be sarcastic into a cheery statement. 

           “I’m glad you agree.” she told him, whirling beside him happily.

           He sighed, shaking his head and harrumphing, then spinning her again, watching the flare of her long skirt and the serene pleasure lighting her face. She, if anyone, would light up this party, just like she lit up anything, like a candle that always burned and never melted down. She beamed and he fanned the flames.

    12.Clara:

            “Dear Diary, 
  The party was a hit the half-hour we were there. Then Judah and Ben and I retreated to the park and it got way better. We went on the swings together and I twisted my swing so I spun round and round and I kept hitting Jude and he kept complaining then laughing. Ben looked better than he has in weeks. I think getting out did him so good. Jude and I taught him how to dance, ballroom and salsa and tango and stuff. Those dance classes we took together as a joke have really helped! It was so amazing. Ben stepped on my feet a bit at first, then he got the hang of it. Lol. He’s gonna be a hit with girls at school if he keeps it up. But I think he’s got a bit of a thing for Hanna’s friend Megan. He didn’t look all that happy at first when he saw her and her guest, Colby Spencer. That guy’s legendary for the trail of broken hearts he leaves. He’s gorgeous and sensitive and all, but really, it’s a tad ridiculous. Seems to me he doesn’t genuinely like any of the girls he goes out with. Megan seems nice enough, but very…easily excited? Idk if that’s the right way to put it. Naïve actually. She seems very naïve. I hope she sees the light and goes for Ben anyway though. He’s a good catch and he deserves some lighthearted fun. Jude saw it too, so the ecape was a bit rushed. We originally planned to leave fifty minutes in. Oh well though. The timing was just right, cause I saw Ben’s friend Lorraine mooning over Judah and it looked like she wanted to…idk, slather him in chocolate and lick him up? Oh, that sounds very dirty and gross…Uch. I know we’re just friends…best friends. (XD) but still….whatever. Better Lorraine Hale than Chelsea. Lorraine’s too young to know what she’s doing the way Chelsea does, I hope. Anyways, it’s nine p.m. and I can hear dad coming up the stairs. He may have loosened up the rules once Henry left and gone all “free to be you and me” but it’s not like he got a new personality. Just glad he’s not forcing me to hang out with only nice, Muslim boys he approves of the way he did with Henry and his so-called “friend-girls”. Oh! He’s almost here, gotta get into bed. 

~Clara.”

       Clara stared for a moment at the computer screen, then quickly pressed save, exited and closed her computer. She ran for bed and jumped in, grabbing Romeo and Juliet from her bedside table and opening it to the well-worn pages upon which the balcony scene was inscribed. Her door opened and she looked up, smiling politely. He nodded and she closed the book and pulled the chain on her lamp, effectively blinding herself in the darkness for several seconds. Her dad sighed.

       “Goodnight Clara. Mom said she’ll come up when she gets home. Alright?”

        Clara nodded and he closed the door quietly. She listened to his footsteps retreat downstairs to his study then pulled a necklace out from within her nightgown. A soft light shown through the glass chambers of the cylinder. Jude had given it to her when they were six and he found out how much she hated the dark. Nowadays, she always kept her own light with her, hanging pleasantly beside her heart.

    13. Lucas:

         Lucas woke to the dark, an empty, foreign room, and a searing pain all over


© 2010 LunalitSol


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Added on October 9, 2010
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LunalitSol
LunalitSol

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Now a twenty-something mom, wife, employee, and student- still chasing that same dream. Still a writer from the inside out. more..

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Bang Bang

A Poem by LunalitSol