Author: emiette PM
Am I pretty? "Sure, if you didn't look like Death just stuck his tongue down your throat." - Eden has control issues, but so does everybody else. Life can be funny at its best and sad at its worst, and life right now is just tragic.Rated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Romance - Chapters: 2 - Words: 2,376 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 10-03-09 - Published: 10-02-09 - id: 2726626
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I hate sleeping at night with the lights turned off. It only serves to remind me of the big, black void and the emptiness of my room. Cold, barren; it's a wasteland in here. I want it to be full, and the light, however small, could illuminate and expand, swallowing the unnecessary negative space. That's how I want it to be when I fall asleep – not endless, but encompassing.
Orange bursts and purple plume. I see images of phoenixes and feathers, glittering and golden underneath the dappled sunlight through the trees. The October fall is warm and an explosion of color, and everything is perfect. It was the burning cigarette that I saw first before actually seeing him as I rounded the corner, walking beneath an overpass.
It was an alternate route home – a longer one – and it was devoid of street signs and cross walks. Instead, the path was long and winding, enclosed and hidden between the tall trees as the sound of speeding cars whistled past. If anyone were to venture further down, they would find a lake blocked by a wire fence with the occasional notice about butterflies and deer roaming freely. I was convinced that it was a threat to keep the delinquents from shedding their clothes and taking a dip in the water.
Familiar faces sprinted past me – the ones with regular schedules and regular heartbeats and excellent health – and I stepped away to avoid them, heading towards the bench where he was sitting. He waited for me on some days; on others, when I was late, he left before I could get a chance to see him. He was a star senior, and I just was. Down to the bone, we weren't all that different but we were in so many ways that people seemed to define teenagers and young adults, like we needed to be categorized and controlled or else we'd control the world (at least I know I would). I never did quite figure out why he started talking me at all, his only motivation being intrigue.
It didn't make sense but, then again, nothing ever did anymore.
I sat down beside him and took off my bag with a grunt. I chucked a lot of books in there, even though I barely glanced at them when I was at home. I'm not a great student, only average at best. My mind seemed to wander endlessly, leaving less time for academics. It should go without saying that I have terrible priorities.
"You look like shit."
I turned to look at him sharply. "If you're just going to insult me today, I'm going to go home."
He shrugged, waving his hand dismissively. "Don't take it personally. We all look like shit on our bad days, but we also have good days. You, on the other hand, are getting progressively worse. Maybe you should sleep more."
I gave a sigh of relief, which came out more like laughter. I wouldn't be surprised if he thought I was deranged but, judging by his blank stare, I doubted he thought anything of me. I'm not sure which is worse. I gathered my composure and straightened my spine.
"I think you should mind your own business."
He snorted in wry amusement, flicking his cigarette away. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out another one with a flourish, like he had an infinite supply ready when he needed it. He sparked his lighter, sucked in, and blew. Patterns. I loved patterns and routine, and this was ours and we fit. We were an odd pairing, like two misfit puzzle pieces forced to fit together. We didn't have much in common except our apathy, but that was saying very little. He was also a boy, and I was a girl. If he heard me, he'd probably say I was nuts and that that didn't mean jack; I'd most likely agree.
We really weren't the same, though. Or maybe I didn't know him well enough to know what we had in common.
"Euna, on the other hand," he trailed off, leaning his head back and looking at what little he could see of the sky through the canopy of tree leaves.
The pat-pat-pat rhythm of running shoes passed us, a bird chirped, and I shifted uncomfortably. I nudged his knee with mine, insisting that he continue. I didn't like talking, at least not really. Oftentimes, I felt like my voice was never my own, or maybe I was afraid of it because it would belie my thoughts (like, do you like her or why are you thinking about her, as if such things even mattered), and I was afraid it would sound like I was jealous when I really wasn't. I wasn't.
Finally, he gave in and said, "She's pretty."
I looked down at my wrists and rubbed them until they were red. Nervous habit. He reached over to wrap one hand around them, and I felt like he could make me disappear. He clucked his tongue.
"You're practically nothing."
It sounded like it was accusatory. What was I supposed to say to that? Am I not good enough? But no, of course not, because it would come off like I was comparing myself to her, as if one of us was good for him, and I did enough comparing with others anyway. It didn't matter because I didn't like him that much, but I liked to think I mattered to him or the idea that I mattered to someone in a way that was unromantic. There was no need to mix business with pleasure.
Am I pretty?
"Sure, if you didn't look like Death just stuck his tongue down your throat."
Oops. I hadn't meant to say that aloud. And that was rude. With a sigh, I picked up my bag and hugged it to my chest, sneaking a glance at him. He caught it and nodded. He reached around his other back pocket and fished out an ounce of herb, leaning over and packing it inside my bag, zipping it back up again for me.
I didn't say anything. It was weird but appreciated, and what else was I supposed to say? Other than the obligatory expression of gratitude? Because thanking him would be fine if it didn't just hang in the air so awkwardly. We had a habit of never really being polite to one another except when it counted. This didn't count.
So I stood up and looked right at him for a brief second before leaving him behind.