Author: DanaGabrielle PM
Max and Tyler are both haunted by dark, traumatic pasts. When they're paired together in school, they find they have a lot in common. Can they be what each of them needs to finally heal from all of the wrongs that have been done to them? Can they be each other's panacea?Rated: Fiction M - English - Tragedy/Drama - Chapters: 2 - Words: 5,645 - Published: 05-27-12 - id: 3026555
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I rolled around in my bed, grumbling angrily to myself as I ran my fingers through my too long hair. I hated long hair. It was so annoying. I smacked at my alarm clock that was buzzing way too loudly for six in the morning.
Yes, alarm clock, I can hear you!
I finally got it to shut up. I groaned as I stumbled from my bed, pushing my small, unsteady legs through my dark room. I wanted to leave my room. I hated it. Bedrooms were bad. Bedrooms held bad memories. I pushed my door open, squinting at the bright light of the hallway. I could hear Bitch Mom singing in the kitchen. I walked up the stairs, scratching at my head. She was peppy, too peppy.
I hated her. She thought she was God because she had gotten over the death of my father that happened a decade ago. She claimed that she was over it, and that I better get over it, too. I wasn't entirely sure how one was supposed to "get over" the death of a loved one – especially a parent. Even better, when you witnessed the horrible death of the aforementioned loved one.
You weren't there. You don't understand.
But wasn't that always how it was? Troubled, misunderstood teenage girl with a mom who just doesn't get it? Yeah, well, it was a lot more complicated than that, and I'd have to say I was a lot different than most teenage girls. At least my past was.
I stood in the doorway of the kitchen like a ghost, glowering at Bitch Mom's short shirt that revealed her butterfly tattoo. She was forty and had just recently gotten the classy tattoo. It made me want to vomit across her perfectly clean kitchen whenever I happened to see it. She usually made an effort to make sure it wasn't visible to me. I glared once again at her, but she didn't notice. She never noticed me.
She finally turned. She stared at me blankly, holding a protein shake. "Max," she said as greeting.
I just stayed silent. She and I weren't really on speaking terms ever since…
She sighed, turning back to her protein shake.
I grabbed a bowl from the cupboard, ready to eat whatever food I could hunt down.
"You're going to be late again, Max," Bitch Mom said quietly as she analyzed everything I did. She moved over next to me, pulling my face to look at hers. I glared at her through my narrowed eyes, pulling away from her hands. She liked to read a lot of self-help and family books. Ever since the loss of my sanity, she'd been reading up on Dr. Phil-like books about troubled teens that needed to "see the light of God" and "let God's healing hand touch their souls." She believed reading these books gave her a degree in child psychology, and practiced her newly acquired techniques on me. It didn't do shit; she had no clue how to deal with the crap that went on in my head. "I don't understand you, Maxi." She put her hands on her hips. "Whatever happened to my sweet little girl?"
I abruptly stopped pouring cereal into the bowl, dropping the box with a loud smack onto the clean kitchen counter. I looked back up at her. "She died," I said in a monotone.
I walked out of the kitchen, deciding I wasn't very hungry after all. I got dressed for school in the first things my hands touched. I avoided my mirror so as not to see my scars. I then yanked on my pants and sneakers, brushing through my light brown hair and then brushing my teeth. It didn't take me long to get ready. I really wasn't that concerned with what I looked like.
I pulled my grey sweatshirt on, wearing the hood as I followed Bitch Mom outside to her jeep. It wasn't a secret that as soon as she started going out with Joe, the fireman that saved my life who also had a jeep, that she conveniently got one, too. Bitch Mom was so transparent.
The only reason I didn't spit on Joe's face was because he saved my life. Not that my life was really worth saving, but he did, so I guessed I could be slightly grateful. I did, however, spit on the hood of his jeep every time I passed by it sitting in our driveway.
"So, Lindsay called last night," Bitch Mom said casually as she drove down the road. It was raining and the sky was a dull, boring gray. I hated days like these. It made me feel like I was a depressed character in a Tim Burton movie. "She said she's not dead, so I guess that's good," she joked.
Lindsay was three years older than me and in her first year of college in New York. I forgot what the name of the school was because I really didn't care anyway, but I knew it was for music. Lindsay was all for the musical arts. She wanted to be a singer, even though in my opinion she sucked.
I also hadn't really spoken to Lindsay since I was like, fourteen. Our family – what was left of it – kind of fell apart after the fire. Everyone was distant. Bitch Mom went out every night, Lindsay went out with her friends, and then I'd just stay home alone.
We pulled up to the school. She leaned over for a kiss goodbye. I cringed away, jumping out of the car before she could protest. She'd have to beat me to death if she wanted any affection from me.
Now I was in Hell. School was kind of nice, in a very small way. I got to be away from Bitch Mom, and bad memories. It was bad because there were people like Bailey Griffin who inhabited it. Bailey was my mortal enemy. She was your basic mean girl, and had an irritating fetish with making my life at school even more miserable.
I went to my locker. It was in the front of the hall, which was good because I didn't have to walk down the hallways, with giant, scary senior boys everywhere. I threw all my books in with my iPod then shoved my morning books into my tote bag.
The bell rang after awhile, and then I went to first period. I had Science now with Mr. Mortin. We were having a discussion about Global Warming in my class, all the students in an uproar of debate about polar bears being better than penguins. The funny part was that Mr. Mortin didn't care; he even joined in. I decided now was as good a time as ever to get some sleep. I never got enough; too many dreams that I didn't want to have to deal with interrupting me throughout the night.
I was suddenly being moved. My head flew up. Mr. Mortin was standing over me, grimacing. He knew I didn't sleep enough. It was painfully obvious.
"Oh...sorry," I mumbled, grabbing my tote bag that was sitting at my feet.
"Maxine, have you ever considered seeing a doctor?" he asked, eying me uneasily as if I was a crazy person. Well, I guess I was. I stood from my chair, my legs slightly swaying.
I had considered seeing a doctor in the past, but I really didn't have a problem that could be remedied with medicine. It was more psychological, which I rarely admitted to myself. The word "psychological" just made everything sound so much worse for some reason.
"I'm fine," I replied curtly.
He pressed his lips together then nodded for me to go.
I hastily walked through the empty hallways to my next class, which was Italian. I shoved the big wooden door open, revealing the large room. Mrs. Rodriguez, my teacher, stood in front of the class. She was so small, probably making me taller than her.
"Take a seat, Maxine," she ordered in her heavy accent.
I felt my face heating up as the whole class watched me walk all the way to the row right before the last row where my seat was. I could feel the heat blistering under my cheeks, slowly sliding from my neck, encompassing my whole face with a flame of bright red. It was so embarrassing. I pulled my metal chair out, making it screech against the linoleum floors. I grimaced, sitting next to Melissa.
And then she started talking.
"Max, where were you? You're always late! I know I'm not always on time, but you got to hurry it up!"
I zoned out then. Melissa Yorke was my best friend, and she loved talking.
"Did you even hear what I said?" she said in a tone that suggested she was annoyed that I wasn't paying attention to what she was saying.
"Sorry, I zoned out," I apologized. She was used to it. I always got lost in my thoughts.
She huffed, shifting her prettily curled brown hair to one shoulder. Melissa was really pretty. She had the bluest eyes, and the most perfect dark brown hair. I wished I could look like her – tall and graceful, with long legs that seemed like they went on for miles.
And then there was me.
I was short with stubby legs and a small torso. My hair was light brown and wavy, but it always got ridiculously knotted so it looked gross all the time. My eyes were the only nice feature I had. They changed from blue to green.
"I said we're getting a new student!" she cheered happily as Mrs. Rodriguez asked the class how to say the date in Italian.
"Whoop-de-do," I mumbled as I dug my pencil into the old desk.
She glared at me with her icy eyes, obviously annoyed that I wasn't as enthusiastic. "It's a guy! And I hear he's hot." She grinned.
I rolled my eyes at her. "You've seen him?" I asked, looking up at her.
She slumped slightly, pouting. "Well...no, but maybe he is. He's coming tomorrow. We need a hot guy around here."
"Yeah," I agreed distractedly.
I liked guys – I was female. But...I had problems when it came to guys. Problems was putting it mildly. It was different with guys ever since...
I shook my head, attempting to clear my head of those kinds of thoughts. I was not going there.
Mrs. Rodriguez called me over to her desk, asking why I was late again. I lied, explaining to her that Mr. Mortin was asking me something, and it took awhile.
She sighed. "Maxine, you are always late to my class," she said.
"I prefer Max," was all I said in response.
"If you're late again you get detention for a week," she said in her heavy accent.
I had been expecting this. I had been late about ten times to her class. I couldn't blame her for getting annoyed, but that still didn't suppress the anger that arose inside of me.
"Fine, whatever," I mumbled, and then stiffly walked over to my desk.
The bell rang, and I bolted from my seat. I clutched my heavy books to my chest, swerving through the traffic of the hallways. I opened the door to Mrs. Cameron's dimly lit classroom. I walked over to my seat and got comfortable. I could already feel my eyes drooping from exhaustion.
Today was the day we were going to do our inkblots. Inkblots were those things that therapists used and asked, "What do you see in this pointless heap of black ink?" Then they somehow determined if the person was crazy from their responses to the pictures. If you asked me, it was all bullshit.
"Okay guys, start picking colors." Mrs. Cameron breathed out tiredly from carrying the giant tubs of paint.
All the boys jumped from their seats, running to get some paint. I shook my head to myself as I slowly got up from my chair like I was a seventy year old with arthritis.
"Oh!" Mrs. Cameron squeaked. She pulled her extremely curly hair into a bun on top of her head, like she always wore it. "We're getting a new student tomorrow," she announced.
I rolled my eyes as I squirted red paint onto my white piece of paper.
"And…." She paused, looking around the room. I prayed her eyes wouldn't fasten on me. "Max!"
I looked at her.
Mrs. Cameron smiled at me, curling her pointer finger, signaling for me to get over there.
What did I do now? I thought.
I hesitantly walked over, biting my lip as I stood in front of her.
"Do you mind being the new student's guide tomorrow?" she asked. "The office notified me that you have the same schedule as him and wanted me to ask you if you could help him get settled."
My heart thumped unevenly, like a dying car. I could hear everyone laughing as they played with their paint like babies behind me mixed in with the fart-like sound of paint squirting out of a bottle.
Was the school system on crack? Why would they ask me to help? Some other kid must have had the same classes as him, besides me. I didn't want to be alone with some random boy I didn't know. I didn't want to have to talk to him. I didn't know how to make conversation. What would I say? How would I introduce myself? I had no social cues whatsoever. I just wanted to crawl into a ball and cry under my desk.
"Max?" Mrs. Cameron's voice resurfaced me from my racing thoughts.
I blinked, looking at her round face.
"Is that okay?"
I nodded before I could stop myself.
She smiled and then turned away from me.
I slowly turned, staring in horror at my sneaker clad feet as they carried me back to my desk. I slowly sat into my seat, not happy enough to paint anymore. I mean, I wasn't happy before, but now I was crushed. I could feel the nervousness bubbling in my chest at the thought of tomorrow. I needed to calm down. I raised my hand and Mrs. Cameron looked up.
"Can I use the bathroom?" I asked quietly, trying to keep my breathing normal.
I grabbed my bag, running once I was in the safety of the hall.
The halls were desolate, not a stray student or teacher in sight. It was safe to cry now. I gasped for air as the panic swelled in my chest. I breathed raggedly, trying to fight back the paranoia.
He's not going to get you, a calm side of me sighed in my head. Not every man is like him.
Tears slid down my face as I finally reached the bathroom. I crashed through the door, thankful no one was there. I collapsed on the dirty floor, crying as I shakily reached into my bag for my container full of pretty purple pills.I quickly unscrewed the child proof lid then dry swallowed two. I sighed, shutting my eyes.
It wasn't just the fire that made me like this – an anxious mess. I was like an old dog after living with an abusive owner for a few years. I couldn't trust anyone, couldn't swallow that ever-present fear that everyone would suddenly turn on me and beat me down. Other things, other unpleasant things that I really didn't ever want to think about had turned me into this shell of a teenage girl. I got up off the floor, brushing my hands across my ass to get any grossness that may have accumulated there while I was having my panic attack off me.
I looked at myself in the mirror. My eyes were rimmed with red and were bloodshot. I could see the shine of tears on my flushed cheeks, and I basically looked and felt like a butthole. I grimaced at my face, splattering cold water across my heated cheeks and neck.
I went back to class after that. I was a master at walking back into the world and acting like I never fell apart behind closed doors. I finished my inkblot with even less enthusiasm than before. I had used such stupid colors for my inkblot; colors that I should have known wouldn't end well with me. The colors I stupidly chose were red, yellow, and orange. It looked like a fire. I crumpled it up and made a new one, purposefully using greens and blues.
The only good event of this day was that now it was lunch, meaning I could sit and daydream as Melissa chatted away about some insignificant topic that I really didn't care about.
I was in the lunchroom now, sluggishly pushing my feet against the tiled floor of the cafeteria. I made it over to the table I sat at with Melissa and all of her friends. I really didn't understand why Melissa even liked me. She had tons of other friends, so why keep me around?
I looked up at Melissa as she came running over to me.
"Yes?" I asked.
"I hear Mrs. Cameron is letting you guide our new student?" She winked.
I nodded blankly.
Melissa smiled, clapping her pale hands. "Well I think you should be excited! You get to walk around with some hot dude all day! You're so lucky!"
I grimaced. "Yeah, lucky."
Next class was math. We talked about the state testing that was in a month in April. I really didn't care at all. Next was gym, the class I dreaded the most. I hated changing in front of all of the normal girls. They all stood around in their bras and underwear, talking about boys and proms, pulling on their short-shorts and tank tops. I wore sweats and my prized hoodie. I basically wore pants everyday to school, unless I was forced to wear a skirt, then I put on leggings or something. However, whenever I changed, everyone got a nice look at my tattered legs.
When I was in the fire, it got at my legs, and it was so bad they almost had to be amputated. Thankfully, my mangled flesh eventually healed. But sometimes my legs would hurt if I walked a lot since the muscles got pretty destroyed. I pulled my hood up and shoved my hands deep into my pockets.
"Okay everyone!" Mrs. Lynch yelled over the roar of everyone in the gym.
Usually gym class was separated boys and girls. The girls stayed on one side, and the boys on the other. But, on those rare days where the universe truly hated me, we'd do a sport together. Sometimes it was stupid races across one side of the gym to the other. On days like that I'd usually pretend I had my period and tell Mrs. Lynch that I didn't want to run to avoid the risk of period blood splattering all over the gym floor. However, I used that excuse last week. So I was pretty much screwed.
Everyone turned to look at Mrs. Lynch. The teachers were explaining what we were doing, but I had no idea what they were talking about. I scurried over to the back of the group, hoping maybe I could hide under the bleachers until they blew the whistle, signaling it time to go. All of the druggie kids usually hid under the gym bleachers during class. Maybe I could get away with it-
"Torpus!" one of the teachers yelled.
I slowly turned from the corner. I almost made it to the bleachers. "Yes?" I asked. Everyone was staring at me, whispering and laughing at the freak.
One of the teachers whispered something to her, looking at me sympathetically. She probably knew about my problems and that I couldn't be paired with boys.
"Um, you're with Bailey," the teacher finished.
Bailey glared at me, her short, blond hair unmoving. It was all dead from being dyed so many times. She stepped from the crowd of kids, smiling at me.
I glared back at her, hoping it had a lot of ferocity in it.
"Ready, Maxine?" she said in her annoyingly nasal voice.
"Yeah," I muttered, walking over to where she stood in her shorts that looked like a bathing suit bottom. I shivered at the sight of her butt cheeks that were popping out of her shorts.
"Don't talk to me, freak," Bailey said once we were alone on the other side of the gym. She held the volleyball in her hand.
The names didn't matter. I was used to it.
"Like I would want to talk to you," I said, glaring at her.
She smirked. "I'm sure you're just desperate to talk to me – or anyone. You really should make some friends."
I ground my teeth together. "Bailey, I feel sorry for you."
Everyone was in groups now, hitting the balls back and forth. Bailey and I were the only ones who weren't.
"Why is that?" she asked, bouncing the white ball back and forth in her hands.
I clutched at my sweatshirt sleeves, trying to hold back the urge to spit on her ugly face.
Bailey really wasn't pretty, as I saw it. She had yellowish blond hair. It was frizzy and dead from being treated badly. Her nose was small, and so was her mouth. It made her constantly look like she was puckering her lips, like she tasted something sour.
"Because," I began with a small smile on my lips as I walked closer to her, "you're a bitch."
She opened her mouth, but I continued. "And you treat people like crap, when you, yourself, are the biggest piece of crap I have ever seen."
She was fuming, the ball making a squealing sound beneath her bony fingers.
"And that is why I feel sorry for you." Smug. I was smug as I stepped back to my spot away from her. I felt triumphant for once, like I could do anything-
I flew backwards, landing on my back as I skidded across the dirty, but somehow slippery, wooden floors. I felt a sharp, stinging pain in my nose. It seared and burned, making my eyes water. I blinked repeatedly, black spots clouding my vision. I opened my eyes, holding my hand to my nose. Blood was dribbling down my chin and onto my hand. I stared down at it in horror. It was everywhere, seeping out of my nose at an alarmingly fast rate. I looked up at Bailey, and all her friends were laughing, pointing at me. I realized with chagrin that so was everyone else. Tears of anger stung my eyes. I blinked them away furiously, my hand still to my nose.
"Everyone, back up!" Mrs. Lynch's voice yelled. Suddenly she was at the front of the large crowd, staring down at me with wide eyes. "Um, can someone take Maxine to the nurse?"
Melissa stepped forward, holding her hand out to me.
I grabbed it gratefully. I was beginning to feel the familiar blush begin to bloom on my cheeks. We walked down the halls in silence, me holding my nose as I glared at every passer who gawked at me.
"You okay?" Melissa asked.
I nodded, because there was blood all over my mouth, and if I spoke, it would probably sprinkle everywhere.
"How did you get hit?" she asked, stopping outside the door to the nurse's room.
I grimaced. "Bailey," was all I got out.
She nodded in understanding.
I thanked her for walking me to the nurse and then turned to the door. I pushed the door open, immediately hit with the smell of the room. I hated the smell of any doctor-like place. It was too clean. The nurse put a big, ugly bandage on my nose once the bleeding stopped and gave me a stupid icepack. I held it in my hand, my head down with my hood up as I roamed the halls. When I got back to gym after the nurse fixed me, no one was there, all gone to their last class. That was a small blessing, but a blessing all the same. At least I could change back into my regular clothes without being stared at.
I walked up the stairs to my last class sluggishly. I was tired and dreading the moment I turned the knob. Maybe I could just skip my last class altogether. I mean, it wasn't like we were learning anything special. I took a deep breath, standing in front of the door to the class. I could hear Mrs. Roland's voice from out here. She had a lisp.
It's too late to back out now, the stupid voice in my head said.
A mini me in my head glared at the voice.
I took another deep breath then turned the knob. I kept my head down, slowly entering the room. I was sure I looked like a freak, but I was. I only opened the door enough for my small body to snake through, and I just kept staring at my dirty converse. I could already hear people snickering.
"Hello, Maxine. Welcome."
I finally looked up, and everyone started laughing at the sight of my bandaged nose. I was sure everyone had already heard the story of the volleyball fiasco. This was a small school where any gossip, big or small, traveled like wild fire.
"Do you have a late pass?" Mrs. Roland asked, cocking her head to the side.
Mrs. Roland had vibrantly red hair, unnaturally so. Her face was all wrinkled and so were her hands. She was tall and skinny. Her glasses were really small, like her eyes. Also, her eyes were really spread out, and when she removed her glasses, it made her look like a fish.
I cleared my throat, nodding. I slowly shuffled to the front of the room. Once I was in front of her desk I handed her the note.
Mrs. Roland took the note, putting her glasses on as her eyes skimmed the page. She nodded, throwing the note away. "Take your seat, Maxine," she said.
Thankfully school ended quickly, what with me sleeping all through history. The only reason I had woken up was because of the blaring of the bell. I walked clumsily to my locker, my eyes drooping. I just couldn't wait to collapse into my bed, taking in a big lungful of the beautiful smell of my sheets. Whatever detergent Bitch Mom used was awesome. I unlocked my locker, yanking at the rusty door with the little amount of energy I had left.
I looked up to see Devin standing at his locker, two away from mine. Devin was a stupid burn out guy who loved to mess with me. His locker was conveniently placed by mine. Whenever he and I were at our locker at the same time, he made it his job to torment me.
I turned back to my locker without responding.
"Um, hello?" he repeated.
I glared at the dirt inside of my locker as I put all the books that were in my tote bag back into my locker. I never brought any books home, except for my journal, but I brought that everywhere.
Devin's hand landed on my shoulder and I slapped it away.
"What's wrong?" he asked, smiling as he looked back at his friends who looked on with amusement as he tormented the mental girl.
I finally turned to him, having enough of my shitty day. "Can you just leave me alone?"
He laughed, his smirk making me want to punch him in the face. "What's wrong, Maxine? Tough day?"
I felt my cheeks grow hot. "Yes, as a matter of fact, it was a tough day. I was wondering if you wouldn't mind dutifully fucking off."
He reached his hand out to touch my hair. "You're actually not that ugly. Such a shame…." He looked me up and down, still smiling.
At that, some small part of me just lost it. I could almost feel the snap of the last straw of sanity I had left break in two. My teeth clenched together, and then I slapped him across the face. His head turned to the side, his mouth agape as he stared in shock. He slowly turned his head back to me, his cheek beet red.
I clenched my fists at my sides, picked up my books, and then stomped on his foot one last time. I slammed my locker shut, and then marched away with all the dignity I could muster. The only thing on my mind the whole walk through the woods home was that I just couldn't wait for the relief of sleep from the real world.