Rainy Day Woes

LoneReaper

Chapter 8: Rebound

As cliché as it seemed, I wanted to take a giant pink eraser and rub everything out, and out of everything, I wanted to rub myself out the most. The room around me spun around in endless circles and I felt myself fall over, a faint 'thump' echoing in my head. I became oblivious to the world around me and found myself in a black empty place. Floating in endless nothing, I could see my breath, but the area wasn't at all cold.

A figure ran to me in a distance and as he approached waves of past forgotten dreams returned to me. Faces I could never distinguish flashed before my very eyes. All that stopped when the guy stood in front of me.

He turned out to be the nameless guy from my latest fantasy. Gasping for air, he looked one way, and then the other, overlooking the fact that I was right in front of him. Brushing past me, he seemed to run with determination toward something I could not see. Where was he going? Would he be back?

I felt something splash my face, but I only dismissed it as my subconscious toying with my mind once again. Yet again, water made contact with my face, but this time, it seemed to drip constantly onto my forehead.

Everything faded including me.

"You're going to drown her with all the water you're pouring on her face…" a male voice faintly said.

"She'll be fine," another voice confidently assured. I felt more water falling to my face, a particular drop creeping into my nose.

Snorting what slipped into my nose on accident, I coughed and fluttered my eyes open, finding faces peering down at me with worried looks—which really freaked me out because I couldn't recognize them. "What do you want with me?"

"You freaked her out," a guy with a mohawk said.

"I did not," a guy with what looked like caterpillars on the sides of his face argued.

A girl dressed in black pushed everyone to the side and stood over me, helping me up. "Just give Jessie a little room." How did she know my name? I felt myself actually waking up when I remembered everything. And I meant everything. I plopped back on the floor.

"I'm fine… I'm fine," I reassured everyone.

"Heh, the excitement of meeting the band has gone to her cabeza," Rim, the guy with the drumsticks, said laughingly, pointing one of his sticks to his head. The other band mates chuckled. "Here, why don't we have rehearsal before you interview us. Give that noggin of yours a rest."

Propping myself back up, I answered, "Whatever works for you…" standing up and grabbing an overturned chair. At first, I had an urge to smash the chair over the girl's head, but it just wasn't my nature so I sat down instead. I turned in my seat, sitting backwards in it and rested my chin on the back of the chair with my arms splayed. The band let a few chords linger on the guitars and bass, and the cymbals rang, as the Alex's girlfriend stood at one of the tables, setting up the refreshments. Right then, I found myself next to Mal.

"Are you sure you're feeling okay? That minor faint was kind of 'out of the blue…' and if anything did happen to you, I'd have to face your parents."

"My parents are nonexistent. You don't have to worry about them…"

"Aw, don't say that about your parents…" Mal replied, patting my back.

"It's true…I know they care, but right now they're in the middle of their own problems. I think relationship issues run in the family…" Oh crackers, why did I say that? I raised my head and turned to her to view the expression on her face. She smiled.

She grabbed a chair and pulled it up next to me. "Is it about Alex?" she whispered. My bottom lip twitched. It did that often on impulse whenever something was mentioned on the dot. I lay my head on the back of the chair again, staring out at the band. "Well, that would kind of explain the falling over… News hit you hard."

I sighed inwardly. "Is it that obvious?" I asked.

"In a young woman's perspective, it is, but…" she lowered her head and whispered into my ear, "…guys aren't that bright."

Feeling a little better, I let out a bitter sigh. From the corner of my sight, a black figure approached me. "Here, you could use a refreshment." In the hand of her outstretched arm was a cup full of lemonade. To drink or to splash in her face ran through my head as I accepted the Dixie cup.

For the first time, I looked up at Alex's girlfriend and when I looked into her eyes, I knew that she was right for him. She, too, had her eyebrow pierced. She smiled as I decided to drink her lemonade. "It's good, thanks." I smiled back, not wanting to be too obvious that I was upset, she was here. Her looks deceived me and I hit myself for it, regretting calling her a vampire from Hell, regretting that I ever came here, regretting ever walking up the front to meet Alex. I remembered writing about people who went through heartbreak before…but to have actually gone through it, it was almost incomparable. It made me cringe…

Yet, realizing I was still around people, I lightened up a little. The last thing I wanted was people getting all over my case about something I didn't want them to know about, especially Alex. My one-day obsession had come to a crumbling end.

"Are you guys done tuning yet?" Rim asked, leaning over his drums in boredom.

"Almost there…" Alex replied, playing one string and adjusting it.

"Well then, tell me when you're done. I'm going to start the interview without you…" Rim teased in a singsong tone. He got up and sauntered up to me, spinning his drumsticks. "So, what do you want to know about the band?"

"Um…" I struggled to get my pad of paper out of my pocket. "I guess, you can tell me how you guys got together."

Rim took his drumstick and tapped his unkempt brown hair. "Well…I don't really remember when we actually got together…but when we did get together it was just me, Geo, and Leo. We met Lex later on in school."

"Alex got in the band just this year?"

"Yup."

"The school just started almost three months ago. You guys must've accomplished a great deal because you guys are…awesome." I glanced over at Alex every once in a while.

"Well, that was partly because Alex joined. Before, Geo, Leo, and I sounded decent, I guess you could say, but Alex is the heart of the band. He brings spirit to the band as a whole."

"Really." I jotted some quotes down before staring blankly at Rim. I thought wow, Alex is really important to this band.

"Although…keep this off the record…" Rim held his hand out, assisting me in setting my pen down. "Alex left the school because so many people hated him for becoming a member of the band, you know being a freshman and everything. But like I said, don't mention that."

That explained why Alex didn't want anyone to know that he was in Art of Rain. It all made sense to me now that I knew…but then again everything made sense when something's revealed. "Wow…must've been pretty bad."

"Quite bad—"

"Leo, I asked if you could turn me up a little more. I can't hear myself," Alex yelled out, holding his guitar with one hand, and clutching his guitar pick in the other making an upward gesture.

Leo's eyes glinted into a glare. "Oh look, your cord was plugged into the wrong jack. Let me plug it into the right one for you. Huh? Would that be just swell, master?" From the way his mouth tensed, Leo clenched his teeth together, furrowing his eyebrows at the same time. I glanced at Mal and noticed that she wasn't even paying attention to anything around her; she had huge headphones on her ears and read a magazine while this little dispute went on.

"Are they always like this?"

"Yeah…you see, Leo was the lead guitarist and lead vocal before Lex came into the band. So, Leo has this little thing against Lex." Rim tried to measure the tiniest amount with his fingers. "Just a little. Don't mention that either."

All of a sudden, I heard a loud dissonant sound and saw a small spark, which resulted in me covering my ears and cringing. The sound was abruptly cut off by something, but my ears were happy it was over. Everyone turned to the Leo who was sprawled out on the floor, rubbing his hand. "Well, that was a little messed up…"

"Jeez, are you okay?" Alex set his guitar down and ran over to Leo, as did the rest of the band and goth girl; strange how I never found out her name.

Geo examined the device Leo was plugging the cord into. "You plugged it into the wrong jack, you dumbass." Geo took the cord and plugged it into a different jack. "Lucky the amp was on so it wouldn't electrocute all of us—only you…kind of. You could've killed us all."

"Give him a break, Geo." Alex stretched out a helping hand to Leo, who gladly took it. "Sorry, I should've done it myself."

"Don't worry about it."

"Here." Alex's girlfriend shuffled over to the band with a bag of ice. "I don't know if it will help."

"Ah, whatever." Leo took the bag and placed it over his hand. "Well, then. Go on. Carry on with practice. You don't need me, the other guitar player. I'll just sing back-up when I need to," Leo said rather bluntly. Was this the dislike toward Alex, Rim was talking about?

Alex slowly with uncertainty picked up his guitar. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah…"

"You heard him guys," Alex brought the strap to the guitar over his shoulder and strummed a sound. Rim and Geo hurriedly rushed to place as Alex started the song, 'Edge of Life.' The song rang out with a solo vocalization by Alex. Everything that had happened today seemed to disappear as I heard his angelic voice and words soon accompanied. "Hey…I know you know you see me. But hey…do you know who I can really be?"

Rim came in, as always, with the drums after that part was sung; I remembered, of course. I loved this song. It was always the slow songs, but this one had to be my favorite. "Can you see through me, see through just the face? Or am I just another guy to chase? Am I worth your time because you got a glance? Is it worth getting hurt after that one trance? This be true to everything I know, because true friends will always glow and I know so."

Geo's bass skills amazed me. Although it was a slow song, I watched his fingers run along the bass back and forth. It was quite amusing. I peered over at Leo and he drew in a breath. The two jumped into the chorus. "To you my life may be meaningless, but to me, it's worthwhile. I stand on the edge of life. Am I your friend or just another in the pile? Sing your part, Leo…" Alex said, strumming.

"Nah…"

"Aw, come on."

"Nooo…"

"Okay…" Alex stopped playing and as did Rim and Geo. "Why don't we just do this interview thing then? Is that okay with you guys?"

"Sure."

"Let's get this paper thing rollin'."

Alex's girlfriend was already setting a table up and turning chairs over. "I've got a table set up here, if you want to do your interview thing here. Do you guys want something to drink?"

Everyone nodded, including me. We all gathered and sat around the table, as the band mates gazed anxiously at me. "Uh, I guess you can start off by telling me a little about yourself? Just for the record."

"Okay, I'll go first then. I'm Leonard 'Leo' Flint. I'm sixteen-years-old and I'm the back-up vocal as well as play guitar." He sat back in his chair and turned to Rim.

"Jerimiah 'Rim' Timpone, seventeen-years-old and I play drums."

"Geoffrey Claymore. Rocking at age seventeen and I play bass. I have you know, I brought this band together."

I tried to the best of my abilities to avoid eye contact with Alex, but when he wasn't looking…I'd get my share of glances. "And of you course, I'm Alex Fecko, fifteen-years-old on guitar and lead vocal."

I nodded my head. Ha, ha. I felt like a psychiatrist doing that. "Rim told me earlier that you used to be a three-person band. How did you meet Alex?"

"Band, of course," Geo replied. "It was probably the only class I had with underclassmen. And, I brought him to one of the practices and he was rocking."

"Was it? I don't remember that." Alex scratched his head.

"Yeah, dude," Rim answered laughingly.

I chuckled. "So, did this change anything in the band? How it was set up, etc?"

"We go through change all the time, every one of us and so with that in mind, it wasn't that hard to deal with Lil Lex here," Leo replied, harshly patting Alex's back. "He's rightfully earned my place in this band and no one's complaining."

Yeah right, I thought. "Okay, so here's what I came here for. I wanted to ask you guys your take on having a Battle of the Bands competition at Spruce Creek. I know it won't effect you guys but I just want to know what you think." What did I just say? The words randomly flew out of my mouth. I hope that made sense to them.

"I think it's a great idea. It'll help all those local bands to get some great publicity and to just have a great time," Alex replied enthusiastically. "So that's the thing you were talking about in Mr. Cummings' class, huh?"

"…Yeah." Gazing at Alex, those horrible slowly crept into my mind again.

Writing down random things, I found myself thinking, not about my paper, not about the interview, but about how my brain was functioning since yesterday morning. Mrs. Blair, my English teacher, had once told us that if anything is worth learning, know that humans think through four different places: head, heart, wallet, and genitals. As vulgar as it sounded, I thought I was thinking with my head, which then grew into my heart…but now, I noticed that it was just the hormones. Damned hormones.

These thoughts cluttered themselves into this huge cancer, to the point where no one's voices were heard, just my thoughts chattering inside my cranium. I was just utterly confused. Why did Alex ever strike my interest? Why did he have to have a girlfriend? Why did he have to be so nice? Questions attacked me and I felt nauseated; 'someone make it stop. I want to go home.' I still wanted to disappear.

They looked at me like I was crazy. I must've been staring out into space. Someone's hands rested on my shoulders and I looked up to find Mal. "You're sweating…" Mal said. "Maybe we should really get you home."

As much as I didn't want to leave, I nodded. "Sorry guys. I just don't feel good today. It was absolutely an honor to meet you guys and I hope I get to see you guys again." I got up.

"You're welcome anytime," Leo replied. The rest of them agreed.

As I left, Alex's girlfriend who I either liked or hated, I just didn't know yet, handed me a small bag of chips. "Take care."

"Thank you. You too."

The whole ride home, neither one of us spoke a word; the open windows of the car drowned out all sound from the radio, just as all my feelings for Alex had been blown away. Guilt slowly filled my head; Kelly told me so, Sammy told me so; I didn't want to face them. "Hey Mal…can you take me to a friend's house instead?"

"Sure…show me the way."

Only a few minutes had past before Mallory pulled into Jason's empty driveway. I hoped he was home. My brain was flickering on and off, question after question, my vision circled around and around. Why was this happening? I waved a goodbye to Mal as she drove out and away. Jason in only his boxers opened the door, but I didn't think he knew I was standing at the door. "Jessie! What are you doing here?" His eyes bulged and shook his head. "Come in, come in." He led me into his house and we sat down on the couch. "You look pale. Tell me what's up."

I had to think about how to word my situation. I didn't want him to know anything about Alex since he and him seemed to be guy pals. But, hell, everything just spurted out anyway. "The day I met Alex, the day I fought with Sammy, the day I got sent home, is the day I wish had never happened. Everything has been a nightmare. I don't know what to do with myself. I want to go away."

Jason who blinked incredulously a couple of times gazed at me. "No. No, no, no, no. Don't say that. Think of it this way. Have you seen anyone in any book give up? Turn around after going so far? No. They kept on going because they had to continue till the end of whatever they were trying to reach, whether it was some lost treasure, or a goal, no matter what they came across. And you know what? You're just like those people. You can't give up." He brought his arm around me and put me in a headlock. "You're stronger than that." He smiled.

"Well…" I thought about what he said and morphed it a little to fit my circumstances. It made perfect sense.

"Did that make any sense to you?" He looked down at me and I looked up, our faces only inches away; in the years we've known each other, our faces were never this close.

"Yeah…"

"Good, because I didn't. Just don't give up. If not for you, for me, your parents and everyone else who cares about you, okay?" He released me from the lock, embracing me into a hug, his lips meeting my cheeks. "Don't go away." I stayed still in his arms, as my troubles appeared to disappear.