Raw.

I reread the statement over again: "Use one word to describe your best friend." I've known Brian since I knew myself, and ever since we were kids, he's had this open, intense, almost obscene persona that drives me insane.

Sometime in the seventh grade, I wondered how he and I even got along. He was raw, edgy, sexy, wild, and I.. I was and always have been just Adriana. Why he even bothered with me, I'll never understand, but I couldn't be more grateful that he did.



"You see the world and find the beauty through all the pain," He said to me one day, a chilly autumn afternoon. I peered up at him through a veil of black hair, and he returned the look. "There's more to you than you think there is,"

The school year was always hard for Brian and I, as a pair. Girls wanted him, and hated me for being so close to him, but they never really meant anything, because Brian never wanted any of them, and I never really cared. For as long as I can remember, it had always been Brian and Anthony, and they were all I needed to get by.

"Are you ever going to date, Adriana?" Regina, my sister, had asked me. I gave her my infamous blank thunder colored stare.

"Probably not," I replied, plucking out a few notes on the bass that I did not know how to play.

"Maybe you should get with Anthony or Brian." She pressed. I sighed, then she sighed, "I guess it's not important to you, is it?"

"No.. Dating isn't really important to me at all, but thank you for the concern." I said, with an air of finality. Regina opened her mouth to speak again when the doorbell rang.

"That's probably Brian." I said, grabbing my coat. I waved to my sister, and walked out the front door.

Our falls and winters were dedicated to the outdoors. We'd spend our weekends down by the river in the middle of the woods. No one else ever went there, and that suited us just fine. Large crowds were bad for Anthony's anxiety problems anyway.

"How're you coming on that bass, Adriana?" Brian asked. I brushed the snow off a good sized rock and sat down.

"I'm doing all right, I s'pose," I looked over at Anthony. "Write anything new?"

Our joint passion was rock and roll. We were trying to pull ourselves together and be a band. Who'd have thought my two best friends would be a drummer and a guitarist?

"Yeah, and I think these lyrics are definitely the best I've written so far," Tony said, edging his way onto my rock. For a while it was silent.

"Let's go somewhere." Brian said, shaking his hair from his eyes. I stared out across the way.

"Where?" Anthony asked. Brian looked at me. I looked out across the woods in front of me.

"Where do you want to go, Adriana?" Brian nudged me and I snapped out of it.

"What? Oh! Uhm.. Let's go see those lyrics.." I said.



I liked Tony's house. I liked Tony's family. I liked Tony's DOG. I liked everything about Tony, he just felt like home.

"I see the way he looks at you, Adriana." Brian said to me, our junior year of high school. I stared back at him.

"I can't help the way he looks at me, Brian. You know that."

He just smiled and turned away.

Lounging around his basement, I felt myself drifting off again, to that empty place I often went to. To avoid it, I watched Brian and Tony pace around the room for a while before anyone said anything.

Mrs. Baker was calling down the basement stairs, asking if we were hungry for lunch. I jumped, and nearly fell off the couch. Tony's response was that we'd 'be up in about an hour and could you send Tom-tom down for Adriana?'

Tom-tom was an overweight dog with short little legs and ears like a fox. I never really knew what kind of dog he was exactly, I just knew that he was a good dog and wouldn't hurt a fly. He calmed me down and kept me alert, and he was and still is the only dog that I'm not allergic to.

Five minutes later, Tom-tom was curled up next to me on the floor and we were going over the new lyrics Tony had written.

"These are really good, Tony." Brian said, reading over them a second time. I sat quietly and listened while Tony plucked away on his acoustic. These were the days I lived for, hanging around Tony's basement, just the three of us, and Tom-tom.

One year, things seemed to change. That year changed everything.

Chapter One: Smoke and Mirrors

"Hey Brian," My dad said as the familiar figure appeared in our doorway. I smiled. It was eight o'clock on a Saturday morning. Brian woke up earlier than anyone I had ever met, including myself.

"No, Adriana, I don't wake up early. I don't sleep, that's all." He told me, the first day he appeared on our doorstep on Saturday morning, shaking his hair free of snow and hanging his old leather jacket up in the hall.

"Don't your parents have anything to say about it?" I had asked, but he just smiled and turned away.

"Haven't said anything about it before, so I guess they don't care," he said finally, "that's just the way it goes."

His parents were friends of my parents. That's how we knew each other in the first place. I told him time and time again that if our parents hadn't been friends, we wouldn't know each other but he always shook my comments off.

"We'd know each other anyway. I'd be drawn to your face," He would say, and I'd blush.

"You don't mean that, Brian, quit being nice," I'd say and he'd just smile and turn away.

I spent time looking in the mirror trying to figure out what he was talking about but every time I looked I saw no difference, no shock, no face that could draw anyone to me. Black hair, grey eyes rimmed in black, brown skin. Nothing special. That night I draped a piece of black lace over my bedroom mirror and lay awake in bed. I stared up through the glass at the stars.

The next morning I woke up to someone strumming away on their acoustic guitar. I groaned and tried to block out the light. My bedroom ceiling was a glass panel, I can't sleep when there's light, so I generally always woke up at five, but today I had slept in. When I opened my eyes the glass panel was covered with snow.

"Good morning, Sunshine," Anthony said, sitting in my desk chair. I cringed and he smiled.

"What are you doing up so early, Tony," I said, still half asleep. He laughed.

"I'm not up early, you're just up late. Brian's downstairs making lunch," He replied. I smiled to myself. Brian was an excellent cook. I sat up and rubbed the sleep from my eyes. I know full well what I look like when I first wake up, but at this point, I didn't care if Tony or Brian saw.

"I look my best when I first wake up," I said, jokingly. Tony smiled as I folded the covers over and crossed to my dresser. They always just SMILED. To be honest, there was a time when I thought they smiled too much.

"All right, Tony, out," I said, shooing him out the door.

I went to sit in front of my bedroom mirror. Pulling the lace off, I caught a glimpse of my bed from the corner [a lesson for everyone-- It is very bad feng shui to place a mirror in front of or behind your bed. If you place it in front of your bad, your bad luck and bad energy reflects back to you. If you place it at the head of your bed, good luck and good energy is reflected away from you. I experienced the bad luck when I was seven years old, so the mirror's been moving around my room for several years now]. What a mess. I focused and looked at myself in the mirror. Black hair, grey eyes, brown skin. Nothing special. If anything was special about me at all, it would be the fact that I don't look like anyone around me. But I don't think that makes me special, I think that just makes me weird. I struggled through putting on makeup. No one who knew me understood my makeup ritual. I have brown skin, yes, but only my family, Brian and Tony know it. Even they don't understand that I want to be pale, pale and pure, and that sometimes I go home at night and cry out of envy and rage because I'm jealous of Tony and Brian. I feel like such a fake standing next to them, in a painted face, when they're real. They're both prettier than I am, with or without makeup. I saw the way the people at school looked at us and whispered things about me, about how could two guys be prettier than a girl? About Why do they hang out with her when they're prettier than she is? I began to pull at my hair. At first they didn't like me because I was small, silent and smart. At school they said I was cute in elementary school, but when I went into middle school my ugliness started to show. They said I would never be beautiful. They said I don't deserve to be seen around Brian and Tony. They said I don't deserve to be around people. Why don't you talk, Ugly? Can't say anything, can you, because you know it's true. You know it's true.

-Brian-

Tony and I were sitting downstairs talking to Mom and Dad [Mr. And Mrs. Barker] when we heard the crash. I think Tony and I heard the crash before anyone else because for two or three seconds we were the only ones on our feet. I scrambled up the stairs to Adriana's room and ran in without knocking because I already knew what had happened.

When I entered the room, the first thing I saw was Adriana sitting upright, curled into a ball in her corner on her bed. She was bleeding from both hands and crying, her hands covering her head. I sat with her on the bed and pulled her into my lap, rocking her. It had always amazed me that as Tony and I grew into these high school sized bodies, Adriana had always stayed the same. The only thing that was new about her was everything that came with the package: the breasts, the hips, the blood. Amazing.

Her parents came in the room and immediately began to clean up the broken glass, knowing Adriana would be better if Tony and I handled it.

She doesn't know she's beautiful. The people at school won't let her believe she's beautiful. Actually, it's more like the girls at school and maybe their boyfriends or closest guy friends. She doesn't know that guys in my class always ask me to hook them up, and that I always say no because she doesn't trust anyone but her own family, Tony and myself. And the things those guys don't know? They don't know how sensitive she is, or that she hears peoples' insults in her head when she's left alone, they don't know how talented she is, or how pure. They don't know that if she's touched a certain way she might break. They don't know she's beautiful.



Gradually, Adriana started to calm down until she was hiccupping softly with her hands in her lap. Tony went to get her a glass of water while I rubbed her back and by the time her parents had cleared out her bedroom mirror completely she was actually focusing on objects in the room.

"I'm sorry," She whispered, and Tony told her to hush. We always told her to hush. She never had anything to be sorry about. She began to twitch.

"I broke a mirror," She said, looking at us. "I broke a mirror with my bare hands." She looked down at her bloody fists.

Tony took her hand gently and pulled her toward her bathroom. I tidied up her bed a little bit, and they came out five minutes later, Adriana's hands were clean.

"Do you feel better?" I asked. She merely nodded and showed me the cuts on her hands.

"I won't be able to play until these get better," She said apologetically, showing me her biggest cut, a wide and deep gash on her right hand.

"Take as long as you need, we won't let anyone know you hurt your hand," I replied. We were trying to start a band. She was our bassist. People wanted her spot. Fuck them, we said. We'd rather have Adriana.

-Adriana-



I did it again.

I hurt myself. I scared Brian and Tony. I broke a mirror. I broke a mirror. I wonder every day what will happen next, and when will they get tired of me, lock me up in some room where I can't hurt myself or other people.

I don't want to see myself ever again. I don't want to eat, I don't want to sleep, I don't want to sing, I don't want to smile, I don't want to speak. I just want someone to care. I hate feeling empty and that's the only thing that's real anymore. I hate that I can't get you to notice how I feel, no matter what I do. I hate that I bleed for you and you can't see it running down my face. I hate being laughed at for the way I feel. I hate being ignored when I have so much to give. I had being taken for granted. I hate the way you look at other girls but overlook me even though I actually care about you. I hate the way everything relates back to you. Back to you. I hate how I hate so much, but I still manage to love you. I hurt myself. I broke a mirror. I broke a mirror. I just wanted to see. I broke a mirror. I think I want it to hurt because if it didn't I wouldn't feel it, so I hurt myself, I broke a mirror. I'm sorry if I scared you, I'm sorry if I made you cry inside, but what does it take to get you to see that it doesn't have to be about looks or rank, what does it take, do I have to die? I can die for you, you know. I'd love to do the honor. I know I scared you. I broke a mirror and I hurt myself. I know it scares you. I hate being this way, I don't want to feel this way, it didn't have to be this way, please help me keep it away. I want to ask you to fix it for me, because you're the big strong man and I'm the girl that needs your help, the girl that can't be left alone or she'll hurt herself, she'll break a mirror. So we'll make a little deal, a quiet one. To make this all feel real, you'll give me a gun. I'll kiss your cheek and turn away, you won't say a thing. Give me a signal, the silence will ring. Then I'll pull the trigger, and I won't feel a thing. I hope you're worried sick somewhere because I'm as serious as you are. I hope you feel guilty as fuck when I'm dead and gone. I hope this isn't really the way to go about my business.

I love how we put both ends of passion into this mix but I still say it's love. I hate that you don't believe in me as much as I believe in you. I hate that I don't have your heart the way you have mine. I love how this never ends. I'm glad I broke the mirror, and I'm glad my blood is on your clothes, and when your mother asks you later tonight what happened you'll say 'No one but she knows,' and you'll run up to your room and turn out the light, lie awake and stare into all hours of the night, wondering what makes me do the things I do, as if I were purposefully doing them to you, and maybe in a sense you could be true, but I do it more to me than to you. I wonder what goes through your head when you're smiling at me the way you never smile at anyone else. I really think you do it on purpose and that you're trying to hurt me, you're all trying to hurt me even though I haven't done anything to you yet. Yet.

It all replays over and over. You'll come into my room with your acoustic guitar, because you've always been my acoustic star, you'll hang around and I'll kick you out, long enough to think it out, my mirror will be new because it always is, but it always breaks to get attention-- yours and his.

-End-

Chet Barker woke up with a start as the fire alarm went off. He saw the smoke in his dream, so he knew what had happened. He clutched the fire extinguisher and headed for his daughter's room. He quickly opened the door and saw what was happening.

Adriana's candles had been lit, every single one. They were placed too close together and caught fire. Adriana was asleep in her corner in her bed.

Chet put out the fire in under five minutes, so that all the remained was a black desk [It was black to begin with], a mess of melted wax and some smoke. He crossed over to the window and opened it as far as he could and returned to his room. He kissed his wife and fell back asleep.

Adriana opened her eyes and looked as the last of the smoke reflected itself onto her new bedroom mirror. She began to cry, and cried until she fell asleep.

-Tony-

Yesterday at Adriana's house there was an accident. She had another breakdown. I feel kind of guilty, since I was the first person to see her that morning, and the last person to see her before she broke her bedroom mirror. I know I shouldn't feel guilty, but I do. She was fine after I helped her clean the blood off of her hands and face, though. She was fine before I left her room too..

Adriana has always been a mystery to me. Whenever I'm talking to Brian online we always get to talking about her. He always says that she stares off into space after a while when they're alone together. I always reply saying that she's always very focused when it's just me and her.

"I figured that much," Brian always tells me in reply.

"What do you mean?" I asked him once. He spent a while typing out his message.

"I see the way she looks at you when we're hanging out at Garnet's, when we're in the woods, when we're at your house. Hell, when we're at your house, she looks at you as if she's home. She loves your parents, you know. She loves Tom-tom and she loves it when we're hanging out in your basement. I've known her for as long as I can remember, and I swear I think she loves you. It's weird of her not to mention to anyone, but I'm sure she does."

I sat and stared at the computer for a while, trying to think of something to say. For a few seconds I full of complete and total shock, which melted into joy, which then froze over to an acute uncertainty and suspicion.

"I'd rather hear it from her, dude," I typed finally. Brian was and still is my best friend and everything, but it's just that little thing. I'd rather find out from her than from him.

"She'll find a way to tell you somehow. She doesn't keep secrets from us for very long, you know."

He was right and I immediately felt bad again. She doesn't keep secrets from us for very long. I've been keeping secrets from her ever since we first met.