Shadows of Life

Summary: The shade's a dangerous place to live your life, but being dragged kicking and screaming from it can sure as hell be painful.

Warnings: self harm, abuse, eating disorders, severely defunct kids, some homosexuality, some heterosexuality, annoying little brothers, craptastic parents, meddling teachers, and clichés done in a hopefully original way.

AN: Yeah, I know it sounds like the typical emo story but hopefully you will find SoL to be more than that. I'm attempting to deal with some serious issues in a mature and original way. Oh, and please read at least to chapter one, because the prologue is not indicative of the rest of the story's writing style. Thank you!


Prologue:

A boy stared out the window as if his life depended on it, tapping his finger rhythmically against the desktop in front of him. He counted taps; one, two, three, four. Then five. Lightening tore apart gray clouds and his eyes followed its arc warily. He restarted his counting and only managed to get to four before a low rumble echoed through the walls and vibrated in his belly. He flinched, throat tightening. Five and four. Last time it had been five and a half and four. Was the storm getting closer? He didn't know. Were you supposed to count between lightening and thunder, or between thunder and lightening, he wondered. His fingers tapped out a nervous beat and his other hand clenched under the desk. Another flinch as lightening jagged the sky again. He forced his fingers calm and began counting again. One. Two. Boom. Storm's coming.

Outside, a raindrop splattered itself against the pavement.


He was doing it again, rapping his fingers and glaring out the window next to him. Every few seconds he twitched spastically, fingers pausing, then resumed a few seconds later. A girl watched him in morbid fascination from where she sat, halfway across the class room and three rows back, trying to find the pattern. There wasn't one. She turned away; he was so strange.

The English teacher spoke in foreign languages. If she listened hard she understood separate words, but when strung together they crashed and collided and spun away through her mind 'til she was dizzy and breathless. She glanced around surreptitiously; no one else had noticed, perhaps because very few of them were actually listening to him. A boy slouching sideways in the desk kiddy-corner from her smiled and wiggled his fingers at her suggestively. She bared her teeth back to him, winked. Then dropped her chin to her chest. Her eye wouldn't open, and the other was sliding down to join the first. Forty-two hours and change since the last time. She needed sleep.

She dug a fingernail into her thigh, just beneath the hem of her skirt. Her eyes watered and slid back open slowly. A loud, quick crack from the front of the class jerked them all the way open. She raised her chin and focused blurry eyes on the teacher. For a second she grasped at the words he threw into the air, strung them together like beads on a necklace. Something about a final project. She heard her name and another's directly after so she nodded blindly. Then the necklace snapped and his words scattered to the floor around her. If she listened hard enough, she could hear them clicking as they fell to her feet.

No, it was the boy, his fingers picking up speed. Or was it the rain drops that flung themselves at the window in tempo with his tapping? Lightening jagged across the sky, thunder chasing its tail. The boy flinched and she flinched with him.


Class was in shambles again. It didn't surprise him; shambles was a constant predicament for Hitchcock high school and any teacher who tried to do something about it eventually either gave it up for a lost cause or quit. The principal was on permanent hiatus; the teachers who still cared did the best they could.

David Webbin liked to believe that he still cared, and that his students did too. It helped that he was still relatively young, new, and fortunate enough to teach an advanced English class. Honors students wreaked a quieter havoc than the average pupil. Most of them wanted to be there on some level, even if it was only to please aggressive parents. So he tried to make it interesting for them and for himself and when that failed, he was not so young and naïve as to be above a bit of bribing.

The noise level was beginning to get a little too high, so David rapped his knuckles sharply against the blackboard behind him. The noise lowered, and most of the students turned their heads lethargically towards him. He smiled.

"Alright kids. Time to talk finals." A general mutter of discontent rifled through the room. "Seeing as I want to grade your tests about as much as you want to take them, we're doing something different this year," he continued, ignoring them. A few apathetic glances were thrown his way. "So. Projects. I'll be splitting you into small groups, and each of you will choose a skit from a famous play to perform the week before finals. Sound good?" A few students nodded. "Good. You'll also have a little oral test about the play you picked during finals week." Now they were groaning so he held up his hands in a 'what can you do?' gesture. "Hey, you're honors geeks, guys; suck it up because I've got to at least pretend to make it hard. The tests will be private, and you'll sign up for fifteen minute sessions, so think of it this way: during finals week, you'll only have fifteen minutes worth of English. The rest of the time will be free time." He paused. "That sound better?" He grinned over the sounds of rabid agreement. "I'll take that as a yes. Now groups." He glanced haphazardly around the room, planning to pair students into groups of two randomly.

His eyes landed on Sekmet Ash, drawn by her intense gaze. Her eyes were mute agates staring out at him, wide eyed and wild in a blank porcelain doll face. A new student, but already at the top in the ranks of her peers. She was probably the best student in his class, normally attentive and cheerful, though lately she had been slipping. He called her name and when she nodded, he searched for someone to pair her with.

He slid his glance to the one other new student in his class, Jinx Andiron. The boy wasn't even bothering to pay attention. Instead he stared out the rain smattered window of the classroom, tapping his fingers frenetically against his desk. Dressed in black again, but he doubted the kid was in mourning; wristbands and spike bracelets covered his forearms from wrist to elbow. Impulsively, he called the boy's name. He didn't turn, but the rest of the class did. "Jinx!" he called again, louder this time. His fingers froze half-tap; slowly he turned to face the class, taking in their stares impassively before turning dull green eyes towards David.

"Were you listening?"

He didn't know why he bothered to ask; the answer was obvious and Jinx made no effort to conceal it.

"No."

David's lips tightened. It irritated him, this boy with his frantic fingers and blatant disrespect. "Well maybe you should. You're paired with Sekka." Jinx glanced sideways at the girl who still nodded mechanically.

"Whatever," he murmured. Thunder sounded outside and his gaze jerked back to the window. His fingers tapped. The rest of the students waited patiently for their own partners and David turned away.


Thank you for reading and please critique! I'm strong: I can take your criticism! And please remember to read chapter one!

Kae