The silence at the table was inordinate. It could not have lasted more than one or two seconds, and yet, it seemed to stretch on for eternity. Aislynn broke his eyes away from the uncomfortable expressions of his father and stepmother to stare out at the flickering lantern on the porch. Flies mauled themselves in its lethal sparks. One after another.
Don't they ever get tired of dying ?
« I'm so sorry, Ben. He said he'd be here by seven. » Jennifer, Aislynn's stepmother broke in, apologetically, as if to ease the tension. Instead, it doubled.
Aislynn's father sighed and reached across the table to grasp his wife's hand and caress it with his calloused workingman's thumb. « It's all right, hon. No big. »
Aislynn's eyes narrowed a bit as his lazy gaze caught that of the two intertwined fingers.
No big. His father was always saying that. Minimizing the negative aspects of his life so that it could stay perfect. Perfect wife… Aislynn's eyes drifted to the chandelier and wide windows of the dining room, to the outside, where the light caught the garden.
His gaze drifted further down, brows arrowing swiftly downwards as he stared angrily at the light swell of his stepmother's abdomen.
If I were eighteen, I'd leave.
« I'll go get some more juice. Do you want anything, Jenn ? » Ben's son seemed not to exist.
« No, we're all right, thanks. » Jenn murmured sweetly, caressing her belly. She spoke of herself and her child. Aislynn was not a factor for her either.
Yes father, as a matter of fact, I would like something to drink. I would very much like your trophy wife's blood. And her stand-up son too.
« I'm going. » He said, pushing his chair back. He stalked away from the table savagely, ignoring Jenn's soft request for him to clear up the table.
As he marched up the stairs, he scooped up his cat, Sushi, along with him.
The small calico mewled pitifully in his grasp.
Grinding his molars, he lifted the thing from beneath it's arms until it's face met his.
« Mrrrooowww… » Sushi wailed.
« Oh, you don't like me either, do you ? Well, that's fine. I don't fucking need you, cat meat. » he dropped the cat on the floor, nudging it away with his foot.
His room was stifling hot. It was always unnecessary warm nowadays, he refused to open the windows in the summer due to moths, as he feared them eminently. Unfortunately his fan was placed in his parents's room. As Jenn was 'keeping cool for two'. And Aislynn could always open his windows if necessary.
His walls, beneath the layers of paintings, news clippings, posters and photos would have been black.
His sheets were red, his computer chair too.
On his desk were piles of paper, half-finished paintings, plastic cups filled with tinted water and brushes, wads of tape used for bordering work, pencils, pencil shavings. Post-it notes.
The post-it notes were peculiar things.
He used them to write down plot-bunnies, random thoughts he wanted to remember, and colour names he enjoyed.
Aislynn loved colour names. His name was well known in the benjamin moore store and at home depot. He went in almost every day after school to nabb the litle paint cards, the ones with the number and colour.
He was seventeen in one week. That was June the thirteenth. A gemini. Moody, apparently, two-sided. He knew what that meant. He understood very well.
He hadn't slept more than two or three hours total in the past week. And those hours were during the day. It had nothing to do with capable or incapable. Nothing to do with counting sheep or sleeping pills. Those small outthrust ideas of mankind were frivolous and inconsequential.
The reason for which he spent all day in a trance, taking notes, and all night hunched over a painting, or in front of the television, bingeing perpetually, had everything to do with his father, with his mother, with the small things his peers murmured without thought and the loud obnoxious outcries of the boys he wished he didn't want to bone. They had everything to do with life.
And they couldn't be solved by a chemical overdose or counting false projections of his overactive imagination.
That was why his eyes, although huge, soft black and heavily fringed with lashes, which almost permanently had purple brusies and bags beneah them, were only now beginning to come to life, as the depths of his imagination began to stir, and thoughts began to potentate within the reaches of his visual spectrum.
He started out with a blank sheet. And, slowly, it filled.
Line, first. Shadows, shapes and silhouettes…. Then colour, lots and lots of colour.
Splatters, blots, everything. Just emotion after emotion shoved onto the black piece with watercolour and acrylic, ballpoint pen, sharpie, white out, wax crayon, copic marker, chalk pastel. Anything he could get into his grasp.
This was a sort of mind clearing at first. Taking it in and letting it out. Tears of rage and fear spilled from his eyes onto his cheeks. Angry, thick,choked mutterings worked their way out of his mouth. Festering on the paper, artistically ornamented fecal matter. Then the tears and the screams he couldn't scream found their way on paper.
The outrage, the fear, the hate. Everything.
He talked to the paper about the people he wanted to hurt. The people he wanted to love him.
How he knew his mother had killed herself because of him. How he was sorry.
How he wanted her back.
How he hated Jenn, and how it scared him how sometimes he would catch himself staring at her neck. Think of how delicate and breakable it was.
How he was so angry. So so angry. He wanted to hurt somebody. Hurt himself. Anything.
Then it was over. Very suddenly, in a huge, grand, unthinkable rush, and he couldn't do anything. Couldn't even breathe.
He would feel lightheaded for a moment, and his eyes would close.
And a slow, lulling wave of calm would swallow him up, with it's muted silence, the way it was to be underwater.
And the emotion simply ebbed away. Away, away.
His eyes, snapped wide, and suddenly, lucid, he sat up.
He'd been lying on his desk, his head precariously close to his painting.
Dead straight locks of white-blonde hair dipped into the wet paint.
He had to go run.
His eyes drifted to the watch on his bedside table.
It was only twelve.
Jenn and Ben. They ought to be asleep by now.
He shimmied out of his jeans and into some rip-off sweats that ended just past his knee. Then the shoes went on. And those were more ripped up canvas runners than true shoes. He donned a thick black hoody, knowing that no matter how warm it was he would get cold.
He didn't know why that was.
And soon he was out in the fresh slowly cooling night. Early summer, the smell of freshly mown grass lingered in the air, and the fog was settling just now.
His feet slapped the pavement in an infectuous rhythm, one that made him feel like he was dancing, TAP tap tap tap tap tap TAP tap tap tap tap tap…
He started humming as he ran, listening to the tune play out in his head. His own tune.
It was at least an hour of non-stop running before he exhausted. Before he started feeling the burn in his legs and lungs. Even then, he didn't stop running.
When he reached the gas station, a small place about eight miles down from nonstop road, park, and empty stripmall, he was already jingling change in his pocket.
He looked down at his paint-stained hands, agitating the thready frienship bracelets wound around them to avoid the curious stares around him and the smirk of the cashier as he pushed the pile of food onto the counter.
Six mini packs of two-bite brownies, four chocolate bars (two caramilk, 1 crunchie, 1 mars), Four blue bubblegum flavoured Jones Sodas, a little lunch package of sushi, a huge party-size bag of ketchup chips, three packages of starburst candy, a chocolate chip muffin and a lollipop.
He ran all the way back home with the bag in tow.
He didn't know where the bingeing came from, or why it was such an important part of his nightly rituals. But he continued the tradition happily and with ease, knowing that the amount of exercise he did far out-weighed the amount of junk food he ate, and otherwise his metabolism was sure to aid him.
As he neared his house, humming Enya's Carribean Blue under his breath, he stopped up short.
His heart jumped in his chest, and his breath quickened.
There was a man-boy in front of his house.
An almost inescapably beautiful manboy creature thing. Standing there in the fog.
His hair was the colour of rust and blood. It was too long, and mostly straight, but it curled a little at the tips.
He looked uncomfortably tall, over six-feet, with broad shoulders, long legs, and a sinewy, lean, build.
Aislynn's heart and breath stopped all together when the manboy turned instinctively, and their gazes met.
He had the most beautiful eyes, big, wide, slanted, and pale grey-blue-violet. His brows were dark and arching over them, and his lips full and soft beneath them. His face was pale and clear, his nose just a little bit hawkish, but small, and the planes of his face were hard and slashing, like a man's, but clear and soft looking, like a boy.
« Who are you ? And what are you doing at my house ? » Aislynn accused, trying to cover up the curling butterfly sensations that exploded in his belly. He pulled his face down into his most menacing frown. « I may be small, but I could probably still beat you up. »
The boy didn't answer. His eyes widened a bit, and when he smiled, it was a little sweet and very sad.
He sat down on the grass very slowly, and gently tugged at the stem of one of Jenn's daisies until it was curled around his nimble fingers.
« Those are my stepmom's flowers. » Aislynn muttered irritably, although he didn't care, « You can't pick those. She'll attack you in a pregnancy-induced frenzy. You'll die a slow and painful death.
« she won't mind. » Was all the manboy said.
Suddenly Aislynn felt very warm. He looked around, unsure of what to do next. « Do you want to come inside and watch spongebob with me ? »
The manboy took an almost impossibly long time to answer. He might have been thinking very hard about the question, and yet, if he had been doing so, Aislynn would have had no way of knowing.
His facial expression remained sweetly sad and impassive.
« Okay. »
« Okay what ? »
He stood up, wiping his hands off on his jeans, and made his way towards the house. He reached the door, tugged, hard, found it wasn't open, and then turned to look at Aislynn expectantly.
Rushing forward the younger boy managed, somehow or other, to overcome his shakes and shivers, and unlock the door of the basement.
The basement belonged wholy to Aislynn. His father only went there when he wanted something obscure and unavailable in the upstairs world, and Jenn didn't venture into the space at all. It was too dark and frightening for her. It depressed her and made her gloomy, which was bad for the baby.
Aislynn's shoulder automatically shrugged, almost on its own at this notion. The downstairs had game consoles, a computer, a tv, a bathroom, and a couch. If anything, it brightened his day – or, rather, night. The factt that Jenn never went there brightened it further.
The idea had been for Jenn's son to sleep there, but currently it seemed as though maybe it would be Aislynn's forever, or at least until he moved out.
Aislynn moved to the cupboard, softly inviting the manboy to make himself at home.
He didn't know him, although he wanted to, and he didn't understand him or his long silences and soft noncommittal answers.
The realisation caused his lips to part and a soft « hmmm. » of discontent sound in his throat.
He located the taped episode, and inserted it into the VCR, flicking on the tv along with play and returning to the couch, where the manboy already sat.
« So, what's your name ? » Aislynn asked as the well known theme song resounded over the television.
The entire room was thrown into darkness but for the flickering light the t.v. emitted.
Aislynn liked to watch it that way.
The images seemed more real.
And his reality became fake.
Watching as the manboy slowly parted his lips to bless him with another soft, noncommittal answer, Aislynn realised that the boy didn't look fake at all. He seemed more real than anything at the moment, the sad intensity of his eyes, the bitter curve of his lips, the two freckles beneath his left eye. The way he smelt and the way his hair shined.
Aislynn wasn't quite sure how he felt about that.
« You can call me Giacere, if you want. »
Aislynn didn't answer ; simply gave a small, almost imperceptible nod of his head and turned to the television, trying to forget the other boy was there. Which, as he soon found out, was nearly impossible.
« I've seen this episode, » Giacere suddenly claimed.
Aislynn was suddenly startled out of his reverie, « What ? »
« I've seen this episode. » he repeated.
Aislynn wasn't quite sure how to answer. He simply sat, panting a bit, trying not to have a heart attack. He could feel his cheeks heating up. And his eyes widened furthermore when Giacere suddenly turned to look him in the eye. Aislynn didn't know what to say. He was the first to break eye contact, looking down and away. « Y-yeah ? You've seen it ? » He anxiously fiddled with a thread at his jeans, anything to keep from looking at the boy opposite from him.
« A few times. » Giacere was still looking at him, spearing him to the spot with his indeterminate gaze.
« Yeah ? » Aislynn said again, inwardly beating himself up. « So what happens ? »
« Well, the tattletale strangler disguises himself as the bodyguard that Spongebob is looking for to protect him form the tattletale strangler in the first place... »
Aislynn tried to take his mind off the way the other boys eyelids flickered over the screen, the way his lips moved whe he spoke, the way his hands were calloused and tan and the way they wore at each other when he spoke. Like he was trying to rub away the discomfort of speaking his mind.
« And then, at the end, the tattletale strangler turns himself in just to get away from Spongebob. »
« Huh. » Aislynn had already seen the episode himself. But he liked the sound and of Giacere's voice, all deep and mellow and honey-sweet. « Do you want to watch another one ? »
« Okay. »
In a flash Aislynn was up, and suddenly Amélie was in his hands.
He pushed the tape into the VCR with the relish and savour of a longheld religious tradition, and sat back on the couch to watch.
The movie lasted late into the night and early in the morning. And in all the times before, pulled irrevocably in a trance that plagued him with night, Aislynn hadn't ever felt so much. Not since he'd been visited by the demons of slumber. And, here, at some strange moment, some strange quirk in fate had given him this creature who made him feel awake.
Just as the sky was lightening, and the blue was fading to purple, that was whenGiacere suddenly stood, and said, « I have to go now. »
He swept his jacket up around him, strided towards the basement door and strode out into the dawn, his chin held high and a strange smile on his face.
Aislynn stood as well, running after him and into the grass, barefoot. « Are you coming back ? » he asked, panting. He'd never needed anyone until he'd needed Giacere. The pounding of his heart in his chest and threat of tears in his eyes were foreign to him. He did not reccognize them as a fear of being alone again.
Giacere stopped very slowly, turning to look at him with his soft curving lips and curling hair. « Do you want me to ? »
Slowly, Aislynn gave the manboy a small, barely susceptible nod.
« Alright. »
He turned again and strode off down the street, humming a strange tune beneath his breath and mesemerizing Aislynn with the flow of his hair, the liquid honey sound of his voice, and his scent that still lingered in the air.
Copyright July 2006 Jamilla Touré
I believed I could cure it all
For you dear
Coax or trick or drive or
drag the demons from you
Make it right for you sleeping beauty
I could magically heal you.
Sleeping Beauty, by A Perfect Circle
I know it doesn't appear to fit right so far, but it will, so pay attention to the lyrics
(A/N – REVIEW MAN ! COME ON !!! Jam here. Okay, so. I know now that I'm a really uber bad bad girl. Because I was scarcely two chapters into the « FAW (the flawed and wingless) » and nor have I noticeably advanced in « Tight Sweat ». But, come on ! I was inspired. Are you not inspired too ? This is the longest chapter I've written in a while. It took me over two weeks to write, because I had to do it little by little. Now I have to go edit it and post it. So, because I am putting so much effort into this, go to the guest book or something and review. Yeah. It's chic.
Copyright July 2006 Jamilla Touré