faded nights

Summary: Donnie. Sarah. Lysander. Juli. Jeremiah. Matt.

They're the kids who'd rather stare at the stars in the middle of the field at the old vacant lot than go to some vomit-stained, drama-filled high school party. They're the kids who cling on so hard to people because they're afraid to lose them, like they've lost everything in their lives. They're the kids that "screwed up" was made for. They're the kids who stopped wishing on 11:11 a long time ago because they realized that all their dreams will never come true. They're the kids who've been told to give up so many times that they've already considered letting life go.

But they have a lot of things that those cookie-cutter, unoriginal kids don't have. They have each other, a real friendship that they swear never let go. They are each others' sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers. They are family.

But like family, life can tear them apart. And they make not have what it takes to bring them all back together.


It's raining.

I'm at Lysander's house and it starts raining. I can hear the pitter-patter on the roof and the sound of the thunder in the distance. I bet there's going to be lightning soon; it's going to rain hard I bet.

We're sitting on his couch; the old beat-up but strangely comfortable one, just sitting. I don't know; with Sander I never talk. Sander rarely talks to anybody; he just sits and looks out wistfully with his pale blue eyes. Somewhere.

I've never asked Sander where he goes. If he trips out, gets lost in his mind, it's good with me. If I had Sander's life, I'd do the same thing, you know. Just forget my life and leave the world behind.

I can hear his parents fighting in the other room. I wonder about him and how he survives at home. Sure, my life's not great either, but at least it's just my dad and me, just living on what we have. Sander's parents fight all the time, even if he has a friend over, even on holidays like Christmas which I only know because he comes to my house then. Just climbs in over the fence of our backyard and manages to get himself in somehow, his face blank and his eyes emotionless. He'll just say, "I'm staying here," and that's that. I don't know.

But I remember last Christmas when he got into our house, his breath shaky and his eyes red. My dad didn't even look twice as I let Sander in. My dad just put down another placemat at the table and Sander stayed with us that Christmas, eating our Christmas dinner of stale cocoa puffs.

The fighting is getting louder and I hear something break. Sander doesn't even flinch. This is old news for him.

I reach over and squeeze his hand. I don't say anything. Sander, he always knows what you're thinking even if you don't say anything. That's what's good about him; some times you just don't want to talk at all and he understands everything you say. When I'm around Juli she simply won't shut up and I just don't want to answer her questions but with Lysander I really don't have that problem.

He grabs his jacket and we start tip-toeing out of his house. Like it would matter. His parents wouldn't even hear us, they're so loud. I can hear them screaming at each other and I bet even if they knew I was in their house, they'd still be fighting.

A lot of times I'm glad I never knew my mom. If I had one, I wouldn't want her to be like that. I bet half the time Sander wishes he didn't have parents, you know? I wouldn't want parents if I had his; I think I'd just be okay with having my friends alone.

We get to the front door and he and I grab our skateboards which are lying right outside. We always leave them there at his house.

We stand in the doorway for awhile, just looking at the street. It's really wet outside, the floor is already slick and puddles are forming, but anything is better than in his house that smells like old laundry and dirty dishes because frankly, Sander is too tired of his parents to give a damn.

"Wait," I tell him before he starts leaving. I reach into the pocket of my jeans which are tight against my thighs and pull out my cellphone. I text the same message to four people on the top of my list: Sarah, Juli, Jeremiah.

A two word message. Go there.

I nod at Sander and step on my skateboard. There's nothing like the feeling of it, as you jut move along the wet pavement, the smell of rain in your nose as you skid and slip along the blacktop. My hair is already sticking fast to my face but I don't care. This is what I live for.

Sander is ahead of me, his reddish-orange hair matting to his pale, rather freckled face. His eyes are concentrating on the floor ahead of him.

We just skate. Silently, ignoring the cars that go by with the drivers that gape at us. We're used to it.

We head down the Sander's street and out of his neighborhood. We go past the liquor store that nobody goes to anymore, past the park that I used to hide in the tunnels of when I was four, and past two intersections. The pavement is gone and we're moving in wet dirt, but I don't care.

I am soaked to the bone in about five minutes flat. I look at Sander whose brown shirt clings to him, his wet hair plastered to his face, but his eyes alive. And happy.

We get there. I see the barbed wire fence and the familiar stretch of brown dust—now mud—with the small patches of grass. The property that has had the "For Sale" sign for so long, but we all know nobody's going to buy it.

I see a bicycle against the fence and know Jeremiah and Juli are already there. Jeremiah's been wanting a skateboard for the longest time but his foster parents won't buy him one.

Sander and I just silently get there and throw our boards over the fence, watching as they land with a short thud in the grass. We shove our faded Converse through the crisscrosses in the wires and climb over. My hand gets cut but I don't mind, just stick it into my mouth and taste the blood as I pick up my skateboard and walk towards the center of the vacant lot.

Juli, Jeremiah, and Sarah are already there, in the middle of the lot, looking up at the clouds which are clumping together in dark grey bundles. Juli's eyes are closed as the rain drips down into her mouth, her choppy black hair plastered to her pale face like she's trying to drown herself. Jeremiah is lying, his head in her lap, jut feeling the rain trickling down his face as his dark hair gets even blacker. Sarah's huddled in Jeremiah's sweater, her dirty blonde hair shaggy from the rain. She doesn't like getting wet much.

Quietly, Sander and I join the group, lying with our backs in the mud as we just stare up at the sky.

We lie down and watch the rain fall. Just silently, as the rain cleanses our skin, and soaks to the very bottom of our souls.

I blink water out of my eyes and look at all of them. Lysander, Juli, Jeremiah, Sarah, Matt. They're all lying down now; we're all in a row. I wonder what they're thinking; what they're wishing for, but I don't know. Maybe we'll talk later.

I imagine myself melting. I can hear the thunder, louder and louder now and I want the lightning to come. I want the lightning to come down and strike me and spread over my body; making me feel one hundred percent alive for once in my existence. Just one time, that's all I want.

The lightning doesn't come. It doesn't come the whole hour and however many minutes we lay there in the rain until we're fully soaked and our clothes are twice as heavy as they were when we came. The lightning doesn't come to make me feel alive.

So I get up, push my hair off of my skin and out of my eyes, and try to think of a better plan.