By the time lunch rolled around, I was about ready to find a corner where I could curl up and die. English class was horrible; word got around fast at St. Richard's, apparently, and currently I was the juiciest source of gossip. Even Professor Denier was surprised that I wasn't gay, and quite frankly I was sick of the stares. This school was possibly the most quick to judge I'd ever been to, which was saying a lot because, honestly, M.W. Moore was in a hick town full of people who judged.
When the bell rang, signalling the beginning of the lunch hour, I bolted. In hind sight, I should have said bye to Timothy, who had sat with me throughout the class and glared daggers at anyone whom dared stare at me too long, for which I was grateful. Instead, I practically ran from the room, bowling over not a few individuals in my way – an impressive feat for someone my size, I dare say.
I didn't let up my quick pace until I reached dorm 32A. As soon as I was safely inside, I closed the door firmly behind me and, though tempted to throw myself on my bed and hide under the blankets, I hid in the closet and closed that door, too. I certainly did not want Carson to come in and see me. To be fair, he had tried to warn me about "outing" myself as straight, but I still blamed him for my current situation; I was absolutely furious with him, and I didn't want to see him or hear him or have anything to do with him, preferably for the rest of my life. Or his. In fact, it would be nice if he could just drop dead and I never had to deal with him again.
The closet was dark, and I was fairly comfortable on the floor, curled up against the wall, and I don't think it took me long to fall asleep there, though I had no way to measure the time.
Hands. My hands. Someone else's hands. Four hands. My hands, touching a face. The nose, the cheeks, the lips. The soft brush of eyelashes against my thumb. Someone else's hands, fluttering over my arms, my sides, my hips. Tracing patterns on my bare skin. Lips against my shoulder, shaping my name. The warm rush of breath, making me shiver.
A flash of blue. A flash of pink. A shower of white sparkling lights. Mom's face, smiling. Those dark, deep eyes. A tree, bare and bleak against the winter sky. A flash of blue. A jolly fat man in red. Dark hair? A flash of green. Smoke, spiralling through the air. A candle? A cigarette? Darkness.
"Jeremy." A different voice.
"Jeremy, Jeremy, Jeremy."
A chorus of voices, one after the other, saying only my name and making way for the next. Carson, Aunt Rikki, Timothy, Dennis, Professor Bantam, Lucy-Ann, Iseul, Dad.
"Damn it, boy!" Dad.
"Just because you're sleeping in the same room..." Iseul.
"You think you'll get anywhere in life with grades like these?" Dad. An image: a grade nine math test. I hadn't known what to study; Mrs Werner hadn't given us any indication of the subject matter. I'd done my best. The grade on the test was a seventy-two, far below my usual.
"Get out." Iseul.
"Well what about Dennis? He doesn't even pass his courses!" Me, screaming. Sobbing.
"Can I come, Dad?" Dennis.
"Of course, son." Dad. He always loved Dennis more.
"You think I give a damn about what you and that fucking kid did?" Dad.
"Well, isn't this ironic?"
The combination of light on my closed eyelids and a real voice cut through the darkness and echoes of my dream like a hot knife through butter, if you'll excuse the cliché. I woke with a start, and I can honestly say I was glad to see Carson, if only because he'd pulled me out of the nightmare that dream had been rapidly becoming. If I didn't dislike him so strongly, I might have thanked him. As it was, I glared at him.
"You would be hiding in your closet, wouldn't you?"
"My god, lad, you are so naïve."
I blinked, too tired and angry with him to really be bothered trying to figure out what he was talking about. "Oh. Okay."
He sighed and slid down the wall so he was sitting around the corner from me; I inside the closet and he without. "So, is this going to be a habit for you?"
"Um... is what?" I asked, more than a little confused. What the hell was up with this guy? Could he at least make up his mind about whether he liked me or not? Or, maybe it would be more accurate to say it would be nice if he could figure out if he wanted me to like him or not.
"Skipping dinner," he clarified. "Aren't you hungry?"
"Not really," I scowled. "And I wasn't really planning on skipping lunch, dinner, whatever, but at the moment everyone seems to be fascinated with the fact that, I dunno, I'm not gay."
"I warned you about that," he pointed out.
"Yeah, well... Why is it such a big deal, anyway?"
He snorted. "Nobody's told you yet, huh?"
I fidgeted with my tie. "Told me what, exactly?"
"Nothing. Forget it. You'll find out eventually."
For some reason, that seemed to make sense. Or, at the very least, I just didn't really care. "Oh," I said, rather articulately. "Okay."
We were silent for a while, and during that time I remembered that I was angry with Carson, decided I didn't care, and realized that I actually was hungry.
"What time is it?"
"About five-thirty, lad."
Before that moment, my eyes had been somewhat lazily half-shut. They snapped open at that, though. "Five-thirty? Shit! What about lessons?"
"It seems as though you've missed your afternoon lessons. Your professors won't be too terribly pleased by that, I imagine."
I frowned. How could he sound so smug about that? The way he went from nice to antagonistic in a split second was really quite frustrating. "I don't suppose they will be," I sighed.
"Do you often sleep so much?" he asked suddenly, sounding bemused. I was going to get whiplash from trying to keep up with his multiple personality disorder. (Not that he probably actually had any such thing; I was perfectly aware that multiple personality disorders were clinically diagnosed illnesses. Still, he acted like he needed some kind of stabilizing medication.)
"No..." I replied slowly. "Not usually."
He hummed contemplatively, and then peeked into the closet at me, smirking. "So you've been unusually tired lately?"
"Not really," I frowned. "I've just been falling asleep a lot."
"Ah," he nodded. "To pass the time, then, that it?"
He grinned. "Well then, I've got a diagnosis for you!"
"You, my young laddie boy," he informed me, trying to keep his face straight but failing to keep the twitching of his lips under control as he fought off a smile; "You need to get laid."
I shrieked, scuffling away from him. Further into the closet. I kind of wished it was like that wardrobe from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and would whisk me away to Narnia – or really, just anywhere that wasn't here. Unfortunately, there was a back wall. "What?!"
"Believe me, it's a much more entertaining way to spend your time. And there are health benefits, too."
He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively and scooted closer to me. I slapped him, jumped to my feet, and ran. And once I was securely locked in the bathroom, I stared at my hand. It was stinging. Because I had just slapped Carson. What the hell kind of straight man slapped?
A/N: And here it is: the latest chapter. I think I got it up faster than usual, but correct me if I'm wrong.
Thank you so much to Random Hero Fan and Narq, whom have both reviewed every single chapter since I posted last. You're both awesome, and I love you. And, of course, to everyone else who reviewed, favourited, and/or alerted See You at Dick's: I love you all too. Orange creamsicles all around! =D
-- rentedspace (Ev)