The walls close in.
Darkness gathers in silence.
Silence that smothers me with unheard hands, wrapping its fingers around my throat. The blood pumps deep and loud through my jugular. Badump, badump.
There's no screaming, there is no more than a whisper.
There's no breath, not a faint breeze through blue lips.
No one hears. No one listens. No one sees. No one looks.
I am the mass of molecules you don't see.
I am the thought you chose to forget.
I am the voice you ignore screaming for help.
The sounds of rain tapping its impatient fingers on my window pane awaken me from a fitful rest. My eyes are swollen, most probable, since everything is quite blurry in the dim lighting. Everything seems to be in shades of grey. I roll over onto my tummy and try to burry myself under the warmth of blankets and sheets. My pillow, nice and cool, just how I like it. I have built my nest, and baby bird doesn't want to leave, move, or see.
The world is unkind out there.
I get out, and it's only a long way to fall.
My auburn hair is tangled but soft against my cheeks. They hide me like a mask. Joann isn't home. She's fled the hollow shell of flesh, please leave a message. Beep!
There's a low rumble outside, but I ignore it. Thunder is comforting. It's my secret lullaby that sings me to sleep, which wipe away tears, chase away my nightmares when no one else bothers to.
The shutters of my eyes are closed. I am in an alternate world, where I am someone I know, someone others know, and they like me just the way I am.
Creak, creak, creak.
I curl deeper into my little nest of blankets. The wind is picking up outside.
The door flies open and my heart beats fast little birdie beats before it dies.
She's home. She's soaked. She's pissed.
"I can't believe you're sleeping."
Simple little words. They're simple little words. Little words.
The voice cuts me.
I stare at her.
"I come home wet and you're sleeping? Get out of bed right now."
Mamma bird finds the runt birdie in the nest. Not my baby birdie. Oh no. Out of the nest, fall the long drops. Splat on the ground. Out, out, out.
Mamma bird's talons are sharp; they cut into poor baby bird.
Oh no, she feeds me to Papa bird.
"Joann has been sleeping again." Mamma bird caws.
Papa bird's eyes glint with hunger.
"You're so useless Joann; can't you even do something so simple as to stay awake?"
"No wonder I thought she's been gaining weight, look at her Sean! She's getting fat."
"At least no boys will be after her, one less thing to be worried about."
The peck me apart, tear me into small pieces until all that's left of me is bones. Even then they're not so forgiving. They gnaw on the bones, crush the bones, fly up and drop them and they smash into pieces, millions of me all over.
"Go do your homework, if you're marks aren't up by next term don't think we won't send you away to boarding school or something."
Oh, please, please, send me away.
My school is a box.
It is a square covered with cracking bricks and layered metal. The factory.
L. K. High School is for the academics. We're so smart!
Why am I here?
I am invisible. I dodge words with bunny quick speed. I hide mousey still in the library until the words are gone.
The halls are packed with everybody, anybody, and nobody's. At least the nobody's are known.
What am I?
Why am I here?
The boys are like any other. They laugh rude jokes. They fart words that hurt. They run and trample you. The girls with shiny pink lips that whisper words that make you want to hurl, they "accidentally" trip you with their twig like legs.
I can put up with them.
If it wasn't for them.
I am a deer caught frozen in the headlights of a speeding car.
Amy and Gerard walk hand-in-hand, all smiles of bright white fangs. A shiver crawls up my spine.
He never liked you. He likes me. You're ugly. You're no one. You're nothing.
My fingernails dig into the palm of my hand.
We were only using you. You're so stupid.
My lip bled as I bit the soft skin.
We were never really friends. Everything was just a lie.
I am the deer. Staring straight into hurt. A double collision. Stabs of pain in the back, laughter that echoes in my dreams. Words, words, words.
Amy looks at me and whispers in the beast's ear. He gives quick grizzly smile and comes faster my way. They split and both knock into my shoulders, my books crashing like boulders to the floor.
I can never decide whether the end of school bell signaled my freedom or another torturous beginning. I would linger at my locker, debating with myself.
They can't whisper hot whispers in your ear at home.
Mom and dad will be home.
The teachers can help you boost up some marks with extra credit work.
They'll think I'm stupid and call home and tell my parents that I'm stupid.
You can't see them at home.
I see them every night in my shadows.
I close my eyes and lean my forehead against the cool metal. The texture was smooth yet bumpy from vandalism. A sticker is stuck to the inside; it was there when I was first assigned its new owner.
You're never free.
My nose itches and I bite my lip. No tears. Oh god no tears.
It was my own promise to myself. No tears at school. No tears in front of people. Especially no tears in front of Amy and Gerard, three lockers down from mine, kissing so passionately I wanted to go die in the trashcan down the hall.
My breath was caught in my throat.
"What the hell did you just call me?"
I turn my head every which way trying to see where it was coming from. Normal human instinct to go towards danger and drama rather than away. I should be like the animals. Run, stupid, run.
Down the hall, the doorway closest to Amy and Gerard, flew open and down came sliding a kid of the tenth grade.
It seemed like the grey blue lockers layering both sides of the dimly lit hallway shrunk to make room for the next guy. His hair was dark brown, though it seemed unwashed for several days. It was quite longish; it traced his jaw line, scruffy-like. He wore a jean jacket and black t. His hands were clenched into massive fists the size of boulders. His jeans were torn from the knees, the edges frayed and a leather belt that seemed to hurt if he ever used it to hit. He was feral, rogue, a wolf with its hackles raised.
"N-nothing! I swear!"
"No, what did you say you stupid little runt?" The wolf snaps its jaws.
"N-nothing!" The kid squirmed on the floor. "We were just joking! I didn't mean it! I swear!"
"Swearing isn't good enough." The wolf growled.
I watched with immense fascination as the wolf-man brought his fist up high, ready to pound the kid into minced meat. It made me want to know what the kid had called him too. I clutched the door of my locker close to my face, hiding behind the metal as if brain matter would come my way in globs of blubbery goo. The tension in the air was thick. I could feel my throat drying. My nose itched and I—
I sneezed so loudly and with so much force, the inertia of the sneeze sent my forehead crashing into my locker door. The murmurs stopped. All eyes were on me. Who cut through the tension? That girl in the red scarf. She's so weird. Who is she? Don't stare for too long, you might turn to stone.
The wolf, distracted for an instant, lost his quivering prey. The tenth-grade dashed away from the monstrous grip and crashed into me, not hesitating to apologize or to thank me.
"Thanks kid, I just let you live out your masturbating life and you can't even bother to thank me. I hope it falls off." I thought to myself.
The crowd losing interest in a flash started to flee the school in packs; in schools of fish (ha ha schools…get it? Never mind) in herds and in murderers. Guess which group Amy and the Beast is in.
No one notices me, the frightened little mouse who bumped her head, being stared down by the wolf, his eyes were less intense, but they were a dark, deep colour. He was a whole head taller than I was, though he seemed much taller. Much taller.
He had a scent that didn't seem to register in my brain. Panic bells rang up a storm inside me skull, telling me to run like the wind bulls-eye! But my feet stay firmly planted to the crappy concrete tiles of the floor.
We were the only ones in the hall way by now. Everyone left. Who cared if I got beat up.
He extended a hand towards me and I closed my eyes instinctively.
Pow. Boom. Crash.
My cheeks will burn. My eyes will darken. My skeleton will shatter into fragments of me.
I felt something warm and prickly on my forehead and I forced myself to open my eyes.
His hands were on my head, pulling a woolen tuque over my frizzy auburn-brown hair.
"It's cold outside."
Was all he said, and then he turned and walked out the door.
The wind cut into my cheeks and bit my nose with its sheer sharp coldness. I wrapped my scarf close around me, trying to ward off the bites. Winter had arrived early this year. I disliked winter. It was too cold, and when the sun actually came out of hiding, it would blind me. I felt myself hunch over with the weight of my backpack dragging me through dead leaves that lingered on the side walks.
I desperate whine caught my attention. The noise drifted along the frigid breeze. It was a sound that pierced the heart. Such a lonely mournful sound, a sound I knew too well.
I rounded the corner to find a chain-linked fence. Barbed wires at the top, badly trimmed bushes growing through the crisscrosses like prison fingers reaching for freedom.
A black skinny dog with brown marks over the eyes came running over towards me. It had big black watery eyes, a heart shaped snout and a cute lolling tongue. Its thick leather collar was attached to a metal chain; it clinked against a railroad track nail in the ground. I looked beyond the animal. The surroundings were a reflection in the dog's eyes.
I have walked by this space many times to and from school. Why have I noticed the dog now?
I knelt down and hesitantly placed my fingers through the crisscrosses in the fence. I bit my lip and pulled my scarf down.
White clouds of hot air escaped my lips as I soothed the dog's whine when it saw my hand.
"Come here. It's okay sweetie."
My fingers caressed its heart shaped muzzle, it was cold and wet and soft. Its pink tongue kissed my skin and instantly warmed my fingers. A small smile spreads across my face, displacing and cracking an old mask.
"What do you think you're doing?"
I jumped back, startling both the dog and me.
A giant man stood at a worn out blackened porch deck. A lantern glowing above the screen door. The light disappears fast in the winter. How could I have forgotten? His presence steals away my words…and my smile.
The man wore a dirtied white t-shirt, and a giant lumber checkered sweater. He was a bald man, just to make him more intimidating; he had a vein popping out of his forehead like a pipe about to explode. He was about the size of trees. He could squash me with his thumb. I was just a little disgusting insect that he wished to squash and smear into the pavement.
"Come here you stupid mutt!"
I flinched as the dog barked loudly.
"I said come here!" The man looked back at me. My eyes wouldn't look away. They were stuck, I couldn't move, I was too afraid. "What are you looking at? Get off my property you—."
My legs found movement.
I ran as far away as I could.
When I could hear my heart pounding in my ears, my legs cramp up, my back ache from the constant thump, thump, thump of my backpack whacking me, the numbness in my fingers, and my head heating up like a furnace, I stopped running.
I collapsed against an old lamppost; it was one of those old-fashioned gas lamped ones. Some-how I had managed to run all the way to mid-downtown. The sky was growing darker as the golden beacons of the sun retreated towards the horizon, never to be seen again until the breaking of dawn. The image of the dog being chained to the nail sent chills throughout my body. I sat down, bag at my side, and my face in my hands as I tried to forget what had happened. It wasn't a major deal, but the look in the dog's eyes as the man shouted at him…well it brought back wounds.
Was I so different from that dog?
I don't know how long I sat there, leaning against the lamp, the air growing gradually colder. I could here the lake lapping at the shores behind me. The smell of salt, the annoying sound of seagulls above me, the lazy comfortable chatters around me; I was safe here. And I didn't want to go back.
How angry will they be when I show up tired and really late?
How angry will they be if I don't show up and just crash on a bench here?
How angry will they be if I jumped in the below zero water right now and take a swim?
People scrutinized me as they walked pass, they looked at me with cautious eyes, judging me, sizing me. I couldn't care less. I've dealt with this everyday. You don't dent me. I'm invincible.
I pushed the heels of my palms to my eyes, making blobs of blurry white dots fade in and out of the darkness. I opened my eyes and blinked. The place was deserted.
The seagulls were also gone.
The wind was calm; the only sound that could be heard was the waves against boulders and tumbled houses that came close to the eroded edges.
I started nibbling at a loose fingernail, only noticing the hunger that rumbled through my belly like an approaching storm. The lamp-lighting-man came out with a long pole; his face was as wrinkly as a pickled prune and looked as sour as one too. Would he tell me to go away too?
Not waiting to find out I rolled onto my side and picked up my bag, scrounging around for some loose change or a much expired bus ticket.
I had no such luck. I had to walk/jog/run/fly home before dinner.
That was five minutes ago.
Double damn. I'm in deep shit.