Open your mouth and close your eyes

And kiss the one you love goodbye

~*~

A click, a hiss, and a whirr insinuated themselves through the haze of sleep into my semi-conscious mind. They were followed with a loud spangling guitar, a 360-degree percussion kit, and a brilliant baseline. In short, I awoke to my clock-radio playing Rush at me. Not that I'm complaining, mind. It's just about the only thing short of AC/DC that can wake me up completely in one go. I just wanted to sleep longer.

The green electronic light pierced my tired eyes, making me blink owlishly. Sleep had not been coming easily recently, and I cherished the few hours I got each night. I sat up in the artificial darkness of my room – soon my other alarms would start going off… but even sooner…

"Elliot! Are you awake, sweetie?" my dad yelled upstairs. I rolled my eyes. Ever since I accidentally fell back asleep after my first alarm, he'd been checking on me at 5:16 every morning. While I appreciated the thought – that was not a fun morning – my backup alarm wasn't until 5:22 by the first clock. Couldn't I get 7 more minutes?

"Yeah, Dad, I'm up!" I called back, resisting the urge to add something snarky under my breath. I shut off my auxiliary – wouldn't be needing it, again – and gathered my clothes, makeup, and towel. Contacts first, food later. Vision was my priority.

~*~

Dad harassed me all the way out the door about my breakfast – or rather, lack thereof. I don't get hungry in the mornings, and I can't – not "won't," "can't" – eat if I'm not hungry. It's this weird quirk of mine, and nobody believes me. They think it's somehow under my conscious control – like I have this ironclad self-control. Yeah, self-control… cause I can totally make myself do homework, and study, and remember chores and stuff that I don't want to do… whatever. People ignore what doesn't suit their view of the world, and warp what could. It's frustrating. But anyhow.

I put my earbuds in earlier than normal – i.e. before I even got on the bus. My siblings and bus-stop-mates were being exceedingly inane, and with my current mood I didn't think I could deal with it. Hedley blared into my brain immediately. I'd left my mp3 player tuned to On My Own, and I started singing softly. "On my own, and living in a world alone… gets better every day that I don't have to say 'I'm sorry, I'm coming home…' " As soon as I realized it wasn't going to help my mood any, I switched the song. Next up: You & Me, by Lifehouse. Sappy love song? No thanks. I frantically skipped song after song after song until I got to something decently neutral. The Goo-Goo Dolls had an abundance of mood-neutrality, and Slide was one of my favorites anyways.

I took my usual seat on the bus – dead back, alone. The little seat, for anyone who's been on a school bus recently. I didn't really mind – most of the time I ended up blasting music into my skull and reading. And sometimes I'd just hide in my black sweatshirt and let the sounds overwhelm me. I keep some mind-numbingly loud stuff for those purposes – Meat Loaf, Rush, AC/DC, Van Halen, Sammy Hagar – stuff with good philosophy as well as brain-melting guitar. Music is my crack.

The ride to school was typically uneventful. I drowned myself in noise the entire way, keeping my volume so loud that an elephant stampede wouldn't've made an impact. We landed at school with even less fanfare than usual – I'd managed to avoid getting Goldfish crackers in my hood, which was a plus.

"El!" I groaned. My current pain-in-the-ass, Simon Miller, ran up to me. "Hey! What's up? How was your day yesterday? Whatcha listening to?"

I gritted my teeth. "Simon. First off. My name is not 'El,' it's Elliot. I'd thank you to use it sparingly. Second. My day yesterday was tolerable, as you should know – don't think I didn't see you following me. Third. I am listening to music. It's the new fad. Fourth – and final. Leave me alone, I've rejected you at least twenty times this month. I'm not interested." Giving him one final withering glare, I turned on my heel and stalked off, turning up the volume on my music as I went. Surreptitiously, as I rounded the corner, I glanced back at him – I mean, just to make sure he wasn't still following me – and groaned inwardly.

The lousy manipulative slimeball was standing in the middle of the hallway, staring after me, looking utterly crestfallen. His eyes were almost ridiculously cartoonishly large, and watery. I mentally kicked myself. Never look back on someone you just extreme-rejected. Stupid, stupid, stupid… I sighed hard and forced myself to continue down the hall.

~*~

The rest of the morning was about the same. Former pain-in-the-asses, whose ranks Simon could now join, would slowly walk past me, sigh theatrically, and slouch off. I would roll my eyes and go back to drawing and listening to music.

"Elliot?"

I looked up irritably. "What do you – oh. It's you." I relaxed. "Hey. What's up, Aya?"

She sat down next to me. "Simon asked me to talk to you, Elliot… No, don't start." She held up her hand to stop me. "Couldn't you… I dunno, let him down a little more gently?" She sighed.

"Aya, I TRIED that. Multiple times. He wouldn't listen when I tried to be nice, so I stopped. End of discussion." I didn't look at her, instead focusing on my drawing. "What's it to you, anyways?"

I heard her breath flutter out. "He's a decent kid. He just… doesn't know about you. You were nice to him, he was drawn to that, but… Elliot, haven't you tried to date guys?"

"You know what? No. I'm not having this conversation with you. Stop trying to change me, Aya. I'm beginning to think that you can't deal with me… being the way I am." If she wasn't going to say the word, neither was I. Besides, I was pissed – I thought she accepted me for who I am… I thought it didn't matter to her… Agh. "Just don't, okay? I'll – I'll talk to you later." I stood up and stalked out of the library. There went my last safe haven… the Commons was absolute hell before school.