Tuesday, January 19, 2016

a broken clock

The lights go out and I can't be saved
Tides that I tried to swim against
Have brought me down upon my knees
Oh I beg, I beg and plead, singing…

I tapped my pencil against my ear along with the beat of the music, staring blankly at my desk. My bottom lip was raw from gnawing absently at it, and the taste of iron lingered on my tongue, but the paper that was supposed  to hold my perfectly formed essay stayed empty. Crumbs scattered across the desk, though the pizza remained untouched. I wasn’t hungry.

I was never hungry these days.

Mom brought me a pizza because that was normal: Friday night, reward your studious son with giant pizza with all his least favourite toppings. Son will most likely not vomit in toilet. A formula for normality. At least you could say you tried.

I hated it when she tried.


My bedroom door slammed open, and I jumped, banging my knee under the desk. Sharp pain flashed up my leg into my stomach. Surprise took every swear word from my mind, because a gangly boy with painfully short brown hair and a scowl launched himself onto my unmade bed without even glancing my way.

I grimaced and rubbed my knee, but I kept my back turned to him. If Colt had something to say, he'd say it.
"Pizza. Now."



A fractal smile twitched my face against my better judgement. No wonder he stuck around. Birds of a feather were rude together. "This pizza's only for outstanding students apparently.”
In the midst of burying his head under my Mickey Mouse pillowcase, he snorted. "You, an outstanding student. Right."

"Tell that to my mother."

He rustled around on my bed for a bit, probably rooting around for food like some malnourished pig. "Did you skip class again this week?"

I swiveled my chair to face him. "I don’t skip classes, Colton. I go to therapy.”

He rolled his eyes and made quotation marks with his fingers. “‘Therapy.’ You mean hiding behind the gym. Just wait until your parents find out that you’re not seeing the psychiatrist any more. Heads will roll, and I will no longer have a free pizza source."

“They won’t find out.” I made sure of that. I just had to field all the calls from the office or mom would truly explode. I didn’t mind. It gave me yet another reason not to leave the house.

He pulled his head out of my backpack. "Fine, whatever. Just give me some food already." He flashed his creamed coffee eyes at me, desperate. "Please. I'm starving."
"There are children in Africa who'd like to differ," I said, tossing a slice at his head. "Just don't get any on the sheets. Mom will kill you--and I will too."
I turned back to my empty essay as he tore into the pizza with happy sighs and somewhat graphic moans. A headache simmered back the back of my eyes, and I wished I could close them--just for ten minutes. A nap would be nice.
"Hey, Matt?" I jumped again. Colton Trelawney’s voice was a freak of nature. From the day we turned twelve, he went full baritone--but with a twist. My little sister once described it as Oscar the Grouch meets Darth Vader on steroids. I liked to think he sounds like a chronic smoker who lucked out on the attractive nicotine stains and throat cancer. Either way, every time he opened his mouth, people stared.

 
"What is it?"

He sputtered for a moment, having a hard time pulling the words out. I almost turned around, but he was no longer chewing loudly. An ominous still settled. The hairs on my neck stood up as the silence wrapped its foreboding arms around me.

Something was wrong.



Finally, he swallowed whatever kept his words back. I prayed to whatever god that bothered to listen that it was just pizza.  “Matty…”

“Don’t call me Matty.” My voice was tense and frigid.

It didn’t phase him. “Have you ever thought that your parents were right to send to the doctor?”

"Excuse me?"


"I know you hate talking about this and I’m sorry." I heard him swallow audibly. "But we can’t pretend things are normal like they used to be. It's too late for that."

The tip of my pencil lead snapped as I pressed against the page suddenly. I dropped it with a clatter and turned around, folding my arms defensively across my chest. "This is the new normal, Colt. You know that."


"Then the new normal sucks." He wheezed out a laugh. "It's a Friday night. I haven’t seen you all week, except at school. You never come over to my place these days. I haven’t seen you eat a full meal in weeks. You look tired and on the verge of breaking d--"

“You can stop now,” I said calmly. Inside, I burned, but I stayed cool where it counted--where he could see me. His eyes followed me anxiously, like endless pools of fear and concern. I stayed frozen. “This is how it is now. Accept that.”
There’s nothing I can do to change it, I screamed at him.

He didn’t hear me.


“It didn’t use to be like this,” he murmured.

 
"It’s always been like this, Colton." I kept my words flat and emotionless, and his eyes widened when he realized I was pissed at him. He sat up in bed, dusting pizza crumbs off his shirt and onto the covers. My irritation increased a decibel.
"Not weird like this," he said softly. He rested his chin on one knee and stared at me. "You've always been a little introspective, but we always balanced you out--though I don’t think I had much to do with it."

 
“Shocker there.”


He glared at me and I knew I had gone too far. “Will you quit with this sarcastic and independent act? I know you’re still hurting, and that’s normal, but can’t you at least see that you need help? You don’t talk about that night, ever, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say his name."

“This conversation is over now.” I stood and walked to the door, yanking it open. “You can leave.”

Please don’t leave me.


At least when he was here, I didn’t have to keep the music turned up so loud so the voices didn’t start again. At least I could meet his eyes and know that this was real.



I knew it was real because it hurt far too much.

His jaw tightened. "Fine then," he said quietly. “Finish your homework, and then go to sleep." He stood up and brushed the crumbs off the covers without looking at me. “God knows you need it. I'll talk to you tomorrow.”

“Right.” I had thirteen unopened text messages from him, seven missed phone calls, and four voicemails I would never listen to. He wasn’t talking to me tomorrow. Not unless he showed up at my door.

Which we both knew he would.

We made eye  contact as he passed by my desk. His dark circles dragged just as far as mine did. A purple-gray vein pushed out by his temple. He looked exhausted. Did he have voices that haunted him too? Or was he afraid to fall asleep because of what might happen while his eyes were closed?

I had so many things I wanted to ask, but none of the right words. So I just nodded. “Later,” I scraped out.

He flashed a weak smile. “Yeah.”

And then he was gone. I heard his feet thump down the hallway, stopping in the living room where my parents were. His otherworldly voice echoed through the house, and I wondered what they were talking about.

Me, probably.

I robotically lowered myself into my chair, staring blankly at the empty page. I had even less words than before.

And the headache began.



11 comments:

  1. This was well written,sad, and deep. The only thing I can think to say for some reason is. Colton eats pizza just like me.

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    1. thank you! :) I wish I could eat pizza, but I like to live vicariously through my characters so it works out in the end. :D

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  2. You really inspire me to write. Like, seriously. <3

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    1. thank you, dear. <3 glad you're blogging again; can't wait to see what you've got to say. ^.^

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  3. I wanted to read this story before but never this bad. I really want it now

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    1. thank you for that, Jack, because it motivates me to actually edit this mess of a novel! XD

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  4. Very emotional and you describe things beautifully. ^ ^

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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  5. I looove this. Matt. Actually. He kills my heart. Also it's beautiful (as usual).

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