It’s the moment when you’re sitting on your bed feeling alone, unwanted, unloved. Feeling stupid and ugly and just so fucked up when it crashes into you a million miles per hour, smashing through your defensive thick skull that you realize; you ARE wanted and you ARE loved. That there IS someone who thinks you are smart and beautiful and so fucking special. You just now realize that because you didn’t recognize it sooner and because you denied his sweet words of devotion, you were denying his love and affection that he wishes to give to no one but you. Now you sit there feeling so bad for how much it must have hurt him to know how blind you are. How much he must want to pull you up into the light of your own perfection.
I am the creature lurking in the shadow you cast. The one who watches you sleep. The one who stalks every move you make. You believe you are a good person. Someone who does their best. Someone people can look up to. But I know you. I know how black your heart is. I know how much you desire to unleash yourself upon people. You are nothing but a leech. Living off the drama and pain of other people. You dress yourself up, wearing nice dresses and pretty make up. Batting your eyes at people, fooling them into thinking you care. You’re so good you’ve even fooled yourself. That’s what makes you so dangerous. The fact that you don’t know how bad you are. That is why I watch you. Why I admire you. You’re obliviousness to the darkness in your own soul amuses me intensely. I love it.
I might even love you.
And that is very bad for you.
The way you talk
The way you laugh
The way you walk
The way you love
The way you live
And that’s the best part
The ride back to Ken’s went as expected. I sat in the passenger seat while little Hannah, Susie, and Violet bounced all around the car. I found two wads of gum in my hair and a severed barbie head in my backpack. We got to his house and let the girls out. They all ran to the front door, fighting with each other as they waited for Ken to open it.
“Shut up Hannah, that’s my doll!”
“Not even, Susie. I got it from Violets bag.”
“You went into my bag!?” They all started to scream at each other and I stood back, watching as Ken had to maneuver himself around the cluster of violence to get to the door. Finally he got in and the girls dispersed within the large two story house. Ken went into the kitchen and I made my way to the first floor bathroom. I locked the door and sat on the toilet.
I pulled out the weed. It was all ground up into a thick line of green. I thought of smoking it, but I didn’t have anything to smoke it with. Then again, I did smoke the first batch by switching the tobacco with the weed in one of my mother’s cigarettes. If I looked hard enough I could probably find something. I don’t know why I wanted to smoke so bad. Maybe it was just the ability of being able to escape for a while. Being out of control and just flowing with it. Now that Ive had a taste of what that was like, I wanted to throw myself into it. Into a swirling storm of reactions and feelings. Getting thrown around by a chemical that muddles your brain.
“Tan, wipe your ass and get out here man!” Ken’s large fist pounded on the door and I jumped.
“Uh, yeah. Hold on.” He told me to hurry and walked away. I shoved the bag in my pocket and stood in front of the mirror. My face. My mother’s light brown eyes, my father’s sharp nose. Thin lips that were the product of them both. I sighed. Turning on the faucet I thought of my parents. My short, chubby mother. My tall, even chubbier father. Luckily I beat the fat gene. However, the tall gene hit me like a train. lanky. That word defines my body. I splashed the water on my face. My shaggy black hair was unruly as usual. I flicked off the bathroom light and waked out the door.
Ken was seated on the couch with a bowl of popcorn.
“There you are princess. Have a nice shit?”
“Why yes. Thank you for asking.” He laughed as I flopped down on the couch.
“What are we watching?”
“Saw 4. Haven’t seen it yet.” I groaned. This is another reason why coming to Ken’s house isn’t ideal. He is obsessed with horror movies. I’m not saying I don’t like them but I just don’t want to watch them every minute of every day.
My phone rang. I took it out of my pocket and stared at my mother’s name.
“You didn’t ask if you could be here?” I shook my head. Ken put up his hands.
“Good luck.” I stood and walked away.
“Tanner Jackson Malone, where are you?”
“I’m at Ken’s, mom. He is having a really hard time right now and I want to be here for him.”
“A hard time with what, Tanner?”
“His mom told him to break up with his girlfriend so he’s really torn.”
“Aww, poor baby. Fine, you can stay. We are still having that talk when you get home.”
“Yes mom, I love you.” I hung up. My mother is gullible and too caring. I should feel bad, but since I learned how to fool her from my father, I don’t. I walked back to the couch and grabbed a handful of popcorn.
“What did you tell her this time?”
“Your mom is making you break up with your imaginary girlfriend.”
“Oh no! Whatever shall I do?” We laughed and watched movies until we crashed on the couch. It was a good night. A night I would long for in my future.
Morning was less than pleasant. The girls woke us up, screaming that they would be late for school. Ken and I agreed that he would take the girls, but we would ditch. I stayed behind and showered as Ken took his sisters. The lack of clothing in my size made me wear my clothes from yesterday. I walked out into the kitchen when Ken’s dogs started to bark ferociously. I went to the backyard and tried to calm the two Saint Bernard’s.
“What’s with you two, huh?” They whined and went in the door I had accidentally left open.
“Aw shit.” I turned to go inside when I heard a thump. I turned to see someone laying face first in the dirt.
“Who are you? I will call 911!” The person pushed themselves up and faced me.
“Philip?!” He smiled sheepishly.
“Hey, Tan Man.” I opened my mouth to ask him what he was doing when shouts came from behind the wall Philip jumped. He ran to me.
“Hide me. Now. Please?” I nodded and shooed him inside, closing and locking the door behind me. I ran into the living room to see Philip frozen in the middle of the room.
“What are you-” The Saint Bernard’s Donny and Frey barked.
“Those are big dogs, man.” I called them over to me and looked at Philip. He laughed nervously.
“Didn’t know you were a dog person.”
“I’m not. They aren’t mine.”
“Who’s are they then?” Someone knocked on the front door. Philip jumped up and ran to me.
“I am not here. Please Tanner, please.” I nodded and he ran upstairs. I went to the door with the dogs at my sides and looked through the peephole. Two people stood outside, a man and a woman from what I could make out. I opened the door.
“Can I help you?” The girl smiled brightly, with what teeth she had, and shook my hand. Her stringy brown hair stood out in different directions and I saw puncture marks in the crook of her arm.
“Hi! I’m Mindy, this is Albert.” Albert grunted and crossed his meaty arms. Mindy giggled and stepped toward me. Her breath was revolting. I stepped back.
“Again, can I help you?” Mindy clapped her hands.
“Uh, yes, actually. Yes. You see, we have a friend, we have lots of friends actually, and we saw him jump over a fence. We were just wondering if it was yours.”
“No. No one jumped my fence. Sorry.” Albert pushed Mindy aside and grabbed a fistful of my shirt. The dogs growled.
“You don’t know what you’re messing with, kid. That little pussy is in serious shit.” He smelled strongly of cigarettes and pee.
“Whoever it is, they didn’t come here. Get off my property before I call the cops.” Mindy grabbed Albert’s hand.
“Well. It seems we were mistaken. Let’s go Albert, before the big scary dogs decide to make a move.” Albert grunted and walked away with Mindy. They went down to the sidewalk, turned left, and walked out of sight. Just as I was closing the door, Ken pulled up in the driveway.
The bathroom is small. The sink is old, cracked and leaking. Water drips from the crack along its bottom and lands in a puddle below. The floor is covered with toilet paper, trash and graffiti. Floor tiles are broken and stained, and you stand there clearly uncomfortable. The toilet is old, stained, and rancid. There’s no seat to sit on and you wouldn’t want to even if there was. The walls are murals of art and notes, a random hole, stain and crack here and there. There is no tub. There is no shower. You exit the bathroom and enter a bedroom which is almost worse. You feel pity at first for the people who live here, then gratefulness washes over you as you note that you don’t. The bed is old, worn and broken. The mattress sags off of the frame. Lights flicker above your head and the smell of cat pee overwhelms you. You sit on the bed and feel the hard, rough blanket beneath you. Pillows are rank with smell and stain. The floor is covered by a pink carpet, that is now dull and lifeless. Patches of carpet are stuck together with god knows what and you feel old food and trash crunch under your feet. As you look around you notice some dressers. Drawers are broken and falling out, clothes strewn all over. A tilted picture hangs on a wall, but the true art in this room are the sketches on the walls. There is no television, no technology of any kind. A cat meows and jumps onto the bed, wanting your attention. You figure why not and touch the orange feline. You immediately regret it, feeling all the ticks stuck to the animal and yank back your hand. You stand from the bed and move toward the exit, noticing a litter box which is overflowing. You gag at the smell and throw yourself out the door, so thankful this isn’t your home.
How privileged you are.
If you look out to sea, can you see the history?
Can you feel how old she is from the way she flows?
Can you feel how lonely she is from the way her emotions show?
She isn’t a monster
Seeking to destroy and cause pain
She is a soul
Lost in herself, selfish and vain
She wants to be loved
Not used for our means
She wants to be loved
Because that’s all that she dreams
That night stayed with me for a while. I had walked back to the park, laughed with my friends, and gone back to Tommy’s. I didn’t tell them about Philip or the pot. I guess I felt as if what happened was a tiny piece of glass. A piece of glass that would shatter in an instant or slice an artery. A few days passed. I had smoked the weed in one afternoon while my parents were out. It was my first time so I spent the whole time panicking. Yes, I did actually believe I would die. It was my first time, don’t judge. Anyway, all in all I had liked the way it made me feel. So, I went back to Philip.
It was two weeks after my birthday and just so happened to be a Monday. School. I got up, did the whole bathroom portion, then went back to my room to find my mother sitting on my bed.
“Tenner, I need to talk to you.”
“Mom, come on. I’ve got to get ready.” She stood up and put her hands on my shoulders.
“Please sweetheart?” Her eyes were big, brown mushy piles of emotion.
“Fine, but if you and dad are getting a divorce I’m going to have a mental breakdown.” She laughed at that.
“No no, honey. I just, well, we haven’t really gotten to talk about the fact that this is your Senior year and-” I waved my hands in front of her face and made grunting noises that clearly showed that there was no way in hell I was talking about this. She threw up her hands and sighed.
“Fine. Fine! But you mister are going to sit with your father and I this afternoon and have a serious talk about it! I mean it!” I shooed her out.
“Yes mom, okay!” I shut the door. I groaned and went to my closet, grabbed clothes for today and tomorrow. I love my parents, I do, but I am not going to deal with my mother crying and my father yelling for three hours. I’ll sleep at Tommy’s tonight. My alarm went off. The time read 7:30.
“Aw shit, I’m late.”
I got to school around eight and decided to skip the rest of first. It was halfway over anyway, so why bother. I went to the bathrooms and sat in the handicapped stall. I took out a book and got three pages in before I heard them come in. Someone kicked open the door and laughed.
“Dude, did you see that?” It was a deep, husky voice. Some dumb jock overly pleased with himself.
“Yeah. Congratulations.” That voice. That one was familiar. The two people walked in front of the mirrors. I looked through the crack in the stall and saw his face. Philip’s face.
“Okay, five bucks a pill.”
“Five bucks? Last time it was only three.”
“Yeah, well last time I had a lot more so. Pay up, meat head.”
“I can crush you, Trape. Remember that.” Philip laughed.
“Of course, George. How could I forget when you so kindly remind me every time we meet.” George pulled out a fifty and exchanged it for a baggy of pills. George smiled.
“Thank you for the business.” George grunted and lumbered out of the bathroom. Philip stood there for a moment before turning to the mirror and meeting my eyes.
“Come on out, Tanner.” My heart stopped for a second. How long did he know I was there? I put my book back in my bag and walked out. I smiled sheepishly.
“Rule number one of selling in a bathroom, check under the stalls for feet. Next time, crouch on the toilet.”
“Oh yeah, well, yeah. Sorry.” Philip put a cigarette in his mouth and looked at me.
“Do you know what I just sold him?”
“I saw some pills. Don’t know what kind.” Philip lit the cigarette and inhaled deeply. I shuffled nervously under his gaze. He blew the smoke into my face and smiled.
Coughing I asked, “Won’t the smoke detectors go off?”
“Nope, not these ones. Disable them at the beginning of every year. Fuckers fix ‘em over the summer.”
“Ah.” Philip nodded.
“They were oxy’s.” My face revealed my confusion and he chuckled. “Pain pills. Get you nice and high for a few hours.”
“Ah.” I nodded like I had a clue of what he was talking about.
“What about you, Tanner? Would you like some oxy?”
“Uhm, no. No. I would like some more pot though. I kind of liked it.” Philip laughed and inhaled his cigarette one last time before putting it out in the sink.
“You have to pay this time, remember?”
“Oh, yeah.” I pulled out a twenty and handed it to him. “I don’t know how much this will buy me, but here.” Philip took the bill and fished around in his bag.
“It’ll buy you a lot more than last time. I only gave you a five then.” I smiled, again clueless. Philip pulled out a sandwich bag with weed inside.
“Well, yes. That is a lot more.” Philip laughed again and handed it to me.
“There you go. Its the same stuff you had last time so, you’ll be fine.” I nodded. Philip readjusted his bag and turned the sink on to wash away the ashes.
“Did you do that heroin? From the other night?” Philip looked down at the sink and played with the cigarette butt. He pinched it with his fingers and brought it to his face. He looked at me.
“No. I sell. A drug dealer who does his own merchandise is a shitty one.” He threw the butt over my head. I turned to see it land in the trash.
“Oh, okay. I was just wondering.” Philip slapped my chest.
“Come back anytime, Tan Man.” He walked out of the bathroom. I looked at the bag and sighed. This is the start of something, I know it is. The bell rang and pulled me out of my daze. I shoved the bag in my pocket and ran to second period.
Lunch. I searched for my group, wading through a sea of hormonal teenage bodies. At last, seated at our usual place, I found my three friends at the back of the cafeteria. I sat next to Molly and pulled out my lunch. Not feeling like joining the conversation, I just listened and ate.
“You’re an idiot. Batman can and will completely decimate Spiderman. He’s just a prancy little boy in a red leotard.” Ken laughed. Tommy was so red he looked like a tomato. That wasn’t hard for him though, he was white as snow. His blonde hair and blue eyes didn’t help much either.
“Shut up! Batman is just a glorified cop!”
“At least he isn’t a prepubescent brat who squirts jizz out of his hands!”
“They are webs! Tan, help me here.” Everyone’s attention was turned to me and I just stared back.
“Uhm, yeah, so, can I sleep at your place tonight?” Tommy looked surprised, then annoyed.
“Not tonight man, my parents are taking me to see a ballet.” Molly snorted.
“Gunna prance around like Spidey?” Tommy yelled and slammed his tray.
“That’s it! I’m done!” He grabbed his bag and stormed off. Ken and Molly laughed for a while more.
“Good job, now he’s going to go into cardiac arrest.”
“Ah, he’ll be fine. Why do you want to crash at his place?” I took another bite of my sandwich and looked at Molly.
“My parents want to have a ‘future plans’ talk with me.” She crumbled up her face and went back to eating the school lunch. I think it was supposed to be enchilada’s. It smelled more like dog food.
“You can crash at my place. My mom is gone all this week.”
“Thanks.” Ken’s dad had died when he was young, so it was just him, his mom and his three little sisters. His mom works in real estate so she’s always traveling. Nice bonus for Ken, except for his snot nosed brat sisters. They are the only reason I don’t like to go over. It’s not just that they are little kids or that they’re girls, it’s because they are evil. Ken once had one of his girlfriends stay the night while his mom was gone, and while the girlfriend slept the sisters shaved her head. Shaved it completely bald. I thought it was hilarious, up until they did it to me my freshman year. I am not an attractive guy. There is an exact look that makes me not so bad, and bald is not it.
“Hope you two have fun sword fighting.” Ken and Molly started to bicker and I tuned out. I thought of the weed in my pocket. I thought of Philip pulling out the heroin that night. I wonder, just wonder, what it’s like to do heroin. Just what exactly you feel.
The bell rang. I packed up my stuff and continued with the day. It went by in a blur of thoughts. The final bell rang and I waited for ken outside the school. Thirty minutes go by before he finally rolls around in the family minivan with his three demon sisters in the back. I sighed. It’s going to be a long night.
“Hand me that cork screw, will ya?”
“No.” She turned to face him.
“No?” He nodded.
“No.” She sighed and cocked her hip, gazing at him with mock anger.
“And why do you refuse, hmm?” He stood from the bar stool and went to her, pulling her to him with one, strong arm.
“No drinking tonight.”
“Why ever not?” He chuckled.
“Wine is gross. Too bitter.” She scoffed and pushed away from him.
“Fine then. No drinking.” She grabbed the wine bottle and stood on her tip toes to put it away. He moved behind her and hugged her, kissing her neck lovingly.
“I would, however, love a glass of you.”
My mother’s uneasy breath sounded throughout the room. My sister, Elwen, sat on a small chair in the corner of the room. She was asleep. My mother stirred. I was seated next to her bed, watching over her. We knew she didn’t have long. She wheezed and turned to face me, her face deathly pale.
“Quineth…” I reached for her hand. It was cold and wet, but I held it tight. She gasped and coughed, groaning from the pain. Her hair stuck to her brow and her body shook violently. I felt tears sliding down my cheek.
“She’s sleeping mother, just over there.” I motioned to my sister and mother nodded. She coughed again. Blood spilled from her lips to land on her white night gown. It was almost time. She pulled me toward her and I got up from the floor to sit on the edge of her bed. She coughed again and curled her body into mine. My vision was blurry from tears.
“Shh, mother, shh. It’s alright, you’ll be alright.” She pushed away from me and tried to sit up. She was slanted on the pile of pillows behind her. She looked at me.
“Quineth, stop those tears. We knew this day was coming.” I looked down and shook my head. My mother grabbed my face and turned me to face her.
“I will die soon. You must promise me you will protect your sister.” I glanced at the sleeping figure and looked back at mother.
“I…” I nodded. She gripped my face with surprising strength.
“Say it. I need you to say it.”
“I promise, mother.” She smiled. Her hands dropped and she looked up.
“I love you, Quineth. Your father will be angry, that I’ve passed. He will take it out on you.” She looked at me. “You’re strong enough to leave. You’re strong enough to take your sister.” Tears slid down her cheeks. “I’m so sorry to leave you here.” She held my hand tightly. I said nothing. She smiled at me once more, and I felt her hand go limp. Her eyes lost their life, and she passed.
“I love you, mother.” I crossed her hands over her chest, went to gather my sleeping sister in my arms, and left my mother.
Raindrops fall on my heart
as the sun comes out
The clouds move apart
I start to feel doubt
The sky is so beautiful
as it shines with all its might
It makes me cheerful
as the day turns to night
The stars take over the sky
as the moon is their mother
With all my might I could fly
I find myself another
I could stay up there forever
we will always stay together
– Written by Maggie Rayne’s childhood