Saturday, February 16, 2013

Immortal, Chapter One

"Oh my god! Get the fuck out of bed you worthless piece of shit!" were the first words Timothy heard as his eyes peeled open to let in a painful flood of brilliant light. He groaned as he rolled onto his side, not yet capable of forming actual words. Something rocked the side of his bed, and he felt the ground beneath him shaking as though an earthquake had struck. Another stream of curses rushed from Reggie's mouth as the shaking stopped. Mumbling, he rubbed at his eyes, trying to pull away remnants of sleep. Pain exploded in the side of his head; his ear went numb. What little vision he had gained while waking was now lost to a dizzying array of reds and white. Then it was black, but that slowly faded into blurred reality and the mess of a bedroom before him slowly came to life. He looked to the side where he thought he had felt something hit the bed after he had lost sight. Resting in a crater of ruffled blankets sat a large plastic firetruck with a ridiculous cartoon face. Its eyes spun in a circle and it giggled as the overenthusiastic voice began singing the alphabet, each corresponding letter on his side lighting up as its name was called.

"Now!"

"Yes, Mother," he said bitterly. Timothy hated calling her "mom," "mother," or anything similar, feeling that "Reggie"—the name she had been given thirty-three years ago by her own mother—would suffice for this woman who had not earned her title. She gave him an urgent glance, both eyelids slanted but one green eye popped open maniacally wide, before spinning around and stomping out of the room leaving a trail of cusses and curses behind her. He waited until the clip-clop of her heels descended the stairs and her cusses were accompanied by the names of his siblings before he moved. He quickly pulled on a pair of jeans, clipping the belt just a little to the side. A black t-shirt fell over his body, and despite the fact that it was a warm spring day, he pulled a heavy hooded sweatshirt over that. He never went out in only a t-shirt. They were not sufficient enough to hide the scars that crisscrossed his arms.

It came as no surprise when he found his dresser drawer to be empty except for the small family of wood mites that had taken up residence inside. Thinking little of it, he matched a pair of brown and gray socks off the floor and tugged them over his toes. The pair of black sneakers that often sat in a corner by the door were torn and shredded both inside and out, but his feet found them familiar and comfortable. He glanced at himself in the mirror and frowned disapprovingly. A tuft of his black hair was sticking up defiantly on one side of his head, and a streak of white lint coated the shoulder of his hoodie. He sighed and tried to remember why he bothered to get out of bed in the morning.

He did this every moring for as long as he could remember, and up until two months ago he'd never figured out an answer. Then, back in late February, fate came to him by the name of Melissa Spring. Timothy had never bothered searching for a girlfriend before, he figured that with his life's glorious track record he'd be left more hurt than when he started, or possibly simply rejected from the start. But there was something about Melissa that he couldn't stand to be away from, something that made him think it would be all right, she'd never hurt him. He'd spent the first week of their relationship fortifying himself against the inevitable farewell, but it never came. Reluctantly he'd crawled out of his tower into the open, feeling for the first time in his life completely safe in her arms.

A smile had found its way onto his lips as he had become lost in fantasy, but even when the dream had ended and reality returned he was determined not to let it slip from his face. It was rare that he should make such an expression and he was going to enjoy it for as long as life would allow. Unfortunately that was not a very long time at all. Timothy was hardly out into the hall when Reggie's voice crashed off the walls. He wasn't sure who she was yelling at, but he was certain that he'd wanted no part of it. Desparingly he trudged through the cluttered hall and down the stairs, the old wood screaming defiance under his feet.

"Timothy, where the fuck are you? Why aren't you here yet!" Reggie screamed, turning through the doorway, nearly colliding into him. His ears hummed painfully from the sound of her voice, but he tried not to let it show. "Watch where you're fucking going! Where's your backpack?"

"I had no homework so I left it at school," he replied. It was half true, he had left it at school.

"Hurry out to the car then. Your father will drive you in after he drops off the other two."

"Their father." Timothy rushed past her and was out the door before she could yell anythig else. He didn't understand why she insisted on calling Leonard his father, he was nine by the time Reggie'd married the man.

Outside it was warm, sunny and the air smelled of spring. Small puddles had formed in patches over the pavement and across the yard, too-deep reminders of the rain from the night before. One puddle larger than the others had reached out to engulf the front tires of the little Nissan. Timothy sighed as his shoes splashed in the water, rippling rainbows from the car's oil leak.

He pulled the door open, though it gave some resistance, and tossed himself into the passenger's seat. Isabelle, his seven-year old half-sister, sat in the back seat forcing a comb through her thick hair. She looked up and scowled at him, as though he'd done something to harm her. In the driver's seat sat Leonard, a balding man in his late forties. Smoke rose away from his cigarette in large clouds. He flicked the end out the window, watched it smolder on a blade of wet grass, then reached for the pack in his pocket and slipped another between his lips.

"That's where Mike's sitting," Leonard grumbled. "Get yourself in the back."

"Michael is six, this is the death seat. He should still be in a safety chair," Timothy said, though he reached for the door handle regardless. This was a senseless debate that could not be won.

"Don't matter, it's his seat. Get in the back."

Timothy slipped out of the car, the water in the puddle soaking through his sneakers. His foot slished and sloshed in drowned socks as he made his way around the car and into the seat behind Leonard's. Isabelle glared at him as he fastened his seatbelt and leaned back in to as comfortable a position as he could, which wasn't too comfortable since his stepfather had the driver's seat all the way to the end of its track, leaving Timothy with negative leg space. He grunted at his sister, not feeling enough energy to stage a pathetic war with the girl.

Screams and shouts seeped out of the walls of the yellow house. Michael, a grimace on his small face, appeared from behind the front door. The boy stomped to the car, doing his best to look disgruntled and dangerous despite his small size, leaving a train of the curses that chased behind him. As soon as he had buckled up, Leonard twisted the key in the ignition and the foour of them slowly backed away from the house that felt very little like a home.


****************


The trip into downtown Otterston was an annoyingly trying experience, despite the relatively short amount of time it took to get there. Isabelle, still combing her raven black hair, had found it necessary to climb though the car and exit out the passenger door after Michael. She made extra sure that her foot left a very red, very muddy mark on the back of Timothy's hand.

The drive into Saugus was only slightly better. Slightly in the fact that Timothy could now ride shotgun, relieving his legs of their previously cramped and crushing cell behind his stepfather's seat. Despite the new level of physical comfort, Timothy found it rather irritating to listen to Leonard's annoying rant of gas prices, the hinderance he had caused to everyone else's schedules, and the man's own failing patience. At one point Timothy thought it would be good to mention how it wasn't his fault Otterston as too rural to afford its own high school, but he quickly pushed the urge aside.

By the time he finally reached the high school he'd completely missed his first class and half the second, which was a significant portion of the school day considering the blocked scheduling the school board had implemented the following year. At first the scheduling seemed like a good idea; more manageable schedules, and less homework, but soon Timothy learned that missing just one day of school was the equivalent tomissing two days with the old scheule, and his grades had quickly begun to decline.

Mr. Gordon, the extremely overweight egg-shaped individual who had the privilege of teaching United States History, didn't take kindly to interruptions of his lessons, especially interruptions made by a tardy student. He was leniant, however, offering Timothy the generous opportunity to choose between a few days of detention or an extremely long, handwritten essay detailing each and every fight about the Civil War.

Lunch came midway through third class, but to Timothy's dismay the cafeteria had swapped out the scheduled Hawaiian pizza for a gortesque Frankenstein macaroni monstrosity. He walked across the blue-tiled floor, past the tables of gossipping students and dirty glances. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted Jackson Gray, a blond-haired boy whom had been Timothy's best friend Freshman year. They hadn't spoken in months, not because there was any kind of falling out between them two, but because Melissa wasn't particularly fond of Jackson. Instead of risking losing her love, Timothy chose to assmlate himself into Melissa's group of friends, regretfully leaving his only companion in the past.

This new group, Melissa's group, sat at a shorter table positioned against the trophy case that served as a back wall to the cafeteria. Most of the people were ether unfamiliar or unfriendly in Timothy's mind, some of them even triggered a sort of hostility alarm in the back of his mind as he glanced over them. His unease in the midst of the group often caused him to slide into Melissa, whom sat in the center of it all, for support. Despite the dangerous glares her friends shot in his direction, just sitting up beside her, perhaps resting his chin near her neck, just the warmth brought with the contact of her soft skin made him feel completely safe.

"What's the matter?" she asked softly as he rested his head into her shoulder. Her often loud voice and melancholy tone always seemed to become quieter and more soothing when she spoke to him, and the change sent unexplcably joyous shivers down his spine. He caught a whiff of her cool breath, which still retained a hint of the mint gum she'd been chewing earlier, despite the fact that she had apparently consumed most of her macaroni.

"I'm just a little tired," he whispered back, knowing it was a lie. He would never tell her of his discomforts, not about her friends anyways. Slowly his eyes closed shut and he allowed his mind to become numb to all but her light, steady breathing and the heat that reached out to envelope him.

"Long night?"

"Not without you." He smirked, but wasn't entirely sure if she would appreciate the comment. To his relief she chuckled and set his fears to rest for another moment.

His arm slid around her back, creeping over her side and pulling her closer. He felt hers wind their way around his waist and clamp tightly around his back. They stayed like that for a while, cradling each other as best they could while seated awkwardly on the lunch table bench. Then the warmth vanished, much more quickly than it had come. Timothy's eyes snapped as Melissa's shoulder disappeared out from beneath his chin and her arms flew away from him.

Alone and suddenly cold without her touch, Timothy watched as Melissa snatched the girl beside her into a tight hug. They pretended to grope each other, discussing the imaginary but raunchy sex that had occurred the night before. He said nothn though his heart ached wth jealousy. The fear that she would leave him if he spoke against her play was too great. Quickly he turned to his lunch, and numbly ate for the remainder of the perod.


****************


There had been no other opportunities for him to see Melissa before the day ended. He had stopped by her locker after the bell had rung and waited for several minutes, nearly missing the bus, but she never arrived. His already sour mood was made worse on the bus ride home, where he was pelted by spitballs and assaulted by jeers about how good his "whore" had been in bed. By the time he stepped off the muttering vehicle into an ankle deep puddle, he'd heard every possibly "your mom" and "that's what she said" joke that could be told, as well as a number of other insults. His sweatshirt hung heavily from his shoulders, soaked by a gallon of liquid he hoped was lemonade.

The sky had filled wth clouds at some point during the day, and dark spots had begun to pepper the pavement as Timothy scraped his shoes against the grooved surface. Soon the light shower became a relentless down pour, washing away the sweet scent of spring and dripping the mysterious liquid down his face and into his mouth. It wasn't lemonade.

As the hours crawled by and the night consumed the day an unbelievable cold fell across Timothy's flesh and ate through him until it found his heart. He shivered as he ran through the day in his head, a warm tear forming in the corner of his eye. Through his bangs he caught a flimpse of his soiled hoody.crumpled into a heap in a corner of his room. He turned away, only to fnd the red firetruck staring at him. Rage surged through him and he smashed the toy against a wall, watching in disbelief as its eyes fell free of its face and its letters flicker once then fade out as the recorded voice gurbled as though drowning. For a moment Timothy sat their staring at the mess, then he broke down into tears, whispering an apology to the truck and hating himself for being so childish, so immature.

His head spun as he stumbled over to the dresser, hardly able to see more than colored streaks through his tears. Clumsily he fumbled about inside one of the drawers until his fingers brushed the jagged surface of something cold and metal. He traced the objecy one end to the other, firmly grasping where it felt thickest and yanking it out of the drawer. The dagger glinted in the light, the stone held in the dragon-hilt's claws reflecting a bright shade of red. The blade was ice cold, but as he pressed it firmly into himself he could feel warmth sliding over him. The first cut was slow and deliberate, a carefully dragged line across his vein. He watched almost in aw as scarlet flooded out of his arm, streaming down his snow skin and carrying the cold out with it. A small burn, a tingling sensation, radiated out from the wound like an electric blanket. Twice more he repeated this same deliberate stroke, hoping that he might slip too quickly and end it in a hurry. With each slice came with the promise of that tingling warmth, and soon he found it impossible to resist. The precision of his first few cuts was lost to a flurry of movements, several white lines appearing across his flesh before even one could begin to bleed.

In a matter of minutes hs arm had become a bleeding plaid design. Red ran from not just his wrist, but his entire arm, up past his elbows and into his shoulder. He fell back, dropping the dagger at his side and closing his eyes. He wanted to feel that warmth over the rest of him, to grow lost in it and never find the way out, but he knew that would not happen. He knew he had failed in that task and as he drifted off he despaired in knowing that his eyes would open again.

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