Language warning, again. Hey, teenagers. What are you gonna do?
Steven Badgett and Dustin York.
Counting all the way one two three four and he got to eight before the foot came.
"So little Sethiekins has a protector now, huh?"
He stared down at Steven's shoes.
"You don't have a chance in hell with her, boy."
The cement was white and the shoes were black.
"I wouldn't break up with my right hand just yet if I were you."
Black. White. Black. White.
"Go **** yourself, Steven."
He heard Dustin's indrawn breath.
"Why are you so mean to me, Sethiekins? I'm just your friendly neighborhood bully. Probably got a bad home life. Bad self esteem. I just want attention. I just want a hug but my father, he never gives me one."
Steven stood up. The shoes moved.
"Come on, give us a hug."
The shoes came closer.
"Aww man, no hug?"
The shoes were almost touching his.
"So anyway, I got a question."
Black. White. Black. White.
"Tell me something, Sethiekins., if I was on fire, would you save me? Would you?"
He slammed his fist into Steven's solar plexus. Steven doubled over and Seth grabbed his shoulders and forced his head down. He brought his knee up hard and felt something crunch.
Steven stumbled backwards. Blood gushed from his nose. Seth pushed him down and jumped on him and his arms were hate and his fists were justice and the cement was red.
He brought his fists down again and again. The fire roared around him, white and orange and yellow and red, and his skin cracked and bubbled and turned black and fell away.
"All right, break it up! Break it up!"
Someone was yelling and there were arms around him and he was being dragged away from the flames.
He stopped struggling. She was there, standing next to Dustin as he helped Steven up.
Her eyes were blue and he was red and he wanted to tell her he was okay, he had stood up for himself, but no words came and then he was being dragged off to the principal's office.
He said the word to himself, tasting its flavor.
He was sitting on the floor in the hall, waiting for his mother. The hall was empty and he was alone and he glowed and hummed or was that the drink machine? He stared at it. It sat opposite him and there was the red label of the bottle and the blue and white of the ice and he remembered the feeling of Steven's face under his fists and he smiled.
He heard shoes clacking on the floor and then there she was. His mother. Here to pick him up.
He looked up at her and her forehead creased and he stood up and shrugged his bookbag on to his shoulders. He followed her to the doors, where she stopped and turned around.
"He asked me if I would save him if he was on fire."
She sighed and her shoulders caved in on themselves. She opened the door and they went out and the cement sparkled white in the sun and it wasn't red, not here, and they got in the car.
The glow and the hum had disappeared. He gazed out the window, counting the telephone poles. One two three four.
They pulled in the driveway and she turned the car off and then she spoke.
"Look, Seth, I know it's hard. You know Jane, at work? Her sister died in the fire and she thinks that it should have been me and she's not shy about it. And believe me, sometimes I just want to haul off and hit her. But you can't do that, okay?"
He wanted to say "But I can do it and I did it and I would do it again and Caitlyn said I should" but he didn't. He didn't say anything.
She sighed again and they went in the house and he was almost to his room when she said "We're going to visit your father this weekend."
The cement was white and the shoes were black.
He went in his room and slammed the door.
I am deep into the draft of 10.04, so this won't be a long entry.
I just wanted to say...this is the reason. This is the point. This is the joy and the love and the ecstasy.
It's just me and the words and the letters and the draft and the words are starting to show themselves to me, starting to shape themselves into images with meaning that I didn't see at first, that I couldn't see until I'd chipped enough away from the slab of blank page.
When it's like this, when everything is white and light and beautiful, the stats page doesn't matter. The comments don't matter. The trolls don't matter. None of it matters. That's all...that's all on the outside. It's thin and it's superficial and it's not real and it doesn't matter.
What matters....what matters is the beauty. What matters is the words. What matters is the music. The rest of it - the rest of it fades off into the darkness and all I can see is the story. All I can see is Seth and his plants and the sun and his shears and Caitlyn coming up behind him.
I must be as perfect as I can be at this moment. In the past I didn't know as much and in the future I will learn more. The words have to be as perfect as they can be here, now. This perfectionism is not self-hatred. This is not distorted thinking. This is not ugliness and hate and tears in the night.
This is sacred.
Here's the second part - which omg, posting these here is good because it makes me see where I failed and what I need to fix before posting for real.
Warning - there is some cursing. Censored, but still.
He lay on his bed in the dark, staring up at the glowing stars dotted across his ceiling.
His chest rose and fell, rose and fell. One two one two he counted, and it seemed to him that the movement did not belong to him, that he was somewhere else. Something else.
He was a moon, marked with waterless seas. He was a planet, the dark chasing the light as he rotated round and round. He was a star, glowing on someone else's ceiling.
He lay on his bed in the dark. His skin ached.
The tiny stars above him grew brighter and wavered and fell one by one until finally, finally, he curled up and slept.
Seth's nose wrinkled as he stood in the lunch line.
He hadn't wanted to come to school today. He'd wanted to stay in his bed, where no one bothered him. But his mother had creased her forehead at him and spoken in low worried tones and he was pretty sure he'd heard her on the phone with her therapist, so when the bus came he was there waiting.
He paid for his slice of reheated pizza and was on the way to his table when Paul appeared in his path.
"Why'd you leave yesterday, man?"
"Had places to be."
"You can't let those guys do that to you. You gotta stand up to them."
"I'm fine. I can handle myself."
He stared past Paul, counting the tables in front of him. One two three four. His table was the fourth one. He had exciting plans for lunch today. They included the alchemy book, some note cards, and a hatred that burned with the fire of a million fusion reactions in the hearts of a million stars.
"You want to sit with us?"
Paul's voice cut into him, dragging him back into his skin. He was dry and cracked and he could not speak.
"Hey, whatever man. It's cool. I was just asking 'cause Caitlyn."
Seth looked up. Three tables to the right from where he sat, so one two three four one two three and there she was.
She was looking at him. She was waving. She was smiling.
He put his reheated pizza down on the table and slid into the seat next to her.
She smelled like raspberries and cotton and freshly mowed grass and he wanted to run away. She had seen him yesterday. She had known.
She had touched his knee.
Voices swirled around his ears, swelling and breaking and receding. He should probably try to listen, join in, seem normal, like he belonged here at her side. What did normal people talk about? He didn't think her friends would be interested in herbs and tinctures..
Paul was talking.
"So hey, are we going to the lake this weekend?"
"I don't know, it's supposed to rain."
"Scared of a little rain? Come on, it'll be fun."
"Maybe. Depends on how Mom is doing."
Caitlyn turned away from Paul and looked at him.
"I bet this is pretty boring for you, huh? We're not exactly the intelligentsia here." She smiled. "Learned that word in world history today."
"Oh no, it's cool. Definitely better than biology homework." She was talking to him and somehow he'd found words that made sense and he had said them in an audible tone of voice. He was very proud.
"That's good to hear. Yesterday, after those guys beat you up..."
She had known. He hadn't really thought about that until now. Yesterday she'd been there with her hair and her voice and his boat had disappeared and he had been distracted and she'd touched his knee and it had all washed over him but now, here, he needed to know.
"How did you know...about that?"
"Paul told me. I saw him outside the bathroom and he told me what happened and I came looking for you."
The voices were silent. Everyone had heard. Everyone knew.
He slid his chair back and stood up.
"I don't need your pity. I don't need to be saved. I'm not a ****ing charity case."
Caitlyn gaped at him, her eyes wide.
"I didn't mean that!"
"I'll be in the library. If you feel like playing savior to lost little boys, don't."
He picked up his tray, turned, and walked to the trash can. His lungs heaved. She had taken all his oxygen.
Whatever. He only needed hydrogen to glow.
Voices trickled down the row of tables.
"Man, Callie, you sure ****ed that up."
"Don't worry about it, he's a creep anyway. Did you see the way he was looking at you?"
Laughter lapped at his heels. He threw his tray in the trash and shoved through the cafeteria doors.
He wasn't running away. He wasn't. He'd told her he'd be in the library. He’d go and ask Mrs. Cain if The Golden Crucible had come in yet. Caitlyn could come find him if she wanted.
But did he want to be found?
He changed course and turned left, going outside to the picnic tables.
Someone else was already there.
The hands closed on him again, pulling him back from the drain and its dream of deliverance.
"Hey, Dustin, check it out. It's little Sethiekins.”
I do plan on eventually posting my stuff in the Review Room, once I've been here a while and have done some reviewing myself. But until then, this will do.
This is the first update of what could possibly end up as quite a long story. The main character is the villain of my Sims 3 story Valley -but here he is a 15 year old sophomore.
Reading over it - I think rewrites are called for before posting it for review. I need to basically redo the scene with Caitlyn - I'm bothered by a lot of that dialogue.
The universe was white, silent, cracked. He counted ten cracks, ten faults in the perfection of time and space, before the hands on his shoulders yanked him away from the wall and sent him hurtling into the hard edge of a sink.
He wanted to be a drop of water. He wanted to fall into the basin and slip down its drain. He wanted to disappear.
One two three four. The hands closed on him again, pulling him back from the drain and its dream of deliverance. The sink fell away and space was white and time was black and the stall doors were breathing in and out, in and out or maybe it was him.
His legs refused to listen to his plea to keep him upright, to keep his pride intact, to at least avoid the puddle in front of the middle stall. He hit the floor and a thousand points of pain lit up in his knees and he could feel the water soaking through his khakis and it must be mixing with blood but he wouldn't think about that, not now.
He stared at the floor tiles. They moved and changed places and sometimes he thought he saw two floors and sometimes there wasn't a floor at all. He squinted, trying to make the tiles stay still so he could count them one two three four and then he saw a glint under the stall door to his left.
He made out the fuzzy apparition of his glasses. Vision. Sanity. A floor that would stay still and not duplicate itself. His glasses promised all these things and so he got up on his hands and knees and crawled towards them, counting all the way one two three four and he got to eight before the foot came.
The door opened.
"What the hell?”
"What are you guys doing?"
He recognized the voice. Paul Sullivan. Star student. Captain of the soccer team. All around red blooded American boy.
Nothing was real and everything was black and he couldn't take this, couldn't take someone seeing. He stood up, fought down a rush of nausea, and walked in the general direction of his glasses. He bent down and patted the floor until his fingers closed on them. He slid them on and the world came into focus.
He could count the floor tiles now. They lay white and still but his eyes were drawn to the spaces between, the gray spaces with years of dirt and soap ground into them.
He followed the lines of gray and measured the squares they made until his bookbag appeared. It stood in the corner, blue and black and solid. He walked past the three boys and picked it up. He imagined swinging the bag at their faces. He smiled at the idea of busted lips and bleeding noses.
He met Paul's eyes. The smile faded and the nausea came again. He swallowed it back, shrugged the bookbag on his shoulders, and went out the bathroom door.
He was running as he left the building.
He shoved the door open and stumbled outside. The concrete sidewalk was painfully bright in the afternoon sun.
He slung his bookbag to the ground and sat down by the wall, the bricks warm and solid behind him. He closed his eyes and fell into a half-waking dream of a boat on a still and silent sea.
"Hey Seth, you okay?"
"Dude, I know the biology quiz today was rough, but I didn't think it was that rough."
Dark clouds appeared on the horizon and a wind started up.
She was blocking out the sun and stirring up the waves.
"All right, if you say so. So...biology, huh? I bet you aced the quiz. Smart quiet guy and all."
She moved. The sun shone on him again and he tried to find that calm ocean with the gently rocking boat, but it was gone.
He opened his eyes.
"See, me, I'm not quiet."
She sat down next to him and the wind became a hurricane. He sat up and crossed his legs, suddenly very aware of the stain on the left leg of his pants.
"You're going to get into a great college. You're going to be somebody, you know? Find the cure for cancer or some ****."
Why was she talking to him? Why had she noticed him? Some response seemed to be called for. He didn't want her to think he was staring at her hair.
A red older model car pulled up to the curb. Caitlyn reached out, patted his knee, and stood up.
"Hey, don't mind those guys, all right? They're just stupid jackasses. Also, tip for the future. Sometimes it's okay to say you're not fine."
She got into the car and he watched it drive off.
Biology. Biology. He pulled his biology book out of his bookbag and slid Practical Alchemy: An Introduction from its hiding place behind the back cover. He was deep into the chapter detailing the process of a basic spagyric tincture when his mother pulled up.
He shoved the alchemy book back into hiding, zipped up his bookbag, and threw it in the backseat. He buckled himself into the passenger seat, praying that she wouldn't notice. Don't let her notice. Please don't let her notice.
"Good God Seth, what happened to you?"
His prayers were never answered.
"Nothing. I'm fine."
"Are you sure? Look, I know..."
"No, it's fine."
He stared out the window, watching the gas stations and the stores and the houses go by. He tapped his finger on the car door one two three four each time they went by a telephone pole.
He was fine. He was.
One two three four.
Separate names with a comma.