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Authors: Ashley King

Claire's Song

BOOK: Claire's Song
5.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

















Claire's Song




Ashley King




























Text copyright  ©2013 Ashley King

All Rights Reserved













For my students who have faced down the bullies and won.


































             The hallways of Briarmont High are my own personal hell. Each time I park my piece of crap car in the parking lot I curse Jamie for leaving me here, alone.  I hate him, but at the same time, I miss him so much it hurts. The memory of his messy black hair slices into my heart; his rare smile furthers the job and bleeds me dry. My chest rises faster with each thought of him, each moment spent together and I feel the familiar panic begin to bubble up, the pressure of the walls quickly closing in. I try to stop and breathe in deep, just like my therapist told me to do. It almost works, but then I catch a glimpse of the tattoo on my wrist--his initials--and I know everything is not fine.

            "Watch out freak!" a huge jock grunts, bumping into me so hard that I slam right into the stale green lockers. The impact shakes my fragile bones and shatters everything, bringing me back to the present. Snickers erupt and even though I try to avoid eye contact, I can still see them pointing at me as I attempt to right myself. Everything blurs together as a watery film forms over my gaze. I will not cry. Not here. Not in front of them. They aren't worthy of my tears.

            "You should've seen her little skeletal face," the head of my personal tormenting crew cackles as I race down the hallway. They know nothing. They have no idea what I’ve been through or the guilt they’ve branded on my heart. When I’m almost to my first period class, I turn around just in time to see Lindy Baker with her perfectly styled blonde hair and designer purse reenacting my shove into the lockers. Everyone around her pauses, their eyes glued to me as I walk through the classroom door. As soon as I’m out of earshot they all burst into a cacophony of sound. I dig my nails into the palm of my hand hard enough to draw blood, the pain sharp enough to elicit a gasp as I slip into my seat. In every class I sit in the back, not wanting to draw attention to myself. That was always Jamie's thing, too. I look over to the seat beside me and sigh. That would've been his. As I'm staring and trying hard not to break down in the middle of the classroom, a tall boy slides into the seat. He doesn't look at me at first and I don't remember him from anywhere. His chestnut hair is shaggy, covering his eyes and curling wildly at his neck. He straightens his faded black hoodie and then pulls up the sleeves revealing thick leather bands on each wrist. My eyes narrow as I inspect them. No one's held my interest in a long time and I wonder what it is about this guy that makes me want to keep looking, to know what he's hiding from.















            Crap. She keeps staring at me. No one's really looked at me in years. I’m used to the looks of disgust, but not the keen interest that this girl’s got going on. Of course I know who she is. She's Claire Watkins. I don't think her high school career has been any better than mine judging by the crap I heard some girls saying when I walked in the classroom. Everyone pretended to feel sorry for Claire last year when that guy she always hung out with died. But they quickly moved on, because that's what humans do. We are fickle creatures and I spend too much time thinking about the sincerity of it all. Frankly, I don't even want to be here. I would've dropped out two years ago when I was of age, but being here means I'm not a punching bag for my douche of a stepdad and my alcoholic mother. It's a laugh riot when you come home to find that they’ve pawned your guitar for the fourth time.

            Claire's still watching me. She shouldn't be watching me. I'm no one.
Her eyes have been on my leather bands for what feels like hours. Can she see what's beneath them? My hands fidget around them, making sure their placement hasn't changed. I should do something. Sweat starts beading at my forehead. I don't like the way she won't take her eyes off of me, like I'm an animal at the zoo.

            "Find something else to stare at," I snap. My eyes are partially shielded by my hair, but I can still take in how pretty she is. Her perfect mouth forms a little "o" and her green eyes widen. She says nothing as she turns away, a blush running down her cheeks and into her neck. I'm a grade A a-hole, but I can't afford to care, not anymore. But as I watch her fingers run through her short jet black hair, I find myself wanting to say something about her Taking Back Sunday shirt, to apologize, to ask her what's up with that tattoo on her wrist. But I don't. I turn and face the front, because I'm too tired to do anything else.










            I feel like an idiot the entire class and can't get out the door fast enough when the bell rings. I finally figured out who I was staring at and then he snapped at me. Everyone talks about Ryder Andrews when they aren’t too busy debating whether I'm a.) anorexic b.) a Satan worshipper c.) poison to all of those around me d.) a lesbian. Ryder was a cool kid once upon a time until he fell from grace. And it was more than just a fall; his descent was really a full-face plant tumble down the rockiest cliff. He had it all, a big house, a mom and dad, a beautiful popular girlfriend who won't even look at him twice these days. Everything came crashing down at the end of ninth grade. I still felt real then, felt alive. I had Jamie and in turn, I had everything.

            The hallway suffocates me as I race for my second period class. Why do I even care? I could race through the rest of my high school year and it wouldn't really matter. Nothing matters and one day everyone will realize that.

            "There goes the anorexic tramp," Lindy calls and it's obvious from the proximity of her voice that she's gaining on me.

            Truth be told, I just don't have it in me, and I don't quite understand what she gets out of torturing me, other than making herself feel better. But her words crawl onto my skin and into my mouth, burning like acid the entire way down.

            Anger churns in my stomach as I whirl around on her, "Last week I was simply anorexic and now I'm an anorexic tramp? That's fan-freaking-tastic, Lindy. What'll it be next week? No, wait. Don't tell me, I’ll be a devil worshipper then, right?" The words come out sounding chirpy and unaffected, but they do not reflect how I feel inside.

            Lindy glares at me, clearly bested at her own game, and then her lips curl up slowly into a smile. I know that smile so very well and have come to loathe it. She taps a perfectly manicured finger on her chin, "Actually next week I'll make sure everyone thinks you're a lesbian." She says it with such malice that I can almost see the words frothing and foaming as they leave her mouth.

            I huff. This is not new either. "Are you worried about competition with the boys?" I manage a smile as I flip her off and turn around, smacking right into a solid chest. My books crash to the floor.

            "Oomph," I hear and then familiar leather clad wrists come out to steady me, gently resting beneath my elbows. The contact is strange and I can't decide if I like it or not. It's been a year since anyone's touched me. My own mother doesn't even hug me anymore. Work is more important. Pretending to be okay is more important.

            "I-I'm so sorry," I mumble as I look up to see my victim.

            It's Ryder, his hair pushed away from his eyes in the rarest of moments and I'm struck by how gorgeous they are. His blue eyes are so light, a perfect complement to his darker hair, but how is it that at the same time, they appear so dead and vacant? So familiar too?

            "You okay?" he asks as he kneels next to me, helping to gather my books.

            "The two rejects find each other, how hilarious!" Lindy giggles as she walks by, kicking one of my books clear down the hall.

             It takes everything I have not to go after her, but what would I do? I'm not a violent person. Jamie used to laugh at me for being such a pacifist.           

            "Don't worry about her. She's just an evil bitch," Ryder says as he grabs the rest of my stuff.

            "I'm really sorry for bumping into you," I apologize again, when I really want to apologize for staring at him like a loser during first period.

            But as always, my mouth stays shut. Would I have been able to talk to Jamie, to tell him how I really felt about him had I not been such a coward?
No. No, don't think about that now, it'll rip you apart.
But it's too late, because Jamie's handsome, shockingly perfect face dances into my memory, gorgeous mocha colored eyes that could mimic a puppy dog if the situation warranted it. His hair, black as night, was always perfectly messy, but that was Jamie though.  Jamie was just perfect. And I keep wondering how to do this without him.

            "It's not a big deal," Ryder's voice breaks through my daydream as he shoves my books at me and takes off without another word.

            The hall is mostly empty, everyone filtering into their classes and I see my lone Chem book down towards the exit doors. It's a beacon, a siren song and I go to it. Without a backwards glance, I leave, ditching classes for the first time without Jamie.
















            I was a prick to her again. She looked at me with those pretty green eyes and I just, I don't know, I felt something that I hadn't felt since ninth grade, before everything went to hell. I can't do this, not now,
not now. Things are in motion and I've decided to take my life before the year's out. Well, that is if everything goes according to plan. When I play my first and final gig, I'll do it that night. It'll be tragic and perfect, just the way I want it. Then maybe someone will be left behind to remember me, because it won't be my mom or any of the kids from school who make my day to day life torture.

            But still. Claire's eyes stick with me from class to class, from getting shoved around by one of the football players to getting cussed out by some angry girl because I ended up knocking into her. She thought I was trying to feel her up, Of course she did. That's a big thanks to Lindy Baker for spreading those lies about me.

            Those big green eyes stay with me as I pull out of the school parking and head to my trailer. The need within me to do something is mounting and my fingers begin to twitch on the steering wheel. Taking Back Sunday blasts in my ears but it doesn't help. My mind wanders to Claire's t-shirt. She must like the band too. No one in our small piece of crap town even knows who they are.  I could've talked to her about her shirt. I could've done anything but shove her books at her and then run away.

            Why do I still care? Why? I only care about my music and it's simply a means to an end. My car sputters down the dirt road, dust trailing in my wake. As the music picks up, I feel the desperation settle deep within my bones. Once I park the car, I race inside the trailer, the panic consuming me. Shelly and Donald are gone, probably to get their next shipment of drugs or to pawn off more of our stuff. Irritation won't even rise up in my veins; something entirely different slithers and sinks in. I grab the razor from my drawer and run to the bathroom. The leather straps are gone from my wrists, revealing hideous angry puckered scars. Once the blade hits my skin I can breathe again. At least for now.

BOOK: Claire's Song
5.6Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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