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|Current music:||"Fallin' Down" Goo Goo Dolls|
My revised Chapter 1 and Chapter 2
Here it is again, with more changes. Tell me what you all think. :P
CHAPTER ONE: He’s got you in his control.
“They’re stupid,” Julia mumbles to herself as she stares out the window of the second level high school classroom. She can see a small group of students exiting the building, with Brendan Lindor at the head of the crowd. He was an odd-looking leader with his short stature and awkward gait. Julia studies the students, they are mostly of the green hair and black clothing type, except Brendan with his light blonde hair and plain clothes. There are only ten or twelve that went through with the walk-out even though it was supposed to be school-wide. Julia remembered the conversation she overheard Brendan having with a girl yesterday while she was standing in line behind them in the cafeteria.
“Now they won’t even let us dedicate the yearbook to her!” He stated, his voice struggling to remain even.
“Who won’t let us?” asked the girl. Her big grey eyes, lined with black mascara, stared up at Brendan.
“The school…” he replied, but Julia could tell that his eyes were floating over to something no one could see, even though his back was to her.
“Whattaya mean? But what if we vote to dedicate it to her, they still won’t let us?”
“No. The yearbook hasta be dedicated to someone who is alive, the rules state it somewhere.”
“Well that’s a stupid rule. Can’t wait ‘til I’m outta this hole.”
“Well you’re not out, so whattaya say we do something? We should protest.”
“I’m with that. I’d like to see Sheryl’s face on the dedication page of the yearbook, poor Sheryl… Hey, you got tacos again?”
“Yeah…” He was silent for a moment. He had never done anything big before. Julia had never noticed him. But the image of Sheryl’s beautiful face pushed him forward, circulated hot blood through his veins, caused him to feel uncomfortable standing still. “When’s this line gonna get moving, huh?” he asked. His eyes caught Julia’s and he faced forward again. The steam was rising off his skin. He glanced down at his hands holding a cafeteria tray. There was a list of things to do scribbled on his right hand that took residence with a smiley face doodle and an ink smudge, products of yet another boring math class. He was no longer bored; he had a mission. “I think…we should organize a walk-out.”
“That’d be good,” answered the girl as she handed the cashier two rumpled bills.
“Yeah, walk-out it is. We’re gonna get everyone in the school to get up and leave at the same time. We should do it in the afternoon so we can’t make up the school day. That should prove our point. A school’s gotta have students right?”
Right, thinks Julia as she watches Brendan and a few others make their way across the street, off school grounds. How stupid can you be? This isn’t a school where this would have worked. No one will follow you; you’re a nobody, Brendan. A nobody.
Julia’s eyes narrow as she looks down at the students walking away from the school. She sighs, as she remains encaged in a hybrid desk and chair, one of many students in a row of desks. Her thoughts wander the rest of the class period until the screeching of the bell pulls her out of a trance. She is still putting her books away as everyone else is brushing past.
Brendan worked in a gourmet chocolate store at the mall. Every day he stood behind the cash register on the far side of the small store and waited for half the town to come in for their daily dosage of sugar. He started to hate the chocolate—it made him sick to his stomach now—an excess of human desire. Chocolate was a completely useless substance. He needed the money, however, so he clocked in every afternoon at 3pm.
“Guilty thoughts raid my mind
Bleeding through my soul
Nothing you will find.
Here before me—black
Here before me—cold
Something’s gone that will never come back
Something’s wrong—did you notice that?”
The lyrics from his new CD blast over the loudspeaker of the store. One good thing about his job is that he can listen to his own music when he is at the register. It is not the prime hour yet, so he stands doing nothing for about fifteen minutes when a familiar face comes through the door. None of the people at the store knew this guy’s name, but they all knew his face since he came in every day to sneak a “free sample” from the peanut butter chocolate nugget bin. He’d saunter over to the bin, as he is doing now, take a glance around the store, at which point Brendan would pretend not to notice him—he was too interested in the color of the register counter—and the man would crouch over the coveted bin of chocolate, reach a spindly pink finger into the clear plastic container and scoop up a nugget of peanut butter and chocolate goodness.
The man would then very quickly deposit his prize into a cheeky face, and suck on it for a minute while he looked around the store. Then, with his back to the register he would chew very slowly. You could tell he was chewing because his head would always bob with enjoyment.
Brendan looked forward to this every day; it would take all his strength not to be overcome with a fit of laughter. The guy never bought anything.
The other thing Brendan looked forward to at work was cash payments. He despised his reasoning for his love of cash payments, but really it made sense in his head, and he had to admit it. He looked forward to cash payments because he usually had to give the customers some sort of change, and there would be a second where the change would pass from his hand to the customer’s, and if he were lucky their fingers would touch. Brendan didn’t care if the customer was male or female, young or old, stranger or friend, but a simple touch supplied him with enough human contact to get to the next day, when, maybe, he might be able to find someone who actually meant something with their touch. He craved touch just like a woman on a diet craved chocolate—that moist brown wave of sugar that coated your tongue. He saw these women sometimes—they always used credit cards. They all looked the same when they took their first bite, like they were in love. Disgusting.
“Shattered slowly,” she sings, “—my skin. I become pieces. Broken—apart—by me.” Julia turns the wheel to the left as she rounds the corner of the unevenly paved road. She is finally alone and free and can scream out the day into the dashboard. Julia usually played pop music when exiting the high school parking lot and waited until she was halfway home until she flipped stations and blasted the rock music.
Julia always felt odd while driving—like a kid behind the wheel. How did she get to be old enough to drive?
“I have become—evil inside—pieces. I have become—my ghost. Pieces— broken—apart—by me.”
She almost swerved at the sound of a ring coming from between her legs. She glanced down quickly and saw the phone she had placed on the seat at her lap. Her left hand grasped it and put it to her ear.
“What…? I can’t hear you, hang on…. Ok, I turned the volume down, who is this?”
“Hey Julia, it’s Patrick.”
“Oh, hey Pat, ‘sup? Oh! Screw it! I just missed my turn. Can I call you back?”
“Sure. I’ll be here.”
Julia drops the phone and pulls into a driveway.
“broken apart by me…”
“Great walk-out today, Brendan!” Tom and Lee saunter into the chocolate store as if they owned the place, their hands reaching into the bins and sampling chocolate as they spoke to him. Does anyone buy candy anymore?
“I thought you guys were gonna join, along with the rest of the track team? You were all friends with Sheryl, weren’t you?”
“Sure we were, but you can get expelled for somethin’ like that. You think we’d be that stupid?” said Lee.
“Ya, that wouldn’t be good on our record, you know?” added Tom.
You guys have been suspended enough without having to worry about your records.
“So are you guys gonna buy something or just help yourselves? We don’t do free samples here,” Brendan leans on the register, his foot is tapping to the beat but the upper part of his body is rigid. The best part of the song is coming up and he doesn’t want them to ruin it.
“We’re allowed to browse, aren’t we, mommy?” They make their way through the entire store, sticking their grimy hands into each bin and snickering at things they said to each other. Finally they present a bag with one piece of chocolate in it. Brendan glares and puts it on the scale.
“Three-cents,” he says.
“Keep the change,” says Lee as he throws a quarter at him and grabs the bag. Lee and Tom walk towards the exit, grimacing.
“Why are they so fucking annoying,” gripes Brendan under his breath. Tom looks back at Brendan and laughs, “awwww, sawry!!”
“Sorry I took so long to call you back, Pat, I had to get the mail and trash and stuff when I got home.”
“That’s cool, Julia.”
“So, what’s up?”
“Not much, I was wondering if you had a poem I could use for a project.”
“Sure, you know I have plenty of poems, what kind of poem do you want?
“Well, I want a good poem. See, I have been reading a bunch of poems for my project, I hafta present a poem and then talk about the author and stuff, but, I can’t find anything I really like. I’ve always liked your poems.”
“Do you have to use my name, I mean, I’d rather no one knew it was me…You’re the only one who’s ever heard my poems.”
“Oh, yeah, I’m gonna make up a whole new identity for you, don’t worry.”
“Good. Nice game yesterday, by the way. Katya and I were impressed with the team.”
“Oh, thanks. Glad you could make it. I haven’t seen you much recently.”
“Well, why don’t you come by later and we can look at poems.”
“Cool, see ya later then.”
“Envision how…” Brendan watches Patrick present a poem for the class, a piece of paper held firmly in his hand. “…how you can live in a winter world forever. Cold, white, sharp.” The words come in awkward bursts. “Red blood stands out—warm, red, sharp.
“…pierce and you shall find the life in you.” His words are stronger now. “Envision how, how your beating heart will warm the winter months. Pierce and you shall find the life in you…Pierce and you shall let it slide… let it die.
“Envision this—warm , black, soft—how easily a summer night becomes a winter day…your heart works to pump the life which warms the sky which gives you ice which pumps your heart until blood leaks but you don’t die…
“…you discover your own life.” Patrick breathed out.
“That poem was by, ummm…. Laura Jana, from Hawaii. I found it on a website where published poets can share their poems, and hopefully get some readers, it’s www.poets…”
Brendan was captivated. I need that poem…
CHAPTER TWO: Those who are gone are in control.
Julia wakes. …and the dreams we dream involve everything. We are living with corpses, they are all around us. Julia shivers, sits up, and pulls the covers around her shoulders.
They are around us. All the people we see are corpses. And they wallow in despair as they climb closer to death. Julia listens to the sound of her younger brother in the shower, humming like he always does.
No. That’s not true, it can’t be. We are more full of life than anything. Sheryl was full of life, and so am I. How am I so filled up with it now, but one day it will leak from me and I will be buoyant, floating partly between two worlds. I will be in a state of dead dreaming. I will understand the cold in my hands will be due to lack of blood. Julia reaches into her night-table drawer. Her exact-o glistens.
My thoughts will spill from me. I will be the me whom I never thought I’d be—the dead, or almost dead, me. Her hand forces the blade of the exact-o to travel the skin on her ankle that protrudes from under the covers, blank white flesh metamorphosizing into a thin red line.
Why did Sheryl have to die? Why did she dig herself into a hole? I wish the Sheryl I knew back in grade school, the best of her, was who she had become.
I wish. Julia slips the knife back into her drawer and goes shivering over to her closet. She picks out a pink tank top, jeans, and a smile and puts them on.
She hadn’t known it was raining. She had spent too long in her room, shades down, trying to see if her smile fit on her lips just right. She had decided it’d be good enough, but she hadn’t planned on this rain, which had a nasty melting effect—it threatened to wash away Julia’s thick skin and leave her standing outside of the school under the overhang, cigarette in hand, exposing her naked self.
“I am told to follow contentment
to let go of my resentment
to forget my bleeding hands.
I land in a world full of sin—
so many forces
try to win us over.”
The rain recites one of her favorite verses. Julia sees her friend, Katya coming over, and the poem leaves her head. She practices her smile with a wave and a yell.
“Hey Julia, ‘sup?” Katya leans against the brick wall next to Julia and lights a cigarette. They are in a spot around the back of the school, near where the trucks come to deliver the food for the cafeteria. The smoke from their cigarettes is carried through the rain to the edge of thick forest that cushions the back of the school in a half-circle.
“Not too much, where have you been the last few days, I haven’t seen you ‘round?”
“Oh, I was sick,” Katya smirks as she breaths out, expensive empty smoke leaving her two red lips—Katya buys only the best cigarettes.
“Did you hear about the walk-out on Monday?” Julia asked.
“Oh that was Monday? What were they protesting again? The vegan options in the cafeteria?”
“Katya, sometimes I wonder about you. The whole school knows what they were protesting. They were trying to dedicate the yearbook to Sheryl.”
“Why would the school care what they think? Wasn’t it that Brendan kid who organized it?” Katya flicks her cigarette into the rain and reaches for another. Julia can see her two blue-colored contact lenses shining on the whites of her eyes.
“Yeah, I dunno what he was thinking,” responds Julia. “He’s such a freak. Ugh, there’s the bell, we should go.”
Katya throws her half-used cigarette onto the ground and stomps on it with the tip of her pointy white stiletto. Her whole body is sharp and pointy, like a double-edged sword with blades sticking out in all directions. Julia puts her cigarette out on the red brick wall and places the unused half in her carton, which goes into her pink over-the-shoulder bag. They enter the nearest door and go opposite directions to different homerooms. Julia walks down the cement gray hall, the rain echoing through the corridors. Her high school had been designed by an architect who was famous for his prisons, and Julia considers this to be his best prison ever.
“Hey Patrick!” Brendan runs up the hall, trying to catch up to Patrick, but the mob of students on the way to homeroom block his way. Patrick stands at the end of the hall, leaning against his locker talking to Julia Kyte.
“…a madness—years of nothing said
It’s time to end it—Right now. Right here.”
Brendan lowers the volume of his headphones and squeezes through the mob, which is now thinning as people enter into their homerooms. Patrick hasn’t moved yet, he is still talking to Julia.
“Hey Patrick!” He is close enough now that Patrick could hear him, and he looks up and his eyes catch Brendan’s.
“Wha?” He seems annoyed to be interrupted.
Brendan stops running and stands in front of Patrick. “Oh, I uh…”
“Yeah, what? I hafta get to homeroom.”
“Bye, Patrick,” says Julia as she walks away, giving Brendan a cold glance with her light blue eyes. For a second Brendan watches her go with disdain, and then he focuses back on Patrick. “Oh, just wanted to ask you for that poem you read in class yesterday. I couldn’t find it when I looked at that website.”
“I don’t have a copy. Look, I hafta get to homeroom, so, just look again.”
“Yeah, but it wasn’t on there, I mean, Laura Jana doesn’t even exist, I looked her up on every poetry website I know.”
“Look, dude, it’s not my problem. Gotta go now.” Patrick brushes by Brendan and walks through the door leading to his homeroom. The halls are almost clear now, so Brendan sighs and trudges into his homeroom and sits at his desk.
He is stuck working at night since the principal gave him detention for the whole rest of the week. And the walkout didn’t even work—goddam stupid high school. Was it all for nothing?
Luckily, he got Seth to switch shifts, but working later meant he got stuck with the busier hours—the post dinner shift, from 6-10pm.
Brendan stands at the register, his hands folded neatly on the counter. 9:45, reads the round black clock in the opposite corner of the chocolate shop. There is only one person left in the store, though many had been here that night. The sole person in the store is a woman, and she is slowly making her way through the store, as if she has no clue what she wanted to get when she came in. She’ll probably decide at 10:03, that’s what seems to happen with the last customer every time Brendan works the late shift.
“Hey Brendan!” Stan and a girl burst through the door to the storage room overcome with laughter. The woman looks up from the other end of the store and then focuses back on the chocolate. “This is Shelly. I woulda introduced her before but there was a line, so I didn’t wanna bother ya.”
“Hi,” Brendan doodles on his hand with the cash-register pen. His left hand reads, do history reading.
“Heya!” Shelly flashes Brendan a perfect white smile.
“I was just showing her how we fill up the rubber gloves with water in the sink.”
“Oh, that old trick. Did it explode this time?”
“Yah, it was pretty funny. So, you’re closing t’night, right?
“Yah, you can leave at ten—I’ll handle the stragglers.”
“Okay. Hey, do you mind if I leave now. I mean, like, I kinda gotta get Shelly back home by ten.”
“How’d she get here?”
“She was already in the mall with friends, but they left.”
“Thanks, dude! I owe ya.” Stan winks and puts an arm around Shelly’s waist.
“Yeah… just… try not to do it again, alright?
“Oh, like, I don’t think the boss will care, dun’ worry ‘bout me.”
“Yeah…peace…” Brendan lifts his hand to wave goodbye but Stan and Shelly are already giggling their way out of the store. The last song on Brendan’s CD fades out, and he stands in silence waiting for the woman to buy her chocolate. She does, at 9:55, when a man comes in and decides to browse.
“Sir, we’re about to close,” informs Brendan. The man lifts a reassuring gray-tan hand in the air and says, “I’ll just be a minute, don’t you worry, just a minute.”
Brendan finally clocked out of the chocolate store at 10:30 that night. He left the mall and walked along the dark, empty parking lot, where his car stood alone at the edge.