"Have I found you, Flightless bird? Jealous, weeping." They meet, each no more than a shell filled with hate, pain, and misery. They fall in love, slowly opening up to each other and learning to trust again. They part, betrayed and hurt. The rest they cannot decide - first they must come to terms with their own past. Takes place mid-Twilight, for reasons I cannot divulge yet. Inspired by "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" by Iron & Wine from the Twilight Soundtrack - though this story began before I even bought it.
2. Chapter 2: Defeated.
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I sling my bag over my shoulder and head for home – or my house, rather. For it to be considered a home, one has to be welcomed there. Loved. Home is where the heart is. Well, there’s definitely no heart there. My heart is in that casket, six feet under, back in New York with my mother’s decaying corpse.
I wrap my arms around myself as I walk through the gusts of wind that penetrate my cheap coat. It’s more of a jacket really, with synthetic fur inside – like a wool type lining, but more like wool before it comes off a sheep. I can never think of the word.
I can never think straight anymore, period. Thoughts enter my head – unwelcome, horrifying thoughts that make my muscles tighten and my eyes water. I push the thoughts away and continue, stone faced, with whatever I’m doing.
I make it home early, even thought I drag my feet all the way to the door. I listen closely for sounds of life inside, but no one’s home. No, wait – I hear snoring. Daddy’s home, probably on the couch with an empty bag of chips and at least a dozen empty beer bottles and an empty bottle of sleeping pills.
I open the door, and am not surprised that I’m right. The only thing missing is the beer – which does nothing to console me. If he hasn’t had any beer yet – and I know he hasn’t because I’m the one who cleans up his mess – that means he’ll be in a bad mood whenever he wakes up.
Tiptoeing silently past him, I make a beeline for the stairs and quietly make my way up to my room. It is sparsely furnished, with little more than a bed and a dresser. No celebrity posters, no pictures of friends. No colorful walls or pretty quilts. No picture frames or any other sort of personalization. Home is not a refuge, it is a monster.
I work on my homework, with nothing more to do to occupy my time. I keep my ears wide open, listening for Daddy’s snores as they rise up the stairs. I block out all other noises – the scratching of my pen on my paper, the dripping of a leaky faucet.
By now, I know Daddy’s snores like a detective knows a criminal is lying. Deep and dragging – he’s drugged up. Short and snuffling – he’s had too much beer but no drugs. And when there are gaps in the snoring, when he snores once and then breathes a few normal breaths – that mean’s he’s about to wake up.
That’s when I know to hide, to crawl under my bed and pray to god he doesn’t come looking for me.
Right now his snores betray the several pain killers he’s taken, and I know he won’t be up for a long time. I finish my homework and lay back on my bed, drifting and listening. I end up falling asleep, and then wake to realize that it’s already dark outside.
I sit bolt upright in bed, confused and dazed. The only thought clear to me at the moment is that I’ve fallen asleep, and I have no idea where he is. I listen for his snores, but can’t hear anything over my pounding heart. When it settles, and I can hear what’s going on around me, I am horrified to hear nothing. I hear the dripping, but I don’t hear snoring.
I chance a peek out the window, and let out a breath of relief when I see that his car is gone. He does this regularly, goes to a bar and gets publicly drunk until they won’t serve him, then risks driving home and drinks some more.
Since he’s gone, that means I get to eat. I tiptoe back down the stairs, though I know I’m all alone, and hurry into the kitchen. There isn’t much there, but I grab what I can. I get a small bag of Doritos, a can of Coke, three hot dogs, and a cup of pudding before I slump down on the couch and consume it all. I even take two of Daddy’s sleeping pills, looking for a way out of the pain.
When I’m done eating, I feel sick. I look back at the packages, taking note of the calories and the fat within the foods. Just the thought makes me want to throw up, and I do. I run upstairs like there’s no tomorrow and heave all of the food into the toilet. I wipe my mouth, brush my teeth and rinse, then go back down stairs, throw away the packages, take one more sleeping pill, then head upstairs to my room.
I wake at midnight – even the sleeping pills cannot drown out the sound of the front door slamming. Daddy’s home.
I hear him come up the stairs, his footsteps wavering unevenly. I hear as he approaches my door, which is on the way to his. His footsteps grow louder until I can tell he is right outside my door, and I squeeze my eyes shut and pray and pray and pray that he won’t open the door.
For a long time, there is no sound. I wonder if I might have missed his passing and entrance into his own room, but I know I would have heard it. I can hear, however, his labored breathing, and almost smell the scent of booze wafting through the crack under the door.
My heart falls as I hear the door knob turn. It creaks, as if protesting. We don’t want you here, it seems to say. I open my eyes wide in fear, the fight-or-flight response setting in. I see his hulking form fill the doorway, blocking the light that filters in through the window across the hall. I see him approach, until I can smell the booze, and it smells like death.
He sits down on my bed, eyes raking over my form for a few moments. He pushes the covers back, and I’m exposed, shaking and trembling. He smiles, showing his rotten teeth and his disgusting breath. His fingers slide over me, and I consider screaming, kicking, doing something in protest. But I know no one will hear me.
I close my eyes and fall limp, defeated.
My alarm clock rings and I wake, groggy and miserable. I ache all over, and I feel disgusting and violated. I grab some clothes and head to the bathroom where I shower. I shave my legs, and then decide it’s high time I pay a visit with a razor of a different kind.
I towel myself dry and take a seat on the toilet lid, then reach behind for the small, discreet plastic case I have stuck to the back. I slide it open blindly, pulling out the rectangular blade and weighing it in my hand.
Before I can realize what’s happening, I’m slicing all over. A few here, a few there. Some at my wrist, some at the crease of my elbow, some at my ankle, some on my stomach. Anywhere is free game, and soon, I’m bleeding everywhere.
When I’m finally satisfied, I clean up and dress. I brush my teeth and run right out the door, welcoming the cold, stinging air. It’s numbing like ice, and stings at my nostrils. It’s numbing and painful all at the same time, but I like it.
I get to school and cross the parking lot, passing row upon row of student cars. Someone bumps into me and my backpack strap breaks, causing my bag to slip from my shoulders and spill across the pavement.
Hurrying to gather my things and stuff them back in past the broken zipper, and attempting to reattach the strap.
Suddenly, there’s a terrifying sound. A screeching, ripping, squealing sound that causes my head to snap up and turn from side to side. I see nothing. I go back to my back, but the sound is getting louder and louder.
What is that noise?
I arrive at school, my temper already short. I make my way across the parking lot, and minutely notice that I see that girl from Biology – why can’t I remember her name? – scrambling around on the asphalt and gathering her books.
A screeching, squealing sound fills the air, and I see her head snap up and spin, searching for the source. She sees nothing; I see a couple of idiots drag racing around the parking lot. Students who can see it stand off to the side, out of harms way. But she can’t see them, and they’re barreling towards her, coming from both sides.
“Hey,” I call, trying to get her attention. She’s smack dab between two cars, and another two cars are coming straight for the area where she’s kneeling.
“Hey!” She doesn’t hear me. One of the cars looses control around the turn, and skids. I calculate the trajectory in my mind, and I can tell exactly where he will hit. The other driver is caught off guard by his buddy’s loss of control, and he slams on the brakes yet skids. They will meet in the same place.
Right where she is.
She looks up, realizing what is coming for her. She lets out a single scream of fear.
I know what will happen. The two cars will hit her, and she will die from the force of the impact. Her blood will be spilt everywhere. I think back to another time when something similar was happening.
By the time I realize what I’m doing, I bound over to where she is, push her out of the way, and shield her from the oncoming impact. The two cars crash before us, inches from my face. There’s screaming from all around, and even some laughter.
I turn to face her, and she stares up at me, eyes wide with horror. I know what she’s thinking, even thought I really don’t. What the hell just happened? Her eyes say everything, but I can’t hear her thoughts.
I look down at her, and she looks as small and fragile as a small child. Malnourished, scared. Scarred. One of her sleeves has been pushed up in the struggle, and I can see two fresh red lines at her wrist.
Screaming erupts from all around us, and I am frozen in place as our eyes lock. It takes a minute to sink in, and I realize I’ve saved her. I didn’t mess up. I saved her.
CAYDENCEWhat the hell just happened?
I look up, surprised and terrified all at the same time. Where did he come from? How did he get here so fast? Why did he save me?
He looks back down at me, equally surprised. There is an emotion surfacing in his eyes that I can’t quite distinguish.
“Are you alright?” He asks, and I hear his voice for the first time. It’s soft and smooth, but tight and reserved like his jaw is tight.
It takes me a while to find my voice. I temporarily forgot how to speak, and try to remember how to use my vocal chords.
“Yes,” I say, but it sounds strangled and weak. I try to sit up, to put myself into a more appropriate position, but he doesn’t allow me. His arms hold me to the ground like vises, locked in place by his shock.
“Can I get up?” I ask quietly in my raspy voice. He blinks a few times, seeming to comprehend the question. He lets go, and I scramble to right myself. All around, people are screaming, and the smell of smoke is present in the air.
He seems to notice, and his head whips around to look at the cars. The blue one has smoke rising from the smashed up hood, a sure sign of a fire. The smoke is thick and black, and the wind blows it towards us. I blink the smoke away from my eyes, and I hear him swear under his breath.
So fast that I can’t tell what’s going on, his hand blur. They lift me from the ground and I am weightless as he moves me. In a flash we’re twenty yards away, behind a cluster of terrified students. He sets me back on my feet, and I look up at him in wonder.
He looks back down at me, and I see his eyes widen in his surprise. His pale face whitens further than I thought possible. I blink.
When I open my eyes, he’s gone.