Our Razorblade Symphony chapter 3
When I got back to school I was glad to see that Andy was there, still freakish and not a jock yet. He was sitting on the stairs outside the school, his head buried in his backpack as he sat against the redbrick school building, the wind blowing his hair slightly.
I was nervous weather or not to go get him, but he looked cold. Everyone had sweat shirts or jackets or long sleeves on while the poor kid only had a black tank and elbow-length gloves, white ripped up jeans too. I took a deep breath and started towards him, unzipping my over-sized jacket to give to him. As I got closer I saw a bruise on his shoulder, dark purple with some yellow around the edges.
"Hey Andy." I said quickly.
His head snapped up, his blue eyes looked fearfully up at me for a split second before relaxing. His ruby-red lips pulled into a smile. Even in cloudy weather his pale face lit up like an angel.
"You're back!" he said happily.
"Yeah." I put my bag down and rested my jacket on his shoulders. My thoughts correct, he was cold as a rock.
"You're freezing dude." I said, holding out my hand to help him up. He made that face like a sad puppy and took my hand, I pulled him to his feet. Now i had to look up.
"I'm used to it." he said, pulling the jacket around his shoulders. "Thanks for caring."
"I care about my friends." I said simply, picking my bag up with my free hand.
He gave me a thankful smile, making his lip ring shift slightly. I looked down shyly before realizing he was still holding my hand.
He looked down at our clasped hands. Blushing, he dropped it and shoved them in his pockets. I rubbed my hand and started up the stairs, him following close behind. At the top of the stairs stood the average kids, blocking the doors as usual and making everyone wait. It took a couple of minuets for us to push through the crowd, but it was worth it when we entered the nice, warm front hall.
Andy shrugged off my jacket, handing it to me and pulling his gloves up his arms. I tied it around my waist.
"So, how've you been?" I asked awkwardly, not knowing what to say as we slowly walked down the hallway to class.
"Fine." he looked down as we walked, his eyes following his converses. "You?"
"Same." I said, watching him out the corner of my eye.
He nodded slowly, jerking his head so his hair wasn't in his line of sight. My eyes traveled to the bruise on his arm, long and straight. I shook my head and dissmissed it as an accident.
"Some bruise." I said, nodding at his arm. He made the puppy face again and covered it with his other hand, rubbing slightly and nodding.
"Stop asking me questions!" he hissed, getting mad suddenly. People jumped and stared at us, giving me a dirty look. I bit my lip. "Andy..."
"Leave me alone." he turned into the doorway of the writing classroom. I watched him go in and slump down into his desk then shove his head into his arms. I bit my tongue and continued to my class.
I couldn't pay attention, no matter how loud the teacher talked. Why did Andy just suddenly snap at me? It was a simple question. If he had asked me I've gladly told him, unless it was something stupid. Hell if it was something stupid I would trust him not to laugh. He didn't seem like the type to laugh at people's mistakes, or laugh at all. I've seen him smile but thats about it.
"Ashley, can you answer the question?" the teacher asked, tapping her pen on my desk.
I realized I'd been idly staring down at my desk as I was thinking. "Um, what?"
A giggle rippled through the classroom, I felt a ball of paper hit my back.
"Name a simple organism that lives under water." she said, crossing her arms.
"Bacteria?" I guessed, knowing she said that at some point. Plus bacteria were pretty tiny, not very complex.
"Good." She said, returning to the front of the room and started talking again.
Andy didn't seem like a very happy person, then again he did think I almost died plus he was a new kid. I remembered those red inflamed scratches I saw on his arm at the hospital when his glove slipped, what was that about?
A few minuets later the bell rang, dragging me away from my thoughts. I picked up my bag and continued to my next class. When I turned the corner I saw Andy bent over the water fountain, holding his hair out of his eyes. I was about to go apologize for being nosy when a couple jocks blocked my way, sneeking up and then shoving his head down into the fountain. These were the same guys who picked on me in the stairway every day.
Andy slipped out from under their hands, raised his fist and punched one of them in the jaw, making him jerk back. The other one backed up, surprised by this before getting Andy's second fist in the nose. One of the cheerleaders who accompanied them shrieked as he fell to the ground, the other was bent over, holding his jaw in pain. Everyone who witnessed this stared in awe as Andy still had his hands raised.
"DON'T FUCK WITH ME!" he yelled at the boys before pushing through the crowd. They stepped aside, making a path for him.
I watched, shocked as he ran into the boy's restroom. Jock number 1 helped Jock number 2, who had a furious nose bleed off the floor. He looked around at the other kids. "What are you all staring at?!" he yelled, making everyone scatter.
As scrawny as he is, you'd think Andy wouldn't be able to do that? I slowly continued down the hallway, stepping slowly through the doorframe of the boys restroom. I heard crying coming from the very last stall.
"Andy?" I called softly.
He stuck out his foot to show me where he was. I knocked on the door, peeking through the crack.
I could see he was sitting on the floor in the corner of the stall away from the toilet area. He sniffed loudly and leaned forward to unlock the door, letting me in.
I sat on my knees next to him, putting my arm around his bony shoulders. He put his head against my chest, squeezing shut his eyes.
"I told them yesterday to leave me alone...why didn't they leave me alone?" he sobbed into my side.
"The jerks never leave us alone." I said, rubbing his shoulder.
He seemed to cry harder, his shoulders shook. I gently shushed him, trying to make him calm down.
"Ashy's here, its okay." I whispered. "Ashy's here."
After school I met Andy at the door. He still looked upset from earlier, his eyes red and puffy. He silently greeted me, still keeping his head down and his hands in his pockets. I gave him my coat again.
"Keep it." he murmured, shrugging it off and handing it to me.
Keep in mind, I had a long sleeve black shirt on, so I would be fine, all he had was a tank top and his gloves.
"You're gonna freeze." I said as he shoved it into my hands.
"I'm used to the cold." he said. "You keep it."
I gave in, tying the sleeves around my waist. He shoved his hands down in his pockets, keeping his blue eyes on the ground.
We walked in the same direction, to the urban part of the neighborhood. He looked up periodically to tell where he was going, then to me.
"Are you following me?" he asked after a while. I shook my head. Actually, I was in sight distance of my house. He narrowed his eyes at me.
"I live down there." I pointed to my house. It was a tiny brown building, only two floors. Main and basement. My mom's dark green Ford Explorer parked in the drive way. He held his gaze on my house then looked back at me.
I nodded. "You can come if you want."
His eyes flicked to the house across the street, it was a grey, milky white mix with a large window that was covered by thick black curtains. A rusty pick up truck was parked in the yard.
He nodded. "Home sweet fucking home." he said grudgingly.
First time I heard him swear, check.
I saw a silver, newer looking car pull into its driveway. It had a few dents in it, but that was all the flaws. Andy's face softened as the car turned off and a woman stepped out. She wore an obvious uniform, black trousers and a white shirt tucked in back but hanging out in front. Her blonde hair fell past her shoulders in a curly mess. As soon as she got out Andy waved his arm, getting her attention.
"Mama!" he called.
She looked over at him, giving a lopsided smile at us and waving back. Andy rushed across the street to hug her.
I stood across the street as they talked quietly, I caught a few words here and there. Andy glanced back at me then turned back to his mom, making some kind of begging motion. She looked back at me warmly and nodded at him. He gave her another hug before coming back to me.
"My mom." he said, nodding back at her as she entered the house.
"She seems nice." I said.
He smiled, looking down. "Yeah." his eyes flicked back up at me. "Do you still want me to go to your house?"
"If you want." I shrugged.
He looked down the road and nodded, standing behind me so I could lead. I led him down the curved street to my small house, cutting through the shady yard to the door. I pulled out my keys and fucked with the lock until it opened, making a soft creek as it did so. I led Andy into my dark house, slowly walking down the hallway. He studied every detail of my little house. The snot green walls, black shag carpet, the crooked pictures on the wall, the fist sized hole near the coat rack, everything. Even the ceiling.
"Nice." he said, pointing at the hole. I bit my lip, remembering the tantrum I had that caused that.
"Wanna get some drinks?" I said as we entered the livingroom. Andy nodded, sitting down on the sofa and sinking a good couple inches into it. I laughed as he was almost folded in half.
"Agh!" he grunted, trying to get up. I pulled him out by the hands a little too hard, he stumbled forward and knocked into me and making me fall.
"Shit, sorry Ash." he said, looking down at me.
I rolled to my feet, brushing dust off my shirt. He looked at me guiltily, the bottom of his lip and ring disappeared inside his mouth.
"Quit that." I said, brushing off my chest. "The couch monster eats a lot of people."
In all honestly when he bit his lip it looked pretty hot. Boy or not, biting lips was always something I liked. He giggled at the couch monster part, trying to hide behind his hand. I smirked back, going to the kitchen.
"Coke, Twister Soda, some mexican stuff my dad got, or water?" I called, looking through the fridge.
"Water." he said, sitting on the floor.
I looked in the cupboard for cups, only to find my old kiddie cups, one with zebra stripes and one with a giraffe on it. I sighed at the indignity and filled both with cold tap water and brought it out to the livingroom.
I gave Andy the giraffe cup. He held it up, squinting at the smiling cartoon animal. I sipped my water from the zebra cup, watching him turn his cup in a circle, studying it.
He sneezed, causing him to drop the cup and spill it all over himself.
"Damnit!" he grunted, holding his arms up to examine his chest. Water dripped off one of his gloves.
I ran to get a towel. I got a pink and blue hello kitty beach towel from my room and handed it to him. He blotted his chest and crotch area with it before putting it down on the carpet. He stretched out the front of his shirt, shivering at its coldness.
"Do you want me to dry that?" I said, pointing at his sopping wet shirt. He nodded, pulling it off and handing it to me.
I stared at his chest. His ribs were obvious and three dark bruises made an X across it. I dropped his shirt and covered my mouth in horror. He gave me a confused look before looking down in panic, covering his chest with his arms.
"What the hell happened?" I gasped.
He shook his head, trying to cover up his bruises and desperately chattering about how its nothing.
"Thats not nothing. Please tell me?" I begged.
He crossed his arms over his chest like a mummy, looking away from me.
"He was drunk. Always when he's drunk he goes berserk." he mumbled.
"Whose he?" I asked softly.
"My stepdad." he said. "I got home late and he said I disrespected him, he hit me with his belt and locked me in the basement with the rats and bugs, then Mom has to get me out." he started crying again. "Its so cold." he whispered.
"Oh my god."
It all made sense. He was afraid to tell me about the bruise on his arm, he wore the gloves to cover them up, he was quiet because his stepdad made him afraid of the world, and that little outburst was possibly years of anger stored inside of him. I carefully gave him a hug, trying not to hurt him.
"I barely know you, Ashley." he mumbled. "Please keep this a secrete?"
I faught in my mind weather to keep it or not, he could die, but he looked so happy with his mom. I didn't...
"Okay. On one condition."
"Any time you're sure hes going to wail on you, haul ass out of there and come to me. Okay?" I said, picking up his shirt again.
"Alright." he said. "Then maybe I can know you better."
I nodded, taking the shirt to the washroom. Andy followed me, keeping right behind me. I yanked open the dryer and turned the shirt inside out so it wouldn't fade then threw it in, setting the machine on low. It rumbled as it started to dry. I heard Andy start to shiver again, making little gasping sounds. He had his arms wrapped around himself.
I grabbed a shirt off of the shelf, one of my KISS shirts and handed it to him. He pulled it on, shifting it to a comfortable length. The shirt was tighter then tight, seeing as I wear a XS but he didn't seem to mind.
"Its so soft..." he said, running his hand down his side. I tried not to watch him do that with a Purdy mind, failed horribly.
"Ahum..." I looked back up at his face "You need your glove dried?"
He shook his head no, pulling them up to his elbows again. We had a slightly awkward silence, standing so close in the tiny room...