Chapter 2 – Defining the name
Monday, November 7th, 2016
I’m curled up in bed, trying to hide myself from the world. Not that anyone is here to see me. Not that anyone cares to look at me. They don’t want to look at a freak like me.
I fuck up everything anyway, so it’s best to stay away from me as far as possible. I fucked up the one day that had to be flawless, all because Luke and Jimmy just had to pick today to step up their game a bit, taunting me by using my habits against me. Most of the days, they resolve in laughing at me, calling me names. Some days, they decide to provoke my panic-attacks and I hate them for picking this day.
To make matters worse, mom and dad sat me down when dad got back from hospital, telling me that Pyper has to stay over for treatment.
Pyper is fighting an autoimmune disease, shortly called Lupus. It developed early and two ears ago, a butterfly formed rash on her face was reason for concern when mom first took her to a doctor.
Nowadays, it’s mostly her lungs that suffer from the disease, causing acute Pneumonitis, which then caused scaring on her lungs.
I can’t help but feel like my shitty day, my lack of executing things the right way, caused the bad outcome of the tests they ran to see if medication was helping her in any way.
Then again, I would have been able to do things the right way, if Luke, Jimmy and Calo would’ve left me alone today.
If Mrs. Tilly would’ve listened to me.
If the principal wouldn’t have told me that I have detention on Friday, despite my mom trying to talk him out of it.
Bad behaviour needs to be corrected, according to principal Jerkhead Jameson.
I didn’t come up with that name, Jimmy did.
‘Neo, sweety?’ Mom’s voice sounds in a whisper behind me. ‘You have to eat something.’
‘No, I don’t.’
‘Yes, you do, sweety.’
‘I’m not leaving my bed.’
‘Do you want me to bring it –’
‘God no!’ I call out in fear. ‘No, no, just leave. I’m fine.’
‘No, honey, you’re obviously not.’ She pulls away the cover, instantly meeting my tearstained face with her sad eyes. ‘I don’t want you to ever, for a second, think that Pyper’s health issues have anything to do with your bad days.’ She moves to touch me, but one frightened look is enough to stop her hand mid-air.
‘It is my fault mom!’ I cry out. ‘I couldn’t do anything right and now look at what happened! It’s all my fault.’ I grab hold of my hair, pulling it painfully hard as to sort of punish myself. ‘I hate myself. I hate it, I hate it…’
‘Neo! Stop it.’ Mom grabs my wrists, forcing me to let go of my hair. ‘It’s not your fault. The tests had been done two weeks ago, the outcomes don’t have anything to do with what happens to you.’
‘But it’s true, mom! I haven’t had such a bad day in weeks. One bad day, once failing to do literally anything right, and all hell breaks lose.’
Mom shakes her head, cupping my face. ‘It’s getting worse again, isn’t it? Tell me the truth.’
‘It’s not worse…’
‘Maybe a bit…’
‘How about we make a new appointment with doctor Pelham? I told you it was too early to stop.’
‘It’s not helping mom. He doesn’t know how to help me.’
‘I think it was helping, it’s just baby-steps and off course you won’t see the results right away.’
‘I don’t like him.’ I push her hands off my face, turning away from her. ‘I’m not going back.’
I can hear her taking a deep breath, knowing she’s exhausted already after having to sit at home with me, waiting for any news about Pyper nervously.
Sometimes I think she wouldn’t mind if I wouldn’t be here. It would sure make their lives a whole lot easier.
‘Okay sweety, I’m not going to force you to do anything you don’t want. But then at least let me look into another doctor.’
Like that’ll help. They all failed to help me. Doctor Pelham had been the fourth doctor that I had therapy with, that wasn’t able to help me. Calm me down a bit? Yes. Help me? Not at all.
I know I will never completely heal. Things might get easier, things might get less obvious. But the thoughts will always be there. The feeling, the knowingwhat will happen, will always be there.
Today is just proving my point.
And as long as there’s going to be people like Jimmy, Luke, Calo, those who do not have a single clue of what it’s really like, who will taunt me, provoke me, bully me? As long as they exist, I won’t be able to move forward, to feel a bit normal.
‘Fine,’ is my simple response, knowing I have to at least stop working against my mother’s attempts to help me. She wants what best for me.
Then again, she wants what’s best for all of us; me to heal and stop controlling every aspect of our lives. She wants to be able to fully focus on Pyper’s needs, instead of being torn between a physically dysfunctional daughter, and a mentally dysfunctional son.
I bet my parents sometimes wish they would’ve never had children at all. It’s as if they’re cursed, and Pyper and I are the ones carrying the burden to punish them by torturing them with the disability to really help us.
I’m the oldest, nearing the age of seventeen, while Pyper just turned fifteen. But in between Pyper and me, there should’ve been two more kids. Mom was pregnant with another boy but had to end the pregnancy because he died while still in her womb. Oscar was born after merely five months. Then there was Pyper’s twin sister Ryann, who died two hours after birth due to underdeveloped lungs. They tried everything they could, but while treatment work with Pyper, her twin sister didn’t make it.
Which only adds to my trouble, because three times is a charm. Pyper was supposed to be my third sibling, not the first. And she was the only one strong enough to survive the curse that is affecting my parents’ ability to have children.
They wanted more, but let’s say, after Ryann died, they had to take a break and focus on us. But the time they were ready again, Pyper started having minor problems and the idea of another kid was put on hold.
They never started about it again because I guess they figured we are both dysfunctional in some way and a third kid would only add to the chaos.
They can divide over the two of us, a third would make it impossible.
By now, and probably caused by my lack of response, mom left the room again and I simply turn around, pull the cover back over my head and pretend to not be here for a while.
Everybody could use a break from me anyway.
Wednesday, November 9th, 2016
I know Pyper isn’t home, so it’s surprising in the least to have someone put out an outfit ready for me while I’m in the shower, causing my day – that I really dread – to start of better than I expected.
There’s a small note on top of the clothes, signed by none other than Pyper herself;
I might not be the one to grab you your clothes but know that I did pick them. I just instructed mom to grab the right clothes and put them in the right place. Don’t get used to being spoiled as an only child. I will be back soon to annoy the hell out of you!
I smile down towards the note, before I look towards the clothes with an even wider smile. Even in hospital, she’s trying everything to at least help me get through the day. I might not always like her, I don’t know what I would’ve done without Pyper and her habit of protecting me in any possible way.
I dress up, lift the backpack to my shoulder and head over to the light switch. I tap the right rhythm, flicking it off with the last tap, smiling as I nailed the beat.
Let’s say this morning is going better than I had in a while and I have to refrain from skipping towards the stairs. There’s still a lot of hours in today, so let’s not get ahead of myself. Still a lot of obstacles to overcome.
I skip the first two tiles in front of the kitchen door, walking towards my seat while mom smiles at the sight of my very own morning smile.
‘Morning, sweety.’ Mom greets me. ‘A good morning, I assume?’
‘Yes, thanks to Pyper’s note, I think.’
‘Good.’ She smiles happily, placing my plate in front of me, followed by the drink and last, my lunch. ‘I’m heading over there after I dropped you off in school and I’ll be sure to tell her that her note helped.’
‘Did you read the letter about the field trip?’ She asks while I cut my bread in four equal pieces.
‘Yeah, not going.’ I shake my head, shuddering at the thought of having to go to a museum about the stone age. ‘The last time I went to one of those museums, I couldn’t leave a room because they think mosaic is a great floor pattern.’
‘Right, I’ll call school and ask them about a replacing assignment. Maybe we can agree on you making another photo series.’
‘That would be great.’ I nod happily. ‘But I think they’re getting a bit sick of having to look at the photo’s I take.’
‘I’ll call, you don’t have to worry about it. I’ll be sure to get you something that fits your interests and helps you develop.’
She takes in a content smile, turning around to do the dishes while I finish breakfast in silence.
We go about our usual morning routine, me washing hands while she’s placing the plates back in the right place before I place the glasses back in their designated spots.
Mom drops me off at school by taking the same route she has been taking for over two years. It’s not the shortest route, but it’s the route I feel most comfortable with.
I dread school, I really do, after I got send out of class two days ago and didn’t show up yesterday. I dread any bullying coming from Jimmy and Luke, and I dread the fact that Calo will probably sit next to me during all classes that we share. Let’s hope we don’t share a lot of classes.
The first class of the day, is actually my favourite class; art. The teacher is a young woman who is right about the only teacher in school with an unlimited amount of patience with me and my irky habits. She alternated the classroom to suit my needs, without it being noticeable to any others. Off course, my classmates simply know she did it for me, but there’s not much to laugh about, since I still have to watch my footing, and I still skip the first half a meter since there’s a mat in front of the door.
Instead of heading towards the regular meeting spots, where people find their friends before school starts, I instantly make my way over to the classroom, knowing in art class I need some extra time to set up my desk. There’s simply more utensils to use, and therefore to put in the right place.
‘Morning Neo.’ Mrs. Gabriel greets me with a happy smile, ignoring my jump over the mat, gesturing for me to come over towards her.
I walk towards her, making sure not to line up with the stools or the table’s legs, grateful for Mrs. Gabriel to place the stools in such a way that I can skip both the stool and the leg of a table at once.
‘I graded the papers and gave out the grades yesterday, but you weren’t here.’ She taps the file I handed in two weeks ago, three times, to suit my likings. It causes a small thankful smile on my face. ‘You got a B+, and the only think you need to focus on is explaining the decision you make that lead up to your works.’
‘Oh, I thought I did that,’ I mutter, taking the file from her when she hands it to me in a way that avoids me having to come near her hand.
‘I wrote down what I miss, whenever I miss it. Just make the adjustments for the final file and you’ll be fine.’
‘Thanks Mrs. Gabriel.’
‘No thanking me.’ She chuckles, following me towards my desk, as always helping me to grab my stuff and place it in the right spots. She always helps me whenever she’s here to do so. She uses my disinfectant lube and really, I wish everybody would be as helpful as she is.
Right when I’m seated, content with my desk, ready to start working, I watch towards the door once there’s laughing coming from outside.
There’s a couple of guys from our class, following Calo towards the door. Off course he instantly became popular. He got me send to the principal in his first class. I bet they all love him.
Right before he enters the classroom, his eyes find me, seated in my spot like the goody-two-shoe I am. A small smile appears in the corner of his mouth, right before he looks down towards the mat and back towards me with some sort of curiosity in his eyes.
Ugh, I hate it whenever people look at me as if I’m some sort of outer space species. But then he surprises me, by jumping the mat and walking towards me by placing his feet in between the table legs, all while feigning a careless attitude.
Off course he makes it seem cool.
The guys who had been following him, laughing over something, all stop and stare at Calo in shock and surprise, Calo ignoring them completely. It’s completely silent, while I can’t look away from Calo who is making his way over towards me.
‘Morning, Neo. Feeling better today?’
I stare at him with my mouth slightly agape, as he starts to place his utensils by copying my placements on my desk as if he’s doing this every day.
‘What are you doing?’ is all I manage to squeak out.
‘I meant it when I said you made quite an entrance on Monday,’ he casually answers. ‘Kind of Favre.’
‘Wh-what?’ I don’t know what to feel right now. Is he making fun of me? Is he serious? I’m not the only one who doesn’t knows how to interpret his actions.
‘It’s Favre, you know? Cool, awesome, amazing.’ He still isn’t looking at me, his voice isn’t faltering. No hint of a smirk or a taunting tone of voice.
’Are you being funny? Do you even know why?’
‘I’m not being funny. Favre means cool, awesome, amazing, or of superior talent. Pick which you like best and we’ll keep it to that definition.’
I’m completely at a loss for words, while he finished setting up his desk in the exact same way as I did. Mrs. Gabriel obviously doesn’t know how to respond either, staring at Calo in wonder, while the rest of the class took their seats, whispering and murmuring things behind their hands, all staring towards Calo and me. It makes me feel uncomfortable to have most eyes on me.
‘Everything okay, Neo?’ Mrs. Gabriel asks me while sending me a questioning look, combined with a frown.
‘I think so, yes.’ I nod, turning back to my desk to start working on my sketch. ‘Favre means indecisive, unable to make up your mind,’ I simply correct Calo.
‘It does?’ Calo frowns, before he shakes his head. ‘I’m almost completely sure it means cool. It’s also a term used in Football, meaning interception.’ He nods as if he’s agreeing to his own words.
‘It means indecisive, believe me, I know. It’s my last name. And how did you find out my name?’
‘Faulty Favre?’ He rolls his eyes. ‘Stupid, if you ask me, since it’s kind of a contradicting nickname…’
I can’t help but take a look around, some students still staring in our direction, others shrugging the events off since they don’t know how to act anyway.
‘Faulty cool is not a thing.’
‘Faulty is because Favre means indecisive. I fail at making decisions… I fail at functioning properly.’
‘Really, Neo?’ Calo chuckles, nudging me much to my displeasing. ’Do you honestly believe Jimmycame up with “faulty” because he knows Favre might mean indecisive?’
‘Point taken,’ I mutter, grabbing a pencil, staring down at my sketch. ‘Still, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean cool.’
Calo retrieves his phone from his pocket, while I’m starting on the hair of the girl I’m drawing. ‘Here, let me show you the definition.’
‘Calo, no phones during class.’ Mrs. Gabriel sends him a disapproving look.
‘I’ll put it away as soon as I showed Neo that Favre means cool.’ He casually answers. ‘You can even confiscate it for the rest of the day, but let me show this…’ He didn’t even look at her, surprising me and her in the same time. Mrs. Gabriel is such a cool teacher, nobody ever dares to misbehave and risk missing out on her classes by getting send out.
‘You don’t have to…’
‘Here.’ Calo ignores my weak protest, holding up his phone for me to read along. ‘Favre, meaning cool, awesome, godly, amazing, or of superior talent. And secondly, doing something amazing, out of the ordinary, or like any of the amazing plays that Brett Favre makes.’ He quotes from the website, finishing with a smug grin because apparently internet agreed with his definition.
‘That’s fitting,’ Damon leans forwards. ‘Doing stuff out of the ordinary.’
‘Like his ballerina jumps into classes.’ Marcus fills in, causing my face to flush and to slump down on my stool a bit, deciding on not responding.
‘You’re just jealous he isn’t afraid to be himself.’ Calo tells them in a cold way, not granting them the honour of looking at them.
They laugh in response, nudging each other in the process. ‘I’m glad I’m not him. He’s a freak.’
‘Yeah? He isn’t the one who managed to smear paint over his cheek within three seconds after class started, or to walk around with his shirt buttoned up the wrong way.’ Calo turns towards me, as if it’s nothing to insult Luke’s friends.
‘Calo, you don’t have to do this.’ I murmur, wanting to hide because I feel embarrassed to need someone to insult others in my place.
‘What? Make sure douchebags stop pointing out other people’s habits, while they can’t even dress properly?’
‘You’re weird.’ I mutter, feeling a bit thankful for his help nonetheless.