Chapter 6 – Drained
Tuesday, November 15th, 2016
All thanks to Calo, I managed to survive Monday and finish the entire day in school. Calo want home right after school, after accompanying me during the day, though he remained silent most of the day. He snapped at people who made fun of me, and not in the same funny and snarky way he did last week.
As if he is already fed up with their attitude after only knowing me for a week and staying home for almost half that time.
But he called me his friend, he told me he came to school because I needed a friend. That very simple fact, had been such a grand gesture to me, that I felt emotional, yet happier than ever.
Not even a week ago, I thought everybody would be better of without me. I wanted to end it all, I forced myself to move on as I am used to.
Keep living, in the hopes of ever feeling alive.
And because deep down inside, I know that no matter how much of a burden I am to my parents, to Pyper, to my grandparents, they love me endlessly. And killing myself would tear them apart.
They wouldn’t be able to deal with the loss of another child.
Which is another burden I have to bare. It’s the one thing I can’t be selfish in.
And now that I have a friend, a friend who came to school despite his own grief, I find it less hard to breath.
I even caught myself humming a song in the shower, but still being able to switch the lights off without any repeats. I skip my way into the kitchen, with a larger skip to pass the first two tiles. Sinking onto my chair with a content sigh.
‘Morning, sweety.’ My mom smiles surprised at me. ‘My guess is a very good day.’
I nod and smirk at her.
‘Spill it, Ne.’ She chuckles, giving me my breakfast before sitting down. ’Pyper told us about the video, yet you’ve been more cheerful then in a very long time.’
‘Did you see the video?’
‘She refused to show us, but dad searched Facebook to find it. Neo, why didn’t you say it was Luke?’
‘Because he threatened me. He promised me retaliation would be worse.’
‘How bad is he bullying you?’
‘He’s not the only one mom, all of them are. Angela was the only girl who didn’t join in on the bullying. It’s not just Luke, or Jimmy. Yes, I deal with them a lot because they’re in my class. But it’s everybody. They don’t get me.’
‘I wish you would talk to us about this. We could have demanded strong actions from school a long time ago.’
‘Well, I’m fine now. I think.’
‘You think?’ she pulls up an eyebrow. ‘What makes you smile so widely?’
‘I think I made a friend.’
Now both her eyebrows fly up in surprise. ‘You have a friend?’ There’s excitement in her voice and, well, in every fibre of her being.
‘His name is Calo and he’s the new kid Pyper asked about last week. Remember the guy who copied my irky habits?’
‘And he’s your friend?’
‘His grandmother died last week, and he hasn’t been in school ever since. But yesterday he saw the video and came to school halfway throughout the day, because he thought I needed a friend. He said it himself.’
‘Well, bless Calo, for putting that wide of a smile on your face.’ She smiles contently. ‘And for putting his own sorrow aside to support you.’
‘It made me sing, mom.’ I chuckle a bit before taking a bite.
‘You sang? Let me guess, in the shower?’
I nod and grin. ‘He’s my first friend, mom.’ I can’t help but feel energetic and excited. I always wanted a friend, someone outside of this family. ‘I don’t fully trust him yet, but the fact he came to school for me… I don’t know. I cried in happiness.’
‘Why don’t you invite him over soon? So that we can get to know him?’
‘I don’t want to scare him away. He knows I never had a friend but if I start acting all needy and whatever, I might scare him away.’
She smiles and nods. ‘Just know that he’s always welcome here, okay?’
‘I know. Now, could you… skip the dishes until you dropped me off?’
She frowns again, looking back to the dishes shortly. ‘You want me to skip them?’
‘Well, we did agree on taking it as a baby step, you know? Remember? Last Friday.’
‘I remember, yes. Are you sure?’
‘If there’s a better time to try, please, tell me.’ I smirk again, unable to fight back the smiles that keep making its way onto my face. ‘I have a friend now, despite all that went wrong in the last couple of days.’
‘Well, in that case, I’d love to slack off and do the dishes later on. Who knows, maybe I’ll use the dishwasher for once.’
I giggle like a little girl, before I hand her the plate and glass, following her towards the sink to wash my hands. It’s with shaky hands and closed eyes, but I manage to somewhat ignore the dirty dishes.
Off course, I use disinfectant lotion in the car, but who cares.
Baby steps, right?
I have to refrain myself from skipping once I got out of the car. Let’s remember Calo is right about the only person in this school that actually thinks I’m “Favre”, instead of Faulty Favre. If I would to be skipping through school, I will only add to people’s opinion that I’m too girly, to weird, plain simply a freak.
But as long as there’s one person in this goddamn hell-hole willing to be my friend, who cares about the rest?
So, no matter how much of those others make fun of me as I pass them, they can’t force the smile to leave my face. I think it throws people off balance, shocking them because I not once falter in my steps, show any signs of weakness or giving away that their words and actions affect me.
I make my way to the locker rooms to dump my backpack in my locker. I never actually participate in P.E. because let’s face it. I wouldn’t even blame someone laughing at me as I try to play along in a game of soccer, while avoiding all those colourful lines on the gym floor, each colour indicating a different sort of field. I tried to join, the first ever P.E. class and I ended up panicking as soon as Luke pushed me onto a line, and I simply couldn’t move anymore, afraid that if I would lift my foot of the line, something bad would happen. And with something bad, I though grandpa would get a heart attack and die, all because of me.
Mom had to come over, with grandpa, to show me he was fine.
Its actually one of the first weaknesses that I showed, causing Luke to start making fun of me.
By then, I was already having trouble to turn of the lights in my bedroom, since the summer previous to me starting High school, we had been forced to move, because one day, I didn’t turn the lights off, and our house burned down after lightning struck. None of us had been home, but let’s say it made an impression.
The step on a line resulted in Pyper’s very first night in hospital that same day, and by now, I’m definitely sure if I would ever be to step on any of those lines again, she’ll end up in hospital again. It simply isn’t a coincidence.
Mom and dad came to an agreement with school that for each sport being graded in P.E. I have to write a five-page essay to talk about the history and the importance in certain cultures or whatnot.
I instantly agreed on it, because it meant I would never have to step a foot onto that awful floor.
I grab a book about badminton from the locker, as it is the current sport practised in P.E. and take it with me to the hall. Since I’m not required to switch clothes, I’m always the first to walk in. But today, Calo beat me to it. He’s in a sports-outfit that isn’t matching the required colours of our school – black shorts and white shirts. He’s wearing red shorts and a black and red basketball shirt.
‘You do know you’re required to wear black and white.’
‘I was planning on buying some of those boring clothes, but obviously, life got in the way.’ He shows an awkward smile, before he grins widely. ‘You sure seem happy today.’
‘I am happy.’ I nod and smile back.
‘Lemme guess,’ he drawls, throwing the basketball through the basket. ‘You won the lottery and your rich?’
I chuckle, shaking my head, before I shrug and nod. ‘I feel like I picked the winning lot, though.’
‘Why’s that?’ He walks over to the supply room to get rid of the basketball.
‘I have a friend, right?’
‘Most certain, Favre.’ He smiles widely, and I notice how his smiles are back to meeting his eyes as soon as he walks closer. The little sparkles are back, the amusement evident. The white’s in his eyes are back to white. He seems more rested and I guess he’s doing way better than he did yesterday. ‘Happy to hear it makes you happy.’ He winks, before he sits down next to me. ‘Why aren’t you in those boring clothes?’
‘I’m not participating in P.E. so I don’t own a pair of those boring clothes anymore.’
Calo chuckles, taking the book from my hold. ‘Really? “Badminton, the basics”?’ He chuckles, turning the book around to read the back.
‘I have to write an essay about Badminton to get a grade and pass the class.’
‘Boring, but effective, I guess.’ He chuckles, handing me back the book. ‘So, why don’t you participate?’
‘The lines…’ I mutter, staring down, feeling a bit ashamed, having to admit I’m incapable of joining P.E. because of some stupid lines.
‘Ah, I guess it is kind of a challenge to play badminton while avoiding all those lines, yeah.’ Calo nods and chuckles. ‘I can try, though.’
‘What? No!’ I let out a soft laugh. ‘That would ruin your grade.’
‘We’re getting graded today?’
‘I have to hand in my essay at the end of the class.’ I nod, showing him the essay that is folded and in the back of the book. ‘So, I guess you guys will get grades today.’
‘Then I’ll be serious today. But next week, I’ll try to avoid the lines just to see if you’re being a baby.’
‘Hey!’ I stare at him with wide eyes, as some of our classmates start walking inside. ‘I’m not a baby, believe me. It got Pyper in hospital when I stepped on the line.’
‘Oh, I didn’t know that.’ Calo frowns. ‘Do bad things happen whenever we step on those lines?’
‘No, It’s my burden.’ I shrug. ‘Or maybe it’s everybody’s burden, but I’m simply one of the few who’s aware of the effects.’
‘That’s dark, dude. I thought you had humour, but now it’s chill and dark.’ He laughs as I stare at him ashamed and unsure. ‘I’m just kidding, dude. Loosen up a bit. You can’t scare me away, okay? Even if you don’t want me as a friend, I’ll still be the annoying dick I am, forcing my friendship upon you.’
I can’t help but laugh a little louder, catching Luke’s attention. He simply looks back and forth between Calo and me shortly, before walking all the way to the other side of the benches, sitting as far away as possible.
For the rest of the time during P.E., Jimmy and Luke keep sending dirty looks in Calo’s and my direction, constantly seemingly annoyed by my happy attitude of the day.
Calo’s been acting like a clown, getting some of the classmates on his hand and laughing whenever he does something silly. Every time he does, he looks towards me to see if I saw whatever he did, and when I laugh, he smiles contently. He’s actually trying to entertain me.
Halfway down the nearly two-hour lasting class, Coach Brynn calls out two students at a time, letting them play a match while grading them. And in this process, he lets me help him to write down the grades and even discuss grades whenever he doubts. Calo being in the third couple that gets a grade. For the next five minutes, he is serious, doing his best and showing Coach Brynn what exactly he’s capable of with a shuttle and a racket. He gets an A, off course because I pointed out that his opponent, Corey, who got an A-, made a couple more mistakes and it wouldn’t be fair to grade them the same way.
While they are required to play badminton for fun during the grading process, I focus on helping coach Brynn to grade the rest. Fifteen minutes prior to the end of class, all who have been graded are allowed to leave, while seven students still need to get graded; including Luke and Jimmy.
I shortly watch Calo look at me with a displeasing look on his face, but then the coach calls for them to move and get dressed for the next class and he walks into the locker room.
I patiently wait for the rest to get their grades, not intervening with Jimmy’s or Luke’s grades for my own sake. I reread parts of my essay, knowing I will have to give a short “presentation” about what I found out, before he’ll accept the essay.
I’m the last to leave the hall, after coach told me to just give him the papers and go to make it to my last class, since the bell already rang twice. He writes me a note to tell the next teacher why I am late, and then I hurry into the locker room. I’m shocked and come to a standstill as I find my locker opened, the lock twisted, my stuff all over the floor. Books are missing and then I notice that my backpack is thrown into the bin.
My eyes widen and I shudder at the thought of ever touching that bag again. Or any of the stuff in there. I’m taking in the scene, not noticing Luke came up from behind, grabbing me from behind by putting his arm around my neck.
‘Let’s have fun, shall we?’ He whispers, pulling me down, causing me to bend and walk in that way. I already know where he’s taking me and I start to panic, as he forces me into the shower area, one of the few places in school that I’ve never entered, purely due to the tiled floor. At first, I’m able to balance my toes on the small tiles, but then Luke pulls me forwards, sending me off balance. He pushes me towards the back of the area, but not without me stepping on at least a dozen of the cracks in between the tiles.
I’m in complete panic as Luke and Jimmy laugh at me, their voices echoing in the room.
‘You’re a freak, Faulty Favre!’ Luke snaps at me. ‘This is for you getting us into trouble!’
‘I didn’t do it!’ I cry out loudly, crawling into the corner of the area, trying to hide as much as possible.
‘You’re a freak. They should lock you in.’ Jimmy calls out tauntingly, his voice echoing. I cover my ears to block out as much of the sounds, which are driving me crazy.
‘You’re a pathetic excuse for a human.’ Luke hisses close-by my ear. ‘You’re lucky we don’t want to get caught, but this is just a warning.’
‘Let’s go, Luke.’ Jimmy sounds amused, before their footsteps sound, walking away from me.
I’m shaking uncontrollably, tears starting to roll down my face as I realize I must have gotten Pyper into trouble again. She must be ill and it’s all because I’m too stupid to keep up my guard. How bad will it be now that I stepped on a dozen of those cracks? Will she die?
Oh god, she’s gonna die. I caused another one of my siblings to die.
I’m in complete panic, as breathing becomes difficult, me taking deep grasps of air to get in as much oxygen in as possible. Tears are rolling down my face, sobs escaping the back of my throat, disrupting my breathing even further. I can’t get in enough air for my likings. Sobs and cries come out uncontrollably, while I repeatedly hear the words of Jimmy and Luke repeat over and over again in my mind, all while simply feeling something is off with Pyper, causing panic to become even worse.
I have no idea for how long I exactly am in here, before Calo shows up in my peripheral vision with a shock ridden face. He takes one look at the floor, me holding up my feet against the wall while I’m curled up in the corner, and he hurries over towards me, sliding the last half a meter on his knees, instantly pulling my head on his lap.
‘Calm down, Neo. Breath in through your nose, keep it in for three seconds, breath out through your mouth.’ He cups my face while I grabbed hold of his wrist, holding onto him tightly with shaking hands. ‘Look at me, Neo.’ He whispers. ‘Repeat my breading.’ He takes in a deep breath through his nose and I try to copy him, failing miserably until he retrieves something out of his pocket, turning out to be a small plastic back, that he uses to cover my mouth and nose. ‘Breath. Breath in an out of the bag.’
At first, I think I’m going to run out of breath, that he’s suffocating me, but eventually, it actually calms down far enough to breath properly.
‘I’m going to get you home,’ he whispers as he throws aside the plastic bag.
I can’t talk since I’m completely exhausted. I’m drained from all energy and I lay limply with my head on his lap and my feet up against the wall, knees supporting against the other wall.
‘I’m taking you home,’ he repeats, retrieving his phone from his pocket, dialling a number while bringing it to his ear.