“My name is Timothy.” I said in front of the class, my hands clasped behind my back as my eyes stared through the strands of my white hair. I don’t remember the last time I looked in the mirror and saw something other than white hair, and yet I was still a child. A child nearing adulthood, but none the less a child.
They stared, and a few of the nicer students waved. I could see it in their faces though; they thought I had done this to myself, that I had the demeanor of someone who wanted attention. The irony of my features though, was that I wanted the least amount of attention drawn to me as possible. I did not want their favor, and I did not want their pity. All I wanted was . . .
Well, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t know what I wanted.
“Go ahead and sit down.” Mrs. Clare, our Biology teacher, said as she pointed to a chair in the front row. I shifted my eyes from left to right and then sat down, curling my arms around my abdomen as I sat quietly while the class began. It was the middle of the year, and no doubt she would pity me and give me a pass on the first test, but I knew that I could ace it if I really wished. Biology was my specialty, something I had been introduced to very early in my life.
“Are you going to eat lunch somewhere already?”
I turned my head to the right, seeing a girl with dyed blue hair grinning ferociously at me. From her punk boots and spiked collar, I knew what kind of person she was, and she apparently thought I agreed with her. In her defense, however, I was wearing nothing but black, and though it was plain, people believed that being goth and wearing black was somehow the same thing.
“No, I do not.” I replied, trying to turn my attention back to the smart board.
“Do you want to eat lunch with me and my friends?” she rested her chin on her hand, glancing up at the teacher to make sure she didn’t notice we were speaking. We were in the front row though, and by the slight wrinkles around her thin lips, I knew she was trying to put up with it.
“No.” I said, leaning my back against the bar between the chair and desk, hoping she would get the message and leave me alone. I was a little glad that she had asked for me to join her, and that even she was not against me, but I knew that the slime at the bottom of the pond always reached out to new people first. Anyone who had spent a good amount of time with them knew who they were, and slowly they began to be left behind for a better, higher scale of people. They wanted a second chance with someone that knew nothing about them instead of renewing themselves. Besides, I didn’t like that stupid spiked collar around her neck, that and her nose ring. She had a right to wear whatever she wished, and it probably wasn’t worn to impress me specifically, but I had the choice to condemn it.
My family knew it’s rights, and they would voice them if they chose. It had been ground into me ever since I was small.
“Alright, you little bitch.” she hissed under her breath.
I rolled my eyes and continued to listen to the teacher. At least I didn’t have to deal with the goth chick after class was out.
When I entered first-period Biology class, there had been only three people who sparked my interest. The place that we lived in, the town we called home, was rather dark and rainy most of the time, and the people in it were about the same. There was a scale at which one was considered normal or freakish though, and maybe to California, they would see us all as strange and unnatural to their taste. There were not many who looked even close to being from California or any other place that was considered fun.
Mrs. Clare had been one of those few. With her brightly colored dresses and heeled shoes, the red lipstick upon her lips and the curls of dark hair around her head, she was by far the prettiest woman I had ever seen (besides my mother that is). Not only was she dressed wonderfully, but her eyes still glittered with interest, and a smile was still something that danced on her lips.
I was hardly smitten by her presence, but it was a welcome change of pace. She and a pair of twins were the only ones I found different in the entire sea of the high school education system. The twins were called Audrey and Philip, and they dressed just as brightly and were by far the most bubbly in the class.
The rest of the students were always glancing around at each other, whispering about me or something just as minuscule in their lives. They loved to mock, to laugh at, and to point their bony fingers at those they thought were different. In reality, they were all the same, with only slight differences that were hardly even classified as different. I pitied them, for they all believed that they were unique when they were all made from the same template.
I wonder if some mornings they wake up and realize who they are, only to put a scowl on their face to mask their dying soul. They were all stars once, dancing in the darkness we called Hope Valley, which was ironic in itself. I wondered when they had been crushed when they were pressured so hard into killing themselves in the hope that they would survive. Sometimes I wish I could reach out to them and have them trust me, to tell me their secrets so I can fix them and make the world we live in all that much brighter.
But alas, they have passed the point of no return, and hardly any of them are worth helping anymore.
Therefore my interest lay in nothing but Audrey, Philip, and Mrs. Clare.
The bus stopped outside my mansion, and most of the students around me whispered that I was the one that lived in the mysterious house on the cliff above Cobalt Lake. I pushed my way passed tall knees and backpacks until I could get to the busses steps, but by then the driver had already shut the doors and was driving away. I opened my mouth to say something, but one look at the old, yellow-eyed woman behind the wheel curdled the blood in my veins. I lay silent and waited until she came to a stop in one of the suburban homes a few miles away from my mansion.
I walked all the way home, staring at the dust that danced at my feet. The sun was gone again, covered by clouds that were gray and blue in the sky. I could tell that it was getting darker though, and made sure to tighten the strap of my messenger bag before sprinting down the roadway.
There were hardly any cars coming around the winding paths of trees, but I did not want to risk being out after dark.
Besides, my parents would worry, and I couldn’t bear to have them worry about me too.
I reached home in two hours, stopping at the gate for a moment to catch my breath before begrudgingly making my way up to the double doors at the front entrance. I knocked and Mary soon answered the door, letting me in with a slight mention of the weather. I mumbled something in reply but I knew she did not hear me. She never did, and I never cared. She was nothing but a servant, and I was nothing but a child. There was little need for communication between us. Our parents had made it clear on how much they valued our opinions, and in turn, we decided that they were right. Even when it was just between us, we knew that it did not matter what we said.
I made my way up the staircase as the carpet beneath my feet gently held my footprints before disappearing a moment later. My hand slid along the waxed wooden banister and my eyes lay on the next step ahead, never looking above, for I knew who would be sitting there. He would run up to me and ask for an embrace before I had the chance to tell him I did not like to be touched. He would stare at me for a long moment before moving on, just as unphased as yesterday.
Or maybe I just told myself that he was unphased.
I lifted my head as the landing finally showed itself. My youngest brother was nowhere to be seen, and maybe I was glad. Now I didn’t have to tell him to get away from me, now I didn’t have to say that I devalued his love.
And yet . . .
I moved on. My room was just a few corridors down. I heard piano from the Library and part of me cringed as I twisted the brass key into the lock of my door. It was my oldest brother, the one who had come back to live with us after failing his many life decisions. He had left in a hurry, cursing the very name of my parents and shouting that he would never return.
But here he was, putting his dirty, disgusting fingers on the pure keys of my piano. At that very moment, I wanted to lock him in the room until he suffocated.
I entered my room and placed my bag on a chair beside my bed. I sat down on the edge of it and sighed again, my feet pressing on the heels of my shoes to pull them off of my feet. I could not explain it; it was business as usual. Maybe that was why I despised it so much? I did not wish to continue with the trash I had put up with day in day out my entire life. When Lotus had left, I was overjoyed for she no longer would be here to criticize my quiet nature or how my socks did not match my shirt. She was the firstborn of the Swar family, and she bore the title as if it was permission to throw her opinion around without any good reason.
But when I saw her last year at a family gathering, I found she had changed. The distance placed between us had helped the situation somewhat, and she no longer raised her voice in hate of who I was. It was a good thing, and I no longer hated her as much.
But my brother, the failure, the pig, was someone I knew I would never be able to trust. At least Lotus owned up to her faults, though she did not have any desire to fix them. To him, everything was always our fault, everything he ever did was never placed on his shoulders.
Part of me pitied him, and the other half of me hated him. He had wronged me so greatly that I could never forgive him unless he changed himself so drastically that he wasn’t even my same older brother anymore. I knew that I would not care if he died, but I knew I did not want it either. I knew I would not care if he was dead and placed on the ground, maybe I would be a little relieved, but I did not want it.
It is important for me to not desire his death. Indifference was what I really had, and yes, it is different than wanting him dead. Do not get me wrong, he is still my brother, but only in blood.
We might as well be strangers.
I got up and left my room, hearing the piano keys were bare again. I took some disinfecting spray and a kerchief to wipe down the piano and left my room, seeing the door to the Library laying wide open. Good, he was gone.
I entered and walked down the corridors of books, smelling them, inhaling the dust I knew I was terribly allergic to and yet I did not care. They smelled more divine than any kind of food, no matter how lovely it was. Books were the only things that screamed the loudest and yet still could be silent. They could rip one’s heart out, but then tell you why in the most caring way possible.
They were the only thing that one could accept abuse from and still know they were loved. It seemed wrong to think of it like that, but that was just my view on them.
I turned my head as I sprayed the keys of my piano, freezing in place. Joseph was in the doorway, his hand curled around the frame. He was a year younger than our oldest brother, and a year older than me. I never had anything against him, even as a child. No one in our family did.
“There is two missing now.” He said gravely. I nodded my head slowly and went back to my business.
Welcome to Hope Valley.