Chapter 1 The Mark
I hate flowers.
They’re so bright, almost sickeningly so. I don’t understand people’s fascination with them at all. They’re just a cruel reminder that everything dies in the end. People rip these things up from their roots and put their carcasses in a vase on display and watch as they slowly die, throwing them out as though their nothing. Why bother? Flowers have no depth. They have no personality, no soul. They’re only there to fuel the narcissistic and the vain. Their only purpose is to look pretty. So why in the hell is there one on my wrist?
People call it the mark, the mark of the mates or some stupid bullshit like that. I didn’t really pay that much attention in class about it, but I remember the gist of it.
When we all come of age, a symbol appears on our wrists that is apparently connected to our soulmates. The symbol can be anything, an image, a quote, a simple colour. It’s suppose to lead us to our mates, partners, our meaning in life. What a load of shit. People talk about mates as though it’s the only thing worth living for. I remember all the girls in college, even some guys getting so giddy when their mark appeared. As if a single person was going to give them all the answers in life, as if a single person was going to be their salvation. How could you expect someone else to save you, when you yourself were broken. Human beings are such fragile creatures, there’s a ninety nine percent chance that your mate, was just as messed up as you. Was just, as lost. Was just, as broken.
I’m supposed to think that my mate can fix everything for me? Fixed my shattered, pathetic life? Just like that? What a joke. No one can fix me, I don’t need fixing, I don’t need anyone. I’ve gotten this far on my own. All my life I’ve had this. This brokenness inside me. This desire, to watch the world burn. No one is going to change that, especially not some stupid bitch who likes flowers.
I wonder what she has? It makes me laugh thinking about it. Thinking that there’s some silly little girl running around with a skull on fire or something on her wrist. I bet she’s terrified. She should be. Don’t get me wrong, I never wanted it to be like this. To be so broken and bitter but that’s just the cards I was dealt. I wasn’t given the same fortune as everyone else, hell, I wasn’t given any fortune at all.
I was given parents that didn’t give two shits about me. A mother and father that cared more about doing drugs and getting drunk than they did about their own child. I guess it makes sense that their marks would be a representation of that. Their pathetic excuses of existence. If it wasn’t for those marks, they wouldn’t have a purpose at all, because they sure as hell couldn’t be parents. People don’t understand how destroying it is, to come home from school and find your mother passed out on the floor from drugs and your father too drunk to stand. They were a match made in hell, but they were happy. Happy with their pathetic excuses for lives. Happy because they had each other. They were both so destructive. They didn’t help each other, they only made each other worse.
It was always like that. I don’t think I have a single memory of my mother sober. I don’t think I have a single memory of my father without a drink in his hands. The only good thing I ever saw was how so in love they were. How every time my father went away on a business trip, my mothers mark would glow and ache because she missed him. It was the only thing that made me think it wasn’t so bad, that maybe there was some good in it. But the funny thing about marks is, they don’t stop you from being a horrible person. They just make you so in love with the other person, that you ignore all of their flaws, bad habits, destructive behaviour because you love them. They could destroy themselves and you’d ignore it, because your mark tells you too. A tiny little thing on your wrist, has to power to force you to watch as someone slowly kills themselves because you’re too weak to tell them no. You’d stop a friend, you’d stop a parent, you’d stop a child, but you can not stop your mate. It’s pathetic.
I guess that’s why I wasn’t surprised when I came home one day and found my parents dead. My mother had overdosed and my father had killed himself out of grief, because without your mate, you are nothing. They left their child alone in the world to fend for themselves, because their marks cared more about each other than anything else. Marks don’t care about children. Marks don’t care whether you’re killing yourself or not. They only care about each other. They make me sick.
I grew up alone and unloved because of them. So you can imagine how I felt when mine appeared. The reason for my suffering, the reason for my isolation. Appeared on my wrist, looking as weak as I felt. It’s head was bent down like it was crying, like it had given up, like it had lost all hope. I don’t even know what kind of flower it is. I never bothered to check. I didn’t care.
My first instinct was to get it covered. I didn’t want to see it. Just the though of it made me sick. I went to a tattooist but he told me there was no point. It would just fade and the mark would remain and I’d just have an incomplete tattoo surrounding it. So I cover it up. I refuse to walk around with a flower labelled into my skin, because that’s what it is, a label. It wouldn’t tell me anything, even if I knew the damn flower meaning. How can the complexity of a human being, be portrayed in such a small symbol? It can’t, because it’s a joke. I don’t like being labelled. I don’t like people assuming they know me. The snide whispers I hear from passing people who see it.
‘How can a guy like that have a flower mark?’
‘I bet his mate is so disappointed.’
‘His mate must be a guy, that’s so gay.’
I have to bite my tongue to stop myself from knocking people out, because marks don’t stop you from being a horrible person. Why should they? When they only give a damn about each other. I’m not a good person, because I couldn’t be. I wasn’t given the same chances as everyone else. I was given addiction and abandonment. I was left to fend for myself. I couldn’t be a good person. So I won’t pretend that I am. Every time I cover my wrist, every time I ignore it’s pulses, everyday I pretend it isn’t there, it burns. Like it’s punishing me for hiding it, like it’s crying out for it’s mate. But why should I care? It never answered my cries, so I won’t answer it’s. It’s easy to do after all this time. I decide to go to bed and try to sleep. It’s starting to burn again and alcohol can only dull the pain so much.
I wake up to the sound of an alarm and a throbbing headache. I take a deep breathe trying to focus. I groggily sit up trying to control my breathing as I take a glance towards the clock on my night stand.
Seven thirty. Fucking brilliant.
I take a deep breath, standing up on shaky legs before heading to bathroom. I don’t bother with a shower. I’m not trying to impress anyone. I grab my bag and make my way out the door, prepared for another pointless day. I arrive at uni, just in time to see all the freshman giggling about their new classes, some of them fawning over each others marks. I feel my stomach churn, making me feel sick, but that could just be the alcohol, I’m honestly not sure anymore. The burning is back, stronger than before. I’m honestly tempted to just cut my hand off. At least the pain will stop.
I have to catch my breath as I climb the stairs, why the hell did our class have to be on the top level. It’s almost like they don’t want to you to go to class. Then again doing it with a severe hangover probably isn’t helping. I get about three quarters of the way up before running into Xander, who’s on the same course as me. He tells me that first lesson has been cancelled. Brilliant.
I sigh, thanking him for at least having the decency to tell me. He invites me to go hang out in the canteen while we wait for the lesson. I decline, walking away before he has chance to argue. I’m not exactly a fan favourite around here and I’d like to keep it that way. I begrudgingly trudge all the way back downstairs, grabbing a coffee from the machine before heading out towards the field for a smoke. I’ve got a couple of hours to kill and I’d rather not spend them hearing about people’s pathetic marks.
I make it to back of the field. Behind the green houses used for the horticulture course. I don’t particularly like being around all these flower but it’s the quietest spot I know. I close my eyes, trying to will the headache and burning in my wrist to go away, before a voice interrupts me.
“The flowers are lovely this time of year.” You hear a dreamy voice say. You open your eyes slowly looking for the source of the voice and your eyes widen for a brief second, as a girl with bleach white hair and bright green eyes stares down at you with a kind smile. She looks so fragile but your gut tells you she isn’t. You look away, taking a long drag on your fag.
“That so?” You say melancholy.
“Quite so, but smoking’s not good for them.” She says in a light cheerful voice.
“Neither is talking to strangers.” You say rather harshly. You turn to look at her again, she’s still wearing a dreamy smile. You feel your stomach flutter for some reason.
“Touché.” She smirks, glancing down. You follow her gaze and notice that she’s looking at your mark. You curse under your breath pulling your sleeve down, covering it.
“It means hope, that the darkness will lift and the light will return soon.” She says softly.
“What?” You force out, angry that she saw it.
“The snow drop, that’s the flower on your wrist.” She smiles.
“It’s pathetic is what it is.” You grit your teeth.
“How so?” She questions.
“Flowers are for the vain, people cut them up and put them on show for their own amusement. My mate is probably as pathetic and this flower looks.” You seethe. Her smile falters only for a split second, just long enough to catch your eye.
“Or maybe they wish to share the beauty?” She asks. You stay quiet, refusing to give her an answer. She stares calmly at you, that dreamy smile returning to her features. “Don’t you want to know what mine is?” She asks, her voice filled with warmth.
“No, I do not care for marks.” You say, voice filled with angst.
“Why?” She asks.
“Because they never cared for me.” You stare ahead, an empty expression on your face. You stay in silence. You can feel your wrist burning again, worse than before. The girl breaks the silence before it becomes maddening.
“I should get going, I have plant nutrition in ten minutes.” She says calmly. You give a faint nod, not bothering to glance in her direction.
“I hope to speak to you again.” She says softly, voice hopeful. You resist the urge to look at her. You hear the faint sound of footsteps leading away from you. The burning in your wrist is replaced with an ache. You glance to notice that the girl is indeed gone. You lift your sleeve, glancing at the flower below.
A small snip-it by Alex Xavier Robinson
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