Fever Dreams

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Chapter 3: Ugly

“You’re not my son. I’d never make something so ugly.”
“Look at those ratty eyebrows and that nasty hair.”
“I drink because of you, you homely shit.”

My alarm clock interrupted my memories. I hadn’t been sleeping, merely thinking.
Growing up, I’d come to terms with the fact that my mother had a drinking problem. She was the kindest woman until she picked up a bottle of whiskey. She got help a few years ago, but the fact of the matter is that she was a verbally abusive drunk.
Really, I’d have preferred to be abused physically, because her words really got inside my head.
It was around my thirteenth birthday when the habit of personal grooming began. I stole tweezers from my aunt, as well as hair care products from my uncle, who was a barber. Actually, I stole a lot of self-care products that year.
I wanted my mom to be proud of the way I looked.
Even after she was rehabilitated, I continued to pay special attention to my appearance. My mom never remembered the things she said, and is still unaware that she’d done anything to me at all. Still, I obsessively fuss over my looks.
I’m aware that people think I’m a narcissist, but I don’t really give a shit. Let people think what they want.
I just want to be good enough for my mom to love me.
It’s always only been my mom. I’ve never cared what anyone else thought. Then, I laid eyes on Silas for the first time, and I really wanted him to like me. That was a really fucked up feeling for me. It still is. I need him in my life. I need him to speak to me, to smile at me. I might actually die if I can’t get that. Fuck. It sounds like I’m in love. Damnit all.

We started making pots in Sculpture. I don’t even fucking know why I’m in this class. I’m really good at drawing, and I guess I figured working with clay would be enjoyable. I discovered something about myself recently: Making any three-dimensional object is basically my kryptonite.
Making pots for instance.
Although, on this particular day, it’s not so bad.
I was kneading my clay against the table, when two long, slender arms reached around me, hands closing around mine.
“Like this,” purred Ethan’s seductive voice.
His strong, thin hands dwarfed mine beneath his as we worked the clay. Altogether, he dwarfs me anyway. He’s at least five inches taller than me, and I’m fucking short.
I was having a hard time keeping “myself” calm, what with his hands on mine, his breath on my neck, and his tight body against my back. He seemed to notice me trying to compose myself, and he chuckled, his tongue dragging along my neck and down my--
“Ah!” I gasped. “I’m up!”
The psychology teacher stood above me, his book having been slammed onto my desk to wake me up. I sprang up, blushing as I noticed my fellow peers laughing at me. The blush became a flush when my eyes fell on Ethan, and, as if he knew, he smirked. Fuck, is he a mind reader now, too?
“Mr. McHale, would you mind reading the paragraph on serotonin?” the teacher, Mr. Lane asked facetiously. “You were giving us a great example, so you may as well enlighten us.”
I narrowed my eyes at him, and looked down at my book, reading aloud. Once I was finished, Mr. Lane nodded and stalked away. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught Ethan staring at me once again. Fuck, I hate him. Looking at me with those eyes. Invading my dreams. Motherfucker.

I’ve always paid special attention to detail. I noticed the slight stutter of Danny Maness, who sits across from me, when he talks too long. Jayla Rhodes, next to him, develops a twitch in her lip when she’s being sarcastic or lying. Kai Lauder, next to me, never gestures with her hands while talking unless she’s extremely angry.
Therefore, of course I noticed when Ethan continually pestered Ms. Epsom about the efficiency of a potter’s wheel in the classroom to aid in making out pots and vases.
I don’t know why. I really don’t. Maybe it’s my desire to be acknowledged by Ethan or my innate ability to get myself into trouble, but what slipped from my lips really made me want to crawl under a rock:
“I have one.”
Ethan’s gaze shifted from Ms. Epsom to me, and both of them approached my table.
“What’d you say, Silas?” he asked.
“I have a potter’s wheel I’d be willing to allow you access to. If that’s alright with Ms. Epsom, that is.”
The tall, thin woman shrugged. “Fine with me. Not in class though. If you bring it in here, eeeeverybody will want to use it.” She waved her hands around to emphasize her point.
“We could come in here during second lunch shift,” I offered. “The room’s empty at that time, excluding me.”
“That’d be groovy,” Ms. Epsom said, giving a thumbs up.
“Works for me,” Ethan practically purred.
Something about his tone of voice made me shiver and I couldn’t decide if that was a good thing or a bad thing. It makes me wonder if he feels the same way I do.
Wait…feels the same way? What way? Brain, why would you even bring that up? I don’t have feelings for him! For the last damn time!
He’s smiling at me. Why’s he smiling at me? Is he still talking to me? Fuck, I’ve been wrapped up in my own mind melodrama.
“Huh?” I asked.
He chuckled. “I was saying that I can’t wait to work with you. And it’s, uh, nice to be on speaking terms again.”
I nodded as he walked away, then raised an eyebrow. “‘On speaking terms?’ Makes it sound like we were at an impasse or something.”

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