Rubber Band

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William: Nightmares

He'd seen him.

God damn it, Oliver had seen him.

They had locked eyes for a split second and in that mere moment William had prayed in a hundred different languages that Oliver Emerson would not remember who he was.

Cursing under his breath, William made his way up the dreadful steps of his uncle's trailer, eager to barge inside, walk straight to his room, and simply lie on his bed, eager to hide away and tune out the world still spinning without him. He made his way into the corridor, shutting the door softly behind him, relief washing over his entire being as he realized Stan had gone off to work, bartending at a murky nightclub down in a bad part of town, of which he usually came home drunk from.

Slowly, carelessly, William sauntered over to the coffee table beside his uncle's favorite couch, eyeing the lonely pack of half-empty cigarettes, and leaning forward to grab one out of its cardboard encasing. He held it between his fingers, strolled towards the kitchen, rummaged through one of the many drawers, and yanked out a lighter, instantly lifted the smoke to his lips, sparking the end, and inhaling, deeply, lovingly, effortlessly.

Paradise.

With that, he made his way towards his bedroom, still dragging his backpack along with him, smoke cascading behind his back to form a misty trail.

Entering his humble abode, painted so dark "evil lair" fit it better, Will tossed his school bag into the corner by his door, lifted his cigarette, and plummeted down onto his dull, depressing, little bed. Growling, he exhaled a cloud of bitter, hazy delight, and closed his eyes, black nothingness engulfing the entirety of his being.

Just the way he liked it.


"Hi," A small voice beckoned, and William glanced up from his book of poetry, turning his attention to the short figure, only a year old than he, standing just a few feet from him, clad in a suit jacket, dress shoes, and slacks that were far too big for him.

"Hello," Will nodded in response to the boy's greeting, crowding in on himself, drawing his long, black winter closer to him, and hiding his book's front cover, insecurity getting the better of him.

"Who are you?" The stranger questioned, brows raised in inquiry.

"What's it to ya?" William snapped back, eyes narrowed skeptically.

The boy didn't seem to notice the spite in his tone of voice, for he merely shrugged and sat down in front of him, smile bright and curious, "Are you here for my grandpa?"

William blinked, and then glanced over the boys shoulder, watching a group of people all dressed in black slowly walking away from a rather large headstone.

Ah.

That's what William gets for choosing to spend quiet time in a graveyard.

"No. I'm just reading," He replied, forcing himself to shove his nose back into his book, unwilling to interact further.

"What're you reading?" The boy beamed, scooting indiscreetly closer.

"Poems."

"Poems? Poems are boring."

"No they're not! They're are metatorical."

"What's metatorical mean?"

"There are many comparisons used throughout to describe characters."

"You mean like a metaphor?"

"Yeah, that's what I said. Metaphorical."

"You said it wrong."

"No I didn't."

"Yes, you did! You said-"

"Why are you talking to me?" William questioned, eyes ominous and suspicious.

The other boy swallowed, shrugged his shoulders, and hugged his knees to his chest, "You seem interesting."

Will brightened, extending his hand politely, respectfully, like his dad had told him to do, time after time again, "My name's William."

The boy gazed at the hand, curious and observant, eyes dancing over Will's pale palm.

"It's just a handshake." William scoffed, grinning at the confused boy, gesturing towards his hand.

"I know that, but that's for grown-ups," The stranger chuckled, glaring at Will's arm as though it had offended him.

"Well," William shrugged, "How would you greet me then?"

The boy giggled and, suddenly, he was lunging for William, hands flying outward, body soaring for the other child, "With a hug!"

And then William was frozen still, confused and perplexed and bemused and bewildered.

This was certainly new.

"It's much nicer than a handshake, isn't it?" The boy laughed, bright and beaming, such a happy thing that it made him utterly difficult for William to fathom.

"I suppose so," Will managed, swallowing the knot forming in his throat, his eyes stinging with tears for some unknown reason.

Perhaps because he wasn't used to such affection? His parents were always working in the shop, he had no friends, he read depressing Edgar Allen Poe poems, and spent his time, alone, in a graveyard.

And from a boy he'd never met before, he was receiving quite a grand masterpiece of a hug.

"I'm Oliver Emerson." The little voice responded, muffled in William's shoulder. When he pulled away, he was grinning, from ear to ear, blissfully satisfied.

Will nodded, blankly, distractedly, "William."

"I know. You told me already."

William blushed and bobbed his head, aware of that embarrassing fact. He quickly hid his face and sighed.

Before either of the two boys could say another word, a feminine voice called out for William's new friend, and the boy was quickly on his feet.

"Sorry, I gotta go now," Oliver waved a short wave, and, within an instant, was off, sprinting down the small hill William sat upon, back against a spooky, graveyard tree.

Neither of them asked when they'd see one another again, or whether they could keep in contact. They merely watched each other as they both grew farther and farther apart, distant souls that already considered one another best friends.


William woke up drenched in sweat, tears streaming down his pale cheeks, bottom lip quivering and fingers trembling around what now sat as a stub of a cigarette. With a growl and a lunge upward, he bit his lip and tossed the cigarette out his opened window, carelessly, thoughtlessly.

"Fucking nightmares."


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