Chapter 1 (Dylan): Noisy Soul, by M-chan
I close my eyes, letting the stroke of water drops gliding over my skin wipe away the troubles of another long day. In my mind, everything remains perfect. I imagine a world where the truths of reality never existed. I pretend I’m in a place where nothing has changed from what it once was. I go back to a time of peace, when the constant hate would’ve been a joke.
In my insanity, my mind places me in a perfect world. In this world, I don’t see the Shadows and I don’t think my mother’s been sneaking around behind my back.
My eyes flutter open to look at the street that lies beside the concrete path that I am standing on now. A black SUV rests against the curb. A young woman stretches across the car’s passenger seat, brushing back muddy brown hair to stare at me through a rolled down window.
Stop gawking and get the hell away from me, I think rather rudely. That would be foul to say aloud, so I keep my thoughts to myself.
“Are you okay, miss?” the young woman asks sincerely, unaware of the things running through my mind. Well, I guess that’s good for her. It’s for the best that she stays innocent of my inner views.
My head bobs up and down in response to her question when I really want to scream, “No, I’m not okay, you freaking idiot,” and rip out my hair. That would be uncouth, though, so I let my nod be a polite answer to the nice woman’s inquiry.
Yet, the woman has skepticism in her hazel eyes. “Do you need a phone? I can let you call your parents.”
She moves away from the window, shifting to dig through a black purse hidden by her feet.
I stand, dumb and confused. Where am I? Who am I? Who is this woman? I know I’m somewhere downtown. I have no idea where exactly I am, however. I only recall my desperate sprint away from life. I can only bring to mind my last activities, which aren’t all too close to my heart. Suddenly, I think I feel a migraine coming upon me. It’s probably the worst time to have a migraine, and I find myself cursing karma and life along with it. As for the woman, she’s just some nutsy person who is adding to my major headache.
The woman sits up. She’s holding up a phone. It looks old and dilapidated. In spite of that, it would probably function if I called my mother. Nonetheless, I do not intend to contact my mother. I own a phone, and can utilize it if the need to communicate with my mother happened to arise. That need hasn’t developed thus far.
“Here, honey.” The woman practically shoves the phone in my face. “Call your mother. I can even give you a ride home if you need it. Really, I don’t mind.”
I step back, away from this woman. I don’t want anything to do with this stranger and her sincere offers of generosity, which seem so out of place in today’s world.
“It’s okay, dear.” She’s got a concerned smile plastered on her face. “You can trust me.”
“I’m–” I try to say more and note that my voice is hoarse from crying. I stumble backwards a bit more.
The woman places the phone on the passenger seat of her car and makes as if to step out. I know that she wants to come to me, comfort me. She can’t, though. I find no comfort in being near a woman who would never understand what I’m going through. She clearly doesn’t grasp this, as she opens the door on her side of the car. Now she’s outside, walking around the car to move closer to me. She’s slow, as if moving through honey. Maybe she’s fearful that I’ll take this chance to bolt.
Well, she’s right if that’s what she’s thinking. I take my chance. My legs start pumping before I can think. I am running down the sidewalk, fleeing from a woman who wants to help me. Rain stings my face, and I find myself wondering whether it’s tears or the downpour around me that’s blurring my vision. I would like to credit my distorted vision to the precipitation that is currently slashing at my skin. I’ve had enough tears, and I’d like to feign some sort of happiness. I don’t need any more weeping in my life. It’s probably the last thing I need, what with plenty of displays of grief over the past four months from my mother and sister. I feel as if I am drowning in tears and sorrow. One day, all of this sadness will swallow me up, and then I’ll be gone for good.
Now I can really see how much of a coward I am. I’m a wimp, and I’m stupid. I can’t convince myself that I’m anything other than craven and imprudent. I reflect upon my cowardly thoughts and actions. For me, there seems to be no other solutions to a problem. Is running from everyone the only thing I can do? I can only run in fear of the misery that is threatening to eat me.
After about five blocks, I decide that I can do something other than run; I walk. As my pace slows and I turn a corner, I shoot a sharp glance over my shoulder. The woman has not taken up pursuing me. She doubtless departed, deciding that I’m a lost cause.
Maybe the park, I consider. I need somewhere vacant, serene, and undisturbed.
My pace quickens from my leisurely walk, though it does not become as rushed as it was earlier, and I make my way to the only stinking park in this stupid town. I take a quick swipe at my eyes, to get rain out of my sight. After removing the water from my eyes, I jog to the park, which isn’t far from where I ended up after running from the woman. It takes little, maybe even no, time to get there. I keep my breathing even – in and out.
The park is empty, deserted. People don’t typically come to a park while it’s raining. They usually remain indoors, as they’re generally normal. At the very least, a normal person would have an umbrella. That just establishes that I’m not normal. Maybe I’m crazy, insane even. I mean, I feel insane. It would be totally justified. My solitary bearing and my crying me to sleep for the past four months really give the impression that I’m insane. I think my rambles are even evidence of my lunacy. In my mind, I can’t prevent the long rambles about nothing that run through my brain. Sometimes I wander to another topic, and then I feel lost. I’m definitely losing my marbles.
With no sense of timing, my phone abruptly starts playing music. It’s a tune I recorded five months before. I played it on a guitar myself. My father taught it to me, and I took care to learn every note to perfection.
This is not the time for reminiscent thoughts. I’d be foolish to think it was. I yank the fucking phone from a pocket in my jeans and glower at the gleaming screen. Caller ID tells me that it’s my mom pestering me. It figures, as my mom has been the only person senseless enough to call me over the past four months.
“What?” My voice comes off as rough and unwelcoming. I’m glad for that. I don’t want to sound warm and fuzzy.
“Where’s your sister?” My mother makes her tone just as fierce. She’s in a mood today.
Well, she’s not the only person in a mood. “Why should I know? Call somebody who cares.”
I hang up without waiting for a reply. There is no doubt in my mind that I’ll pay hell for my attitude. I hardly care, however. If my mother wants to ask about my sister, she picked the wrong girl to call.
See, where my mother is involved, my sister is the only person in the world. Everyone else is some object in my mother’s eyes. She plays nice, but my sister is the only one with real importance. I receive the worst treatment out of everyone. I could be a freaking coat rack, the way my mother treats me. Therefore, I don’t give half of a shit when it comes to my sister. My mother can solve her own problems if my sister is anywhere near them.
Without thinking, I throw my phone as a gesture of anger. The phone glides through the air, slamming against a tree in seconds. I watch it fall to the ground, now broken. Why should I care? It’s not as if anyone notable ever calls me.
I run some more, as that’s the only thing I can think to do. These days, I can never think of anything besides running. I run over the paths through the park, wishing running weren’t the only solution to my problems. I run until I slam into some poor, unsuspecting bystander. Maybe my constant running until it takes a living being to stop me is more testimony to my madness.
I guess he must be a tad irrational as well. I know it as soon as my eyes fall on him. For one thing, he’s outside. I was under the impression that I’m the only person foolish enough to be running around without an umbrella, in the park, while it’s raining. This is my first encounter hitherto with someone as peculiar as I am. Secondly, he’s taking pictures. He’s got a camera posed to snap a photo of a freaking tree. What is he, some daft nature-loving freak? Who takes pictures in this ghastly weather? That makes him more bizarre than I am. This is abnormal in itself. I’m ready to scream this to the world; I’m ready to shout that I’ve discovered someone more screwed up in the head than I am. Yet, where would that get me? It would get me nowhere, certainly.
“Sorry,” I hear this boy say, as if I wasn’t the one to smash into him.
“Whatever.” I know I’m being ungrateful, as this person is willing to take the blame for my rude exploit. Does it sound like I care in the least bit? If it does, you’re just as bonkers as this nature-loving dolt and me. I guess we’re all nuts. We can start a club, even. Maybe we can design our own t-shirts. You’re paying for them, though.
Now I’m turning away. Honestly, the club idea is a joke. Why would I want to be anywhere close to this weirdo? I have enough problems without adding some random freak I meet by coincidence to the mix.
As I turn away, I catch a glimpse of the brilliant flash. I whirl back to stare daggers at this boy. He is pointing his camera at me now, his blue eyes glowing with some sort of inner light.
“What was that?” I snap. Personally, I believe this is a best. I haven’t started screaming in a white-hot rant of fury so far. I can only presume that this is a step in the right direction.
“Sorry,” he says again. “I can delete it.”
I’m more inquisitive than irate now. “Delete what?”
He gestures with a pale hand, and I think his eyes have become green. It’s perplexing, and I’m far from trusting a total stranger who has shifting eyes. In spite of this, I’m aware that my legs are carrying me around to stand next to this strange boy. I come to a stop with my gaze on the picture visible upon the display of his digital camera.
Then, unexpectedly, I think that this boy with changing eyes is a genius. He managed to make me look pretty. Maybe I’m even beautiful. I think it’s an absolute miracle.
The first thing I see is the curve of my lips, which seem extraordinarily red. I’m fine with that, though. The red of my lips goes beautifully with the fair skin of my face, which stands out amid thousands of water droplets. Next, I see that my eyelids barely reveal my violet eyes, as I must be blinking. Nevertheless, the rain distorts the image in an inspiring way. I’m gorgeous, as if I’m a divinity lowering her eyelids in a bittersweet act. My dirty-blonde, almost brown, hair completes the image. More often than not, my hair doesn’t blend with the rest of me. Despite this fact, it falls just a few inches past my shoulders in a flawless way. I’m faultless, down to the last, infinitesimal aspect.
“Don’t delete it,” I hear myself murmur in a daunted, dumbfounded tone. When have I last been in awe at a person’s aptitude at anything? When have I last lowered my voice to provide something softer than a berating comment? When have I last said something in admiration of a true wonder of today’s world?
I can feel his gaze on me. He asks, “Are you sure?”
I nod, mute. What is there to say? How can I thank a stranger for making me look so elegant? There are no words for this. When has anyone last made me feel so special?
My eyes travel up to the boy’s face, just a bit too close to my face. He’s looking down at me, his chocolaty eyes smiling even as his lips purse thoughtfully.
Finally, he says, “The name’s Jae,” and reaches out a hand to me.
I think I’m gaping at him. No one ever offers to shake my hand. At least, people my age don’t offer to shake my hand. They usually avoid me. If they can, they avoid even falling under my gaze.
Against my better judgment, I take this boy’s hand. I feel an electric shock run through me and, for a minute, that boy’s eyes are a dim firelight orange. He squeezes my hand in his cold grip, and then he’s gone. I stare at nothing. I stare at where the boy was standing just a moment ago. My thoughts move to someone else. I think of a person from the distant past.
Is it wrong that my thoughts are on someone else? Is it wrong that I wish the boy were someone else? Is it wrong to yearn for lost love? Am I a bad person?
I say, “Thank you,” to the open air.
Only, I don’t know whom I’m thanking. Am I expressing some sort of gratitude to the boy with the changing eyes and camera, who will never hear my thanks? Am I giving appreciation to a past idol with a mysterious heart and ever-changing emotions, who wouldn’t understand my thanks?
I think back to that electric shock. What was it? All I know is that it brought a flood of memories. They were all memories that belonged to another person. I remember this boy, and I remember myself. I remember a long ago history. Only, I don’t know this history. I have only the slightest feeling that I have recalled such events before.
“Snap out of it,” I scold myself strictly.
I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to go back to the past. I have to get home, without running into my mother. She’s pissed, no doubt. I need to get home whilst avoiding my mother. My apologies, as I’ve already said that, only in a diverse form. I endeavor to verbalize that I need to stay alive until my first day of high school, which happens to be tomorrow.