“Hey Gage!” Annalisha called from the top of the hill. Gage glanced over his shoulder and waited for her to catch up. “Hey! How are you?” she smiled.
He pursed his lips, looking at her from the corner of his eyes, “I'm ok,” He stared out in the distance ahead of them, “Dad did it again.” She scowled and turned her head toward him, “Did you do it again?” He nodded and trained his vision at the snowy footprints from the day before. They walked in silence, Annalisha glancing at him every few minutes. “Ya' know Anna, I'm getting fed up,” He drug his heels into the snow. “with what?” she furrowed her brow. “Life,” he swallowed, “Life is screwing me over, I don't know how much longer I can last.” she stopped and pouted. “Gage don't say things like that!” she shouted as he turned towards her, “What am I supposed to do?” He sighed and held out his hand, “Fine, just c'mon.” They walked holding hands. Glancing at her, he noticed her face turning red; not from the cold. He ignored it; his life was to complicated without having a girl to worry about. In silence, they continued their walk to school.
He stood leaning against the cold, brick wall. Gage exhaled and watched the steam float away. Annalisha turned around the corner of the wall and looked at Gage. He half smiled and opened his arms. She came in to the embrace and clung to his warm body. When he released he began to trudge back down the road. “so,” she broke the silence. “yeah so?” he retorted. She scowled, wringing her wrists; trying to calm down. She looked at him, “will you be ok tonight?” He shrugged, “who knows?” she swallowed and looked at her feet. What could she do? She couldn’t do anything for him, and that killed her inside. “wanna come over later?” she offered. He grinned, knowing his friend, “if things don’t get to bad I’ll come.”
They walked their separate ways down their forked driveways. Gage stopping to check the mail first. He took the wad of bills and flashy junk mail, slammed the little door on the mailbox, and started to make his way up the driveway. The screen door to the drab little, two room trailer was wide open: the trailer echoed with the drunken roars from his father and the shrill outcries from his mother. He took a deep breath and stepped inside the home walking through the flying weapons of the brutal war his parents were having. He didn’t even stop to take off his boots. He slammed his door straight shut and flipped the padlock shut. He slid his back down the wall as tears began to pour from his eyes. “why me?” he growled under his breath. He put his head back against the door and let the tears fall. “what in hell did I do to deserve this?” he took a deep breath and rubbed his eyes. Kicking off his boots as he stood up; he walked over to his desk. He pulled the top drawer open and shifted through the clutter until he found his prize: his lucky pocket knife. He flipped out the third blade, the one he spent hours sharpening for this very task. He plopped down on his bed. Laughing manically through the tears, he flipped off his sweater. His pale bare chest was covered in an enormous amount of scars, cuts and burns. To the average kid, this would seem like torture. To him it was a typical Friday night. He dug the narrow blade into his for arm dragging it through his skin. His tears stopped and he sighed with relief as the blood pooled in the wound. Again and again he dug the blade through his scarred skin for the reward of blood.
He wrapped a black t-shirt around his arm and clamped his hand around the wounds. The cotton in the shirt dug into the split skin. He winced, listening for his parents. All he heard was his mother's sobs. He threw the shirt back in the hamper and pulled his sweater and boots back on. He cracked his door open, peeking out. All was still, except the sobs of his mother. He snaked out of his door and shut it quietly. He padded over to the door, pulling on his coat, and bolted out the door down the dirt path to Annalisha's house. He dug his heels into the slush shoving his hands in his pockets. He breathed out watching the steam escape his lips. He slowly climbed a small hill glancing out over the field behind Annalisha's home. The dead field made him chuckle, “if only, if only once I could be like them.”
Her house was a immaculate 5 room house, with half of the yard covered by her younger siblings toys and sports equipment. He trudged up to the door and banged the palm of his fist against the hardwood door. “ What?” Annalisha's mother hissed through the screen. He looked up from the ground and uttered, “Is Anna home?” The woman slightly smiled and roared into the house, “Anna you little bitch, there is some guy here for you.” Anna jogged to the door, Her yoga pants tripping her on the stairs. She looked behind her, stepping out of the door and shutting it behind her. “What are you doing here? I'm already in enough trouble!” she whispered, eyes wide. He looked her over, “um Anna.” she glared, “what?” she hissed through her teeth. “your leg,” he pointed at the leg of her yoga pants. The dark red stain gradually growing larger. She gasped and put her hand on her thigh, “its not stopping.” Gage lightly touched her thigh and looked her in the eye, “we need to get this patched up.” She shook her head, “I'll be fine.” He pulled up his sleeve and showed her the gashes in his arm, “Your not alone ok, I need some fixing too.” She limped over to the railing. “Gage-” “Don't apologize, Its fine,” He pulled a side of his lips into a grin and hugged her.
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