"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were, but without it, we go nowhere."
"Are any of your brothers still here?" Mr. Cliff questioned in a gruff masculine voice. Calloused fingers tapping on his mahogany desk, in patterns of five taps, silence, then another five. The blue computer light illuminating his mustached wrinkled face, clearly showing disappointment.
He looks disappointed, angry. Emotions Mikey doesn't like seeing or feeling.
Mikey feels like a child again, a guilty child who did something wrong. He didn't do anything though, it was those boys.
Slumping into the padded chair, even more, avoiding eye contact with the principal.
'I'm not a bad kid, I didn't do anything.'
Mr. Cliff's desk was organized, the 'Best Principal' mug was on a coaster placed center left of the desk. It looks to be empty. The mug and coaster are placed a careful distance away from the computer on the right. Picture frames of his family on the left corner and some hung by the window, his graduate certificate and other certificates Mikey isn't able to identify hung on the walls. The school sports team photos pinned to the wall beside the door. The sun shining into the room from the window through the thin beige curtains, bathing everything in a warm golden glow.
Mikey mumbled a 'yes', his eyes never leaving his shoes. Dried mud is splattered on the white sides of his converse, small amounts of mud smudged on top of his yellow colored sneakers. They were and looked old, at least a year and a half now. Mom bought them as a present, they're duller than when Mikey first got them. The laces were dirty, no longer a pure white, but a light brown. He should buy new laces. The shoes would still look nice if he would wash some of the mud off every once in a while.
"In clubs?" His voice rumbling, bringing Mikey out of his head.
Mikey nodded. Feet not swinging like they usually would. Eyes still focused on his feet.
Mikey wished he was still at the nurses' office, the bed was soft and Mrs. Dewitt was so kind to him. She gave him a cherry lollipop before he left. She was more pleasant to be around, not intimidating or scary at all. Mr. Cliff, on the other hand, his presence is unpleasant.
"Is there a parent at home able to pick you boys up?" His blue-grey eyes stared at him.
Avoiding eye contact, "Probably." Mikey murmured.
Mr. Cliff typed on his computer, then he picked up the phone. Punching in numbers, the dull clicking sound echoing throughout this room. His face in a permanent scowl, clearing his throat and bringing the phone up to his ear.
"...Yes, hello. This is Mr. Cliff. I have Mike here in my office, he was caught fighting with another student." Pause. "Yes, he's okay. I'm sending him home, are you able to pick him and his brothers up?"
Mikey could hear the quiet voice of his father from the phone speaker. He couldn't make out any words, just muffled noises.
"No, his brother's were not in the fight... Okay, thank you for your time Mr. Hamato. Bye-bye." Hanging up only to pick it up again.
Pressing another number in, the thunking noise of the buttons at a slow speed. The intercom screeched to life.
"Leo, Raph, and Don Hamato, please come to the office." The intercom rang throughout the school, the principal's baritone staticky voice interrupting the students still inside the building and inside the perimeter. All the students in afterschool clubs and sports practices probably got startled from the sudden screech of the intercom. Most not caring what Mr.Cliff has to say, except for Mikey's brothers, who were suddenly summoned to the office.
'You didn't do anything Mikey, those guys are assholes,' Raph grumbled reassuring.
Mikey just closed his eyes and lowered his head, not responding to the brothers in his head. He couldn't talk to him now, not in front of the principle.
'It was self-defense, they threw the first hit. Don't blame yourself, Mikey.' Leo's voice, calming.
Mikey's hands closed tightly, nails digging into his palms. Not enough to penetrate the skin, leaving little red crescent moons scattered along his palms.
'Put ice on the forming bruises when we get home. It's already swelling...' Donnie's voice, sounding anxious and concerned.
Mikey brought his hands to his eyes, pushing the heels against them despite the pulsing bruise around his eye. Fireworks of color splashed in the darkness.
Swirling and splashing behind his eyelids, twisting and turning. Blending into different colors, disappearing, reappearing only to leave again.
'I should paint when I get home, maybe some flowers?'
"...ike," The disappointed sounding principal said. "You're an amazing student, you do great in all your classes, I don't want you going down the wrong path. Grab your things and go, your Dad's on his way." He motioned to the door, turning back to his computer.
In the Mathletes Club, Donnie was quickly packing his stuff away. Apologizing to the teacher in charge and to his fellow Mathletes. Closing the door to the classroom, he headed to the office.
In the book club, Leo silently put his book into his bag. He apologized to the teacher and left. Why did he and his two younger brothers get called? Why wasn't Mikey called?
In the wrestling room, Raph was excused to change. He quickly undressed of his damp, sweaty clothing, applying deodorant. Then changing into his clean clothes, jeans and a t-shirt. He stuffed his clothing into his bag. He began to make his way to the office. Waving bye to the rest of the group.
Lowering his hands and hunching over, grabbing his bag off the floor. Vision slightly distorted, he slung the slightly heavy bag over his shoulder. Standing up and walking out of the awful feeling office.
His feet dragging along the floor of the main office, he then plopped himself onto one of the couches near the entrance and dropping his bag carelessly on the floor beside his feet. Lowering his head into his hands, he shuts his eyes tightly.
ʸᵒᵘ ˢʰᵒᵘˡᵈ ᵇᵉ ᵃˢʰᵃᵐᵉᵈ ᵒᶠ ʸᵒᵘʳˢᵉˡᶠ
'Dad's gonna be mad. He's gonna be mad, mom too.' Mikey gripped his head, fingernails digging into his scalp. Stinging pain throbbing throughout his head as his fingernails dig deeper.
His right leg shakes, bouncing up and down. Not tiring, maybe too much energy in his body? Stressed maybe?
'We won't be mad, Mikey. We know he started it first.' Leo consoled.
Mikey couldn't respond, the receptionist was still at her desk. All he did was give a nod at Leo's statement.
'Don't worry Mikey, we're not mad. You didn't do anything wrong.' Donnie spoke reassuring, attempting to get rid of Mikey's anxieties.
Mikey nodded limply.
He could feel the receptionist's eyes on him.
ₛₕₑ ₕₐₜₑₛ ᵧₒᵤ
He could feel her eyes roaming, not knowing if it's in judgment, concern or disgust.
ₛₕₑ 𝓌ₐₙₜₛ ᵧₒᵤ 𝒹ₑₐ𝒹
Mikey tried not to acknowledge the uncomfortable sensation in his body.
The door creaked open, Mikey didn't bother looking up. Leg still bouncing repeatedly. The door clicked shut. He heard steps nearing him. A hand laid itself upon his shoulder.
"Mikey?" Leo quietly whispered.
Mikey kept his head down. Mikey felt Leo sit down beside him.
Leo's hand went to his back, rubbing in slow circular motions. Attempting to comfort whatever was bothering his baby brother.
'What happened?" Leo's voice is soft, still whispering.
Mikey released the harsh grip on his head. He didn't respond. Still covering his face, he leaned onto his eldest brother. Mikey felt safe.
Leo wrapped an arm over Mikey, providing a safe, consoling embrace.
"Are you okay, Mikey?" Leo murmured.
Mikey nodded slightly, still pressed against his brother. He wanted to go home.
The door opened again, Mikey still kept his hands covering his face.
"Leo? Mikey? What's wrong?" Donnie spoke in a hushed concerning tone. He shut the door before making his way towards the two.
Mikey leaned more into Leo. Leo put a hand on Mikey's head. Slightly rocking both of them, trying to calm Mikey.
Donnie sat beside Leo, leaning over to look at Mikey.
"Where's Raph?" Leo asked Donnie, looking over at him. Both of their eyebrows are scrunched in confusion and concern.
Something happened to their youngest brother, Mikey's never silent.
"He has wrestling today, he might be changing," Donnie spoke quietly.
"Text him to meet us at the front, and call dad." Leo's voice sounds calm.
Donnie stood up and was headed towards the door, phone in hand to call their dad.
"Dad's picking us up," Mikey's shaky voice said, stopping Donnie.
Silence filled the room.
"Oh" Was all Donnie managed to respond with.
"Let's just go wait at the front. Raph'll meet us." Leo spoke to Mikey in a mellow tone.
Leo helped Mikey stand, grabbing Mikey's bag off the floor and slinging it over his own shoulders. Mikey's head was hanging, his blond curls hiding his injuries.
Donnie held the door open, Leo guided Mikey out. Waving goodbye at the secretary. Donnie trailed after them, sending a text to Raph.
Their footsteps echoed throughout the empty halls. Sunlight hitting the polished floor and into their eyes.
Donnie walked ahead to open the front doors for the two. Mikey brought a hand up to his face, he has a headache.
Leo brought Mikey to a bench, sitting him down and setting his bag down. Mikey was still hunched over, chest to his knees. Leo had a hand on Mikey's back, kneeling beside him.
"Do you need water?"
Mikey nodded. Raising his head a bit. Leo grabbed his water bottle from the side of his backpack, handing it over to his brother. Mikey twisted the cap open, tilting his head back. The cool water flooded his mouth, overcoming the dryness everywhere in his mouth. Swallowing a couple of mouth fulls, he twisted the cap back on. Handing the half-full water bottle back to Leo, who was staring at him as their eyes met. Baby blue to sapphire. Leo's eyebrows furrowed.
Confusion clear on Mikey's face. "What's wrong...?"
Lowering the bottle on the bench.
Donnie was staring too, his dark brown eyes behind his glasses. He was shocked.
"Mikey... Who did that to you?" Eyes still on his bruised face. Raising a hand to inspect the bruise and busted lip further. Mikey winced away from him, not wanting anyone to touch his injuries. As it will most likely hurt even more with pressure.
Donnie stepped forward, reaching out to see the swelling around the eye. Mikey backed off, still on the bench, looking away from his two older brothers.
"It's not a big deal, don't worry 'bout it." Mikey tried to convince the two, bringing his hands up to cover his lip. Ducking his head down so his hair covers his eye again.
Mumbling through his hands, barely able to decipher what he said.
Leo placed a hand on his wrist, trying to carefully pry his hands away from the open wound.
"Mikey put your hands down! You're going to make it infected!" Donnie's spoke hurriedly and loudly. Reaching forward for Mikey's hand.
Mikey reluctantly lowered his hand. His tongue traced the cut slightly, flinching at the stinging of the open wound.
"It doesn't hurt, really! Everything's cool." Mikey said, swatting his big brother's hands away from him.
'We don't bel͜ie̛v̕e yo̵u.' The brothers declared in his head.
Recoiling at their words, Mikey squinted his eyes. He's getting a headache. It's really not a big deal!
Leo and Donnie slowly put their hands down, their gazes still holding worry.
"Well... we're gonna have to disinfect that as soon as we get home, and ice the bruises, reduce the swelling..." Donnie sighed.
Mikey whined, "That'll hurt though." His legs kicking in a pouty manner, just thinking about the stinging of the clean cut is hurting.
"Yeah, but we got to, Mike."
Silence. Mikey dreaded going home now. Angry
Leo's face still filled with concern, "Are there any other injuries?"
"Hm... Not really. I'm just kinda sore." Shrugging at him.
The sound of the front door creaking open was what made the trio turn their heads. Raph was walking towards them, phone in hand. The other hand raised up to block the sun out of his eyes. Squinting as he took long strides to his family.
"So, what happened?" He immediately interrogated the three. Standing besides Donnie.
"...Nothing much, Dad's picking us up." Mikey spoke, looking towards the somewhat busy road. Dad's not here yet. Maybe five more minutes?
"Mike's got a couple of injuries that he will explain at home," Donnie said, checking the time on his phone.
Mikey leaned forward, chest against his thighs. Head and hands hanging down, fingertips skimming the cement. He just wants to go home. In his room, where he can paint.
'I think I left a bag of chips on the nightstand. Painting and snacks sounds like an awesome way to spend the evening. Some tunes as well.'
A hand lifted Mikey's head up forcefully under his chin, jerking Mike out of his head. His head tilted, forced to look at whoever is being so harsh. A hand went over his forehead to keep his hair out of the way. Raph's green eyes were scanning over his black eye and cut lip.
"Who did this Mike?" He demanded.
"Wh-" Are all the words that could come out of Mikey.
Mikey raised his hand to shove Raph off him, "No one, it was an accident!" He protested loudly, shaking his head. Trying to get Raph to release his head. Scrunching his face in pain.
"Someone did this, who? Are they still inside the school?" Raph was trying to turn Mikey's head back to him.
Mikey raised a leg to push him off. "Dude-- Stop! Lemme GO!"
Donnie was trying to pry Raph's harsh grip off Mikey. "Raph, stop! You'll make it worse!"
Leo roughly placed his hands on Raph's chest, stopping him from getting closer to Mikey, "Raph, back off! You're hurting him!" He commanded, slightly shoving him back.
"Don't you touch me," Raph slapped Leo's hands away, standing his ground.
Leo face contorted in anger opened his mouth, about to say something that would've fueled the argument to go further.
The loud two-second car honking is what brought them to freeze and look over in slight panic.
Their dad sat in a red SUV parked in front of the school. His eyebrows were furrowed, they all assumed it was anger.
Raph was the first to trudge off towards the vehicle. Making sure to knock his shoulder into Leo as he passed, grumbling as he went. Leo huffed deeply and composed himself, picking his now dirty bag off the ground, slipping the water bottle back into its pocket. Waiting for his youngest brothers to get themselves together.
Donnie helped Mikey with his bag, carrying it for him. Leo tried helping Mikey up off the bench to walk.
He declined, "No, 'm fine."
Leo tried again, but Mikey just walked off.
Donnie walked beside him. Taking medium-length strides rather than his usual long strides. Leo jogged a little over to them, staying together.
Mikey raised his head and glanced at Raph, who walked over on the road to get into the back left seat. Shutting the door loudly. Raph turned to look out the window, his face was still angry.
'It's not at me, maybe slightly. I didn't do anything though. Everyone is in a bad mood right now.'
Reaching the car, Leo claimed shotgun. Mikey wouldn't want shotgun anyways...
Donnie opened the back door for Mikey, who entered silently. Sitting in the middle, he pulled the seatbelt over his chest. The clicking noise of it locking is the sound of safety. Donnie handed him his bag, placing it on his lap. Donnie sat down, shutting the car door. Buckling himself in, their dad began driving.
The radio wasn't on. The air was thick and heavy with tension. Mikey was uncomfortable. His leg started bouncing again.
'Avoid the mirror, avoid the mirror, avoid the mirror...'
'ᵀʰᶦˢ ᶦˢ ʸᵒᵘʳ ᶠᵃᵘˡᵗ'
'ᴵᶠ ʸᵒᵘ ʰᵃᵈ ʲᵘˢᵗ ᵍᵒᵗ ᵘᵖ ᵒᶠᶠ ᵗʰᵉ ᵍʳᵒᵘⁿᵈ ᵃⁿᵈ ʷᵃˡᵏᵉᵈ ᵃʷᵃʸ ʸᵒᵘ̡'ᵈ҉ ҉ᵇ̡ᵉ͏ ᶠ ͝ᴵ͏ ᴺ̡̢̢ ᴱ̵҉'
'You're makin҉g̡ e̛v̷e͏r͜y̸one Ų̨͞ ͢҉̛̛ N̸̴͝͝͝ ̴̶C҉̧̧̨͏ ͟͞O̵͟͢ ͟M̴͟͏̧͟ ͜F̨͘͢ ̧͠Ơ̸̕ ̸̴͝R͘͞͞ ͏̛͢T̵̡ ̕͡A̧͟͡ ̶͢B̵͟ ҉̵̡͡L͏̧͟͟ ̛̕E̕͜ ̵̸͜''
'Ų̨͞ ͢҉̛̛N̸̴͝͝͝ ̴̶C҉̧̧̨͏ ͟͞O̵͟͢ ͟M̴͟͏̧͟ ͜F̨͘͢ ̧͠Ơ̸̕ ̸̴͝R͘͞͞ ͏̛͢T̵̡ ̕͡A̧͟͡ ̶͢B̵͟ ҉̵̡͡L͏̧͟͟ ̛̕E̕͜ ̵̸͜'
'ᴵᵗ'ˢ ʸᵒᵘʳ ᶠᵃᵘˡᵗ'
''𝓌͡ₕᵧ̧ ͝ ͟𝒹ᵢ𝒹̧ ᵧₒᵤ ̡𝒹̨ₒ ͟ₜₕ̕ᵢ̶ₛ
"Micheal?" Dad's deep soothing voice called out to him from outside of his head.
Away from the harsh whispers and shouting in his thoughts.
Glancing at his youngest child in the rearview mirror. "You're not in trouble, my son."
Mikey's leg still bouncing, he hesitantly looked up, catching his Dad's dark eyes. He still felt shame for no reason. His head fell back down.
ʸᵒᵘ'ʳᵉ ᵃⁿ ᶦᵈᶦᵒᵗ
Yₒᵤ'ᵣₑ ₐₙ ᵢ𝒹ᵢₒₜ
I̸ d̵̡ ̡͠i͠ ͜͝ ̡ ͢ ̧͜o̸ ̨͢ ̵t͢
The clicking of the stereo buttons brought Mikey to hold his breath. Music came to life, some upbeat song everyone has already heard many times, but it's catchy.
'Don't listen to the bad voices, Mikey. Just listen to the music, they'll go away if you ignore them.' Leo sounded quieter than the booming voices.
Mikey leaned his head onto Donnie's shoulder, closing his eyes. Trying his best to ignore the loud, rude interrupting thoughts.
Mom and dad always said he had an overactive imagination.
His friends and brothers say so too.
Maybe that's why he's so creative.
'The artist of the family... yes.'
'You have a gift, Mike. Use it.' Mom told him, encouraging him to join the art club.
'Eᴠᴇʀʏᴛʜɪɴɢ's ɢᴏɴɴᴀ ʙᴇ ᴏᴋᴀʏ ᴊᴜsᴛ ᴄʟᴏsᴇ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴇʏᴇs ᴀɴᴅ sʟᴇᴇᴘ'
All he could see behind his eyelids was a bright red. Turning to Donnie more, he buried his face into his shoulder. The music still on low volume, he felt himself doze off.