Chapter 1: Sally Face
I was having another one of those damn dreams. It was just white. I couldn't see anything but the blank walls of the room. I couldn't see a door anywhere. Wait, were there even any walls? It was bright and I could hear that persons voice again. I didn't understand what they were saying, they spoke too fast for me to piece together any meaning from their endless tangent of wordless sentences.
"I don't understand anything your saying!" I cried out into the void.
They started speaking slower, up until the point where they were saying each individual letter by itself.
'Well, that helped,' I thought to myself, trying not to let my frustration show.
I could hear a loud ringing, which usually signalled me waking up. I covered my ears as the whole room faded into darkness.
"Mr Fisher, that doesn't look like maths to me," Mrs Packerton said in a stern voice.
"Sorry, must've dosed off. I finished the test though," I said, rubbing my eyes.
"Yes, I know dear, you aced it pretty well. Just try and stay awake for the remainder of the lesson," her tone got softer.
I sighed, annoyed that I would have to wait for everyone else to finish first before I could leave.
"And Mr Phelps, eyes on your own paper!"
Travis scowled and turned away. I stopped myself from laughing at him. What a prick.
"The lesson is almost over, turn in your papers soon," she called out to my other classmates.
A few minutes later, the bell rang loudly. Reminded me of the ringing in my dreams.
Me and Ash were by our lockers, chatting to each other while we waited for Larry and Todd.
I rolled my eyes and turned to the blonde boy standing by his locker.
"Nobody likes a goody-too shoes, Saaallly face," his face was filled with disgust.
"Nobody likes a cliché bully, Traaaavvis," I mocked his voice.
"Haven't you got anything better to do," Ash said.
"Shut up bitch, I wasn't talking to you!"
"You know if you took that stick out of your ass, you might actually enjoy yourself, maybe make some friends," it was true, he had barely anyone to hang out with at school.
"Fuck off Faggot, I have more friends than any of you!" He actually seemed kinda hurt by what I said, I think I hit a nerve. I went for the final attack.
"Kiss your daddy with that mouth? I'm sure he..." I didn't get to finish my sentence before Travis suddenly lunged forward and punched me in the face. He stalked off.
"What the hell asshole?" Ash shouted at him, helping me up from the floor.
She turned to me.
"Are you okay Sal?"
"I'm fine," I said, letting go of her hand.
"Come on, let's go report that jerk," she said.
Don't worry, it will only make things worse, trust me. I've dealt with bigger bullies than Travis," I didn't feel like reporting him would be the right thing. He must have a reason why he does this. Todd has his theories but I've ignored them all so far.
"Sal, you're bleeding," Ash wiped away some blood that was trickling out from my mask.
"I'm fine Ash," I pushed her hand away.
"Here let's use my bandana," she pulled the cloth out of her pocket and started to unbuckle the bottom straps of my mask. My eyes widened with shock as she started to pull it up.
"Wait, no you can't! I-"
It was too late. She had already pulled it up and was dabbing her bandana on my face. I was hoping she'd see my face in different circumstances, that it would happen when I was more comfortable. Right now we were in public and I was bleeding. I stared up at her face. She looked uncertain about something, I couldn't tell what but then she smiled.
"There, it was only a scratch, nothing to worry about," she pulled my mask back down.
I buckled the straps back up,a large smile hiding underneath the heavy plaster face.
"Hey, dude, what happened?" Larry called, running up to us," was it Travis again? That prick, I'll kill him!"
"Larry, don't. It's over now, there's nothing we can do about it," I said.
"Sal's right. If we stir the pot we could make things worse," Ashley crossed her arms.
"Not if he's dead!" Larry still wasn't giving up.
"Then he'll probably haunt the school and we'll be stuck with that bonehead for the next two years," she rolled her eyes.
"Ha! Says the groups sceptic!" I laughed to myself.
"Okay, you know I love you guys, but even this whole ghost thing is too much for me," Ash shivered.
"So are we really gonna let this Travis thing go?" Larry clenched his fists.
"It's not worth it," I was kinda pissed off that Larry wasn't getting the message," Plus think about it, who knows what his home life is like. He's got a lot of pent up rage, there must be a reason."
The Phelps family was one of mystery. I knew they were very religious, his dad owned a church near the apartments but other than that I really knew nothing of them. I am worried about Travis though. He's had the same black eye for almost a year now, it always starts to fade away but then the next day he comes in and it's gone a dark purple again. It doesn't help that he gives the same excuse of falling off of his bike every time a teacher questions him about it. Who knows how many of those bruises he has.
"I'm pretty sure he's angry because they switched bologna sandwich day to tomorrow," Ash said. I mentally disagreed with her.
Larry laughed, his tough persona softened.
"Seriously, I've never seen anyone like the crappiest lunch day so much. It's like a prison meal," she had a good point," He doesn't even like pizza Friday's. Who doesn't like pizza? It's inhuman," we laughed together.
"Maybe he's an alien," Larry chipped in one of his own ideas.
"Ha! That's all we need," we all started to walk down the corridor. Ash slowed down until she was next to Larry.
"Pst, Larry, I'll help you kill Travis when sal isn't looking," she whispered rather loudly.
"I heard that!" I frowned but they didn't see.
Chapter 2: Travis
Why the fuck did I punch him earlier? How is that gonna help with anything? My dad will still beat me no matter what I do. I'm such a retard to think that bullying someone who isn't even gay will stop him from hurting me. He thinks I'm a fucking faggot, hell he even calls me one. Always the same label.
"Your a faggot. God will never love you! He will send you into Satan's arms where you will burn for all eternity," he'd shout before beating the living day lights out of me. My side still hurts from where he kicked me. My eye is a little puffy, the bruise surrounding it now looked harsh and had gone black.
Right now he had locked me inside my room, I wasn't getting any food tonight. Mom had argued back but he was able to silence her quickly. A smack around the face always shut her up. Her cheek had a large red handprint on it. We could never say anything against him, he'd probably kill us if we did. He's never hesitated to hurt us before so it would probably be the same if God supposedly told him to murder us. It would definitely wash away the sins held by me. I'm not a flamer though, I know I'm not. It was a phase I went through at the beginning of the year which he beat out of me. It should be gone now. I hope it is. If it's not then... home is gonna be more like hell.
"I don't want this," I whispered, hugging my knees to my chest. I winced in pain.
There was a knock on the door.
"Doors locked," I mumbled.
I heard a click and the door opened. Mom poked her head into the room and walked in with a plate of food.
"He's gone to the church, don't know when he'll be getting back," she sat down next to me.
"Good, I hope he never comes back," I growled.
"Don't say that," she handed the food to me. I tucked in.
"I'm sorry mom but he's an absolute asshole. How can you stand him?"
"Travis, you don't understand the situation it would put me, maybe even us, in if your father and I separated. I can't do anything about it now," she sighed.
"So you want him to continue doing this? You want him to abuse us?" I felt the anger surging through my body.
"That's not what I meant," Mom played with her chipped nail. She didn't look up at me.
"What do you mean then?"
"I don't have the money to divorce your father!" she burst into tears.
I was shocked. She had a well-paying job, I don't understand.
"But your job..." My voice trailed off.
"I still have it but he takes the money and hides it in the church. Tells me it's 'Gods money'. I think he keeps it, I mean his own job doesn't give him much," she laughed through her tears.
I couldn't believe it. He's been taking her money? How did I not know? I looked at my mom, put the plate on the floor and hugged her.
"I'm so sorry," I whispered.
"It's not you, it's him," she held on to me tightly.
I let go of her and wiped the tears off her face. It still looked a little red from where he hit her.
"How's your eye?"
"It's fine, it just stings a little," that was a lie, it hurt to blink.
"Maybe we should take you to get it checked out," she suggested.
"No, it's fine, I've gotten worse from him."
We went quiet. Her eyes welled up with more tears.
"I hate seeing him do this to you, Travis, you deserve better."
"Well, I am a filthy faggot, the lords hates my soul and I'm preparing myself for hell. I'm not gonna get anything better."
"You are not a faggot. Your sexuality is your choice, not Gods and not your fathers. I will always love whether you're gay or straight," her voice was firm.
I didn't believe it. If it was alright then why did all the bad things happen to me? Is this the lords punishment in life? Is this hell before death? When I didn't reply, she got up from the floor, kissed my forehead and left. As soon as she was gone, I pulled my notebook out from under my bed and opened it up. I thought of what happened today, how I had punched Sal. Sal, with his blue pigtails and his large plaster mask. I've always wanted to see his face, not to make fun of it but so I could... No I'm not gay, I'm not gay! I could feel myself blushing now. Why do I feel like this? I know his friend, Todd, has a boyfriend but I doubt that Sal likes boys. He probably hates me right now. I don't know why I do this to him but he never gets mad back. He never reports me or gets me into trouble, he just... lets me do it. He lets me hit him.
"Yeah, he'll never like you idiot," I murmured to myself.
I sighed and wrote down how I felt, I needed to get it out on paper. My pen flowed across the paper and I wrote everything. It would be for my eyes only, no one else's. I ripped the paper out of the book and stuffed it into my bag. I just hope it will be alright.
Chapter 3: Sally Face
"Does this bologna smell funny to you guys?"
I poked the sandwich filled with the disgusting looking meat. I don't understand how Chug could even eat this shit. Just looking at it made me feel queasy.
"I thought last weeks was a little off-putting but it seems to be worse this week," Todd pushed the plate away in disgust.
"I heard it's made from goat meat," Larry said. I rolled my eyes at his accusation.
"Didn't a bunch of kids call in sick the day after bologna day last week, too?" I remember it well, 2 people from our class weren't in school for 3 days.
"Aw, hey, you guys! Don't ruin lunch for me. Please! It's the only good part of the day," Chug said, his mouth full of sandwich.
"Group huddle?" I asked.
"Count me in."
"Have fun. I'm going to stay here with Chug," Maple said, pulling her grey hair out of her eyes.
Chapter 4: Travis
I walked into the bathroom. I looked at my stupid gay reflection, fighting the urge to smash the mirror. I took the paper out of my bag and read it again. Maybe I should give it to him. He probably won't know it's me but at least he'll know that someone has a crush on him. It'll be better if he never found out. Damn it Sally Face, you really have messed up my life. Fuck, who am I kidding? He probably hates my guts right now. I took my pen out and scribbled out the last part of the letter. No, I should just forget about all of this. I threw it at the bin, hoping it would go in. It missed and instead fell to the floor. Father was right, no one will ever love me. I locked myself in one of the stalls and cried, trying to stay as quiet as possible. I didn't want anyone finding me in here. I lightly touched my arm where one of my more previous bruises were. It hurt. I cried even more.
"You will burn in hell for this!" I could hear my dad shouting at me now. I'm a useless faggot. I'm nothing. My heartbeat got faster and my wrists were starting to itch. I pulled my sleeves down to reveal the ugly red scars left on my arm.
I was starting to wish I had picked the note up. If someone found it... No they wouldn't know. I'll probably be dead if they ever found out. If not by my father, then me. I dug around in my pocket until I found the small sharpener blade I had hidden in case I ever needed it. It had been almost a week since I last cut myself, it was something I needed. It was something that calmed me down when I got stressed out, which happened a lot.
"You pathetic gay. God doesn't love you, no one loves you!" I ran the blade along my skin repeatedly. Blood seeped through the small cuts. It stung.
"Just kill yourself now. Face your punishment!"
I turned my arm so the inside of my wrist was facing me. It was simple and easy. I could just do it right here and no one would care about me at all. I was just a waste of space to everyone, including Sally Face. I can't believe I fucking bullied him. I'm such an idiot. My father will be over the moon to find out his faggot son is dead but I don't know how mom will feel. Maybe this will tell her to finally break up with that son of a bitch. I hope she understands. I put the blade on my wrist.
"Just do it. Your worth nothing. No one will cry for you!"
Come on Travis, it's one simple swipe and it'll be over. Don't wuss out. If you do, you'll just go back home to be beaten again for being worthless. For being fucking gay. You don't have to worry about your father ever again. Just get it over with. I pressed the blade down a little. It felt scary. I was finally gonna kill myself but now that I was about to do it the idea didn't sound so amazing anymore. Just as I was about to run the blade over my wrist to finish it off, the door to the bathrooms opened and someone walked in.
Chapter 5: Sally Face
I searched the boys toilets, hoping I would find something that would help, a paper clip or a pin maybe. I could see a crumpled up note on the ground next to the trash can. Looks like someone missed it. Wouldn't hurt to take a peek. I smoothed out the creases and read it.
'I know we don't really know each other and you probably have your opinions of me. I thought maybe if I told you how I feel, things could be different.
The truth is, I can't stop thinking about you. I'm crazy about you. I think you're amazing! But I know these feelings are wrong. It's not the way a boy should feel. Shame swallows me whole. My father would kill me but I can't live in his shadow forever I just...'
There's a bunch of scribbles after, man. I held onto it, maybe a mystery for another day. I could hear quiet sniffles coming from one of the stalls.
"Anyone in there?" I asked.
"No, duh, fuckwad! Buzz off!"
Travis? Why the hell is he crying?
"Travis? Were you crying a second ago?"
"Sally Face! I- uh... No!"
I knew he was lying to me, something was wrong. But first I just needed to ask him.
"Why do you hate me and my friends? We never did anything to you," I needed to know.
"Because you're all faggots. God will never love any of you!" He exclaimed. It was actually kinda sad to hear him say that, especially when his voice broke.
"Not all of us are gay, you know. Except for Todd, Todd is super gay but that's just who he is and I'm happy for him," I was happy for him, ever since he met Neil he just seems so proud.
"Still though, God won't love any of you. He doesn't care about me."
I'm not super religious but I know how much it means to some people. I also know that many don't accept themselves because their God or Gods don't. I think that's whats wrong.
"Hey, if God loves all then I'm sure he loves you Travis," I reassured him.
"He doesn't! He will never love me because I'm... forget I said anything."
"Do you want to come out so we can talk about it? You'll feel better," I asked. He sounded as if he's having major issues with his beliefs. He's probably gonna say no and tell me to piss off.
"Fine," he sighed and unlocked the door. He stepped out of the stall and into the light of the toilets. I stared at his eye, it looked worse today.
"Talk to me about it. Why do you think God hates you?"
He suddenly blurted out a massive story about his life, how conflicted he feels about his beliefs and his reality and that he hates going home to see his dad. Everyone says that Mr Phelps is quite... intense, I can imagine that Travis would always feel uncomfortable around him.
"And everyday he just..." Travis put his hand to his eye.
"Wait, he did that to you?"
I stared at him in absolute shock. His dad hit him? But why? Travis seems like a decent kid when he's actually being himself.
"Well, yeah but it wasn't that bad," he said, looking away from me.
"Do you have any other injuries?" I asked.
"N-no!" He stammered.
"I don't believe you."
He clenched his fists, then raised his shirt up. Bruises and cuts decorated his chest and stomach, there was a particularly large bruise on his side.
"Did he do this to you?"
"Yes, now can you drop it? The bells gonna go soon and your friends are probably worried," Travis pulled his shirt down. I stopped him.
"Show me your back!"
"What the hell? No!"
"Just do it."
He turned around and showed me his back. It was covered in dark red welts.
"This is so gay," Travis mumbled.
"Why does he do this?"
"He just does. He doesn't care about me, I'm just a waste of space," Travis held his head in his hands.
"No you're not Travis, you're..." His arm was bleeding," your arm."
"Your arm's bleeding," Has he been cutting himself?
"And? What about it?"
"Dude, don't do that, it doesn't help at all."
"What the fuck are you on about?"
I sighed and rolled up my sleeves. The scars were still visible, even though it had been months since I had last done it.
"Trust me, I know it doesn't help," I said.
Larry had noticed something was wrong. He figured it out and helped me.
"I didn't know you..."
"Well now you do Travis," I pulled my sleeves back down.
We sat in silence.
"Sal, I have to tell you something," the bell interrupted him. Damn, he had just gotten my attention.
"I'll give you my number so you can tell me later," I wrote it down for him and headed to the door.
"See ya around then," I walked out to class.
Chapter 6: Larry
Sal's been acting strange. He left the lab and didn't come back until the bell went. We all asked him where he had gone but he didn't want to talk about it. Since then he's just been quiet. I don't know what the hell happened during lunch but it made him... different. I might ask him when we get back to the apartments but Ash told me to leave him for now, that he'll open up about it when he wants to. I'm just worried about him. It's always concerning when he goes quiet, the last time he did I found his arm covered in cuts. I want him to be alright. He's like a brother to me.
"So how's Neil?"
"Oh he's fine, I hung out with him yesterday after school and it was alright," Todd said.
We were all so happy when we found out Todd had a boyfriend. Ash and Sal had been guessing for a while and basically tackled him when Todd told us. Neil is just awesome, I'm glad we all met him.
"Earth to Larry!" Ash waved her hand in front of my face.
"Huh?" I looked up at them
"You alright?" Todd asked.
"Yeah I'm good. Not so sure about Sal though."
"I know. I don't want to ask him, he seemed quite uncomfortable earlier," Ash said.
"True, I'm just worried."
"He'll be fine. I mean, he's Sally Face, he's never let anything bring him down."
I'm just not sure any more
Chapter 7: Ash
I understand why Larry is so worried about Sal, it was strange to see him so quiet after lunch. We all don't know why he's gone like this but I don't wanna press for answers. That'll just seem unfair. I have told Larry to back away from Sal a little. He seems more like his bodyguard than his friend. I know that Sal definitely doesn't like it. I know he's just protecting his friend, which is fair enough, but it just gets kinda... annoying after a while. I mean, all the times I've had moments with Sal that have been interrupted by Larry because he can't leave his side for a minute. It doesn't help that Travis has been beating up Sal more and more. Honestly, I don't know what the hell is wrong with that guy. Sal just puts up with him and that really gets under my skin when he does. Travis just walks all over him. I wish he'd just drop dead. I just don't understand Sal when it comes to Travis. Why does he let himself get beaten up and taunted like this? It's heartbreaking to see it happen, especially when I can't do anything to stop it. I'm just the person who picks him up when he falls down, not the one who catches him before he does. I want things to be different. I want all of us to be happy, I think we deserve it. Have a day where we can just be normal for once. Not that I don't like the adventures we have but soon they'll lead to one of us getting hurt and I don't want that to happen. I want to be safe. I want there to be a day where we can all finally breathe properly.
"Ash! It's time to eat!" mom called up to me.
"I'm coming," I shout back.
I put my pencil down and followed the smell of food. I'm just glad that it's not that god damn bologna, the stuff is just horrible. We got more samples today but Todd hasn't seen anything wrong with it yet, it just smelt like rotting shit for an hour.
"So, anything exciting happened today?" She asked, serving me food.
"No, not really. Just a math paper and bologna for lunch."
"They're still serving that stuff? Let me guess, Packerton is still there?" mom's face twisted in disgust.
"Yeah, to both questions," I smiled in amusement. How long had the old dinosaur been working there for?
"Ugh, I hated her! She was such a bitch to me and Lisa. One time she gave me detention for yawning. I mean, I had gone to bed late the night before so obviously I'd be tired!"
"I know right! She had a go at one kid just for standing up to sharpen his pencil," the list of detentions is pretty much endless. She shouted at me for supposedly doodling during her lesson but I never mentioned that to my mom.
"How is Sal? I heard his father and Lisa have gotten to know each other better."
My mom and Lisa have been friends since high school, they were inseparable until Larry's dad disappeared.
"Yeah," I leaned in closer," Do you think it's going to happen?"
"I hope so, they both deserve happiness especially after everything that has happened to them."
We both giggled quietly as my brother walked in.
"What are you two laughing at?" he mumbled.
"Girl stuff," mom said, putting a plate in front of him as he sat down opposite me. He was only two years younger than me but he was growing fast.
"How was your day?" Mom asked him.
"Alright," was his blunt answer.
He turned back to his tiny phone which both mom and dad had decided he should finally have. I don't think he's turned away from it since christmas. Mom rolled her eyes at me, I held back a laugh.
"Could you put that dang thing down for a minute before you spill something on yourself!" she said loudly, which startled him. A piece of food he had been balancing on his fork fell onto his lap.
"What the hell, mom!" He shouted as me and her both laughed loudly.
"That's your own fault," she said.
"No it isn't!" He argued back.
She suddenly stopped laughing and her face went serious.
"Oh shiiit," I said in a low voice.
"You know what happens when you argue back," mom put her hand on his shoulder.
"Mom, please don't..."
"Knuckle sandwich!" She wrapped one of her arms around his neck gently and rubbed her knuckles on his head.
"Ah, mom! Stop it, seriously!" he pushed her away.
"That's what you get, now eat your dinner," she sat down at the end of the table.
We were quiet for a few minutes, then we heard the front door open.
"Hey, guys! Have I missed anything?" Dad walked into the room, a massive grin on his face.
"Only the start of dinner," mom said, not looking up at him.
The smile on his face dimmed slightly but he managed to hold himself together. The tension in the air was so thick you could cut it with a knife. It's been like this for a few months now. Mom and dad aren't exactly friendly anymore. It's quite hard for them to keep their cool in arguments. It turns into a screaming fest quickly but I've learned to block it out with music and art. I'm working on a picture of sal I took ages ago with my camera. Hopefully he'll like it.
"So Ash, how was you're day at school?" Dad asked, trying to diffuse the awkwardness.
"Pretty boring. We had a maths paper and that was it."
God, I wish I was with Maple right now. She asked me to go to her house after school but I had said no because I knew dad would be home earlier today. I wanted to at least be awake when he entered the house but now I kinda wish I'd said yes. It would be way better than this. We usually work on our art projects together but recently we've been talking more and more. She's really cool.
"I'm done," my brother got up from the table and walked out, leaving his dish behind. Mom sighed and picked it up. I also stood up but unlike my brother I put my dish in the sink. I then ran up to my room and jumped onto my bed. I picked up my pencil and continued with my drawing of Sal. Mom and Dad are already shouting at each other downstairs but I just ignore them. It's just me and my drawing. That's all I need.
Chapter 8: Sally Face
I had entered the apartment a few hours ago to find a letter from my dad.
Out of town for the night. Lots of work to get done. Food in the fridge for you and make sure Gizmo stays out of trouble.
See you tomorrow,
I was kinda pissed off that he hadn't told me earlier but at least he was doing work and not drowning himself in booze like he used to before we moved to Nockfell. Right now the tv was on but I wasn't really paying attention to it. I had my guitar in my hands and was gently strumming the strings. I looked up at Gizmo, who was watching the tv, and grinned.
"So, what do you think then?"
He meowed back, not looking away from the screen. He was even holding the remote in his paw. I'm pretty certain Gizmo is just a human who got trapped in a cats body and decided to get used to it. He even collects these little sticker with random pictures on them. I like the one with the green eye on it. It's pretty cool.
"Thanks bud," I placed my guitar by the sofa and stood up. I reached for the remote but he hissed at me. I backed away.
"Jeez, sour puss, no need to get so worked up," damn this cat is weird.
I went into my room and looked at my phone. There was a message from an unknown number. Must be Travis.
'Sal can we talk? Properly, not over text.'
'Okay, sure, where'd you wanna meet?'
It took a minute for him to reply.
'The park. There's something there that I wanna show you.'
'See you there in like... 10 mins.'
I grabbed my jacket and put it on. The sun was setting, it would still be light when I saw him. Gizmo still hadn't moved from his spot.
"I'm heading out Gizmo, I think you know how to feed yourself," I wouldn't be surprised if he could, last week I found him in the bath wearing a fucking shower cap.
He gave a low meow back and with that I left the apartment. I was hoping that Larry wouldn't notice me leaving. I didn't really want to see him right now. I don't think I will though. Lisa always wants him to stay in the apartment once he's gets back. He only goes to the tree house when he wants time away from his room. Luckily, I didn't see him and got to the park without seeing anyone I knew. I got some strange looks from people as I walked by but I'm getting used to those stares now. I arrived at the park and saw Travis instantly, sitting by a tree. I approached him.
"Hey Travis..." I went quiet when I realised that he was crying.
He turned to me in surprise and quickly wiped away his tears.
"Oh, hey Sally Face," he mumbled.
I sat next to him, he shuffled away a little.
"So why'd you want to talk to me?" That's when i noticed the massive cut on his cheek.
"What the hell?" I cupped his face in my hands so I could have better look. He blushed.
"It's nothing," he said, pushing my hands away.
"Did he do it again?"
Travis nodded, more tears forming in his eyes. He winced as a tear fell from his bruised eye and onto his cut.
"I don't really... Okay fine but you can't tell anyone," he said, glaring at me.
"I won't," I wanted to but for now I was gonna promise that I wouldn't.
He stopped for a moment, as if gathering his thoughts, then started to speak.
"The day was going fine. I had done my homework, written some stuff down. My mom then called me down and then it all started to happen. He first got pissed off at me for basically no reason and when my mom tried to stop him, he pushed her away. Then he hit me and it got worse. He was shouting these insults at me and..." he didn't say anything else.
"What did he say to you?"
"He called me a faggot."
My eyes widened with shock. It makes so much sense now. That's why he's so homophobic, his dad is forcing those beliefs on him.
"But I'm not gay. At least I don't think I am."
"Well that's not for your dad to decide. You think about it. You might find out some stuff about yourself that you never knew before."
"I don't really want to find anything else. I'm already going to hell," Travis stared at his hands.
"You're not going to hell."
"Yeah, and how do you know that?" he frowned at me.
"I just do. You're not a bad person Travis," I picked at the grass.
"You say that but I distinctly remember that I'm the guy who punched you."
"And? I don't care if you hit me, you have a real reason."
"Quite a pathetic reason, if you ask me."
"Your dad hits you, I don't think that's a bad reason for being insecure," I couldn't believe it. Did he really think that he didn't matter?
"Okay, let's just drop it. I need to show you something else," he stood up and held his hand out to me. I took it.
He blushed as I pushed myself up from the ground.
"F-Follow me," he snatched his hand back.
It was quiet as we walked into the small wood that people always avoided. The sunlight that hit the trees was golden, I could feel it shining on my hair.
"I visit this place often when my dad gets mad. I escape through my window but honestly if I broke my leg, it would be worth it just to see this place," he spoke fondly of it. It must be nice.
"It sounds cool," I said, stepping over a branch that had fallen.
"Okay and we're here," we stopped at a small stream.
When he said that this place was worth seeing, that was an understatement. It was beautiful. The sun reflected off the water making it look like a rainbow. Birds flew from one tree to another, communicating through chirps. It was just quiet.
"Jeez, you weren't kidding," I looked around, taking it all in.
"I never would, even if it does seem too good to be real," Travis knelt down and put his hand in the stream.
"Yeah and the park is probably one of the most dingiest places in Nockfell."
"A diamond in the rough," he took his hand out of the water and started shaking it.
I laughed at him, cringing at his words.
"Hey, shut up, I couldn't think of any other way to describe it!" He flicked some water at me.
The drops landed on my mask, I wiped them off carefully. Travis sat down on a rock nearby. He watched me, intrigue filling his eyes.
"You know, you don't have to wear your mask around me," he said.
"I don't think you'd want to see what's underneath."
"But I do. I want to see your real face, Sal."
I sat next to him.
"Okay, but only for a bit," I didn't want anyone seeing.
My hands shook a little as I took my mask off, unbuckling the straps slowly. My face was red as I pulled it away and placed it on the ground. Everything just seemed to stop. The birds had gone silent, the wind had dropped and it was just quiet. Travis's eyes were wide. God, this was so embarrassing. He put his hands to my face and started touching my scars. I blushed even more when he traced one that went from the corner of my lip to my eye. He looked mesmerised by them, as if he could never look away. Then he whispered words that I never thought I would hear:
He then blushed as well. We were just a huge blushing red mess. He didn't let go of my face though, he still had his hand on my cheek. He was stroking me using his thumb and strangely I wanted him to. I liked the feeling of his hands, warm and smooth. They made me feel a little more... attractive some how. Travis leaned forward a little and I found myself following his movements. Then I was kissing him. I didn't even know what was happening but I didn't want it to stop. I wrapped my arms around him and pulled him closer to me, he did the same. We then separated and I've never felt so disappointed in my life. I grazed my nose against his.
"What the fuck just happened?" he whispered, his breath was hot and sweet on my lips.
"I don't know but..."
"I don't know!" we both laughed.
"This is soooo gay!" he said, a smile still on his face.
"What's wrong with that?"
He pushed me away.
"There's a lot wrong with it!"
His face was filled with anger and sadness. I felt bad for saying that to him, I know his dad makes him believe that homosexuality is bad, but Travis is just gay and there's nothing wrong with it.
"I have to go..." He started to walk away.
"I have to go!" he ran off, leaving me alone by the stream.
Chapter 9: Travis
What the fuck just happened? I ran back to my house, my legs barely holding me up. I can't believe he just let me kiss him. I can't believe that I even wanted to kiss him! Why is my head to fucked up? I arrived outside my window and started climbing the old ladder that I had put there. Father never noticed it was there so it made escaping from my room when he locked me in pretty easy. All I had to do was carefully drop from the window on the way down and climb the ladder on the way up. Dad was never this bad before. He was always nicer to me than he was to my mom. I still hated him though. I had to nurse my mothers wounds whenever he got to her first. All she does is cry now and I don't blame her for that. It's the only thing she can really do now, cry and just hope that his anger simmers down before it's too late. She stopped relying on the Lord ages ago. I could hear muffled wailing coming from my room, must be mom.
"Mom?" I peered into the room. She was sat on the floor, calling my name through sobs. She looked up when she heard my voice.
"Travis! Oh thank God!" She rushed over and helped me in.
"I'm okay mom, just a few little scratches," my hand felt the large cut on my face. I'd get plaster for it later.
"I was worried sick! Where were you?" she hugged me tightly.
"At the park with a friend," I said, hugging her back.
"A friend, huh? Care to tell me about this little friend of yours?" She asked.
I rolled my eyes and gently pushed her away.
"Just a boy from school."
"A boy?" A small grin appeared on her face.
"I'm not gay!"
"I never said that you were, Travis. Now tell me about this boy," she sat down cross-legged on the floor.
"He's called Sal and he's pretty nice even if I..." my voice trailed off. Should I tell her about it?
"Even if what?"
I sighed and decided I should.
"Mom, promise not to get mad?" I held my pinkie finger out to her.
"I never would Travis," she linked her own around mine.
"I kinda bullied him for a while. I felt horrible about it. I hated doing it but I thought at the time that if I did then dad would at least stop calling me a faggot." I stared at the floor. I'm so stupid.
"Travis... you may have been horrible but at least you have realised that you were acting that way and stopped it. You're now his friend which is just amazing," she patted my shoulder.
I decided to leave out the part about the kiss. Jeez, my heart was still pounding because of that kiss. What the fuck was Sal Fisher doing to me?
"Yeah that's good. I don't think his friends will be as accepting as he is. They think I'm a homophobic ass hole and I understand why," I sighed, a sudden feeling of dread washing over me. I kissed Sal, if his friends found out... shit.
"Your father pushed that belief onto you. It's not you who's the problem here. Don't blame yourself, you do that all the time and it breaks my heart to see you so defenceless," she put her hand on my cheek reassuringly.
She was right. I was weak, Sal found my weakness the other day. That's why I punched him.
'You kiss your daddy with that mouth?' That was what he had said. He mentioned dad. It makes sense now. God, I'm such a fucking idiot!
I froze up. Did I just use the Lord's name in... distaste? Nevermind that now! I had a lot more to worry about. I'm going to hell already for kissing a boy so who the fuck cares? Not me, that's for certain.
"I'm so sorry he does this to you, Travis," she whispered.
"It's not your fault. Where is he now?"
"He went back to the church. More 'official business' apparently. What a joke," she scoffed.
I was surprised by how disgusted her tone was. I knew she hated the church but she never talked about it that much in that way.
"He won't be back until late, he usually stays there for quite a long time."
"Huh, we're free of him for a while. That's good," it was, it truly was.
"Use you time wisely," she stood up and walked away, leaving me to think about what happened.
Mom closed the door behind her. I felt bad for her, she got the worst of it from dad. I would usually escape to my room before the situation escalated and it made me feel horrible. I have seen her with very bad bruises, some worse than mine. It was always hard for her to stand up or sit straight because of the large cuts on her back and he almost broke her arm once. I sat on the sidelines and did nothing. Shit, I shouldn't be thinking of that now. While it hurt me so much to stop worrying about my mother, for once I needed to think of myself, if only for a minute. What would happen now? I kissed Sal and he probably doesn't want to speak to me again. I fucking messed up bad this time.
Chapter 10: Sally Face
I fucking messed up bad this time. I can't believe I did that to him when he's clearly confused and probably scared. I was lying in bed, staring into the darkness. I didn't want to go to sleep. I didn't want another nightmare. All I could think about was Travis, his blonde hair shining in the golden sunlight, his smooth hands tracing my scars. I couldn't believe I took my mask off in front of him, right now it was laying on my bedside table. Travis was different to Ash. I had a crush on her for ages but she just felt like a sister to me. Travis... it feels like I can't fucking breathe when I'm around him. It started about a month ago and it hasn't gone away. When we kissed, it felt like fireworks were exploding in my body. I loved it. I want to feel like that again so bad. I want to kiss him again. Larry and the others will probably hate me for this but right now I don't care. They don't own me. I'm not sure about Maple and Chug but I don't want them to know. None of them can know how much I like Travis. I pretty sure he doesn't like me back, especially after that stunt I pulled in the woods. He probably won't want to talk to me. Should I message him?
Chapter 11: Travis
I want him to message me. I want him here with me right now. I just want to show him how much I love him and... No! I'm not gay, am I?
Chapter 12: Sally Face
No, messaging him seems too needy. I just want to talk to him and explain myself. I probably made him feel uncomfortable as hell. I'm such an idiot. It was getting lighter outside. How long have I been awake for? I looked at my clock. Jesus, it was almost 5 in the morning. I have school as well and I can't really bunk off because Larry's always waiting for me. I can't sleep though. I don't want another fucking nightmare. I sit up and put my mask on. There's no point in me going to sleep now. Gizmo had fallen asleep on the sofa and the tv had been turned off. I don't understand how he does that. Dad should be back today. At least he's doing work. When we still lived in Jersey after mom died and I got the mask, he would be off his face all the time. I had to stay away from him because he would shout at me a lot. I guess I reminded him of mom because of the mask. At the time he was a depressed piece of shit, he always seemed suicidal to me as I grew up. Then he just stopped and we moved to Nockfell. Since then he's been better, he's even talking to Lisa quite a bit. Me and Larry joke about them getting married and us becoming step bros but we just gotta wait and see. I think there's something real special there between them. Dad always has to stay somewhere over night for work so I'm used to staying home by myself.
"Yeah, he's pretty much out once every week so you just had to get used to it," the more spiteful part of my head thought. I pushed it away.
Fucking hell. I can't believe the shit that has happened recently. What happened in the bathroom, the kiss in the woods. God, that fucking kiss. I still can't stop thinking about it. Just the feeling of him was amazing. I don't know what I'm gonna do now but I'm sure I'll figure it out.
"But this is different," the anxious part of my head stepped forward with it's own opinion,"you've never kissed a boy before. How can you 'figure it out' this time?"
I don't even understand what is going on anymore. I'm just super confused right now. Maybe I could talk to Todd about this, he is gay after all and he has a boyfriend himself. I don't have to tell him it's Travis making me feel this way. Everything will be fine, won't it?
Chapter 13: Todd
"I didn't get anymore results," I told the others. They stared back with disappointed expressions.
"But how? The bologna in this school is weird as shit, I mean there must've been something," Ash said, crossing her arms.
"Well, nothing showed up. You guys said that Packerton supplied the school with the bologna, didn't you?"
"I've heard some crazy shit happening in her apartment. Maybe you should investigate."
"I swear, my first day in the apartments, I heard a fucking goat in there," Sal said.
"Ha! I was right. This crap is made of goats!" Larry exclaimed.
"We can't be sure but you two should go in and have a look around," I pointed at Sal and Larry.
"I'm fine with that," Larry said. Sal stayed silent.
"Okay, I need to find Neil, he wants to show me something before class starts," I gathered my stuff and started to walk off. As I walked down the corridor, sal ran up next to me.
"Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?" He asked.
"Sure, what's up?"
"Um... What's it like going out with Neil?" He asked.
"It's good. Why'd you ask?"
"Well, there may be someone who isn't... a girl ," he said quietly.
"Care to specify who?" I asked.
"Not really, you guys would probably hate me if I told you who."
"Let me guess... Is it Travis?"
"How the hell did you know?" he looked at me, absolutely bewildered.
"You stare at him all the time, you never report him even when punches you, the list is endless really," I could go on but I decided not to.
"Do the others know?"
"No and you don't want them to, do you?"
"Not really, do you mind?"
"While it is kinda cliché to crush on your bully, I couldn't care less. If you like him then I won't stop you," I said.
"Larry probably would," I couldn't tell if he was smiling or not.
"Well, Larry can be a massive idiot sometimes. Just don't listen to him, he'll drop it eventually."
"Anyways, I'll leave you to talk to your boyfriend now. See ya later," he ran back to the group. I laughed to myself and left to go find Neil.
Chapter 14: Ash
Sal's been acting even weirder today. He's just gone completely quiet. He doesn't speak unless one of us addresses him directly and even then he gives us real blunt answers. I'm worried about him but I don't want to make him feel uncomfortable by questioning him about it. It would make me feel like shit. I told Larry that he'll open up eventually but I'm not sure, Sal's good at keeping stuff to himself. A few months ago, Larry found him in his room cutting himself. It broke my heart to hear that he was doing that. We were lucky to find out so quick otherwise it would've gotten worse and he'd probably be in hospital for it. He stopped it and hasn't done anything since. I just hope it stays that way. I don't think he's up for another investigation right now. I'll talk to him later, just to see how he's feeling. Maybe he'll tell me what's bothering him then.
"Hey Ash, are you okay?"
I looked up at Todd and Neil, they both looked extremely happy about something.
"Yeah I'm fine, just thinking about Sal," I sighed.
Neil raised his eyebrows at me.
"Not in that way, you weirdo," I punched him on the shoulder gently.
"Hey! I wasn't gonna say anything," he put his hands up.
"Yes you were, smart ass," I frowned," but I'm just worried about him. He's been acting strange."
"Maybe we should ask," Neil said.
"No, just give him some time. He'll come to terms with his thoughts soon," Todd replied.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"He's obviously quite conflicted about something, give him space and he'll tell you when he's ready. If he doesn't, then just leave him," he said.
"Hmm... What do you know?" he knew something we didn't.
"I don't know anything about it, I just understand how it feels to be having an inner conflict about something. I didn't say anything until I was sure I was right."
I felt kinda bad for not realising what he meant. I'm so stupid.
"You're right. God, I'm such an ass hole," I mentally punched myself.
"You're not Ash, you just didn't get it. Give Sal time to think about whatever's going on and I'm sure he'll tell you if anything is wrong."
It would be fine. Everything will be fine. I think.