Passive

I wanted to call it a thriller/horror but also with some romance. Couldn't find that category so other will have to do. I have high hopes for this story but please read and include as much critism as your heart desires. I promise not to be upset by it as long as you promise to be fair. I do not want any homophobic comments, if you don't like the subjects mentioned here, then don't read.

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5. New Feelings

The next day was Tuesday and as I packed my bag that morning, I kept my thoughts carefully concentrated on the lessons I had that day. I thought wistfully of RE, that wouldn’t be coming around again for another few days. Rebecca and I shared most classes except Art and Music. I despised both of these lessons as not only was I alone but I didn’t believe I had a creative bone in my body. Not that I was allowed instrument lessons and I don’t think I’d actually drawn a picture outside of school since I was a small child. Mother had always discouraged us from it, saying it was worthless and that there were other things to be doing in life. For once I agreed with her.

 

“Isabella, come downstairs!” Her tone was sharper than usual and I zipped up my school bag before running to the stairs, taking them a few at a time. I couldn’t risk making her angrier than she already seemed to be. Mother stood in the dining room, waiting for me with her arms crossed. Bobby stood next to her, looking sadly at his shoes. I quickly scanned his body for signs of injury or tears on his pale cheeks but there was nothing. Mother raised her eyebrows when she saw me but never lost her calm composure; she never did.

 

“Last night, a biscuit was taken from the kitchen. There is one less than there was and despite me telling you not to leave your bedroom after hours, it seems one of you has!”

 

Her words reminded me once again that while I had cursed myself for thinking so wildly yesterday, our lives were still very much run by her. I knew she counted the food in the cupboards so that she would know if we stole from her. But Bobby didn’t. I didn’t risk looking at him but instead held Mother’s gaze, trying not to fidget as her cool glassy stare fell on my face for signs of lying. I never lied, yet recently lying seemed to be something I could do naturally. Her eyes warned me against not telling the truth but the idea of Bobby being blamed was too much to think of. Numerous places on my body began to throb as I recalled past pain but I just swallowed the nervousness I felt and spoke up, trying to keep my voice even so as not to irritate her further.

 

“I did it, Mother. I’m sorry,” my words tumbled out of my mouth, not as composed as I would have liked but it had the desired effect as I looked down, faking feeling ashamed.

 

“Well, it’s not good enough, is it?”

 

I bit my lip, wondering if she wanted an answer. Or would that be talking back? I could feel a thin layer of sweat forming on the back of my neck and my breathing picked up. I tried to allow more air into my lungs but only succeeded in making myself cough. I quickly raised my hand to cover my mouth, catching my nail on my cheek, where a mark was probably already forming. I swallowed my coughs and looked up to see Mother watching me closely. Her eyes drilled into me and I tried not to look at her lips which were now pursed, her teeth clearly clenched behind them. She shocked me when she smoothed out her face into a smile and her pupils seemed to light up with an emotion I couldn’t place.

 

“It’s time for school now!” Mother smiled broadly at Bobby, carefully smoothing his hair and zipping up his bag on his back. Bobby’s face read slight confusion at Mother’s lack of reaction to my supposed crime but he leaned up to kiss her cheek all the same. Mother smiled and turned to me. For one crazy moment, I imagined her kissing me and wishing me a nice day at school. But she wouldn’t, it wasn’t her fault she had a daughter as messed up as I was. My thoughts drifted to yesterday but I caught myself before my face could flush with colour. This was sick, I was sick; I was messed up and I knew that these feelings were wrong. The more I said it, the worse I felt but I knew that just saying it again and again wouldn’t stop the thoughts buzzing around my head, burning into my skull and making my heart ache with bursts of pain.

 

“I’ll see you later, Isabella,” her tone was even and I saw Bobby smile, his small brain thinking the incident had been forgotten. It was only me that could see her eyes, burning with hatred, an emotion that a child should never see from their Mother. I had to remind myself that no Mother had a child like me, it was as if I deliberately went out of my way to aggravate her, I deserved everything I got. I dropped my eyes and began to hurry Bobby out of my door, nearly tripping on the door mat in my haste to leave Mother’s eyes far behind me.

 

I pulled the door shut behind me, wanting to slam it to express the anger I felt towards myself for being so pathetic, for feeling so controlled. I should have been used to it by now but something seemed to be opening my eyes to the horribly dark winding road my life was taking, someone was telling me that the plain walls of my room, the grey doors lining our street, the red bricked houses looming over head, was not the life I should be living. Someone was telling me all this. And I hadn’t even spoken to her.

 

“I’m sorry!” Bobby engulfed me in a hug that pulled me away from my thoughts. His arms were short but he could still fit them around my thin form.  I hugged him back but tried to keep us moving so that we could talk out of ear shot of our grey door, the bleak black hole that sucked us into a world that could only be escaped day after day with the long hours of school. And how I cherished learning, writing, being with Rebecca all the more when I thought of the idea of going home that evening. When I thought of our plain, bleak house with the small door which led down to the basement … I shivered, causing Bobby to pull away so he could try to spot my expression. I gave him a weak smile which seemed to be enough for him.

 

“Next time, don’t steal. Stealing is wrong, okay?” He nodded at my words, smiling at me, promising me he wouldn’t. It was always my mistakes that I had been punished for, now it looked like I would be paying for Bobby’s too. I tried not to think of what would happen that evening. We talked about his school and his lessons that day, him enthusiastically telling me about his essay he had written on … I stopped concentrating, letting my thoughts run over me and soothe me with their soft quilted edges, soothing my head as it throbbed with so many feelings. I let my mind wander to the girl with the flawless skin, the indigo doe-like eyes and the strong calf muscles. Her hair as it lay on her face, her necklaces swaying as she walked, her belly bottom ring as it caught the light. I remembered her pale neck, delicate and long as it led into her chest, which was covered protectively with her blazer. I tried not to think about what lay underneath her blazer and top, concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other as we neared Bobby’s school. I was only allowed to attend school, church and on occasion, if I had contained my unruly side, Rebecca’s house but that was it. I wasn’t allowed out to parties or to the park like the other girls. I had never had any communication with the opposite sex, or with my own sex at that. I was friends with Rebecca because I was allowed to be, I enjoyed her company because it was the only company outside of Mother and Bobby I had. Once I had slept over her house, sleepovers were something that neither Mother usually permitted but it had been quite late and there seemed no other option.

 

I could recall the evening spent mostly in awkward silence, with Rebecca’s mother in the end requesting we go to bed. I had dressed in a pair of Rebecca’s pyjamas, feeling dirty and unclean wearing someone else’s clothes. Rebecca’s mother had told us to clean our teeth and use the toilet before locking me and Rebecca inside Rebecca’s room. Though Rebecca had some things harder than me, their house had a television, which they were allowed to watch for one hour each day and her Mother’s punishments generally involved beating while my own Mother was more creative, after she had tried to run away once, her room was fitted with locks of the door and windows. I wasn’t used to the locks and had to stop my eyes drifting to them on more than one occasion. We had both turned our backs to each other so as to change clothes and I had hurriedly dressed myself, not wanting to spend a moment longer than I had to. We had both gone to bed quickly but not before Rebecca had tried to talk to me. She talked like the other girls at school did, of boys and clothes. Her mouths filled with words and phrases she had heard from school and my own mouth dropped at the language she used. I had had to silence her as she attempted to talk to me about something I had only heard about in science once. Sex.

 

The idea itself was horrible, the sexual organ of a man disgusting and the act of intercourse itself alarming. I thought of Mother having sex and had to stop myself gasping out loud at the prospect. Though she must have done to create both me and Bobby, there had never been a noticeable Father figure in our lives. I couldn’t have been more than 6 when Mother had told me she was pregnant with Bobby. I had just nodded, knowing well enough at that age the punishment for asking too many questions. The baby years were short and quickly Bobby either had to learn to do things himself or else I had had to bathe him, change him and clothe him. Which is why our relationship was so close. I truly did love Bobby. I watched him now as he walked, so innocent in his gestures and actions as his mouth moved quickly, his mind whirring with childish opinions and thoughts. I hoped his innocence would remain forever. I hoped he would never have to suffer the fear that I suffered.

 

We had reached Bobby’s school and he hurriedly gave me a kiss on my cheek before turning to run into the playground. He was as excited as I was to leave the confines of the house and though he had no friends, the friendship I had with Rebecca was sacred because of that, he still enjoyed school the same way I did; it was escape. I crossed the road and walked into school, keeping my head down to avoid attention, I wasn’t in the mood for the snide comments of the girls, their hands pulling at the tight braid of my hair and the long hem of my skirt. I walked fast so as to meet Rebecca in form but a band of girls in my year walked just in front of me, keeping me from ploughing forwards at my usual pace. I tried to get past them but they were all too caught up in their conversation to notice my attempts.

 

I listened to them talking, settling into a slow walk so as to avoid looking like a fool as I tried once more to get past them.

 

“Did you see her yesterday? Her make up?!” The other girls whispered amongst themselves as the leader of their gang spoke loudly. I tried to think of who they might be talking about but just carried on shamelessly listening in, needing that small normality after the morning I had had. I wanted to think and feel like the other girls did, the biggest worry on their minds the next outfit they should buy for this weekend’s upcoming party, instead of my worries involving needing to protect my brother from Mother and these new feelings for Wednesday. Why couldn’t I be normal?

 

“Her hair! And her stupid slaggy top!” One girl spoke, her eyes lighting up at the word ‘slag’ and spreading out the vowel with her tongue.

 

“Did you see her belly ring?” Their eyes flashed as they all turned to look shocked at the girl who had spoken.

 

“I could barely see it through her fat!” Hyena like giggles burst from them all, their hair wildly flying everywhere and their manicured nails wiping tears from their laughing eyes, before the tears could create a trail through the foundation that covered each one of their stupid faces. I had to hold myself back so as not to slap the girls one by one in their stupid grinning faces. I was so angry, I don’t know why I felt so defensive towards Wednesday but as they spoke, their white teeth shining in the morning light from behind their sticky lip glossed grins, I realised I would have hurt each and every one of them right then. I might have done too, if not for what came next.

 

“The stupid lesbian!”

 

My breath stilled in my throat and I took a minute to digest this information. Without school I probably would have never learnt the act of sex or the terms of labelling that the other children used so freely, emo, goth, slag, nerd; but I knew enough to know what lesbian meant. For some strange reason, I played with the word in the head, letting it rest there only after searching for a reasonable definition that could match my image of Wednesday. The confident girl with the colourful clothes, the makeup, the shoes, the pale skin and beautifully natural hair. The girl who had been followed the day before with throngs of admiring boys. I remembered the eye roll she had given me and it suddenly had new meaning. Her smile came to my mind and I couldn’t stop myself from imagining the best; could she like me?

 

I pushed away my stupid thought. Of course she didn’t! And why would it matter if she did? I don’t like girls, I’m not a lesbian! I’m normal. I’m normal. I pushed past the girls causing a few of them to wobble on their too high, high heels but not caring. I stopped myself thinking and walked into my form room.

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