Wretched Trauma

Avery is an eighteen year old outcast, joining sixth form, for her final year of A Levels, before University. Before she started a new school, she was bullied, both verbally and physically. At her new school, she meets a new outcast, Axel; he's mute. No one knows why he's mute, but nobody cares enough to find out. No one, but Avery. She wants to know everything about him; how it's possible for him to lose his voice; how he became an outcast; but most importantly, he wants to know how to say 'I love you' without a voice. Everyone says love is blind, or maybe it's just silent?

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10. 'And I think that's a good enough reason to love yourself.'

   Axel's POV because why not 

   "Wake up."

   "No," I reply, burying my face into my pillow.

   "Get up or I'll drag you out of bed," Ethan hisses, ripping the covers off of me.

   "You're actually the worst friend ever," I mumble, curling into a ball of shivers.

    "Axel..." he murmurs, noticing the long, red scratches down my back.

   I let out a loud huff of air, turning over, and sitting up, so that he can no longer see my bloodied back. I hug my knees to my chest, avoiding eye contact at all costs. It's just a few scratches. They don't mean anything.

    "It's nothing, Ethan," I sternly mumble, diverting my distant gaze to my wardrobe.

    "Nothing my ass!" Ethan replies, but then his eyes soften with sympathy, "C'mon... Let's get you cleaned up."

    After forcing me into the bathroom, he used a damp cloth to clean the wounds. It hurt like hell, but I wouldn't admit that, as all of the blood was removed from my flesh. Most of the scratches had scabbed over, and the rest had stopped bleeding, all except for one. It ran from my left shoulder blade, down to my right hip, getting deeper in the middle. 

   "You're gonna need stitches on that," Ethan tells me, trying to stop the blood.

    "I'm not going to the hospital," I immediately reply, "Stitch it up for me."

    "It's sweet you have so much faith in me, but I study mental health, not physical. I can't do this, Axel, it's just going to get infected. Go to the hospital and get yourself fixed up," he pats my shoulder sadly, giving me the utmost apologetic look, with his large, hazel-brown eyes.

   "Either you sew it up, or I bleed to death," I decide, folding my arms across my bare chest.

   For a few minutes, we glare at each other, daring the other one to cave first. I'd made up my mind, but Ethan is slightly weaker than me, mentally, so I'm sure he'll cave. But after ten minutes, I'm not so sure. I can't go to the hospital. Only bad things happen there. Ethan's got an eye for accuracy, I'm sure he can fix the cut rather easily. Plus, he's covered in tattoos, he should know what he's doing with a needle.

   "Okay, fine! But if it hurts... Good."

    I smirk, handing him a needle from the first aid kit, along with a reel of fine thread. Of course it's going to hurt, I don't have any painkillers, but it's better than bleeding to death. After cleansing it with alcohol, which stung like a bitch, he set to work.

   After a million grunts, squeaks, groans, and maybe a scream or two, the cut's sealed. I'm seething with self pity, as I pull a plain, black tee on, covering it for the day. Then, I change my boxers, pulling on a pair of white skinny jeans.

   "So what are we doing today?" I ask, smoothing out my shirt.

    "You need to talk to someone," Ethan murmurs, trying not to look at me,

    "You know where this conversation goes, everytime we have it," I hiss, "Anyway... I think we have bigger problems," I raise an eyebrow, and Ethan scowls.

    "It was inevitable anyway... It's just going to happen sooner rather than later," he waves it off, but I can see the agony held within his eyes.

    "You have to at least tell Devon," I carefully say, not wanting to set him off again.

    "You know I can't..." he mumbles, sadly gazing into his lap.

    Ethan and Devon have always had a thing going for each other, but neither of them had the guts to explain themselves. Instead, they stuck to subtle flirting, with the occasional kiss on the cheek. Well, now, the flirting isn't too subtle, and I've caught them in rather intense games of tonsil tennis. Ew.

   "I love you, man," I admit, knowing that's a little too gay for a man to say to his best friend. 

   "I love you, too, but I'm not ready for commitment..." he jokes, smirking as he playfully nudged my shoulder.

   "But... I thought what we had was special!" I pretend to cry, and we break down into fits of laughter.

   Once we'd calmed down, Ethan admitted he really does love me, but strictly as a brother. Anyway, I don't swing that way, I have Avery. Someone I wouldn't trade for the world. Not even the universe. Do you think she'd ever marry me? Am I thinking too far ahead, too soon? Am I getting creepy? Oops.

   "What else do you love, Axel?" Ethan asks, his eyes shining with intrigue.

   "Avery, Devon, my mother," I paused for a moment, not really having anyone else to say, "I love to draw, my music..."

   I continued for another minute, proclaiming everything I'd ever managed to have an interest in. It ranged from my hobbies, to my friends, my family, to what I loved when I was kid. 

   "How many answers will you go through, until you say you love yourself?" Ethan asks, leaning forward ever so slightly.

   "But I don't love myself," I reply, confusion etched onto my face.

   "If it weren't for you... None of those things would exist to you. If you weren't alive, you wouldn't know Avery, Devon, or myself. You wouldn't be able to draw, or be so obsessed with those bands... And I think that's a good enough reason to love yourself."

   Maybe, just maybe, I would have taken his words into account, if blood didn't start falling from his nose. Just maybe.

    *

    Avery's POV

   As exciting as Sunday's get, I'm lying on my bed, pining for Axel. It's been a month since we went ice skating, so a month of being official. It's good to have someone like him around, even if he is quiet. However, today he's hanging out with Ethan, Devon's spending the day with all four of her brothers, and there's no way I'm spending time with Callum.

   "Not even Scrabble?!" Callum whines, poking his head around my bedroom door.

   "I swear to God, you have five seconds to remove yourself from my premises."

   For the last hour, Callum has been shouting at me from around the house, asking me to play something with him. It started off with video games, to going to the park, to the existential crisis of boardgames. At one point, I almost caved, but then I remembered how violent Monopoly is.

   "But... Baby sis..."

   "Out!"

   And he's gone. At last.

   "What's with all the shouting?" Axel smiles, leaning in my doorway.

   "What are you doing here?" I reply, looking at him like I'd seen a ghost.

   "Am I not allowed to visit my girlfriend?" he smirks, still leaning in the doorway. 

   "No! Not when she's not wearing any make-up, and her hair is still messy- Out!" half way during my rant, I cover my face with a pillow, flushing bright red.

   Not even making an attempt to move, Axel raises an eyebrow. Well, he's not moving anytime soon. To go with my disgusting face, and knotted hair, I'm wearing a pair of leggings, and one of Axel's t-shirts. C'mon, couldn't my outfit be at least decent? It is a pretty nice shirt though, it's got random paint splatters on it, and I kept it from the time he slept over mine. 

   "Axel!" I whine, letting my eyes peer over the top of the cushion.

   "Yes, Angel?" 

   "Please, just go find Callum, play Scrabble with him, while I get dressed," I beg him.

   "Scrabble?" he frowns, wondering why on earth I'd suggest a boardgame about spelling. 

   "I just need to get dressed, I swear," I hold my hands up in defeat, lying all the while.

   "It's not like I haven't seen you undressed before," he smirks, winking, literally making my inner fangirl melt.

   I gasp, "You have not seen me naked!"

   Again, he winks, sticking his tongue out, as I throw my pillow at him. Easily, he dodges it, laughing to himself. He looks really good, like really good, in his black shirt, and contrasting white, skinny jeans. Giving up, I let him look at my natural ugliness, gesturing for him to come over.

   Bringing the pillow with him, holding it as a shield in front of him, he cautiously approaches me, afraid that I'll attack him again. But I don't, I pull him down onto my bed with me, hugging him tightly. He visibly cringes, and I instantly let go.

   "What's wrong? Are you okay?" I ask, rubbing his back soothingly, but he flinches.

   Quickly, I get up, kneeling on my bed behind him, and lift his shirt before he can realise what I'm doing. Once it's up, revealing the cuts on his back, he shouts my name, trying to twist away from me. 

   "What have you done?!" I cry, a lot louder than when he shouted my name.

   "It's nothing!" he shouts back, roughly pulling his shirt down.

   "No, tell me what happened! You always have different injuries, and I end up finding them the hard way, just tell me, what's going on?!" I raise my voice even louder, our noses practically touching.

   "Avery... It's nothing... Just an accident..." he mumbles, cupping my cheek with one of his soft, gentle hands. 

   "Oh, really? What kind of an accident was this?" I fold my arms across my chest, pulling away from his hand.

   "I fell down the stairs, it's no big deal. I just scratched my back on a few splinters, from the stairs," he shrugs.

   I want to believe him, I really do, but... "You live in a bungalow," I murmur, not wanting to look at him if he's going to lie to me,

   "Avery..." 

   "You can't keep lying to me; I'm your girlfriend. So, either tell me the truth, or we're done."

   Without another word, he got up, and left me alone, to drown in my own thoughts.

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