algebra ; hemmo

"he's the teacher's son."


22. 22 - the alley

she's dead.

my mom is dead.

luke is holding me as, rubbing circles on my back as we lay down in my bed. michael and delilah are in her room right now. but i'm glad to be with luke.

"you're so cold," he mumbles, warming me up even more.

"i know, i.." i shrugged slightly. "i have cold body temperature after.."

i could feel the tears building up in my face, and i tried to hold it back. i tried so hard. but that only made me cry even more.


it's been about a week since my mom died. one long week of nothingness. it felt empty without her.

"let's do something," dawn said on the first ring.

"i don't wanna," i groan.

"i'll see you in 10 minutes."


dawn's loud car beep shocked me for a moment and when i walked outside, she was blasting all time low's 'dancing with a wolf'. i climbed in the passenger's seat, making a big deal of sighing, making her know that i wasn't in a good mood. i don't really think i was, since she passed away.

"where are we going?" i ask, buckling in my seatbelt.
"we," she gestured, "are going downtown. you need a night out."
i lean back on the seat and prop my feet up in front of me. i closed my eyes as dawn played her calming music on spotify, a playlist i've heard a million times before. not in a while though, until now.

i wake up to dawn shaking me lightly, whispering, "we're here, dumbass. wake the hell up." i act asleep as she shakes me even more, and then i push her back.

i see that we're stopped in front of a large store called 'guitar center'. i've been here a few times, but not in about a year.

"do you even play anything?" i ask her.

she shakes her head, "no. but that doesn't mean i can't learn."

i chuckle and climb out of the car and into the shop. we end up in a room with a bunch of acoustic guitars and ukuleles. i notice that there are only men here. two teenage boys, and three men in their early-30s. my hands lead me to taking off one of the acoustic guitars off of the hook and sitting on the stool. i begin to play 'boulevard of broken dreams' by green day. soon enough, a small crowd forms around me in a circle.

when i finish, they all clap. i smile at them all and bow playfully, putting back the guitar.

we find ourselves outside of the small room and back into the actual store. i look at the guitars and eventually pick up a pastel-blue electric guitar. i plug it into one of the mini amps, that were hella expensive and i didn't consider buying them once. i was alone at that point. dawn was still in the store, talking to the store worker organizing the guitar capos. the guy had a nose ring, vibrant red hair, and a small tattoo on his middle finger.

to be honest, he was like another mikey.


dawn and i got back in the car and she stopped in front of starbucks.

"we're going to starbucks?" i raise an eyebrow. "i don't drink coffee."

"exactly," she nudged my shoulder and went up to the cashier. "we'll have two mocha lattes. both grande. thanks," she smiled.

a few minutes later, they had our order. dawn handed me mine and we clinked cups.

"try it," she said. "you'll love it. it's basically chocolate, but makes you feel older. there's some caffeine in it, so you might feel jittery, but maybe it'll have no effect on you."

i was hesitant at first, and then when i drank it, i couldn't get enough.


when dawn and i left starbucks, she drove me to a place called 'the alley'. i saw it while driving earlier. the place was filled with skulls and a couple people in front of the store were smoking cigarettes. she unlocked the car and before we went in, one of the girls in front winked at me.

"i'm just gonna warn you beforehand," she said. "you might be kind of taken-aback with the alley. but it's totally normal. it's how people there express themselves."

"i'm scared already," i whispered to her and she linked arms with me, going inside.

the place was filled with all black clothing, leather jackets with spikes, and boots so high i couldn't understand how people could walk in them. a man with a beard and stretched ears walked pass us. we started to look around and i saw the band merch. the only bands i knew there were misfits and attila. the rest of the bands there were too hardcore and screamo for me.

and then i saw a sign with half-off piercings.

dawn saw me looking and smiled. "wanna get a piercing?"

i glanced at the girl in the small piercing room with pierced dimples and a crop top, revealing her hip piercings. she looked kind of scary. i shook my head no.

dawn groaned, "oh come on. it's not even that bad."

i look at her, "i'm not paying a neck-tattooed girl to stab me with a needle."

but nevertheless, dawn grabs my arm to the tattooed girl, and smiles at her. she actually smiles back. maybe these people are actually nice.

dawn speaks for me, "my friend elody here would like snakebites."

snakebites? so she'll have to stab me twice?

the girl nods, "sure. hoop or stud?"

dawn looks at me, "hoop or stud?"

"hoop," i decide.

the girl gets up to grab some papers. the long needle and metal sit on the counter. she's actually very organized, i'll give her that.

i whisper to dawn, "i'm actually nervous."

"i know you are," she whispers back and makes me sit down.

the girl, who's name is apparently darcy, gives me a small smile and starts to clean the needle. she starts telling me a story about her mom and tells me to breathe in and out. i'm caught up and distracted in the story, the needle is sudden. i breathe in deeply and try not to cry in front of darcy. damn, that hurt. and she has to do it again. how did luke do this?

we go through the same routine again of her story-telling skills and me almost crying because of the needle. and before i know it, it's over. darcy slides the hoops in the newly-made holes in my lip. when it's over, darcy smiles a toothy smile.

"and we're done! it looks great on you." she hands me a mirror and i look in it. it actually doesn't look that bad. in fact, it looks great. i feel like a new person, almost.

dawn nods in agreement, "you look mature. well, mature-er."

i chuckle, "is 'mature-er' even a word?"

she grins, "you're the grammar genius, not me."

after that, darcy and i exchange cell numbers. just in case i want another piercing or if she just wants to talk. she does it with all of her customers she likes. dawn and i walk out of the alley proudly.

"that was kind of scary," i admit to her.

she nods, sighing. "true. but at least now you can say you've been to the alley. most people who come downtown are scared to even look there."

i shrug. dawn smiles and flashes her white teeth at me.

"let's go home," she says to me.

dawn puts the keys in ignition and we're driving again, blasting music with the windows down. the sky looked pink and purple and ocean blue.

i feel free and infinite and happy again.


so i was diagnosed with social anxiety today.

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