Peroxide

Pete is rationing his pills. Patrick is cleansing himself with peroxide. Both are in danger of themselves.

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1. I made the cover before I knew what I was doing but it's okay now

There are certain sounds that sparks thoughts, thoughts that cause speculation of death and happier times, thoughts that come to us as naturally as a breath, but what we breathe is a falsification and a lie. What we breathe is the silence, the inexplicable pounding of black in a screaming room, and it disguises itself to masquerade as the tapping of rain in the window of a childhood home, so that's all we believe, because we are in need of a consolation.

The material we comprehend is nothing real, nothing that provides life or comfort, but we demand it to do so, because sounds are extroverted miracles that rescue humans from themselves, from their own papery thoughts, and perhaps the world will recognize the irony eventually.

And I never heard something quite as shattering as the gunfire on a battlefield, because it is born from the desire to murder to prevent more murder, and we weave that contradiction obliviously. We are falling out of line for an expectation of change, and we are fighting monsters that we cannot see.

With that idea, I can't help but wonder if it would be more accurate to say that this is a war against ourselves.

These matters make me wish for suffocation, for this image of joy is so skewed that it is meaningless to the blatantly introspective.

If I die, I want my passing to be narrated by the whisper of a tragedy that was never actually a sound at all. If I die young, that is. We're all destined for the grave, especially now.

For during this time, the things that we see are black and white — sometimes, that is quite literal — and we are convinced that a reformation is among us, but we refuse the prospect physically by not putting down our weapons.

When we are at a loss, when unbuttoned uniforms pinned on the deceased are scattered around, when the blood of our victims paints the meadow that used to represent peace, we continue to hold blades to our comrades' noses to check for breaths of what we come to understand as nothing significant.

And just like that, we are dancing with death again. The knife could slip, could cut, could kill, but it doesn't, even through trembling hands, and we sometimes applaud ourselves for remaining steady amidst the chaos, but we know deep down that it wouldn't matter if we did falter, because a massacre such as this does not pick the prettiest flowers in the garden — no, it steals with the sweep of the wind those who could not hold the blade still, those who were either brave or cowardly, but we observe no distinction once we brush past sentimentality, a chemical that poisons and warps even the greatest minds.

We have nothing but hypocrisy on the terrain, but we do not act on it, and perhaps we could've done something about it before it was too late, though we are already lost with the sounds that we used to know; and we position the knives once more, only to find that our mistake has become a tragedy that we cannot resolve.

Then, we understand the silence.

There are multiple sounds flitting along in my realm, apparently, swarming around my head like a mass of bees honing in on a flower — though I wouldn't describe myself as such a gift of nature — and it would seem that my amygdala hopes for me to list them all, or else suffer the wrath of my own mind's power. I've never submitted to the pain, not yet, just complied; there's still time to learn what kind of danger I will encounter, however.

The tapping of my pencil on paper is among the noises clinging to my eardrums, and it's the only one that ceases temporarily, its amplifier scratching a bit of the parchment with a witty idea before returning to its prior duty of monotony. I'm astonished that it doesn't grow tired of the bore.

What an obstruction of freedom that is.

Occasionally, fright fills my chest up to the brim, spiking my stomach with its overreacting spears at the shrieking of the swing-set rocking back and forth without previous warning. Vigilance is a waste, primarily when it is constant, which it is, in my case; I learned nothing from the precautions provided by parents and guardians, for it happened to turn the tables of my emotion control.

Everything is hectic now.

Then, fleeing from the inadvertent introspection of the swing-set analysis, there's the gentle, the cliché, the start to every story written by an inexperienced collector of words, such as myself, and that's why it fits.

The caring breeze floats along like a lark in summertime, greeting every tree obscured by the masses of dirt and unfinished playground equipment, but they never dare cross me.

Maybe it's the peroxide in my hand. Or the suffocating pencil within my fingers. Or the paper stained by hydrogenated liquid. Maybe it's just me.

Noting on the bottle in my grasp, it seems like a cruel irony that my hair is peroxide blonde — been called out on it, too, by uncaring psychologists that have been furthermore discarded for my own well-being — but perhaps I should be more concerned with things other than the coincidence of my compulsions and physical appearance merging together.

My current psychologist tells me to exfoliate my skin, moisturize it with some sort of lotion that's supposed to be healthy for you, but it only stands on my shelf, stationary and smirking, and the peroxide burns of desert feelings remain.

So, in a way, I presume my compulsions and appearance aren't so different, after all. They both chase each other into homicide.

And the final sound, one that isn't regularly droning on, jumps into existence in the form of a text from none other than the art geek I call Gerard Way.

My fingertips drag at the screen, tapping all around and unlocking my phone in a delayed movement — I keep a password on it, alleviating the unbridled paranoia in some shape — and the bubble of words appears in front of my face.

Hey, Patrick. How are you doing today?

I smirk. Gerard always asks me this, like he's afraid of offending me, which is quite difficult when I'm wrapped inside myself. I'm not nearly as harsh on the outside.

I'm fine, I guess. What's up? Don't say the sky.

After a few seconds with no response, my legs become jittery, bouncing around with nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, nowhere to be free of the tingling sensation and the panic coursing through my blood.

A moment later, though, the stress is diminished.

I'm stuck at an art show, but my mom told me to pick up Mikey from daycare. I consented, of course, but didn't realize that I had this until it was too late. Can you please bring him back home from Belleville Development Center? It's okay if not (I can get Ryan to do it).

Usually, I hate communicating with people, whether that's by talk, text, or call, but there's something about Gerard that I love, most likely the patience he has with me.

Yes, I comprehend that my anxiety will prohibit me from declining the offer, but he presented it to me, anyway, and I know him well enough to recognize that it's sincere.

Yeah, that's all right. I can get him. Do you need me to pick up anything for you on the way?

My mother says it's always rewarding to be overly considerate. Somehow, I don't quite believe her, even if I should, even if I'm abiding by her rules.

No, but thank you so much. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this, Patrick.

I heave my bag over my shoulder once introducing my possessions to it again, peering down at my phone and texting with one thumb as I walk.

Art geek.

I discover no response.

~~~~~

"There are a lot of children here," I find myself whispering as I slide from my bike. My eyes are expanding in shock at all of the tiny humans circling the room of the developmental center, possibly destroying everything in their path as if they were a formulating tornado.

I'm just about to turn around and leave in a fit of nervousness when a boy in a shadowed green apron, soft brown eyes set into his hollow face, catches my gaze, and...smiles. Why would anyone be smiling at me? Did I do something wrong? Do I know him from somewhere?

Snap out of it, Patrick. Psychologists don't like these outbursts.

He beckons me towards the entrance, and for a moment, I question whether or not he's addressing me, but I eventually step inside, leaping at the slamming of the door behind me — and now the mob of children attacking my every limb.

Abruptly, like being swept away with a storm, my lungs fill with water, but no one notices it besides me, and that's the scariest anecdote of this ailment — they cannot hear me scream.

The world is so fast-paced, I come to understand, and not even the inexplicably sympathetic expression of the guy in the apron can rescue me from the water trapping me inside a place of suffocation. My psychologist says it's a symptom of anxiety, the illness he claims I have because of an event that transpired so far back that it shouldn't mean a thing — two years is a long time.

But then again, I'm still washing my arm with peroxide.

"Who is you?" one chatters, looking up from his grip on my leg to observe a countenance crumpled with fright.

"Why are you moving so much?" another says, child-talk for, "Why are you shaking?" which sets me on edge; I don't appreciate confrontation, even if it's explicitly innocuous.

"He's just so excited to see you," the worker chimes in, moving from behind the desk and shooing the children away. "There's a set of building blocks on the floor that you can play with. I need to talk to this nice man for a moment. Is that okay with you all?"

Without responding, the kids dash over to the set of blocks, flinging them at each other or building something worthwhile, crying when their friends knock over their creations.

A small being approaches, throwing his hands in the air and shouting, "Bob is being mean to me!"

"Ray, Lou will be here soon," the boy addresses a kid with a curly mop glued upon his head. "You can talk to the other children while you wait, all right? Just stay away from Bob if you don't like him, but don't be mean back. That's not nice." He smiles, baring his perfectly white teeth and mildly pushing the kid back towards the crowd.

"W-wh-where is Mikey?" I am capable of choking out, my entire body continuing to quiver as the boy awaits firmly.

"Hey," he consoles me, brushing a hand over my arm, to which I shy away. He seems to take the hint, replying, "Sorry about that. Just try to take deep breaths, yeah? It'll calm you down."

"T-that's what the psy-psychologists all say." I stifle sobs for a second to release a half-hearted laugh; at least I'm trying.

"I've had enough of them," the worker admits, but undertones of melancholy lurk in his typical joyful tone. He sounds like my kind of person — messed up in the head, recoiling from any thought of interaction, buried underneath impenetrable layers of gloom, and even if I've only known this guy for a few minutes, I want him to make it out alive.

I've decided that he, at least, should receive a genuine outcome.

"Y-you've b-been to a psychologist?" I stammer, green eyes circling the room in case some secret agency is spying on us; fortunately for me, there are no cameras here.

It seems like the first place where I've been sure about that. Even if I scan the room with a thorough precision, I can never be sure that there isn't someone creeping up on me (they could find a way), but I somehow trust this guy. He wouldn't spy on me, would he?

I predict the paranoia will stage its entrance if I see him again. Right now, it's dormant, but it's more perilous that way. Alertness is ubiquitous.

"Loads of them, and they all messed me up more than I had been previously." His glare drops low like a weighted branch but eventually springs back up to meet my own. "Anyway, Mikey is over there, the only kid with the glasses. Kind of funny, you know, always wearing them on the tip of his nose like a librarian or something."

I nod, hastily refreshing my memory of Mikey's image before the boy in the apron asks me more questions about him.

The worker places a finger to his lips, his focus drifting back and forth between us. "Say, is he your brother? You don't look much like him."

Obviously, but why is he so nosy? Humans, always trying to grasp every piece of information they can, even when it's none of their petty little business. Frankly, I would enjoy dwelling in a cave until I grow a beard the size of my shin and my hair withers into a shining bald spot that likely hosts the manger of Jesus on top. Anything to isolate myself.

Not many people welcome the concept that misanthropy is my force, though — and where would my peroxide be in a cave?

But he's right nevertheless. Eye color, hair color, and facial structures are all off. While we both lean towards the feminine terrain of features, Mikey and Gerard possess thinner proportions, almost like a feline.

"N-no, he's my friend's brother, who is currently at an art show. His name is Gerard."

Ugh. He didn't need to know that. Why am I like this? Constantly spewing out irrelevant details no one cares about.

"Patrick, no one remembers what you say after the maximum of an hour, all right?" Dr. Saporta, my psychologist, finds pleasure in reminding me. Does he think I'm interested in his stock phrases? Not much.

My mother says I shouldn't be so overbearing towards him, that he's one of the most versatile therapists she's ever met — not that she would be familiar with many, seeing as she's as neurotypical as it gets; that, however, brings you into suburban mom life, and that's the downside of a clear brain — but it's not my duty to like people. In fact, I am most often fueled by the doctrine of "guilty until proven innocent". My mother also says I shouldn't run by that standard. I don't really mind.

"That's an interesting name," the boy comments. "I like how it flows, the capture and release of the geh sound, then the fierce flick of the rawr bit, like the tad of courage we can never have, and the abrupt end of the rd on the tail of the word."

The tad of courage we can never have. It scares me. He knows. He's been watching me, hasn't he? He is aware of my anxiety, because he planted cameras, and he's following me around.

I need to leave.

Habitually wiggling my fingers into my bag to draw out the peroxide, I stop short, pivoting my head towards an advancing Mikey, a building block held to his hair with some germy kid's saliva — I have to force back tears.

"Patwick?" he chirps. "Is you?"

"Yeah, Mikey, it's me," I respond, crouching down to meet his gaze but tucking my arm behind my back so that he can't touch it any longer. I abhor the way it makes my skin crawl, how it...breathe; Dr. Saporta instructed you not to potentially trigger anything, so snap out of it.

"Where Geewad?"

The worker swoops in heroically as I answer, picking out the building block with the protection of a paper towel, wiping it off, throwing it back into the heap of toys, and almost assailing a small kid with a premature fringe, but the apron boy doesn't say a thing to me, only observes.

"He's at an art show. You know how much he loves those." I smile, and Mikey mirrors my actions. "Are you ready to go home?"

Mikey's head bobs up and down rapidly, seizing my hand and pulling me towards the exit without properly thanking the worker.

I don't aspire to be consorting with people who have no perception of manners.

"Uh, I, um, thank you so much!" I yell as the bell cycles all around with the swaying of the door, and I am awarded with a sheepish grin from my new companion — amused, is he? What wonders that does for my stability.

"Be careful out there!" the raven-haired teenager returns, waving his hand in a gesture that signals the departure of any party in a conversational group. I'm not sure what he means. Am I prone to injury? Does he think I can't handle myself? Is someone being considerate for once?

Questions. Dr. Saporta doesn't like them.

The wind brings a chill of its own, disparate from the thundering collision of panic attacks, which has me retreating within my sheer jacket that has never done a thing for me in wintertime; my mother should invest in a new one, or at least a coat with puffier material.

Then there would only be one contingence to worry about.

We're gone now, though, but no matter how much I pray to forget the touch of the children, discard it like a scrap of newspaper, I still feel the burning, squeezing, choking sensation of their grimy fingers.

I need more peroxide.

~~~~~

A/N: hey wet rats how did you like the first chapter

if you did, vote, comment, etc. idrc

I haven't even finished outlining why am I doing this

current vibe: that little sob tyler does when asked who josh's best friend is

okay bye

~Dakota

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