Simpatico Outcasts

❝Everyone thinks that the outcasts are the rejects, don't fit into groups or societies; they're the ones people don't want. But they're wrong, because outcasts do belong somewhere. Together.❞

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For 17-year-old, Cecil Jones, the Simpatico Outcast group had become her world. A world in which she could avoid her home, her family and anything else she didn't want to think about. She'd found comfort in having a group, and even a boyfriend, despite never knowing where she was going to sleep at night. But after one weekend, everything changes again and she's forced into the realisation that you can't just ignore the wounds before they've healed. And no matter how hard you try to bury the past, it comes back to haunt you.

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3. Three ⦁ Cigarettes and Coffee

 

 ⦁ Cecil⦁

I shut myself into the bathroom, my back hitting against the door as my legs wobbled. Just breathe. Breathe Cecil. Breathe. In my head was a spiral of words telling me to calm down; but I couldn't. My thoughts were raging fast through my brain. I had wanted to kiss him. I was so close. I had felt all these emotions rushing into me, telling me I should.

But I had a boyfriend. I'd never felt like this towards Reggie before. Why now?

I'd told him he was fascinating, because he was. I'd asked him strange questions. I'd got so close to him and even kissed his cheek. There had been some automatic pull in my heart as he had spoken to me, walked around his flat and the second I was in front of him I had wanted to kiss him properly. I'd had to stop myself. Shutting myself in the bathroom now was the only way I could think of to stop the emotions in me. But they wouldn't stop. I still felt like my heart was trying to burst out of my chest in anticipation. There was just something about him that pulled me to him. I had wanted to kiss him.

I couldn't do that. Now now, not ever

I'd made the mistake before. I'd cheated before on a past boyfriend. It was a bad thing to do but it had felt exciting. And all I could think about was that now. I knew it was bad, I knew it was a horrible thing to do but how much would one kiss hurt? Would Archie even find out?

Don't do it, Cecil. I commanded myself in my head, tried to bring my sense back. I sat on the closed toilet seat and tried to steady myself. Breathe. Just breathe. Get rid of the thoughts. You're not going to do it again. You're not a cheater.

I opened my eyes again. What if that was all I was? My label was that - A cheater. To even think about kissing him, made me one didn't it? And if I'd done it once before in my life, who's to say I wouldn't do it again?

I forced myself to think about Archie. He was sweet, he'd let me stay in his house numerous times so I didn't have to go home but what else was in it? We kissed very frequently, Archie didn't do PDA, and  I always felt there was something missing, some kind of spark missing... A spark I had felt igniting in chest when I had stood in front of Reggie.

No, no, no. I paced back and forth in the small bathroom. My face was hot, my skin felt tingly but I wanted it to stop. I didn't want to have to think about anything. I wanted to just walk back in there, act normally, go to sleep and survive the weekend without anything happening. Yet another part of me didn't want that. It wanted more. I wanted more. I wanted more than Archie ever gave me.

I hated myself for thinking it. I knew it was terrible... but I couldn't help it.

I walked to the sink, splashed water in my face and stared into my own eyes. Be sensible, Cecil, is what the look said to me. Make the right choice. I rammed my mouth firmly shut and nodded at myself. I was right. I needed to be sensible. I needed to be a good person.

I stepped away from the sink, took a big breathe and held my hand to the door handle. Just breathe.

I walked back into the room and looked over at Reggie washing up at the sink. He turned his head when he heard me shut the door behind me. "You okay?"

I nodded and sat down on the sofa, turned my eyes away. Maybe if I didn't look at him, I wouldn't do something stupid, and my thoughts would stop.

After a few seconds silence in which I could hear the water washing away down the sink, Reggie walked back over towards me. He paused and looked at me for a second, as though he was about to say something but he didn't. He walked to the record player instead and pulled a different record off the shelf. I watched him put it on the player and place the needle down.

Another catfish and the bottle men song started to play. It echoed round my head as I watched him walk to the arm chair and sit down.

"Why do you like them? The band I mean," I found myself asking. At least it was a casual question this time.

He cocked his head to the side in thought, dark eyes averting mine. He fiddled with a wavy lock of his black-dyed hair. Then his eyes met mine again, and he replied, "I guess, I like the lyrics. Like some of the pop songs you hear, the popular ones, when you really analyse the lyrics they just repeat most of the same thing or don't make sense. It doesn't mean anything to me. Their lyrics, when they sing them, they mean something more. With the music, it just makes me feel, if you get what I mean. It's good if a song can make you feel things."

I nodded. I did get it. I felt the same about it and it only made the feeling in my chest stronger. He really was intriguing. There was something so special about him that I hadn't noticed before. In all the hours our friendship group had spent in that one room at school, I had never spoken to him properly. Today I had and suddenly I found him much more interesting. I didn't know why I hadn't taken the time to get to know him better.

"Want one?" he called and I looked up to see him holding a pack of cigarettes. 

I nodded and got up to pull one from the pack. I put it between my lips and lowered my face so he could light it for me. As the orange flame clicked on, I watched it dance across his pale face, reflect in his eyes. There was something captivating about it before the cigarette ignited and the light was gone. I stood up straighter again, and took a drag, blowing the smoke out into the air.

"Surely, you shouldn't smoke inside?" I said as I flopped back onto the sofa.

Reggie shrugged as he blew out smoke. "Fire alarms broken."

We fell into silence again. I let the cigarette relax me as I watched him. There was always something sad in his expression I felt, behind his eyes, something which seemed unsettled. I wondered exactly what it was that he was so sad about. I knew he was always quiet in school but I never once thought there was another cause. I just thought it had been like any one of us, that he was annoyed with life and other people. Now that I looked at him, I saw more. There was something more troubled about him. I wanted to know what.

I looked away again. I didn't want to get too wound up in my thoughts again.

Neither of us spoke again, till we'd finished smoking. Reggie got up from the chair and cracked his back. He walked to the fridge again and called, "do you want another drink?"

"No, I'm alright," I replied and I wrapped my legs up into a crossed leg position.

He banged around the kitchen for a few minutes before coming back with a cup of coffee. He sat down next to me instead this time, taking a sip and leaning back more comfortably into the sofa.

"I'm sorry, I don't have a TV," he said. "We could have watched that or something."

A smile pulled across my face. "You're old school, I like that." I pointed to the records.

He shrugged slightly as though he wanted to deny it. "TV licenses are expensive I guess."

I turned slightly more towards him, watched him take another slow sip.

"Do you ever feel like you're pretending?" I asked slowly, the words just coming out of my mouth without thinking.

His eyes shifted to mine. "Huh?"

"Like some things you do in life, in school, around other people is just a facade?" I continued and he paused, didn't reply. "I know we're outcasts, we're in a group because of that, and kind of because we're different. We do things different or appear different... but do you ever feel like you still pretend to the others?"

Reggie slowly nodded. I shifted closer again, the motion automatic. I wasn't really seriously thinking about what I was doing anymore.

"I do to," I told him. "Sometimes I just never feel like I know myself... or why I do anything or saying anything... just that's how it happens and I don't really know how to explain it, but I don't talk about this stuff to anyone. It's just inside me, all these feelings." My words were coming out fast now, I was almost breathless with trying to get them out of my mouth. I didn't know what I was saying at the same time as I knew what I was saying. I continued, "I don't know why I'm telling you this I just.. I think you might get it, Reggie, because you're different. There's so much more to you than just what you see at school."

Reggie slowly nodded again and he seemed apprehensive to talk, like he didn't know how to word any response.

"I don't know... Sometimes I want to just do stuff because I feel like it," I muttered slowly. I inched the cup out of his hands and he let me take it. I placed it down on the table near by.

Reggie didn't move, he said nothing, he just stared back at me. He looked confused but also captivated. There was the same sadness embedded deeper in his eyes below the part which was questioning me. I didn't say another word. I leaned in slowly towards him.

I could smell the coffee, the smoke lingering, mixed together like an old coffee shop. I closed my eyes.

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