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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2. Two ⦁ Flat 12c

 

⦁ Reggie ⦁ 

I lit my cigarette as I leaned up against my car, staring across the car park. I always thought I played into a clique when I did that. A depressed teenager who smokes. I wasn’t that. I just looked a bit like I was. Black dyed hair, band t-shirt, ripped skinny jeans. The smoking part was true too. Maybe I was exactly what I looked like but I told myself I wasn’t as I wanted to feel as though there was more to me, below the surface. 

As I took another drag, blowing a swirl of smoke out of my mouth my eyes latched on to who I had been waiting for. It was Cecil. Her long black wavy hair bounced on one shoulder, swished over to one side, the other side slicked back against her skull. Her expression always looked so bold, probably down to the fact her eyeliner was so black and thick and her eyelids always smudged with some kind of greyish colour. Smoke eyes as she said once. Her pale skin made everything else pop out in contrast, it gave her this almost haunting look. 

Her black painted lips pulled into a smile as she got closer and emerged through the smoke. “Hello, Reggie.” 

“Hello,” I echoed and lowered the cigarette. She plucked it from my hand and put it between her lips, circling round to the passengers side of the car. 

“Let’s see this Palace of yours then,” she said as I climbed into the drivers seat beside her. 

“It’s really not a Palace,” I muttered as I turned the key and revved the engine. 

I reversed the car, the gears making a crunch as I shifted into the wrong one. I swore before getting the right one and swinging my way towards the exit. Cecil laughed slightly beside me and I gripped the steering wheel tighter, shooting her a small glare. 

She blew smoke in my direction and grinned. “I didn’t say anything.” 

I knew she hadn’t, I just saw it on her face. She wanted to make so many comments about my bad driving but I didn’t need to be told, I knew it already. I had only passed last term. 

“Archie doesn’t drive so I always have to walk to his,” she commented and I watched her from  the corner of my eye as she wound the window down slightly to flick the last of the cigarette out. She then turned her head around so she was looking at me, I could feel her eyes on the side of my face. “Where even is your house?” 

I paused slightly before I answered. “Not a house. A block of flats down Milton Road.” I readjusted my hands on the steering wheel slightly. None of the group had ever been round, none of them knew I actually had my own place and didn’t live with my parents. Now Cecil would find out. 

“Do you get on with your parents?” she next asked and I tried not to laugh at how stupid the question was.  

I shook my head. I thought it was obvious that none of our little group did. 

“Are they going to be mad at having an extra person around?”  

I flicked my eyes nervously to her. “Um, they don’t live there.” 

She frowned slightly and then it clicked. I was nervous for the answer but she just grinned. “Parents suck anyway so you’re lucky.” 

“I guess I am,” I replied as I turned a corner but I didn’t feel lucky. When I was 16 my parents made me leave. I had been living on my own now for almost two years. 

“Do you think all outcasts have parent issues?” Cecil questioned as she moved her feet to rest on the dashboard. 

I shrugged. “Maybe not all. But I feel like as an outcast, you don’t fit into normal groups, so maybe don’t fit into normal families.” 

She nodded and sighed slightly. “You’re right.” She then paused. “But also wrong... We have our group.” 

“Yeah.” I shifted my hands awkwardly on the steering wheel again. Yes I did have the Simpatico Outcast group but I often didn’t feel very connected with any of them. They didn’t really know a lot about me, any of them. I was still very much an outcast, I guess that’s why I was in the group anyway. 

“You ever feel like none of us really know each other very well?” Cecil suddenly spoke up again and it was almost like she read my mind. 

I cast a little look across her face. She was looking at me again, really staring with her eyes, like she would find answers to something if she did. 

I focused back on the road again and just shrugged, although the answer to her question was yes. 

“What about you and Archie though?” I asked, pulling finally into the car park in front of the apartment block I called home. 

She was silent as I tuned the engine off. I flicked my eyes to her again and she was staring out of the window, I couldn’t quite see the expression on her face properly. 

“Cecil,” I called quietly and she broke out of whatever trance she was in. 

“Archibald Lewis is a geek, everyone knows that,” she commented simply and pushed the car door open. I watched her get out, sitting still as I thought to myself. Did Cecil and Archie even really know each other? 

“You coming?” she called when she realised I hadn’t yet moved. 

I nodded and quickly opened the door, pulling my bag out from the back to find my keys. We then made our way across the car park slowly, Cecil kicking at dead leaves with her black converse. I wordlessly led her through the front doors and to the lifts, jabbing at the up button. For a long minute we waited before there was a clunking noise and the two metal doors rattled open. 

Cecil went in first and hovered her hand over the buttons. “Which floor my good sir?” she said in a funny voice, then smirked. “Don’t palaces have lift guys to press buttons for you?” 

“It’s clearly not a Palace,” I replied for what felt like the fifth time today. I leant past her and pressed number 12. 

She just laughed slightly and moved so her back was against the wall of the lift as it started to rise. I watched her out of the corner of my eye as she picked at her finger nails. I’d noticed she did that a lot. I’d also noticed she always had this look in her eyes too. I think it was like there was something mischievous in them; it was almost appealing but wasn’t at the same time.  

I focused my eyes fully forward again as the lift binged and the doors rattled open again. I let Cecil out first, directing her left down the corridor. The ground was littered with broken bottles as usual and there was a general smell of dampness in the air. Definitely not a Palace. 

We shortly reached 12c and I moved ahead to unlock the door. Cecil hovered at my shoulder and for a moment I was apprehensive but knew I couldn’t tell her to leave now. It’s just my flat was very private, it contained things which linked to who I really was. 

I slowly pushed the door open and Cecil walked her way inside, looking around her. It was all one room, a kitchen joined to a small area with a sofa and then a curtain partition slightly pulled back so you could just see a cranky looking double bed behind it. On the wall opposite the sofa was shelves which I had put up containing all my records and below on a small desk, a record player. 

I watched Cecil sling her bag on the sofa and circle around the room a couple of times. She paused at the record shelves and then looked back at me over her shoulder. 

“You really do have a record collection,” she commented. I nodded, dumping my bag and keys as usual on the counter partition behind the sofa. 

I watched her shuffle a couple about before she picked one out and turned more towards me. She had a smile on her face as she unzipped her hoodie and for a brief few seconds I wondered what she was doing. Then I realised, her t-shirt matched the record sleeve cover. The Catfish and the Bottle men crocodile. 

“I know this band,” she said and spun back around. “One of their songs gave me the idea for the first part of our group name.” 

“Simpatico,” I replied with almost a smile. “From Kathleen.” 

She grinned back at me. “Yes, that one... can I put this on?” 

I nodded and walked to her side, fumbling to take the record from her. She suddenly put her hand on mine as I tried to take it and I moved my eyes to her face. She looked almost sad. I tried to speak but she shook her head and whispered, “I want to know more about you. The real you. There’s more to you than people see, it’s sad we don’t get to see it.” 

For a few seconds I was stuck in her gaze. It wasn’t a mischievous look this time, it was hopeful. I felt like my lungs were suddenly restricted in shock. I knew there was more to me but no one had ever made an effort to try and get to know me 

Eventually, I slowly nodded and she slipped her hand from mine, letting me carry on with taking the record. She then walked back across the room and sunk down on the sofa. “You going to put that on or not?” she called and her usual tone was back. 

I nodded, and blinked rapidly trying to shift the awkwardness I felt. It wasn’t that she had made me uncomfortable, just I was still surprised. I knew I always thought about how much my friends didn’t know me but I didn’t really know how I actually felt about someone getting let into my actual life. It had been a big step even saying she could come over, let alone tell her more things about me. 

I slowly placed the needle down and the record player sprung to action. The song started to play and I moved slowly back towards Cecil. 

“Would you like a drink?” I asked after a few seconds and she raised her head. 

“Depends if it’s alcoholic,” she replied and I rubbed my hands together slightly awkwardly. 

“I don’t really drink,” I told her and instead of being annoyed like I expected she just grinned up at me. 

“That’s okay. Being sober is alright if the company is interesting,” she commented and I creased my brow. 

I slowly started to walk to the kitchen. “I’m not interesting.” 

She glanced across at me again still with that grin on her face. “Well I’ll be the judge of that.” 

I pulled two cans of coke from the fridge and showed them to her. She nodded briefly to say it was okay and I returned to the longue. 

I passed her a can before I took a seat on the armchair opposite the sofa. She clicked hers open and took a sip all whilst still looking at me. It was the same look as earlier in the car, like looking at me would give her all the information she wanted to know. Obviously it didn’t so she started to speak again. 

“So, how do you afford this place? “ she asked as she gestured around her. 

It wasn’t much but I could see why she asked. Not all almost 18 year olds who went to Sixth Form lived on their own. 

I lowered my can from my lips. “It’s kind of cheap.” I shrugged. “I worked during summer to save up enough for the school term, and well then I’ll just work after I leave to pay for it again.” 

She took another sip and frowned. “I never knew.” 

It’s not like it was ever a topic of conversation that came up. 

“Where do you work?” she asked next. 

“Restaurant down the road,” I replied. “In the kitchens.” 

She raised an eyebrow. “Does that mean you can cook nice food?” 

“Um, I’m not the chef or anything.” I rubbed the back of my neck a little awkwardly. “I do the washing up.” 

“Oh.” She still grinned at me. “But if you can cook more than toast, you’re better than both Archie and I.” 

I went a little red. “I’ve picked some things up from watching the chefs I guess. I can make you food now if you want.” 

She nodded and leaned back further into the sofa. “Impress me.” 

I paused slightly awkwardly before I put my can down and got up. Cecil watched me and she seemed intrigued. In about five minutes she had learnt a few things about me that no one else knew. It unsettled me as much as it was kind of nice to reveal more of myself to someone. 

She spun around on the sofa to watch me as I started shuffling around the kitchen. I got out a mixing bowl, moving to the cupboard to see what kind of ingredients I had. 

“How about savoury pancakes?” I questioned as I looked around the cupboard door at her. 

She grinned. “Awesome.” 

I began to mix together a batter, still being eagerly watched by Cecil. I didn’t think it was a very entertaining spectators sport so I lifted my eyes and decided to ask her a question this time. 

“So, why don’t you ever seem to go home?” I asked and her grin completely dropped. I fumbled a little awkwardly, “I mean, you don’t have to answer, just I...” 

I trailed off and she shrugged. “It’s okay, you can ask.” She sighed as she flopped back so she was basically laying down the length of the sofa. “It’s not really a home to me.” 

I contemplated changing the subject but I couldn’t force myself to now. “What do you mean?” 

“I don’t feel like I’m wanted there,” she replied quietly and I watched her shrug but the tone of her voice had given away she did care about it. 

I sighed gently. “I know how you feel.” 

She pushed herself into a sitting position again and stared at me another time with wondering eyes. 

“I didn’t belong with my family either,” I replied and swallowed slightly. “They chucked me out at 16.” 

A little bit of shock creased through her brow. “I never knew.” 

“There’s a lot you don’t know about me, in fact you’re the first person to know that,” I told her as I turned to get a frying pan. 

“Well,” she started and then stopped. I looked up at her and she seemed sad again. “I’m sorry that happened to you.” 

I looked away and shrugged. “It’s fine.” 

“But is it really?” she whispered. 

I felt a slight shake in my hand as I lowered the frying pan to the hob but I tried to ignore it. “I... I hated being there anyway.” 

I heard Cecil drop back to laying on the sofa again and we fell into silence. I focused my attention back on pancakes and not burning them. No one had ever actually asked me how I felt about it, mainly because no one knew, so it had slightly unsettled me thinking about it. It had been an awful time but I never let myself get way laid with emotions about it. Cecil had momentarily broken a small crack in the non-feeling, emotion ignoring front I pulled to mask the past. No one had ever done that before. 

No one had done a lot of the things Cecil now had. She’d come to my flat, learnt I really did have records, I worked for rent and I could cook more than toast. What else were these couple of days going to reveal to her? Maybe I could find out more about her too. 

When the pancakes were done, I layered cheese inside them and folded them into triangles, sharing them between two plates. 

“Technically more like crepes,” I commented as I passed her over a plate and cutlery. 

She took it and frowned up at me in question. “Aren’t they the same thing?” 

I shrugged and placed myself at the other end of the sofa. “Sort of, I guess so.” 

We began to eat. After a few minutes silent eating Cecil spoke again. “These are really good.” 

She was paused with a forkful half way to her mouth. She grinned at me. 

I smiled a little back. “Thanks. Nothing special though.” 

“Better than just toast,” she commented and laughed ever so slightly, before she took the pancake from the fork into her mouth. She put her cutlery down on the empty plate. “Thanks for this.” 

“It’s nothing.” I waved my hand as though it was no big deal and reached to take the plate from her. 

Before I could she put her hand on mine again and I moved my eyes to her again. 

“I mean it, Reggie. You didn’t have to let me come here or anything. So thank you,” she said quietly and she did seem genuinely like she was grateful and a bit relieved. “I didn’t want to have to go back there.” 

I turned my hand over and squeezed hers gently. “I get it, don’t worry. No one wants to be somewhere they don’t belong.” 

A slight smile flickered across her lips. “Maybe we’re more similar than I thought.” 

“Maybe,” I replied and let go, taking the plate like I was originally planning. 

I made my way over to the kitchen again, putting the plates in the sink. When I turned around Cecil was standing up looking over at me. 

“Have you ever loved anyone?” she asked quietly and I frowned in surprise. I wasn’t expecting that question. 

I leant back against the sink and stared at the floor. “I don’t know.” 

“Has anyone ever loved you?” Cecil continued. 

I still stared at the floor. “I don’t know.” 

“Do you know what it feels like?” she whispered and suddenly I realised she was closer. Her converse shoes came into my vision. 

I swallowed hard before I raised my eyes. Her expression was soft as she looked at me and almost sad again. 

“I feel like you deserve love. Someone could really love you some day,” she said and smiled weakly. “Because you’re fascinating, Reggie Starr.” Slowly, she leaned forward and her lips brushed against my cheek for a fraction of a second. 

I in took breathe and met her eyes. I couldn’t read them this time. 

“Can I use your bathroom?” she asked. The abrupt change of type of question took a while to get through. 

I swallowed again before I awkwardly cleared my throat. “Yeah. It’s just through that door near the edge of the curtain.” 

“Thanks.” Then she turned. I was left standing there still surprised and almost paralysed by the last few minutes. What had that all been about? 

Yet through all the confusion I felt this compelling feeling inside of me. There was just something about the way she talked, the look in her eye, the kiss on my cheek; it had almost been enchanting. There was something in the glint of her eye that drew me in for a few seconds, let her get to me. I didn’t usually let people in but Cecil Jones, had done just that in the short time she had been inside my flat. 

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