Underneath the Surface

Ever have a nightmare where you've been greeted by one or many dark entities that immediately speed your heart rate up and send chills down your spine? Well, so has Raiden, but on a much larger scale. These creatures started coming only in his dreams, yes, but now they've fought their way into his reality, and all Raiden can do is hope that there is a light at the end of the dark, torturous tunnel he's been in ever since he was little.

Warning: contains some explicit language

See Below for full Intro


4. The Weeping Willow

I winced, biting down hard on the gauze that was stuffed in my mouth as the nurse pressed her hand onto the side of my torso.  My hand that was wrapped around the side of the bed tightened, and I started to shake.  I heard the elderly nurse sigh behind me.

"Take a deep breath for me."

I breathed in as she asked, and pain ripped through my chest as I did so.  I groaned loudly. "That hurt like Hell," I mumbled with a cracked voice, since the gauze was sucking all the moisture out of my mouth.

"Raiden, I think that you may be suffering from rib fractures. I'm going to give you some pain killers to take now, and I'm going to ask that you pick some up on your way home today. If your mom wants to take you to the hospital to get them checked out, she can, but I don't think it's that serious."

Oh please, my mom would never take me to the hospital if she didn't have to.

I nodded anyways before she pressed something cooling onto my side, and I immediately took a sigh of relief.  Most of my body was pulsing, but the cold sensation felt good.  She brought my right arm back and asked me to hold it for her while she got up to get the medication.  My hand pressed the cold pack onto my ribs as she fumbled around in the cupboards.  I took this time to look around at the paintings lining the white walls of the school nurse's office, all done by the local elementary school.  They were mostly bright finger paints that depicted crude flowers and square and triangle houses.  Oh, and lots of smiling stick figures.

They were heartwarming, really.  I never remembered making anything like that when I was young, mostly because my drawings always ended up depicting the creatures.  Those paintings were silently thrown away by the teachers, and replaced with ones of their creation, which consisted of those happy things.  They never bothered to ask me about my paintings, and never showed them to anyone out of concern.  They would tell my mom that I was just playing when I would say that those happy paintings weren't mine, then I would get a nice pat on the head.  It hurt me, it did, but I got over it eventually.  Besides.  I had had better things to worry about.

I heard the nurse fill up a glass of water, and then she walked back over to me.  She handed me a clear glass, and a couple of small white pills.  I rested the cold pack on the table, then I pulled the blood tainted gauze out of my mouth and put the pieces next to it.  I threw the pills into my mouth next, then took a few gulps of water to wash them down.  I then put the glass down next to me.

"Your mom should be here to pick you up soon. Once you get home, get some rest and ice your bruises. You should be fine to come to school tomorrow," the nurse said calmly.

"Thanks," I said with a raspy voice.  What a way to start my first year of high school.  I should've expected something like this to happen, though.  I was never going to get away with having a normal day of school. 

The nurse walked back over to the main counter and started to put her supplies away.  I put the cold pack up onto the other side of my chest.  I was tempted to drape it over my face, but my lower body needed it more at the moment.  I readjusted myself to get more comfortable as I waited silently.  Surprisingly, the nurse spoke again.

"I can't believe that boy got away with this so early in the day..." She grumbled. "Are you sure you can't tell me what he looks like?"

I shook my head. "Went by way too fast."

Why was I lying?  Because I know that reporting Harris would just worsen things instead of help me.  Even if he was suspended, it wouldn't help all that much because he knows where I go outside of school, when I do leave my house, that is.  I could change where I go to to get groceries, or where I go to think, but he would eventually find me again.  He always manages to find me.

He wouldn't have been able to touch me if he had gone to military school, but obviously he managed to get himself out of that.  Maybe it was because his parents were ignorant imbeciles, or maybe it was because Harris was excellent at sucking up to people.  Either way, he's here, and so are his donkeys.

The nurse shook her head. "Shame. Kids always get away with too much here. I'm just sorry that you had to be subject to it."

I shrugged without saying a word.  Well, at least I know that one adult here cares about the students.

I swung my legs back and forth as I moved the cold pack around my chest.  I looked down at the pristine tile that made up the floor, not wanting to even look over in the only dark corner in this room.  I didn't want to freak out the nurse with my nervous glances, especially since she seemed like a decent old lady and I'll probably will be seeing her a lot through my high school career.

I waited patiently until the nurse got a call from the front desk, telling us that my mom was here.  She slipped me a note containing information about the pain killers that she had given me, as well as a reminder to ice my face and body to diminish the swelling.  I thanked her one last time before grabbing my bag and setting off.  Luckily, class was in session, so no one was around to stuff me in another locker.

It was funny when I was found in that last one, though.  It was the locker of one of those popular preppy girls, and she screamed like a banshee when she saw me.  It was quite comical, and I'm pretty sure she's going to request for her locker to be disinfected before she touches it again.  Makes me so happy to know that I put a damper in her day when she and her friends do it so often to me.

I made my way down the school halls until I eventually found the main hall that led to the front desk.  I already saw my mother waiting for me, her black, clunky purse strung over her pale shoulder.  She was signing me out when I approached her.  She set the pen down, then looked at me, frowning deeply.  She motioned for me to head out of the school without a single word.  I did as she wanted and walked out of the school, slipping into my mom's little black Subaru that she uses to roam around when she's not working at the office.  I dropped my back pack onto the floor as my mom got into the car and closed the door.  She turned to me, then, and I looked at her innocently.

What came next was unexpected, even for her.

"How could you do this to me?" she asked sternly, a small growl erupting from the back of her throat.

"...What?" I asked quietly.

"How could you degrade me like this? Do you know what everyone is going to think of you and me when they hear that my own son allowed himself to be beaten by a couple of punks on the first day of school? Not good things, Raiden. Not. Good. Things," she hissed.

'Well I'm sorry that I couldn't do anything to stop them, mother," I said defensively.

"They wouldn't have bothered you in the first place if you were just someone who leaves their room on the weekends for reasons other than to wander alone in the park. Someone who doesn't scare people away with loud music and dark clothes. Someone who doesn't isolate themselves from everyone and everything. You know, a teenager that is NORMAL." Her voice rose to all new heights and I recoiled, sinking into the corner of the seat.  My mother groaned loudly before starting up the engine again and pressing her foot on the throttle. "Honestly you never even fucking try."

I shouldn't have to to try to be normal.  Everyone's supposed to be unique.  I don't want to be just another cog in the human machine.  I can't be.  Not with my dark little 'friends'...

I squeezed myself even further into the corner, hiding in my hood and coat.  My mom shook her head, a look of pure disappoint stricken across her face.  Just when I thought she didn't have anything else to say, she spoke.

"I wish I had picked the girl. Maybe she would've acted like a civil human being and not have been a complete freak."

Instead of getting physically punched this time, I was punched hard mentally.  I felt my heart tighten in my chest as I bit down on my lip and looked out the window at the suburban houses and their occupants.  My bruised eye was pulsing, but didn't bother to put my hand over it.  The psychological pain that I was experiencing was now surpassing the pain from my wounds, and I couldn't do anything about it.  I wish it was the other way around because I always handle physical pain better.  I've had my equal share of both, but hearing those words come out of my mother's mouth was tearing me apart while I was still alive. 

I don't even think I should be calling her mother right now.  Not after she flat out said that she wished that she had been smarter and chosen the pretty orphan girl at the agency instead of the innocent little boy.

It took me a little bit to realize that I wasn't breathing, and that I needed to.  I took a gaspy breath in, trying to keep it quiet so I wouldn't be snapped at for being a pussy.  I felt my eyes start to fill with tears, but I kept them in.  I wasn't a boy anymore.  I didn't need to cry over my mother's insults.

Then I realized that it wasn't just the insults and the figurative disownment that was making me upset.  It was a certain house that I had glanced over just a couple minutes ago.

It was a nice, beige colored house with a porch like many of the other houses in the town had.  There were wind chimes hanging on the porch, creating their own music by being moved by the wind.  There were small children fumbling around in the yard, climbing into small tricycles and stuffing square blocks into circular holes.  Their parents were out there with them, obviously related by the fact that everyone in their family had blue eyes and blonde hair.  Their dad was helping the boy pedal around on the tricycle while the mother gently cradled a newborn who was dressed in all pink and white.  Sincere smiles were plastered on all their faces, their cheeks nice and rosy.  They were, in a sense, the perfect family.

I know it's a big stretch to say that their wasn't anything bad about the family's relationship, but the sight of them still made me sick.  I didn't want to wish them harm or evil, no, I just knew that a happy family like that was yet another thing that I could never have. 

I glanced at a willow tree that was sitting in a yard and compared myself to the drooping, pale yellow branches that blew around slightly in the wind, but stayed down nonetheless.  No wind was strong enough to bend those branches to match branches from other trees, and there was nothing that could bring me to a normal state of mind at this moment.  Maybe even ever.

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