"When the cosine of 'x' squared is divided by the 'y' point on the perpendicular of the 'z'-axis of the sine graph, we see an amazing occurrence of variances in the..." Corey was completely unaware of the goings on in her physics class. She didn't even LIKE physics. What am I doing? she thought to herself, I hate this stuff! Why do I put myself through it every day, she dreamed on as the soft buzz of the class and professor turned into a cacophony of noise which interrupted her thoughts. She looked up to see everyone around her gathering textbooks and bags and notes. Class had flown by and she didn't even remember the last thing the Prof. had said. This is a definite sign, she mused to herself. AJ's right, I can't keep doing this. Just to please my father? It isn't worth it. She opened up her lipstick container. The special silver one she never got rid of as a reminder... and just in case. There were still a dozen or so tiny, white pills at the bottom. She turned the container around, watching the pills tumble over each other in a circular pattern... like a horizontal waterfall. I can't go back to this! The thought screamed in her head as she snapped the lid on, shoved it in her bag along with her books and headed out the door. Half running down the corridor towards the main foyer of the Physics building, Corey vowed she was looking at these halls for the last time. She burst out the door, nearly knocking down a young couple entering the structure, and out into the crisp, Massachusetts air. The oaks and aspens were already in the mid-stages of autumn. Leaves covered the open courtyard situated between the various Physics buildings. The ivy climbing the old, stone buildings was already brown and becoming leafless. The sweet smell of rain, sap, and crushed leaves overpowered her senses. God, she thought, it is so beautiful here. How can Hell look so beautiful? Corey flipped open her bag and peered inside. The sun was still low on the horizon this gorgeous fall day, and she was standing in the buildings shadow. This only made her task all the more difficult. Squinting and shoving her hand deep down into her open bag, she finally grasped the lipstick container. Closing her bag, she slung it around her shoulder and examined the false lipstick. Popping the lid open again she carefully tipped it on it's side to slide one of the pills into her shaking hand. Having fished one out, she stared at it for a long time. (I don't need it) Corey remembered the rush she used to get when one dissolved on her tongue and into her stomach. The bitter taste (I don't NEED IT!) wasn't much to put up with compared to the safe feeling it gave her when she was on it. She could stay awake (I... DON'T... NEEEEEED... IT!!!!!) forever... tears rolled down her soft cheeks as she looked about the courtyard. Nobody was around. She put the pill slowly towards her half-open lips... she felt the bitterness touch her tongue... and spit it to the ground. She jumped on it, smashing and flattening it into dust. "I DON'T NEED YOU!!!" she screamed at the white spot on the cobblestone walkway. In a dazed frenzy, Corey, half-blinded by tears, fumbled with the lipstick container, trying to get it open again. Succeeding, she dumped the entire contents of the tube onto the ground and pounded her feet down on them. Again and again, over and over she smashed her foot down, crying aloud now. Then she threw the slim, metal tube down and watched it bounce down the walk. She ran and jumped... throwing all her anger, rage, and weight behind the leap, and landed squarely on top of the now flattened and cracked tube. Corey, exhausted, fell to her knees, still sobbing softly. She wiped the stains from her face with the inside of her forearm. Still sniffling, but smiling with gleaming bright blue eyes, she picked up her trophy. Gathering herself, Corey realized right there exactly what she new she was going to be. AJ was right. She had to do this for herself. Picking herself up from the ground, Corey tried her best to wipe the dirt and grime of the cobblestone off her dress. Satisfied she looked at least halfway from a street-urchin, she trudged off towards the Student Processing building. Wondering how long it would take to switch majors, again, she marveled at the weight that had lifted from her shoulders. AJ would be so proud of her, she thought. Then she thought, I'm so proud of myself (I'll never need them again). ****************************** "'Do you worry that you're not liked? How long till you break? You're happy because you smile, but how much can you fake?'" Chris was belting out the tune with his deep, bass voice, along with the store's stereo. Mark picked orange, again, and put on his newest flavor of the week. Luckily, Chris loved this band, knew all the words to the entire album, he blasted on, "'an ordinary boy, an ordinary name. But ordinary's just not good enough today... ah No'ooowoohoo oh awhoohooo oh awhooohooo, No awhoohooo oh awhooohooo oh awhoohooo'" He waited for the silence before the main chorus and started the intro, "'alone, alone, alone, alone, alone, alone, alone, alone.... I'm thinking..'" then the music blasted back again, and Chris was really into the song now, "'Whyee Eyeyeee Eyeyeee, yeah, superman's dead, Eyeyeee Eyeyeee, yeah, is it in my head...'" We was thrashing his head up and down as he sang along, dusting the counter and fixing the area for the store to open. The music kept on and so did Chris, as such, he didn't notice the young, brown-haired girl come up behind him. "Hi," the girl said, startling Chris and stopping his singing. He blushed that he let her hear his voice. Noticing this, Lisa, quickly responded, "You have a beautiful voice! Did you learn to sing professionally?" "Nah..." Chris said meekly, "I just really like 'Our Lady Peace' and can't help myself," he replied with a smile, "You must be Lisa. Hi, my name's Chris. I'm pretty new here too, but everybody is so nice it doesn't take long to fit yourself in." He handed her a feathered duster and motioned for her to follow him around behind the counter. Lisa, feeling a little better today, was excited to begin her new job and hopped right behind him. "Is it hard," she started, "fitting in here, I mean." "Well," Chris lamented, "it's always hard for me. But the gang never leaves you alone, and are always including you in everything, so you never feel like an outsider," he smiled again. Lisa couldn't believe this huge, scary guy was so shy. If I were as big as he was, I'd never be scared of anyone again in my life, she thought to herself. "Here," Chris began, "we gotta dust all the counters, and stuff like the shelves, railings, stands, etc. every day before we open," he smiled at the beautiful young brunette. He heard from Lucas yesterday that somebody new was coming in, but she'd left before his shift was over, so he never got to meet her. All he had to go on was the quick view of her as she shot by he and Eddie yesterday. "You know," Lisa initiated, while dusting off a terminal and its keyboard, "I've never worked at a counter with a register before," she mused, "never in my life." "It's not hard," Chris replied, shuffling some flyers into place, "It's an easy system to use, and we'll all help you. The worst part of the job is dealing with asshole customers. It's very difficult to maintain one's composure when one is being subjected to every verbal abuse known to man or beast," Chris laughed. Continuing to dust, Lisa took a moment and stared at the young black man. He didn't seem to fit his "look", she thought. Pondering this for awhile, she looked at the young man's clothes. He was wearing faded bluejeans today, the same silver chain hung from a pocket to his belt, and he wore yet another T-shirt. This T-shirt, however was much different than the one he had on yesterday. It was black with white lettering on it. The letters read out ':wumpscut:' with a picture of an unborn foetus underneath, the kind you'd see in an ultrasound (I have seen one...) only painted and clearer, then more lettering: 'embryodead'. Gross, Lisa thought, what the hell kinda music is that? When Chris turned around she caught a plain 'W' type logo on his left shoulder and then she read the lettering on the back. "'Dedicated'", she started, and Chris froze in place, "'to all foetus acting wisely enough to die in their mother's womb before they could be thrown into this cruel world full of blind hate. May they never know how hard it is to live without any reason, without any sense...'" Lisa just stood there after reading the entire back of his shirt. The letters 'Et' were scrawled above the main text, and a small lettering near the very bottom said 'beton kopf media'. "Ummm...." Chris stammered as he rose, slowly, to face Lisa, "I can explain all that..." but before he could continue, Lisa backed away and glared at him, yelling, "What kind of sick SHIT is THAT!!!? What the fuck are you, man? Some kinda child-hating serial killer!?? Lisa yelled at him, tears welling up in her dulled eyes. Chris was now standing straight, his head lowered, and his hands on his hips. He just looked up to explain, when Lisa through the duster she was holding at him and ran towards the back of the store. Seeing the doors of the back room swinging back and forth wildly, he didn't feel much like singing to the next song anymore. ****************************** "VETO!!!" Gina yelled, and the siren blasted throughout the store, as she opened up the player. Reaching for the CD she wanted, she could hear Mark, racing up. "Already? Come on Gina, we still have a half-hour till the store opens! Me and Chris both like that CD, man," Mark was complaining into deaf ears. Finding the disk she wanted, she switched a 'Suicidal Tendencies' (why Mark loves that band, I'll never understand) CD with one of her favorites, 'Jewel'. "I know you like it Mark, so do I, but Chris likes this one too," she smiled, knowing Mark couldn't complain as much if more than one of the staff liked a particular CD. "Plus you listen to them every day now and we haven't listened to 'Jewel' in a long time," she stated as if a fact. "WHAT!? You call two days a 'long time'?" But Mark knew when to give in to Gina; otherwise she might get cranky later. Plus, he thought, I still have MY veto, and her's is gone. He began to smile as he savored the idea of a "get-out-of-jail-free" card. Mark turned away from the stereo to see Chris walking up to them. Gina, staring at the CD cover, turned it a bit to the side, then back again. "You know, I never noticed before," Gina remarked out loud (though neither Mark nor Chris were listening), "But Jewel looks a lot like me." "Mark, man," Chris stated in subdued tones, "I think I really upset Lisa." He looked up at the ceiling, shaking his head. "What'd yah do, dude?" Mark asked, quite concerned at this turn of events. They were all hoping Chris and Lisa would hit it off really well, since they're both the newest. "Well," Chris started, "everything was going great. I was showing her some opening stuff," Mark was nodding in interest as he listened, "she started dusting the second till..." Chris stopped, looking at Mark, and shrugging his shoulders, "then she read my T-shirt and flipped out, man." "The T-shirt, huh," Mark pondered. Gina was now listening to them and came closer with a very worried expression on her face. "Where'd she go, Chris?" Gina asked in calming tones. The CD case still held in her hands. "She ran to the back, Gina," Chris answered remorsefully, "I don't know were she went from there, it looked like she turned towards the bathroom," he speculated. "Or out the door," Mark added, knowing both were on the same side. "I'll go check on her," Gina said, and put the disk case down, "Don't worry Chris, it's probably nothing," she reached out her hand and grabbed Chris' to comfort him. Smiling her sweet smile, Gina turned and walked through the back doors. "She's right, man, it's prob'ly nothin'," Mark said, trying to reassure his new friend. But Chris wasn't convinced. "I'm not so sure, Mark. Didn't Joe mention something about her juvi record having solicitation on it?" he asked. "Yeah, but, she only did it for, like, what? Three weeks or something?" Mark said in a tone of growing realization of where Chris was going with this (oh shit!). "Three weeks is plenty of time for her to, you know, make a mistake, or even worse..." Chris said, really beating himself up now. He grabbed handfuls of his hair and plopped down on the floor. "Damn, you're right, man. If she did have one, that picture, the writing... that'd mess me up if I were in her shoes," Mark stated, looking down at his friend with touching blue eyes. "But, Chris, man, you couldn't have known," Mark interjected just before Chris started again. "The damage is done, man," Chris, feeling like a real scumbag, almost whined, "It doesn't matter if I didn't know... I already hurt the poor girl, Mark." Chris just sat there brooding. He shifted a bit, then pulled the T-shirt over his head, revealing his bare chest, well-built and hairless, but for the tufts under his arms and just below his navel. "I'm going to go home and pick a different shirt, okay?" "Sure, dude," Mark started, then asked, "you need to borrow my board?" "Nah, I got my bike here, I'll make it in 20 minutes tops," he said, heading for the front doors, not wanting to confront Lisa just yet, he'd go around the back. "Lock-up after me, okay Mark?" he yelled back and waved to his friend. "You got it, Chris, and don't worry... Gina will calm her down" "I hope so, man..." he yelled back, then under his breath he mumbled, "great first impression, idiot." ******************************** Gina approached the bathroom, slowly and deliberately. She could hear the sniffling from behind the door. She must have really been crying before, Gina thought in sadness. Reaching the door, but not wanting to startle Lisa, she knocked very softly. "Who... who is it?" came a muffled response from behind the door. "Lisa, it's me, Gina. Do you think I could come in?" Gina asked in soothing, pleasant tones. Lisa, already a bit more calm after her initial reaction, answered back. "I..." she began, "yeah, I guess so," she finished, not really wanting to be alone anyway. Gina heard the click of the lock, waited a second, then slowly turned the handle to open the door just wide enough for her to get through. Once inside, she closed the door right behind her and locked it with a resounding, "click". Lisa was sitting on the lid of the toilet, wiping the tearstains from her cute little cheeks. Gina's heart felt as if it would burst at the sight of the beautiful brunette in so much pain. Gina reached for the only other seat in the room, a folded chair in the corner, and brought it right in front of Lisa. Sitting down, Gina smoothed out her long, dark brown skirt, and smiled at Lisa. "Chris is really upset, Lisa," Gina started, Lisa just looked down at the floor and kept sniffling, "the last thing he would ever do is want to hurt one of us," Gina giggled, trying to catch Lisa's bright brown eyes, "he's probably on his way home to change right now!" Finally catching Lisa's eyes, Gina's become near slits when her beautiful face evoked the biggest smile Lisa had seen from her. (God, she's so beautiful) Lisa smiled back and brushed her hair back from her face, trying to look a little less disheveled. "It's not Chris, really," Lisa began, "It's just..." (should I trust her?) she stuttered, "when I was a lot younger, well four years ago, I ended up on the streets," she said sadly, with a large lump of anger there as well. Gina looked at her with the most compassionate eyes Lisa had ever seen (yeah, I can trust her). "Anyway," Lisa continued, "I didn't exactly like it, but I didn't think I had any other alternative. It's scary out there... people hurt you... use you. Anyway, I ended up a... well... a prostitute," Lisa fell back, thinking Gina would hate her forever, but Gina just grabbed both the girl's slim hands and pulled them towards her. Not letting go, Lisa felt much more reassured and calm. "Well it only lasted a couple weeks or so, I don't really remember. Anyway, the last trick I ever turned was this big ugly old guy about three times as big as I was. When we got to his hotel room, he threw me in and locked the door. I tried to yell, but he'd already pounced on me." Lisa looked down at her feet, not wanting to go on. Gina's eyes were misting up and she held onto Lisa's hands much harder. "Please," Gina choked, "please go on, Lisa. You WILL feel better after," Gina promised the terrified nineteen-year-old girl in front of her. Looking back up and straight into Gina's deep, blue, misty eyes, Lisa continued, "He raped me. I don't really know what happened, the doctors say my mind 'blocked out the encounter to protect itself'" she recited, remembering the nice people who'd helped her. "Anyhow, they let me stay for awhile in the hospital, they were so nice to me, Gina," Lisa almost started crying again, but contained herself to finish the story. "So after the hospital, they sent me to a juvenile center for some psyche treatment, the police charged me with solicitation just to get me into the place, they had to have a legal reason to do it. So it was there about, three or four weeks later I started getting sick and they found... my baby," Lisa started crying again, she couldn't hold it back anymore, it hurt too much. But she continued, the tears and choking making her stop and start randomly, "I knew I couldn't keep it, I had no way of supporting it. But they did let me see it on a sonogram, it was so tiny and fragile." She stopped for awhile to let the sobbing pass. Gina, still hanging onto Lisa's shaking hands, was sobbing softly to herself as well. "But I couldn't keep it." Sniffling, Gina replied, "I think you did the right thing, Lisa." "Did I? How can we be so sure? What if it hates me? What if I go to Hell?" Lisa said, again beginning to cry. Gina got a hold of herself (she needs someone to be strong for her) and smiled, thinking of one of her own little philosophies on the most argued of all issues. "You know what, Lisa, it doesn't hate you," she began, "the little one's been looking out for you. You have a guardian angel and it's your own child. Things have only gotten better since then right? And I don't think God sends good people to Hell, even if they make a mistake - if it even was a mistake, we don't know. Only the big guy does." Gina voiced softly, running her fingers over Lisa's cheeks and eyes, puffy from crying. Lisa closed her eyes and accepted the consolement with lifted spirits. My own guardian angel, she thought, and smiled. Then she reached out and quickly hugged Gina. Gina was smiling with her head on Lisa's shoulder as the young girl began a cleansing cry. "Shhhh..." Gina calmed her, patting her back and running her fingers through Lisa's dark, brown hair, "it's alright now... you're gonna be fine." They just rocked back and forth as Gina let Lisa purge herself of the badness inside her. ******************************** When Chris got back to the store (he made the whole trip in 17 minutes, a new record), the doors were still locked, so he knocked on them. Turning, his back on the doors, he got his bike ready to take inside with him. Safer inside, Chris thought, when he heard the doors click, then open. Without turning, Chris began, "Hey Mark, how's Lisa?" Chris asked as he gathered the last of his bike and started to stand. Before he could turn around though, somebody answered him, "She's fine, Chris," the voice, which was not Mark's unless he recently had a SERIOUS operation, answered quietly. "Uh... Hi, Lisa. I... ummm... I'm sorry I upset you so much," he stammered, turning around to look at her, he was so glad to see her smiling, "I changed my shirt." He was now wearing a white T-shirt with black lettering. 'Depeche Mode' lined the top, then a large black square filled most of the front, and a rose filled the square, sticking outside the box, in negative tones to whatever its background. Lisa stepped outside, letting the doors close behind her. "It's not your fault, Chris," she reassured him, seeing how uncomfortable and shamed he felt. At that comment, though, he squinted up at her, head tilted a bit to the left, and seemed less ashamed. "The shirt just set something off in me that I hadn't dealt with for years. I'm sorry about all the things I said," it was Lisa's turn to look down in shame now, kicking at a nearby stone, it bounced out onto the street. "Hey," Chris began, "It's no problem, Lisa, let's go out back a second," he said, walking around the corner with his bike, Lisa, a little confused, followed the strange young black man. Shuffling down the side of the store, Lisa looked both at Chris, and the beautiful portraits that some guy named AJ painted before he left for school. Chris, destination in mind, crossed the small street out back of the store, and headed for a sidewalk and a bench over-looking the river. Putting his bike down, he sat at one side of the bench, and lifted his feet onto it, facing the other side of the bench, but still had his head turned. He was watching the river's gentle flow, the sun's gleaming perfection bouncing off of it in the mild autumn whether. Lisa, approached, sitting down on the bench, she looked at the river with Chris. "I love it here," Chris began, both were still looking at the glistening river, the birds flying over it, the beginning of a new day... transfixed. "A lot of the guys go up on the roof during their breaks, but I usually come out here and just sit. It's peaceful," he reflected. Lisa, now feeling quite calmed by both Chris' manner and the serene setting he chose to speak in, looked at him and replied, "It's so beautiful. I never noticed on my way here yesterday, but it's really beautiful." "Yeah, it serves a purpose for me, as well," he voiced, turning to look at Lisa now, he continued, "You've had a tough life, huh?" His voice was filled with compassion and Lisa was growing more and more comfortable. "Well, seems like everybody's got it tough these days, she replied humbly, "but yes, I've had my share of... bad things happen to me," she affirmed. Shifting in her seat, she brought her legs up on the bench, so they could face each other. "My life's been pretty messed as well," Chris started, "too many things to go into right now, but let's just say I know what it feels like to be... violated," The young man said in the saddest tones Lisa had heard in a long time. It obviously killed him to talk about this, she thought. I wonder if he's even told any of the others? Chris continued, though, interrupting Lisa's train of thought. "Do you know what a 'slasher' is Lisa?" He asked softly. Lisa, pondering the question for a second, answered rather quickly, "Yeah, isn't it a girl who cuts themselves again and again? I met a few in Juvi hall. They said it took away the pain? But I never really understood what they meant," she looked at Chris, wondering why he'd ask a weird question like that. "Well," Chris chuckled in his deep, baritone voice, "that's close enough. But the problem isn't limited just to girls," he said as he pulled up his jeans, just past his knee. Lisa looked at his lower leg in complete amazement. She looked up at Chris, a new level of understanding hitting her like a brick. "You mean... you," she began, before interrupted by Chris. "Yup, I slash. At least I used to. I haven't in over two years now," he said, looking down at the scars on his leg. Putting his jeans back down, he continued, "You see, sometimes you feel so bad inside you just can't get it out. It just builds up into this huge ball of rage, pain and fear. You probably know what I'm talkin' about," he smiled at her. Lisa looked down and nodded her head in agreement (maybe this guy understands me better than I thought). Chris kept on, "well I've never been one to give up and take the easy way out: ie. Suicide. But at the same time, I needed to get this shit out of me. So you start slashing - little cuts, well big, but not deep. Enough so you can see your blood well out of the wounds. And strangely enough, the pain inside fades... for awhile, anyway. It's called 'externalizing internal pain'," he explained, "but feeling the pain outside, it's as if some of the shit inside escapes with it... it's a strange vicarious metaphor, and severely self-destructive." "So," Lisa asked in sad tones, "you cut yourself outside so that you feel better inside? That's what those girls meant... Does it work," she asked, her head tilted in honest wonder. "No... it doesn't. You end up feeling the pain anyway, it doesn't go away that easy, this is just a 'quick fix', if you will. After that you have the added bonus of feeling guilty that you gave in to it, plus the shame, and the scars." Looking back at the river, Chris sighed deeply. Lisa was just staring at him now. "Why'd you tell me all this?" she asked the man. "Because I want you to know... you aren't alone. I might not show it... but I know what it's like to suffer, too. I also want you to come to trust me... and I hope one T-shirt doesn't spoil that. That T-shirt, the music I listen to... they're kinda for the same reasons... just healthy ones. It lets you get your feelings out in safety and fun," he finally smiled, then turned back to look at Lisa. "So, you feel any better?" "I always did," she started, "Gina talked to me, and Mark told me how upset you were and where you went. They suggested we talked first, so I answered the door when you came back," she explained, smiling her lovely smile. "But it's nice to know you want to help... and that you understand what it's like," Lisa said to Chris. Then, as if on impulse, she leaned forward and kissed him gently on the cheek. Chris, rather confused, just stared at her, smiling in wonder. "That's for helping me... and being a friend," Lisa said, smiling again. "Store's open now," Chris grinned, "maybe we should go earn our pay, huh?" "You got it, buddy," Lisa replied, hopping over the bench, while Chris gathered up his bike and started after her. She waited for him to catch up and said, "I LOVE Depeche Mode, by the way." "That's 'cause you have great taste," Chris smiled at her, as both of them trudged to the back door. ************************* end chapter 4 *****************************
Chapter 5: Go on to the awesome chapter 5!
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