Rhythempoets

Home of authors Holly Hunt & Jophrael L. Avario

A sampler for you all


Three billion years ago, when I was much, much younger (Heh, right. I’m 20. How much younger can you get in the field of authoring??), I wrote two stories. One was of bullies and what happens when good guys do nothing. I called it The Boy From The Shadows. Being of bullies and carrying a strong emotional message, it is, of course, one of my favourite stories, holding up even under relentless editing on my behalf.

~*~

I remember the first time I saw him.

Even that first day, he was trying to hide in the background. I remember the older, bigger, boys watching him, trying to intimidate him. He kept his eyes on his feet, not looking up, seeming to ignore the world.

I don’t remember his name. I always called him the Boy From The Shadows, and that’s all anyone remembers him as.

I kept an eye on him during the first few weeks. A few of the boys I’d noticed watching him called out to him at lunch, jeered at him, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying to the poor boy. He was standing in the shadows, hiding from the world again. I couldn’t help but wonder why he was always in the shadows, never in the sun.

But, as the saying goes, out of sight is out of mind, and I was so focussed on my school work that I forgot all about him. I didn’t think of him again until a few rainy weeks later, when I noticed a bunch of boys knocking him around. I didn’t step in, I just hid behind a wall, listening to them, scared for him.

*

C’mon, freak!

Yeah, C’mon! Do sumfin’! Get up an’ figh’ us!

The Boy From The Shadows just stood there, staring at them. His eyes were a bloodshot blue. He stared blankly, disinterested, at them, and they knocked him to the ground, scattering his bag across the pavement, laughing and jeering.

The Boy From The Shadows said something, and the leader of the tiny gang kicked him in the ribs, making him gasp for air. He collapsed, clutching at his side, tears rolling down his cheeks.

I was a coward. Before any of them could realise that I was there, I ran to class, leaving him in the rain, in pain, being beaten by the teenage thugs.

*

I found the Boy From The Shadows hiding in his normal place the next morning. I hesitated, then joined him at the wall, standing in the shadows a few feet from him. He ignored me, keeping his eyes on the pavement, half curled over himself. His arm was around his middle, as though holding himself together.

I fidgeted, uncomfortable with all the people staring at me. I was sure he was trying to say something, his jaw tightening now and then, eyes darting erratically across the ground, shifting his feet constantly.

The bell rang and he hesitated before he pushed himself to stand on his own, walking back into the buildings around us. I stayed there, alone, wondering about the Boy From The Shadows’ odd behaviour.

*

For weeks, every break and afternoon, I’d stand beside him in the shadows. The boys let up, ignored us just as the Boy From The Shadows was ignoring me.

The Boy From The Shadows slowly calmed down in my presence over the next few weeks, watching the pavement as though he was planning something. Boredom twisted with pain and sorrow rolled from him, and I couldn’t even fathom what he was going to do in just a few short months, the things he was going to leave behind, the legacy of his acts.

Back then I’d just worried that he was going to leap on the boys who were tormenting them and try to fight, but he never did. I didn’t realise that what he had been planning would have larger consequences than a few bruises and broken bones.

*

The Boy From The Shadows watched me as I approached, wariness on his face. It was almost a month before the Christmas holidays, and I was looking forward to them. I was very surprised that he was looking up from the pavement. He never did.

What are you doing here? he asked in a voice with no expression.

Keeping you company. I smiled at him, and he almost smiled back. He quickly looked back to his feet again, ignoring me as completely as he had before.

*

The Boy From The Shadows didn’t talk to me again, but over the next few weeks, he became better company, looking at me, nodding to me when I came to stand beside him.

People pointed and whispered to us, calling us freaks and loners. We ignored them, just as we ignored each other, sharing small smiles out of the corners of our mouths.

*

When school returned from holidays, he was still there, standing at the wall as he had all of last year. He was glancing around, seeming to look for something, and when his eyes met mine, his face broke out in a smile larger than I’d ever seen before, and his demeanour seemed to be full of relief. But unfortunately, the smile vanished when some other people looked at him, and I was very disappointed to see it go.

I couldn’t help but feel this boy was my friend. Spending a couple of hours a day standing beside him in the shadows, listening to the taunts and jeers from the teens taught me a lot about him. We stood a few feet apart, watching the world go by, never talking. He grew to be the only friend I had, more of a companion than any of the others could imagine.

But it all changed a month into the new semester.

*

I never knew the Boy From The Shadows was capable of it. I was dumb, I thought I made a difference to his life, to the way things were. I’ll always regret that I couldn’t stop what he was going to do, couldn’t prevent the lies that were going to spread about him after his final act.

I’ll always be sorry for the part I played in his downfall.

*

We were standing near the wall after class while we waited for the rain to clear off, like we had for most of last semester. The boys who had terrorised him before were walking towards us, punching and snickering at each other. I watched them, fearful for what trouble they were thinking of making.

I thought about running, but I remembered the last time I’d seen these five boys together. I stood my ground, watching them egg each other on.

C’mon, love, one muttered as they came closer, Come to us. We’ll look after you.

Leave her alone, the Boy From The Shadows said, stepping between me and them. You don’t want her, you want me. She has nothing to do with you.

Ooh, look boys. The fag’s bein’ a hero. The leader grabbed the Boy From The Shadows, shoving him against the wall. The bag in his hand flew from his grip, bursting open and sending things rolling across the pavement. Books. Pens. Something I could have sworn was a syringe, had it not vanished a second later.

A hero wit no frien’s, one of the others cooed, how quaint. Who will he protect, do you reckon? The poof caint even protect hisself!

You’ll be the poster boy of losers, girly-boy, the third added. In awe for what we’re going to do to you.

The leader slammed his fist into his face, knocking the smaller boy to the ground. The Boy From The Shadows looked at me through his hair, a cut above his eyebrow streaming blood. The boys jumped on him again, grabbing him, throwing him around, smashing in his ribs and gut with their fists and shoes. He called for help once.

Twice.

Three times.

Listen to him cry an’ beg, the leader crowed. The fag doesn’t know when he’s gonna get no help.

You ain’t got no friends, freak, the third boy told him, kicking his chest, making him cough up blood. You ain’t got no friends to save you. We gonna teach you not to be such a fag in our school.

I do have a friend! he cried, trying to shield his face from their blows. Leave me alone!

Prove it, the leader spat, booting him in the stomach. You got no one who will care!

The Boy From The Shadows gasped my name, holding out his hand to me. Help me, please! He coughed up more blood as the leader booted him in the chest.

I stared at his hand. It was thinner than a skeleton’s, paler than a ghost, as transparent as a glove. It was the hand of Death.

*

I guess, had I have known what he would have done–to himself, to the school–with his actions, I guess I would have done everything different, stepped in, helped him. I guess I would have taken his hand, helped him up, helped him be who he was meant to be.

But I didn’t. I only knew what was in front of me, the danger to myself. And I acted like a coward, a guilt I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

*

I regret that I didn’t take his hand, didn’t help him up. He was my only friend, and I left him there to be beaten beyond recognition at that hands of five boys each twice the size and weight of him.

I turned and ran, trying to block out the sound of his sobs and their laughter. I tried to block out the sound of the Boy From The Shadows’ arm breaking under the foot of one of them, to block out the scream that tore the air with its expression of pain and loss.

I ran away.

I did nothing, didn’t help, didn’t find someone to help him.

It was my fault, his death is on my hands.

*

They found him hanging in the school hall the next morning. The police said that the drugs finished him off, that the hanging, the alcohol, the poison, the slit wrists hadn’t been enough to kill him.

He was determined to go, to get away from the world. From me.

They read me his suicide note the day after they found him.

She was my reason to fight, but when she no longer fought, I lost the urge to. She kicked the support out from underneath me, and for this there is no living for me, no forgiveness for her.

They read me the letter because I was his only friend. But in reality, they were torturing me.

Most of the school pretended to morn, pretended they cared about the boy that no one knew. They went back to class, and smiled, laughed, lived.

Not me.

I haunted that wall, like he used to. I don’t know what happened to the boys who threw him over the edge with their hatred, but I became the Girl From The Shadows, and I lived up to that name for the rest of my life.

I didn’t throw him off the rafter, shoot his arm full of enough heroin to kill a whale, slit his wrists, break his ribs, feed him arsenic, snap his arm, but I killed him.

I killed the Boy From The Shadows, and it still haunts me. He still haunts me. One thing I did in high school killed him, walking away when he needed me killed him. He visits me every night, tells me that I was the one who killed him, never lets me rest, never lets me sleep.

It’s been ten years it’s been since he killed himself. Ten years since I walked away.

Ten years, and it’s still in my mind, haunting me. Will I get no rest, no peace, until I, too, am dead?

I can only hope so. I deserve it all.

But I have to ask, I have to know, and so do you.

Who did you avoid at school? What consequences did you miss, wrapped in your own world?

What mistakes are you responsible for? Whose life did you save?

Or did you run, did you cower, did you stand by and do nothing?

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August 31, 2010 - Posted by | Story Samples, Writing | , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments

  1. As far as I know, it’s all fiction, though there are elements of my life in here, as the Boy. I actually based it on a song that got caught in my head while I was writing until I sat down and wrote this story. I worked hard to make the ending powerful. I take it that it works (slightly?)

    Comment by Holly Hunt | September 6, 2010

    • speaking of songs, have you figured out that parody yet? Also, [whiney voice] I wanna know what I got wrong [pout].

      Comment by Iona | September 9, 2010

  2. Good story :D – sad and disturbing, but well written.
    There were bits where I got confused, like I guess, had I have known what he would have done–to himself, to the school–with his actions, I guess I would have done everything different, stepped in, helped him. (sorry if the italics thing didn’t work)
    but when I got to the end my first thought was ‘is this true?’, so it’s good.

    I had two ‘outcast’ friends at school – complete eccentrics with foul tempers the both of them. But funnily enough I was the one things happened to unnoticed.

    Did you base this story on something true?

    Comment by Iona | September 5, 2010


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