Seeing Through Tears

Chapter Three

Everyone Says


"He's a bastard," Nev, my best friend since forever pointed out to me.

We were sitting in the school cafeteria, chewing on macaroni and cheese, although really, the only taste it consisted of was salt and plastic and it had the texture of rubber. It reminded me of my brother's cooking. It was the day after my father had given me my shiner and even though I'd used several layers of foundation, the evidence still seeped through in a deep purple.

I rolled my eyes at Nev's comment and deadpanned, "Thanks for finally pointing that out to me. I wouldn't have figured that out without you."

In response, Nev flicked me lightly on the arm. I glared at her, but it went unnoticed as she dug through her tiny Ninja Turtle's backpack, muttering something about lip-gloss. I swear she wouldn't last one hour without wearing the stuff. But Nev wasn't a shallow person. True, she's a pretty girl with her red hair dusted with strands of gold and forest green eyes, and although her slender figure, standing at 5'9, never failed to attract male attention, her beauty came naturally. The only makeup she usually wore consisted of lip-gloss and eyeliner. Sometimes I found myself wondering what it would feel like to look like her, but it's Nev, and only Nev could look like Nev. I never wasted time envying her looks. With my life at home, I have absolutely no interest in attracting men. Beauty would be wasted on me.

"Ah ha! I found it!" She informed me excitedly, waving the pink lip-gloss in the air. I just smirked at her. She flipped the cap off and sniffed it as if she were trying to get high.

"Enjoying yourself?" I asked with my eyebrows raised. I could never rise just one. Curse those talented ones who could!

She stopped her sniffing and looked up at me defensively. "It smells just like strawberries."

"Candy strawberries, maybe."

She brushed my comment off with a wave of her hand. "It's all the same."

I sighed and shook my head; she's such a special kid. Incapable of enduring another bite of macaroni and cheese I slid it aside. Smelling artificial strawberries dissolved any appeal of chewing rubber… not that there was any appeal to begin with. For a moment I wondered why I even purchased it in the first place, but then I remembered that Nev got it for me. I didn't have any money myself, and there was no food at home to take for lunch today.

"I was wondering if you wanted to go shopping with me after school," Nev commented. "I have to find a dress for my brother's wedding. Apparently my mom wants me to look presentable." She snorted and said with a tone fit for a princes, "As if I could look adequately acceptable to their standards."

That was another thing I loved about Nev. Her beauty didn't cause her to stand out as much as her choice of style. It was hard to describe her style, because it's like no other. She considered fashion of every decade in the 20th century and combined them into her own unique attire, with a bit more emphasis on punk and gothic trends. Today she wore a blood red poodle skirt, which had safety pins and studs all over it and black marker littering random quotes on the felt fabric. She wore a black peasant top that flared out at the elbows, and she had sewn a dozen small bells on it.

"We'll go sometime soon," I promised her. "But it'd be best if I just stick around the house for the next few days. He'll probably let me go hang out if I stay and do house chores for the week, I hope."

"A week!" Nev shrieked. "You've never had to wait that long before."

Biting my lip I ran a hand through my dull brown hair. "He was really mad, Nev. I don't want to take a chance right now."

Nev's face drooped in concern. "Anna, you can't let him control your life all the time. You need to get away."

"I get away enough," I muttered in pathetic defence.

"Bullshit." I heard from behind me.

I jumped a bit, startled, but knew that voice belonged to no other than- "Rae!" I scolded. "Don't sneak up on me."

"Sorry sis," Rae said, not sounding sorry in the least. I glared at him. "But Nev's right. You need to learn to live a little."

"I live," I protested. Rae scoffed. "What? I'm breathing, aren't I?"

"That's not living," He augured.

Regarding him carefully I questioned, "Oh? Than what is?"

"Um… having a life?" Nev guessed helpfully, or at least helpful to Rae. The traitor!

Huffing over Nev's latest commitment to treason, I still found myself very befuddled. "What do you mean I have no life? I do too have a life."

"You mean going to school and then coming home to clean up after the fucking jackass?" Rae growled, eyes flashing with rage at the thought of our father.

"It's not like it's easy to get away," I snapped. "But I make time to see you too."

Rae shook his head. "No you don't, not lately. If you did see me as often as you think, then you'd know that a few weeks ago Matt moved out and Seth moved in."

My jaw almost dropped onto the dirty cafeteria table in shock. "What?"

Rae jerked his head towards me as he explained, "I knew you were wondering why he was there yesterday. You get this squinting look when you're confused. We agreed that he could move in over a month ago."

I stared at him, astounded. I had no idea that Seth McLain had moved into Rae's house. Had I really been that distant from Rae? That far away? A mixed feeling of anger and guilt overwhelmed me. I had been so occupied trying to keep my dad calm that I let so much get between my twin and me.

Nev voiced her curiosity, as I remained silent in thought. "Seth?" she asked. "Seth, who?"

"McLain," Rae supplied.

Nev gasped and a grin spread wide across Nev's face. "Seth McLain! That's awesome. He's so hot!"

Rae's jaw twitched for half a second. "You think?" He questioned, his voice slightly strained.

Nev nodded eagerly and shot Rae a teasing smile. "Oh yeah. Hey! Can I come over tonight?" Rae's stare was intense and very much disapproving of her idea. She fidgeted under his gaze. "You know… to visit you, of course."

"I have plans," was all Rae said to her. Nev looked down at her Mac and Cheese, a little disappointed.

"How did this happen?" I asked Rae.

"What? Seth moving in?"

I nodded. "I didn't think you guys were even friends." Rae laughed at me. I frowned, "What? Don't laugh."

"Sorry Anna," he chuckled, wiping his eyes in dramatic effect. "It's just a bit amusing. While you do know most of my friends, you can't expect to know every single person I'm familiar with."

That was true. Rae makes friends as easily as he walks. He probably made a new one every day, while I could count every one of my friends with all ten fingers, maybe even just one hand. It's a little sad. What's even sadder was, the only one I ever really saw was Nev. Maybe I didn't have a life…

"How long have you known him?" Nev asked, taking a bite of her macaroni.

Rae shrugged. "A year or two."

"A year or two?" I repeated. "And I didn't know?"

"Its no big deal," Rae tried to assure me.

Raising my voice, I echoed, "No big deal? No big deal?"

"You really should stop repeating me, sis." He paused to tap my nose, as if I were some sort of child. My eyes narrow at him in response and I smacked the hand away. "You sound like a broken record."

"I'll break your record," I growled and shoved my fist in his face. He held up his hands in a surrendering gesture. Yeah, he'd better surrender.

"Now Anna," Rae said slowly, "Don't overreact about this."

"I'm barely reacting!" I shouted.

"Then what's the problem?" He asked, a calm yet demanding expression on his face.

"The problem? What's the problem?"

"Broken record," Rae reminded me. I hit his chest in annoyance, probably hurting myself more than I did him.

"The problem, Rae, is that you've been friends with a druggie for the past few years, and I had no idea!" I flailed my arms about, letting them fly everywhere as I ranted. Rae couldn't get mixed up with those kinds of people! It'd be the classic tragic teen life; a broken home, a broken teenager that turned to drugs… I couldn't let that happen to him.

Rae grabbed hold of my arms and gave me a confused look. "Druggie? Why would you think Seth's a druggie?"

I scoffed at him. "Please, everyone knows he is."

Rae raised an eyebrow. Stupid twin. Why couldn't I have the talent of single eyebrow raising? Maybe it was a guy thing. "And why does everyone think Seth does drugs?"

"Because Rae," I explained, like it was the most obvious thing in the world, which it was. "Everyone says-" I stopped immediately with a startled gasp and clasped a hand over my mouth in embarrassment. Crap. I can't believe I judged him based on high school roomers. I'm such a bitch.

"Everyone says…?" Rae urged me to finish, the hypocritical moralist; he wanted me tremendously embarrassed so I wouldn't forget I shouldn't judge people. I of all people should know how terrible and annoying it is to be judged stereotypically. I'm not blind; if I am noticed, I can see the way people look at me when I show up with a fresh injury. It's why I prefer to be invisible.

I sighed in defeat. He wouldn't leave me alone until I was finished. "Everyone says he does drugs," I murmured quietly, ashamed of my self.

"But have you ever seen with your own eyes if this is true? Has he ever told you he has?" Rae question.

I slumped into my seat and muttered, "No."

Rae beamed at me, and patted my head affectionately. "Good girl." And I resisted the urge to bite off his hand.

"Whatever Rae," I said, feeling irritated with not only him but at myself. "Why did he move in with you, anyway?"

Rae shrugged, grabbing the Mac and Cheese I had pushed away from myself several minutes ago. "I don't know," he commented, shoving a spoon full of radioactive pasta in his mouth. Can you say gross? "That's something you'll have to ask him."

"What?" I whined like a five year old. "Why can't you just tell me?"

"Because I don't know that much about it to begin with. He just said that he needed a place to live and heard Matt was moving out, so we gave Seth the opportunity."

I gave him a sceptical look. "And all the other guys were okay with that?"

"Oh yeah," Rae replied, his mouth clogged with food. "We're all friends with him, he's crashed at the house dozens times."

Completely disgusted with my twin, I covered my eyes with one hand, and tried to slap him with the other. Unfortunately I missed him and bashed my wrist on the table instead. With his mouth still filled with food he crackled like a maniac I continued glaring at him for the rest of the lunch hour.

X

I'm not a fan of numbers. I dreaded math class. I dreaded math homework. I dreaded Mr Gallien calling on me in class. I always second guessed myself and delivered an answer that completely contradicted the solution written on my paper. Occasionally the answer on my paper is right, most of the time neither is.

Today half the class was skipping. I don't blame them. In fact, I'd really like to join them in their absence, but unfortunately I've been absent enough over the past month. If I missed too much I'd fail, and that wasn't an option for me. I had to get through this. I had to finish school this year. Then maybe I could find a way to get free.

"Hey," Nathan chirped as he slid into the seat beside me.

Oh, thank God; at least Nathan decided to turn up. It was comforting having someone I knew in this class. Nathan at least got decent grades and could attempt to explain solutions for me. He frowned when I turned my face in his direction and I tried hard not to look nervous under his sudden inspective gaze. He could see the size of the bruise under the cheap foundation.

"Anna…" his voice was quite and serious. It thundered in my mind over Mr Gallien's voice, which was monotone but comically loud. "Anna, what…"

"It's nothing, Nathan." I replied quietly. My voice sounded tense, I could hear it tightening the atmosphere, tightening a feeling in my throat, tightening my restraint. I couldn't allow Rae's roommates to start interrogating me. Rae's house was my comfort zone; it was a place where I could forget my life. Desperate for a distraction, I allowed my voice to raise as I said with attempted carelessness, "don't worry about it."

Mr Gallien paused in his lecture, his eyes narrowed. "Don't interrupt the lesson! One more peep out of you and its detention!"

Nathan asked no more questions that class.


Author's note: For my revisions I decided to incorporate Rae's roommates more because half of them don't really have much appearance in this story and when they do show up with purpose I'm sure most of you have forgotten them. So I'm trying to maintain some consistency and round them out just a tad more. I'm content with them remaining mainly flat. I can't expect to have over 12 well-rounded characters in this story that would make it agonizingly long and quite pointless.

Happy Reading.