This was written in Perspectives in Lit. I had a good time writing this, not because of the content, but because of the dual perspectives in this. So, yeah.

May, 08, 2009

From My Eyes, In His Mind: "Locke's Morning Thoughts"

The school bus stopped before a weary white house. The paint was peeling off of it, like fading make-up on an old woman who was trying (and failing) miserably to hide her age. There was a white picket fence surrounding the house. (It seemed like the epitome of the dying stereotypical suburban dream but this place was nobody's dream, nobody's "home".) The fence appeared sort of... "toothless"; the amount of missing posts on it was absolutely ridiculous. A young man now lived in that old house, who was of the same opinion as me: Locke Donovan. He was a bitter boy, cute, grungy and hardened to the ways of the world. He hadn't always been that way.

Locke stood in front of his residence, waiting. He had just moved in over the weekend and was anxious to get over this place before he had to move again. However, his foster-mother had urged him to be optimistic. "It's a fresh start," she had told him, "a new day."

Hoo-ray, Locke had thought. You know my love for fresh starts! He knew he should have been relieved, but hey – weren't all the other times supposed to be "fresh starts" too? He felt that he must have had a billion of them, even though he knew that this was only (I think) the twelfth time. After a while, he sort of lost track. Here's something to think about –when does a fresh start stop being so fresh?

I grinned wryly. He always has dreaded first days at new schools.

I watched from a tree branch as Locke shouldered his knapsack and slowly boarded the school bus, and then I followed him on. He glanced around warily, in search of a free seat, and chose one in the very back. Locke knew from experience that it was harder to be stared at that way. I nodded my approval: he was sticking to the old rule. Kids tended not to go to the trouble of tormenting a loser that was so far away; it was considered a wasted effort. The nape of his neck prickled as he trudged along, perspiring nervously –I knew this because I suffered even as he did.

Locke closed his eyes briefly, bracing himself for the harsh stares of others – the way that their judgmental gazes lingered on his flannel jacket and his loose, torn jeans, how their barely masked whispers about his long shaggy locks and grungy clothes dripped with acerbic scorn. He dropped his gaze demurely, so that he wouldn't meet anyone's eyes; it hurts less if you don't see the horrible looks in them. The looks that say that they will eat you alive. Very good, Locke. You are, as always, clever and resourceful, constantly thinking of ways to make it through each day.

As he sat down, the bus jerked forward abruptly, throwing him into the seat in front of him. He grimaced sourly as he righted himself. He hated this. I could feel him hating the day, the bus, the seats, the world.


His gaze turned towards the window, out where the dogwoods blooming this lush spring swayed slightly in the breeze. Blossoms floated off the trees and into his hair, giving him the momentary appearance of one of Pan's companions, mischievous and carefree. But only momentarily.

I stared at Locke. He is a morose-looking boy, if you really looked, if you really paid attention. His eyes, shrouded by his brown, curling hair, were the eyes of an old man, filmed over by the fatigue of a weary soul. I briefly revisited the old memories that he owes this fatigue to. These were bitter memories. Memories of his estranged father, stinking and stumbling, drunk with sorrow and moonshine, breaking most of the spirit in Locke. Me? I'm just surprised he even has any spirit left.

But then, Locke has always been resilient. He seems so strong.

He has to be.

You'll be okay, Locke. You'll get though this.

He noticed other kids staring at him and his tired expression turned defensive. "What?"

I smiled ruefully. Locke was gifted with insight and with intelligence. He's always known that if you show people right away you won't give them an in, they'll stay wary of you. They won't mess with you.

"Hey, dude. You okay? Looked like you kind of hurt yourself there." The kid that spoke was a nice one. But the guy was one of those people. Locke was familiar with the type. Nice to everyone, helpful, and possessed of the innocence and naivete that allows others to manipulate them. It was better not to bother with them.

"I'm fine," his voice had an accent, a slight snap that effortlessly intensified the biting frost in his tone. "Just fine." The glacial response made contact with the kid, who backed off immediately.

Locke focused on the dogwoods. Dogwoods. Their pink and white blossoms' scent filling the air... They reminded him of his childhood – or at least what passed for a childhood.

He returned to his thoughts – and I followed him into the depths of his insufferable memory.

He recalled his father's snarling face as he raised the empty bottle at him and brought it crashing down on his son's back. Locke had been screaming as his father chased him up the steps in the stairwell of their old house, the look in his eyes promising a beating for burning dinner.

How was Locke supposed to know that putting Mac and Cheese in the oven for over an hour chars the meal and makes it absolutely inedible? He wasn't. He couldn't have. He had only been a kid. He knew better, though, later on. He didn't make the same mistake again. You aren't supposed to make mistakes around people like that fucker anyhow.

That was something else he'd learned.

Back when Locke was in Michigan, when he was still living with his father, he learned some things that made him understand how cruel the world could be. When his mother died he resented his father for it. When he realized that no one really cared about him he learned to hate them all. The many times I had come to comfort him – or he had gone to me. I was always there. And he was always broken. So, when I left him, all alone, he learned that he was helpless, that all was hopeless. And as he faced his father he learned that everyone is born alone and that everyone will die alone.

He understood that he was a burden for his father, Alden, who felt that he should have been spending money on dreams and the illusion of compassion and comfort found at the bottom of a bottle, rather than providing for some scrawny parasite.

He also learned from his father that his very existence is what caused his mother's death, that, in order for him to live, she had to die, and that he had technically killed her. And the old drunk had constantly "reminded" him that matricide (the murder of one's own mother) is a sin. However, Locke figured that just living in a house with his father may have made her want to die anyway, so he didn't really care.

Hell, he knew that sometimes he had wanted to die. Sometimes, he still felt that way. But, he didn't give a damn about that, either.

I do. I give a damn, Locke. I care.

My lips brushed his, but he did not notice, he did not respond. This does not surprise me. I am used to it, although, even after these four long years, it still pains me. I want to speak to him, to touch him and have him feel it. Have him feel me.

I have wept for him, for my Locke so many times – even after I was out of his reach: he doesn't know that I'm right here with him. Every step of the way, I am with him. Always with him. Still, he does not know. He doesn't know that I am here, watching him. Loving him. Oh, how I wished to tell him, then, before I had to leave him. How I long to tell him now.

I love you, Locke. I love you.

But, he can't hear me. And I remain silent and dead in his mind.

The bus finally pulled to a stop in front of the unfamiliar school in which he was now currently enrolled, tugging Locke from old memories. Saint Bride's High School. It looked a lot smaller than the first high school he went to when the foster care began. Or maybe that was all in his head. Locke sighed. It could just be that since he'd grown a little, everything seemed more insignificant, though, that could just be due to the fact that he didn't really care anymore. His eyes chilled, became guarded, as he began withdrawing into himself. He was ice now, frigid, colder than winter and just as numb.

That was the only way he knew how be.

Come on, Locke. Get up. It's time for your fresh start.