Friday, March 28, 2014

Love and Lost

By Lisa Kwan

Written for: The Writer's Tower
Theme: Love and Lost (March)
Deadline: 3rd April 2014 
(Written on 27th March, 2014) 
 
Ashley watched the blood flowing pink into the drain in the bathtub, in the form of pretty swirls that reminded Ashley of cotton candy sold at travelling carnivals. Ashley hated cotton candy. Never liked anything sweet, really. Just thinking about it made Ashley mad again, and Ashley took the blade and continued carving on the pale insides of the arms, watching the bright red blood emerge slowly from the cuts and then smear as it mixed with the water from the shower. Ashley stared unseeing down her chest and naked breasts and questioned why her life was the way it is.

Ashley had always been a tomboy. From the time she knew that little boys had little ‘pee-pee’s and little girls didn’t, she wanted to be one. She wondered why God gave them something a little extra; something that gave them the ability to pee without getting your rear either wet or cold from the toilet. She hung around with the boys, ran alongside them in mud races, caught the biggest fighting spiders that were no match for all the others, climbed the highest trees on dares and then paraded her broken arm like a trophy to the guys, whose cast they were all eager and jealous to sign on.
            Of course, she did have female friends. But more often than not, they treated her like an older brother; a brother who was cool and always fun to be around. If you wanted a good time, or a good laugh, Ashley was your guy. Or rather, girl.
            But high school was different. High school was bigger, brighter and had a ton of kids from neighbouring housing areas she never grew up with or knew every little embarrassing detail of. Back home, Ashley was cool and popular. Everyone in school knew her by name. Now, however, she was nobody. Old friends left and joined new circles, formed new identities, even. Suddenly, Ashley was all alone—unnoticed, unwanted. Drowning in a sea of vacant faces, Ashley realized that she wasn’t special or outstanding in any way. All she wanted was someone to notice her.
            Then she met Chris.
            Chris was three years older than her, a senior, and always wore a leather jacket to school. Sure, she had seen Chris around school before, chatting animatedly with friends on the way to the canteen, or heading towards the school labs, but never took a second glance. Until that fateful day.
            It was the most embarrassing day of Ashley’s life. I’m sure every girl might have experienced it once in her lifetime. Ashley had been feeling uneasy all day that day, shifting uncomfortably in her seat and wondering silently why her chair felt like she was sitting on damp grass. When the teacher left, and the class got up to send him off, Ashley heard a burst of laughter from behind her, followed by others joining in. “Oh my God, she’s got her period! She’s bleeding all over the chair!”
            Immediately, Ashley’s heart sank. She whirled around and realized that the “damp grass” she’d been sitting on was actually the dampness from a blood-soaked pinafore, now stained dark red. Hot, embarrassed tears fell from her eyes as she looked around frantically for help from her classmates. By now, the entire class, boys and girls alike, was crowded around her, laughing and pointing. None, not one, offered help or sympathy. Some boys shouted, “You’re disgusting!” “Can’t you turn off your tap?” Jerry, whose mother used to bake and give out the best chocolate chip cookies in their old school, started chanting, “Period! Period! Period!” The rest somehow thought it funny, or at all clever, and followed suit.
            Ashley felt dizzy, and pushed past her classmates and out of the classroom, wiping her tear-filled eyes with the back of her hand. Of course, for the few seconds she wasn’t looking, she ran right into Chris, who stumbled back a few steps from the force of her. When Ashley looked up, there was Chris, looking surprised, albeit a little winded. “Hey, there. What’s the rush?” Chris smiled, pushing a stray strand of hair from the face, which then showed concern after noticing Ashley’s tear-stained face. “Oh. Are you okay?” Chris’s hand was placed on Ashley’s shoulder, and without understanding why, if it was the kind eyes, or the gentle voice, or the soft touch, Ashley cried all the more, eyes downcast, embarrassed. Hesitantly, Ashley turned around showing Chris the back of her skirt.
            Without a single word, Chris took Ashley firmly by the hand, and led her to the school’s Health Room. Chris stayed with her as the teacher-in-charge anxiously flitted about Ashley, muttering about getting a change of clothes. Chris accompanied Ashley to the washroom once more, to wash the dried blood off and change into the spare set of PE attire. Chris had no reason to be there with her, but Chris was.
            They became close friends, despite the age difference. Ashley didn’t have many friends, but Chris felt like all she would ever need. Chris looked out for Ashley in school ever since The Incident. Nobody dared make fun of Ashley since, after the boys who teased Ashley and called her “Period” mysteriously found their bags thrown into the school pool. Chris and Ashley often had lunch together, walked to the bus stop home from school together, and talked on the phone almost every day. They’d send each other silly photos, or funny texts, talk about their secrets. But there was one Ashley could not tell—that she was in love with Chris.

            “What are you doing?” Ashley asked, shocked, as Chris calmly took a blade out and cut into the flesh just beneath Chris’s own wrist. Chris swiftly took Ashley’s hand and did the same, Ashley cringing as the beads of blood formed along the invisible line left by the penknife. Then Chris pressed their bleeding wrists together, and stared so hard into Ashley’s eyes that she lost all speech. “Now we’re joined by blood, Ashley. By blood.”

Ashley couldn’t explain why she felt the way she did. She just did. She felt things for Chris that she had never felt before, never expected to. She was confused for a long while, because she didn’t think it was possible. Wasn’t Chris just a good friend? Her best friend maybe, at most? But Ashley imagined Chris’s gentle hands on her, touching her in all the right places. She wished for Chris’s voice to be whispered in her ears, Chris’s breath merged with hers in a deep kiss, Chris’s lips on that sensitive spot at the base of her neck, right down to between her breasts.
Ashley could take it no more. She had to know. Did Chris feel the same?

Ashley’s vision came back into focus, and the repeated crimson words “NO” on the insides of her arms gazed back at her. She looked further down her arm and barely made out “FREAK”, and “DISGUSTING”, the words Chris had spat at her when she had finally worked up the courage to confess her feelings for her.
“I’m not a freak! God, what is wrong with you? All those times we were together, did you fantasize I’d want you like a guy would? Disgusting.”
Ashley’s vision blurred as her eyes filled with tears once more. She traced the scar where Chris had once said they were joined by blood. Then she grabbed the penknife again and angrily slashed at the words, at their shared scar, until they were no more. They were no more.

           
THE END

© COPYRIGHT OF LISA KWAN 2014

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