Sunday, December 16, 2012
"Police are still on the lookout for the suspect who allegedly broke into the Critical Care Ward of the Twinbrook Foundation Hospital last Saturday evening. Luckily the wing, which is normally closed off from the public due to the sensitive nature of its patients and the valuable equipment kept in their facilities, suffered little more than a few broken locks and a few unanswered questions.
"The witness accounts suggest that the intruder was a male in his mid twenties, but police are advising the public to be on the lookout for any hooded, masked figures seen in the vicinity, and report any suspicious activity immediately.
"What the masked intruder's intentions were are still unclear; the police report that nothing was stolen, but an unnamed source says that the man looked as if he was in a hurry to find something. His search was cut short when a surprised nurse pulled the alarm, but so far it would appear that no critical damage was caused or anything of importance was stolen. The only thing that they suspect may have gone missing was--"
"Margo, why don't you shut that off? It's sorta dimming the mood in here--come sit with us!"
"Which may suggest that the hospital was not the--"
"--and that there may be more--"
"Hey, I was watching that!" Margo sulked, turning her head to look at the two girls sitting cross-legged on the floor behind her.
"C'mon, come join us!" Veronica said smiling, patting the empty piece of carpet next to her. "I'm pretty sure they'll be covering the story again tomorrow... like yesterday... and the day before..." She grumbled and rolled her eyes.
Margo shrugged, finally tucking her legs beneath her to settle down next to the other two. "Yeah, I guess. I just wanted to see if found out anything new..."
"Besides, there are much more important things in the news!" Kenzie and Margo gave Ronnie a bit of a 'look', encouraging her to continue. She cleared her throat, adopting her most newscast worth voice, and stated, "An unknown source has reported that Ms. Kenzie Howell, a Sophomore at Westlake High, was seen with her tongue lodged down the throat of Freshman Mack Leman yesterday after Newspaper Club--"
Kenzie's groan cut Veronica off, launching the other two girls into giggles. "Alright alright... Just... quiet, okay! Yeah. I confess. We... kinda might have kissed a little. But it was nothing like that! It was just... I don't know. It just happened. Actually, it was kinda awkward--we rushed to say goodbye and then he just sort of ran away. I'm not sure how to feel about it."
"Oh come on, Kenzie. You two have been oggling each other for months. I bet he was just nervous!" Ronnie gave her a small, knowing smile--the way she did whenever she'd unraveled a particularly troubling puzzle.
Margo nodded encouragingly. "Yeah--who knows, maybe you'll be the first of us to actually get a real boyfriend..."
The other two froze for a moment, then broke out into hysterical laughter.
Margo's stomach turned over on itself. "What? ... W-why are you laughing?"
"Really, Margo?" Kenzie sniggered, wiping a small tear from underneath her glasses. "And what would you call Dylan? Almost everything that has come out of your mouth for the past month has been 'Dylan this' and 'Dylan that'--by anyone else's standards, you guys are totally dating."
"But--I... I don't know. I just--it's just... it's complicated." Margo whimpered. "He's great, but--"
"But you're insane." Ronnie shrugged when both the other girls looked her way, confused. "We all know it. You're in love."
"Am not!" Margo scowled. "I so am not!"
Suddenly, the bickering faded away as echoes into her ears. Her gaze, which had steered away from eye-contact instantly because of embarrassment, had spotted something particularly unusual just a few feet away from where she sat. She froze, becoming unaware of everything else around her for the briefest of infinities.
I remember that time you told me, you said,"Love is touching souls"Surely you touched mine'Cause part of you pours out of meIn these lines from time to timeYou taste so bitter and so sweetOh I could drink a case of you, darlingStill, I'd be on my feetI would still be on my feet
It had not been there before. She would know; she spent most of the time in her room wishing she was elsewhere, which involved quite a lot of staring wistfully out the window.
But it was even sooner than that; she could have sworn that less than a minute ago, her window had been nothing but a blank canvas of fog and frost.
Not now, though. Now, it held one image--the "I Was Here" of romance novels. A heart, etched out in the window's glaze.
"I'll... be right back," Margo stuttered, her thoughts humming so loud that the rest of Kenzie and Ronnie's conversation--and their questions about her sudden departure--were now nothing but futile wastes of breath.
The snow bit at her ankles angrily, but Margo did not care. "Hello?" she whispered bird-like, in a quiet sing-song. "Is... is anyone there?"
Her eyes searched the area, but no living being was anywhere within her range of sight. There was something, though: footprints. And more specifically, hoofprints. They cluttered the ground around the pond, particularly in one spot close to the tallest cattails.
Margo trailed to them, as they almost seemed to be an arrow pointing her where to go; and the dip in the snow helped give her feet a small flat place out of the cold.
She searched the ground, but there was nothing. "If you didn't want to see me, why did you come?" she asked the wind, a hopeful prayer that her words would be carried to him.
Instead, though, she got her answer in the form of not sound, but light.
It has only seemed to be a speck of frost at first, but as the clouds above slowly began shifting and the rays of the moon fell upon the place that she stood, something in the tall grass caught the light and reflected into her eyes. Margo stood still, wary but curious as she tried to tell what exactly it was she was seeing.
It wasn't until the moon was hidden behind the clouds once again that the shape of the object suddenly became visible--and her face split open into a ridiculous, goofy grin. "Oooh!" she gasped to the empty yard, then took a few clumsy steps through the snow-caked plant and reached up to snatch the treasure weighing down it's tallest leaf.
It felt like solid ice in her palm, so Margo exhaled on its surface a few times before taking a more thorough look at what exactly 'it' was: a large, heart-shaped pendant of soft lilac, framed and hung on a long string of silver. It was beautiful in its simplicity; everything that Dylan had always told her she was.
She giddily--but carefully--slipped the chain around her neck, then carefully bobbed through her previous path through the snow. As she did, Margo considered what exactly she was going to say to her friends, who were probably still probably grumbling in her room about how confusing she was. Should she tell them about the necklace, or make something else up?
It definitely wasn't going to help her case of "Margo vs. Love Towards Dylan", but even with the weight around her neck, she still wasn't exactly she what it was she felt. Was a necklace enough to make her love him...? Most of her said no, but a shallow, fickle voice at the back of her mind was still screaming with glee. How could she not?!
Whatever the case, she knew one thing for sure: when she figured out exactly how she felt, there would be no one in the world she would be able to hide it from.
Korva pressed her hand against the door handle lightly, pretending that every 'tick' was the dial on a bank vault, with guards and alarms poised to react if she made even the slightest mistake. Ordinarily she would make as much noise as she pleased, but so far, she had remained invisible; doctors had gazed right past her, nurses brushed past with urgency, and patients didn't question her.
It was an amazing feeling, to be unnoticed. Every day, someone new with something to say--for once, the silence was comforting. She wanted to maintain it as long as possible; that, and being caught meant failure. That was unacceptable.
But as the door clicked shut, a voice behind her sent electricity up her spine.
"Sweetie... aren't you supposed to be at school? It's only 10 o'clock."
Korva wheeled around poised for action with a snarl on her face, but it immediately melted when she saw the deep, concerned smile held weakly on her father's. "They don't want me there, and I don't want to be there either. It was... a moot-ually benfishul decision," she responded, trying to sound mature but failing to grasp the words she was trying to say. "Besides. I missed you."
Bradley's face seemed to gain 20 years of age in one moment. "And I missed you, but you can't just decide to leave whenever you want to." He sighed as he lost her eye contact. "Alright... tell me what's bothering you."
"It's just. It's everybody, Dad. Nobody gets it." When she saw in his expression that he wasn't quite following, she tried to explain. "They act like the world is going to last forever, like nothing they do matters. They can kill the environment, kill wild animals, and not even care. And it just... it hurts, Dad. It hurts."
"Yes, but Kory--that's no excuse for some of the things that you've done. No matter what anyone else does, hurting someone else is never the answer. Never."
"But Dad--how will they ever get it? How will they ever see how much the world is hurting unless they start hurting too?" Korva pleaded, pacing the floor back and forth as she tried desperately to get him on her side.
"That's no way to get someone to understand, and I'm very disappointed that you would even think about inflicting pain on someone else as a way of trying to scare them into doing what you wanted."
"I--" Korva gulped, suddenly turning a shameful glance towards the floor. "--I'm sorry. I thought you woulda been proud of me, for trying to make a difference. I really was trying, Daddy."
"It's just... I hate them all. I hate them all so much for what they did to you. You're so sick, and even after what you did, it's like no one cares, and I just want to fix that, but nobody will listen, and--"
"Sssshh, Kory..." Brad's scowl slowly shifted to a smile. "Listen to me: what is happening to me is no one's fault but my own. There is no one you can punish and no way you can fix what happened. I know it's hard to accept, but I need you to. You're a big girl, now--so close to becoming a teenager. You're so smart, so brave... and I really am so proud that you want to make a difference. I just want you to learn the right way to do it."
"I don't think there is." Kory glowered at the blanket on Bradley's bed, still refusing to meet his eyes. "All everyone wants to do is talk, but no one wants to listen. I gotta do something, something loud enough no one will ignore."
"I think," Brad chuckled as his mind finally made a connection he had never thought of before. "I may actually have the answer to that, Kory. Something you could do, to make a difference--something you could do just for me. But you have to make me a promise, first."
"I want you to promise me--under no circumstances, unless your life is threatened, will you ever hurt anyone."
"You mean... physically?"
"Well..." Brad stifled a laugh. "I know that there's no way you can protect someone from your words, and... you have quite the mouth on you... but..." Bradley reached out, grabbing his daughter's hand tightly within his own. "There is so much strength in you, Korva. Almost too much. You could burn the whole world down if you wanted to, but all that would do is destroy exactly what you're trying to protect."
Kory shrugged. "I guess."
"Promise me--you will never hurt anyone ever again, even for me. Especially because of me."
Korva hesitated. Although she did many things without thinking about them first, this... this meant something. To herself--to her father. It meant trying to become someone that, up until now, she never thought she could be, or even wanted to be.
But he always asked so little of her, and right now, she did not know how many more requests he would ever be able to make. And he asked her to do it, for him--in exchange for the opportunity to do something even greater. What it was she did not know, but with all her heart, whatever it was, she would circle the world to accomplish it. Sure, it would be hard, but the alternative--saying no--was not just hard. It was impossible.
"I promise, Dad," she said as she lept into his arms, drawing herself into his lap and wrapping herself around him. As she did, something very small and very human stirred in her eye. "I'll never hurt anyone, ever, ever again. I promise."
Margo slowly peeled her numb fingers off the handlebars of her bike with a painful whimper as she rested it against a bush in front of the Pesce house. 'I really should learn to drive,' she thought to herself as she considered how much warmer it would have been if she could have borrowed her mother's car. But, the terrifying image of barreling down the icy streets, steering a motorized vehicle suddenly reminded Margo why she didn't drive.
"Yeah, bad idea," she spoke aloud.
The snow on the Pesce's front porch hadn't budged much, and Margo didn't really blame them. Winter had hit Twinbrook like a brick purse to the face, something no one had quite been prepared for and everyone was taking a little bit longer than usual to recuperate from.
"Just in and out, just in and out," Margo chanted to herself, picturing how lovely it would be to rush home and curl up in front of the fireplace. "Just get what you came for, and go home. You can do this." After a deep breath--which she exhaled onto her frozen hands--she pushed her thumb against the doorbell.
It wasn't long before Mrs. Pesce's face showed up behind the frosty glass. "Oh Margo honey, you get in here," she gasped as she quickly drew the door open. "Where are your gloves?! You look like you're going to freeze your fingers off!"
"Oh, I'm okay Mrs. Pesce, don't worry," she lied as she scooted through the door, with the help of Jane's urget pokings-and-proddings. "I had some... Dropped them in a snowbank and couldn't find them," Margo added, hiding her eyes in shame.
"Mmm, make sure your mother picks up some new ones. Now--what can I do for you, Margo? Is everything alright with your Dad? Do I need to go get Moe?"
"Oh no, he's... fine... or... unchanged, I guess," Margo said with a shrug, biting her lip as she finally brought her nervous stare to meet Jane's. "I'm actually here to see... Ian."
"Oh sweetie I'm sorry, but Ian's sick with the flu--he really shouldn't be seeing anyone today. I already had to turn away Thane today. Twice," she tutted with slight annoyance.
"I know, that's actually kinda why I'm here," Margo said nervously, scuffing the floor with her boot. "My friend and I are doing a project at school with him, it's due at the end of the week and I came to, er, pick up his... section." She gulped.
"I'll just go get it for you then, if that's--"
"--Actually," Margo cut her off, quickly regretting it when she saw the look of surprise on Mrs. Pesce's face. "I... need to uh... ask him some questions and uh... stuff. I promise I'll be quick?"
Mrs. Pesce clearly wasn't pleased, but with a defeated sigh, she nodded and pointed towards the staircase. "He's in his room, up the stairs, down the hall, second door on the right. Just make sure you don't get too close--I don't want you getting sick, too."
Margo gave her a wary half-smile. "I won't."
I'm an angel bored like helland you're a devil meaning wellyou steal my lines and you strike me downcome raise your flag upon meand if you want me I'm your countryif you win me I'm forever - oh yeah!'cause you're the storm that I've been needingand all this peace has been deceivingI like the sweet life and the silencebut it's the storm that I believe in
"Second door on the right, second door on the--" Margo stopped in front of it and took a deep breath. Well, this was awkward--but the longer she put it off, the harder it would be. Raising a fist to the door, she gently knocked.
"Come in~" a wheezy, pathetic voice responded from within. "You finally bring that soup I--oh."
"Yeah... sorry, it's just me." Margo awkwardly met Ian's gaze, clearly just as uncomfortable with the situation as he was.
"Yeah, I see that now," Ian growled as he began to shift his weight onto his side, turning his feverish face in her direction. "And what are you doing here?"
Margo shifted from foot to foot, uneasy; she wasn't sure if she should enter any further, so she continued to hang by the door, hiding behind it as much as possible. "T-the report... it's due Friday... Ronnie and I kinda need your part to finish the paper..."
Ian sighed. "Ugh. Friday? Yeah... that's not good for me. It's gonna have to be next Thursday, at the earliest."
"But... that's not when it's due. It's due--"
"--Friday, yeah, but... Yeeaaaaah, but that just doesn't work for me." When Margo continued to look at him dumbfoundedly, he nodded towards the desk in the corner. "I really don't have that much done. See for yourself."
Ian pointed towards the papers scattered on his desk; Margo slowly approached, catching a glimpse at what looked like a half a page on the subject Ian was supposed to be handling.
"Well... it's better than nothing," Margo said under her breath, trying to think of what she was going to tell Ronnie to try and calm her friend's imminent panic attack. This is exactly what she was afraid of, though, and exactly why she didn't let Mrs. Pesce come get it for her. The last thing she wanted was to start a fight if Ian didn't have it finished; but in a way, seeing it for herself made her feel even worse.
"I guess I'll go ahead and just take that, then. We'll... manage." She started to tiptoe further into the room, despite the fact that Ian was obviously both awake and aware of her presence.
As she moved, Ian's burning stare followed her; she occasionally glanced back at him, only to be met with the fiercest glare. It made her incredibly uncomfortable; not only was he giving her that... look... she was in his territory, and he was--in Margo's opinoin--practically naked. It was not helping.
"What are you looking at," she asked without the lilt of a question in her voice, sheepishing steering herself behind Ian's desk chair.
His scowl deepened. "Never seen that necklace, before. Your boyfriend give it to you?"
"M-my boyfriend?" Margo shook her head violently, covering up the pendant with her hand when she felt a surge of embarrassment flood over her. She'd never even thought to hide it; it never occurred to her that someone like Ian would notice she never usually wore stuff like that. "No," she finally responded. "No, I don't have a boyfriend."
"Then what's that pretty Irish thing I've seen dragging you around town everywhere? A new pet?"
"No! He's just--we're just friends. That's all."
Ian rolled his eyes, dropping back onto the bed with a loud *flump*. "Yeah, whatever. I don't really care, anyways. So's that all you came for?"
"Yeah. J-just this."
"Alright then." Ian turned his head towards the wall, averting his gaze away from her. "Whatever."
All the awkwardness in the room suddenly doubled; Ian refused to look at her, but he also seemed to refuse to say goodbye. She was stuck, hovering in the middle of the room, a gray zone that had no good entrance and no good exit.
She wasn't left with much alternative, though. "Well... I guess I better get going, then," she said as she eased herself towards the door. "See ya at school... feel better."
Margo froze and turned her head over her shoulder. Ian was sitting up again; but this time, he wasn't looking at her with a judgmental stare. What this was Margo wasn't sure, but it made something in her stomach do a very odd sort of dance.
"Please, don't go."
Margo's eyes swiveled from side to side. "Uuuh... o-okay." She stopped leaving, but still stood near the door, a frigid and awkward statue.
"C'mere," he lulled, suddenly sounding twice as sick as he did before; Margo was pretty sure he was feigning it, but something deep in her gullet made it impossible to resist, so she timidly followed his request, coming to the side of his bed and gently settling down next to him.
"W-what do you need?" she asked softly, trying to hide the glowing blush rising up her cheeks.
He averted his gaze, almost seeming embarrassed, himself. "Lay down with me."
"... Lay with you. ... Why."
His face shifted back to a scowl again, almost seeming offended at her tone of question. "I'm cold and I'm sick and I feel miserable," he snapped. "You're warm and you're nice and you're here. Do I really need any more reason?"
"You're kind of pathetic when you're sick, you know," Margo stuttered under her breath as she pulled her legs up onto the bed, tucking them under her. She tried not to giggle; it really wasn't that funny... but no, it really was.
"So sue me," Ian growled, shrugging. "I dare you to act better when you feel like death."
Margo was at a loss for what to say; he wasn't entirely incorrect, and pure look of weakness in his face--genuine or not--garnered some sympathy for him.
But she couldn't help but realize: there was something more. His eyes, usually piercing and cold, revealed the briefest glance of sadness before shutting tightly, his hand now reaching out in his blindness to grab and tug on the side of her sweater.
She obeyed; and not, to her surprise, because she was afraid to say no. As her body rested gently next to him, she found herself laying in total peace and comfort. Every moment with Dylan had been a roller coaster, leaving her heart racing and her lungs out of breath... but this, this was different. It was serene, despite who she knew the boy behind her to be.
A monster, some days; a fighter, a bully, an outcast. But not to her--never, to her.
He had never touched her before, either... At least, not like this. She could feel his hand slowly raise from his side, and settle--finger by finger--onto the side of her ribs, each one testing the waters of her permissibility, making sure it was alright. And Margo did not object.
"I'm sorry... about the other day..." Margo muttered, realizing that their fight had never entirely been addressed.
When he spoke, the words felt so close to her ear that it tickled, sending goosebumps down her entire body. "I know. It's... fine, though. I really don't blame you." After a few moments, Ian continued. "Thanks, for staying," he said, gruffly. "I'm feeling better already."
Margo snorted and rolled her eyes. "You better be," she said, half-jesting. "Anything else you need to me do?"
"Actually, Margo... There is one more thing."
Margo's nose curled up a little. Great. She wasn't actually seriously. "What's that?"
"Please... Stay away from that Dylan guy." Margo could sense the vulnerability in his voice; it was unlike Ian to make such a request so calmly, but even in the softness of it was a quiet, pained intensity. "He's not the person you think he is."
"You know I can't do that, Ian--he's my friend." She shifted uneasily, suddenly feeling a surge of confusing emotions at the mention of Dylan's name. "Why would you even say that?"
Ian sighed, his body moving to close the distance her movement had caused. "Just trust me, Margo," Ian said stiffly. "I just... know. If you can't stay away--just... be careful, okay?"
Annoyance suddenly bubbled up from within Margo; why was Ian constantly telling her what to do? What was his business, trying to interfere in her life? Sure, things weren't perfect, and maybe he was right about some things, but this was Dylan--Dylan, of all people. "Why do you even care?" she finally asked bitterly, biting her lip when she heard how accusatory it sounded aloud.
Behind her, the bed began to quiver at the movement of Ian's chuckle; a reaction that Margo was certainly not expecting, and--for whatever reason--actually made her feel more comforted. "You're like Alice in Wonderland, Margo," Ian said with a whimsical tone, briefly lifting his hand from her ribs to tug lightly on her ponytail. "Someone has to watch out for you, or you're just going to keep falling back down the rabbit hole."
It went silent for a moment as Margo considered this--and it actually made her smile. Perhaps, she'd listen, but for now she wasn't going to worry about it too much. Ian was almost as crazy as she was.
"Well, I really should get going home--" Margo began uneasily--almost sadly--but the word 'home' caused Ian's grip on her side to tighten, stopping her mid-sentence.
"No," he said, simply, the word hot against the back of her neck.
"Please... Just a little longer. Please."
From then on, it fell quiet for a short while; Margo lost track of the passage of time, attempting to count her heartbeats, but lost them in the feel of Ian's through the palm of his hand. Even the back of her head was teeming with warmth, heated by hot breath that was soaking into the mass of her hair.
It was weird--but not in an unpleasant way. Just weird enough that the awareness of every movement, every second, lasted a lifetime in her thoughts. He was still so far away, but today, just a little bit closer.
Still a storm, but today, next to her, a happy moment in stillness.
I'm tacking this on here because I forgot to do a seperate post about it earlier: if you haven't already, be sure to check out my most recent Short, "Good Enough!"
It gives a little bit of a glimpse into Ian's life, and though it really is very short, I think it's important to see where Ian is coming from and why he reacts so strongly whenever anyone tries to tell him to change. (I still haven't added it to the Short's listing, so you'll have to go read it via this link here.)
I've been doing a rather abysmal job juggling all my projects and such lately, so I'll apologize now for not responding to your comments right away, but even though I plan on doing that soon, I appreciate every single one a very, very great deal. You are all so incredibly special and kind to give your time to read and provide feedback, I feel so blessed to have each and every one of you.
Normally this is when I would say 'Happy Holidays' as well, but fear not--I have a Christmas Special on the way, that should go up a few days before or on Christmas itself.
Until then--Cheers and kisses! ♥