Disclaimer: I do not own The Breakfast Club. I'm just obsessed with it.
Rating: T for language, mild violent descriptions, and adult situations
Summary: AU, ONE-SHOT. Claire can't shake the feeling that something is wrong, that it wasn't supposed to be this way.
A/N: I've been working on this story for a couple of months now, and I think I'm finally satisfied with it. It's definitely different from anything I've ever written, so keep an open mind and tell me what you think, alright? I hope you enjoy it. Thank you, Lori, for all of your magnificent help.
A Sad Song for No One
It wasn't supposed to be like this. I felt the words tripping off of my tongue, fighting their way past my lips. This isn't right, I said. But no one believed me. Miss Marchetta sighed deeply, and Principal Vernon rolled his eyes. I opened my mouth to say the words again, to convince them that they were true, but Principal Vernon beat me to the punch.
"Detention," he said firmly. "7 A.M. on Saturday. I'll see you then, Miss Standish."
I hope not. The sentiment was so strong that I almost said the words out loud, barely stopping myself in time. But it doesn't matter that they were never spoken; a wish is a wish, and I couldn't take it back, even if I wanted to.
Looking back, I have to wonder if what happened wasn't my fault.
Friday, March 23, 1984
It's Friday night, and my parents are away at a silent auction for a charity sponsored by my father's company. I'm probably not supposed to leave the house, but I know that my father won't mind, and he can take care of my mother for me if she finds out and gets mad at me for leaving.
Jacob Winston is having a party at his house, and Emily picks me up at about 8:00. We arrive at the same time as Jill and Alyssa, who pull up in Jill's father's Mercedes with the windows rolled down and Peter Gabriel blasting from the speakers. Emily and I wait on the front lawn while she finds a place to park, and the four of us walk in together. We each grab a can of diet Pepsi from the cooler in the backyard, and Jill kicks a group of freshman girls off of the couch so that we can sit down.
Jill is talking a mile a minute about some girl in her gym class, Emily is hanging on her every word, and Alyssa is staring at her fingernails, lost in her own thoughts. I am thinking about what I am going to wear to detention tomorrow. The blue top with the lace collar. No, the pink v-neck.
Jill is halfway into a story about Jamie Miller's new perm when Travis Burkham walks up to the couch, a cup of beer in one hand. Travis is a nice guy, and we've been in school together since before we could read, but he has the social graces of a five-year-old boy. He also treats everyone, including girls, like he would his teammates from the football team.
"Hey, what's up?" He nods in Jill's direction, and she smiles politely.
Emily's face flushes crimson, and she offers him an embarrassed smile. "Hi, Travis," she says.
Travis bobs his head in greeting and takes a sip of his beer. "You guys hear what happened today?"
"You mean with Terrence and Brittany?" asks Jill. She spent the entire lunch period today analyzing the couple's break up.
Travis pauses, confused. "Uh, no."
Jill frowns. "Oh. What happened?"
He shakes his head solemnly. "Some kid fuckin' shot himself at school today."
Emily's eyes grew wide. "Oh, my God. Who was it?"
Travis shrugged. "I don't know. Some guy."
Jill's mouth is hanging open, and her gum is showing. "Is he okay?" she asks.
Travis shook his head. "No, man, he's dead."
The group falls silent, and I feel my stomach tighten apprehensively. Jill's mouth is open so wide at this point that she has to use her index finger to push the wad of gum back into her mouth before it falls onto the floor. She puts a hand against her chest and looks up at Travis, her huge blue eyes blinking rapidly. "He's dead?" she asks.
He nods. "Fuckin' shot himself in the head. Put the gun in his mouth and--"
"Oh, my God!" Jill shrieks. "Stop it!" She puts her hands against her ears and presses her elbows against her sides protectively. "Just stop it!"
Travis's eyes grow wide. "Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to--"
"You don't know who it was?" Emily asks again.
Travis shook his head. "No. I heard he was a sophomore, though."
Emily looks a little bit relieved. "We probably didn't know him then."
I suck in a shallow breath, and something tells me that she's wrong. "It happened at school?" I ask.
Travis nodded. "Yeah, in the shop room."
"Shop room?" I echo dumbly, and he nods.
"It was a handgun?"
I glance over at Alyssa, who's hardly spoken a word all night. Her eyes are trained on Travis's face, waiting for an answer.
Travis shakes his head. "No, dude, that's the weird part. It was a flare gun."
Flare gun. The hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention, and I don't know why. I reach up and rub my fingers against the skin beneath my collar, but the feeling doesn't go away.
"God, that's so creepy. Who would do that?" Jill asks. "I mean, who kills themselves at school?"
I don't hear his answer. All I can think is, this isn't right. Not just because someone's dead, but because…well, I don't know why. I just can't shake the feeling that it wasn't supposed to happen, that the boy with the flare gun wasn't supposed to die.
The next morning, my father calls the school to find out if detention has been cancelled. He gets through to someone right away, and a few minutes later he hangs up the phone and offers a rueful smile. "Well, it looks like you can go back to bed."
I pause. "It's cancelled?"
My father nods. "The police are still there. You may not even have school on Monday."
I nod slowly, letting the information sink in. "Oh," is all I can say.
My father watches me closely for a moment. "Are you okay, sweetheart?"
I am taken aback by the question. "Sure," I say.
He nods. "Because I know you say you didn't know this boy, but it's understandable if--"
"I'm fine," I say firmly, even though my entire body is shaking. "I just didn't get a lot of sleep last night, and I'm really tired."
My father hesitates and starts to say something else, but I interrupt him. "I'm going back to bed," I say quickly, moving towards the door.
He nods. "Alright. Sleep well, Princess."
I nod and walk upstairs as quickly I can. I glance over at the bed, but it's nothing more than a formality because I know I'm not going back to sleep. I walk over to my closet and find a pair of old jeans and a sweater, then change out of my pajamas. For a moment, I consider going without make-up, but then I give in and spend the next ten minutes applying eye shadow and lip liner. Finally, I throw on a pair of brown leather shoes and walk back downstairs.
My father has left for the day, off to the office to catch up on paperwork that he didn't get a chance to finish during the work week. He does this almost every Saturday, so I am used to it by now. My mother is still in bed.
I take the keys to my mother's Buick LaSabre and lock the back door behind me. Once I am in the car, I buckle my seatbelt and adjust the rearview mirror, then stop for a moment to think about what I'm doing. It's not necessary; I know where I'm going.
I pull into the school parking lot at 6:56, just four minutes before I was scheduled to arrive for detention. The north parking lot, which is right next to the shop building, is completely blocked off with police cars and yellow tape. I pull around to the south parking lot, which leads almost directly to the library, and park in one of the visitor spots.
The parking lot is empty, and the only sign that anyone has been around is the ribbon of police tape that has been plastered over the door. I stare at it for a long time, wondering why I am here.
A couple of minutes later, a grey car pulls into the parking lot. I fight the urge to duck down in my seat, but my stomach is in knots, and I pray that whoever is in the car won't look over and see me sitting here in my mother's car all alone.
The car stops in front of the building, and someone climbs out of the backseat. The car is blocking my view, and all I see is a flash of black. Then the car pulls away, and a girl wearing a huge grey jacket stares after it, her mouth hanging open. She stands there for a few seconds, then turns toward the building.
I see it happening like it's in slow motion. She takes a few steps, then stops short when she sees the police tape. I can't see her initial reaction because she is facing away from me, but when she turns back, I can tell that she is confused. She cranes her neck to see if the car has left, and it has. She's stuck.
I watch her very closely, my breath caught in my throat in anticipation. She stares down the driveway, probably hoping that the car will come back around and pick her up. I wonder if the driver will notice the police cars on the other side of the building and come back around to check on the girl they left behind.
After a few seconds, the girl turns back towards the building and walks up to the door. She reaches out and touches the yellow tape, running her fingers over the shiny plastic. For a moment, I wonder if she is going to go inside, and, for a moment, I want to go with her.
Then she lets her hand fall to her side and turns back around. I can see the resignation on her face from fifty yards away. She walks over to the curb and lowers herself onto the sidewalk, pulling a pair of head phones from her overloaded knapsack. I realize that she is going to stay there until whoever dropped her off comes back to pick her up. In nine hours.
Suddenly, I have to urge to go up and talk to her. I don't know why. She looks like a freak, like she might have a knife or a razor blade stashed in her coat. She probably hasn't bathed in a week. I don't care. I want to go up and offer her a ride home and ask her if she feels like I do, that something is wrong.
I put the car in drive and pull up to the curb, slowly. But instead of stopping, I push down on the gas pedal a little harder and zoom past her. My hands are shaking and my breathing is ragged. I look in the rearview mirror, and the girl is staring after me, mouth hanging open slightly. I look away and pull out of the parking lot to go home.
I sleep the entire morning away.
My mother leaves the house at noon, and I am awake long enough to hear the garage door opening. She probably doesn't even realize that I am home since I am supposed to be in detention until four o'clock. The garage door closes, and I drift off to sleep again.
At about 3 o'clock, I hear the garage door open again. This time it's my father. I stay in bed, staring up at the ceiling, waiting for him to come upstairs to check on me. He doesn't. Finally, I pull myself out of bed to take a shower.
At about eight o'clock, Jill calls. "Let's go to Stubby's party," she says.
"So? Just tell him we're studying."
I don't say anything to that, and for a moment we are both silent. Then I hear a sharp, familiar snapping sound on the other end of the line, and I can see Jill sitting at her desk, twirling a lock of hair around her index finger, blowing tiny bubbles with her gum and popping them against the roof of her mouth.
I let out a deep sigh. "Fine."
At about eight thirty, Jill, Emily, Alyssa and I pull onto Stubby's street and try to find a place to park. Inside, there are people everywhere. I pull a diet Pepsi out of a cooler in the kitchen, but Jill takes it out of my hand and replaces it with a cup of cold beer. I don't argue with her.
The four of us wander around the house together, gossiping about who is making out with whom, who is probably going to wake up with a hangover on Sunday morning. In between conversations, we travel back to the kitchen for refills. After a while, Jill spots Brandon Jones sifting through a stack of tapes in the living room and goes over to talk to him. A few minutes later, Emily starts up a conversation with a girl from her math class, and the two of them begin talking about a teacher that I don't even know. Alyssa and I stay together for a while, but eventually she excuses herself and wanders off in search of a bathroom. I am alone.
I walk into the kitchen and get another beer. I am working on my fourth cup at this point. The boy running the keg offers me a sleazy smile, and I wrinkle my nose in disgust. He narrows his eyes, flicks them over the hem of my skirt, and looks back up at me. "Tease," he mutters.
I feel my face flush, but I don't say anything to this, just take my cup and walk into the living room. Someone has pushed a few wooden chairs against the wall, and I take a seat, glancing around the room. Emily, Jill and Alyssa are nowhere to be seen. I take small sips of my beer and peer over the edge of the yellow cup, desperate for someone to talk to. I've never really liked parties very much, mostly because they all end up the same, with me alone in the corner with my arms crossed over my chest, trying not to look like a wallflower.
After a few minutes, someone walks up beside me and pauses. I look up to see Andy Clark standing to my left, beer in one hand, shifting his weight from one foot to another. His eyes meet mine, and he nods at the chair to my left, silently asking permission. I shrug as if it makes no difference to me, and he sits down.
Neither of us say anything for a long time. I finish most of my beer, swirl the remaining drops around the bottom of the cup. My vision goes blurry for a moment, and I reach up and press my fingertips against my temples, then my eyelids. The feeling passes, and I open my eyes to see Andy watching me.
He clears his throat uncomfortably. "You okay?"
I nod stiffly. "Yeah, I'm fine."
He nods and looks down at the floor. I watch him for a moment, trying to think of something to say. I don't know Andy very well. He's been in a few of my classes over the years, but so have a lot of people. I know him mostly through friends like Jill. She dated him once during her jock phase, but nothing came of it, and they broke it off after two dates. She said he was a good kisser.
"I hate this song."
I look over at Andy, who is staring out over the room, frowning. I stop to listen, but don't recognize the song playing. Something by one of those heavy metal bands the burners like. "Yeah," I say. "Me, too."
Andy takes a sip of beer and glances over at me. He looks like he's having trouble focusing, and I wonder how much alcohol he's had. "Are you here by yourself?" he asks.
I shake my head. "No." I want to leave it at that, but I feel compelled to say more. "No, I came with some other people, but they left me all alone."
Andy nods. "You don't like stuff like this?"
I frown. "Stuff like…oh, you mean parties?"
I shrug. "They're okay. I'd just rather be somewhere else."
"Like where?" he asks.
I think about this for a moment, then sigh. "Like on a plane…to France."
Andy lifts his eyebrows. "So, why aren't you?"
"Why aren't I what?"
"On a plane to France."
I let out a soft chuckle and look down at my nails. "I'm not even supposed to be here."
I offer a wan smile. "I'm grounded."
"What'd you do?"
"What did I do?" I ask unnecessarily. "Oh. I, uh, I skipped school."
Andy's eyebrows go up again, and I wonder if he's turned off or impressed. "For what?" he asks.
I shrug, suddenly embarrassed of my brush with delinquency. "Oh, you know…"
He watches me for a minute, then looks away. I am afraid that the conversation is over, and I don't want it to be over yet. Without thinking, I blurt out, "I got a detention." Immediately, I feel my face flame. "Well, I mean, I did…"
Andy surprises me by nodding emphatically. "I did, too."
My eyebrows go up. "You did?"
Andy nods. "Yeah." He starts to say something else, but stops himself and takes another sip from his cup instead. He wipes his mouth on the sleeve of his letter jacket and nods again. "Yeah, I did."
I swallow. "What was it for?"
He pauses again, shrugs. "My coach and my father…they don't want me to blow my ride. You see, I get treated differently because coach thinks I'm a…" He trails off, hesitates for a moment, then shrugs again. "They think they're doing me a favor," he finishes bitterly.
I nod understandingly, though I really don't understand at all. He leans back in his chair, looks down at his shoes, then back up at me, deciding. "So, that's weird about that kid, huh?" he says, finally.
I suck in a shallow breath. Andy is watching me closely, waiting for a response. It is only natural that he is thinking about the boy that killed himself; if he hadn't done it, detention wouldn't have been cancelled, and both of us would have spent the morning in the library, bored out of our minds. And the girl with the grey jacket. She would have been there, too. "Yeah," I whisper.
"I heard he did it with a flare gun," says Andy.
I nod, unable to speak.
"In the shop room."
I nod again, wondering why I am fighting back tears.
Andy pauses. "I wonder what his name is."
I swallow deeply. "Was."
Andy looks over at me. "What?"
My voice is hollow. "Was. What his name was."
Andy blinks, nods slowly. "Right."
I turn to look at him, and his eyes meet mine. They are sad, like mine must be. He opens his mouth to say something, but no words come out.
My stomach ties itself into a knot, and I feel the familiar tingling sensation on the back of my neck again. It feels a lot like attraction or desire, but something is off, missing. Before I have time to figure out what that is, Andy leans forward and kisses me on the mouth.
The school is open on Monday, and the police are gone. The shop room has supposedly been cleaned by the custodial staff, but the shop classes have been moved to the temporary buildings by the gymnasium. No one wants to go in there.
Everyone is talking about the boy that killed himself. There are so many rumors flying about why he did it. Depression, insanity, unrequited love, grades, parents, stress. No one is really certain about anything, but that doesn't stop them from talking. Talking, talking, talking.
And when people aren't talking about him, they're talking about me and Andy. Someone saw us kissing at the party, and now everyone thinks that we're dating. I suppose it's true. He called me on Sunday afternoon to ask if I wanted to see a movie, and I accepted. Afterward, he drove me home and kissed me goodnight. I waited for the butterflies in my stomach, for the hair on my arms and neck to stand at attention. They didn't. I thought back to our conversation at Stubby's party, how sitting next to him felt comfortable, even familiar. Looking back, I crave the feeling, and I wonder if I didn't miss something the first time around.
It is Thursday, five days after I was supposed to have detention. I have been counting the days all week, the numbers growing, time stretching out and away from one point of reference. I wonder if I am going to do this always, if I am going to measure the rest of my life this way. Five years, ten years, twenty years after the detention that never happened. My God.
At school, everything is more or less back to normal. Everyone finally stopped talking about the boy with the flare gun, even though the shop rooms have been closed for the rest of the school year. Maybe by the time school opens next fall, they will have forgotten about him completely. Maybe I will have forgotten about him, too.
After school, I stop at a gas station on the way home. I pull up to the pumps closest to the main building and let the attendant fill up my tank. As he works, I study my nails, looking up every few seconds to see if he is finished.
"That'll be sixteen dollars, ma'am."
I hand him a twenty dollar bill and tell him to keep the change. He nods politely, obviously pleased with his tip, and starts walking back to his office. I open the car door and climb inside, then glance over at the garage.
There is a boy standing in the doorway. He is around my age, maybe a little bit older. He has long brown hair and broad shoulders, and he's wearing a pair of light grey trousers with rips at the knee. He is watching me closely, his lips parted slightly. From fifty yards away, I know that his eyes are brown.
The hairs on the back of my neck stand up again, but I hardly notice. My stomach feels like it is folding in on itself, and I can't breathe. The boy reaches up to wipe his hands on his shirt, and I notice that his hands are covered in dirt and oil. I want him to touch me with those hands. I want him to wipe them off on my white silk shirt, to tangle them in my clean, perfumed hair. I want him to kiss me, hard, like Andy never does.
I blink a few times, rapidly, and take a deep breath. I smell something like cigarette smoke, only sweeter, tangier. The boy is still watching me, his deep brown eyes boring holes into mine.
Hands shaking, I pull the car door shut, start the engine and drive away.
A/N: I'm really interested in receiving feedback for this story, so please drop me a line if you read it. Thank you.