I own nothing but my musings.


Summary: AU AH OOC. "One choice is sometimes all people can see about you, all they define you as." BxE


My Little Black Ache

Prologue: Quiet as a Hurricane

BPOV

Where I'm supposed to be is sitting amongst frog diagrams and surgical tools. The smell of formaldehyde should be wafting up my nostrils, causing my stomach to flip in a dangerous fashion notifying me of oncoming bile.

I should be putting on latex gloves and lifting a scalpel to slice down the center of the bloated frog in jar 17X that has been assigned to me, whispering prayers to the gods of faint and vomit to get me through this Biology rite of passage.

I should be pulling out his organs and attaching them with pins to my sponge board, labeling them in my chicken scratch. This is frog 17X's gallbladder. This is frog 17X's liver. This is frog 17X's tiny left atrium full to capacity with putrid formaldehyde.

All of this useless-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things knowledge should be catalogued and organized into an uninspired, unoriginal 3000+ word paper due the following Monday.

But I'm not there. I'm not where I am supposed to be.

I'm not seated at my usual partner-less lab table going through the motions of dissection with my friend 17X. Not because I am staging a protest against frog dissection, not because my stomach hates to be acquainted with anything blood and guts related, and not because I am a chronic class skipper.

No, none of these reasons explain my absence from Mr. Banner's class this Friday afternoon.

Rather, I'm ankle deep in mud, squatting with my back against an ash tree with the bark pressing through my too thin gray T-shirt for the wet weather. Really, it could be worse; it could be pouring instead of misting.

At least I can still light my cigarettes and continue chain smoking the rest of my pack. Using this opportunity to develop a skill that really matters, I attempt to blow smoke rings with my Lucky Strikes. I light one after the other after the other like it's going out of style to smoke in the woods behind the school.

Lungs are over rated, mine and frog 17X's both.

My hands are tracing circles in the dirt at my feet and I'm watching the mud cake underneath my fingernails. It seems I can never just be still. This is just a mindless activity for my hands to pursue as I allow the hurricane of emotions, which are circling from anger to nausea to anger to nausea, roll through me.

The nausea comes when I think about 17X's pancreas or small intestine too much. And maybe the six consecutive cigarettes have something to do with the queasiness.

The anger relates directly to Mr. Banner, my arrogant Biology teacher.

Three days prior to this moment in the woods I was trapped in a meeting with Mr. Banner, my father Charlie, and Mr. Greene the principle. The scene was three middle aged men making a decision about what I can or can not handle as far as blades are concerned. How kind to let me observe while sitting invisible in a blue stripped office chair, tearing threads out of the seat's fabric and piling them neatly next to me on the floor. Yet another mindless activity for my hands to pursue so I could keep my mouth shut.

It's not even important that I regurgitate the dialogue because the interesting part is what was going unspoken. The subtext is where the real conversation was happening.

Mr. Banner wanted to make it clear that he didn't feel comfortable with me handling a scalpel in his class.

I wanted to see how many square inches of cloth I could destroy with my thread pulling.

The principle wanted to make sure he wasn't offending my father by mentioning my history with sharp objects.

I wanted to question him on who exactly matched the navy blue pinstriped pattern I was sitting on with the puke green color of his walls. Was this an attempt at a calming color scheme?

Charlie wanted to avoid talking about my eighteen month prior suicide attempt. Talking about it just might require acknowledging it, and that is not something Charlie is prepared to do.

Charlie has this nervous tick he does whenever the subject is almost broached. He subconsciously taps his finger against his right cheek while his eyebrows are furrowed, as if sending Morse code that translates roughly to shut the hell up. Tap, tap-tap, tap.

At the rate this conversation was dancing around the issue I'm surprised he didn't break through his cheek with all the tapping. Some day that stubby finger will wear down a gulch into the side of his face.

I wanted to get the hell out of the room before the weight of everything that was going unsaid pulled me apart at the seams in the same fashion I was unraveling the upholstery.

The whole issue was ludicrous. The notion that I will fall to pieces the minute I have something sharp in my hand is outlandish. For some reason this assertion is not comforting when it comes from me. These men are really concerned that I will be tempted to slit my wrists all over again right there at my black Formica lab desk.

The school would need to make it into a memorial dedicated to me in the middle of Mr. Banner's classroom. I can picture the meaningless goodbye notes, the stuffed pink bears and plastic flowers that would be placed in tribute to me.

Hollow gestures from students who only see my scars while I walk here living among them. Still, they would immortalize my lab desk if I gave them the chance. It seems every high schooler has to have one death touch them, and I would be the martyr, the payment to the gods of teenage revelry that kept the rest of my classmates safe through their impressionable years.

I'm sure Mr. Greene was already tabulating the cost of such a venture and trying to determine how long the memorial would need to be left alone until they could clear away the disingenuous mementoes. Would a memorial service be needed in the science room? How long would the moment of silence have to be? Would they have to name a building after me? Would the circumstances of my death make school support inappropriate?

Of course, Mr. Banner wouldn't come right out and say that was what was making him nervous. Instead, he pretended like he was doing me a favor by granting me a reprieve from an uncomfortable situation for my own good. He voiced his request in calming dulcet tones as if we were talking about depriving a preschooler of a dangerous toy.

I had left the meeting before the decision was made because there was a deep seated scream welling up closer to my lips begging for release. I decided that screaming in the middle of that context would just push everyone's view of my crazy over the edge, forcing me to deal with a lot more than missing a dissection. Instead, I opted for smoking in the parking lot and fiddling with the door handle to the cruiser like a small child, as if I could develop the magic power needed to open a locked door on a whim.

So I am not in Biology because they decided I can't be trusted with a scalpel. Because clearly I am a walking time bomb waiting to create a grand display of teenage angst and slit my wrists at any chance. Obviously my Biology class is the prime setting. Why oh why didn't I think of it sooner? Thank you Mr. Greene and Mr. Banner for the suggestion.

A scalpel wasn't even my blade of choice. Where the hell does a teenager get access to a scalpel? Razor blades and sleeping pills were more then sufficient, or nearly so in my case.

One choice is sometimes all people can see about you, all they define you as.

I guess a better argument to combat their concerns would be to point out that I am no longer suicidal. That I know for certain.

I'm sure if I actually voice that assurance aloud to any of them it would illicit a scoff, or an eye roll at the very least.

In this moment in the woods I allow the angry-nauseous cycle to continue. Running my now dirty fingers over my three inch vertical scars on either wrist between drags on my cigarette soothes me until I hear the bell chime for the end of the period and summon me to gym class.

I wonder if I can make the argument of choosing volleyball as a suicide method to get me out of gym for the rest of the semester. The mental image of slamming my head repeatedly into the pole holding the volleyball net brings a smile to my lips. What kind of memorial would that entail? Too bad Coach Clapp is only afraid of my inept coordination and not my history with razor blades. Flicking away the last butt, I enter the gym leaving a trail of good ole Washington sludge in my wake, hyped up on enough nicotine to get me through this last class.


A/N: Leave me your thoughts...