They Call Me Crazy
Josh's day started off like any other Tuesday. He was sitting in his physcologist's office while Dr. Blackthorn continued to try and get him to talk. About his "feelings" mostly. But, in Josh's opinion, she should've given up by now. He'd been seeing her every week for the last year and she really hadn't made much progress with him.
"So. . . You start junior year in a few weeks," she continued, "How do you feel about that?"
He simply shrugged.
"Are you excited?" she wondered.
"Not really," he said honestly.
She sighed. "Joshua, you really need to open up more. You're uncomfortable with speaking about your feelings on even the most basic level. I understand why you may not want to talk about negative feelings, even if bottling them up is unhealthy. But you won't talk about positive feelings either. You won't even share about something as simple as starting school. You are completely closed off."
He didn't say anything. He knew that already.
Dr. Blackthorn sighed again and began scribbling on a notepad. "I'm going to call your school guidance counselor and arrange for your meetings with her. Two sessions a week."
"That's twice more then last year," he exclaimed, "I thought I was like . . . better now? What the hell?"
"You are and you aren't," she explained, "Your behavior has improved but I have my doubts about your mental state. You share nothing and it's impossible to know how you're really feeling."
Josh groaned. There was only one thing he hated more then going to see his therapist. And that was talking to the school guidance counselor.
"Twice a week," she said decidedly.
"Okay, fine whatever," he mumbled, getting up.
Mrs. Blackthorn sighed. "Oh fine. See you next week then Joshua," she said, "Be good."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," he muttered dismissively as he walked out the door. The receptionist, Gail, waved to him as he left the office. He walked down the hallway and caught the elevator just before the door closed. He tapped his flip flop wearing foot while he waited for it to descend. He noticed a middle aged woman with fingernails bitten down to the nub eyeing him oddly, probably wondering what could be possibly wrong with this typical Californian teenager. Josh just rolled his eyes; he knew he didn't look like he belonged here.
When he got out of the building he put his shades on to keep from being blinded by the bright sunlight. He then began his walk down to the beach. It was hot and humid out, despite being nearly September. But that was just southern California for you. He could feel sweat on the back of his neck as he walked through one of those rich neighbors that led down to the beach.
Josh looked up when he heard a loud wolf whistle from nearby. His eyes immediately went to the two teenage girls sun bathing on lounge chairs on the lush green front lawn of one of the expensive houses. The house was on a hill and the two girls were slightly elevated. They were paler then the average Californian. Actually, they were paler then the average Canadian. They were both very pretty though.
One appeared tall and had long straight light blonde hair. Her pink bikini with the white polka dots was skimpy and showed tons of pale skin. She had a sun hat over her head and an ice tea in one hand. She had lowered the shades over her eyes to be able to peer at Josh suggestively.
The other girl appeared to be the same age but much smaller with an equally nice body. She had long brownish red hair with a considerable amount of volume. She had on a more simple black bikini with dark sunglasses over her eyes as well. Josh took notice of the bracelet on her wrist for some reason. It was silver with about a billion charms that caught the bright light.
"Hey there hot stuff!" called the blonde girl before dissolving into giggles.
"Stella!" rebuked the smaller girl, swatting her friend's arm.
"What? I'm just having fun," the Stella girl complained.
The other girl rolled her eyes and got off her lounge chair. She pranced down the slight hill to the sidewalk. Josh noticed how her boobs bounced while she ran and her charm bracelet was rattling. Clink clink clink.
"Please excuse my sister," she apologized with a slight British accent.
"Nah it's fine," he said honestly.
"No really. She does this quite often. It's rather tiresome," she explained, "It's as if she has no manners at all."
"Really, it's fine," he told her, "I went to New York last winter break. Their rudeness blows her out of the water."
The girl laughed. "I forget that were in America now . . . Back home most people don't tolerate her obnoxious behavior."
"Oh . . .you're new here? Where from? England?" he guessed, based on her accent.
"No . . . We've been in Italy these past few years," she said.
"Oh, that's cool," he said.
"Yes . . . very cool," she said.
"Yeah . . . Well see you around uh. . ." he trailed off.
"Helena Savage," she finished, holding out her hand. He just stared at it.
She let the hand fall to the side limply when he didn't shake it. To be honest, he'd just been surprised by the gesture. Who shook hands anymore?
He didn't get why she introduced herself so formally but decided to play along. "Uh I'm Joshua Steele," he said with slight sarcasm.
"Nice to meet you Joshua," she said.
"Yeah, same," he said, "See you around."
"Bye!" she chirped excitedly as he began walking down the rest of the way to the beach.
When he turned around she was still standing on the sidewalk, waving and hopping up and down. Josh laughed and shook his head indulgently. Hyper little British chick . . .
He continued his walk down to the populated beach, scouring out for his friends. He spotted them sitting at there usual spot, on a collection of towels, close to the water. His friend Alex was rubbing sun tan lotion on some chick's back while Carter was talking and flirting with two girls. And of course, Luke was making out with some chick under a beach umbrella.
Josh rolled his eyes as he approached them. All the chicks his friends picked up were always the same. Golden blondes with tanned skin who did yoga, drank girly drinks, and went to the beach every day but never went in the water. Josh used to have been attracted to girls like that, and he'd even "been with" some of them before. But he'd begun to become immune to them.
"Oh hey Josh!" called Carter when he reached them, "Back from the shrink?"
"Shut up," he snapped, kicking sand in his face. The two girls sitting next to him giggled.
"Girls, this is our friend Josh," Carter said, "Be warned, he's a little cuckoo in the head."
"I think it's cool," one ditzy blonde said, "Anyone whose anyone in LA has a therapist now a days. It's like a prada bag or gucci sunglasses."
Josh rolled his eyes and sat down next to the others. He didn't feel the need to mention that he didn't have a therapist so he could whine about his petty problems like some ritzy socalite. He had one because his teachers, mom, guidance counselor, principle, and the state all thought he needed professional help.
"So Josh, these are our new friends Amber and Kayla. And that's Jenna," Carter introduced the girls, "And the girl sucking face with Luke is Sienna."
"So where'd you meet them?" Josh asked dryly, picking up sand and letting it fall through his fingers repeatedly.
"In the foodcourt down at the mall," Carter said.
"Yeah," the blonde named Kayla said, "I was looking for the straws . . . But like I couldn't find them. And then I bumped into Carter."
"Well isn't that a fascinating story," Josh said sarcastically.
"I know right?" agreed Amber as if he'd been serious.
The rest of the afternoon continued in a similar fashion. The conversations were uneducated and silly. The girls giggled at everything the guys said and squealed when Alex splashed them with water. The boys showed off by surfing and the girls made spectacles of themselves by asking for help putting on their sun tan lotion.
When the sun was setting and most of the families had left the beach, only the teenagers and young adults remained. Josh's particular group had made a fire in their usual fire pit with logs around it for sitting. It was around eight and they were all sitting around the fire, all of them having a good time except for Josh. The Amber chick was hanging all over him but he didn't care in the slightest.
"Who wants beer," asked Luke, pulling beers out of the cooler. His question was answered a chorus of calls and squeals.
"Do you have any Mike's Hard Lemonade?" asked Kayla, "I don't really like beer."
"Lucky for you, I came prepared," Luke said, pulling out a few bottles of Mike's Hard Lemonade, which he gave to the girls. None of which could handle beer apparently. Damn prisses, Josh thought as he popped open a beer.
He sat there mutely, drinking his beer while the others laughed and Amber flirted with him. He found himself staring at the flames with a sort of eerie transfixition. He stayed like that for a while, until he pressed the bottle to his lips and realized that he'd finished his beer. He checked his cell phone then, which proclaimed it to be almost nine.
"I gotta go," he said.
"Awww why?" complained Amber.
"I have to go make dinner," he explained.
"Aren't you a good little housewife?" teased Alex, wrapping an arm around Josh's neck in a mocking choke hold while he ruffled his hair.
"Shut up man," Josh told him, elbowing him in the ribs. The others laughed as Josh began walking away.
"See ya latter man!" called Luke. Josh lifted a hand over his shoulder in a half wave without turning around.
He shuffled his way out of the beach and up the street he'd come down before. He passed Helena's house on the way. Her and the Stella girl's lounge chairs were still outside, but they were empty. The lights in the fancy house were on.
Josh kept walking and walking, the glass bottle dangling from his fingertips. When he was a block away from his house he dropped the bottle on the sidewalk, letting it shatter. He arrived at his small one floor ranch style house a few moments later. Their German shepherd, Vinnie, was outside and started barking when he saw Josh. He opened the gate and Vinnie plowed into him, wagging his tail excitedly.
"Hey boy," Josh said, petting the dog's head. He walked up the path to the front door and unlocked it. Once he opened the door Vinnie ran inside. The sounds and smells of a busy household were all around Josh. He could hear his little sisters yelling at the dog who had probably just knocked over some of their toys. He could hear his older sisters talking in the kitchen and smell wine.
He walked up three quick stairs so that he was in the kitchen. His two older sisters, Shea and Meredith were sitting at the kitchen table. Meredith was in her third year of college but still lived at home since her school was in the city. She was only his half sister so they didn't look very much alike. She had brown eyes and light brown hair. She was generally tan like most people in California and was dressed for Summer. She was working at her laptop at the table.
Shea was sitting across from her, painting her nails black while still maintaining conversation. Shea was about to start her senior year of high school and was Josh's full sister. They looked pretty alike, or at least they used to. Shea had dyed her hair black with white underneath and always wore it in a spikey shag cut. She had snake bites in her lip and one piercing in her eyebrow. She was tan, a result of living in California, but wore a ton of Goth makeup. It was ninety degrees in the house but she was wearing skinny jeans.
"You're late," Meredith said.
"And you smell like beer," Shea added.
"And this whole place smells like cheap wine," he pointed out dryly as he made his way over to the fridge. He began taking out ingredients for spaghetti.
"When hasn't it?" Shea asked rhetorically.
"Before we moved here, I'm guessing," he said as he filled a pot with water.
"No talking, just cooking," Meredith commanded, "I'm hungry."
"Then maybe you could've started dinner yourself," he suggested as he turned on the stove.
"No can do little brother. I started school a week ago and I'm already swamped," she explained.
"And what about you Shea?" he asked, "What's so direly important that you couldn't start dinner?"
"Hey, it's your night to cook. I made dinner last night," she defended herself.
"Oh yes, that delicious meat loaf," he muttered sarcastically.
"Just shut up and cook," she mumbled dismissively.
He did just that. He cooked his spaghetti in silence while his two older sisters talked. Once it was ready Shea helped set the table while Meredith put her laptop away and went to go get everyone for dinner.
Once the food was on the table Josh's younger sisters arrived. Six year old Chloe, nine year old Rosalyn, and fourteen year old Marla. All of them were Josh's full sisters, and seeing as they hadn't yet began to alter their appearances, looked like him. They all had dirty blonde hair, big blue eyes, and tan skin.
Marla was fast becoming a barbie doll, just like the girls from the beach. Sure, the family didn't have the sufficent funds for prada bags and such, but she was still doing her part. She spent hours styling her long blonde hair and applying makeup. She was friends with all the rich girls despite being poor. She was pretty though, and that was all that was needed.
They were all already seated when their mother came in. She was your average single mother of six. She was in her late fourties with light brown hair with blonde highlights. She was tan and probably once very pretty. But now she had bags under her blue eyes and worry lines on her face. She had a tattoo of a rose on her lower back and one of a spider on the back of her neck. She was thin and tall, dressed in her sweats. She got home from work at seven and was too tired to cook, so the older kids took turns preparing dinner.
"What's for dinner?" she wondered as she came in.
"Josh made spaghetti," Meredith announced.
"Thank you Josh," she said as she sat down at her usual spot. The dinner was loud like always and Josh felt no desire to try and make conversation with anyone. He was the only boy in a family of six girls. Six. He had five sisters and no father. He'd learned long ago that, at dinner, he was better off not even trying to say anything.
After dinner Marla did the dishes and Josh went into his room. The only good part about being the only boy was that he was the only one who had his own room. The two older girls shared a room and the three younger ones all lived in the basement which had been transformed into a large bedroom/playroom for them.
He listened to his IPod for a few hours before coming back out. It was almost midnight so Chloe and Rosalyn were in bed. Meredith and Shea were sitting on the couch, drinking cheap wine, even though neither of them were twenty one. His mom wasn't around but Marla was curled up in the old armchair, texting.
"Where's mom?" he wondered as he walked in.
"Next door. Carrie's having a girl's night," Meredith said. Carrie was the single mom who lived next door and was pretty much just like Josh's mother. Irresponsible, fun . . . Not very "mom-ish" basically.
"Oh okay," he mumbled, sitting down next to Shea.
"You have a hickey on your neck Joshua," Marla pointed out matter-of-factly.
Josh wasn't surprised. That Amber chick had been sucking on his neck all night. Why? He had no idea . . . In vain attempts to get him to like her perhaps?
"Your point?" he asked dryly.
"That mom didn't say anything," she said, "But when I had a hickey that time she screamed at me for like ever."
"That's because I'm two years older then you," Josh said.
"No . . . It's because Josh is a boy," Shea cut in, "And as long as he doesn't get a girl pregnant, mom doesn't give a fuck what he does."
"Thank you Shea," Josh said dryly.
"What? It's a fact? Mom's sexist," she said with a shrug.
"Are you kidding me? Mom has no respect for men," he said.
"Well can you blame her? Her first husband cheated on her and well . . . dad . . . " Shea trailed off, not wanting to talk about their father.
"Yeah, whatever, I'll be in my room," he said, upset at just the vague mentioning of his father. He got up and grabbed the half empty wine bottle off the coffee table. Nobody said anything as he walked back into his room.
Once inside he locked his door and flopped down on his unmade bed. He cranked up his stereo, letting the angry melodies of Nickelback and Hollywood Undead fill his room. He knew the whole house could hear it but nobody told him to turn it down. He mellowed out to the harsh music and the cheap wine for a while. Eventually he ended up passing out.
In his dream he was staring down a long corridor of barred cells. And he could hear the clink clink clink of chains being dragged across the floor. He whirled around and tried to run but was immediatly grabbed by large powerful arms. He struggled and struggled but he couldn't get free. The corridor had melted away and now he was out in front of his house, which was now on fire. He could hear his sisters and mother inside, screaming and burning. He tried to break free, to go and help them, but he couldn't escape those arms. The house disappeared too eventually and then he was on the edge of a cliff. He squirmed around in his captors arms so that he was facing him. He looked up at that hard face and those souless dark eyes. And then the strong arms were pushing him away, off the side of the cliff. He didn't scream as he fell. He knew that no matter how much he screamed nobody would come and save him anyway.
He woke up in his dark room, breathing hard. His music was still blasting and the empty bottle of wine lay on his nightstand. His clock read four thirty. Groaning, Josh rolled out of bed. He was still shaking from the nightmare as he went to turn off his sterio. He climbed back into bed groggily, exhausted. He thought he'd fall asleep quickly but he didn't. The clink clink clink of chains still ran through his mind, keeping him up for some reason.
No wonder he was in therapy.