Ch 1: Hit Me with Your Best Shot
It was late afternoon in the city of Chicago, and the hallways of Liberty High School were almost completely empty. Only a few stragglers remained as they quickly loaded up their bags to head home. Not that anyone was paying enough attention, but if they were listening, they would have been able to hear the faint sound of a guitar strumming as they passed the door to the music room.
Inside, was, in my opinion, one of the saddest sights in the world. The entire room was coated in a thick layer of dust. Instruments of all shapes and sizes were strewn about randomly. They all had dents and holes in them, and some of the wooden ones were even snapped into pieces. It broke my heart to see something like that, but I managed to save the only instrument I actually could play, so I didn't mind.
I sat in the corner of the room, strumming one of my favorite songs on the patched up guitar. And when I say patched up, I mean literally. When I found the thing, it had at least five holes in it, all of which about the size of a golf ball. Still, a bit of wood, some power tools, and a "can do" attitude were all it took to get it back in working order. Sure, it still looked like hell, but I didn't want it to look flashy, I wanted it to work.
A few strands of dark red hair fell from the hood of my blue sweatshirt, obstructing my sight, but I knew the song well enough, so I didn't mind.
As I finished the intro, I unconsciously started mumbling the first verse.
"It's all the same,
Only the names will change,
It seems we're wasting away.
Another place, where the faces are so cold,
I'd drive all night , just to get back-"
The door creaked open, snapping me out of my music induced daydream. A familiar man in a janitor's uniform stepped inside. "Time's up Thorn. Go home."
I gave annoyed sigh. "You couldn't have given me five more minutes, Jeff."
He rolled his eyes. "No one's supposed to be here, it's a closed off room. I don't know how you keep breaking in, but if I don't kick you out of here, I get fired. Now, it's Friday, It's late, go home."
"Alright, alright, I'm going." I said with a roll of my eyes. Carefully placing my makeshift instrument on its stand, I walked out into the hallway without another word. As soon as I turned the corner and made sure he was out of sight, I let my key ring fall from my sleeve.
"Tch…idiot." I commented to myself with a smirk on my face. Really, it didn't take a genius to figure out I had made copies of the keys for this school. It was remarkably simple to do, too. Just swipe the spare set of keys from any janitors closet and take them to make copies. I don't know if it's apathy, or just flat out stupidity that kept them from finding out, but whatever it is, I'm thankful for it.
I scanned a clock as I passed by it. Seeing it was well past five o'clock, I quickened my pace a bit. I still had to get to my locker before heading home and I'd rather not walk in the dark. I quickly navigated my way through the halls.
I turned the last corner to find Brett, a stupid, yet muscular senior, holding some scrawny kid up against a locker. Normally, I'd just walk right by this sort of thing, but of course, out of all the lockers he could to pin a freshman to, it had to be mine.
I sighed as I approached the oversized muscle head blocking my path. "Yo, big guy."
He didn't even bother to turn his head. "Get out of here, this has nothing to do with you."
"It does when you're blocking me from getting my stuff." I retorted.
This time, he turned and got a good look at me. His response came in the form of a mischievous smirk. "Well would you look at that, the freak comes to help the loser."
I rolled my eyes at his stupid attempt of an insult. "I'm not trying to help anyone, in fact, if you just move down a few lockers I-"
"I hope you realize I'm not afraid to hit a girl." He interrupted. "Now go away."
I sighed and walked away, intending to just wait until he was done, but as I neared the turn, I heard faint footsteps coming down the hall. The chances of it being another student were slim, so it had to be an adult. I knew that if I just let things play out, he'd get a detention or something, but really, what good would that do. It wouldn't change anything, he'd just go right back to bullying underclassman as soon as he got out.
All of the sudden, I got an idea. Like most of my ideas, it was stupid, reckless, and little bit risky, but my instinct has never let me down before. With a wicked smile on my face, I spun on my heel, walked right up to him and got up in his face.
"What are you doing?" He asked, a bit confused, but still trying to sound intimidating.
"Calling your bluff." I replied, trying to keep my face as serious as possible. "You said you'd hit a girl, well let's see you do it."
He backed up a bit, slightly taken aback by my recklessness, letting the freshman slip away. He didn't seem to notice though. "I-I wasn't kidding."
"Sure you weren't, you big pussy, come on hit me, I dare you."
"Why don't you make me, or are you too-"
The next few moments, were both painful and glorious. He pulled back his arm to take a swing, not seeing that the vice principal was just stepping around the corner. She got a full, close up view, of Brett slamming his fist into the side of my face.
Now, it wasn't the first time I took a punch, nor would it be the last, but this one fucking hurt. Still, it was all worth it to see the look on the vice principal's face when she saw it.
Trying to be as over dramatic as possible, I let myself fall to the ground and yowled in pain, hugging my legs to my chest.
"BRETT MITCHELL, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?"
His head snapped up in an expression of confusion, anger and fear. "But she-"
"I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT!" she screamed as she knelt down beside me. "Are you okay?"
I gave a few short sniffles. "I-I th-th-think, s-so." I sat up, still holding the side of my face. "W-why did y-y-you do th-that? I j-just w-w-anted to get to m-my l-l-locker?" I cried. The tears were fake, but technically I was telling the truth. I DID just want to get to my locker. All the while, I was having an extremely hard time trying to hold in my hysterical laughter at how well that actually worked. Luckily, I didn't have to keep it up too much longer.
The V.P. grabbed the collar of his shirt and started dragging him away. "I have had it with you Mitchell, I swear, I'll have you suspended for this!"
"But I-but she-I just…" He sputtered, desperately trying to get out of his inevitable punishment. He looked back at me as he was being dragged around the corner and I managed to give him a good look at a certain finger as he was hauled away.
I started to grin, but then felt my cheek throb. I raised my hand to my face to find that it was already swelling up. I'd have to grab an icepack on the way home. I turned back to my locker to see the freshman staring at me, his eyes wide with fear.
I wondered why he was acting so weird, but then realized that my hood came down when I was hit, exposing the scar that was once hidden. It was a large patch of shriveled, discolored skin that started at the bottom of my cheek, trailed down my neck, and continued well beyond the small section that people could see. In truth, it kept going about halfway down my back. Compared to the entire thing, the tiny bit that people could see was insignificant, but it was still enough to elicit this kind of reaction from just about everyone I've ever met.
I clenched my fists, trying to keep a lid on all the anger I felt welling up, but some of it slipped out. My lip curled into an almost inhuman snarl. "Take a picture, kid! It'll last longer than YOU DO!" I threatened.
He jumped at my sudden outburst and was soon running full speed down the hallway. I began grumbling to myself as I opened my locker, grabbing my IPod and my backpack. "Stupid pricks…who needs 'em."
Slamming my locker shut, I readjusted my hood, put in my headphones, and start walking. Oddly enough, as the violent chords of a heavy metal song began to play, I felt myself calming down already.
Just relax, Thorn, you're fine. Just forget about it, it doesn't matter.
I stepped outside to see the sun was already setting, so I completely forgot the idea of getting an ice pack and started heading home. I knew if I showed my brother, he'd freak out like he normally does, so getting an ice pack would just be a dead giveaway anyhow. At least, this way, I had a chance to hide it.
Tightening up my hood one last time, I began my walk home in the cold, windy weather.