Jerome has been called a lot of things in his life – a trickster, a liar, a cheat, untrustworthy, a troublemaker, an evil genius, a jerk, cruel, heartless.

But nobody knows the truth about the blond haired boy, because nobody sees. Nobody looks.

Jerome Clarke is nothing.

This is the truth he acknowledges at night when he stares unblinkingly up through an open window to the starry sky high above. He recalls every instance where someone important to him told him it was so with nary a word, where he was wounded just a little bit more.

This is the truth whispering poison in his ears as the wind rushes around him, the sand shifting about his bare feet, when the school takes its annual trip to the sea. The children play; Jerome watches, and nobody cares where he is because nobody remembers that he was there at all. Sometimes, he rushes forward to cause some fresh misery, and the others glare – and Jerome is all too pleased that there is emotion directed at him, even if it's never pretty – but how quickly they forget, and Jerome sinks back into silence.

This is the truth that all his friends scream in shuttered glances and as their heels click across tiled floors. This is the truth that Jerome sees in their eyes and hands and hearts.

No matter how hard he claws at the murky waters drowning him, the truth won't let him breathe. He chokes on it, coughs and cries and can't escape. His friends put him in a cage and dismiss him, and the truth rushes in to fill his mouth and throat, to turn his screams to nothing but useless bubbles which trickle upwards, snake-like hisses informing the world about the nothing dying below the surface.

Still, nobody hears. Because he knows it, and they know it.

Jerome Clarke is nothing.