Whiskey shot glasses and snubbed cigarettes litter the table. The closed room was like a drawn curtain, shutting away the world outside; away from prying eyes and judgmental glances. They look, stare, like a challenge, to see if I could break, if I could fall away and become nothing- just like how I had started out. There's a pounding at the door, a heavy burden in my soul, and the light feeling in my mind today- and outside the snow is falling during the heavy winters of Ohio. Instead of choosing help, instead of standing up like every day before, I merely roll over, my hand pushing the pillow closer for warmth and close my eyes as I willed the person to go away and the pray for something soothing to ease the irrational thoughts in my head.
They say that pain and sorrow is like cancer- like a disease. You can catch it from your friend; you can catch it from being outside. My mother used to tell me to be careful with whom I talked to- "Andrew Dennis Biersack," she had warned me from the start. "You would do better staying away from the suffering, they give into sadness- and sometimes can drag you down with them." Her voice was a distant echo in the back of my mind, a constant reminder of this world- sometimes people won't always get to live out their dreams, something they'll suffer despite the fact that they had never done anything wrong before. Sometimes, life just pushes them down and they have trouble getting back up. There are just bad days that everyone experiences, but what mattered was standing again and living the next day, facing love, hatred, forgiveness and temptation all over again. Why? Because that was how I thought life was, it was filled with different emotions every day, living through another day meant the fire inside your soul kept you alive, gave you strength when you were weak. I would know that feeling- I had been there- I had endured the hatred of others just like these teenagers every day- and I lived, I lived knowing I was special, I was human and they could do it too.
I am human, let me live.
Are those words for me, or for them? Life is funny that way, every day- up on stage, I see people pouring their hearts and souls out, admitting that without Black Veil Brides, they would have continued to live their lives as if they were nothing continued to live their lives under the heel of someone who truly thought that they were better than others. It was a form of appreciation that no words could describe. I look into their eyes, and I see the truth- they looked up to me, they believed in me- they saw me as a Savior, a Prophet who brought light into their darkness, who promised to be there when they felt alone. My demos- played at night, played during tough times, or played to bring hope; singing '"you're not alone" or promising that "through strength and self we become, something more than they can be" – could those words truly help someone? Do they save a life, or were they just that? Words?
I've never considered myself to be a role model. I knew what the stories were behind the songs I had written, the soul and the heart that were just beyond the paper as I write them down. But I had yet to understand what the Army really meant when they said that they believed us to be their lending hands. I had yet to actually comprehend the thought that they looked up to us in not just as musicians, but teachers who led the way. Everyone had an idol, someone they could say they followed for inspiration or hope. In truth, I had never thought about being a guardian before, never thought about how many lives I held in the palm of my hand; not until a few weeks ago.
"She looked up to you, you know- you were like her hero. It's a shame she couldn't make it to see you."
With a grunt, I sighed and sat up, rubbing my face, running my fingers over a day's worth of stubble. Glancing over at the frosted window, I heaved myself off the bed, searching for the pack of Marbolo, only to find that it's gone. Empty. After a day, I'm going to have to venture out of the apartment anyways. I can't hide forever, though the thought was clearly tempting all by itself- the idea that I could just leave this world and turn to other, where life wasn't so complicated, where love was easy to find, and being who I wanted to be could be achieved without being slandered and scorned by others. It's the haters that made us strong, I had once said, but without the haters, we never would have had to fight for the right to be who we wanted to be either.
But like dreams of being a rock star, like dreams to creating an army of outcast- we all have to wake up and face reality. People look up to us, and our actions could cause them to make the wrong decision, or the Army is nothing more than people who have hate on their hearts and mind- out to attack anyone who doesn't believe in what they did. There's never a happy ending, not without a few bloodshed to make up for it. It's a balance in life- a balance that could never be toppled, no matter how hard we try. We can always imagine a world that belonged to us, but in the end, what are the chances of it happening?
Pulling on a jacket and some boots and a thick jacket to go with the jeans I was already wearing, I headed down the three flights of stair and out the building, quickly heading across the street for the cheap drug store. Lately, it's been just that- a routine. Travel, put on war paint, perform and sign autographs as people gushed about how much they trust me and loved me. I wasn't sure if it's a thought I can swallow. It was already hard to swallow the fact that someone had taken their lives, worse yet- someone who believed us to be there for them, and yet didn't trust in us enough that they had to take that option. What is a savior if we had failed at the one thing that we tried so hard to keep from happening? Isn't that what defines us? Supposedly we are the saving grace of these kids- and yet the accusation was clear: it is our fault that they died- they listened to us, they believed in what we believed in, and at the end of the day, no matter what they said- they took their own lives. How strong are words? Perhaps it is the actions that are stronger- because I didn't heed my mother's words, and now I feel it. The pain and suffering that everyone else feels when they are in the dark.
Pulling out a few bucks, I quickly tore the wrapped and tossed it into the trash at the door, opening the pack and stuffing one cigarette between my lips as I headed outside, already searching for my lighter. After a moment of shuffling around my pockets, I found myself with inhaling the sweet nicotine that kept my sanity intact for the past year. Beside me, someone must have had the same thought process because suddenly they were doing the same thing. I held the stick between my fingers and handed her the silver zippo; and after a her reaction time kicked in, she took it, lit her own up and returned it to me paired with a grateful -and a little bit sheepish- expression on her face. She looked, I noted, not more than twenty, only a few years older then me.
"Thanks," she said, and I took a moment to take in her raven hair, high cheekbones and angular face. Turning away, I gave a light grunt as a reply, blowing the smoke through my nose- icy blue eyes watching the gray fog billow away, mixing into the chilly wind before disappearing. "I don't see you around here," she commented after a moment, and I turned and gave her an odd look, as if asking her if she was on something. It wasn't something rare; we didn't live in a small town after all. She didn't look at me, but continued down the crosswalk, and I followed suit, my hand stuffed in my pocket as the other tapped the excess ash from the cigarette; and before I really thought about what she said, she was speaking again.
"But I guess that's how life works, isn't it? It's such a big place. It's not unusual to see someone one day and never see the again," she started again. I was silent. "It is fate? People always coming and going, one small effect can change a life- so what if someone came and did something nice and suddenly just left?" Now that was something to think about. I had never believed in anything other than what I saw- no god, no heaven nor hell; but fate was always an interested topic. "They say the beat of a butterfly wing can cause a hurricane halfway around the world, what if our lives are connected like that? One act, one small act of generosity, one act that shows kindness and care- can change a person's future- for better or for worse," she gave out a philosophical nod, as if she was the next Confucius. It wasn't until she finally stop and we reached the other side of the road did I finally broke my own personal silence -seeing as, I realized, that we were going the same way.
"What's the point if one small act of kindness doesn't change a life? A butterfly's wings causing such destruction and death, pain and suffering- I would rather there were no butterflies," I said in my low voice. She smiled.
"You're a writer." It wasn't even a question, more of a statement, and therefore her words earned a light shrug in response, providing no answer to that one, only with a small interest in what she had to say.
"Isn't that life? Up and downs? Sometimes it's worse than others, sometimes it isn't, but really once you put that act out there, you can't take it back, now can you? All you can do, it do the action, and see the results unfold- one act can lead to another, and can lead to another- if you make someone's day, then they are in a good mood enough to help someone else, who could be happy enough to help another. Now if your actions did nothing and the person continues to be in said mood- they pass that negativity on to another person, and another. Always, the circle will continue until you pass someone who just either doesn't care about what other thinks, or someone who won't let someone else darken their days." I took another slow drag, the words becoming a force to make the gears in my mind click into action. "Either way, you just have to know that you're important, you have the power to change people or maybe even the events of the future- no one can just be nothing, because their actions have the ability and promise to change the things around them," the girl was excited, her words coming out in a rush the more she thought about it. She was, admittedly, an interesting stranger.
Her words, combined with my experience of hatred and ignorance turned into lyrics, words that had to be written down soon- words that only came out in the moment, words that she had help start to appear. And just like her little theory, there was still a chance for something more. That girl, the girl I met on tour, said her friend died from depression- but had looked up to us for something she lacked- for a promise that we, the Black Veil Brides believed in. And while it was sad that we just weren't there enough, the least we could do was continue to represent what she was looking for: a voice; a voice that brought people together, a voice that could bring people together, allow them to be who they want to be, follow their dreams and like what they wish for without being scorn and slandered by the people around them. Isn't that what I had always wished for when I was their age? Something more?
I slowed my steps as I neared my building, but the raven haired girl kept walking. "Hey," I called out to her, realizing that I had never gotten her name, or anything else for that matter. She turned on her heels and stopped, arching a thin brow expectantly at me, and I returned that expression as a response. "What's your name?" I asked, to which she smiled.
"I don't give out my name to strangers, especially to strangers who I'll never see again." While saying those words, she turned back to wherever she was heading, flourishing her hand to wave back at me flippantly, the cigarette still between her fingers. It only took a few seconds before she was swallowed up in the crowd.
True to her words, Andy Biersack never saw her again, for a lone time. Band members were lost and were replaced. Soon, Jinxx, Ashley Purdy, and Jake Pitts joined Sandra and Andy- and with new hopes and ideas to spread the message that everyone is important and a wish to bring the outcast together- he gathered his songs together into an album called "We Stitch These Wounds"- a calling for the Outcast Army to rise up and take a stand for what they believe in. A year later, he introduced "Set the World on Fire", a request that the fallen angels go out into the world and make their mark, let others know they exists and, naturally, are beautiful and are worth something.
That same year, after Andy had broken his ribs, but has managed to return, and, as if fate wanted it, there was a surprise waiting for him as he went around taking pictures and signing autographs. It was the last few tours before Warped Tour ended.
"Well, well, it looks like someone is a butterfly after all."
I looked up, the voice coming from what seemed like a half remembered memory, one that is so long ago and yet so important that it's still within my grasp. I look over, my sighting falling on a pretty raven haired girl, a little older looking then I had remembered and much shorter than before. But honestly, how could I forget someone like her? It was, to me, impossible anyways. She was holding out her arm, and taking it slowly, I smiled at her as I signed it, writing a small note on her rather pale skin before letting her go. She glanced at it once, grinned before turning back to me as I turned around and waved at her a casual wave, much like she had done a few years back when I last saw her.
"Bye stranger," I called back to her as I turned to put my arm around someone else as they requested for a picture.
"They say the beat of a butterfly's wings can set off a storm a world away."