Hey look, I'm writing a multi-chap! I really have high hopes for this. And I promise I'll finish this one.
This wasn't supposed to be posted until finals were over, but I wanted to do something for my friend Laura. This chapter may seem like a filler at the moment, but I promise that it sets everything up.
Kendall sat at the top of the steps outside of his house, lifting the cigarette to his lips. He took in a breath of the nicotine-filled drug, chuckling as he breathed out. He saw the puff of smoke rise upwards. He loved watching it fly up high, then slowly dissipate into the air. He liked to form shapes with the cloud, imagining it to be something childish, silly even. This time, he saw an ice cream cone, with a double scoop of vanilla. He smiled as the smoke disappeared, and was replaced with nothing. It was a metaphor, really. The ice cream was his dreams, and then they left, crushed by the natural order of things.
He laughed. Being an English major, everything was a metaphor. It was drilled into his head in middle school, high school, college. It was always there. He couldn't go two minutes into a book without considering the hidden meaning behind the author's words. Because there was always a double meaning to everything. He knew it all too well.
Kendall shivered, but made no motion to go inside or get his jacket that was sitting within arm's reach. He hated the cold with every fiber of his being, though. But he loved it. He loved the torture.
He pulled his cargo pant clad leg up onto the porch, leaving the other hanging loosely on the stairs. He frowned when he realized he'd have to put salt on the stairs. Kendall wasn't a fan of responsibilities. He chuckled again as he remembered the times when he didn't need to worry about responsibilities. Back when he was still a kid. He could hatch a plan to get out of doing any work. He'd always find a way to trick his mom out of making him do the chores. For the time, anyway. Within an hour, he'd be back where he started, taking out the trash, or doing the dishes. His mom was the hardest to get around. James and Carlos were a close second, though. They'd call him out on most of his plans, mostly because they knew his way of thinking. But, when they were the ones thinking with him, they had no problem with helping execute each and every plan. Because it was fun. When you grew up in Minnesota, you'd take every little ounce of fun you could get.
Everyone else was manageable to trick, his friends, most of the kids at school, his old teachers, he made it around all of them with a smooth voice and quick wit. They loved his charm. Throw in a wink too, and he'd get away from homework for a week. Albeit, he always had to do the assignments. Damn those big projects. But, he'd be lying if he didn't love the rush of staying up the night before, trying to get at least a B on some work he pulled out of his ass. The stress calmed him. He ached for it.
But now, who would he be plotting against? Himself?
Because when Kendall would stand up to enter the warmth of his house, he wouldn't find his sister, his mom, and obviously not his dad. He'd find an empty house. But he was used to it, at least he tells himself he is. But in reality, there's no way to get used to loneliness.
Kendall rubbed his cheek. The guy he was fighting earlier had a ring on.
Before, when they were still kids, James and Carlos would come over all the time, or he'd go to their house. Though, there was no denying that everyone loved to be at Kendall's house the most. His mother was the most accepting, his sister was the most comfortable to be around, it was like a family away from their own families. But now the Knight house just meant memories that no one wanted to revisit.
Kendall sat on the steps for ten more minutes, and shut his eyes for that time. He put the cigarette out on the ice after taking one last swig of air, and again made a shape. The smoke was a bunny this time.
Stupid fucking happy bunny. They're like the ones in Katie's room. Because it's still Katie's room, no matter it all, it's Katie's room. The master bedroom is still his mom's room. Kendall had locked the doors to both of the rooms, and hadn't entered them for years.
He ran his hand through his sticky blond hair, cringing at the feel. He'd need to shower soon. Kendall grudgingly stood up, picking up his coat. He let out a deep breath before he entered his house, throwing the jacket onto the hook behind the door. He went to the washroom quickly and brushed his teeth. He scrubbed until his gums bled. He needed his mouth to smell of mint, his mom would kill him if she found out he smoked.
He looked at himself in the mirror, but averted his eyes immediately. He didn't want to see himself any longer. He was a mess. He had a cut down his lips, and there was a gash on his arm big enough to get stitches. So he went to the medicine cabinet and got out a band-aid. His eyebrows were caked with blood, and there was still mud left over on his face from when he had been shoved to the ground. His cheek had a mark from the punch. He traced his finger over it, flinching from the pain.
He knocked on his mother's room door.
"Mom, I'm home. Don't bother getting up though, I'm going to shower now anyway," he said. He hoped for a response. But he knew he wouldn't get one. There was no one in the room, anyway.
Kendall walked into the bathroom, chuckling dryly at how bright the colours of the bathroom wall were. He did every time. Light blue and orange. They were supposed to bring happiness or some shit like that. Kendall had long ago become numb, happiness was just a word. Like love. Hah.
Kendall turned the shower on full heat, and waited for the washroom to start warming up. When he felt the sweat beads start to form on his brow, he shed his clothes and took a breath before entering the searing hot water.
It hit the cuts on his face too hard, and he took in a sharp breath as the stinging grew. The pain just built. He barely noticed the burning on the slashes down his torso and legs. It had been some hell of a fight. He looked to the floor of the tub, and saw the dried blood run down the drain. The bathroom had started to get a red tint to it after far too many of these kinds of showers.
He stuck his hair under the showerhead, even more blood running down. He had been slammed into a brick wall at some point, he didn't remember when. Kendall picked up the loofa sitting on the edge and scrubbed each cut thoroughly. Well, each cut that deserved attention. The one which need stiches, which he probably shouldn't have put a band-aid on earlier, considering that it went down the drain in his shower. One on his head. Two on his torso. One on his calf. The rest were measly. They barely went down a half inch. When Kendall washed the cuts, he'd run them under water. Gently caress them with his fingers. Then he'd rip them all open with the loofa. Let water into his blood stream. Then he'd blow.
Kendall may be numb. He may not feel emotion. But he'd be a dirty fucking liar if he didn't say that he'd rather be run over by a truck than scrub each one of these cuts under burning hot water. But he did it, because he wanted to keep the pain and scars. Because he'd much rather feel pain than nothing at all.
He turned off the shower and stood there for a moment longer, basking in the lack of hot water. Kendall looked down and counted his ribs. He didn't know why he did. But, at the back of his mind, his subconscious knew. He loved to torture himself. He loved to see himself rotting away, day after day. He got pleasure from pain.
His own pain.
But his logical mind reminded him that he'd never inflict it upon himself. Kendall scoffed at cutting. It was a cheap way to let out your emotions. He laughed at people who cut, calling them cowards. The front of his brain couldn't wrap itself around why people would cause harm to themselves to feel something.
That's why he never let himself dwell too long on why he let himself turn numb from the cold, why he got into fights over stupid little crap, why he poked and prodded at the bruises and scabs, why he ripped apart each one of his cuts from the fights, why he showered in water so hot that his skin was red and screaming for help after.
Because if he thought too long, he'd know that this was his outlet. His way to feel. His way to be alive. His way to cut. But he didn't cut, because he wasn't messed up. He was sane.
He told himself that every night. Right before he got his nightmares.
Kendall wrapped himself in the towel hanging on the rod, and walked over to his room, dripping all over the floor. He'd mop it up later, or Katie might slip. He threw open the door to his room, letting the cool breeze from his open window consume him. It was winter out. He changed slowly, letting his eye fall over his scars. He laughed at them, remembering how he got each one as he put on a pair of shorts.
He grabbed an old t-shirt from his room, one that was much too small for him to wear. It was from when he was still 5'6". Around two years ago, his mom had given it to him for no rhyme or reason. She just did.
Kendall went out to hallway, and got on his hands and knees – which were still throbbing from the shower – and started to wipe away the water. He grumbled about how cleaning was too strenuous. A minute later, he deemed himself done, and threw the shirt back into his room before running down the hall. He had to make sure it was safe enough for Katie not fall.
But of course Katie wouldn't slip. She was dead.
As Kendall walked down the stairs, he knew she was. The front of his mind, the back of his mind, hell even his fucking toes knew she was dead. But he liked to pretend she wasn't. So he walked down to the kitchen, and pulled out a pan. He cracked six eggs into it, two for him, two for his mom and two for his sister.
While it hardened, he grabbed two pieces of bread, just for him. His mom and Katie hated toast. He put them in the toaster quickly, before going back to the eggs. They had started to burn, but only slightly. He flipped them, and stood in front of the stove, holding the handle of the pan.
When the eggs were done, he pushed the pan to the back burner, letting the rod sit above the front one. He took the toast out of the toaster, and threw it on a plate, also grabbing two more. He pulled the butter from the fridge, taking his sweet time to find it, when it was sitting right in front of him.
He went back to the pan, and picked it up, ignoring every sense of his screaming to drop it. He whistled as he poured the eggs into his plate, the one with toast, and put the pan back down on the stove. He absentmindedly ran his hand under cold water, and went to go bandage it. The blisters would hurt.
He wrapped the gauze around his hand, taking a sharp breath when he wrapped it too tight. But it'd only be worse if he didn't bandage it properly. Kendall went back down to the kitchen, and put Katie's plate out first. He put his mom's next. He sat down last, but sighed when he realized he forgot the forks. Kendall got three, and kept them next to each respective plate.
Kendall clasped his hands in prayer. He thanked God for the food on the table, and for his health. He thanked God for everything he'd ever given him. He thanked the Lord for the nightmares at night. He thanked God for his dead mother and sister. He thanked Him for his fucker of a father. He thanked Him for the memory of two years ago. He thanked him for everything he'd ever gotten.
And finally, he thanked God for treating Kendall's life like a joke. Kendall thanked Him for laughing at Kendall's pain. Because that's what God did, in Kendall's opinion. He laughed at Kendall and his sorrow.
After uttering an amen, Kendall picked up his shiny fork and let it clank against the white plate as he scooped up a bite of the egg. It had turned out much better than he thought it had. His other hand rested on the rich table. He chewed bitterly at the class of it. It was expensive, it was beautiful, and it was elegant. As was the rest of the house.
But the fact that it was expensive meant one thing. It was big.
And Kendall hated big. It meant empty. It always had, and it always would. He'd spent the last two years empty, like this fucking house. He slammed his bandaged hand on the table, not even taking a moment to consider the pain as he stood up, and screamed "HELLO?"
He wanted to hear the echo. He wanted to hear the terrible stillness of the house, he wanted it to consume his everything thought. He wanted to be reminded of just how lonely he was.
Because what Kendall was dealing with wasn't your regular type of self-loathing, and hate. It was self-inflicted hate. Self-inflicted hate was something he could always depend on, because he chose when he could make it flare up. He decided when he'd hate himself. It was stable. It was good.
He looked out the French windows behind him to see it was starting to get dark. He finished his eggs quickly and put the plate in the sink.
"FOOD'S GETTING COLD!" He called, half-expecting to hear feet running downstairs. Even two years later, he waited to hear it.
He told himself that Katie and mom were just tired, but they'd be down later. Kendall put the plates in the refrigerator, leaving a little note on the table.
Food's in the fridge! Eat up, or I'll finish it tomorrow.
He strolled to the couch, and picked his feet up. He never let them hang below. There was a space underneath the couch, he couldn't risk it. Kendall surveyed the room. It had been exactly two years since it had happened. He remembered exactly where his mom sat, and where. He looked to his left where Katie had sat, flipping through a comic.
He wasn't ready for the memories though. He pushed everything back down, bolting from the room when his mind started to drift to what happened later. He threw open the house door, running onto the street, not bothering to shut the door. He shut his eyes when he ran, knowing that if a car was coming, he'd have no way of knowing. He ran until he tripped at the other end of the road. There had been no car.
His brain told him that he wasn't trying to commit suicide. It told him that he was in a rush to check the mail, so he walked to the mailbox a few meters away. He shivered. It was still freezing, and his shorts had probably been a terrible idea.
Or a good idea, in Kendall's subconscious.
Realizing he didn't have the mailbox key, he went back inside. He shut the door behind him and sighed. He'd get the mail another day. He grabbed a glass of water. The memories threatened to come out in one tumbling mess, but he couldn't handle it. They'd be just as bad as his nightmares. He lifted his burnt hand and slammed it against the counter, yelling from the pain. The hand had started to blister over, apparently.
He guaranteed himself two hours away from feeling. From remembering. He sank to the floor, clutching the injured hand and held it against him. His mind and body were consumed with thoughts of the pain. He emerged himself in the pain, his brain building it to be three times as strong as it really was.
Because the brain could do anything it wanted to.
Hours later, he let the pain subside. He was half asleep at that point, exhausted from running his mind in overtime, turning the hurt in his hand in torture. But it was over now. He was alright. Sort of. In reality, he was never okay.
He dragged himself up the stairs, getting more and more tired with each step. He prayed that he'd be too tired to have nightmares. He hoped that he wouldn't have to relive the time that had been haunting him and following him around for two years.
Kendall went into his room, slamming the door behind him. He stepped out of his clothes and slipped into his pajama pants and white t-shirt. He had taken then out of the wash in the morning, and had let them air dry. He cringed at the feel of dry, crusty pajamas hitting his cuts from the fight.
He took his time getting ready for bed, thinking only about the tasks at hand. He overanalyzed the process of brushing his teeth. He spent ten minutes thinking about why his curtains were purple. He planned out cleaning his room. He'd start from the farthest wall, move to the left where the desk sat, then follow the counterclockwise pattern around the edges. Then he'd vacuum up the middle. Kendall debated each and every part of cleaning.
His eyes went to the clock. It was midnight. He wasn't quite ready to go to bed.
Kendall went downstairs to do the dishes, avoiding the living room. He left his head down as he passed the dreaded place, darting into the kitchen to his right. He didn't want to risk it. He pulled out the sponge, and went over to the sink. He sang under his breath. He let himself get lost in the song, not remembering what he was doing, or why he avoiding sleep.
He took far too long to wash a single plate. Half an hour later, he deemed it shiny enough to eat off of. He picked up the egg pan, the cool, smooth handle a huge difference than the searing heat it held earlier. It calmed him.
He scraped the bits of egg that was still stuck on into the garbage bin, and went back to scrubbing. He saw there was an ant still on the pan. He washed it away under the tap, resuming his singing. He switched songs, and murmured the lyrics under his breath. His voice escalated as the song went on, and the twists of his hands became quicker and more frantic to clean. He repeated the song again and again. Finally, he was belting it out and finishing up the pan.
He took his time on the rest of the dishes as well, which weren't many. Two more plates, tree bowls, another pan, and some cutlery. He set them on the drying rack and looked to the clock over the stove, reading the red 1:03.
He had plenty of time to spare, so he grabbed a cloth and started to dry the utensils. Another half hour passed. He could either watch some TV in the living room, or go to bed. He shook the former out of his mind, he couldn't go back in there. But the latter didn't seem very appealing either. Kendall looked down at his pjs, sighing that he should do the laundry again sometime soon, but actually put the clothes in the dryer this time.
He went to the hooks behind the door, and picked up his jacket. It was much too light of a jacket for this weather, but he didn't care. He slipped it on, and reached to the other end of the door where there a small, wooden table. He grabbed his house keys and watch, then stepped outside. Locking the door behind him, he took in the cold air.
He glanced down to check the time, sighing when he saw it was only 1:15 now. He shut his eyes and walked. He knew the entire neighborhood well enough that he wouldn't need to see. He just needed to hear for people that he might walk into, he was in no mood to get into another fight. He'd never let himself get into more than one fight in a week, anyway.
His hands buried in his pockets, he let the chill seep through the holes in his jacket. He'd made the holes himself, and hadn't bothered to get a new jacket. He could easily afford it, he just didn't. His eyes stayed closed as he rounded the bend, knowing that he'd pass the convenience store. He stopped outside of it.
His mind trailed away to a memory of him as a young boy, holding his mom's hand as he pulled her into the store. It was his first time being allowed to go into the grocery store, because his parents always feared that he'd become too worked up and demand ice cream or chocolate. Kendall had proven to be a handful, but still a good kid. Kendall smiled as he remembered politely asking for chocolate ice cream, and upon being told 'no', he devised a plan into tricking the owner of the small convenience store to give it to him for free.
Then Kendall saw his own car drive by, himself sitting in it. He thought he'd got a second chance at the dreadful day of two years ago. Kendall shouted to get his 18-year-old self's attention, stepping forward to the centre of the road. He chased his car down, screaming for it to stop. He followed it all the way to a red light, and he reached out to touch it, panting heavily from running for so long. It dissappeared. It was just a stupid mirage.
What else had he expected it to be? He hadn't gone back in time or some shit like that, he was just over-tired and sad. Kendall looked around, and realised he was down by the lake. He picked up some snow in his pale, frozen hands and played with it for a while. He let his hands become numb, it'd be better for the walk home if he didn't feel the sting of the cold. A while later, he took in a breath of the crisp air, and walked back to his own house. He didn't want to check the time.
By the time he reached the convenience store again, he was close to collapsing. The fight, the running and the lack of sleep had finally caught up with him. He shut his eyes again as he walked. His house was only another twenty minute walk away, anyway.
He didn't need to open them at all for the rest of the walk, knowing exactly where he was. He turned into his driveway, and hopped up the stairs. His feet were moving too fast for someone who didn't want to get anywhere near his bed. But he didn't want to be in this godforsaken cold, either.
Taking off his shoes, he felt a cold cloth up against his leg. He looked down to see his pajamas were soaked with mud and snow, and he he sighed as he realised he'd have to change, again. He noticed a pair of sweats on the couch, he'd left them there earlier in a rush to change and get out of the house for university.
He changed in the family room – it didn't matter where he did. His mom and sister would be asleep at this point anyway. Kendall dragged his exhausted self upstairs. He saw the time before he threw himself into bed. 4:19. He needed to be up in less than three hours. Good. His nightmares wouldn't be able to last too long tonight.
He shut his eyes, teriffied of the night to come.
Wow, I actually had the full next day planned out to write in this chapter, but it was getting far too long. I liked the place I ended it, anyway.
I'm not planning to introduce Logan until chapter 3 or 4, so if you're going to stick around until then, I really do love you.
Anyway, I hoped you liked this!