Yes. I just killed my boyfriend's father.
It was a long time coming and I don't regret it – my only wish is that I'd done it sooner… Maybe then I would've made it in time.
I guess you want the whole story and I'll give it to you but you'll have be patient. We've got to rewind five years into the past. Before we go there I have to warn you that my thoughts are skewed and memory is twisted, you'll have to be patient with me but once you've heard my story – heh – you'll be on my side.
It was in eighth that I met my best friend, James Ignatius Griffiths. It was after school and he was leaning against the wall just outside of the office, feet crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, and a red/white cane leaning against his shoulder. Honestly I was curious, maybe even fascinated, it's sort of hard to say which it was when I look back at things. Anyways, I stood in front of him for a minute or two just to look him over and then I started inching my way closer, quietly as I could.
"So is this what you do in your free time," he said, his voice startled me because I didn't think he'd heard me – I'm really quiet when I want to be.
"No," I muttered.
Lazily he grinned at me, sat up from the wall, and opened his eyes. One of the very first things I remember noticing about him was his eyes because they were big and this silvery, baby blue color that I'd never seen before. They were totally out of focus and the left one sort of drifted in towards the right one. He stared about a foot to my left and I couldn't help but rock back and forth, his eyes didn't even try to follow me or acknowledge my existence. I took a few steps closer and waved a hand a few couple feet from his face – nothing.
Damn. It's strange looking back because if someone did that to him now, I would punch them in the teeth.
"You can't see," I said and took a step back.
"And you must be part of the special education program," he laughed, "Your hard work is paying off."
"So, do you see anything?"
"The opposite of anything, actually," he stood up from the wall then, I was surprised by how tall he was.
"What's the opposite of anything?"
"Nothing," he shrugged.
I swallowed that for a minute and it would take about two years to fully digest the meaning of that word. It's hard to imagine seeing nothing when you're constantly seeing something. Eyes closed I could see more than he could.
"I'm Nick," I said, still curious.
"James," he answered, "But you can call me Iggy."
He gave me this huge smile then and that's definitely the next thing that I permanently implanted into my memory. It was crooked and made his eyes crinkle and narrow into these rainbow like shapes and I could chest feel my chest tighten even though I had no idea what that meant. I won't ever forget that smile, no matter what happens from here. But we're not talking about that yet.
"Why're you standing out here?"
It was late in the afternoon, probably about time that the buses were leaving so there was next to no one around. I'd just gotten out of a meeting with my English teacher for an essay I'd written. It was one of the only times that I hadn't just been lectured about failing a class. Maybe that had something to do with why I approached Iggy, I was feeling so good maybe I would have talked to anyone, but I like to think it was more than that.
"They got the last of my textbooks in," he told me, he was rocking on his heels – something that he was doing just this morning – and used his cane to lean farther forward than otherwise possible, "I'm waiting till three-twenty because that's when they'll have them 'ready' for me – whatever that means."
"You read braille?"
"Want to help me carry them? I won't be able to fit more than three in my backpack and I can't carry the rest and see where I'm going at the same time."
Turns out there were twelve volumes total– for just five classes – and they were heavy as shit but we managed to get three in his backpack, two in mine, three in his arms and I managed with the last four. It was a lot to get used to at first but that was far from the last time I found myself lugging around braille volumes. As we moved up in grades they moved up in weight and quantity but I actually started liking the routine because it meant I got to spend more time with Iggy.
The fact that he used a fiberglass stick like I used my eyes fascinated me to no end and on that first day I found myself tripping over things on more than one occasion because I was too busy watching him to pay attention to where I was going. I'll admit that I still watch him shamelessly and no, it's not creepy because he is well aware.
I met his mother that day, too. She called to him from the end of the sidewalk and started getting out of the car. As soon as she spoke, I knew that she was one of the best people I would ever meet in this life. Her hair was messy and the same pale red as Iggy's, her eyes were also blue but darker and focused, and she had that same beautifully curving mouth. Once, we got all of Iggy's books into the trunk, she asked if I wanted to ride with them to their house and have some pizza and cookies. I said sure because at the time I was still living with my uncle and my mother – no wait. Mom was already missing by then, it was just me and my uncle.
I think going home with them was the lynch pin. When we got to his house we went up to his room, he didn't use his cane in the house but he still paused sometimes to reach out for familiar things – anchors, he called them. The more he got used to his house, the less I remembered his blindness but of course, there were plenty of moments that reminded me like a brick to the head. Like the time he crashed into the door I left halfway open – he actually has a scar on his forehead from that and sometimes I still feel guilty about it.
I noticed his hands next. Pale white fingers were so gentle whenever they grasped something, including me, but watching him read was – and is – definitely one of my favorite things to do. The extreme tips of his fingers – like the part just above the nail – barely touched the tiny blocks of bumps on the pages of his books and skimmed down the line so quickly that it gave me chills – still does, if I'm being honest.
His room definitely wasn't what I expected it to be. For one thing there were posters everywhere – bands, movies, books, TV shows – they were all over the ceiling and the walls and the doors. It looked like he'd already been living there for years rather than a week or two. The whole thing was absolutely magnificent. It was just another curious thing to add to my list that was ever growing.
"What's with the posters," I'd asked.
"Why does anyone have posters," he shrugged. He was putting his textbooks away on the top shelf of a cabinet whose lower shelves were already stacked with braille volumes, another fascinating thing, "It's a way of expressing a fandom to everyone who enters my room. Conversation pieces, if you will. That and I have a highly developed sense of irony."
We laughed together and that was it, he had me. I may not have realized just then the degree to which he had me, to which he held my organs in the palm of his hand, but what's important is that I know it now.
It wasn't until a week later that I met Iggy's father…
Sorry, it's – uh – it's kind of hard for me to talk about… Considering.
We were on our way out, actually, for what I can't remember but as we moved towards the door Iggy misjudged and bumped into the end table by the couch, spilling Mr. Griffiths beer. The man rose off the couch like a creature from the deep. The whole atmosphere changed and I wanted to just run. Believe me, I know what fear feels like and that night I could feel it seeping out of the walls. He was a big man with hands that spoke of hard work and eyes cold as the ice that scattered across the carpet.
"The hell, boy," he roared, it was strange how his voice filled every crevice of the room.
The way Iggy shrank made my chest hurt, his face cast to the floor. I hated that man already.
"I'm sorry, dad," he said quietly, calmly. He reached for the wall beside him to get away from his father. He was cowering. "I miss-stepped."
"Damn right, you're sorry," he started stepping around the couch and I didn't know whether to run or defend, "I ought to beat your sorry ass for making a damn mess! If you can't walk around the fucking house then use your goddamned cane. God forsaken handicap."
Mrs. Griffiths appeared then, already with another mug of beer and a towel to clean up the mess. As soon as she spoke Mr. Griffiths calmed down, deflated a little like she reminded him of what he was saying, of who he was. With all the gentleness in the world, she gave Iggy a hug and whispered in his ear before sending us on our way. I didn't want to know what would have happened if she hadn't of been there. Sadly, I would find out too soon… but we haven't gotten there yet.
A couple of days later, when we were walking to his house after school, I struck up a nerve, "Hey, can I ask you something?"
"Only if it has nothing to do with politics or apples," he shrugged.
"Is that your question," he raised an eyebrow and I shook my head to regain concentration.
"Uh, no," I muttered, he reached out and touched my arm – I know why he does that now, it helps him keep track of himself, "Has your dad – I mean, does your dad freak out a lot? I mean, like he did the other night?"
Iggy stopped walking.
"Only when he drinks," he answered defensively.
"I was just wondering because I-"
"You just want to know if my dad hits me."
I opened my mouth to say something – probably something stupid – but I shut it again quickly. Iggy sounded angry, well, not so much angry as frustrated and I'd never seen him frustrated in the entire month that I knew him. He's an extremely patient person, something I've always admired about him.
"He doesn't," he closed his eyes and when they opened again he gave me a smile.
I was somewhere around thirteen when he told me that lie for the first time and I believed him but if I knew then what I know now, things would be different. They say ignorance is bliss but it too has its consequences.
You see, in our eighth grade year Iggy and I had a lot of personal firsts. For instance, in the middle of our winter semester, Iggy's body decided that it was time to expand five inches height wise in a timespan of two weeks. Everything he did pissed him off because his spatial memory went to shit. Each and every time he reached for something he'd knock it over, counting strides did no good and he was constantly crashing into things, and he'd always hit his head on the outside of the car when he climbed inside. That was the first time he asked me to lead him. With this simple request there came a lot of trust on his part and surprisingly, there was a lot of trust from me too.
We also suffered through the Max Factor together. You see, there was this girl, now, she and I have been best friends since elementary school and in eighth grade she decided that we were more than just friends. I honestly wasn't interested but I tried because I was confused and having feelings for my best friend who had the same genitalia as me. It was wrong, a 'violation' of nature so I needed someone else onto which I could project those affections and that someone was Maxine Batchelder. We dated and held hands but realistically we spent less time enjoying each other and more time arguing or making fun of one another. But one day as I walked the halls of the school to get to my next class, I witnessed something that made me end the façade of a relationship and realized a few things about myself that would change my life.
I also managed to attain a nickname.
The sound of flesh against flesh echoed down the hall. I knew that sound, it was the sound of someone getting the shit beaten out of them. As I got closer I nearly tripped on a thin white segment of something or other. I jogged to the end of the hall and peered over a growing group of gawking kids to see Ari beating the shit out of Iggy. It felt like lava was slowly spilling though my veins and the next thing I knew I'd dropped my things and launched myself at Ari.
My fist colliding with Ari's jaw is the last thing I remember from that fight. I was so encumbered with rage that all I could see was red and all I could feel was this insane heat rising from my skin. And then, I bit off Ari's ear. From then on the kids at school called me Fang and not one of them would dare lay a hand on me… Or Iggy.
I learned later that Ari decided to use Iggy as a punching bag because Ari was secretly in love with Max. Since I was dating someone he cared about, he decided to get my attention by nearly sending someone I cared about to the hospital. Oh, and that thing I tripped on in the hall? It was a piece of Iggy's cane that Ari broke into pieces. When I learned that, I wanted to do the whole thing over again.
Even though that fight got me in trouble and sent Ari to the hospital, it made me realize what I had to do.
As we sat outside of the principal's office waiting for our parents to get there, I put my hand on his shoulder. Iggy turned his head towards me – he looked pretty bad with one eye swollen shut, a nasty cut on his cheek, and a lip that was split wide open.
"You alright," I asked.
He laughed, "I have to say that I've never been beaten up like that before. It was definitely an experience."
"You didn't answer me," I pointed out.
He took a deep breath, "I mean, I'm kind of freaked out… Mostly because I don't have a cane though, it's kind of like someone popping your eyeballs out and keeping them in their pocket for a few days – I guess you could say that I can't see shit without it."
Once again he started laughing but when he used his hands to talk – he still does that – I could see that he was shaking. I bit my lip and made a quick decision. I took both of his hands in mine and knelt in front of him.
"I really don't know how to say this," I said more to myself than the blind kid in front of me, I remember my heart was pounding in my esophagus, "I really care about you, Iggy, and I just – I hope you know that I will always protect you no matter what."
"Nick, or should I say Fang," he smiled, it faded quickly though as his lip started bleeding again, "I know that, you are and I are like best friends."
Even though I didn't know why, his proclamation of friendship made my stomach ache a little bit. But I knew that I wanted more and I knew that I could be patient.
Yea, Iggy and I experienced a lot of firsts that year but it was two years later that we got to experience our very own first together.
Our first kiss.
A/N: I've decided that I want to get back into Maximum Ride fanfiction. Well, I'm excited! So let me know what you think!