Here is Clay and Maggie's first meeting from Find You in the Dark, only told from Clay's perspective! Enjoy!
The First Day of School ~ Clay~
“Time to get up!” Ruby's voice called in from the hallway. I groaned and pulled the covers over my head. Fuck me! I was functioning on less than four hours of sleep and felt like shit. Maybe if I ignored her, Ruby would forget I was even here.
I should have known better.
“Wake up, Clayton! You don't want to be late on your first day of school!” My aunt's sing song voice, normally almost soothing to me, was grating as hell at 6:45 in the morning.
Six forty-fucking-five in the god damn fucking morning!
“I'm up.” The words were muffled through the flannel of my comforter. Slowly I pulled the blanket back and stared at the ceiling. It was my first day of school in Virginia. First day of my own personal hell. Welcome to the Thunderdome, baby.
I didn't waste too much time lying there, knowing Ruby would come bursting through the door if she didn't hear me getting up. So I slowly put my feet on the floor and stretched out my body. Scrubbing my hands through my overly long, dark hair, I tried to quell the nerves in my stomach.
Looking around the room, I realized I had become a stranger in my own life. I hadn't been to Virginia since I was a kid and now I was, living here. With a woman who I didn't really know that well, about to go to a brand new school. I didn't know anyone. Christ, I barely knew myself. I didn't hold out any hope that this place would be any different than the one I had just left. Same shit, different zip code.
Lord knows I sure as hell didn't feel any different. I still felt like a fucking mess inside. Four months in psychiatric treatment didn't do shit. Sure, I'd been given a fancy label for the crazy crap going on in my head. Bi-polar disorder. Borderline Personality. They were just words. Definitions for a less than normal person.
Because normal was something I didn't think I'd ever be.
Normal sounded wonderful though. Most people would rather die than feel ordinary. Kids my age were striving to become something unique. They wanted to be their own individual, completely different. But I'd give anything to blend in. To feel like for once, I was just like everyone else.
I lifted the plastic bottle from my bedside table. I shook it, hearing the sound of the pills jangling around. They were supposed to be the answer I needed to fix the ugliness inside me. I was supposed to be taking them twice a day, probably for the rest of my life.
But I hated them. I hated the dulling of my thoughts. The way my limbs felt heavy and hard to move. I hated that all I wanted to do was sleep my life away rather than live it.
If that was my magic cure, then I'd keep on fucking looking. Because it sure as hell wasn't in the bottle in my hands.
I felt the anger rise up out of my very dark place. I threw the bottle across the room, watching it hit the window with a satisfying smack. The bottle was still intact. Damn it.
“Clay! If you don't get in the shower, I'm coming in and getting you!” I heard someone threaten from outside my door. I cringed, recognizing Ruby's girlfriend, Lisa. I'd better get a move on, because knowing her, she'd actually do it.
Whereas Ruby was full of happy, sparkles and kittens, Lisa was hard and firm. And I did not want to mess with the bad ass biker lady, poised ready to come through my door and drag me into the shower.
I grabbed my robe and threw open the door to find Lisa standing there, her arms crossed over her chest, a scowl on her face. “I'm on it.” I said, moving passed her down the hallway. Lisa was extremely intimidating, but I sensed a softness beneath the hard exterior. I didn't know Lisa that well, even though she and Ruby had been together for five years.
Ruby was my mom's older sister. Once upon a time, Ruby and my mother had been close (as close as anyone could be to my mom). She used to come down to Florida for Christmas and in the summer. But that had all changed when I was around twelve years old. I had been too young at the time to understand what “coming out” meant.
I figured it out later that Ruby had finally admitted to my parents that she was a lesbian and had fallen in love and moved in with a woman named Lisa. My parents had immediately cut off communication. My father, a conservative Republican, had no place for “alternative lifestyles” in his family. My mom was just a judgmental bitch who would rather cut off her family than face a life choice that was different than hers.
I couldn't think about my parents without feeling rage. Rage and hurt and a twinge of hate. They were my parents in DNA only. They had made it perfectly clear that they were through with me. That they were tired of my “issues” and that's why they had shipped me to Virginia.
I had embarrassed them. Humiliated them in front of their friends. I had forced them to face a side of me that they had tried to deny for so long. So they had thrown me into a hospital until I was deemed okay to leave. Then they sent me here. With nothing more than some clothes in a suitcase.
I knew they hated me if my mother was willing to talk to her black sheep of a sister in order to get rid of me. I had only arrived three days ago. I had been discharged from the hospital and a car picked me up, the driver gave me my plane ticket and I touched down in Washington D.C three hours later.
No call, no letter, nothing from my parents but a second hand message from a complete stranger that I was going to live with my Aunt Ruby for an indefinite amount of time. I knew Ruby had spoken to my mother since I had arrived, but I hadn't. Not that I particularly wanted to. But that little boy inside of me that longed for a mother's affection, ached with the knowledge that my own parents, the people who had given me life, wanted nothing to do with me.
Well, there was a fucking depressing thought for first thing in the morning. Way to start the day, asshole! I thought to myself harshly.
I got in the shower, going through the motions, without really thinking about them. Back in my room, I went through the clothes in my suitcase that lay open on the floor. I hadn't bothered to unpack yet. Mostly because I was too busy being depressed and angry to think about getting my life into some sort of a routine.
So I threw on the first clean pair of clothes that I found, a pair of jeans and a gray t-shirt. I picked up my army jacket and headed out the door. Putting my arms through the familiar sleeves, was a strange sort of comfort. I had gotten the beat up jacket at Goodwill in Miami. My mom had hated it. So of course I loved it. I wore it every god damn day.
“There you are.” Ruby said, smiling as I entered the kitchen. The room was warm, with sun coming through the stained glass window above the sink. My aunt stood at the stove, cooking a pile of eggs. “Sit, eat.” She said, setting a plate with eggs and toast down at the table.
“I don't normally eat breakfast.” I told her, looking at the food in mild disgust. Taking my medicine killed my appetite. The thought of eating right now made me feel faintly sick to my stomach. Yet another reason, I refused to take the the pills this morning. Not eating wasn't normal. And damn it, I'd be normal any way I could.
“Well, just try. You can't go to school on an empty stomach.” Ruby said as though I were a small child. She handed me a steaming mug. The liquid inside was unidentifiable. I sniffed it hesitantly. I never knew what my new age aunt would try to foist on me. Just yesterday she insisted I drink a tea infused with angelica root to try and purge my negative aura. It had made me want to puke.
“What is it?” I asked, peering into the cup. Ruby patted my back.
“It's Earl Grey, silly.” I let out a sigh of relief.
“With a few drops of St. John's Wort essential oil for positive mood.” Ruby added as she went over to get her own mug of tea. I sat the drink down on the table. Lisa came in as I was pushing my eggs around on my plate. She poured me a cup of coffee and I gave her a small, but grateful smile.
“Thanks.” I said, drinking it in two gulps.
Ruby was humming under her breath as she cleaned up the kitchen. Lisa sat down beside me and started going through the paper. “Did you take your pill?” She asked me, without looking up. I grit my teeth. It was going to be hard to get anything passed her. Ruby seemed pretty oblivious to a lot of things. But Lisa was shrewd. And smart. Which might make my life a hell of a lot more difficult.
“Yeah.” I lied effortlessly. I had grown used to lying. I lied often, and without guilt. But the level stare Lisa tossed my way, made me swallow thickly. I started to pick at a healing scab on the underside of my arm. Something I often did when I felt agitated. I ran my fingertip along the rough edge of the cut. It was straight and precise. Made with a confident hand. Made to hurt and forget all at the same time.
“Just make sure you do. Your medicine helps you. You don't want to end up back at the hospital, do you?” She asked me, taking a sip of her coffee, but never looking away from me. Her eyes followed my fingers anxiously picking at the scab on my arm and I immediately stopped the nervous movement. I pressed my hand to the table top, trying to stop myself from picking.
“Uh, no. Definitely not.” I agreed. Fuck. This lady most certainly had my number. And I felt oddly reassured by that. I wasn't used to anyone really giving a crap about me. No one had ever taken the time to care about about how and what I was doing. But these two women were making it clear that they did.
I felt an unaccustomed relief that was startling in its intensity.
Lisa laid a hand on top of my clenched one. “Take care of yourself, Clay.” She said softly before moving her hand away and returning to the paper.
I didn't know what to do with the warm feelings that sentiment gave me. So I got to my feet and carried my plate to the sink. Ruby put her arm around my waist and gave me a squeeze. I froze. Physical affection was really weird for me. Again, it wasn't something I was used to. But Ruby hugged me without wanting anything in return. Unconditional love was new to me. And made me feel really uncomfortable.
I moved away from my aunt. “I'd better get going.” I said, reaching for the messenger bag that hung on a hook on the wall.
Ruby handed me a few papers. “Don't forget to stop by the office and check in when you get there. They'll give you your schedule. Good luck.” She gave me a wide smile. I tried to smile back, but my lips didn't appear to be working. Good luck. Yeah, I'd be needing a lot of that.
Lisa waved as I grabbed my car keys and headed out the door. The day was warm. Not Florida warm, but still nice. I hadn't seen much of Davidson since I had arrived. But it seemed like a quiet town, with not a lot going on. Which was a nice change from the overly frenetic energy of Miami.
I was glad to leave the mayhem behind and maybe settle into a nice quiet life here. If that were possible. My fingers moved to my scabbed arms again. A constant reminder that I was only deluding myself. Nice, quiet, normal. Those words weren't in my vocabulary. And I didn't think they ever would be.
I unlocked my five series BMW with a sort of twisted loathing. I hated the car. I hated everything it represented. Because my parents had given it to me on my sixteenth birthday. They loved to play at being the perfect, doting parents in front of their friends and associates. And that was the entire point of that useless piece of metal. It was a statement. It said, “see what great parents we are? We gave our son this awesome car!” It made me sick.
They had shipped the car here a while ago. Apparently, they had planned on me coming to Virginia way before I had known about it. Ruby had said it had arrived three months ago. While I was still on lock down in the Miami General psych ward.
But I needed wheels, so I was kind of stuck. No way I'd drive Ruby's VW bug with the whacked out bumper stickers reading “break for my broom” and “my karma is my dogma.” I didn't want to come across as a complete pussy.
I headed toward Jackson High School. I was nervous. I could admit that. Though I shouldn't be. This wasn't the first time I'd be the new kid at school. I had changed schools three times in the last six years. Usually when my behavior got me expelled and my parents were forced to find me a new private school to attend. I never lasted long. Self-destruction was my middle name. And walking the straight and narrow was not what I did.
I wondered, with humorless amusement, how long I'd last here.
I pulled into the parking lot and stared up at the brick building. This was my first time at public school. And I did not want to go inside. I wonder if I could get away with skipping on my first day? But I thought about Ruby and Lisa and how much they were putting themselves out to let me live with them. And for once, I felt a little guilt. And a realization that my actions would affect others.
Huh. Maybe I had learned something in all of that therapy.
I finished listening to the song on my stereo, drumming my fingers on the steering wheel. I was already late, might as well enjoy my music. I watched other students scramble toward the school. Like a bunch of mice, scurrying inside. I was going to hate it here. I just knew it. I didn't fit in with these small town, walking talking stereotypes. Who the fuck was I kidding?
But I wasn't there to make friends. I'd had enough of people pretending to like me for one life time. This time I'd stay the fuck to myself. The fewer people to get involved in my life the better. I didn't need the fake sympathy and then the more obvious disgust when they realized how messed up I really was. I had been used by people my entire life and I didn't want any more of that.
I just needed to get through the year. Graduate. Then move the fuck on. My life would be own. I turned 18 in March. Then my parents could go fuck themselves, because I would be making decisions for me.
I had worked myself up pretty well by the time I finally got out of the car. I was feeling good and pissed as I grabbed my bag and the papers Ruby had given me and headed toward the school. I had no idea where I was going.
I stopped in the middle of the side walk and started going through the papers, trying to find the name of the administrator I would have to speak with. I dreaded having to walk through those door. Dreaded having to start this whole living thing all over again.
Then it felt like a damn wrecking ball smacked into my back. I stumbled forward and dropped the papers I was holding. My temper immediately flared. My head started to buzz and my fists clenched. I was ready to take someone's fucking head off!
“What the fuck?!” I growled, reaching down to pick my papers up off the ground. I started to cuss. A lot. Fuck, shit, god damn it! They all came out of my mouth like verbal weapons. Aimed at the asshole who had yet to apologize for knocking into me.
I straightened up and looked down at a girl who was fitting a piece of plastic onto the back of her phone. She hadn't bothered to look up at me and I couldn't really see her face. Long, brown hair hung around her, eyes trained down to the object in her hands.
“Oh, I'm sorry. Did I miss the stop sign?” She asked sarcastically. I almost laughed. Was she serious? I didn't know if I should be angry or amused. Though she still hadn't looked up and her rudeness started to piss me off again.
“Guess it's too much to expect an apology.” I said through clenched teeth. I was goading her. I wanted her to look at me. The fact that she hadn't yet, bothered the shit out of me.
“Probably.” She answered offhandedly, finally looking up. And when she did, I swear the air left my lungs. Who the hell was this girl? She was fucking gorgeous. Her long, brown hair hung down her back in a slick stream. Her wide, brown eyes blinked at me as though she were startled by my appearance. Thick bangs covered her forehead and her perfect nose scrunched in annoyance, once she got herself together.
I felt my hands grow slick and I shoved them into the pockets of my jacket. My heart was hammering in my chest and I couldn't stop staring at her. God, I must look like a damn psycho leering at her like that. Her face and neck were flushed and her chest rose and fell heavily. I tried not to stare at her chest as it moved. But my eyes drifted there anyway.
Christ! I was ogling some strange girl's chest in front of the school! Get it together, man!
I fixed my eyes back on her face and watched as her jaw clenched. She was angry...and really hot.
I closed my eyes, trying to get myself under control. No friends! No social interaction! That was my mantra! I had to remember it. No, I was going to have to force myself to stay away from this girl. Whoever she was.
But then what do I do? Like an idiot, I try to find a way to keep talking to her. Like she was my new drug of choice and I couldn't get enough.
I had known this girl for all of thirty seconds and I was already ready to follow her to the edge of the earth and back. Yep, I was insane. But I knew that already. Nothing new there.
The girl gave me a funny look and started to walk passed me without another word. But I had to stop her. I needed to! “Well, you could at least tell me where the main office is. You know, after practically running me over and all.” I said to her retreating back, hoping like hell she'd turn back around. Just so I could see her face again.
But she didn't look at me again. She kept moving toward the school as though I had already become an after thought. “You're a big boy, I'm sure you can handle this one on your own.” She called over her shoulder. I couldn't help but watch the way her hips swayed as she moved.
“Thanks for nothing!” I yelled after her, annoyed that I was so bothered by the fact that she had completely blown me off. Isn't that what I wanted? To be left alone?
She didn't respond, disappearing inside the school. And I stared after her.
Damn, I was in trouble.