How is everyone doing?
I thought I would post the next chapter of my little story today because I have way more free time now and I’d love to devote more of it to writing. Thank you so much for all of your views, likes and comments, they really mean so much and I appreciate every single one. Hope you all enjoy!
I can see shards of broken beer bottles littering their territory. I can see fresh graffiti covering the walls of the dimly-lit subway, a kaleidoscope of vibrant colours. I can’t see them. The Gang. My mouth goes dry. The gang are like a tarantula; not knowing where they are is worse than seeing them right in front of your very eyes. Lose sight of them, and you automatically become vulnerable. They are waiting. Waiting. Sun kisses my face as I break into a run, and leave the subway. The hairs on the back of my neck are stood on end and I feel a little queasy. I enter through the glass double doors, step around the wet patch on the marble floor that has just been cleaned, and make a beeline for the climbing gym. My second home. They look a little surprised to see me without a bloody nose or blue and black bruises streaked across by pale skin. They’re my world, the family I chose for myself. There’s five of us, including myself. Anthony (who prefers to be known as simply ‘Ant’) is the rebellious one, the ’emo’. I’ve never seen the insides of his wardrobe, but I can imagine there’s a lot of black leather and silver studs involved. He also has an unhealthy obsession with beanies- he even has a designated one in which he sleeps, and one of a different shade for each day of the week. He has several tattoos too, but nowhere near as menacing as ones that The Gang sport. I am led to believe that one is an arrow-heart inside which there is the name of his girlfriend, July. She couldn’t be more opposite to him if she tried. While he opts for a basic crew cut which he claims is “both cool and practical”, she drowns in a mass of blonde curls which fall like a cascade of molten gold and taper off at her waist. Though his features are sharp and distinct, as though carved into the trunk of a sapling, hers are soft: cheeks full and rounded, nose small and perfectly proportionate. They both come to greet me in the doorway.
“Your legs look horrific in those leggings.” Ant remarks. Charming. He should’ve guessed they were lent to me by no other than July, a lover of everything glitzy and girly. I look down to see that, although I hate to admit it, he is kind of right. The leggings look almost alien against my battered climbing harness and chalk bag. The sequins that spell the word PINK are reflecting the evening sunlight, so that they cast a pattern of sparkly orbs of light onto the wall.
“It’s called fashion,” July retaliates, “Clearly you’ve never heard of such a term.” She gestures towards his torn jeans, so bedraggled that I can see more of Ant’s perfect olive skin than the black denim threads which hold together the garment. They go on squabbling for a while. I catch short snippets of the argument though I’m not properly listening. Something else catches my eye. I wander away and the volume of their voices seems to trickle away, as if falling through a plug-hole. My feet hit the spongey mats lining the floor of the bouldering wall, and I bounce on the balls of my feet a little. I’m waiting but I don’t know what for. It’s as if fate dragged me here for a reason I have not yet established.
I know everyone who regularly visits this climbing gym: from the toddler who took his first steps only last year right in the corner of the spectating area to the elderly woman, who, even in her old age, turns up every Thursday to battle her way through the intermediate-advanced routes. I do not recognise the figure using the bouldering wall on this particular occasion, nor can I recall anybody I know with a similar climbing style to him. He has a muscular figure which I can see he uses largely to his advantage, in addition to the fact he is small and slight. He whistles through the air, his every move dynamic and powerful. This does not make him clumsy. He lands every jump with immaculate precision. I watch in awe for a long time, yet I haven’t seen his face. He falls to the ground with a thud, and suddenly, I become quite self-conscious. I wonder if he knows I have been watching him for all this time. As he turns around, my heart simultaneously leaps into my mouth and sinks down to my feet like a grenade in water. It’s him. He’s the smallest, but his punches always have the most force. Now I know why. My gut squirms in memory of the countless injuries he has inflicted upon me over the years. His eyes meet mine. I can tell instantly he knows exactly who I am, yet why wouldn’t he? I break into a cold sweat, but don’t break eye contact. I tense my entire body, so that if he strikes now, I’ll just bounce back. He doesn’t. I realise that his eyes aren’t in fact black like the rest of The Gang’s members, but deep blue, like the depths of an Arctic ocean. His eyelashes frame them so that they are his most prominent feature. The hair which falls across his face is sunset orange, and perfectly groomed, unlike the rat’s tails caused by grease build up which I often notice in the hair of other Gang members. His hooked nose is crooked, as if it’s been broken several times. Sounds familiar, actually. The freckles across his nose are admittedly attractive but at the same time make me want to puke. That applies for every cell of his damned body. He smells of rose scented soap. I there and then make a vow to myself that I will bin my own rose soap as soon as I return to my apartment. He is taking me in. The strips holding my crushed nose in place. The twelve stiches on my forearm slowly healing the gash caused by shards of glass from broken beer bottles. And the nicer parts of me too: my forest green eyes, strawberry blonde bob, and showering of fading freckles across every inch of my skin.
After what seems like an eternity, he finally speaks. His teeth are perfectly straight, and pearly white.
“Hey.” He mumbles. Anger boils inside me and I am just about to bubble over the edge. After all that he has done to me. To Ant and July, and to Theo and Sebastian too. He says ‘hey’. Before I stop myself, I slap him square across the face. The stinging contact of skin upon skin sends smacking noises all through the building. He staggers back, amazed, holding his face in his hands and curling into a ball on the floor. His reaction startles me. This is the exact same position I resort to during beatings from The Gang. He doesn’t look so tough now. I smirk. And then I rewind my thought process and am shocked with myself. I am no better than him. I suddenly feel very guilty. But abandon this feeling twisting my insides into a knot, after all that he has done to me. His name is Jackson Donahew. He is the youngest member of The Gang. And he is here.
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