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Music Lover

Author's note: My music is my refuge, and my headphones are my protection from hearing things that I don't want...  Show full author's note »
Author's note: My music is my refuge, and my headphones are my protection from hearing things that I don't want to hear. But there is a difference between escaping for a time, and locking yourself inside your own head.  « Hide author's note
Chapters:   « Previous 1 2 3 4

I can hear you now

It’s a Sunday when Asher’s cell phone rings. He’s in David’s room, sitting at his desk checking David’s homework. He gazes at it for a while, making no move to answer it. David glances between him and the small device, unsure of what to do. Finally, Asher gets up and goes to answer it. Every movement he makes is reluctantly slow.
“Where are you?” his mother asks from the other end.
“I’m at a friend’s house,” Asher replies. He keeps his voice as neutral as he possibly can; sometimes the slightest of alterations in tone can set her off.
“Oh I see,” his mother says. “Is she pretty?” Asher is silent for a little while, trying to understand what on earth his mother means.
“What?”
“I’m asking you if the b**** you’re abandoning me for is pretty, you filthy bastard!” his mother shrieks. Asher winces and holds the phone a little further away from his ear.
“Listen, I’m not abandoning you,” he tries to explain.
“Of course not, Asher,” his mother cuts him off. She continues, speaking in a softer voice. The lack of volume doesn’t change the level of contempt however. “You’re not abandoning me at all, silly me. You’re just staying out late, night after night with a girl that you’ve been keeping secret from me for weeks.”
“I’ve been staying over at David’s place,” Asher interrupts. “I don’t have a girlfriend.”
“And then you lie about it!” his mother shouts. “What’s wrong with you? How could I have raised such a worthless, ungrateful child? You’re both the same. You’re leaving me all alone and neither of you care.” As soon as she finishes her last sentence, she collapses into sobs. He listens to her cry, hating himself.
“Mom, I love you,” Asher says quietly. The crying immediately stops.
“Don’t you dare call me that again, you’re not my son.”
Asher stands there, unmoving for a little while. Finally, he shuts his cell phone and turns around. Then he freezes.
David is staring at him with a look of shock and horror.
“You heard all that.”
David nods, and seems at a loss for words, until finally he manages to ask.
“That was your mom?”
“I think I should go now,” Asher whispers in a hollow voice. He turns to the door, but David’s quicker. He grabs Asher’s shoulder.
“Hey, there is no way I’m letting you go back there,” he insists. “How long has this been going on?” Asher shrugs.
“A while.”
“A while meaning how long?” David demands.
“My mother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few years ago,” Asher says. It’s odd that the story is tumbling from his lips with such ease. “We tried to make it work at first, but my father just didn’t want to deal with it anymore. He’s been seeing another woman for a while now. Her name is Pamela, and she’s a lawyer.” A bitter smile twists Asher’s lips. “My mother found out about it and she’s been begging him to stop ever since, but he doesn’t listen.”
David’s grip on his shoulder tightens painfully, but he doesn’t really mind it.
“I look just like my father,” Asher continues. “So she’s been projecting everything onto me.” He shrugs his shoulders. “It’s not her fault, but I really have to go back home. She might be angry now, but she’ll swing back into depression if she’s left alone for too long.”
“Are you sure you’ll be okay?” David asks. Seriousness doesn’t suit his voice very well, Asher thinks. It makes him uncomfortable.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” he says. David seems conflicted, looking very much like he might not let Asher leave, but then he lets go.
“Okay,” he says, reluctantly. Asher nods, gripping the door knob. “But just remember,” David tells him. “I’m right here, if you need someone.”
The warm feeling that gives Asher is amazing.
“I’ll remember,” he replies.
He turns down David’s mother’s offer to drive him to his house. He walks quickly, pulling out his headphones again and sliding them over his ears.
He has just arrived at the front door of his house when he pulls out his MP3 player to turn it on. He stops. His bag slides off of his shoulder, but he is incapable of paying it any mind.
He stares at the blank display screen on his MP3 player. The battery has died completely; he hasn’t charged it in weeks. He stands outside of his house for a long while. Finally, he pulls his headphones down, and opens the door.
He is abruptly wrenched back into the reality that reminds him every week, why he hates coming home from school.
“You’re married to me. I’m your wife!”
“Like I’d leave her for you,” his father retorts. “I’ve been patient; I’ve wasted years of my life taking care of you. It’s a thankless job, and I’m sick of it. Pam takes care of me.”
“I’ve given you twenty three years of my life,” his mother shrieks, beginning to dissolve into sobs. “I did everything for you.”
“I’ve dealt with this long enough, I’m through with you,” his father says coldly.
His mother collapses to her knees, lurching forward as she latches onto his father’s hand.
“Please don’t leave me,” she croaks. “I can take care of you too; just tell me what I’m doing wrong.”
“You’re better off locked up in some psych ward. Leave me the hell alone,” his father snaps, wrenching his hand out of her grasp.
Asher has seen this countless times before, but the words slice his ears now with painful and stunning clarity. His legs lock into place. He can’t even think of running.
“What’s wrong with you two?” he hears himself asking. He closes his mouth, horrified, but it’s too late. Both of his parents are looking at him now.
“What did you just say to me?” his father demands. Asher swallows.
“You’re having an affair,” he begins.
“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” his father says, exasperated.
“Ever since it became ‘too difficult’ for you, you’ve been avoiding mom,” Asher continues in a louder voice. “It was your responsibility to take care of her, and it still is. You loved her once, but now that she’s ‘sick’, you abandoned her and ran off with a prettier face.”
“I’m not going to listen to this.”
“Yeah, because you’re a jackass!” Asher shouts back
“Shut up,” his father roars, and before Asher can even think about reacting, a fist connects with the side of Asher’s face. His head snaps around, his headphones are thrown off of his neck, clattering to the floor. He’s disoriented for a moment, not realizing what’s just happened. Then the pain begins to set in. Asher looks up at his father, and then at his mother. They both just stare back at him, blank, guiltless faces.
Asher takes a step back, and then another. A few more steps backwards have him flush against the wall. As his mind fills with static, he realizes that it isn’t fair at all, but he isn’t capable of hating his parents enough to not care.
Before he realizes it, his legs are carrying him out the door and into the street. Some more profanity filled shouts from his father chase after him.
He sees the world lurch and teeter through blurry eyes, and tries to focus on keeping himself upright. When he finally loses balance and collapses to the ground he has no idea where he is.
The pitch black sky is smothered with clouds, weighing down everything. The warm spring air is stagnant all around him, so thick that it’s clogging his throat. He shoves his hand into his pocket, extracting his cell phone with trembling fingers. He barely manages to speed dial.
It rings three times, and then he gets an answer.
“Hello?”
It takes Asher a few tries to get his throat to work properly, but he manages it.
“David,” he croaks. The response is instantaneous.
“Where are you?”
“I don’t know, a park, I think.”
“Don’t move, I’ll find you.”
And then David’s hung up. Asher stares blankly at the screen on his cell phone. He isn’t sure how much times passes, he doesn’t even know if he cares.
“Asher,” David calls. Asher looks up at him, and the moment he does, David’s eyes narrow. He runs over and kneels beside him. “What happened?” he asks softly, touching the side of Asher’s face.
“My dad,” Asher says simply. “I got angry, so I told him what I thought, and he hit me.”
“What’d you say?” David sits down beside him.
“I called him a jackass.”
“Well, good for you.” It’s not really that funny, but Asher laughs anyway, softly, and he feels calmer now. He isn’t alone, and that seems like it’s enough.
He leans back, and closes his eyes. The faint sigh of a breeze tickles his ears, and he can hear a bird warbling in the distance. Most importantly though, he can hear the sound of David’s breathing beside him, the sound of his sneakers scuffing the ground, the noises of his presence.
“What is it Asher?” David asks.
“Listening,” Asher replies simply. “There’s music.”
Chapters:   « Previous 1 2 3 4


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This book has 5 comments. Post your own now!

Ianultraman said...
Jul. 28, 2015 at 11:39 am
_Beautiful story!_
 
DreamAngel said...
Feb. 4, 2013 at 7:03 pm
I loved this so much. Please keep working on it.
 
AisuP said...
Dec. 2, 2012 at 2:48 pm
Please continue! 
 
KimenSnow said...
Aug. 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm
I like it.
 
Jensam This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 17, 2011 at 7:25 pm
Thank you so much for your compliment.  It really means a lot.  (^_^)
 

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