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The sound of my own voice and the guitar I played blared through the speakers as the enthusiastic and drugged crowd cheered. Sly slammed the drums behind me to the melody of hatred and gore, to my left Dwayne attacked his guitar in a deep melody of death and confusion, and to my right Ash lacerated his base to the melody of goodbyes and sorrow. I sang the words of the truth of the world and of regret of all things we will ever do as I played my guitar accordingly. “Don’t let me go!” I cried as I moved my hands from my instrument and the crowd filled my ear drums. The lights moved directly onto me as I threw my hands into the air, “Goodnight!” I called and then curtains were quickly let down. The crowd cheered our name as they disappeared behind red cloth. The man in a black suit that looked like an older host or male prostitute came over to me. “You guys were a hit!” He said with a disgusting cigarette filled smiled towards me, “Released Reality is now definitely known for their awesome playing.” “Yea, thanks old man.” I said with a nod and he seemed to cringe. “Come on Rave, I’m only a few years older than you! Don’t be so harsh!” He joked and I noticed how many wrinkles surrounded his eyes. He either spent too much time in the sun or was much older. “Whatever.” I said but was shocked when I was ambushed by Ash who wrapped his arm around my neck and pulled me into him. “Don’t freak her out, dude.” He said with a devilish smile and then took me away. “Thanks, you saved my ass from being asked out by that old man again.” He gave me a playful smile, “Your hot ass is definitely worth saving.” “Keep it in your pants, Ash. Don’t try and rape her.” Sly joked as he walked over. I noticed that he had a ring in his lip that was usually not there. Now they were snake bites instead of just one blue metallic ring he had pierced himself when we were 16. I went over to him and touched the ring. “When’d you do this?” “Yesterday. I thought it’d give me a better chance with the chicks.” I laughed, “I’m sure it will,” I said as I hugged him. He let go of me after a few moments as Dwayne came over to us, “What was with that solo after the second song?” I asked and he smiled. “Dunno, just got caught up in the moment I guess.” “Good thing it worked with the song, otherwise you’d’ve made a f*ing fool outta yourself.” Ash mocked and I had to keep myself from laughing again as they turned on each other. “Wanna say that again, kid?” Dwayne hissed as he yanked on Ash’s shirt. “Hey, guys! Chill it!” Sly yelled as I moved out of the way. He went over and wrapped an arm around each of the guys, “Let go get some booze to celebrate!” He said and I laughed as Ash and Dwayne suddenly seemed the best of friends and cheered in agreement. They all quickly put up their instruments into their cases and I brought my guitar over to my case covered in stickers of famous bands that I had obsessed over for most of my life. I stuck my black and red guitar into the case, locked it, and picked it up. I used the strap to sling it across my back and then joined the three guys to leave. We walked out of the back and to Sly’s black ford F-150. I sat in the front passenger seat, Sly sat at the driver’s seat, and Dwayne got in the back with Ash. We drove to our favorite bar named ‘Breaker’ that one of our high school classmates now owned. When we came in Rob looked up and smiled. “How was the gig?” He asked as he stood in a waiter’s uniform with an apron over it that just looked reasonable for a bar tender. The place was packed, but we went over to our reserved table in the front of the bar. “Really good.” I replied and he seemed pleased. “Rave blew them away with her voice. She sounded like an angel of death!” Ash said with a laugh and Rob looked to me. “That’s a compliment.” I informed him and he seemed better with the whole concept since from most people that was an insult. “Could we get some beers?” Sly asked and Rob nodded before leaving us. He brought over four tall beers, but was surprised when I got up. “You’re not drinkin’ Rave?” I shook my head, “It’s Sunday. I’ve got work tomorrow and I can’t have a hangover.” “Just dump that damn job, Rave! We’ll be famous soon so you won’t need that other job!” Dwayne argued and I smiled. “When that day comes, I’ll quit,” I promised, “See you guys.” I added before leaving. I used the bus to get to the other side of town and to my apartment. When I got inside my eye was caught by my reflection in a mirror. Torn black leggings, black hair in chopped layers with red streaks, hand gloves that had crisscross leather straps that went up my elbows, black platform boots, a black corset dress with crisscross string in the front and had loose layers that started at my hips and ended before my knees, red contacts, and a black cross necklace created my gothic image. I took off all of my cloths, my red extensions, and my red contacts before getting into the shower. I then went to bed at around three in the morning. At 6 I woke back up and ate cereal after putting on my glasses. I then changed into my black pinstripe skirt, purple silk shirt, black heels, and a suit jacket that’s sleeves only went to my elbows. I grabbed my black bag, pulled up my hair into a bun, and left my house. I took my black Honda to drive to the high school in town and got out. I went into the front door and went up to the second floor to my classroom. When I came in I turned on my computer and then took out my papers. I placed a thin stack of papers on each desk of the room as the first bell rang, announcing that all students could go into their rooms. Most of the students came in as I logged into my computer but I was surprised when a girl that was now 17 came over to my desk. I turned my swivel chair to her and smiled, “What can I do for you, Rachel?” I asked with kindness. “I just wanted to thank you for the last minute guidance on my project on Friday night. It was a big help.” I broadened my smile, “It was my pleasure, Rachel.” I said before she left. She went over to a group that was forming around one of the most popular girls in the school’s desk. The second bell rang which meant to start class so I cleared my throat as the class became quiet, “Alright, today we will be taking our unit test. Take out a pencil and the tests are on your desks so you may start now.” I said and then for the next 4 hours I graded papers as the students took their tests. When the bell for lunch rang I stood, “Please bring all testing materials up to my desk before you leave.” I said and the students all came up to hand me their pile of papers. When they were all collected the students started leaving, but some stayed behind to eat their lunches in the classroom. “Ms. Patrice!” One of the girls called and I got out of my chair. I went over to the group of 7 girls with a smile. “What can I do for you?” I asked and the girl named Ellen watched me for a moment. “I still don’t see it!” She complained. “See what?” I asked and she smiled. “Linda said you looked a lot like this girl in this magazine and I told her you don’t. She said that if you came over here I would be able to see it, but I can’t.” “Who’s the person I look like?” I asked and Linda quickly stood. She placed a magazine in my hands and pointed to the right page. It was a photo of a band in gothic clothing on stage. She pointed to the girl in the front singing. “The lead singer of Released Reality looks kind of like you.” “No! Ms. Patrice is a very sophisticated adult! Not a band singer! She’s a teacher for crying out loud!” Ellen argued. I let out a laugh, “And I certainly do not have red streaked hair or red eyes. I’m just a normal teacher.” Linda smiled, “Yea, you’re right. But I think I’d be cool to have a rocker teacher.” I went over to my desk but looked to the door as it opened and one of the shorter boy’s in my class ran over to me. He was breathing hard. “Ms. Patrice! The nurse needs you immediately!” The boy said and I quickly stood. It was not a good thing if the nurse needed me. That meant either one of my students was ill or there had been a fight involving one of my pupils. I quickly left the classroom and went down to the nurse’s office that was near the northern staircase of the school. I knocked on the door and it was opened by the familiar Mrs. Kelly. I smiled towards her. “You needed me?” I asked and she sighed. “It seems two of the boys in your class got into a fight outside and one of them refuses to talk.” “Who was the fight between?” I asked as I walked in. She sat down in a swivel chair and looked to me. “Kevin Rig and Nick Peters,” She replied, “Nick says Kevin started the fight and that he was just trying to defend himself, but Kevin refuses to speak.” I sighed, “I’ll see if I can talk to him. Could you take Nick out of the room? Maybe he just feels uncomfortable talking in front of Nick.” I suggested and she nodded in agreement. “Nick Peters, please follow me,” She said and I watched as Nick left the room. Mrs. Kelly stopped at the door and looked back to me, “Good luck.” She added before shutting the door. I went to the only bed that had the curtains closed around it and pulled back on them to see Kevin staring at the ceiling. He was in his uniform like he had to be in order to attend the private school, but as usual he had on a few skull buttons and chains. He looked to me as I noticed the black makeup he usually wore was smeared slightly by when he had obviously been crying before. To my relief his piercings on his lip and ears were not ripped out as I had imagined, but he had a large band-aid over his right cheek and his face was starting to swell. “Hey, Kevin,” I said as I pulled Mrs. Kelly’s chair into the curtained area. I shut the curtains to assure Kevin that I was the only person here to listen in, “Mrs. Kelly said you refused to talk to her, is that true?” He sat up and turned so that he was facing me while sitting on the bed. He wrapped his arms around his legs like they would protect him from all harm, “She wouldn’t’ve understood me even if I had told her. None of you teachers seem to get it.” I sighed and pulled closer to Kevin as he seemed to tense, “Don’t worry, I won’t bite,” I assured him and then brushed my finger across the small cut on his collarbone, “Mrs. Kelly missed a cut,” I informed him and then quickly stood. I left the curtained area and went to Mrs. Kelly’s supply cabinet. I took out a band-aid and some Neosporin before going back to Kevin’s side. I put a little drop of the Neosporin on the cut before placing the band-aid over it. I then smiled towards him, “There,” I announced, “So Kevin, how do you think you did on the test in my class today?” I asked and he seemed confused. “What does that have to do with anything?” He asked in a growl towards me. I sighed again, “Well you obviously don’t want to talk about what happened between you and Nick today, so I decided to bring up another topic. I’m not big into prying into other’s business unless they want to talk about it,” I smiled slightly, “I used to hate it when my teachers would yell at me if I would not tell my side of a fight or something like that so I don’t want to do what they did. If you don’t want to talk, I’m sure you have a good reason not to.” “You are nothing like how you act in class, Ms. Patrice.” “I’m hoping that is a compliment.” He let out a small laugh, “It is,” He said and I felt much better, “Well the whole thing was stupid.” “You mean the test or the fight?” “The fight,” He replied and I nodded, “Nick was making fun of the way I dress and I decided to take down that mother f*er. I punched him in the gut and then he punched me in the face. One of the senior teachers saw us start wrestling on the ground and called for the security guard to pull us apart.” “What was Nick saying about you that got you so mad?” He sighed, “He was calling me a wannabe and started talking s*** about my piercings. He’s been makin’ fun of me for a while now and I just thought that if I didn’t do something about it this s*** would never stop so I hit ‘im.” I nodded, “I can understand why you would think that, but as an adult I have to tell you violence isn’t the answer.” “Well it was either smack the s*** outta ‘im or go be a fink and tattletale. But if I did that he and his football friends would kick my ass up and down the block after school.” I let out a slight laugh, “There was this guy who was in a situation kind of like yours when I was 16. He pierced his lip and people started making fun of him. He was very slim and weak, but he ended up breaking the nose of the lacrosse captain when he finally had enough of being made fun of. Now I certainly did not go to a private school like this, but he still got into a heap of trouble.” “You got in trouble too?” I nodded, “Cause I beat the crap outta two of the captain’s lackeys and broke my hand in the process,” I said as I held up my left hand and pointed to the long red line that went by my middle knuckles, “Apparently I had a very sharp left hook.” “But why would someone as clean cut as you get into that kind of trouble?” He asked and I started laughing, but couldn’t stop for almost two minutes. When I finally got myself under control I smiled towards him as I brushed tears off my face. “I certainly was not clean cut at your age. I had more piercings that you on just one ear,” I leaned back in my chair, “I had 12 piercings on my right ear alone.” “Damn, I would’ve never expected that,” He said with a laugh and I smiled towards him, but stood when there was a knock at the door of the room. I pulled the curtain back to see Mr. Travis come in with an older looking woman, “Aunt?” Kevin asked and his aunt stormed over to him. “I told you to stop fighting at school, Kevin!” She hissed, but looked to me when I put my hand on her nephew’s shoulder. “Mrs. Rig, I can assure you Kevin was not at fault here. I just finished talking to him and he was just defending himself. He did choose an action that was not the best idea, but he had good reason to do so.” I said and the woman’s face seemed to loosen. “You are Kevin’s teacher, correct?” She asked and I nodded, “But Kevin has never talked to someone about why he fought someone. Not even me or his uncle.” I smiled, “Well it seems your nephew and I have a lot in common so he was able to open up to me.” “Well either way, Kevin, we should get home.” She insisted and I nodded as I looked to Kevin. “See ya’ around, teach.” He said with a smile and I smiled back. He left with his aunt as Mr. Travis gave me an odd look. “Wow, Kevin has never talked to a teacher like that before. I tried to talk to him once and he ended up just cursing at me,” He said as he came closer to me, “How’d you gain his trust?” I smiled, “I just had to prove we had a lot in common,” I replied, “When I was his age I had a friend that got into a problem like his so we connected through that.” “You don’t seem like the type of person who would hang out with that kind of kid.” He commented and I laughed slightly. “That’s what Kevin said too, but I was a lot like him at that age,” I replied, “But why did his aunt come pick him up? Why not his mom or dad?” He sighed, “His parents died in a car accident at the beginning of his freshman year. His aunt and uncle are his guardians but he does not live with them. He lives in his parent’s apartment.” “Does he dress like that because he lost his parents?” He shook his head, “I was told from a teacher at his middle school that he has always dressed like that.” I looked down to my feet, “I had no idea,” I whispered with regret but the sighed, “I should get back to my class.” I said and then left the nurse’s room. For the rest of class I taught a new lesson in math and did not have any complications. When the final bell rang I worked on grading the tests the students had taken earlier today. As I got to the 21st test Mr. Travis knocked on my open door. I smiled towards him and he came in. “What are you doing in here by yourself?” He asked as he walked in. He was wearing a pair of black slacks, a medium blue button up dress shirt, and a black tie. He leaned down and rested his head on his hand as he rested his elbow on the other side of the desk I was sitting at. “Grading the unit tests my students took today,” I replied, “What are you doing?” His smile broadened, “I was going to the copying room when I saw you in here and thought I’d stop by.” “Oh?” He nodded, “And I was thinking on my way down here that I might stop by your room in order to see if you had any plans for tomorrow night. I thought I could take you to this new restaurant that just opened up this weekend.” I smiled, “Sure, I’d love to go.” “Great, here’s my cell number. You can call and give me your address later tonight.” He said as he handed me a small piece of paper. We both looked up as Mrs. Kelly knocked on my open door. “Hey, Raven.” She said with a smile and I smiled back. “Well I’ll see you later.” Mr. Travis said as he walked out. Mrs. Kelly quickly ran over to me with excitement. “What were you two love birds talking about while in a very dim lit room, with no one else around, and talking in quiet voices?” She asked with an evil grin. “Don’t make it more than it is, Laura.” I said with a frown. “Oh come on! A blind man could see how attracted you guys are to each other! You two flirt with each other like most people breath! So what happened? Give me all the gory details!” “There are no gory details! Geez, Laura! You make it sound like were students instead of teachers!” I complained but then sighed, “If you must know he just asked me out for tomorrow night. He was planning on trying a new restaurant and invited me.” She stared dancing around, “Omigosh! You are so going to get some!” She laughed and I felt myself fluster. “I am not! You pervert!” I hissed, “Stop talking like a little girl! You’re married for god’s sake!” “So? It doesn’t mean I’m not breathing, does it?” She said with another smile, “So what did you say?” “I said sure.” She squealed, “Omigosh! I never thought this day would come! Ah! This is so exciting!” “You sound like you are going on the date,” I mumbled but then stood as I looked to the clock, “I’ve gotta go.” “Awe, sourer puss!” She complained as I shoved all the tests into my bag and then turned off my computer. “Shouldn’t you be going? It’s already 6, won’t your husband be home soon?” She shook her head, “He’s on a trip till tomorrow,” She said with a smile, “What do you say we walk out together?” She asked and I nodded. I followed her to her room and after she locked the door we left, “So how was it with Kevin today? I heard from Mr. Travis that you got him to talk.” I nodded, “He was being bullied and pushed around by Nick and his friends.” “Geez, will kids ever get over bullying each other? It’s so pointless!” she complained but stopped at my car. “Say, do you know where Kevin lives? I heard he lives on his own.” I asked and she nodded. “He lives in the apartment complex two blocks down from yours. But why do you care?” I shrugged my shoulder, “I’m just curious,” I replied and then opened my car door, “See ya’ tomorrow Laura.” I said and then get in my car. I drove off and went to my apartment. I changed out of my work cloths and into a black tank top and a pair of torn up jeans. I cooked up some spaghetti and as I fed my black cat I started thinking about Kevin again. He was living alone in a large apartment with no one to watch over him or take care of him. Was he eating fast food every day? I suddenly found myself putting a large container of noodles and a medium sized container of spaghetti sauce into a bag and left my house with a coat. I walked two blocks down from my apartment and looked to the itinerary that was placed at the bottom of the complex. The Rig family was in G9, so I made my way up the stairs and to the door marked G9. I knocked on the door and was relieved when Kevin opened the door. “Ms. Patrice, what are you doing here?” He asked as I noticed he was no longer in his school uniform. He wore a simple white t-shirt and a pair of checkered pajama pants. “Mrs. Kelly told me where you lived and so I thought I’d bring you over some food,” I said as I held up the bag, “Its spaghetti and I made way too much for just me.” “Uh, okay. Come on in,” He said as he opened the door wider. I walked in to see a very clean apartment that looked like it should be on the front of an apartment realtor agency’s catalog, “Want something to drink?” He asked and I shook my head. “Nah, I’ll be going. I just wanted to make sure you were getting food and that you lived somewhere appropriate.” “Did Mrs. Kelly tell you I wasn’t getting food and was living in a cardboard box or something?” He asked as he sat down at a four person table and gestured for me to sit across from him. “No, but on my way home I was thinking how my friend that had almost the same thing happen that happened to you would live if he did not have someone taking care of him. He’d probably spend all his cash on smokes and junk food and end up eating fast food everyday while living in some crappy motel,” I replied, “I was just afraid you would be like that and I wanted to make sure I was wrong.” I replied as I slipped off my coat. “So why do you care about this all of a sudden?” I sighed, “I had no idea about your parents. It didn’t even occur to me that you might have had something so terrible happen to you, but today Mr. Travis told me.” “Travis doesn’t seem like someone who’d suit you. He’s all stuck up and teacher like.” I let out a small laugh, “But I’m a teacher.” He nodded, “But after talking with you today I realized you weren’t like the rest of the teachers.” I smiled, “I’m certainly not like most teachers.” “To tell you the truth, teach, I was pretty curious about your past after you told me about your friend. Before today, when I’d imagine what type of student you were I thought you’d be one of those nerdy but preppy girls. I was way off.” I let out another laugh, “I used to make fun of those types of girl and they would’ve rather to shoot me than talk to me.” “So what were you like in high school?” I sighed, “I was kinda like you.” “Really?” I nodded, “But nowhere near as smart. I graded your unit test earlier and you got 100 percent. I barely made it to college.” “You really are something, Ms. Patrice. I’m sure your husband thinks so too.” I snickered, “I’m not married, I’m single.” “Why? You could probably attract any guy.” I smiled, “Thanks for the compliment, but I don’t think I could ever get married. Even if I’m now a fairly civilized person, I still don’t think I could ever settle down like that. I can barely keep a boyfriend as it is,” I replied but then realized what I was doing, “I probably shouldn’t tell a student about my personal life.” He shook his head, “I’m not gonna tell anyone and I’m curious.” He replied but then looked to me as my phone rang. “Hello?” I asked as I put the phone to my ear. “Hey Rave!” “Oh, hey Ash. What’s up? I’m kinda busy right now.” “Sly just wanted me to tell you that we were offered another gig tomorrow night and he said it was your choice if we go or not. I mean you are the only one of us with a really important job.” I smiled, “Uh, tomorrow night? I had plans, but I guess I could cancel them.” “Awesome! We’ll be at your place at 9 to pick ya’ up!” He said and then hung up the phone. “Who’s Ash?” I looked to Kevin, “He’s one of my high school friends.” “So you’re meetin’ with ‘im tomorrow night?” I nodded, “He and I are gonna hang out with a group of friends from high school tomorrow.” “Is he a teacher too?” I let out a snort, “Defiantly not. He’s a guitarist.” “That’s a sweet job.” I nodded, “He thinks so,” I said and then stood, “Well I have more tests to grade so I’ll see you tomorrow.” “See ya’ tomorrow, teach.” He said and I quickly left his apartment. I walked back to mine and watched the news on our gig last night.
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