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The Swan & the Crow Chapter 3: After the Party (Steph)

Note: NaNoWriMo is where writers work on a 50,000 word novel during the month of November without editing their work, including checking for spelling or punctuation. Therefore, my story The Swan & the Crow for NaNoWriMo is nowhere close to perfect. Please keep this in mind when reading this chapter and the rest of the chapters that will be following it. But I am open to hearing opinions on what I have written so far and am open to any feedback given. To read Chapter 2, click here

Current word count: 11,196

After the party at Jason’s house, I returned home to a lonely room. I had to sneak upstairs in order to get to my room if I wanted to avoid waking up Mom and Dad from their slumber.

But I was not alone. Not really. The butterflies in my stomach from the night were with me. I felt them nestled in the pit of my stomach, growing larger in size with each minute passing. The stirrings of a curious heart beat within me. I do not know nor do I understand where all of these feelings came from all of a sudden. But they were there. They were everywhere. In my stomach. In my heart. In my eyes. In my feet. In every breath and every thought I made.

And yet, for the first time in my short life, I felt alive. I remember each moment with Max with a sharp clarity that I was never able to handle with anything else.

I remember the moment our eyes met across from the crowd of dancing bodies. The moment when I beckoned him with my movements to come over. To dance, to do whatever it was we were doing. Whatever all of this is. When I asked if he wanted to dance, seeing his cute stammered reply. The way our bodies felt closely connected to one another, our hearts skipping beat to another time. The way his blue eyes, his dark brown hair intrigued me into curiosity, wanting to know who he was and all about him.

And oh yes, asked him I did. As the dancing picked up and we met each other movement for movement, we began to talk.

“So,” I remember saying. “How did you hear about this party? I do not think I have ever seen you at one of these things before.”

“A friend,” Max said. “Matt. He has been inviting me to all of the parties going on this year. But I was not really interested in going to any of them. But I decided to give this one a chance. I do not know why exactly, not like it is different from going to any other party. But I guess I just wanted to get out of my house, get out of the normalcy of life for a little bit.”

“What about you?” Max asked me. “What has you interested in a party like this? You do not exactly strike me as a party girl. Then again, I have just met you so maybe it is wrong of me to judge you like that.”

“Oh, I did not know that you know Matt,” I said. “Well, well, what a small world. And yeah, you are right. I do not strike a lot of people as a party girl, but yet, I am one. But not for the reasons most people would believe.”

“I do not get a thrill from drinking so much alcohol that I puke, from having conversations with people I barely know, or from being around other people. The reason I like to party is none of those things. I enjoy it because it allows me to get away. Away from life, the mundane things I have to deal with at home on a daily basis. It allows me to be normal for a change. To allow me to pretend that my life is not as bad as it seems, to find some peace and comfort from something, at least one thing in my hectic life.”

“It allows me to express myself in a safely creative outlet. And yes, while not all parties are considered safe, I only go to parties for the dancing, no alcohol allowed in my system. Mostly because I have no interest in drinking or getting caught as a minor. But also because I do not think alcohol will wash all of my problems away. It is the root of most of my problems to begin with anyway.”

As I talked, I realized that I had opened myself so much to this guy. All without him saying anything in return or offering up his own life experiences.

You are saying too much, I remember myself thinking afterwards, slowly regretting what I had just said.

But this guy—no excuse me—Max, did not say a word. Nothing. He just listened intently as if what I was saying was the most important thing in the world. He did not judge me, ask what was wrong or why life had me so down. It was almost as if he understood exactly what I was talking about. As if he himself had been there before just as many times as me. Almost as if we were of the same mind, the same identity.

The thought that there was someone in the world who knew exactly what I was talking about struck me like a chord. And also made me curious, wondering what Max’s story was. But before I could say anything more, Max spoke.

“Yeah, that definitely makes sense.” Max said.

“Especially with the way you dance. You look captivated, like a child seeing something new in the world for the first time. It is very enthralling to watch and see with my eyes. But I admire you for it too. I wish I could look at the world that way, see things just the way they are and have something to forget my problems. But I guess I am not built that way. Even when I have something I am doing to keep my mind preoccupied, away from my other problems, the thoughts I do not want to have always resurface. Against my will, they return to me and I can never find a way of shaking them out.”

“But some things in life work out that way. While you try and forget the problems you face on a daily basis, they appear when you least expect them to. And not always in the way you want. But you just have to work through the struggles, through the pain, through the tears. And in the end, you will be okay. You will have made it and you will be stronger than you started out. But you will never forget what has happened, even if you do not yet understand why.”

I stared at Max, surprised by what he said.

How?  I thought. How does this guy know exactly what I am thinking, what I am feeling? It is almost as if he has had some of the same experiences as me. Strange… have definitely never met someone like this before. Never met someone under these type of circumstances, that is for sure.

“So,” I said, doing the best I could to hold my emotions in, continue with what I was saying. “Why are you here? I mean, I know Matt invited you and everything. But you just admitted that parties are not your scene and that this is not something you would normally do. Besides getting out of the normalcy of everyday life, there is another reason, isn’t there? Something you do not really feel comfortable talking about?”

I sensed the change in Max’s mood immediately. He went from happy go lucky guy to silent and thoughtful at the drop of a hat. It was as if something changed, something that he did not want to talk about but felt that he wanted to share with me. I do not know why exactly, but I had a feeling about him. That there is more to him than what meets the eye.

And something familiar. It had something to do with his name, I am sure of it. Almost as if I had heard of him before, somewhere. Where even I am not really sure. But I could tell that I was right when he was able to collect himself piece by piece and began to talk.

“Well…” he began, hesitant to begin this discussion but talking about the subject at hand anyway. “A friend of mine here—attempted suicide. He and I have been close friends since middle school. But he tried to do it during our freshman year at Rockwell High School. He was trying to recover from a messed up relationship with his ex Emily, who cheated on him with another guy at this school. The guy she cheated on him with had no idea that she was already in another relationship and felt bad, trying to make things right.”

“But my friend wasn’t able to keep himself together. He started to feel depressed, as if the world were turning against him. He started cutting classes, leaving school early, and sometimes did not even come to class. I tried the best I could to help him, but it was not enough. Then one day, he skipped another one of his classes, without a word to me or to anyone. We all thought he was sick or just having a bad day and decided not to come to school. But when I was at lunch, I saw him.”

“And I had a feeling something was wrong,” he continues to say. “So I followed him without him even realizing it. And when he went to the rooftop of our school, that is when I realized what he was about to do. I called out to him, hoping he would hear me and stop. He was almost to the ledge when he finally heard my voice and turned around to look at me. The look he gave me in that moment was terrifying to behold. He looked… lost. Hopeless. As if the only way to solve the dilemma in front of him was to jump off the ledge. I was scared in that moment because I felt as if I had already lost my friend. That he had already made the jump and that I came a minute too late.”

“But I was not late. I had made it just in time apparently. When he heard my voice, you could also see the panic in his eyes. Partly because I was there, the one friend who cared about him, but also because he was still trying to decide to jump off the ledge and I was the one person he never expected in his plans. He asked me what I was doing there, how I had managed to know he was going to do this, and told me to not stop him. But I did not listen. I do not remember what I said exactly, but I know it was enough to pull him away from the temptation of the ledge and have him fall on his knees, crying. He said he was sorry that he almost made a bad mistake, that he had hurt me in ways that he never had wanted to, and told me how much he appreciated me being his one true friend.”

“I have that day,” he continued, “Ingrained in my head for the rest of my life. I remember it as if it happened only yesterday. The way he looked on the ledge, what he said that made him decide to take things too far. Everything. But he was lucky. Very lucky. Because of my heroic act, he was treated at the best hospital in the area for his depression and is now doing just fine. Apparently, this sort of incident with him was going to happen sooner or later, the doctors informed me. He was already depressed when he was in his relationship with Emily and battling with his inner demons. The end of the relationship was just the one thing that pushed him too far and caused his depression to go off the charts.”

“But that day has changed me. Changed me in ways I was not expecting. It has made me see the world in a completely different set of eyes, allowed me to understand my friend and everything he was going through differently. But it also put some pressure on me too. Because not only did I just talk my friend from jumping off a ledge, I also became known for saving him. Somehow, everyone knew about what happened. Even people who were not there heard about it from other friends. I do not know who told who exactly, but that day changed my days at Rockwell High School. People started calling me a hero, acting as if they completely cared about my friend and were thankful I was there to save his life. As if they were expecting to see great things from me moving forward. People I did not know well at school wanted to be my friend, wanted to hang out and be seen associated with me. They wanted me to be the friend I was for my friend, wanted someone who was willing to lend an ear whenever they needed it.”

“And it never seems to end. Even now, almost a year since the incident happened, people I do not know still come up to me and idolize me. And I hate it. I hate that I am now the hero of Rockwell High School because I did what any kid would do for a friend. I did not save my dear friend because I wanted recognition. I did not save my friend so that other people at school could gawk and stare at me as I am on my way to classes, talking about what happened as if it happened yesterday.”

“I just want to be a normal teenager,” Max said. “I do not want any of this. I did not ask for any of this. But people keep acting like I did something special. But I did not. I just saved one of my dearest friends.”

“So yes, I came to this party,” Max finally said. “But not only because I know Matt and to get away from life. I came to let loose. To have fun. To forget what happened. And most of all, to live this night and the many more to come as if they are my last. Because you never know what could happen to you day to day. You have no guarantees that you are going to be breathing and still living tomorrow. Or even next week, next month, and next year. There are no guarantees in our lives so why not spend a night out hanging out with strangers, having a good time, and forgetting what happened? Besides, being at home was starting to get lonely anyway.”

I was numbed into absolute silence. I did not expect Max to say all of that. To tell me every aspect of his life, the most important of details. I did not expect to hear someone openly admit all their faults, all their issues, all their mistakes in life. And to do so so completely stunned me most of all. It was as if he had been waiting for someone, anyone, even a complete stranger, to open up to as if he had been meaning to get these words off his chest for a very longtime now. Maybe even as long as a year, when the incident happened.

I knew more about this guy within a couple minutes than I did anyone else. I felt both honored and terrified all at once. I was honored that he wanted to confess to me all of his feelings and to tell me how he was feeling emotionally. But I was also terrified too because I was not expecting this much from our conversation together. I was expecting a simple conversation, telling each other a little bit about ourselves piece by piece. But definitely was not expecting any of this. At all. A total surprise, most definitely.

It scared me too because now I felt obligated to tell him everything about myself too. To open up to him, just like he did me. And while I did not mind having such a conversation with this guy, I did not expect this conversation to be happening so soon. Especially because neither one of us knew each other’s names. We were total strangers, suspended in time, having a conversation. About life. About our lives. Our own personal lives. Everything we have each been through and then some. Things so personal that most people would be surprised we were talking to each other about, considering how we just met and everything.

So saying that I am stunned into absolute silence does not sound like an understatement.

But what do I say? I thought to myself. What do I say in response? How do I tell him I am sorry, that I wish I could do more to help, and that I understood his pain only too well?

Because I most definitely did. While I did not almost lose one of my friends to suicide myself, just imagining such a thing happening to Becca and Allison made me shudder in appreciation at the fact that I had such wonderful friends who were always open with me about every aspect of their lives. In return, I treated them with the same, opening to them in ways that I was not open with everyone else at Rockwell High School. But this guy made me pause. While I do not know him, I felt absolutely drawn to him like a magnet. For some reason, I felt as if I could trust him completely. With anything. I know part of the appeal is because of his willingness to save one of his friends. You could definitely tell that this guy really cared about his friends and would do anything to help them, even talking them out of making a bad decision. So I definitely knew I could trust him.

I continue to think, contemplating what I should say before I come up with a response that I think he would be completely okay with.

“Well, I know what could help with that,” I said in response, a mischievous grin appearing on my face. “We could continue dancing if you would like. I think the music is definitely picking up so that should definitely help you forget your troubles.”

“And,” I continued. “I am so sorry about what happened. I can not even imagine going through what all you had to go through. Especially because of how everyone is reacting to it. And while I do think what you did was very heroic, I also understand why you did it and why you are tired of everyone treating you differently because of it. Just know that it will not change my opinion of you as a person in anyway and that I feel like I have no room to judge you for what happened. You can not control things like that happening to the people you care about and there is nothing you can do whenever they make those type of decisions. And people do not seem to understand that. Anyway, we can continue dancing as if this were our last day here.”

So Max and I continued to dance together as the music picked up in tempo. We danced at the party as if tonight was the last moment we had on the Earth. As if this was the last day we were going to be spending together. As if this night were the last we would see each other before saying our goodbyes and going our separate ways. Which of course, is absolutely possible. Because while I am enjoying my time with Max, I have no clue where this is all going. I have no clue what is going to happen next, what we will be doing next. And there is no guarantee that once I leave here, I will be seeing Max again.

Because before this night ever happened, I had never seen Max before. Yeah, I had heard all of the stories about the “Hero of Rockwell High School,” but I always thought they did not have any truth to them. That they were made up stories by my peers to make our school seem extra cool. And so did Becca and Allison. But that was because we did not know him that we did not believe his story to be true.

Until tonight. I am now able to put a face to the name of the person everyone at school has been talking so much about. For the first time, I have met someone who completely understands me as a person. Yes, I know that he does not know about my past and what I am currently dealing with just yet, but he is the type of person who would understand what it is I am currently going through. He has dealt with a lot already, so I know my issues would be something he would understand.

And he would listen. I know that for certain.

And that was partly what scared me. Meeting someone, a guy, who could relate to everything I was saying and would listen. I have never had a guy friend, guy anything present in my life. Unless you can count Allison’s boyfriend Jason, of course. The exception being my father, of course who was not much of a help with anything. He was too busy beating on Mom to give me sage advice on anything a teenager could possibly go through while in high school.

And I can not really ask Mom either. While she is one of the best people I have been able to get advice from throughout my life, I feel that she would not be of much help either. Considering her own life choices, I would be better off asking both of my best friends what they think I should do.

But that is neither here or there. Right now, I am living in the present, dealing with what is currently in front of me. I will work with what I am given and hope for the best.

It was well into the night and most of the morning by the time the party ended and we had to go our separate ways.

And it was difficult. I had such a good time that I did not want this particular party to end. Mostly because I did not want to say goodbye to Max, partly because I did not know where my future was heading. I did not know where all of this was going, where any of this was going. I just knew in the present moment I was in now that I did not want any of this to end. I did not want this party to end.

I want to continue seeing Max. I know that for certain. But what is going to happen next I still have yet to know. Whether Max and I will see each other again after this party is yet to be determined.

What I do remember though is that Max was of the same mind as me. Before we parted our separate ways, he asked for my name.

“So,” Max said hesitantly. “What is your name? Here I am, just opening my heart up to you and spending most of my night and morning dancing with you and yet, I do not even know your name. How impolite of me not to ask you until now. My name is Max, by the way.”

“Max, nice to meet you,” I remember responding. “And my name is Steph. I know what you mean. I did not even think to ask you either. Guess we were having too much fun in each other’s company to notice that we did not even ask the most basic of necessities sooner. But that is okay. We were having so much fun together that we did not even notice how quickly our time passed here.”

“That’s okay,” Max responded. “I just enjoyed getting to spend my night with a wonderful woman like you Steph. Speaking of which, when will we see each other again? I enjoyed my time with you and would like to see you again. Of course, as long as you want to see me too, that is.”

“Of course I do,” I responded. “I enjoyed my time with you as well Max. And I am not sure. I would enjoy nothing more than to see you again too. But I just do not know. We both go to the same school so maybe we can talk at school. Does that sound good to you?”

Max nodded his head, coming to the same understanding I did. Yes, I had a good time with Max, I will admit. But I am just not sure how this is all going to work yet. I do not know if we should see each other again or not.

What I do know is that these feelings are real. My heart was hammering in my chest like crazy during the whole night we were together, butterflies emitting from my stomach constantly. And I know I enjoyed the feeling too, that much I know for certain. But I do not know what is going to happen and do not want to rush this, whatever this things with Max is.

So as I sat in my lonely room, thinking about all of this, everything that happened, I contemplated what was going to happen next and where my future was taking me. And then, I got out of bed, got dressed and prepared myself for the weekend at home ahead.

The Swan & the Crow Chapter 2: A Strange Encounter (Max)

Note: NaNoWriMo is where writers work on a 50,000 word novel during the month of November without editing their work, including checking for spelling or punctuation. Therefore, my story The Swan & the Crow for NaNoWriMo is nowhere close to perfect. Please keep this in mind when reading this chapter and the rest of the chapters that will be following it. But I am open to hearing opinions on what I have written so far and am open to any feedback given. To read Chapter 1, click here.

Current word count: 6,944.

As the last bell for math class rang, I hurried out the doors of Rockwell High School. I needed to get home, fast. I need to get ready for the party going on at Jason’s house. As one of the most popular kids at this stupid school, I am normally invited to all of these stupid parties.

Normally, I do not go to them. Not because I think I am too cool for them or anything, but because I just do not feel like going. But with today being a Friday night and the weekend closely looming ahead, I feel as if I need to do something with my life. I need to get out, be around friends I care about. And get away from school. Get away from all the people who expect too much from me. My parents. Friends. People at this school who do not even know me. Everybody.

I do not know how this happened. How I went from being just a normal kid in middle school to becoming one of the most popular kids in high school. I did not do anything different or ask for any type of special treatment. I just existed and that was enough. I woke up one day, walked through the halls of Rockwell High School and everyone knew my name.

No, I think I do know how it happened. I saved someone. One of the students here. I saved them from death. From jumping off the ledge. From making a bad choice. From choosing death over life. From ending their life when it had just begun.

The person I saved was my best friend Michele. He was going through a rough time through the summer before we started high school. He had been in a serious relationship with a girl named Emily who cheated on him with another guy who when he found out felt guilty for hurting Michele in this way. This guy did not know Emily was with someone because she lied, told him that she did not have a boyfriend because her boyfriend had broken her heart so she needed something new. Said she just wanted to sleep with him, nothing else. So he complied, because why not?

He had no idea the damage he caused Michele. Ever since the cheating, Michele faced depression. He started becoming moody, less open to converse with friends. One thing lead to another and he tried committing suicide. Not just once, but multiple times. He was lucky though, because he always got caught before he could fully commit. But then one day, he tried killing himself at Rockwell High School. In front of our peers. In front of me. He was going to jump off the roof of the school. But I got there, just in time. I was able to convince him how life is worth living, that while things in life are difficult, he has friends and people who deeply care about him and are willing to help him.

I saved his life. In front of everyone. Friends. Family. Classmates. Teachers. Everyone.

It became a story on the front page of Rockwell High School News. A story I could never shake off me. Everyone started calling me the hero of Rockwell and wanted to be my friend. I never asked for any of this. I just wanted to help out my best friend and make sure he was okay. That is all I ever want is for my friends to be okay.

It was something I did not for myself, but my friend. Michele deserved to live, to not be distraught and heartbroken by Emily, the girl he thought he loved. In the end, everything turned out okay for him.

But it brought with it a permanent reminder of what had happened to him. No matter what happened in his life next, Michele would be remembered as the guy at Rockwell High School who tried to end his life. And I, Max, would be remembered as the friend and hero who came to his rescue, saving him from making a terrible choice.

But that is all over now, even though everyone here wants to act otherwise. I have moved on, and Michele has too. The only problem now is everyone else has not. Everyone still calls me a hero, tells me I will be doing great things with my life. And I am sick and tired of it. All of it. Dealing with people I do not know coming up to me, telling me about myself as if I do not already know who I am. Michele and I are not this one incident. We are human, just like everyone else. The sooner my peers and everyone around me realize that, the better.

As I headed out of the double doors to Rockwell High School, another student approached me with wide eyes.

“Hello,” he stammered in a quiet voice. “Are you Max? The guy who—you know—saved that guy who was going to jump?”

With a sigh, I looked into this student’s wide eyes which were growing bigger by the second as he looked up to my tall frame. I am used to this, people normally having to look up at me to talk to me. I am very tall for a high school freshman. Most of the freshman here are still shortly built, but I retained my growth spurt whenever we were all in middle school so I stand out here like a sore thumb. While being one of the tallest guys here does have some perks, it is also more of an inconvenience for me because most people here know who I am. They just do not realize how tall I am until they come into contact with me in person. And then the shock kicks in and they do not know what to say.

Because I am the guy who saved his best friend. To everyone around here, that is what all I will ever be. A damn hero. A label I never asked for and that I feel like I do not deserve.

After talking to this admirer, I walk away and go home.

I live in a normal home, a house with a white picket fence and a nicely trimmed front yard. It is usually nice being at home because besides my closet friends, my parents and siblings are the only ones who continue to treat me like a normal human being. I know mostly it is because they know Michele personally so they understand what he was going through and that all I did was try to help a friend in need. Which I honestly appreciate because I get enough of being called a hero at school and everywhere else I go that having normalcy at home is really nice.

Because while there are a lot of moments I do not mind being labeled a hero, it does get tiring after a while. It has been a year since the incident and you would think everyone here would have already moved on from what happened. Maybe it is because everyone here knows Michele (though not as well as me) and we all feel close together that the incident has impacted people more than expected. Our community is very small in size so I am not at all shocked that people here have banded together in support of getting Michele the help he needs. Everyone knows everyone (well, almost everyone. We occasionally have some new people here who even I do not know who come up to me and show their support for Michele and tell me what a wonderful job I did.) And there are people in this community I have not met at all. Mind you, I have seen them at school, but I just have not been involved in their lives and they have left me alone too, which is pretty nice. It feels nice to know that there are some people here who know about what I have done but that know to leave me be.

As I walk through our front door, I am warmly welcomed by our tabby cat Kim. Kim snuggles close to me as I close the front door, jumping and purring at me in welcome. She then nudges the toe of my shoe and angles her head to the side.

“Hello there Kim,” I say as I take my backpack off my shoulders and hang it up on our door rack. “Have you been fed yet? I assume not, considering you are coming over to me while I just walked through the door.”

I head into our kitchen, which is perpendicular to our living room space. We just recently got new renovations so everything in our house looks brand spanking new in comparison to how our house looked before. Everything in the kitchen included, looking shiny like a brand new car. I checked Kim’s food bowl, which we keep close to the fridge so that we can be reminded to give her more food. When I see that it is empty, I go to our food pantry, grab the cat food and pour it in.

As I hear the clink of cat food against the bowl, Kim perks her ears up and runs over excitedly. After taking a few nibbles out of her bowl, she rubs herself against me and purrs in appreciation. I bend down to pet her and mumble how excited I am to see her.

Then after giving her one more quick pet on the head, I leave the kitchen, round the corner to our staircase, and head upstairs to my bedroom. After the day I had at school today, I decide I might as well take a shower before going to the party. Besides, I have plenty of time until then. The party is not until seven so I will not be taking too long. And it always feels nice to take a shower anyway so no worries.

As I grab two towels from the hallway closet, one for my hair the other for my body, I head into the clean bathroom, shedding my school clothes off as I go. I jump into the shower, making sure I have all of the accessories needed to get clean.

After my shower, I towel off and head back into my bedroom, going directly to my clothes closet. I open the closet and grab the first pair of shirts and pants I can find and change. After I am changed, I go to the bathroom mirror to look at my reflection so I can make sure my hair is neat. I use my large hands to run my finger through my thin brown hair and check my face in the mirror to look for any chinks in my armor.

I see my brown hair, messy and disorderly from the shower wet and wild. My blue eyes foggy from having water exposed to their pours, trying to rub some of the water out to make my vision more clear and focus. I scrub my hair with my bare hands, trying to make it more neat and tidy for tonight’s party. I know I should probably dry my hair, but I honestly prefer having my hair air dry on its own. It allows me the time I need to do other things and it looks less messy for me.

I shake my head, hoping to get some of my hair out of my eyes, take one last quick look at my reflection in the mirror, and then leave the house, taking my keys with me as I go.

Jason’s house is just five houses down the street from my own. I got invited to this party by Matt, one of my closest high school friends since the incident with Michele. Like everyone else, he was impressed with my heroic deed. However, he was friendly and did not push me too much about all of the details. Instead, he wanted to get to know me as a person, asking me to hang out and do things together and become friends.

Matt knows Jason because they are in the same social circle. They had also been friends with each other since middle school so that helped. It helps that they are both dating girls in the same group as well. Jason has been dating the same girl since middle school, a blonde girl with a strong rebellious streak. Or so I have been told. While I have yet to meet her, she sounds like fun. But I have heard what a power couple her and Jason are. Then again, I have heard from a lot of people about Jason. How much of a nerd he is, the type of guy I had always wanted to be friends with but that my newfound celebrity status as high school hero has caused a chance of a less likely encounter.

Oh well. I will get to meet him today though. After all, I will be barging into his party. Time to deal with all of the looks I am sure I will be getting once I am in his house.

As I walk down the street, I can hear the loud music thumping several blocks away.

Wow, the music is really loud, I thought. I wonder how long it is going to take before the cops get called to stop the fun? Oh well, not really my problem, is it?

As I walk into the throng of the party, I search for Matt, the one friend I have that I definitely know is going to be here. I hear the electric beauty of the music as I pass the gaggle of guys and girls dancing as they consume the alcohol they are too young to be drinking.

It is not until I get away from the ruckus that I see him, hanging out with who must be Jason, clinging to a young blonde girl in his arms. And another young girl of similar age with dark skin who looked at Matt with loving eyes though he did not seem to even notice. When Matt notices me, he waves me over and points me out to the group.

“Hey guys!” Matt exclaims, a red plastic cup in his hands. “This is Max. I am sure not many of you know him personally, but he is one of the closest friends I have here.”

“And Max, these are some of the people I hang out with,” Matt continues, extending his arms to encompass the group around him. “Jason is the dorky guy with the glasses here, Allison is his girlfriend.”

“And this young lady,” Matt says with a wink as he points to the lady looking at him with such loving eyes. “Is Becca. Allison and Becca are part of a trio of chaos at our school. Their third member Steph is currently partying it up with the others. She loves partying so much that she just goes at it whenever she comes to one of these things. But she is polite about it. She usually greets the host first before she starts doing her own thing, which is really nice about her. But come join us here Max before you start thinking you are too good for all of us normal people.”

I shrug my shoulders at him and say hello to everyone he mentioned as I approach the group, being careful not to be too antisocial.

“Do not listen to him Max,” Becca said. “We are a friendly bunch. You are welcome with us anytime. And we are not exactly normal so to speak either. We are a bunch of dorks who are just looking for a good time. Partying is one of the many things we do together to have fun. It allows us to kick back and take our minds off our troubles for an hour or two.”

“Speaking of partying,” Allison says as she untangles herself from Jason’s arms. “Should we not be joining Steph? She has already started having a good time without us. I think the least we could do is go dance with her. We did promise we would not take too long and that we would catch up with her. And since there are now three guys in our group, maybe Max and Steph can dance together when we get to her. I know she normally prefers to dance alone and never with a guy, but she really needs to stop being so antisocial around other guys. I sometimes feel as if she never wants anything to do with the male population so I think it would be nice if she hung out with someone who does not belong here too.”

A look of mischief glimmered in Becca’s eyes as Allison spoke, showing a hint of trouble at the possibility of making one of her good friends dance with me, a complete stranger. While I so badly wanted to laugh at this whole exchange, I became intrigued the more I heard about Steph. She was someone at Rockwell High School that I had never heard about or even seen. Yes, I have heard a little bit about some of her friends, but I did not know anything about her.

I wonder what that is like, I thought. Not having a lot of people know about you. Not having to worry that people will see you and know who you are and call you a hero for one thing you did, just to save a friend. Being completely invisible, without any care in the world, leaving all your troubles behind and being able to focus on your own identity for a change.

Steph was definitely someone I was interested in meeting. But I had no idea how much meeting her would change my life.

 

When I went with Jason, Allison, Matt and Becca to join in the dancing with a throng of people, I had no clue what I was getting myself into. I could definitely hear all of the people yelling and screaming, a look of pleasure plastered neatly on their shiny, sweaty faces. Some in the gaggle of young adults like myself had a cup of booze in their hands, half empty, maybe even full. Could not tell from the group who was already hammered from the night and who was still managing to remain sober despite having a few drinks to wind their night down.

I kept myself distant at first as I watched everyone in my party go into the crowd and dance. But then as I looked at the sea of faces that swam before me, I noticed a girl who was having a rather good time. I do not know what exactly about her caught my attention. I do not know if it was seeing the pure joy of exhilaration in her eyes as she danced in swift movements or that she called out to my adventurous personality. But she stood out to me like a beacon of light in a dark room. I was immediately drawn to her presence and wanted to dance just for the possibility of maybe being near her essence.

Right when these thoughts crossed my mind completely, she turned to look in my direction almost as if she had read my thoughts. She stopped in her dance as she looked at me. The expression on her face I could not read, but I felt as if by looking at me, she was beckoning me to join her.

I felt my heart hammer in my chest rapidly and stopped cold in my tracks.

Who is this girl? I thought as I turned to look at her only to discover she was no longer there. And how does she move so quickly? She is really good, I must admit. She really does seem to enjoy dancing.

But who is she? Who is she?

As this last thought entered my conscious mind, I felt a hand pulling me into the throng of dancing people. I turned to look to see who was bringing me into the crowd to find myself looking into her eyes once again.

“Want to dance?” I heard her beautiful voice say as I stared at the people around me in shock.

I felt as if I had been hypnotized. I do not know how I got here and why. I did not understand why this girl, this one girl, brought so many feelings to the forefront of my conscious thought. She drew me to her like a moth to a flame and her eyes entranced me into wanting to dance with her.

“S-sure,” I stammered, caught off guard that I was even able to speak while in her presence.

I looked into her eyes, trying to smile and be charming in the hope that she might want to not only dance but talk as well. She was a figure amidst those around me that caught my attention and knew how to drew me in.

And I do not know why exactly she captivated me.  I do not know if it was the way she moved when she danced, like a free spirit looking to have a good time, or if it was the look in her bright eyes, shining like the golden sun.

But in that moment, she captivated me like no other girl ever had. My eyes were drawn to her, only her and nobody else.

I had never felt this drawn to a person before. Especially a girl. Yes, I know girls am familiar with them and their charms. But I have never been close to one before to want to be more than friends with one. That is how enthralled with this one I was. Her spirit spoke to me, called to me in a way none of the other girls at Rockwell High School had ever done.

In that moment, I wanted to make a good impression on her. I wanted to charm her, to enthrall her, to be with her. I wanted to soak up that warm welcoming smile, that glow that shined all around her. I wanted to be with her, whether it was in her presence or near her enough to where I could talk to her in casual conversation.

I not only wanted to be like her best friend, but much much more. And I did not understand any of it. What was happening and why. I did not understand this at all. But whatever it was, whatever this was, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed every moment of it. And I did not want it to stop. I wanted this moment to last the rest of my lifetime, to be frozen in time in a picture frame. To be remembered for what it was: a good night, the best night of my life.

So for the first time in my life, I danced with a woman that enthralled me. And without knowing it and meaning for it to happen, I met Steph, the girl who I unexpectedly fell in love with.         

The Swan & the Crow Chapter 1: Another Night Out (Steph)

Swan & Crow Chp. 1
The beginning of Chapter One of The Swan & the Crow. Total word count since writing my first chapter is 3,080 words.

Note: NaNoWriMo is where writers work on a 50,000 word novel during the month of November without editing their work, including checking for spelling or punctuation. Therefore, my story The Swan & the Crow for NaNoWriMo is nowhere close to perfect. Please keep this in mind when reading this chapter and the rest of the chapters that will be following it. But I am open to hearing opinions on what I have written so far and am open to any feedback given. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my attempt at a novel and I hope you have a nice day!

The last bell for class rang. I ran out, ready to get out and party with friends. I had enough of school for today and just wanted to go home, change clothes, and party.

For the past couple months, partying has been a big part of my life. I party to get away from life, to forget everything going on around me. To dull the pain home has caused me, to feel numb completely. To forget the past, live in the present and make it to the future. I live life everyday like it is the last day I will be living on the Earth.

But I have to. It is the only way I can stay sane. What with all the trouble I have to deal with at home.

My parents are a complete train wreck. My mom is a hot mess, constantly dealing with father’s abuse. She is too kind and forgiving for her own good. But she refuses to leave him, ever. Even after he leaves her bruised and beaten and bloody on the floor, crying for help.

Not to say my dad does not have good moments too. He does, but they are very frequently now that he drinks on a daily basis. I just wish he laid off on the booze and gave mom the love and support she deserves. Instead, I am the one left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart that refuses to give out.

Not that I mind too much, usually. Mom is so loving and supporting of everything I do, almost like a personal cheerleader that I have a hard time being mad at her. It is usually Dad that I am mad at whenever I am at home.

But this has been going on for a while now, since I was little when we first moved here. I have just now decided that I have had enough and need something to get away from it all.

That is when partying became a big part of my life. All of my friends go out on a daily basis so I decided to tag along with them, just for something to do away from home. Ever since, I have been hooked.

And tonight was not going to be any different.

As soon as I got home, I immediately went to my room, ignoring my Dad’s far cries for more alcohol.

“Steph!” I heard Dad yell in a drunken stupor as I ascended to my room. “Can you go into the refrigerator and get me more alcohol? I just finished this bottle here, and your mother is on the floor in our room, crying like a baby as usual.”

I closed the door with a slam once I was in my room in response, immediately going to my closet wardrobe looking for clothes. I found the navy button down t shirt I liked hanging up, took the shirt I was currently wearing off, and buttoned it up to perfection before closing the closet door.

I then went to my mirror hanging against my bedroom door to look at my reflection, making sure to adjust my shirt just right. When I looked into my dark brown eyes, all I saw was fear. Fear and excitement for the adrenalin I was going to be experiencing tonight at the party. My long black hair that ran all the way down to my waist I decided to pull up in a ponytail to keep away from my angular face. Once that was done, I went to my drawer at the end of my bed, pulling out a nose ring, which I quickly applied directly to my nose. The nose ring was a dark shade of purple, bringing out a nice sense of calm to my already dark face.

In order to make myself look more exotic and dangerous, I also got out of the drawer some dark purple eyeliner to apply around my eyes in order to match my newly acquired nose ring. I then put on some purple lipstick to make my whole exotic look more complete.

Once I put all of my accessories away, I knew my look was complete. Time to get out of here and go party with Allison and Becca, I thought as I closed the door in my room and descended the stairs, heading directly to the kitchen. I grabbed the last bottle of booze we had left in our refrigerator and went into the living room, quickly putting it in Dad’s hand.

“Here’s your damn booze,” I said. “Now I’m going to go check on Mom, but I am going out tonight. I have some things I have to do that are more important than staying here with you and Mom, but I will be back home later. Try not to kill Mom for me while I am gone, please.”

“Oh and one last thing,” I continued before going into their bedroom. “That is the last bottle of booze that was left in the fridge. Looks like you are going to have to stock up on some more. Such a shame. I know how much you hate having to leave the house for anything.”

I walked into their bedroom and could hear Mom weeping on the floor in a corner of the bedroom. The room was dark, a void of silence and emptiness accept for the sounds of Mom’s weeping. I turned on a light in order to brighten the place up and went to check on Mom for damages to her face.

Mom was hurt badly. I could see the damage just from looking at her face. She had bruises covering both her eyes and a cut directly on her forehead. She was also shaking from head to toe, rocking back and forth as if to numb her body of the pain she had just endured. And she was crying too. I could see the tears streaming down her face as I bent over her to calm her down.

“Shhh, Mom,” I whispered gently to her as if I were talking to a child. “There, there. It is okay. The pain is over now. You are okay. You will be alright. Dad is in the living room. He is drinking himself into a sleeping stupor again.”

I then hugged her against me as the weeping continued, pressing my hands gently against her back to calm her down. I rubbed my hands through her wind-blown curly black hair as her sobs echoed throughout the bedroom, hoping to calm her down and get her settled in for the night.

My Mom is not one for words. She is often very quiet, mostly because of Dad’s abuse but also because she does not have a whole lot to say. But when she does talk, her voice echoes words of wisdom I often repeat to myself to make it through the day. She is a gentle spirit, very childlike in nature that I am always protecting with my life. I both hate her and love her all at once. I hate how much crap she puts up with Dad and how she does not stand up to the pain he causes her. But I love her gentle spirit and how strong she is against the odds and her devotion to Dad, despite all of the trouble he causes both of us.

I held her against me for a long time. Eventually, she fell asleep laying on the floor in my arms and I was able to carry her and gently place her in their bed. I then covered the blankets over her sleeping frame, gently stroked her face, and gave her a gentle kiss on the cheek before leaving their bedroom and the house to go out with Allison and Becca for the party.

 

It was dark when Allison and Becca arrived at Jason’s house for the party. Jason is Allison’s long time sweetheart. They have been together since we were sixth grade middle schoolers. And their relationship shows no signs of being anywhere close to stopping. They are both the cutest and dorkiest couple I have ever met. But they are sweet and both of them love me for me. They understand my problems at home and have always been supportive of me getting out of the house. Even if it means partying my nights away.

When we walked in Jason’s house, the party was just starting. The smell of alcohol filled my lungs with exhilaration and got my heart pumping, ready to start jumping and dancing. The music was upbeat, coming up and down in waves of shock and electricity that filled the room of dancing bodies with bursting energy. But we had to find Jason first. After all, this is his house and his party. It would be rude not to say hello to the host of the night. Even though I wanted to dance and forget my troubles at home, I was polite at these occasions.

As Allison, Becca and I pushed through sweaty bodies, we found Jason over by the alcohol cooler, talking to his buddy Matt. Jason is a man with upper body strength and a very lean torso. About an inch or two taller than me, Jason has dark brown hair, parted on the left side of his face, matched with a pair of black framed glasses. He is cute, in a dorky sort of way that draws Allison’s attention to him.

While Jason isn’t my type, him and Allison are a cute couple. While Jason is much more dark in comparison, Allison is an angel in disguise. With blonde hair and perfectly shaped blue eyes, Allison is the type of girl who could get whatever guy she wanted. But she doesn’t because she only has her eyes and ears for Jason. But like me, Allison also has body piercings. She has one in her nose, similar to mine but also a belly ring and gauges. She is the type of girl that draws people to her like moths to a flame. There is always a guy everyday interested in talking to her, but she manages to avoid them and pretends like they don’t exist.

Sometimes I envy her. Not because of her looks or anything. I envy the easy way she carries herself. She oozes confidence everywhere she goes, confidence I wish I myself had. She is very perky too and very social. She can talk to anyone in a room and have that person laughing within minutes of their conversation. She is that social and I envy it every time I see it. She is also one of my best friends and I love her for taking time out of her day to talk to me about anything. She is a very good listener too which is something else I adore about her. She listens to anything I say and is able to offer the best advice I need for the occasion.

Her and Becca both are the light at the end of my tunnel. They bring me a sense of peace and calm my life at home has never been able to give to me. And I love them for it with each and every breath I breathe.

And Matt is the guy Becca currently has a crush on. With short cropped ginger red hair, Matt is of shorter build than Jason but is very strong. He is about an inch taller than me to where I could almost look him directly in his green lizard eyes.

While Allison is an angel in disguise, Becca is the complete opposite. She is the girl I rely on whenever I need to get in trouble. She is the life of any party that is going on around her. With her and Allison, we are a storm in a world of chaos. Allison knows how to calm me down while Becca knows how to rile me up. Like me, Becca too is very exotic looking. Born in Jamaica, Becca has very dark black skin and short cropped dark red hair recently dyed from its normal dark black color hue. Her brown almond shaped eyes give off a hint of mischief to those who gaze upon them. But unlike Allison and I, Becca’s dark skin is not graced with any sort of piercings. Instead, she wears bangled sets of jewelry that she claims to have gotten from her home in Jamaica. All of which are a beautiful golden color like the sun.

As we approach Jason and Matt, Allison runs to Jason and gives him a bear like hug. Becca on the other hand approaches Matt awkwardly, grasping his hand in a firm handshake and mumbling a quick “hello.”

Jason hugs Allison back and gives her a quick peck on the cheek. I turn away from the romantic interaction, trying to dull the numb pain inside of me in my isolation. Because I know I will never find love like there’s, no matter how hard I try.

I am too much of a loner for such a thing. I do not have time for boys when my world around me is too painful. When all the people left in my life are those few close friends I currently have. Allison, Becca, Jason and my Mom are the only ones I really have. They are the only ones I love, the only ones who understand my pain.

“So how are you ladies doing today?” I hear Jason say amidst my inner turmoil. “Are you not going to go ahead and party, enjoy the moment? Things are already starting to get pumped up here. Might as well get in on the action.”

As Jason holds Allison close to him, he gently strokes her hair as she leans her head on his shoulder.

“We wanted to say hello first,” Allison, Becca and I say in unison. “We just got here after all. Might as well say hello to the friendly host before we get the party really started.”

I look all around me at all the people dancing, laughing and having a good time. Well, I think, I might as well get started. I know Allison is going to want to be around Jason for a little bit and Becca is going to want to talk to Matt too.

“I think I am going to go ahead and join in the fun,” I tell Allison, Becca and Matt as Allison keeps her head on Jason’s shoulder and Becca looks at Matt in a romantic way. “You guys look like you are comfortable here but I think I need to clear my head for a little bit.”

“Okay,” Becca says, a smile gleaming in her eyes. “But try not to get into too much trouble without us. I will be there in a minute. I want to hang out with Matt for a little bit. I have something I want to talk to him about.”

“Oh, I am sure you do,” I say a smile hitting my eyes as I give her a quick wink before slinking off into the group of people.

I take a moment to listen to the pumping music for a little bit, then start fist pounding and jumping around, laughing and giggling like I am having the best time of my life. And I am. Usually parties give me this sense of inner peace and excitement I never get from anything else. They make me forget how shitty things at home are, even when a party turns out to be a complete bust. Which normally, is never the problem for me. Allison, Becca and I have good luck at finding just the right parties to have a good time at. Mostly because they know my need to party but also because we know how to make parties fun when things are not looking so good.

Tonight is no exception, even now when I am dancing alone. I can already feel the high I get from dancing around at parties, the magnetic electricity stinging the air and making my hair frizz up. Time passes as I continue to dance, not at all noticing more and more people joining in on the fun.

Allison and Becca eventually join in the fray with Jason and Matt in tow. Both dance with their respective partners, giggling in sheer joy at the beautiful music being played to provide us with a good time. It is while I am dancing with my friends that I notice a different atmosphere to the party. I do not know what it is exactly, but I all of a sudden notice my heart thumping hard in my chest. And when I turn to try and find the source of my beating heart problem, I see a beautiful pair of blue eyes of a male staring right into my soul. And for the first time ever since I have gone to one of these parties, I feel the moment frozen in time like a picture from a fairy tale story. I do not know what is going on, but I am drawn to this guy and want to find out his name.

He stands out from the pack of male guys already here at this party. I do not know if it is his attractive looks or that he has decided to distance himself from everyone else here. But he is standing alone, not at all dancing. Just looking straight at me, straight into my soul. His eyes draw me to him and make me want to go over and talk to him. But I do not know him. I do not know him at all.

But he is attractive. I can say that for sure. With his dark brown hair and ocean wave blue eyes, he draws me into his gaze. He is tall for a high school student, one of the tallest guys I have ever seen at this party. He towers over the rest of us in the sea of people dancing and having a good time. I do not know why, but something about him looks familiar. I do not know what it is exactly.

But I do not care. Because I want to go over to him, talk to him and find out his name. And find out why I feel as if I have seen him before.

NaNoWriMo Season Coming Up

National Novel Writing Month logo. Can be found on NaNoWriMo's website, nanowrimo.org.
National Novel Writing Month logo. Can be found on NaNoWriMo’s website, nanowrimo.org.

As the next couple days go by, NaNoWriMo is vastly approaching. I am both excited and nervous for NaNoWriMo to be here.

For those who are unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it is National Novel Writing Month. In November, writers who want to participate begin the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in the span of a month.  During that time, a writer can write about whatever they want. As long as they keep writing towards the 50,000 word count, they are good to go. The novel doesn’t have to be perfect as long as you reach the word count by the end of the month.

I once participated in NaNoWriMo in 2012 where I attempted to write a novel called The Zombies Are Coming! The Zombies Are Coming!  However, I quickly realized in 2012 that I had so much going on at the time that I wasn’t able to fully commit to participating in NaNoWriMo. I had just started going to college and was still getting used to living away from home. And my classes were keeping me so busy that I didn’t have a whole lot of spare time to write. Plus, the Internet at school was bad and gave me a difficult time at uploading my word count every time I worked on my novel.

Since 2012, however, I’ve always wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo again. So I figured since I’ve already graduated from college, why not do it this year? Besides spending my free time looking for a job in my field, playing video games, reading books, blogging, and working, I know I’ll definitely have time to write this novel in November.

At first, when I quickly realized that NaNoWriMo was approaching, I freaked out. I had one or two novel ideas in my head, but had done nothing to get these ideas outlined and ready to go. However, I had these past two days off from work this week and was able to outline my ideas on paper.

And it was while I was outlining my two novel ideas that I was able to decide which novel I wanted to write for NaNoWriMo this year.

Since I am an avid lover of young adult literature, I decided that I wanted to do my own version of Beauty & the Beast, which I’ve decided to name The Swan & the Crow.

The Swan & the Crow centers on two high school teenagers named Steph and Max who unexpectedly fall in love. Steph, a young teenage fuckup, never thought a boy like Max would ever be interested in dating a girl like her. And Max never thought he’d be dating a girl like Steph who was anything but perfect. Dealing with some issues at home, Steph goes out at night after school with friends to get away from her problems. It is while she is out at a party with some friends that Steph meets Max, the perfect role model at school who everyone idolizes. But Max doesn’t want people looking up to him and just wants to live a normal teenage life. It is while at the party where he meets Steph that he finally discovers a wild side to himself that he wants to explore. As months go by and their relationship is nowhere close to breaking, Steph must make a difficult choice that could change their lives forever.

The Swan & the Crow is a story I’ve had in my head for a while now.  Beauty & the Beast is one of my favorite fairytales and I’ve always wanted to write my own story based off of it. I’ve had this story in my head but have never taken the opportunity to actually write it. And now that I actually know that I want to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, I’m going to write it.

While I’m still trying to figure out how exactly I’m going to do that, I have a basic outline for some of the chapters written out and prepared. While I’m not going to post my outline for my story on here, I plan on posting the chapters so that they can be read and appreciated by you guys.

Are any of you guys participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what are you planning on writing about?

I’m really looking forward to NaNoWriMo this year and can’t wait to get started.

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