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This is a one-shot for the Fanonbenders' Fanontastic Contest Round 9.
You lie back against the wall; legs sprawled out along the bed. Your belly is hot and a foot is numb. There's an old Nuktuk poster on the wall, among others, and someone has left the stereo on. You don't know the artist but the song is alright. There's an artificial beat that won't quit but you can distinguish some sort of brass instrument out of the rest of the bleeps and squeaks. Everyone's gone outside and you're not sure what to do by yourself. You only know Kira out of the group but she says everyone likes you even though you're still in high school. What are you supposed to do alone?
You begin to sweat and an icy chill runs down your arms. Are these the effects of what you've taken you wonder? Kira said it would be fun, that all you'd want to do is hang and talk. Your eyes widen as the music seems to change course. It's a bit faster now, and a lot louder. You can hear it sort of talking to you, like it's what's making your heart flutter and spin. You breathe in the warm air, slowly. Just try to relax.
No! You're way in over your head now kid! What have you done? What would your mother think? You're only sixteen! You look about the room. There's grime and pizza crusts everywhere. Half-empty cups of cheap booze with skins and cigarette butts lace the dirty carpet, and a filthy, pungent yellow light fills the room. You don't feel glamorous at all. This isn't cool. This won't make the bullies at school stop. You're still a freak. You still can't think straight. What would your mother think? And who is this artist? But there are pizza crusts everywhere. Is that what the effects are like? Where is everyone? You know your mother would freak out if she found out. What the heel would you say if she called, it'd be impossible to even comprehend a sentence!
The song stops and another comes on. This one is jazzy now, so much purer than the last. It feels so real and so clean. You get up because it's uproarious and the giant smile you're wearing is tickling the corners of your cheeks. Suddenly you suck in a big breath of air as you stretch up your eyelids. There's a minty taste on your tongue and you wipe away the fringe that's stuck sweaty onto your forehead. You remember that everyone is outside so you take to the door. You see the bathroom to your left and know that if you take just one step in there that you'll get nauseous and have to throw up. It's a dark room and the walls and floor are tiled – which isn't really a bad thing. You're not entirely sure why the tiles are scary, they just seem to be; it must be the darkness. You're such a kid. But that isn't bad either. You can still hear the jazzy music and it makes you feel young. It makes you feel cool. To your right is the back door and when you open it everyone notices you.
Kira casts you a smile, her purple lipstick melting under the moonlight.
"Did you put this on?" she smiles, voice deep yet flounced in that girlish way.
"No," you reply as you gently try to close the door without making it boom. "It's just a playlist."
"Oh I love this song!" she replies, shuffling along the staircase banister to give you some room.
Ten's room is on the second story and a balcony gives a view of their concrete garden. A concrete stair leads down to it and all of Kira's friends are on the steps puffing out cigarettes.
"How are you feeling?" Kira giggles, green eyes squinting down at you.
You have no idea how to answer but you know it feels good.
"Good," you reply with a smile.
"Yeah?" she smiles back, wanting more.
"Really good," you laugh, realising just how great a time you are having.
Kira's laughter fades off as you examine Ten's backyard. The outdoors, you feel, is completely different to inside. It's colder and darker, but you just feel so much freer. The outside is so continuous. It's like a circle travelling along a plane. In 3D the line is never-ending and the circle has so much potential space. There is so much outside. You can feel everything clutter your mind, every potential thing that exists beyond Ten's backyard. Ten's parents' car is an old style Satomobile and the moonlight reflects off the bonnet.
"Do you want a cigarette?" Kira asks suddenly as she searches her large, lumbering jacket for her pack of smokes.
She brings forth a handful of things as some other boy you can't remember the name of says he's got the cigarettes on him and pats himself down.
"No thanks," you say quickly so that nobody else has to hassle themselves.
"Oh!" Kira remarks suddenly as the other boys let out brain-dead chuckles. "Does someone have the gum? Mino?"
Mino, a tiny girl with a bleached bob, perks up from smoking to look down at her lap then under her dress.
"Yes! Here pass it up," she replies with her raspy, squeaky voice.
She passes it to a boy, who passes it to the next, to Ten, to another, then finally to Kira. Kira lodges her cigarette between her two lips as she pulls a stick of gum from the pack.
"You really gotta try gum, okay?" she says melodically as she passes you the stick. "It's strawberry flavoured."
You obey and put the gum in your mouth. It was exactly what you needed all along. It's perfect. Sweet, juicy, chewy, it soothes your sore teeth. You can hear the jazz coming through the bedroom window, and can feel it drip and bounce down the stairs and through the streets. The night is young and bright. It's exciting. You like what you're doing and you like hanging out with these older people. Perhaps it's the danger, or the taboo, or perhaps, hopefully, it's genuine - and reciprocated. You wonder if these people like you, or think you're cool. But on some part you don't care. You're completely numb to everyone else on the steps. Everyone but Kira. You look up at her as she leans against the railing. Her black locks sway purposefully in the breeze, her blue fringe fluttering above her dark-lined eyes. In the light, it's dim, she seems so different.
It's confusing. Usually you can explain everything, write it down and calculate it. There's an equation for most things, or a rule or a law. But you can't seem to figure her out. But with all the muddle and jumble in your head, all the anxiety and confusion, she's the clarity. She looks like an angel against the railing, light illuminating her neck, teetering on the edge as if barely on this earth. But what does she think of you? She smiles at you, laughs at things you say even they aren't meant to be funny, takes your hand and leads you through the streets of Republic City. She showed you a world you thought was off limits to people like you, she makes you feel you're actually worth something; she's the first friend you feel you can rely on. But there is no chance it can be anything more. You're still just a kid, and she's 23.
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