Ліцей "Крила"
«Зелений 184». Частина #1
Наші учні 9 та 10 класів разом із своїм наставником, Олегом Бондаренко, вчителем риторики, історії та літератури, присвятили місяць копіткої праці для створення першого розділу своєї книги "Зелений 184", яку вони написали командою авторів: Тарасом Лободою, Софією Демко, Дашою Пархоменко, Мар'яною Поліщук.

Перед вами у ній відкривається завіса переживань школярів - ставлення до мистецтва і стосунків, складних тем булінгу, суїциду та сексуальних домагань. Герої книги - такі ж діти, які намагаються виживати у складному для них світі: мислити, відчувати, жити.

Книга побудована за тримовним принципом: частина українською, частина англійською та російською мовами. Текст - нецензурований, дуже справжній. Діти пообіцяли багато працювати та щомісяця випускати одну частину.
Частина #1
-Йди швидше, це ж ти повів мене до цього сраного музею! - Мара легенько штовхнула Вана у спину й роздратовано прошипіла.

-Окей-окей, не дратуйся так, я ж просто хотів роздивитися розк…

-Досить! Мені все одно. Квитки купувати збираєшся?

-Т-так, секунду, - пальці Вана забігали по кишенях і поспіхом відшукали кілька зім'ятих купюр і одну монетку. Пара мовчки підійшла до каси. Втомлений касир з осудом в очах розгорнув кожну купюру і після секундних роздумів видав підліткам два тоненьких рожевих квитки. Мара подивилась на Вана ніби кажучи: "Я вже хочу звідси піти, тому давай почнемо швидше."

У відповідь вона отримала короткий погляд: "Хіба не ти наїхала на мене за те, що ми недостатньо "вишукано" проводимо час? Могла б сказати чого хочеш, а не знову робити мене винним в тому, що тобі нудно".

Пройшовши через іржавий турнікет, Ван дістав гаманець і вклав туди квитки, пильнуючи щоб вони не зім'ялися. Мара хмикнула, на що Ван ніяково потупив очі і швидко заховав гаманець до кишені.

-То що, яку залу ти обереш, розумничку? - запитала Мара, скосивши очі вглиб музею.

-Ха, я думаю тут ні з чого обирати. Ти не чула, що картини, а точніше їхні репродукції, працівники розвісили навмання, тому обирати сенсу немає. Пішли до першої.

Порожня зала, що смерділа старістю і страхом, зустріла їх довгою білою стіною з ув'язненими в старі рами картинами.

Пара втупилася в першу картину «За сніданком». Не найвідоміша, але впізнавана картина викликала у неї теплі відчуття. Діти сидять за столом і щось їдять, хоча й так виглядають достатньо ситими. Мабуть, в нормальних людей, це полотно асоціюється з батьківським домом. Ван же одразу згадав будинок своєї бабусі (що насправді не була йому рідною), і відмахнувся від мерехтливої думки про власних батьків, бо згадувати про них не хотів. Мара лише щось мугикнула собі під ніс.


-Боже, я почекаю тебе на вулиці, окей? Чи ні, краще піду додому, - роздратовано прикрикнула Мара коли побачила наступну картину: «Самогубство» Мане. Щось на цьому полотні розізлило дівчину, тому вона вирішила просто піти з музею до того, як розірве Вана на шматки через свою агресію.

-Кличеш мене Богом? - запитав Ван і ніби стиснувся, чекаючи на щось образливе у відповідь.

-Ні. Вибач, ні, не кличу, - Мара несподівано пом'якшала. - Я піду, а ти лишайся. Я дуже роздратована, але не хочу сваритись, тому лишайся. Подивися на свої картини. Вибач, що зіпсувала побачення, - швидкими кроками Мара вийшла, майже вибігла з галереї, не давши Вану відповісти. Він похмуро відвернувся від виходу - Мара розлютилася б, якби він пішов за нею.


Розчарований, хлопець пішов галереєю сам. Він йшов швидко і одним оком побачив два портрети, які він бачив вперше, і ймовірно, третій портрет, який він так і не розгледів. Скло, що захищало його, не дозволило побачити нічого, крім відображених обрисів кімнати і відбитих від себе сонячних зайчиків на протилежній стіні.

На щастя, в наступних залах він з цим вже не стикався, так як вікон там вже не було, а приміщення були розміщені все глибше і глибше в будівлі. Проходячи повз купу картин зовсім різних епох і авторів, стилів і напрямів, його думки переплітались не менше за дивакуватий порядок тутешніх упорядників. Його все ще турбувала неочікувана втеча Мари, та що вже поробиш, її ж вибір. Не те щоб вона колись була врівноважена, та все ж ця її витівка засмучувала, чомусь, більше і сильніше за інші. Єдине що допомагало відволіктись - це, власне, картини. Звісно, якщо не звертати уваги на дурнуваті розміщення, як от "На порозі вічності" і "Грішний янгол", котрі щось робили поряд, Вану якимось чином все ж вдалось трохи розслабитись. Зали і зали, ці палітри з невеликою кількістю фарби, що вже облазила, затхлий запашок цієї галереї - все це з часом приводило хлопця в своєрідний транс. Може всі ці картини і не були оригіналами, може вони і не були настільки вміло написані, як написано "Народження Адама" майстерною рукою Мікеланджело, та ці картини все одно вражали його. Та підходячи до останньої картини приміщення - чиєїсь версії портрета Доріана Грея, на котрий, на відміну від всіх інших, падали пара сонячних променів, хлопець раптом усвідомив, як промайнув всю галерею. Бажаючи залишити і відбити останнє враження він різко повернув голову у випадковому напрямку, натрапив очима на "Страшний суд", здригнувся і пішов до виходу. Будучи вже на зовні він зміг оволодіти більш критичним поглядом, пригадав всю ту кашу стилів, епох і митців, і його аж до кісток пробрало. «Можливо мені варто піти пошукати Мару? Її буде легше знайти ніж логіку працівників цього місця...»


«Бувай», - посміхнувся касир і замислився: «Можливо варто запропонувати власникам порадитись з мистецтвознавцями? Бо такі задроти, як він, вічно незадоволені виходять...»
1
Loud chattering erupted as the bell finally rang. It pierced One's ears; he was daydreaming during the lesson – geography wasn't his favourite subject. His chair scraped along the floor as he stood up and grabbed his almost empty pencil case. Not caring whether it was open or closed, he threw it into his bag, which he pulled over his shoulders, and left.

He kept his eyes on the ground, watching the dirty shoes walk swiftly passed him. It was lunchtime, so the corridors were especially noisy and crowded. All were hurrying to the cafeteria, but One didn't go. He didn't know where he was going actually, he never did. However, he knew one thing: to avoid the cafeteria at all costs.

His pace quickened as he passed the blood-red doors of Hell, not wanting to catch the attention of stupid demons that tormented him as soon as they saw him. He managed to pass by unobtrusively: the people who weren't interested in a chubby, dark-haired boy passing by didn't pay attention. They were too busy moaning about how hungry they were, how unfair Mrs Wilson was in their maths test and how annoying the P.E teacher was. Two taller, stronger boys, on the other hand, weren't interested in those conversations. They were interested in one person only. Their favourite victim, favourite toy that would always fight back. One.

The hallway became less crowded by the second. People were deserting their lockers to fuel themselves with calories. All the gossiping they did burnt those calories, leaving them hungry for more. The last person there passed One, completely emptying the hallway. One noticed the small echo from his footsteps was offbeat. He wasn't alone. He carried on walking though, wishing that the person behind was just walking in the same direction as him. The person meant no harm. The person didn't want to quicken their pace. They didn't want to chuckle behind One, grabbing him by his shoulder, slamming him into the wall. They didn't want to grin devilishly as they sneered impolitely: "And what do we have here?".

The person's hand travelled down One's chest and onto his stomach. Their hand grabbed One's stomach fat and began pinching it. "Have you gained even more weight?" they said, mocking One in a flabbergasted tone. One didn't look up and gave no answer. "You fat cunt. You never eat during the day do you? I bet you just pig out at night!" One's head started to bang. "Gorge yourself 'til you can't walk." He felt sick to the stomach. "Stuff yourself like a turkey for roast dinner on Christmas day!" He had enough.

Знаєте, як воно часом буває, коли в небі падає зірка, а ти виглядаєш нагору і застаєш цю мить. Чи коли з кишені випадає конче цінна річ, а ти навіть не помічаєш того, та з'являється твій однохвилинний герой, що підходить до тебе і говорить: «Пробачте, це ж у вас випало?» Що ж то за миті щастя, випадковостей, чи долі, котрі стаються з кожним, без яких життя, мабуть, було б трішечки сумнішим?

Не те що б Честер сильно вірив в удачу, чи з ним це часто траплялось, та все ж пару випадків він пам'ятав. І чи то через чисту випадковість, або через чарівний магнетизм хлопчини, здається, на ім'я Ван, але Честерові неодноразово доводилось ставати однохвилинним героєм. Та і не дивно, що він на таке постійно натрапляв, адже два кораблі, що розсікають один океан обов'язково мають зустрітись, а якщо цей океан охоплює лиш пару поверхів і декілька десятків кабінетів, то ти просто зобов'язаний ковтати повітря, думки і запах поту підлітків, розділяючих з тобою ці коридори. Щойно люди заметушаться - і ти це відчуєш, хтось на тебе засудливо гляне - глянуть всі, і ти відчуєш ці пари очиць на власній спині, а як тільки спалахне жага хижака - в цих тісних джунглях кожна беззахисна жертва це відчує. Кожен, не виключаючи Чета, в якому за таких ситуацій спалахував справжній гнів. І не те щоб він намагався його приховати, скоріше навпаки. Кожного разу він відчував, як повільно і впевнено псувався його настрій, і починала палати величезна скирта переконань і поглядів через маленький сірник люті, що вкидали прямісінько всередину. І цей гнів в ньому викликали саме ті, хто задирали, дражнили, вішали прізвиська і ярлики, били, знущались, чи, одним словом - ставили кого-небудь нижче за себе. На жаль, це відбувалося знову. Знову! А як же, куди ж ми без булінгу і насилля, як же ще ми станемо хоч трохи вище в цій нескінченній вертикалі суспільства? Це визначення того, як звертатимуться до тебе в фаст-фуд ресторані на "ти", чи "ви", і окрім як принизити когось це визначення не діє?

Ну звісно, як ми не можемо покращитись і стати чогось гідними, то давайте опустимо всіх під себе, нехай я поганий - та вони ще гірші! Мабуть, так і з'являються такі покидьки, як той, що прямо зараз стояв біля іншого, того самого, котрий, здається, був Ваном, і черговий раз чмирив малого за трохи зайвої ваги. Від такого бридкого і неприємного видовища в Четі все більше і більше загорало полум'я, котре повинне було когось спалити.

- Гей ти, до малого не лізь! Тобі хтось право давав бути вище інших? - вирвалось у Чета швидше, ніж полум'я встигне зайняти інше джерело ненависті.

- А ти чого лізеш, не бачиш, що я тут з індичкою своєю розбираюсь?! Думаєш мо... - третього слова не було. Третє слово вирвав у нього з горлянки Честер, може своїм кулаком, що вже потрапив в живіт глибше ребер, зробивши дуже не солодко органам на його шляху, а може вічно примруженими очима, які на перший погляд виглядали достатньо байдужими, та в подібні моменти набирали зовсім іншого, в рази твердішого харктеру. Ці недитячі очі не часто можна було помітити де-небудь на вулиці, адже зазвичай ними володіли ті, хто вже не раз бачили людський біль, часом спричинений ними самими. Мабуть, через це очі Чета і були трохи схожі на Ванові, хоча у випадку останнього причина цьому була дещо інша - він бачив багато власної болі. Як поранений вояка може опустити свою голову донизу, і побачити в будь-який момент дірку в грудях, що сочиться червоною рідиною, котру він відмовляється приймати за свою, так і Ван часом приходив додому, гледів в дзеркало і бачив велетенський отвір в грудях.

-Тобі не соромно, чуєш, не соромно тобі?! Коли ти наодинці з собою, тебе раптом не відвідує думка, чи можна тебе взагалі людиною назвати? Ти щодня знущаєшся над слабшими, та не гіршими за тебе, щодня ти робиш людей все нещаснішими і нещаснішими! Дай-но вгадаю: ти мабуть потім відсиджуєшся на уроках, а хоча ні, ти ж їх прогулюєш, веселишся зі своїми друганами-обриганами, п'єш за гаражами, над купою людей усілякими способами знущаєшся, їх думкою і щастям нехтуєш; тіла, поведінку, звички, манеру мови, походження, расу, та навіть грьобані помилки висміюєш? А потім ідеш додому, де тобі ніхто не радіє, і спокійно собі лягаєш спати, адже "день вдався на славу", і дрімаєш, як мале дитя? Ти гадаєш, тебе ще досі людиною можна назвати? Щодня, щосекунди народжуються люди, мрії, зорі, чорні діри, горизонти подій і нові вічності, а ти смієшся з чужого тіла?! - ці слова вже не потрібні були тому, чий комір був в лівому кулаці Чета, а обличчя на половину покрите кров'ю, і на половину страхом. Честерові кулаки випередили його слова. Як і завжди.

Йому раптом захотілось нарешті познайомитись з Ваном, та все ж він цього не зробив. Він просто не зміг.
Crack. One stepped through the woods, twigs breaking and cracking. Their sound echoed through the green forest, which was slowly getting mirier and darker. He shivered. An uneasiness spread through his body. One started to quiver; his jaw trembled. An icy-cold gust of wind swept up his trousers as he started to get goosebumps everywhere. One continued on. As time passed, he noticed small angelic snowflakes, descending from the heaven's, fall gently onto the ground: the temperature kept on dropping. As he was walking, One saw a frozen lake, not too big, in fact, he could probably walk on the lake and get across to the other side within no time. He trudged through nearly frozen, muddy puddles and closer to the lake. One came up to it. To his surprise, he saw his reflection. He saw his oversized jumper slightly hang, exposing his black turtleneck underneath. His black trousers were only seen a little bit, he was bending down after all. One's cubby face shrank as he sucked in his cheeks, biting down to keep them like that. He looked up. He saw the end of the lake, which was surrounded by small hills and trees covered in snow. The pines towered with green nettles peeking through the white glow of snow, while the naked twigs of other trees reached out to him. A tree in particular stood out to One: it was tall and it had lots of branches– they were thick and thin; big and small. Together with the snow that covered all of them, they created a beautiful, delicate outline. The tree sparkled too: tiny icicles hung from the tree, almost like Christmas ornaments. It was divine, captivating - no, a better word for it would be enthralling. The tree was everything he wanted to be - delicate, tall and handsome. But he knew that never would happen. He knew he couldn't become something as unique and divine as that tree. He looked back, not wanting to see something so disgustingly opposite to what he was.

One took a step forward, slowly, silently. He stepped onto the frozen water, one foot at a time. He breathed out heavily, seeing a small, misty cloud leave his mouth. He traipsed onward. With each step he took, his heart started beating faster. He felt a pulse in his legs, his heartbeat in his neck. The small footsteps echoed slightly, the wind blew through the trees, snow dropped down. The boy looked around, wondering where the snow fell. His eyes wandered around the trees, trying to notice anything different. One stopped biting his cheeks, the faint taste of blood leaking onto his tongue. His heart slowed down, now he felt calmer as the tranquillity flowed through his muscles. He exhaled slowly, smiling even.

Crack.

One froze. His smile disappeared immediately.

Crack.

He looked down. One's soul left his body as he spotted the two cracks under his feet. All of the emotions came flooding in, as if they were kept by a thin wall that was bound to break at any moment. He panicked. He heard his own shaky heaving as he attempted to turn as slowly as he could towards the land. One wrong move and it's over.

Hah.

One breathed out, his step being successful. He lifted his knee and moved it forwards. Delicately, his heel reached the ice, toes touching it just after. He repeated this process over and over, gaining confidence. That boost of ego leaked into his arteries, reaching every part of his body. His muscles were pumped with it, tightening even more. "Knee up, move it forwards, put the heel down and press my toes– "One pressed his toes quickly, being as careful as the last time, "–onto the ice." A smirk slowly grew on his face, only a few more metres and he would reach the shore.

A cracking sound underneath him wiped his smirk right off his face without hesitation. A crack followed the first. So did another. And another. And another, sending off a chain reaction. One lifted his leg in the area of ice that was breaking quickly, putting more pressure onto the other. The ice cracked quicker, louder. Panicking, One set his right foot down and tried to run. That foot immediately broke through the ice and fell into the freezing water. One gasped, placing his hands on the ice to stop himself from being engulfed by the water. It didn't work – the ice broke rapidly around them. One's face splashed into what seemed to be fire. The cold burnt him. The splashes felt like enraged flames filled with passive-aggressiveness. He tried to swim but his arms tensed up from the cold. He started to lose feeling in his limbs but he didn't give up. He swam what seemed to be up and his fingers brushed the surface. Brushed the surface... There was supposed to be an opening there. Why wasn't the opening there? How did he end up in a difference place? Was there a secret current underneath the ice? Was the water pushing him further and further away from the opening? One banged on the ice as hard as he could. "I can scrape the ice – no, that would take up too much time."

He couldn't hold his breath anymore. His lungs burnt as his trachea inhaled water. The coldness filled his lungs and his eyes throbbed, blood pounding behind them. He made one last effort in pushing himself up – transient hope suddenly appeared like a flickering candle at the end of a corridor, but the glow quickly died out, drowning in the darkness.
=+=
Soft gusts of wind woke him up. Light breathing turned into muffled sounds. They flowed softly into One's ears. Was this Heaven? He twitched. No. Why would he be in a place where angels were? Where kind souls of all classes, countries, races and historical backgrounds roamed, deserving their peaceful afterli-

"For God's sake, when will you wake up already?!" A low, frustrated voice shouted out, startling One. He opened his eyes quickly and sat up. The bright light from the grey clouds beamed, making him close them even quicker. One let out a groan, lifting his hands to cover his face. He felt the body of the man rise, heard how the twigs broke under his feet. One looked up. The man's dark brown hair shone in the light; his face was covered in darkness, creating a weirdly intimidating contrast. The trees around them were a deep green, the leaves gleamed yellow as the clouds broke away from one another. The ground was soft and brown. Patches of grass poked in some areas, while others had wide, noticeable roots growing on top of the earth, as if they didn't have any room left in the ground. A weak gust of wind blew dead, orange leaves to the right, where a small pile of leaves already formed. It lay in between two trees, both of which were tall. One tree was skinnier and greyer than the other, it tilted to the side and its branches were all curved.

The tall figure stuck out his hand and waited there patiently. One took his hand and slowly got up. His heart started beating quicker; maybe it was because the stranger's hand was warm, something pleasantly heated was touching him - someone was finally helping; maybe it was because One thought that he drowned and the touch of another living being confused him as to why he wasn't dead yet. One stretched and looked around, then suddenly froze.

"Wh-..Where's the lake?" he mumbled. His eyes darted back and forth in the clearing where the lake should've been.

"What lake?" the stranger asked, putting an arm around One and leaning on him. The man looked around frowning, trying to see any sign of water in their direction. One panicked and flinched.

"Oh sorry, sir. I was just thinking out loud." His shoulders rose up as he escaped the enclosure of the man's arm. One turned to look at the man, they were a similar height, his prominent features now clearer to see. The silence felt deafening, One didn't know what to say to him. He never knew what to say. That's how bad he was at communicating. He was just a stupid fat kid that did badly in school and managed to drown himself and now he was in this bizarre fantasy world with a stranger who was actually part of a secret mafia cult, which was looking everywhere for One because he accidentally bumped into one of its members at church. Now, this man was sent to kidnap One and-

"You okay?" The clouds fully covered the sky. It was grey again, this time darker. The wind got colder, crisper. It whispered quietly in their ears. A soothing song in soft silence, broke by a husky voice.

"Huh?" One looked back up at the stranger, not really understanding why he was looking at the ground. "Oh, yeah, I'm alright. Just a little tired is all," he replied. The stranger smiled a little bit. He looked One straight in the eyes, then lowered his gaze. He noticed One's dirty trousers and crinkled red jumper that was dishevelled and lay more on one shoulder. It seemed to be an old jumper; the sleeves didn't reach the boy's wrists. The red was worn out and looked more maroon the more he stared. The belt hung just under the waist, a little too loose. It was stopped from falling by One's hips. His trousers still hung loose around his hips, tight around the thighs. The trousers looked a little tight, but the man knew it couldn't be helped – the boy looked like a teenager, very shy and quite stressed. He understood it was perfectly normal to gain and lose weight quickly, unhealthily.

"I'm Chester by the way," the man glanced at One's face again then back to where he was looking before. Chester reached out and touched One's belt, not feeling any trembling, he grabbed onto it firmly. He pulled it a little, making One look down. "You should fix your belt."
"Why do you never help me One?" She faced him, a tear rolling down her cheek. "And when you do help me, why do you always look so sad? So forced? Is this how Mara felt? I can understand her now. I understand her pain." she was squeezing her arm. Her back was facing him. "No wonder she killed herself."

He was in the woods again. He couldn't help it – One didn't want to think about Mara anymore. It hurt him too much. He looked back at the house, sighing. He rushed past the large auburn tree; through the lime green opening, where the sun never stopped shining; up the overgrown hill. He ran to the glistening lake.

The lake was sparkling, the small ripples reflected the sunlight. One stepped closer towards it, breathing in and out. He crouched down, took his shoes off stiffly and rose again.

One touched the water, chilly. He saw his hand in it – it was crystal clear. The water flowed towards his feet, pinching them ever so slightly. The ripple sounds increased as One entered the lake. He swam freely, the water moved to his command. He breathed in and lowered his head into the water. When he opened his eyes, he saw someone standing, staring at him. One was confused. Was there something behind him?

"I don't think you should be swimming in there," the tall young man asked, walking a little closer. He looked quite tired. His hair was a little messy and it covered his dark eyes, shimmering golden-brown at that moment. In the sunlight, under the trees, the guy's light skin looked quite unappealing: it had a greenish undertone, and with his slim face and eye bags, it looked very unhealthy.

"So... What brings you to the forest?" One asked, swaying his arms in the water. The stranger chuckled.

"I should be asking you. Swimming in a pond? Quite weird, especially in a forest." His light, thin lips formed a small smile, clearly amused by One, who was swimming towards land.

"For your information, it's a lake." One pulled himself onto the ground. His wet, dark, shoulder-length hair stuck to his neck as he stood up. The stranger was a little bit taller than him.

"Well, for your information," the man gazed down at him, still smiling, "My name is Alexandre. It's a pleasure to meet you...?" he stuck out his hand and tilted his head to one side. One grasped Alex's hand and shook it gently. His hand felt like lava compared to the latter's.

"One, my name is One." He cracked a small smile. "You didn't answer my question though." he looked straight into Alexandre's eyes, but quickly averted his gaze elsewhere.

"I was taking a stroll. That's what people usually do in the forest." Silence. "Look, I know it's quite odd to ask you this because we just met, but is everything okay? Not everybody would willingly swim in a freezing cold lake." Alex's voice seemed worried, he took One's hands and held them tight, stroking them with his thumbs. "It's actually very peculiar but I think opening up to a stranger is easier than talking about your feelings to someone you already know," his voice slowly lowered. One turned away again, frowning. He let go of Alex's hands, pulling them away gently. He raised his arm and wrapped it around One's back, pulling him in closer.

"I appreciate the offer, but you really don't want to do that. I'm telling you right now, you're just weirded out by the fact that I came out of lake. It's the empathy in you that's talking right-" Alex raised his arm and wrapped it around One's back, pulling him in closer. "What are you doing Alex? You're going to get wet," mumbled One, sniffing slightly. Alex's other arm encompassed him fully, pulling them tighter together.

"Trust me, if this really was empathy talking, I would've walked past you and left," the stranger replied warmly, "Plus, you look like you could use a hug."
•• • ••
The stuffy corridors made it an even better reason to rush out of the school gates: fresh air met them every day after 8 hours of suffering. One felt like this was better than a mother's hug, in fact, he would take having fresh air over his mother any day. Students rushed out like blood from a fresh wound – as soon as the weapon penetrated the skin, the blood started to gush out, emptying the host. The blood would squirt aggressively because the arteries weren't ready for such a hit, but then, it would start to flow beautifully and almost solemnly as the organs lose their main source of oxygen. Except, the students were much more belligerent and scarier. They were like the weapon that caused the wound in the first place, the predator piercing through their prey's skin. And One was their prey.

Pupils bumped into him harshly, mercilessly. He was scared at first, but then got used to it.. He got used to the 2-story houses around the school, all of which were made of red bricks and had red doors; got used to the roads and alleyways he walked along to make sure not to meet anyone; got used to the hill his house was on and the winding road to get to it; got used to the silence and no greetings when he came home; got used to the things his parents said.

The door creaked open. The tense silence greeted One like always, never shutting up. He slipped his shoes off and tip-toed upstairs, holding his breath, like always. He slowly made it to his room, the plain white door waiting for him, like always. He breathed out, finally some alone.


"One, you little shit, when will you come down here and make dinner?! Do you have manners at all?" a voice erupted from the comforting silence of One's room, interrupting his reading, getting louder with each word. "Have these years taught you nothing? Do I–", the door slammed open and a paunchy man with flushed cheeks entered the room, "–look like a joke to you?" he shouted, stomping towards One with his cheeks growing even pinker. He grabbed him by the ear and pulled him roughly down the stairs and into the kitchen. There sat a tall, slender woman with plump red lips and large grey eyes. She turned towards One and his father and smiled gently.

"Now now, what's all the fuss? I could've gotten One instead," she softly spoke, her honey voice melted his father's ears, he let go of One's ear and drifted slowly towards his wife to kiss her.


One paid no attention to this. He started to cook, chopping up some vegetables, until he felt a hand travel down his back. It had long slender fingers and sharp nails. It was his mother's hand. She lifted her other hand and caressed his swollen ear, whispering in a sinister sweetness "I saved you, One, again. When will you save me?" her hand squeezed his hip, moving down towards his thigh, "When will you help me?" her hand moved closer and closer to his inner thigh. One stopped cutting the vegetables. He placed the knife down as gently as he could. He knew what was coming. He knew what she was going to do. He didn't want it. Not now, not ever. He felt the hand in between his thighs. He was trembling. His knees felt weak and he felt sick. His eyes started to tear up as he mustered up all of the courage he had and said:

"We ran out of onions," his voice cracked. The hand stopped.

"What do onions have to do with what we're about to do?" his mother asked. She lowered her hand from his ear and held onto his hip again, tighter than before.

"I need to buy onions," he shivered, feeling her hand go down to his inner thigh. Both of them started moving again. "I need to go to the shop." They didn't stop.

"So what? Dinner can wait. Isn't the person who birthed you more important than some soup?" She pressed her body against his. One places his hands on the table for support.

"Dad will–"

"Your father is asleep, didn't you hear how he left the kitchen?" she pressed her mouth into his ear, "You should pay more attention to your surroundings." Her hands unzipped his baggy trousers. One bit his lip, trying his best not to cry. He knew what would happen if he started crying. He didn't want that. He hated it when his mother did that.

A hot tear trickled down his cheek. He sobbed.

"Please mother, don't…please? Mummy?" he pleaded quietly.


One's tear-stained face sprinted from the house on the hill towards the forest. It was raining, the faint smell of dampness and muddy puddles filled the air. The rain drops were light and fluffy from afar, but with the speed and wind, they pierced his face and hands. As he progressed further, he felt the blowing wind weaken, the rain drops fell with more intensity. Dark clouds swirled over the destination; the trees looked gloomy, ominous. They had vines dripping down them and the grass was nowhere to be seen. The vibrance left the forest, what seemed to be, a long time ago. One advanced into the woods, his heavy footsteps made mud splash everywhere. The raindrops falling on the leaves and dripping down onto the ground overpowered the menacing silence. Splosh, squelch, splosh. Splosh, squelch, splosh. His trousers were splashed with the tender mud; his light blue cardigan turned dark, completely drenched. One searched for the lake – maybe someone else could comfort him like last time, maybe they would say: "It's alright, you're safe now," and stroke him softly. Maybe he would be able to drown himself properly – the lake would turn into a depthless ocean and his body would slowly sink, never reaching the seabed. He stopped, feet slowly sinking into the ground. The trees surrounded an emptiness, the small hills that curved elegantly around the trees faced One with nothing between them. Muddy ground met him as he stepped closer to look for something, anything. But the lake was nowhere to be found. A leaf fell into a puddle of rain water, it was devoured by the mud in it. One lifted his foot to leave, but it wouldn't move. He looked down to see mud up to his knee. The warmth wrapped itself around his legs, slowly, silently. He tried to push the mud away from knees, knowing that putting his hands on the ground would only make things harder. The moist mud was warm in his hands. It spread through his fingers, like a dirty, thick wave. The mud was now up to his hip. His legs felt like they were falling into a hole. The contrast between the cold rain and the warm ground made his body numb. He couldn't feel anything – facing death so many times made him immune in a way and he was alright with that. He had a feeling that he would wake up, he always woke up.


Birds chirped loudly as One slowly stirred. He groaned; the faint taste of dirt still lingered on his tongue. The rough texture made him stick out his tongue and rub off the extra dirt with his mud-covered hands. The dirt was rubbed into his tongue, irritating it. He scrunched his nose and stood up. He felt a sudden pain in his legs, the sharp tingling travelled up his body. His trousers were crusty from his failed sinking attempt and boots were filled with mud. He lifted an arm to his head, it felt like it was hit by a hammer. His cardigan blue no more: bits of hard mud fell on his face as he covered it. His trousers were crusty from his failed sinking attempt and boots were filled with mud. The birds continued to sing. He continued on walking.
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