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It was a Friday night. It was raining, of course. It always rained in the winter. And Megan was stuck inside. She didn’t mind that much, because of the rain, and she had lit lots of candles in her room, put on her favourite CD, and was now whirling around her room, singing loudly, and out of tune, and dancing erratically. She had been grounded, for what she wasn’t too sure, probably for not going to school, because she was damned if she could remember the last time she had gone to school. Well, college it was now. Same rules, same old people, but no more uniform. Meant she could paint her lips and nails black, and dye her hair pink and other colours, and smoke fags, and so on, but she still had exams to study for, and teachers who didn’t like her being late, or speaking her mind, so it still felt like school.
The cat was watching her mad, erratic dance around the room with her usual big green eyes and confused and happy smile. Gorgeous cat, black, of course. She was sitting amongst all the stuffed animals Megan still had on her bed. Okay, she was sixteen, getting a little old for stuffed toys, but she couldn’t do without them. The faces on her posters stared down at her, too, as she danced. Gorgeous men in various bands, they all were. She had all their CD’s too, and been to all their concerts, even though that had meant saving up all her pocket money and not being able to go anywhere for weeks before hand. It had been so worth it, though, to see all these bands in the flesh, to be caught up with so many other fans, singing and shouting, and hoping, to just be able to reach out and touch them, to maybe even be asked to go back stage. It had never happened, not so far, at least, but she could dream, couldn’t she? Besides, it was at once such concert where she had met her boyfriend, Josh.
Tall, strong, gorgeous Josh. He had dyed black hair, of course, that hung in curls down to his shoulders, and large blue eyes. He wore lots of rings on his fingers, wore a leather jacket, and had three piercings in his ear, and one in his bottom lip. He wore black nail varnish that was always chipped, and played the guitar. He wanted to be a rock star, and he was good, too, and Megan would be his backup singer or own private groupie. She wasn’t sure which, yet. She wasn’t the best singer, she had to admit that, and the idea of standing up on stage, with all those people staring up at her, terrified her. Better to just enjoy their life style, through Josh, and not have to work to do anything about it.
Of course, her parents hated him. They didn’t understand. They were religious, still went to church every Sunday. Thought that there was something wrong with Megan, had even taken her to a counselor, worried about her because she wore so much black and had skulls and demons and gargoyles in her room, the counselor said it was just a phase. She would grow out of it, it was her form of rebellion. Stupid idiots! It wasn’t her form of rebellion. It was who she was. She wrote poetry, too. And sometimes, she cut her wrists to see the blood, and sometimes, Josh would drink it.
So her parents had found another counselor, a religious one, and made her go there once a week so she could tell this idiot why she was so ‘tormented’ and ‘depressed’. She lied to the counselor had a joke with him. Went on about Satan, and vampires and the devil a lot. Said that she was a witch and cursed people. She would swear a lot, too. He seemed to believe it all, and alone, at home, she and Josh would laugh a lot at their stupidness. All right, so some people really seemed to believe all the hype, that vampires were real, that they were the minions of Satan and so on. It was all stupid nonsense, not real. It gave other people the wrong impression, that everyone who wore black, that liked these bands, were into the devil and Satanism and animal sacrifice and so on. Stupid, stupid people.
“What would you like to do tonight?” a voice asked, from beside the window.
Megan whirled around. Josh stood there, smoking a cigarette. He grinned at her, arms folded across his chest, and, as always, just the sight of him made Megan’s heart miss a beat. “I can’t go out,” she said. “I am grounded.”
“It is raining. We can stay here. Listen to music. Watch TV or something.”
“Okay.” That sounded like a good plan. “How long have you been standing there?”
“I didn’t watch you dancing, if that is what you mean,” Josh replied. And Megan laughed.
He climbed up into her bedroom via the garage room and with the help of that old tree that grew just outside. Her childhood swing still hung from that tree’s lower branches, and in the summer, he would push her on that swing. Her parents had forbidden Josh from seeing her anymore, so he just climbed into her bedroom at nights. Her parents were so stupid. They believed everything she said. When she said she was worshipping Satan, they believed that, and when she said she was no longer seeing Josh, they believed that too. She could get away with anything that she wanted.
Josh removed his leather jacket and draped it over the bars of her bed. He sat down on the bed, alongside the cat, and stroked her fur. He wasn’t even wet, and it was still raining down outside. How odd. She could only look at him, for a moment, her head was swimming, for some reason, and she felt a little dizzy. Josh seemed to sense something was wrong because he reached out and caught her hands, drawing her close to him. And then they were kissing, and Megan’s heart was pounding inside her head like a drum. Strange how his kiss could make her feel so weak, and yet, so alive at the same time. He did things to her that no one else ever had.
The bed with all its stuffed animals rushed up to catch her, as Josh lowered her down, his hands moving across her body, slowly undoing buttons that just seemed to melt away. They were lovers, of course. Had been for a long time, a fact she had, of course, kept from her parents. Strange how she could no longer remember the first time, although it couldn’t have been that long ago, only since the summer, when they had met. Still, it didn’t matter anymore. Josh was here with her, and that was all that mattered.
* * *
Megan woke up suddenly, with a scream, sitting bolt up right in her bed. The room was still lit with candles. It was still raining down outside, but Josh had gone. Why did he always go when she needed him? She had had the strangest dream. A nightmare really. She had dreamed of blood, red, thick and sticky, flowing everywhere, mixing with black hair, staining pale white skin. She had dreamed of crying, too. Of heavy sobs, and salty tears and eyes red with crying. Then there had been a bright white light, and the sound of strange, impassive voices sounding all around her, judging her, and she had been unable to move. Her arms had been tied up, her legs too. And no one was listening to any thing that she was saying. Did they even hear her? She had been unable to really make out what was being said, but she knew that they were talking about her, looking at her, and they didn’t care that she was helpless and afraid.
Still, she was awake now. Shivering in fear. The CD had stopped, so she turned over on her bed and turned on the tv. Some boring comedy that tried to be clever and witty and failed. Of course, it was Friday night. TV was at its worst on the weekends. All game shows and boring comedies. She couldn’t wait to go to university, then she would be out late, all the time, and wouldn’t have to watch any more rubbish on tv. Maybe she would even get cable, when she had a house of her own. Watch all the American shows and weird sci-fi programmes without having to wait months for them to come onto terrestrial tv, cut and on at stupid late hours. God how she hated this comedies. They weren’t funny. They were just trying so hard.
So she muted the tv, and reached for a cuddly fox to hug and to comfort her as she stared at the pictures flickering silently on the screen. The best way to watch boring shows, with the volume down. She and Josh, sometimes at least, and usually when drunk, would mute the tv and make up their own dialogues for what was going on. And do funny accents too. She wished Josh hadn’t gone. She needed his company now.
And then, there he was, standing in the corner of her room again, by the window. “Hi,” he said. “What would you like to do tonight?” he asked. And started to take off his leather jacket and drape it over the bed.
“I can’t go out,” Megan said. “I am grounded.” A strange feeling of déjà vu washed over her. Hadn’t this just happened? Maybe. Maybe not. Perhaps the earlier encounter with Josh had all been a dream and this was her awake. It was confusing. The cat was sitting on the bed by her feet, watching her with her silent green eyes. Megan reached out to stroke her head, scratching her ears and a deep-throated vibration filled the silence as the cat purred happily and leaned into her fingers.
“What did you do this time?” Josh asked.
“I don’t know. Bunked college probably. You know how my parents feel about me passing my G.C.S.E’s this time around. It was probably that. I can’t remember the last time I was at college.”
“Holidays?” Josh asked, climbing over the rails of the bed to sit beside her.
“No. Don’t think so.” She sat up. “Don’t you think it is odd that I cannot remember why my parents have grounded me? Or the last time I went to college? Or the last time you and I went somewhere outside of this room?”
“No.” He reached out to kiss her mouth. “It doesn’t matter. I like being here with you. And college is a drag, I am sure you are better off just not being there. Don’t even think about it, Okay?”
“So what is this you are watching?”
“Some stupid comedy. It’s not funny.”
“They rarely are.” He drew her against his shoulder, soothing her hair. “Roots are showing,” he said. “Little blond roots. You aren’t natural!”
Megan laughed. “Neither are you!” she said. She could hear his heart, pounding against her ear, and the sound of him breathing, steadily and slowly. The fingers in her hair were so gentle, so relaxing, and she sighed. If she was a cat, she knew she would be purring about now. So comfortable and relaxed she felt. “I have been having such odd dreams,” she said.
“About being tied up.”
“Oh yes?” He laughed then. “Dirty mind for one so young!”
“Not like that!” she said, giving him a playful slap. “I can’t move and these people are standing around staring at me. Talking about me. Not listening or caring about what I have to say. They are judging me.”
“Everyone is judging you, Meg. The way you look, the way you act the things you say. Everyone judges you all the time, and if you aren’t like they are, then you don’t meet their standards. Everyone thinks that they are better than everyone else, and can’t understand why people do not choose to be like them. Doesn’t matter. Soon, when I have my band organised, we will be out of here. You and me far away from your parents and that counselor and college. Then the dreams will stop.”
“Promise?” She pressed her head closer to his chest. He had a nice strong scent. His aftershave and deodorant. It was familiar to her. Like her mother’s perfume.
“I promise. Go to sleep now, Okay?”
To be continued...
Copyright © 2004 by Fran Jacobs
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