Chapter 6 : Some Things Aren't Meant to Last
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All grammatical errors in this chapter are intentional.
Everything you recognize is property of JKR. Everything you don't recognize is property of me. Stealing is bad for your conscience.
The dark of night was comforting. As Neville and I crawled over the railroad tracks like worms, I remembered the goddamn sunlight that would pierce through the window during the day in that train compartment. The glass would turn already obnoxiously bright light into a glare of death. I saw it as God looking down on us and laughing, rubbing salt in the infesting wound. Like ants under a magnifying glass.
But now, in the night, my eyes could relax. There was no light to fear. Nothing to hide from.
I felt at home in the darkness. I liked that no one could see me even if they tried. Even if they stood right in front of me and squinted their eyes. It made me feel like I could get away with anything.
It reminded me of when I was young and I cared about getting caught. I used to go through all kinds of shit in order to stay safe. I used to be such a pansy.
When Donny gave me my first cigarette, I hated it. But after that first one, I wanted another one. Because I thought that if someone saw me without a cigarette in my hand, they would think I wasn’t tough or some shit. So the next day I went to the same place and asked him for another one. And there we were, two punks smoking on the playground.
After that, I felt like I was too cool to even be seen around Donny. Donny looked like a piece of shit to me after that and I didn’t want people associating me with him. So I first asked him where he was getting them and he wouldn’t tell me. I didn’t resort to violence right away, though I wanted to. So I gave him some money and asked him to buy me a supply from wherever he got it.
This type of exchange between me and Donny lasted throughout the summer. When I was back at school, he wasn’t there to hook me up so I had to resort to my own methods. If I was smoking a cigarette on the Hogwarts grounds, I did it between classes by the Black Lake or the Forbidden Forest. Somewhere no one would be looking for me. (Not that anyone cared enough about me to look for me.)
After that wasn’t satisfying, I’d sneak out of bed after hours and do a quick one out the window. And when I couldn’t wait until after class to have a smoke, I’d skip class and do a few (had to get as many in as possible at a time. Hell, if I was gonna skip, I might as well get my time’s worth out of it.) and then go to class late. I would come up with decent-enough excuses the first few weeks. Shit like, “I got an urgent owl,” or “A professor stopped me in the hall.” And after a while I was just like… fuck it. I’m just goin’ late. Hell, they were lucky I went at all.
And then when summer came around again, it was time to deal with my dad. At first, I was scared that he’d be pissed. I didn’t have a story ready so I didn’t rush to hide from him. And when he didn’t even bother to ask where I was when I had to ‘go out’, I was like fuck that shit, if he doesn’t care, I won’t bend over backwards to hide myself.
So then I started smoking in my room. Out the window to be polite. Only once did my dad come up and ask, “What the hell is that smell?” And he saw me sitting in a chair, lit cigarette smoking out the window. I looked at him with a blank expression. I wasn’t scared that he saw me, I wasn’t worried that he’d punish me. He just saw me, shook his head, and walked out the door.
I took that to mean that I could do whatever the hell I wanted without getting in trouble by him. He had better things to worry about anyway. More important than his only kid.
Anyway, by that time it was getting too goddamn expensive to keep paying Donny to get my shit, because he was starting to charge interest. I was a sixteen-year-old punk-ass with no job, arite? I could not afford interest. So I asked him where he was getting this stash, and that bum wouldn’t tell me. But then I pinned him to a lamppost and he surrendered real fast.
He told me he got them from some slime ball who dropped out of high school and lived in his parents’ basement, surviving on pop tarts and cigarettes. I only saw the guy once and that was because he came out into the sunlight to meet with Donny. He looked like a fucking waste. He had long scraggly hair that was turning into natural dreadlocks, and he wore ripped and worn clothes that smelled like mold and soggy BO. He was missing teeth and years of smoking had taken his voice, too.
Believe it or not, at the time I saw Donny to be a bigger waste than this deuce. It’s not that I looked up to him or anything like that, but I just figured that Donny was half-assing it, and this dude wasn’t. His complete lack of respect for anything was what I respected. He didn’t care what rules he was breaking or what people thought of him, and I thought that was cool. From where I was standing, Donny was a pansy. Sneaking around still and trying not to get caught. That was when I decided that being subtle was a shitty plan.
I just stopped trying to hide my cigarettes from everybody because nobody cared. I had ashtrays around the house and my dad didn’t even notice. I used to stick ciggs behind my ear for quick access because I needed one so bad…
I still need one. Right now, in the darkness on the railroad tracks. I need a fucking cigarette right now or else I will explode. I swear, I’ll just fucking snap and start killing people. Vandy’s already dead and maybe if I’m lucky Neville will tell the cops that I killed her. They’ll give me a cigg if I tell them I killed her, won’t they? They’ll have to.
In mid-crawl, I let out a scream. It was the loudest, most raw-emotion scream I’d ever heard from anybody, and I could feel my throat being ripped apart by it. My throat, that needed the soothing sensation of smoke. How long had I been without it? Too long. Too fucking long.
“Clyde, what the hell?” said Neville from behind me. His voice was raspy too, but not because he needed a cigarette. Because he was carting around his bitch.
I ignored him. What was I supposed to say to that anyway? Not that I had a voice to speak with. Any voice I had would be saved for the cops so I could tell them I killed Vandy. Even though she killed herself in the end.
One of the real reasons why I needed to scream was because I was pushed around by Donny so much when I was younger. I used to think he was so cool and it took me so long to realize he was just a fucking prick! He stole my money. Fucking interest. What kinda shit is that? I should have gone straight to the source before that. I probably wasted at least three packs of cigarettes’ worth of money on him. Fucking douche.
And not only that, but I looked up to him. Before I started getting cigarettes of my own, I thought Donny was the shit. I wanted to impress him. I killed myself over making myself look good in front of him. And he was the last one in a while. After him it was… just Vandy. And both of them went to shit.
“Clyde, wait…” Neville panted. I turned around and saw the whites of his eyes. He was way far behind me. He had stopped crawling. “I need to rest.”
Rest? Fuck that shit. We were almost to the end, almost to my cigarettes. I wasn’t going to stop just because Neville was being a pansy.
“We’re almost there, Neville, just keep going.”
“No, I really need to rest. Luna’s getting heavy…”
Just because his excuse was so ridiculous, I stopped and turned around. I gave him a really good dirty look but it was lost in the darkness. Shame. “How could she be ‘getting heavy’, Neville? None of us have eaten for the past four days. Now change your tampon and keep going.”
“Clyde, come on. You’re being –”
“What? I’m being ridiculous? Unreasonable? I was just stuck in a fucking train compartment with three fruit loops for who knows how long! And you have the fucking balls to call me unreasonable? Well, fuck you, Neville! I wanna live! If you wanna stay out here and get eaten by bats or some shit, be my guest!”
With that, I turned my back on Neville and continued crawling. At that point, I didn’t even know if it was the right direction or not, but I didn’t care either. I just wanted to keep going. One way or another, I was going to reach the end of the tracks beneath me and someone would be there to give me a cigarette. Either way, staying here and listening to Neville bitch and complain about shit was not going to get me what I wanted.
“HEY!” Neville screeched. And it was louder than my scream for no reason. When I heard it, my ears rang, and it was almost like I could feel the rawness in my own throat. “We have to stick together!” His voice was frantic. It sounded like he was crying.
“Why?” I didn’t stop moving, but just yelled over my shoulder.
He didn’t answer for a while and I can’t say I didn’t slow down while waiting for a response from him. It was the middle ground between completely ignoring him and continuing on. I was more curious than anything else. I wondered what he would say in response.
“Because we’re supposed to be friends!”
I slowed down even more when I heard his response. I heard the panic in his voice, the hysteria. We had been friends for a while. And he did end up accepting me, even after I did so much shit to him. I still kinda treat him like shit, but he’s still my friend. Up until this whole ordeal, I would have thought Neville to be my best friend. He was, actually. I could trust him with anything. When I was going through that shit with Jessamine, he stuck by me. He never stopped trusting me, even though everyone else in the world thought I was slime. Neville was always the constant, even when things out of the ordinary happened.
I knew that logically, this should be considered just another one of those out of the ordinary things. I knew that I should accept him as my friend now more than ever. That helping him overcome this little patch of weakness would ultimately help both of us. I knew that I should wait for him to refuel and then keep going. I knew that leaving him out here was a bad idea and wouldn’t be very nice of me.
I also knew that if I stayed idle for another second I would lose control of any part of my mind I had left. And clearly, I was the only one who didn’t snap. If I waited for Neville to be ready, I would lose that and then none of us would have any sort of leader. We’d all just be fucking loonies on a railroad track. And that wouldn’t save any of us.
And I won’t lie; the call of the cigarettes waiting for me was stronger than Neville’s plea of friendship.
“We’re supposed to be men.”
Neville obviously was appalled that I’d said that. He thought that even I wouldn’t be able to resist the friend card. He thought that even Clyde, always the tough-guy, would crumble to the sensitivity of friends. Wrong again, Neville.
“Clyde, please -!” he pleaded.
“You’re a big boy, Neville, you can handle it yourself!”
He didn’t have anything else to say after that. His sobbing became quieter and quieter as I kept going.
But still, something that felt like guilt was slowing me down. Leaving him behind was the best thing I could have done, but I felt like I should have done something else. Like, if I was going to leave him alone, I should at least leave him on good terms or some shit.
So I turned around and went back to him without words, and pulled out the shard of glass that I had in my pocket. It was covered in dried blood and the only light in it was picked up by the stars and the pieces of the moon. I pried his quaking fingers open and placed the glass in it, closed his fingers around it again. “Protect your girl.”
And then I left him without remorse. My only problem then was remembering to tell the cops that he and Luna were still out there.
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