I was leaning against the wall in the hallway before school. There were kids everywhere. Teachers. There were colors and textures, hair and eyes, and all of it made of the world a swift moving wave of emotions and sensations that brought my head to swimming. I closed my eyes, focused, and, in the mess of it all, I saw Poet walking in my direction, crying.
I waited for her to almost pass by before I reached out and closed my hand around her wrist. “May I have you?” I asked.
She jumped and looked up at me, her eyes wet and large, brown and perfect. She nodded. “Have me for what?” She wiped her eyes. “Are you going to show me something beautiful again?”
“Always.” I led her away. We went around the corner, down the stairs, and to the boys bathroom.
“Where are you taking me?” she asked.
“In there,” I said, pointing at the bathroom.
“I’m not doing that,” she said. “There are boys and everyone will see me go in there.”
“We will be alone. Do you trust me?”
“I’ll come, but if you try to fuck me I’ll rip your nuts off.”
We walked into the empty bathroom. No one was there, and I knew they wouldn’t be. This was me and Poet’s time, and no one else was invited.
“I caught him,” she said, “with a fucking white girl.”
I took her face in my hands and shook my head. “None of that matters. I will show you something to love that will change your life forever.”
“You’re not going to fuck me in a bathroom,” she snapped.
“No one is going to fuck you in a bathroom. Close your eyes,” Artist said.
She closed them and he stepped behind her. Artist slid his hand to her side, around her tight belly, and pulled her close to his chest. He stepped forward, putting her against the sink.
“Open your eyes,” he said. She opened them and stared at the mirror. “This is your lover. This is your dearest soul. Look at her. Stare her in the eye.”
She looked up past her face to my eyes.
“No, not me. I am a trifle. Look at her. She is your lover. See her. How lithe and beautiful she is. How untamed.” I turned away and walked to the wall. I leaned against it and watched as she looked at herself. “She asks for your love. She needs it. She craves your attention more than any creature that has ever lived. Look at her. Touch her.”
Poet put her hand to her chest. She laid her palm flat.
“Look at her lips. They say the most amazing things. They long to be heard by you. Look at her eyes. They are daring, they are unforgiving. They long to stare at you. Stroke her flesh.”
Poet ran her hand up her chest, splaying her fingers against her throat and up the side of her neck.
“The base of the skull, stroke her there.”
Poet ran her fingers behind her hair to her neck.
“Now feel her breathe. Feel it soft and controlled at first but getting faster. Feel her chest with your other hand. Feel that heart beating. It wants your hands on it. It wants your touch. It craves it.”
She slipped her fingers in her mouth. “Taste that flesh,” Artist said. “That is the taste of love. That is the taste of power. Now the hair, grip the hair.”
Poet gripped her hair by her fist and whimpered.
Artist stepped up beside her. “Close your eyes. She can see you now. She can see what she wants. Let her eyes devour you. Let her desires guide her. Let her touch. Let her stroke.”
Poet ran a hand along her side, took her fingers out of her mouth, and slid them to her ass.
“This is the one who loves you most. She desires your pleasure, your mind, your will. This one will challenge you and bend you. She will teach you, she will soothe you. This lover in your hands now will never tire of you or beg for another’s attention. She will never leave you or walk out on you. She is lustful for your happiness, and if you let her…” Artist walked for the door. “…she will give you her power and feed you her beauty.”
Artist slipped out the bathroom and ran upstairs.
Poet later said she never let another hand touch her body again. And when she said it, she whispered that her body was for her. And also for me, if I were to reach out. But Poet would be gone soon. Her heart would be broken for real, and in her pain, she would run.
I got close in the call backs. I was up for Jonathan Harker, Renfield, Dracula, and Dr. Seward. The director made me read them all over and over again, switching back and forth so quickly that I soon got lost. The ones I was going up against sat in character while I went back and forth, and they never wavered. In the end, they likely would have won anyway. I was never meant for the stage.
Blemish got Mina Harker.
Droll got Dr. Seward.
Teddy got Renfield.
Jacob, Teddy’s brother, got Dracula.
Bootheel got Jonathan Harker.
Hardly got Dr. Seward’s sister.
And Ty took Dr. Van Helsing.
Ty’s performance reached a different level when he lost his voice the day of the matinee opener. He did not miss a line, though he had to scream in a hoarse voice to do it. He went on to a system of tea and throat spray and did the rest of the week silent except on stage. His voice had a rasp that can only come with age and his strain in speaking his lines brought a sort of desperation to the part that could not have been faked.
All in all, Dracula was the most successful play of the school’s history. There was standing room only for every show. We added two new shows to the production and it sold out both nights. It was a light in the sky to every lost soul in the school. Come to the stage, come and find glory and bohemian life. Come join the dance.
Dracula was where I met the girl that would steal D’s heart and soul. The one I truly thought he was going to marry. Dracula was also where I met Draconic, the most inspiring and heartbreaking girl I would ever meet.
Draconic was lovely and broken. Flawed in such a profound but petty way that it brought her to rage nearing insanity. I was once told that her umbilical cord was wrapped around her wrist when she was in the womb. I was told a few other things but the fact still remained. Her hand was deformed. None of that mattered. To look at her hand was to see a bit of a thumb, a slice of a pinky and not much else but none of that mattered at all. None of that was even an issue. She was magic. She was a bolt of lightning and she was all there was.
She was the kind of girl who could stop the world. The kind of girl who could spark a fire to flame from across the room, and she was the worst thing to ever happen to us. Draconic hated the world for its perfection and she lashed out at every boy she was drawn to, hating them for their undying devotion to her, and their need for just the slightest bit of her attention.
She was Artist’s muse. She was his harlot. She was his enemy and his love. She was his horror when she told him she loved him and went to other men. She was his inspiration when she kissed him and slapped him right after. Draconic was the one he would never have who would haunt his steps all his young adulthood.
Artist became something else the day he met her. When he saw her imperfection and barely noticed, when he saw the way she looked at him, and when she kissed him for the first time. She was nothing more, and nothing less, than his insanity and I will tell that story. I will tell it all.
But I will cut it off here. Years after high school, I was in college and walking a hallway looking at art, and Draconic’s sister was walking up the hall, coming straight at me. She was walking with a friend. They were talking about the art. When her sister saw me, she stopped the hallway.
“This is Jesse Teller. My sister was obsessed with him in high school. She would have died for him. She loved him more than air. If you spoke his name in a room, she sparked to life.” Draconic’s sister looked at me and sighed. “I thought she would marry him, but they brought insanity out in each other. Neither would have survived it.”
That was the first time I had ever entertained the idea that the girl cared about me at all. To that moment I was resting content in the fact that she had been trying to kill me. Either way, she almost succeeded.
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 1: Teardrop Road, available on Amazon.