Jem…Chapter one I guess…
Series inspired by Melinda_Starr
(It’s her fault.)
“Never thought I could dance…”
“Never though I ever be asked…”
“La, la, la….. (Humming.) the lights are bright and I’m up on the stage…”
And the rest of it just won’t come. I fall back away from my keyboard and flake out on the bed with all my comics and magazines and sign putting my palms over my face and trying to rub the writer’s block-blahs away.
I know the song sounds girly but it’s supposed to. I’ve been writing it for the next teeny-chick pop star.
It’s all you need is just one hit. Get that whatever girl of the moment they’re building up to sing one of your songs and you’re golden…people call you up needing a song for one of their stars and artists who like your words will look you up.
Yeah…right and I’m Alyssa Milano.
I’d be lucky to break even if you count all the time you just spend wracking your brain just trying to write something. But it’s a release for me, when I’m in my rooms I’m in this place where the bullshit just stops.
There’s a lot of bullshit in my life.
I just kind of lay there and stare at the ceiling and try to get to the next series of words, try to…
My alarm clock goes off. Great time to go to school. I don’t want to go; I never want to go because school just really sucks. I get up and go to the bathroom to shower, brush my teeth and get dressed. Nothing fancy, jeans, socks, red running shoes and a t-shirt along with a bandanna and my jean jacket.
I go downstairs and Dad’s there already dirty from working out in the garage but getting a coffee and toast with peanut butter on it. “Hey Jason, you need any money or anything.”
“No dad I’m good.” I take some vitamins and get a banana, whey powder, and yogurt and some orange juice. Dad passes me my toast that he made for me and I smear it with heaping amounts of peanut butter. I enjoy one of the few good things about my day closing my eyes on the crunch of the toast heavy with whole grains and molasses and raisins and cranberries.
I finish the toast and the shake and clean things up and kiss my mom’s picture before leaving the house. “Love you mom.”
Yeah, my Mom died killed by a drunk driver three years ago.
She had gotten off work late and was coming to see me when the guy’s truck crossed the median and hit her head on. He died too…I’m still not how to feel about that, he had a family and they lost someone too.
It’s down the street and to the bus stop. I live in Hardy Point; it’s a mid sized town in Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. It’s about eighty thousand people so not small either I got to school on the city bus, they don’t run the yellow busses for the school around her except for the younger kids. Instead we buy a student discounted bus card that’s a year long pass as long as it’s going to or from the schools. Anywhere else and it’s just a buck to go.
It’s actually okay until I get to the bus stop just outside of school and I start going in. I’m not like them and they know it. Now most of them just blatantly ignore me. Afraid that they’d be guilty by social virus. Don’t befriend the freak, don’t look at him like he’s worth anything avoid, avoid, avoid or you might just catch the uncool, get terminal loseritis.
My world tilts as I’m shoved in what felt like a body check. Nope. Just Adam Marshall going past his girlfriend on his arm being followed by their clique. Justin Thompson kicks my book bag down the hall. “Outta the way freak.” That was Adam.
“Yeah watch where you’re going cancer boy.” That was Justin.
The rest is more of the same and people just turn a blind eye to it because Adam and his crowd are popular, good looking and have the money. Oh they’re not really the jocks but a lot of the Jocks hang with them. No Adam’s a country/yacht club kid, His Mother came from like old Ontario mining money and so did his Dad but add to that that his old man is this big time lawyer and that from one relation or another the own tons of crap all around you. Adam’s one of those kids.
And yeah I’m a cancer survivor. Child leukemia… It hit me, hard at about nine years old the first time. And I was lucky it went into remission but I hadn’t responded to a lot of the chemo so they used a new mix that worked but it was still in the beta test phase.
No, I didn’t get super powers out of it. Beside’s as angry as I get as hurt as I get sometimes I’d likely kill someone with something like that. No this was the real world and what this stuff did do was kill off all my body hair even my pubes but that was before I even had them and it reacted badly with a few other things. I’m pale not like an albino but I’m milky…ish, my whatevers that make me tan are burnt out and so was one of my testicles. They took it (The left one.) and that’s had an effect. Basically I’m thin, not short but thin and pale and I’m really kind of in that not sure nebulous zone of looking not quite like any one else around here. I never even had a chance to grow into one of those muscle bound testosterone fueled assholes.
Yeah I’m a skinny weird blonde kid who could pass for a live action anime character minus the K-pop hair. It really doesn’t make your life easier. Being really different even if you were like sick is just another reason to get treated like garbage.
You ever get the feeling that God doesn’t just hate you but decided to jump on you with both feet. I feel that way a lot. But honestly I watch stuff on TV or Online and I’m still lucky, there’s a lot worse things and places that could be my reality.
That’s what I focus on as I pick myself up off the floor. Thanks for the hand up everyone, it was much appreciated. They actually cleared out dodging me and keeping clear. Oh no that’s right I’m contagious.
I look down the hall where they’re using my book bag as a hacky-sack getting their chuckles at beating my stuff to bits. Adam’s always treated me like total crap and has had a hated on for me since middle school. I don’t know why exactly…actually yes I do, he was acting like he does back then and I punched him for it. I gave him a fat lip and a black eye. Because he told me to take my bike out of the bike rack I had it in. That it was his rack for him and his friends. I guess he was so used to people just jumping for his highness he didn’t expect me to say no. He shoved me and I punched him and he’s hated me ever since.
Asshole it was like four years ago.
I get up and walk over to where they’re at and step into the middle of them and grab my bag off the floor. Adam thinking he’s being smart and cool goes to shove me over while I’m bent down and I’ve just about had enough of it. It’s not even registration yet. I know as I’m doing it that He’s going to kill me for this but it’s like a flashback to sixth grade all over again as I swing up with a backhand as hard as I can and crank him right in the nuts.
Adam goes down with a cry and saying through a lot of pain. “You fucking little bastard! Kick his ass!” I’m not sure who started to swing first but I got a couple of punches it before the fact there’s like fourteen kids swarming me and kicking me…even the girls are getting their hits in. It lasts for about three minutes before one of the faculty comes running and starts breaking it up.
I’m stunned and punch drunk as the teachers and other faculty gather around and Adam’s crowd starts going on and on about how I started it. There’s more than enough of the sheeple agreeing to it and I’m yanked to the nurses office. I’m getting a careful look over when the vice prick comes in and stares at me. “Jason Powers, what did you think you were doing assaulting another student?”
“I was defending myself Ms. Parker.”
“That’s Mizz Parker, Mr. Powers if you please and there’s several witnesses that say that Adam was going to help you and you struck out at him.”
“Oh well since it’s a cut and dried case of me being guilty then why don’t you just suspend me then.?
“Don’t push your luck young man?”
I get off the bench and glare at her. “Look, you people…” I stop and shake my head. “What’s the point?” I get my book bag and start limping out of the nurses office.
“Jason Powers where are you going?” she said shrilly.
I stop and turn and look at her. I just look because what else can I do? I look her right in the eyes until it sinks into her little fucking brain just how bad I’m off. She sighs and her shoulders slump. I ask. “Are you going to do anything to them?”
“No, I don’t have any proof, it’s your word against theirs.”
I don’t even ask her if she would even if she had proof. I know the answer and so does she.
“Am I being punished for this?”
“No…just…just stay away from them Jason.” She leaves in a hurry. She doesn’t get that I was minding my own business.
Justice? Not really, not for people like me. There’s others out there like me too. I just got to hang on and make it through high school. Phone video? Yeah it’s probably recorded by someone and it’s been erased or something. Thing is someone did that once to stand up to these people. It wasn’t Adam but before he really hit his stride as king of the assholes. What happened? They found out who posted it and they got stalked and cyber bullied until it drove them out of school.
I limp my way through my classes. I get a few smirks from that crowd but to everyone else I don’t exist. I’m invisible.
Even school’s kind of an iffy thing for me class wise. Math sucks, I mean it’s not hard, hard but it’s just tedious. Auto shop is a boring slice of hell. It’s partly full of the people that hate me and the rest are car buts and the dopers, and slackers and stuff. I can’t really get out of auto shop because dad’s a mechanic. It’s kind of a cake course really. Chemistry is boring, physics is too, I actually like my computer class because it’s mostly the brain trust crowd and at least they leave me alone plus I’m learning stuff. The only class I get anything out of is English, the teacher Mr. Wyatt is kind of this old hippy guy who lets things into his classroom like most teachers wouldn’t as long as it’s about the written word.
Why? He’s smart, take comics, they used to be pretty much trash reading according to the schools but graphic novels are huge business now and for the price of just two issues or three you’re going to pay the cost of a brand new paperback novel.
Mr. Wyatt, will make us cover all the “required” course stuff open book and then he’ll only spend like a third of the class time on it. Then he’ll go back to what he calls actual teaching. I’m not stupid but I’m not part of the brain trust either but in his class I actually feel like I’m learning something.
No, no gym class. I’m in the tenth grade which where I’m from makes you a senior. You start the year from grades ten through twelve choosing your own classes the only requirements by law is you have to take one Math credit and one English credit each year. You need six credits to pass the year and there’s seven course slots/periods in each day so there’s room to take a free period class or another class, some kids take seven classes a year me, I’m taking the free period. Hence no gym if you don’t want to. It’s not that I don’t like the stuff they do in there but it’s the students I neither like or trust. Too many of the kids that hate me.
Lunch, lunch was decent, there’s a culinary club in school and they run their own thing out of the cafeteria all supervised by the food services people. Basically it teaches food services stuff from cooking and serving and stuff. Basically someone on the school board saw some guy on TV called Jamie Oliver and the school’s food wasn’t good enough anymore. But the thing for me is that it’s serious enough I can eat in peace. I get ignored as usual.
The day wound on and I limped through it and left with my stuff and was walking to the bus stop when the inevitable happened. Adam and his friends drove by then I saw the brake lights.
Seven of them got out, most of them jocks from one group or another. Yeah I ran. Just like a bunch of wild dogs they chased me.
Yeah they caught me too. Three punches and a lot of hard grabbing they carried me to a dumpster and threw me in kicking and screaming to the cheers and camera flashes of the others. It took me two hours to get myself home, I wasn’t going on the bus the way I was.
Dad was busy working again, he does heavy machine mechanics, so he’s busy a lot because it’s usually something like a bulldozer or something else someone needs in a hurry.
Part of it I think that it’s hard for him to be here in the house since Mom’s been gone.
It was hard for me today to walk in that door.
I really, really needed her after today.
And when she wasn’t there when I walked in….
It took a lot for me to climb the stairs, and peel out of everything and I just toss everything into the garbage and crawl into the shower. I was in there until I think I scrubbed myself raw. It didn’t help the hurt. Not one bit.
I got out of the shower and went to Mom’s room. It used to be her and Dad’s room but he really can’t sleep in here. He goes it and talks to her all the time but he can’t sleep in here. Losing the love of your life…I couldn’t either…because…because if it was me.
If it was me I’d never leave.
I crawl into her bed still trying to smell Mom one more time. I can’t but the act of trying to breathe it in pulls me into sleep.
I wake up covered up. Dad must have covered me up. I get up and head downstairs after getting dressed in some boxing shorts. Not boxer short but the boxing styled trunks. I like them nylon so their comfy and their heavy. Heavy means warm. I get cold a lot. I look at the clock and it’s 7:37pm and Dad’s on the couch asleep, he looks like he climbed out of the shower and just sat down for awhile. The half-way empty cup of coffee is proof of that.
I make supper, just hamburger browned off and drained it in some paper towel and cooked some macaroni then threw in a can of tomato soup and a can of tomatoes some onion and some spices. I can cook a little bit just sort of stuff like this.
I eat a bowl and get dad a plate and wake him up. “Hey, supper.” He looks at me.
“You had a bad day huh?”
“You want to tell me about it?”
“No.” I can’t, I just can’t he’s got enough going on.
“It’s alright Dad.” I leave and head upstairs and straighten up some stuff in my room. And start my homework.
Morning comes again and everything hurts. Dad’s giving me looks as I eat breakfast and head off to school.
School…yeah more suck, I’m left alone other then those assholes giving me a few dirty looks and of course saying shit about me. Got shoved a few times between classes. No, no fighting this time. Two of the girls spit on me. Yeah, I live a charmed life.
It was another long, long day.
One of those sucking my soul out days.
Dad was working late again…supper was delivery pizza.
The house was cold and lonely.
Just like my life.
Wednesday…Hump day, more isolation, more bullshit.
I got home late.
I sat out by the train tracks seriously considering just stepping in front of all that tonnage.
I’m not catholic or even religious but…
If I did it I’d never see Mom again…
If I did it I might as well kill Dad.
Went to bed, cried until it just went dark finally.
The rest of the week went just about the same. Ignored or despised. I’m glad I don’t have any social networking stuff they know about. Otherwise it’ll be serious cyber bullying going on.
Normally I like Fridays I get out of school and I don’t have to be around them anymore. But today Adam decided he wanted his real pound of flesh for me playing tag with his nut sac on Monday. People had been still talking about it all week, and nobody makes him look like a fool, especially me. Three cars and a whole mess of them they chased me around town for an hour making me run my guts out. It was going to be bad this time…They catch me. Adam and a few guys and I’m fighting and yelling for help or trying to and they’ve got tape and they’re ripping off my clothes. I’m covered in fear sweat and I slip free and I lash out with wild punches and kicks. I felt somebody’s nose go crunch, I kick/stomped a groin. I run, clothes torn and in my socks I run.
They chase me yelling and I hear the engines of their cars and I turned to see who was coming at me.
That’s when I get hit by this other car.
I wake up hurting and I’m somewhere perfumy? It smells seriously of girl scents, make up and cosmetics and stuff. I’m on carpet? I open my eyes and there’s this blue dyed haired Japanese girl with a blue hello kitty pull on cap on her head. The rest of her is dressed all heavy metal like.
“Hey, he’s awake?” she calls to these other people. I blink and see two other girls there in the front seats. I’m in a van.
“Good, we’re almost to the police station.” The girl driving says.
I just groan a bit and sit up. We pull in and I see Adam’s car there and the others there. He’s got a broken nose and he’s talking to the cops while what looks like his entourage is chipping in and his parents are there and The red head in the passenger seat say’s. “Shit, Raven just turn around.”
“Those are the guys I saw when I hit Jason with my car.”
“Uhm…Who are you girls and how do you known my name?”
The driver this goth looking girl pulls the van around like we’re turning and get’s us out of there. “I’m Raven, the red head over here’s Brooklyn and that’s Roxy beside you. We’re a band.”
“We were a band.” Roxy pouts a minute the grins and offers me her hand. “I’m really Kimberly but Kim, Kimme, or Roxy works.
Raven looks at me in the rearview. “We read your name in your wallet. Sorry we were looking for an emergency number to call but there was no answer.”
Brooklyn turns in her seat. “Can we take you to the hospital?”
“No…I’ll…I’ll live I guess.”
Roxy’s biting her lower lip, giving me these big eyed looks of…I’m not sure. Worry?
Raven looks back at me. “So what’s going on and why do those guys want to kill you?”
“I’m not sure? But it’s kinda of a long story.” She pulls into a Tim Horton’s near the highway. And kills the engine.
“Well we lost our lead singer, we got lots of time to kill.”
Three hours later and I’m bawling my eyes out being held. Over several coffee’s and a box of doughnuts. Do you know how hard it is to act like you’re tougher than you are around a bunch of girls?
Yeah, I’m not that tough and it comes out in crying jags, little angry fits and a lot of tissues. Not that manly but It’s been a long time since anyone’s given a shit.
“So that’s it. I guess I’m pretty pathetic huh?”
Roxy hugs me, well I should say again. She’s a hugger I’ve gotten about two hundred so far.
Raven looks me over. “Look Jason, the last thing you are is pathetic, they’re the losers. You getting through what you did and survived is tougher than those spoiled jerks and sheep.” She’s fingering her Bass, A black Epiphone Nikki Sixx and set’s it aside. “C’mon we’ll take you home.”
We drive and home I see some cars that I recognize in and around my block. “Shit, they’re still looking for me.” I see Dad’s home and the cops are there and everything. Raven looks as she drives. “That’s it Jason you’re not going home tonight you’re staying with me.”
“Look, I’m not going to let you run that gauntlet okay? Not until we think of something.”
“Okay…I still need to call my Dad.”
“We’ll do that at a payphone.”
“Jason are you okay? The cops are here and they showed up at the shop. What happened?”
“I got jumped by some people I’ve been having problems with at school and fought back. I broke his nose. I’m Afraid Adam doesn’t like people standing up to him…I don’t know what he said to the cops but all his friends pretty much follow his lead…”
“Yeah, I got that from the cops attitudes. You going to be okay?”
“Yeah…I’m staying with a friend…”
“Really?……Good is he alright, I mean do you trust him? I mean it’s just…God Jason I thought you really didn’t have friends.”
He sounds flustered, embarrassed by thinking about me and talking personal stuff with me. It’s that feelings and guys thing we have. I look at the girls and give a tiny little smile.
“Yeah Dad, she’s pretty great.”
“She!” Wow he sounds excited.
“Yeah Dad, She’s a girl that’s usually how it works.”
“Okay…sorry, look you stay safe and I’m going to get to the bottom of all of this stuff. You just stay safe Kiddo. I Love You.”
“Okay…I Love You Too Dad.”
I hang up and look at Raven. “Okay, I guess I’m staying with you.”
Raven lives in an old house down near the railway. It’s one of those affordable because of the age and the noise places. It’s kind of run down on the outside and inside is…well it’s sparse but seriously musical. The living room is set up to be practice space for a full band and She shows me to the spare bedroom.
“You live here alone?”
“No, Brooklyn and Roxy both live here too.”
“You girls go to school?”
“Brooklyn goes to Carrington Prep and so does Roxy, I quit and got my GED.”
She turns and leans against the wall in the room by the door. “I had a shitty family and wanted out, so I got out and I knew the girls from middle school and we’ve been trying to form a band until Summer left.”
“So..this was her room?”
I got showered and crashed and got woken up for supper. Which actually got me smiling as Roxy argued about how Chinese food isn’t anything like Japanese food with Brooklyn winding her up and saying stuff to get under Roxy’s skin. It’s like a take out version of Who’s on First.
I was lent some sweats to wear, and the sweat shirt keeps falling off my shoulder and I keep having to pull it back. I get a few looks.
We watch a movie that I’ve never seen before. From the 80’s a cartoon called Rock and Rule. I watched kind of lost in it as the girls talked and bitched about Summer taking off and that they’ll have to cancel their gigs.
“So what do you, did you girls call yourselves?”
“Starlight Butterfly.” Raven says making a face. “It was mostly Summer’s idea.”
“Uh huh, that’s…”
“It’s lame, But It’s kind of hard to pick a good name out for a girl band that doesn’t suck and the labels kind of like the girly crap.”
“Actually it’s not that bad raven but it’s not your deal is it?”
“Well, You’re kind of dark and Raven’s so not your real name.”
“Actually it’s Rayne with a Y, but you kind of get away from that when you get teased all the time.”
“Rainbow.” she mutters.
“Trout.” Brooklyn adds in only to get a punch in the arm., they start roughhousing and fighting and Roxy plops down beside me.
“Show me what you girls play Roxy.” I hang out with her while Brooklyn goes into something on her X-Box 360 and Raven starts to play “Unforgiven” by Metallica on her bass. I look through the stuff listening with Roxy and nodding. They used to play a lot of covers by girly groups and stuff and Summer used to be the leader and raven’s ex-girlfriend…until she left for Montreal with.
“But you girls play anything right?” I ask as we head into the kitchen.
“Yeah, we like a lot of different stuff.”
I can’t believe I’m doing this. I start singing. I’ve got a good range, I can sing really girl level because my voice barely changed since getting short changed on puberty. Roxy’s eyes go wide.
I close my eyes and open them and look at her. Gawd, she’s giving me this big eyed Japanese girl begging kitten wearing a Hello Kitty hat stare. “Yes…I was already planning it to pay you girls back for everything until you find a replacement.”
The Squeal I had to stop with a hand over her mouth but that only made her jump up and down like she had to pee. “Roxy…Roxy…Kim!…Chill! I need your help, I need to pass and a look.”
We take off upstairs and I get put through the ringer. Well not really, we dye my hair with this easy wash out stuff that’s actually Kool-Aid. Spiking it a bit was easy and stuffing a bra with some of Roxy’s gel inserts and a pink belly t-shirt that feels a bit weird but okay and I slip into a… the panties. It’s not that hard given my condition…although I’m average in that department. A white denim skirt that’ll take some getting used to and a pair of white fake leather ankle boots with a three inch heel. It all just fit kind of strangely easy the make up was last. Red something or other around my eyes like the mask make up that girl had as that ballerina in Black Swan but it’s red and sort of pink and some glossy pink lipstick.
I look in the mirror. “Whoa…” we both say. Jason’s completely gone, instead…I…I look like Mom did at my age only as a rocker.
We head downstairs after printing off the sheets of music and words for our new cover. I have a bit of problems on the stairs but do okay. I slide click into the living room and Raven stops playing and stares at me. Brooklyn let’s out this. “Holy fuck…” I smile shyly at both of them and walk over to the mic-stand and Raven’s staring at me still up and down her eyes wide. “J..J..Jason?”
I shake my head making my now pink hair swirl. “No, but you can call me Jem.” I got the name and the look off of one of Roxy’s DVD’s while we were looking for something to pass.
Roxy laughs and starts to hammer out a beat on the drums and Brooklyn gives me another look before getting up and playing along on her rhythm guitar. Raven looks at the sheet and starts playing too but still looks shaken.
Me? I’ve never played our sang with anyone before and I step out and start belting out in my girl voice. “What’s going on.” By Four Non-Blondes.
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