Story: A Life Like This (ch. 6)

I expected the dialogue to be longer between all characters... Oh well, I suppose. xD I go into these chapters only having a vague idea of what I'm going to type. Sorry about the cursing. I don't like writing curse words in my writing, but people curse...
Oh, in the ending, Dare's not a mind-reader if that's what you're thinking. Haha.


Chapter 6
9th Grade

Once we graduated from the lameness of middle school, Jake ditched the skater boy look and took on the one of a jock. He wasn’t the only one who changed; I barely recognized Dare on the first day of school. Prior to high school, he dressed like an average dude in the standard get-up of jeans and a tee-shirt. His hair used to be short, minus his bangs which were cut just above his eyes. To my surprise, I saw Dare had entered high school with a completely new persona: His jet hair reached below mid-neck while his long bangs, striped with blue dye, covered his left eye. Shiny metal studs pierced his left and right earlobes, and dark damaged jeans seemed to be the pants of choice. Jake also noticed the new Dare that day; he had one word on the topic.


Clair remained my chirpy blonde girlfriend, but I guess now that we were in high school she saw our relationship as more serious: she gave me the privilege of walking her home and listening to her gripe about the school day.

Today, luckily, she had choir practice afterschool and instructed me not to walk her home since her mom was coming to pick her up. I decided to walk home with Jake, and to my benefit, he invited me over his house to hang out. Hopefully he’d let me stay for dinner since food was lacking at my house. Mom was unemployed again.

Upon our arrival, Jake’s mom made the lovely suggestion of doing our homework. Jake groaned in disagreement, but obeyed anyways. He plopped down on the living room couch, and cracked open the books. I sat myself on the floor beside him.

Jake had his hand propped under his chin and looked to be in deep thought about his Algebra I homework. He shook his head to move thin brown hair from his eyes. Somehow he looked like a completely different person just because he was doing school work instead of lashing out rude (and often dirty) remarks. In fact, he looked like he could be a nice guy.

“Jeez…” Jake pushed his hair back in discontent. “What the hell is wrong with those teachers? They didn’t teach us this shit at all.”

Well, he looked like a nice guy until he opened his mouth.

“Give it here,” I said coolly and extended my hand. In reality, Jake didn’t suck at math; he just got irritated too easily. If he had a little patience, he’d probably been in Geometry with me.

Jake slipped the paper into my fingers. I looked over the problem.

“You’re having trouble with this?” I smirked.

He rolled his eyes at my taunt. “Just show me how to do it already.”

“Just multiply by the reciprocal.” I pointed to the equation to help with my lesson. “See?”

“Oh yeah. The recipro…cal…” He dragged out his words and stared blankly at the paper.

“The reverse fraction, the upside-down fraction…”

It clicked in him then. “Oh.” He snatched the paper back from me and continued to work. “Damn, why’re you so smart…”

It was rhetorical, but I answered him anyways. “Unlike you, I don’t sleep in class.”

“I can’t help it. It’s so frickin’ boring. I mean, when am I going to use any of this crap?”

I shrugged. Complaining will do you no good, Jake. Just do your work… I shook the thought out of my head, realizing it was a complaint itself. “Probably never. There’s not much you can do about it. It’s the teachers’ jobs to stuff ‘this crap’ into our heads, even though it’s pretty much pointless. But hey, if you ever need to calculate the price of 1/4th of a can of soup or something, you’ll be prepared!” I said the last sentence with obvious sarcasm.

Jake grunted at my answer. We continued working in silence, except for the sound of pencils on paper. Jake needed assistance with another problem, and I walked him through it.

“Thanks. Man… I bet your mom never gets on you about grades and stuff,” he said.

I winced at the statement; I hadn’t told anyone at school about my mom. I even avoided inviting people over to my house just so they wouldn’t see what kind of life I lived outside of school.

“Haha, yeah…” I said in a fake tone. Searching for relief, I changed the topic to Dare. “Hey man, did you see Dare recently?”

He looked up from his worksheet. “Yeah, what the hell’s up with him? He looks so gay.”

“I know, right?” I lied. While I didn’t really accept Dare’s new look, I truthfully wouldn’t go as far as to insult him. What actually intrigued me was why he adopted the “emo boy” style; it didn’t suit his personality at all.

“I wonder if something happened over summer.”

Jake shrugged. “He’s probably just freaking out about high school and is trying to fit in or something. Frickin’ poser… I don’t know why he’d want to fit in with those fags in the first place.”

I bit my lip. Jake usually didn’t faze me, but the sudden resentment toward Dare surprised me. Just last year he talked and joked with the guy like it was totally normal. This made me nervous; to tell the truth, I didn’t think Dare was a bad guy last year. I had a feeling Jake might bail on me if he knew that I didn’t dislike Dare in the same way he did. Dare might’ve changed for the worse, though, judging from his outward appearance. He looked much more… broody.

“I don’t get it either... He looks like trouble to me. High school or not, I still think it’s weird he changed so much.” I noted.

“Yeah, he’s just a poser trying to get attention. I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes a high school loser.”

I let out a sigh. “Well, whatever. He can do whatever the hell he wants, I guess. It’s his life he’s creating problems for.” I closed the discussion, even though I was the one who brought it up. “Can I eat dinner here?”

“Sure. Is it cool with your parents?”

“Yeah, my mom doesn’t really care what I do.” It was one of the few truths I’d told him so far.

He let out a chuckle through his nose, looking impressed. “Lucky bastard.”

My lips twisted into a wry smile.


I lived in room 244 of my apartment building. It was made up of only 4-ish rooms: a living room that connected to the kitchen, my mom’s room, a bathroom, and my own room. To get an idea of the size, the two-person couch in the living room barely fit between the parallel walls that enclosed it. The plaster walls flaked constantly, leaving the floor a mess. Actually, the entire apartment room was a mess. Little heaps of clothing lay in random parts of the powdery floor. A disarray of dirty dishes stacked itself inside the kitchen sink, accompanied by empty beer bottles. The stench of tobacco wafted toward my nose from the kitchen table, which was surrounded by a couple unkempt chairs. One chair had an occupant: my mom.

She noticed me walk in. I was a little surprised to see her awake, since ordinarily she either was already asleep at this hour or wasn’t home at all. She stiffened immediately when she saw me, and clenched her fist. With her other hand, she removed the cigarette from her mouth. My feet attempted a quick escape to my room; not quick enough, though, as she spoke to me.

“Where the hell were you?” she grumbled.

I started again for my door, but she interrupted me with an irritated “Hey.” Unable to avoid a conversation, I slowly turned back to her.

“I was at a friend’s house.” I said.


I stood directly in front of her now. “To do homework and eat dinner… since we don’t have anything to eat here.” I shouldn’t have mentioned the last part.

She took a long drag from her cigarette and exhaled the remains in my direction. I coughed.

“And whose fault is that?” she said in a near whisper. I didn’t answer.

My mother suddenly stood up violently and seized me by the collar. Her chair plummeted to the floor with a loud crash. She jerked me forward so my face was inches away from hers.

I said, whose fault is that?” Her voice stung like venom, her livid eyes pierced me.

“I-it’s--” I choked.

THIS IS ALL YOUR DAMN FAULT!!” She screeched so loud her voice echoed off the walls. I flinched out of fear. Every word, every syllable rang in my ears.

She flung me away from her, freeing me from her grasp. I retreated to my room, but I could still hear her shouting behind me.

“Why do you think I don’t have any money? Why do you think I don’t have a job?! Huh?! Why the hell do you think that is?” She heaved and took a gasp of breath. “Because you had to be born!” She drew in another sharp breath. “If it weren’t for you, I’d have some money! I wouldn’t be living in this shit apartment taking care of a brat kid! I’d have a job-- no, I’d have a life! I’d have a life, damn it! If it weren’t for you, he wouldn’t… he wouldn’t‘ve…”

She didn’t finish; her sobs drowned out her words.

Although darkness enveloped my room, I could still see the outline of my furniture thanks to the streetlights outside. I crawled onto my bed and pulled my knees in close to my body. Leaning my head on my knees, I stared outside the adjacent window.

And thought.

I used to think of running away from my mom, though I knew I would never do it. I thought about leaving her. It’ll make my life better, I would think to myself. And it’s true, I hated it here. I hated her. I thought about leaving my mother… just like my father left her.


Jake wasn’t at school yet. I left home early to get some time to myself. After putting my school books away, I sat in front of my locker and entertained myself by doodling in a notebook.

“Hey, Tim!” said a familiar voice.

I raised my head, and was shocked to find myself looking at Dare. He wore jeans fastened by a spiked belt with a black “Matchbox 20” tee and biker gloves. Dark bangs hung over his face like a blanked, covering half his face from visibility. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was weird about seeing him here.

“…What?” he asked, noticing my expression.

I sighed and shrugged. As if the answer isn’t obvious, Dare… Everyone’s been talking about you.

“Can I sit here?” he asked, pointing to the spot on the floor next to me.

I nodded reluctantly and he slumped himself beside me.

“What’s that you’re drawing?”

“Dunno…” I stared at him. He just looked so different from how I remembered him last year... but he talked the same. “Dare, I’ve been wondering--”

“--About my clothes?” he finished for me. “What, do you think they’re weird?” He blinked his cerulean eyes.

I scratched my head. “I dunno…” I mumbled, and ducked back to my notebook. It’d be rude to say directly to him that his clothes were weird. Judging from his question, he already knew my opinion on the matter anyways.

I had a sudden realization. “Where’s Rick?” I asked him. He and Rick were practically joined at the hip; prior to today, I hadn’t seen them apart from each other.

Dare frowned uneasily when I mentioned Rick. “I’m kind of avoiding him,” he said, “but I don’t really want to talk about it at school.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Huh?”

“Hey, you wanna come over to my house afterschool?” he asked, shifting gears. It was a random question, but it’d probably be best if I went to his house. Maybe he’ll let me have dinner there.

“You can even stay for dinner,” he added.

That caught me off guard. I stared at him curiously. “How did you…?”

He only smiled and said, “I know some things sometimes.”


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