Grands High School, Ngwaki, Vistamyl.
He liked her, a lot. He knew it; those who weren’t blind knew it also. And those who watched her stomp like an exasperated eel towards him figured it out too. Because to make her mad, you had to be staring, and to be staring you had to like what you saw.
Edward shuddered. He could sense his heart struggle through thumps to pop off his chest watching the three girls walk all across the hallway, towards him. Of course it was no other person but him who was in trouble. Obvious because Sasha, leading the others in the walk, had a cold gaze locked on him, with nothing friendly glowering in the blackness of her eyes.
Maybe, he thought, it would be best if he just walked away and avoid the trouble he saw looming towards him. However, the possibility of that being a great idea kept reducing with every step she and her friends took forward. His gut had times without count always threw caution at him that he’d get them both into trouble one of these days with the way he kept staring right at this girl for two days since he resumed at Grands High Schools, without shame and sense. But no, he had to be the stubborn fly, flying into his own very demise. And now, that future was before him, seconds away from being a reality.
“Hey!” Sasha made a halt just few feet away from him. Enough distance as though he was a contagious plague in need of avoidance. Her right hand hung on her hip, face void of any sense of friendliness, and her friends just behind her with half a step difference away, all grinning to what they could predict was about to happen.
“Hey.” He drawled a gulp.
“What’s your problem?” She said through an intentionally faked smile, and he could see the resentment strongly held behind it.
“Nothing, I just—” he mumbled for words, but found his gut had long since abandoned the heedless fly to perish.
She cut in to Edward’s stutter with a long sigh. “You own a bike?”
“No.” This came first to him as a surprise, unsure what to make of it.
“How about a car? No matter how small or old? “
“So why are you staring at me like you could offer either of those if I returned the gesture?” she began, annoyed, finally letting loose that demon inside he’d expected all along. Her voice was mildly spread through the hall thanks to its loudness.
Eyes seemed to glare at them. Edward whispered embarrassingly, eyes darting over his shoulders, noticing some students had had their attentions pricked by her voice’s audibility. A sense of unease rushed through his chest, washing over him like a rain of heated water. It was too early to carry a bad record amongst fellow students, particularly one as bad as this: an outright rejection from one of the hottest girls in class, in the most ridiculing of ways. “Calm down, Sasha, I didn’t—”
“Even that name,” she hissed, face furrowed in annoyance, “Don’t mention it, ever!”
Jerking him aside and walking past with his books littering across to the tiled floor, Edward watched Sasha and her friends walk away, sniggering. Shame gripped a hold of him noticing the two girls by the side chuckling. Quickly, he bent down and picked his textbooks back up. He tucked the books into his bag and headed for class. Faced down, avoiding everyone’s face as each person he passed by threw a mocking snigger his way.
Seventeen, Edward Ajara was in his final year in high school. Being of average height he had a slender build and looked nothing like one who either worked out or could stand a straight up punch to the face. He lived with his parents, owned a small bicycle and had a relatively unproblematic life. They had recently resettled to the city, and two weeks earlier he had enrolled into Grands to finish up high school and write his national exams.
However, since he started school, his eyes had for reasons uncoordinated by him gotten glued to just one girl; Sasha. This, however not being entirely a surprise as he wasn’t the only one always throwing glances of admiration. He just was the only one caught and just embarrassed this week. She was to him someone instilled in his little mind to be the most beautiful sculpture he’d ever seen since he learnt how to say the words ‘daddy and mommy’. All that was until after what had just happened.
Sasha had an elegance graced upon her by nature. Always on fancy dresses and hung out only with the cliques of the big boys and fellow girls her ‘class’, her fame around the school had been largely a result of her facial features alongside her father’s social class. She was tall, seventeen, an editor at the daily teen magazines owned by the school located in the city of Vistamyl, one of the major cities in the country. Edward however liked her for reasons more than these.
The rest of class that day was beyond embarrassing. At a point he had been called up to read a passage from a literature work. But the headaches —which had been persistent for weeks— had returned. A pump of relentless throbbing hit against his head like his brains were being run over by a grounded train. And this usually got worse whenever he looked into a book or anything containing words and figures. And while the laughter emanating from the students watching him fumble in class almost tore him into shreds, making him wish the earth would open and swallow him up, it was nothing compared to what had happened with Sasha that morning. That, was one event he was never forgetting so easily.
They called it pride. He knew of this: a free gift for every boy which determined most of how their journey on earth went, bad or worse. He however was sure that his had been murdered, impaled to a stake and set on fire a dozen times with its ashes crying a thousand cries. Though common, something about how she reacted to him got him pained and peeved on the inside. A feeling to which of recent, for reasons he could not fathom, had been difficult to keep in check. Of course boys get turned down loads of times, and they were mostly known to never back down nor feel perturbed by it. Still, that illogical rage outmatched his understanding of this fact.
Returning home that afternoon from school, only his mother, Mrs. Momak, was home. He headed straight for the stairs and into his room. The headache was bothersome and he knew this was partially his fault. On intent, he had skipped taking his pills, the same with the night before. All because he had always felt they were ineffective.
Reaching for the table, he pulled out the drawer and took up pile of medicine. Throwing two pills into his palm, then his mouth. There he stood, holding unto the wooden table before him and his head facing the floor. In spite of the headache and painful flashes he felt, a sense of anger still lurked around his heart. One to which he couldn’t explain. His grip on the edges of the cupboard stiffened, and though he was unaware, his hands began to change. A black colored substance crawled up his hand and slowly to his elbow. It coated his skin slowly, moving towards his shoulders. With his weight over the table by where he held, it broke with a sudden rush and crack, causing him to stagger forward.
Falling with his head and chest slamming into the table with all his weight, his body tore through it in half. He hit the ground hard, the damaged table turning over on him. Pushing himself back up, he stared at the table, then his hands. At what had made him fall. They were back to normal. And strangely, his headache was gone. He groaned, “What the hell was that?”
Edward walked down the stairs a minute later and found his mom fixing late lunch for him, moving in and out of the kitchen. He turned a glance at the time, then the food. He could not decide between giving up his crave for those freshly cooked rice and palm oil stew, and leaving it till night so he’d have to eat as much as he wanted. “If I eat that now, hope there would be space for dinner?” he said, tickling her from behind, which got her shuddering, giggling and scaring him back with a plate she held.
“Who said anything about dinner after now?” She was smiling as she headed back to the kitchen, returning a moment later with the Purifier. A jug-looking device which did as its name implied: purifying water by heating and then rapidly cooling it. Purchasing that had been expensive, but since it was, she’d been glad they did.
“That’s something I’d pretend I didn’t hear,” Edward nodded, taking a seat as she pushed her seat back to sit, all just to watch him eat. Mouth full of rice he looked up to meet her face, remembering something he had almost forgot to speak about. “By the way, the table in my room is broken. I think dad bought an old one, again.”
“That’s crazy. You said the same thing about the last two tables and mirror. And each time, you punched your way through them.” She barked in annoyance. Her demeanour plunged down further as she talked on, on it, face straight at Edward who avoided her eyes on intent.
“Believe me I didn’t punch my way through this one, I swear. I was resting on it and it broke. I almost got hurt,” Edward said, coughing when the wrong seed of rice went into the wrong lung.
“Just shut up and eat,” she hissed and sprang to her feet, headed for his room. “This temper of yours is becoming disturbing, and for the past week it’s been just worse.”
He screamed after her, “I do not have anger issues. You and dad just annoy me a lot, and buy fake old furniture too.”
After taking his shower that evening, Edward headed for his room in a towel around his waist, revealing his neat skin. He was a lot slender than his clothes made him look. He stared into the large mirror on the wall, watching at his muscles and chest. This brought in a feeling of disappointment tainting his mind, realizing why Sasha probably didn’t see him worth her time. Though yes she very much was materialistic and that tended to be on the front lines of reasons for hating his existence.
His life was relatively miserable. Usually, those who didn’t have cash and fancy bikes in school, tended to have great body physiques to supplement for the financial disadvantage. He however seemed to be swimming with the devil himself, having neither cash, physique or even something as common as a good looking face.
Musing harder upon it and the embarrassment he had faced that morning at school, caused a sense of agitation swelling up in his mind again. And though he didn’t see it as an implosive rage, he very well could feel a hot sensation on his inside. One he couldn’t seem to either control or contain. One surging from somewhere around his abdomen, reaching for his chest, tightening it, stiffening him.
“Why would she? Why.” His breath was heavy, hard and deepening. “Why?” His head began to throb. The headache was back, and his breath was cutting short . “Why? Why!”
Impulsively, he hurled his fist at the mirror. The shatter into a dozen pieces of glass flew around the room. He gasped, senses returned, shock-ridden. His arm had torn through the wall as well, causing a crack scattering around where he’d punched. Yet, oddly, he could feel no pain. He pulled his fist off of the wall and the mirror frame, unable to recognize his own arm. It was dark, glittering like boiled oil, and as though an armour of some sort was latched to his skin. Bewildered, he analysed it, frightened. He could feel no sensation at all, yet his fingers moved to his command. Revelling in the shock still, the door squeaked open and his mother barged in.
“Edward,” she said, her eyes quickly stared at the shattered glass on the floor, went from one of concern to those of rising anger, face furrowing.
“This one definitely wasn’t old. It fell off my hands trying to clean it. But I’ll clean this up.” He giggled, both hands hidden away behind him.
“Are you okay?” she queried, looking him down head to toe, taking sight of the pieces of glass all lying around him. He didn’t seem hurt.
Taking a quick nervous nod, he smiled, “Sure. I’ll clean it up. Just leave so I’d dress up.”
She kept her stare at him pensively for a second, and then slowly shut the door before her. Edward raised his arm to his face. It was back to normal: caramel, dry and in dire need of a cream’s attention. He was losing his mind. He turned to see the wall and the cracks on it. That certainly wasn’t back to normal.
“I really do have anger issues,” he breathed.