bright burning blight
I felt like throwing up. I felt like scratching my nails down my arms, digging them into the softness of my thighs, chewing them up and spitting them out.
Ryan was picking on Daniel again. Again. What a disgusting word again could be.
My hands curled tighter around my calculus textbook. I hated math, but it was the only way to ground myself before I—
Who was I kidding? I wasn’t going to do a damn thing.
A lock of hair fell over my eye. It covered up Ryan. I saw only Daniel, the same boy who once threatened to take his dad’s hunting gun to my head, his back surely denting the billion year old lockers. I jerked to the right, that lock of hair flying back to its place. Where it had been stood Ryan, the same boy who once looked me in the eye and promised to marry me by the time we were 16, his hands clutching Daniel’s shirt.
They were both glaring at each other. I didn’t know what they had said to each other - I didn’t know whose anger had sparked first - I didn’t know why I was the only one watching.
The fuck was I supposed to do?
Daniel probably deserved it, I thought as I watched him bare his teeth. Ryan wouldn’t actually hurt him, I thought as I saw him turn to see me. The idea of his eyes being anywhere near me made my skin crawl. The idea of Daniel wasn’t that much better.
My grip tightened even more. I spared a thought toward the creak of my knuckles, the white of them, before I started to walk.
“Let the poor bastard go,” my mouth said.
‘Fucking try me,’ my mind whispered.
Ryan snarled. I think he meant to smile, but I’ve seen those and his canines were a much better option. “He needs to learn his lesson.”
“He needs to fuck off, actually,” I replied. “So do you, now that I’m thinking of it.”
His eyes flashed. I didn’t dare look at Daniel. A bead of sweat rolled down my back at the same time as one slowly trekked down my forehead.
This time Ryan smiled. He had cute dimples for such a raging sociopath.
‘God, I should make a bet for when he’s finally gonna snap,’ I thought.
“He called you a slut, Sophie.”
“A lot of people call me that.”
Ryan’s hands tightened in Daniel’s shirt. “Who?”
I shrugged. I leaned to the left and Ryan leaned too. I didn’t dare glance at Daniel. “Don’t know, don’t really care. This isn’t about me though, Ryan. This is about you assaulting people—”
I blinked and Daniel was slammed higher against the lockers.
My entire body swayed forward, that boiling under my skin itching to get out. It turned my stomach and clogged my pores and another bead of sweat rolled down my cheek.
“For fuck’s sake, Ryan!” My voice shook. I knew beyond a doubt that my face was flushed. “Just let him go, Jesus Christ!”
“Scared for him, Soph?”
‘No, but I am furious. I’m bursting and tense and if my nails were long enough I’d rake them down your fucking face. I’m anxious and violence is right at my fingertips and—’
My knuckles nearly split at the seams.
“Just let him go.” My voice was breathy and he took it as the fear he thought he called me out on. I knew Daniel thought I was shaking against Ryan - anyone else would be, too.
But as Ryan sat Daniel down, slow and smug, as if I was a child asking for a silly little request, it was not fear in my chest. It was rage, burning and bright. It will consume me later, when I am alone and there is nothing but skin.
Ryan hurt people. Daniel hurt people. I will not hurt people. I could, though. I wanted to, easily. But I wouldn’t.
'God,' I thought, 'I wish I would.'