The squeal of the alarm signaled another day. It took delight in announcing with each electric blare, "Get up now. Go to class. Be productive. And don't forget to smile, smile, smile!" Somber's hand fell on the clock, bashing it was as much finesse as she could muster. The snooze button was broken; it was the only redeeming thing about the ugly old thing. Somber finally opened one yellow eye to glare at the harsh numbers. Her fingers felt for the catch and slid the alarm off. Even closing her eyes she could feel her brain working like a man with a broken foot on the Trail of Tears. Another day in a Gray world.
She slipped her nude form out of bed and stood there a moment; the bombay simply endeavoring to pull enough will together to gather her clothes and proceed onward. She wanted to climb back into bed and sleep till she couldn't wake up again, but Somber was used to not getting what she wanted. There were obligations to fill and nagging to forestall and that required her to start moving. Turning on the bedside lamp the fifteen year old feline appeared in the mirrored closet doors. She glared at herself. If only looks could kill... then she pushed the sliding door open and looked at her choices. Long sleeved Turtleneck and pants with strategic rips? Long sleeved dress with stockings? Her mom always insisted she dress up, rather than settle for fur. In the end she settled for simple. Her spiked collar given to her by Rex, and her laced elbow length fingerless gloves.
After performing the prerequisite activities for modesty, hygiene, and health Somber stepped down the stairs. Mom was getting ready for work; throwing her new age diet things into her rolling cart that had all her school work in it. Somber fished out a bagel and smeared cream cheese on it; her mom's favorite, not hers. "Thanks honey." Her mom said, picking up the smaller half; a subtle hint she needed to eat more to be sure. The elder bombay chewed on it, making an effort to look cheerful. Somber simply ate. "Look, Jenny-"
Her mom winced and then sighed, "Somber, it's a new school. You can make nice new friends. You can be happy here, sweetie." What could she say? Somber just focused on eating her bagel. It gave her an excuse not to reply what she really thought; things no one wanted to hear. Especially not her mom. "Did you-"
Mom gave up the fight. Somber's ears folded back as the familiar guilt rolled through her. A few more heart felt 'I love you's were responded with perfunctory 'I love you too's. Then Somber was left alone. A new school. New possibilities. But some things were the same. She was still stuck in the same world. She waited for the garage door, hugging herself. She'd lied, of course. She always lied to mom, and mom could never bear to call her on it. When the garage door finally ground out loudly her claws latched into her sides and she bowed her head. She felt the hot tears drip off her nose. More than she deserved.
School busses were universal. It didn't matter if they were in Appel or Maraschino, that smell of vinyl mixed with thirty young furs, spilled food and drink, and stale air gave them a universal pungency that never quite went away. Somber took a seat at random and sat, arms folded in her lap and head bowed as the bus wound its way to pick up its collection of young charges. She didn't listen to music. She didn't like music. She didn't read. Car sickness aside, there wasn't much point to it. So she sat and tried to ignore the babbling around her.
Suddenly a brown canine with floppy ears turned from his friends and stared at her. "Girl!" He yelled, pointing right at her. Somber raised her head to look at him, and they stared at each other for a moment. He seemed to be waiting for her to do something, and she apparently was not obliging him. He suddenly stood in the bus and rushed to her seat, grabbing her wrist and lifting it high into the air. "I claim this girl in the name of the Republic of Dave!" Several other felines looked with mixes of confusion, amusement, and apathy.
Somber twisted her wrist, freeing it from his grasp and gripping his own. Then she twisted hard the other way. His joints folded, releasing the strain by turning his limb behind his back. Her other hand seized his shoulder as the twisted wrist was lifted towards his shoulder blades. "Okay! The Republic of Dave recognizes the sovereignty of the scary, black, new girl! Let go please now ow ow!" Somber released his hand and he scampered down the isle to hide behind a shaggy Somali. "Watch out, Paulo. I think she's a robot or something! She's immune to my sexy charms."
Paulo laughed, looking at her with an easy smile. "Don't mind David. You're someone he hasn't hit on, so I think he's obligated or something." He too paused, waiting for that something that she didn't give. His smile faded as he rubbed the back of his neck, "Okay, score one for the robot theory." Somber sighed, closing her eyes. She wasn't a robot. She wished she were.
The black and white cat next to Paulo turned in her seat, folding her arms on the back and resting her chin on them. "Don't be nervous. We don't bite. I'm Jasmine. These two are Paulo and David." The Somali gave a strained smile now and a little wave. The dog ducked out of sight behind his chair, peeking at Somber with a muttered, 'Killer death robot girl'. "What's your name?"
"Somber." Not Jenny. Jenny was someone else.
"That's... an interesting name." Jasmine said with that forced smile she knew so well. "I love your collar and those gloves. Are you a Twilight fan?"
"No. I have no interest in following the mewling of a whiny self conscious obsessive little girl's crush on a neurotic vampire with attachment disorders." Jasmine's ears immediately folded as she adopted the same awkward look on her face. Somber looked back down at her hands. Why has she said that? What kind of bitch was she? It was a simple question. Why'd she have to tear her down? She felt that dull leaden pressure push up inside her and closed her eyes. Just breathe. Do not break down on the first day at school.
Another stop and four more felines boarded. The seat across from Somber were the only ones available as they walked down the aisle. David waved his hands and Paulo made warning gestures as they passed. Three squeezed into the seat and the white feline looked down at Somber. "Move over." she said bluntly. Somber looked back up at her, hands folded in her lap as she tried to focus. The cat gave an irritated sigh, "Move over, please?" Somber finally shuffled to the side.
"Jeeze, be nice, Lucy." said the Persian, looking past the russet furred Abyssinian.
"That'd be a miracle," muttered the blue Korat on her far side.
She gave him a huffy look, and then returned that broad, warm smile at Somber. "Hello. You're new? I don't think I've seen you before so you must be new." Somber simply returned that long stare, and she withered a little. "Well, I'm Daisy, this is Abbey, that's Michael, and Lucy is next to you." There was another beat as David and Paulo made their warning hand waves. "What's your name?"
"Somber." Lucy glanced over at her in confusion, their eyes meeting. The Khao Manee looked at her in confusion and Somber added, "It's my name."
"Oh. Hi. Lucy." She said, sitting back in her seat. And that was it. None of that long, drawn out silence where they expected something of her. No withering smiles or looks of embarrassment. Nothing. For the first time in months, Somber felt herself thrown off balance. It was... refreshing.
Daisy looked at Paulo, "Oh stop it you two. What's wrong?"
Paulo dropped his voice to a stage whisper, "Don't talk to that girl, Daisy. We've all ready got our yearly bitchiness quota with Lucy. We don't need to add any more to it!"
"Yeah! If the two of them touch it'll create a blast of female bitchiness that will destroy the city!" David added.
"The entire world!" added Paulo.
"The entire space time continuum," David intoned dramatically.
Abbey gave her a look much like her mom's. Michael didn't seem to be following any of it. Daisy just gave a friendly smile. "Well, I'm sure she can't be that bad." Jasmine didn't look so convinced though.
Somber just looked back at her hands in her knees, glancing at the bored feline sitting besides her. Then their eyes met, blue on gold, and the white feline suddenly blushed. "What?"
"Nothing. You're just very pretty." That sent the flush all the way up into her ears.
"Nooooo!" Wailed David as he ducked out of sight.
"The bitchiness will destroy us all!" Moaned Paulo.
Lucy stared at Somber, her face going from embarrassed to blushing to more embarrassed. She looked away, clasping her hands together. "I don't swing that way."
Somber just continued that steady look. "I never asked if you did." They were saved by the arrival at school. Each of them filed off, with Paulo and David jumping out of the bus peering at Somber as if looking for wires or antennae. Somber just walked right past them as they headed into school and she walked to the school office. Lucy glanced back at her with a look of annoyance before disappearing around the corner with the rest of her friends. Somber stood there a moment and then did something not seen in a long time.
"I'm telling you. That new girl is scary." David intoned, arms folded behind his head, leaning back in the seat as the rest ate lunch. "Like, I just touched her hand and suddenly it was like... Whachaaa!" He cried out, swinging his arm wildly and trying to fold it behind his back... in the process hitting getting fucked in the ass in the head. As she fell away behind him he looked back over his shoulder. "Oh! Hey! Sorry, whoever you are!" Turning back to the others he huffed, cupping his chin and rubbing it slowly. "Clearly, if she's not a robot, then she must be some kinds of ninja."
"No way." Paulo retorted, snorting as he stretched out in his seat. "She's a Zombie. You had to see her eyes. I mean, I've never had anyone just stare like that. Like she wanted to eat my brains or something." Jasmine huffed, her ears folding as she hugged a copy of Eclipse a little tighter.
Tess snorted, folding her arms as she leaned towards him. "So you're saying she's a sucker for junk food then?" Paulo threw a cheese puff at her, and she deflected it with her palm with a laugh. She looked over at Abbey and Daisy, "What about you two? Did you get the 'I want to eat your soul' vibe from her?"
Daisy blinked as she looked up, "Well, she might have been a little hostile, but she's new. She's probably scared, being in a new school and all." She waved her hand dismissively, "I'm sure she'll warm up as soon as she gets to know some people." Then she looked over at where David and Paulo were debating if Somber were ninja, robot, zombie, or possibly all three. "Someone who isn't David, I mean."
Abbey sighed, looking over at the far side of the cafeteria where the black cat ate all by herself. Not just alone, but as if the entire room was empty. "She just looks... so sad."
Lucy snorted as she munched on a fish stick. "Well, she said her name is Somber. Really, what kind of freak names themselves something so depressing? It's like every time she introduces herself she's warning people she's going to be an bosnian cry baby."
"She seemed to like you." Abbey pointed out with a frown.
Lucy shivered, "Yeah. That's another reason she can stay right over there." She said as she hugged herself, her tail curling around her waist. "I mean guys hitting on me is annoying enough but a girl is... well..."
"Aw, you should keep an open mind, Lucy." Tess teased with a grin. "Look at it this way. You're so cute even the girls want you." Lucy's dignified response was one single raised middle digit as she ate another fish stick. Tess chuckled and then stood. "Well I think that makes her interesting enough to have lunch with. Don't you, guys?"
"Nooo!" wailed Paulo.
"Think of the time space continuum!" implored David.
But Tess was standing and heading over to the bombay. But as she approached there was just something off about how she ate quietly. No music. No books. No homework. Just eating slowly and deliberately. It didn't help that she was so skinny. She was, apparently, a sophomore but looked the same size as Jasmine. The cat then turned and looked at her approach. Those golden eyes leveled a stared that seemed to cut right through Tess. Okay, there was definitely a ping on her creep o meter. "Hi." No response. "I'm Tess." Still no response. She felt prickles along her spine. "I'm friends with Paulo and Daisy and them." Tess began to twitch, wanting the girl to blink or smile or frown or say something! "Would you like to..." Great, now she was reconsidering. Looking over her shoulder she saw David and Paulo with their hands pressed together in prayer, Lucy looking sullen, and the rest looking curious. Funny, where was Abbey? Looking back at the girl she gave a nervous little laugh. "Um... have my pudding cup?" Never mind she'd left it all the way back at her table and it was the lamest thing ever-.
"Would you like to join us for lunch?" Abbey asked from behind Tess. She whirled, looking down at him and bristling in shock as the rust furred abyssinian looked calmly at the bombay.
Somber looked at the pair a moment longer and then nodded. "Sure."
As Somber collected her lunch Tess pushed Abbey away and asked softly, "What are you doing? I mean I thought that Paulo and David were joking but this girl is seriously creepy, Abbey."
He looked up at her with that expression of slight disdain. "Given how people treat you, how can you treat her like that?" Tess just stared at him in shock, and then groaned softly, looking at Somber as she stood. Damn Abbey and his black and white morality. The three returned to the group's table, with Paulo and David boring into her with a sullen glare. She laughed weakly, shrugging as Somber sat between Daisy and Abbey.
"So your name is Somber?" Abbey asked with a friendly smile, trying to start some decent conversation over Paulo and David's whispered 'robot!','ninja','robot!','ninja!' Somber just looked at him and nodded once. His smile strained, "And you're from out of town?" Another nod. "Where?"
"Oh, I know where that is! It's a little town upstate, right? With all the dairy farms?" Daisy asked as she beamed a smile at the bombay. When somber nodded again she laughed, "Well you must find this place pretty big and strange."
The cat considered her a moment. "Why? We have a McDonalds and a Walmart and broadband internet. We get netflix and itunes. I have to go to school and church here the same as there. How different can it really be?" Even Daisy didn't seem to know what to say to that, her smile becoming frozen as she blinked at the staring feline.
"Why are you bosnian?" Lucy asked as she pushed her plate away. The Somber looked at her evenly, and Lucy just went on. "I mean you sit there all alone and you stare at people and don't talk... or say bitchy things. What's your deal? Why are you so bosnian?"
"Pot, meet kettle," Muttered Michael.
Somber opened her mouth and closed it again. "I'm not bosnian." She protested.
"Whatever," Lucy said, with a snort as she looked away.
"I'm not bosnian!" She shouted at Lucy, standing up. Everyone was staring at her, even Lucy, in surprise. Somber felt embarrassment creep into her ears as she looked away. "I'm just not... happy..." She sat back at the table, her hands clasped together, looking down at them.
As she sat, Abbey pat her shoulder. "Hey. You don't have to defend yourself to us, right guys?"
"Killer robot," Muttered David. "Ninja assassin," muttered Paulo.
"Right." Tess said with a forced smile. "We might be a little dysfunctional, but I think that we can get over that, right?" There was a decided lack of response from the boys and Jasmine, but Daisy and Abbey nodded and Lucy gave a non-committal shrug.
"Ugh... she's going to annihilate the world. You'll see." David grumbled, then immediately brightened. "Hey, is it true you're a dyke?" He asked perkily, leaning towards her as if expecting to see a giant pink L stamped on her forehead.
Everyone just gaped him, embarrassment on everyone's face except Somber's. "Jeeze, David, a little tact..." muttered Michael.
The bombay looked back at David, replying with an even "No." Everyone relaxed, yet they still had that wary expression. No embarrassment. No rage. Not even a blip. Then she glanced at Lucy and her lips curled in the smallest smile, and she added in that same neutral tone. "Probably not." That evoked another full facial blush from the khao manee who looked down and muttered under her breath.
At the bus stop most of the gang spilled out into the cold January air. "Plauggh!" Lucy said as she rubbed her fur briskly, staring at the departing bus. "What is that girl's deal? I keep giving her the hint that I am not interested, don't swing that way, play solely for the boys and she just sits there and smiles at me the whole trip!" She saw everyone staring at her and blinked, "What?"
"Play solely for the boys?" Michael asked with a raised brow.
"Bowwwww... bowcha wow wow..." David laughed, "Play me Lucy. Playyyyy meeee..."
"Oh shut up!" She snapped as she hit him upside the head.
"It was nice to see her smile at least." Daisy said as she hooked arms with Abbey. Paulo did the same to Jasmine, with a glance at the white feline. Lucy gave one look at Michael, blushed, and firmly stepped away from the korat.
David laughed and hugged Michael tightly, "Don't worry man. I lwuvvv yoooou!" Michael sputtered as the hug turned to headlock as David laughed. Lucy just looked away from him, hugging herself.
"There's got to be some reason she's like that." Abbey said, looking at where the bus had disappeared.
David let go of Michael so fast he fell on his butt on the dirty frozen snow. "Uh, hello! Ro.... bot!"
"She's not a robot." Abbey insisted flattly.
"She probably has abusive parents who abandoned her, was raped, and got teased by everyone right before her hometown was destroyed." Lucy said sharply.
"And she has the hots for you." David teased, wiggling his eyebrows at her. That earned him another hard smack.
Lucy hefted her bag. "I don't have time for this," she said as she gave a wave to the ones that weren't being smart-asses. At home, she said hi to her mom before heading to her room, tossing her bag aside, and flopping face down on her pillow. Clutching it with her fingers she let out a groan. "Why did today have to be so stupid?"
"Ugh... cause you didn't have me to back you up." Yashy said from the top drawer of her dresser. Her green pet had a decidedly flushed nose that was dripping right before she blew it. Then she tossed the snotty paper into a massive heap burying the wastepaper basket. "Stupid cold. I hate January. All my brains are turning to snot." Chirpy flew a fresh tissue up to Yashy.
"Why was today stupid, Lucy?" Lily asked from the window seat, setting a book aside.
"Just more stupid drama." She said as she rolled on to her back. Lily sighed and then gestured for her to continue with that motherly smile. Lucy flushed, knowing the hedgehog would winnow it out of her one way or another. "There's this new girl that showed up at school." She folded her hands behind her head as she stared up at the ceiling. "She's like... sad. Just sits there looking like she either doesn't feel anything or like she's about to cry. But apparently she put David in an armlock on the bus when he was being stupid." She glanced over at Lily with her hands behind her back, waiting for the shoe to drop. Lucy looked away and muttered, "She... seems to like me."
"Wow. Masochist, huh?" Yashy taunted before sneezing sharply.
"How could anyone not like mommy kitty? She's the best mommy ever!" Chirpy cried out, and to prove it she gave Lucy a hug, snuggling against her. Even Lucy smiled at that.
"So what's the problem?" Lily asked with that patient smile.
"I don't know. That's the problem!" She snapped as she sat up and walked to the window. The sun was all ready going down, making the world out side look even colder and grayer than before. "If she told us some reason she was all bosnian and stuff then maybe I could get it. But she's just... weird." She said as she hugged herself. Despite the toasty temperature in her room, she still felt cold. She wanted to call someone over. Even Michael... if only it didn't make her feel so lousy inside to think of him.
"Not everyone's as simple as that. But if she's patient enough to want to put up with you then maybe you'll be patient enough to find out more about her." Lily said quietly as dusk slipped away to night.
Somber sat at home at the piano, her fingers playing softly. She didn't know what she was playing. The notes simply wandered up and down, with no real destination. She hadn't eaten when she got home, despite the gnawing in her stomach. She ate when others ate. It was her only reminder. Nor did she turn on the lights as the house dimmed more and more. Eventually only the last trails of purple outlined her and she hit the keys more by luck than by sight or feel. The garage door ground slowly once, the sound of mom's truck going silent, and the door closing again. When her mom entered with her rolling cart she froze at the door. "Somber honey. Turn on the lights."
A flick and she saw her daughter sitting at the baby grand that served as their clutter table. Her ebony fur was matted by tears as she bent over the keys. Her mother immediately balled up her fists, fighting the anger rising inside her, and the fear, and the urge to rush over and hug her. "You didn't take your pills, did you?" No answer, just slow music rising from the keys. Beautiful and sad. "And you didn't eat when you got home like you were supposed to." Still no answer. "Damn it, Jenny, stop playing that!" She screamed at her daughter.
"Don't call me Jenny!" she yelled back, standing, her hands mashing the keys in one massive discordant din. They stared at each other for a second in silence, and then Somber let out a sob. then another as she bent over. Her mom let out her breath and rushed to her side. She hugged her tightly, okay now that she was really crying. She rocked her as she wept in her arms. Tears with no source, other than her own misery.
"Shh... shh. It'll get better. It will be better honey. Just... take your pills. Please take your pills, baby. I know you don't think they work, but they do." That was more a reassurance for herself than anything. She rocked her slowly and repeated the promise spoken over and over again. It will get better.
"It never gets better in a gray world, mom..."
That's enough for now. Thoughts? Anybody laughing? Odd too... it seems to change "bosnian" to "Bosnian."
This post has been edited by Somber: 11 January 2011 - 04:21 AM