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Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

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Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Michael Courtenay on Fri Jun 03, 2011 8:31 pm

Michael's heart dropped when he heard the news. He was actually leaving. He only completed the application for St. Christina's because as he was writing, he thought to himself: "They won't accept you- they probably have a million of these applications! They won't even look at yours. Dr. Ivanova just gave this to you on a whim- this doesn't mean anything."

When Teagan, the youth home's residential counselor whom he was the closest with, told him that St. Christina's had accepted him, his outward reaction wasn't extreme. His eyes bulged for a moment, then with shaking hands he packed his bags silently like he was told to do. Inside, he was screaming. His heartbeat made a twisting thud against his chest as his thoughts came one by one. 'I'm leaving Marquette.' 'I'm leaving Michigan.' 'I'm leaving the continent.' 'I'm leaving Teagan.' 'I'm leaving Jorge.' 'I'm leaving the possibility that Alan and I might be friends again.'

Teagan patted him on the shoulder as he was finishing packing his pairs of jeans. "Don't over-think it," She said, because she knew that Michael had a tendency to over-analyze. He wasn't a very quick-thinker because of this. "You've never moved before besides staying here, right? Have you ever been off of the North American coast? You could think of it as an adventure."

She walked toward the door when she knew she wouldn't be receiving a reply from the usually talkative boy. Teagan opened the door and said, "We'll be leaving in twenty minutes. They have to call the taxi." as she exited. Michael packed his shirts silently, color-coding and neatly folding them. T-shirts with t-shirts, long-sleeved with long-sleeved, socks with their right pair. He could distract himself with that, until the thought that he'd been trying to push away crashed out of the closet he'd forced it into.

I'll never see my mom again.

It was true; if he'd stayed in the Marquette County Youth Home where everything was temporary, he could at least visit his mother before she got out of rehab if she was doing well enough. He was banking on that... every day, the reason why he got out of bed and brushed his teeth and functioned was because he was looking forward to seeing her. But now he was going to be halfway across the country on an island in the middle of nowhere.

Michael broke down, his agony only matched by the fear of the unknown. He was sure to cry quietly and only for fifteen minutes. He then figuratively beat himself for being hospitalized a few weeks ago; things would have been different if that hadn't happened.

Sawyer International Airport wasn't even half an hour away from youth home. The entire car ride, Michael was trying to keep his breathing regulated so not to have Teagan worry about him, and he bit his lip and turned his face toward the window if he felt like he was going to cry again. He tried to think about something else, like how early in the morning it was- his flight was at 7 am.

After going through security, Teagan and Michael waited at the gate for awhile in silence. Teagan didn't want to push Michael to talk, and Michael didn't want to talk at all, which was a drastic change.

"Did you bring something to do?" Teagan asked.

"I brought "The Fellowship of the Ring". Jorge gave it to me."

Michael did not go off on a tangent about how Jorge de la Garza had been his only friend in the home and how he'd been begging Michael to read the Lord of the Rings series for a while, but Michael had told him time and time again that he takes too long to read books due to picking apart the sentences and thinking about them. His voice was dreary and nearly monotonous as opposed to the bubbly, kid-like voice that cracked occasionally.

He took his eyes off the floor and looked at Teagan, some of the leftover tears making his eyes watery. They were practically saying, Don't make me go... and Teagan half-smiled in response. "I brought something for you," She said, changing the subject.

She took out a simple, black leather journal. "It's to write your thoughts down."

"T...Thank you," He said softly.

If he were in a better mood, he would have demonstrated how excited and thankful he was. But he couldn't even bring himself to smile; he knew Teagan understood, though.

When they were boarding coach, Michael didn't even have to ask for a hug from Teagan. He took a deep breath and melted for a few seconds; Teagan's embrace made him feel better.

"Take care of yourself," Teagan said, waving goodbye as she watched at the gate.

The entire plane ride there, Michael worried about his mother. Did she know he was going to St. Christina's? Was she improving in rehab? He only called her once because she was either not there or not allowed to speak to him. He wrote the address down for the Great Lakes Recovery Center before he left for the airport so that he could write to her if St. Christina's didn't allow phone conversations.

The ferry was exactly the same; he thought and thought and worried and worried. When Michael actually got to the facility, his heart felt like it was going to jump out of his chest. It thudded quickly and clumsily against his rib cage. He kept a tight grip on his shirt, biting his long sleeves as he entered the building. (Two of his bad, nervous habits.) After the full body cavity search, he was anxious as ever and afraid of the staff, but luckily they turned him loose after that. He decided he would read the handbook later; he said to himself that he would when he got to his room.

"A2..." Michael mumbled, shuffling to an open door and nobody inside. He practically threw his suitcase and carry-on on the second bed once he saw there was nobody there. If he stayed, he would be in the room ALONE. He wouldn't be able to handle that anyway, but after all of this happening in one day, he didn't want to have another mental breakdown. That's what got him in here in the first place; maybe they'd send him to a place far worse if he had another one.

Michael practically ran down the hallways and apologized to a security officer who told him not to run. 'You can't run in the hallway,' 'The officer is mad at you,' 'He will never forgive you,' repeated in his head over and over again but he was too preoccupied with trying to find other human beings so he didn't dwell on beating himself up. After running out the hallways, into the outdoors surrounded by a barbed wired fence, into a courtyard and past the courtyard, he was now sure that he past that same shrubbery twice before and was now lost. He was looking for people, and now he was alone AND lost.

"There's no one here!" He squeaked, his hands cupping his mouth as he sank defeated against a tree. He was shaking, moving his hands to grab fistfuls of his hair in anguish.

He left Marquette. He will probably never see his mother again. He left Teagan, Alan and Jorge. He left behind everything he knew to arrive to a place hot and sticky and without people. It was then that he cried as silently as he could.
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Andry Buernsey on Sat Jun 04, 2011 8:30 pm

Andry was not having a good time at St. Christina's. Not that he'd had a good time at Hadley...but at least there, things had been a little better and a little more predictable. He had been on the verge of making friends with that little Gwyddon girl, but he hadn't seen her since they moved; maybe she hadn't come. He hoped that she was fine, wherever she was, because she really had been sweet. He had actually been doing well until that incident with Nell...and now his life seemed to be one incident after another. The last conversation he had had with another person his age had been with Marcos, and that had ended badly; he'd been avoiding people since. His sleeping habits hadn't improved, and of course that didn't help anything; nightmares chased him out of slumber almost every night, and when it wasn't nightmares that kept him from sleeping, it was the fear of them. Sometimes he lay awake and stared at the ceiling for hours upon hours, trying with all his might to stay awake, thinking of the most pleasant things he could muster. It seemed like the only good things he had were the things he could imagine.

Walking around was his primary source of entertainment; Andry didn't have any hobbies, anything he was good at, or anything to pass the time. It was quite pathetic, in his estimation, and it made him feel that much worse about himself. Sometimes he saw other people walking as well, but he stayed away from them and they stayed away from him. A lot of people wanted to be alone here; he wasn't the only one. When you came to a place like this, you didn't find a lot of healthy socializing.

Setting out into the garden again, trying his best to keep his mind off the unpleasant, amorphous glob of angst that his life currently was, Andry found that he was largely alone today. Good. He liked it better that way. Crossing his arms and keeping his eyes on his feet, he began his silent wandering. Before he had got long, he heard a voice. That in itself was nothing remarkable, but what it said was strange. There's no-one here! The tone was obviously panicked, and following it came the sound of muffled crying. There was something in Andry that was soft for sad people. He couldn't just let them suffer...that would have been inhumane, as ironic as him having that thought was.

Peering around the tree, he saw a boy that did not look old enough to be here and was crying and clutching fistfulls of his own hair. Who did that remind him of? The answer was himself, of course, and he could already feel himself idenitifying with the kid, no matter what his story was. Moving around to sit beside the shaking boy, hoping the kid wasn't one of the deceptively violent psychos, Andry said,

"Hey, um...you okay?"
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Michael Courtenay on Sat Jun 04, 2011 9:05 pm

The voice had startled Michael. He let out a surprised yelp as he frantically wiped away his tears. Boys shouldn't cry, he knew, and before he processed what the other boy had said, he apologized on reflex.

"S-Sorry!" He piped, hiccuping and wiping away his tears with his sleeve.

Michael looked at the owner of the voice with wet, child-like eyes. The boy was older, but not considerably older. Perhaps high school-aged? He didn't know, and was too disoriented to think about it. He replayed the boy's words again so that he could focus on what he'd said. Michael remembered him asking if he was okay.

Michael took another choppy breath before sputtering out words.

"U-Um..." Michael honestly had no idea how to answer the older boy's question. It wasn't common practice to tell someone your problems before knowing their name, but he didn't want to lie either. Even if he tried to lie, he wouldn't be able to. It would be too obvious. He didn't have much experience in lying. He figured he would just tell the other boy the truth.

"...I'm not." Michael whispered as he looked at the ground, defeated. He could feel his lip quivering again but he bit it down.

It took him a few seconds to breathe in deeply and exhale shakily. He needed to calm down; how he was acting was rude. He didn't want to be rude. He didn't want to hurt the boy by being rude.

"Sorry," He apologized again, forcing a weak smile. "This really isn't how I normally meet people."

Michael stuck out his hand, hoping that the older boy would shake it. It wasn't out of politeness; the sense of touch comforted him. Hand holding and hugging made him feel better, as much as it was embarrassing for a fourteen-year-old to admit. Teagan knew that, and what was nice about her was that she kind of had a sixth sense. She just knew when Michael could use a hug; he didn't even have to worry about asking her like he did with his mom when he lived with her.

"I-I'm Michael, and I just came here. What's your name?"

He shifted his position at the base of the tree, his hand still held out.

"How long has it been since you came here?"

Michael hoped that the question, as innocent as it was, wouldn't stir up negative emotions in the other boy. Sometimes, when someone was locked up for so long, it could make them feel bad if asked how long they were there for. He learned that when he was in the youth home as well as the hospital. He almost got attacked when he was in the hospital on his birthday after asking that question.

Michael cringed as he remembered it. The kid who almost beat him to a bloody pulp had to be sedated. The other patients called it 'booty juice'. He was scared out of his mind to witness it and he felt bad that he'd provoked him.

"Please don't get mad at me."

Michael didn't even mean to say that- it kind of just slipped out. But it wasn't a lie; he didn't want to get tackled and he also didn't want to be alone again. He wouldn't be able to handle being alone again.
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Andry Buernsey on Sun Jun 05, 2011 3:03 pm

"I'm Andry...I've just gotten here, actually, but I've been locked up for a while in other places," replied the boy, shaking Michael's proffered hand. The question might have bothered him once, but now he was nice and institutionalized. Questions of that variety were all too common. While shaking hands, Andry smiled the most friendly smile he could conjure up. He was well aware of the fact that when you were feeling too bad to even lie about being okay, someone smiling could help a little. As gross and cheesy as that was, it was also true. This kid seemed innocent enough; perhaps too innocent. It was at once endearing and painful to watch.

Please don't get mad at me. Andry's smile wavered, but did not drop. Okay, that was strange, but he could roll with it. It wasn't like he hadn't said his share of crazy, irrational things...he had zero room to judge.

"I'm not mad," he said. "Not at all." He leaned his head back against the tree and continued, lying a little for the boy's sake, "It's not so bad here. It's a really nice place, considering that it's a mental institution. There are definitely worse situations to be in." That, in many ways, was true, but Andry didn't really feel that way. He was just trying to make whatever transition this boy was going through easier. Personally, he would have just as soon been in Boston than on this island, but no-one seemed particularly keen on letting him go. That was understandable, but it didn't mean he had to like it.

"I guess that if you're in wards B or C you get to leave the institution, so that could be a plus for you. Have you looked around any?" He didn't mention that Michael had probably been too busy crying and talking to himself to do any exploring...that was immaterial. Andry sort of felt like he had graduated from being the long-suffering little kid to being the guy who pats that kid on the head and tells him that everything's going to be okay. During his stay in juvie, there had been a nice guy who got sick of him sitting in the corner and crying and who had shown him how to survive in jail...he sort of felt like that guy now. It was a weird feeling.
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Michael Courtenay on Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:39 pm

When the older boy shook Michael's hand, the transferred warmth seemed to pulse through his veins, calming his blood stream. His breathing was starting to slow down. The kind gesture felt warm and snug. It made Michael feel a whole lot better. The touch felt so nice that he hadn't realized that he'd continued to hold onto the teen's hand even after he'd introduced himself.

"Oh- sorry!" He squeaked, promptly letting go and trying desperately not to blush. That, in turn, only made his face redder.

Michael heard the older boy speak and he turned his attention toward his name; this let some of the heat escape his cheeks.

"Andry..." Michael's tongue tried saying his name. It was like trying out a new ice cream flavor. "That's an interesting name- much less common than mine. Is it short for Andrew?"

At this point, Michael was kind of calm. Talking brought him out of thinking about why he was upset in the first place, and the hand-touch did wonders for his nerves. He wiped his last remaining tears away as he listened to Andry say that he came here not to long ago.

"Really? You just came here too?" Michael's mouth dropped in childish awe. "I just came here a few minutes ago- well, the body examination thing ended a few minutes ago. They gave me my room assignment and let me leave after that."

Michael shivered at the memory of it and turned his attention to Andry's words again. He didn't want to think about how uncomfortable it was. He heard Andry say that he was locked up in other places before this one.

"Where else were you? Were you there for a long time? I was in a youth home before this. Well, if you want to know the full story, I was in a youth home, then a mental hospital, then the youth home again, and then here. It's confusing, I know."

"I'm not mad. Not at all."

Michael's face showed his surprise, and was so relieved that he didn't notice that Andry was lying to him. Whenever Michael felt an emotion, it was exactly if someone had taken a sharpie and wrote its name on his forehead. Whatever he felt was slapped on his face for all the world to see, and for right now, he didn't see a problem with that. After he felt the shock, it melted away into a small smile. He was so happy that Andry didn't find him annoying; most people he came across did.

"It's not so bad here. It's a really nice place, considering that it's a mental institution. There are definitely worse situations to be in."

Michael listened, and then he leaned back against the tree too, sighing a little. "I guess that's true. I shouldn't complain so much. Still..."

Pain made his face twist up as it was doing to his stomach. His mom gave him up to the police, who later placed him in the youth home, and he had no idea what he did wrong. She had a lot of issues, he knew, but he didn't know why he couldn't be a part of her life anymore for her to sort them out.

"I guess that if you're in wards B or C you get to leave the institution, so that could be a plus for you."

He was glad that Andry said something else. He didn't want to cry again.

"I'm in Ward A." He said simply. "Wards B and C get to leave the institution but Ward A can't? Why? Oh wait, I guess that was in the handbook that I didn't read yet."

He pondered on that for a moment as he waited for Andry to speak. What made the wards different from each other? They didn't have anything like that kind of classification in the youth home, or Marquette General Hospital.

"Have you looked around any?"

Michael smiled sheepishly. "No. I wish I was calm enough to; after the examination, they gave me my room assignment and I wanted to see if I was going to be living with anyone. When I got to A2, no one was in there and I was so freaked out that I threw everything I had on the second bed and ran away."

He sighed and looked at the light passing through the leaves on the tree.

"I guess I should have read the handbook. Maybe I would know more things about this place than I do now. But honestly, I was too anxious and upset to think much less read."
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Andry Buernsey on Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:18 pm

Andry was a little concerned by the kid trying to hold his hand. He did not want this conversation to go the way of the one with Marcos...that had been enough all in itself, thanks; no repeats were needed. He decided to give this weird little kid the benefit of the doubt, though, because he seemed really innocent. In response to the query about his name, he replied,

"No, it's just Andry. My mother is Slovenian, and she named me after her father." Andry's name gave him a lot of trouble; he wished it was short for Andrew, because that would have been a lot easier. People couldn't seem to fathom that it was an 'ahh' like auto and not an 'ehh' like antifreeze...stupid Slovenians and their long A's.

"I was in...I was in jail for a while, then a mental hospital, then yet another hospital, this one pretending to be a school for troubled youth...and then here. They moved us here when that whole operation closed down," he said. Maybe it wasn't the best idea to tell Michael that he had been in jail, but he didn't really want to lie either. Better just get it all out there...he'd probably hear from someone else anyway. 'Oh, you've been talking to Andry? Did you know that guy...?'

"Honestly, I haven't read the damn handbook either. I've picked things up from other people and things...I don't really have the attention span for reading. And I know what's like to freak out about being in a new place, believe me...but under the surface, they're all the same." It was pretty much true -- once you'd been in one bin, you'd been in them all. Same meds, same staff, same routine. It got boring, and the worst thing was that Andry could not foresee himself getting out of the loop anytime soon. He wished that they'd let him talk to Bella if they wouldn't let him see her, but that wasn't how it worked. The world was conspiring to keep him miserable.
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Michael Courtenay on Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:54 pm

"Oh! It's pronounced Ah-ndry." Michael spoke, making sure that he hadn't said Andry's name wrong again. "Sorry about that- you're the first Andry I've ever met."

Andry mentioned that his mom was Slovenian, and that was the reason for his unique name. Well, unique in America anyway.

"Was she born there? My parents aren't from other countries- my mom was born and raised in Indiana and my dad... well, I don't know enough about him to know where he was from. But I'm pretty sure he was from somewhere in America too. I mean, I don't look like he'd be from somewhere too far away."

Michael's voice didn't show any hidden resentment, because there wasn't any. He'd gotten used to his father's absence since before he was able to remember anything. Michael's dad left the house before he was able to talk, so his life really wasn't impacted much by not having a father. At least, this is what he told himself- if he did have hard feelings toward his dad buried somewhere in his head, they likely wouldn't surface until he allowed himself to feel anger let alone resentment. Although his former therapist had tried to make him more aware of the anger that he felt before it immediately changed to guilt, that wouldn't happen for a long time. He'd have to get a little better at defending himself first, and he wasn't even sure if he wanted to do that. There was no need to- as long as he had friends, he wouldn't feel alone. Knowing that he wasn't alone was his defense. He could take a beating from a fairly large group of kids, but he wouldn't be able to handle being without people. He'd rather be beaten to a pulp every day for the rest of his life than be alone anywhere.

"I was in...I was in jail for a while, then a mental hospital, then yet another hospital, this one pretending to be a school for troubled youth...and then here. They moved us here when that whole operation closed down,"

Michael almost winced when Andry mentioned jail. Every mental hospital in the country, no matter how horrible, was better than jail.

"Gosh... that must have been horrible for you."

Michael wondered how Andry wound up in prison, but he knew it wasn't his business to ask. If Andry wanted to tell him sometime in the future he would. He shivered when he imagined what it must have been like for Andry- he only had a vague idea about lockup from watching CSI, and that didn't cover a fraction of the struggle.

Andry went on to describe his previous stay at an institution, this one sounding peculiar.

"It was a mental hospital AND a school? And you said 'us'- are there other patients here who are from the same place?"

"Honestly, I haven't read the damn handbook either. I've picked things up from other people and things...I don't really have the attention span for reading."

The small boy laughed. "I don't read much either, at least not as much as I'd want to- my friend Jorge gave me his copy of "The Fellowship of the Ring" by J.R.R. Tolkien before I left the youth home, but I haven't even started it yet. It tires me out when I read- I have this OCD thing where I have to individually analyze each sentence as I read it. I don't know why... and if I could control it, I'd stop. But I can't. At least not right now."

"And I know what's like to freak out about being in a new place, believe me...but under the surface, they're all the same."

Michael smiled as he looked down in thought. Andry was scared of new places too? It felt good to know that he wasn't alone about this, and that he wasn't at all immature when he felt afraid of a new situation.

"You're right. When I stayed at the youth home and the mental hospital, the homesickness I felt was still the same, but I got through it knowing that both situations were temporary. I guess... the reason why I'm having a harder time at this place is because I know that I'll be here for a long time. I'm no doubt one of the youngest here- I just turned fourteen. Like, a month ago. But even if I'm still here when I turn eighteen, if I'm not better by then, they'll just ship me next door to the adult building. Four years is a long time..."

He sighed and hit his head lightly against the tree, opening his eyes again to look up at the sunlight between the swaying leaves.

"Do you think... that could happen? Staying here your whole entire life?"
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Andry Buernsey on Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:49 pm

"No, she was born in Slovenia...she came to American when she was thirteen," Andry said of his mother, trying to call up her face, which was beginning to blur a little in his memory. He couldn't recall at all the pictures he had seen of a little thirteen year old Lanna, sunburnt and smiling en route to the U.S. He hadn't seen his mother for nearly a year, nor the rest of his family. A pang of homesickness hit him, a longing for the cream-colored house in Boston that he could never quite shut up. Too large a portion of his life was spent trying to get home, and it didn't quite seem fair to him. Shaking the unpleasant feeling off, he responded to the query about the odd nature of Hadley with,

"Yeah...they moved all of the kids from Hadley...that's what the place was called...here. It was kind of a big thing, I guess." 'A big thing' as in putting a bunch of crazy teenagers on a plane and shipping them to an island. That, in Andry's opinion, had been a huge risk, but it had carried off without anyone dying, so he supposed that it was alright.

Andry listened to Michael talk about himself, and felt genuine empathy for the first time in a while. Usually, he just felt like no-one could possibly understand what it felt like to be him; it was true that he didn't know what the kid had been through, but it had been something that had made him almost as neurotic as Andry. The question that the boy had asked was a hard question to answer in a sensitive way, and he didn't really didn't know what to say. Nevertheless, he closed his eyes, opened them, and said,

"I think it could happen...for me. I don't know about you. It depends on how good you are, I guess, and how much they want to keep you off the streets. How much they think you've recovered." With a tinge of bitterness, he added, "I'm a lifer. I've...I mean, I'm not really happy with it, but I'm kind of getting to accept it." Which was a giant lie. He could not accept the thought of being locked up for the rest of his life; the mere inkling made him feel a little bit crazy. But it was important to him to keep up a cool facade for Michael. Important to him to look like the one who was in control here, because he'd never been the one in control of anything before.
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Michael Courtenay on Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:18 am

When Andry spoke of his mother, Michael could hear the twisting anguish in his voice. He could tell he'd brought up a topic Andry didn't want to think about. The green in his eyes showed his concern for his new friend. He hoped he didn't stir any painful feelings, but it was apparent that he had.

"Sorry," Michael said softly. "I didn't mean to remind you of things you don't want to remember. Wherever she is, I hope she's okay."

Michael said that last sentence because he hoped that Andry would go back to his mother. He hoped he'd see his mother again too.

"I'll be sure to pray for you," The younger boy said with a smile. "So that you'll return home someday."

Andry spoke of the old mental hospital where he was at. It was called 'Hadley'. Michael sure hadn't heard of it, but then again, he'd only been to the same mental hospital in his town twice. He wouldn't know of any other institutions. He wanted to know more, but judging from Andry's shaky sentence, it seemed as though he didn't know the full story either.

When Michael asked his question, the air in the conversation changed. It was filled with Andry's inner agony, with a twinge of bitterness.

"I think it could happen...for me. I don't know about you. It depends on how good you are, I guess, and how much they want to keep you off the streets. How much they think you've recovered."

Michael was silent. He didn't know what to say to that. He had no idea what Andry had done to get into the hospital, but Michael was a naive kid who believed in second chances. He didn't think that Andry would be here for the rest of his life. While they were talking, Michael couldn't even picture what Andry's issues possibly were- perhaps he was hiding them to keep Michael unmarred by corruption? Either way, Andry's issues really weren't that obvious- at least not to him.

"I'm a lifer. I've...I mean, I'm not really happy with it, but I'm kind of getting to accept it."

"That's not true." Michael's eyes were starting to get teary again, but his voice was sad but firm. "I... I can tell you're a good person. I know you have a heart- you feel things... and you care. And you have so much time! I don't know what happened to get you in here, and you don't have to tell me, but nothing's unforgivable if you try to fix it. One of the main lessons that the Lord taught everyone was mercy- even a murderer who's killed people for the majority of his life can still go to heaven if he really tried to be a good person until he dies."

Michael's shoulders sank as he wilted. "Please don't give up on yourself- I promise I won't."
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Andry Buernsey on Sat Jun 11, 2011 2:34 am

Andry had never been religious. His parents had tried their best to give him a good Catholic upbringing, but that had been cut short in the middle, and there was nothing they could do for him spiritually after. His faith in God was pretty much destroyed. So when Michael said that he'd pray for Andry, he pasted on a half-hearted smile. That was sweet, he thought, but completely futile. And the speech that followed was sweet, futile, and heartbreaking. Andry almost cried himself, as he saw the other boy beginning to do. He decided that it was time to buck up and start telling some really happy lies, because obviously this boy was fragile. It made him sad that someone like this was allowed to exist in the world, because the world was cruel, and Michael obviously wasn't the type who dealt well with cruelty. He wanted to promise to try to be a good person, but instead he swallowed the lump in his throat and said,

"Okay. Thank you, Michael." He looked at the grass for a minute, composing himself, and then looked back up, trying to appear a little more cheerful. He hesitated, as he generally disapproved of the sort of thing he was about to do, and then raised a slightly cringing hand to pat the boy on the shoulder. It didn't seem like much, but it was a big deal for Andry to be touching someone male of his own volition. A change of subject seemed to be in order, now.

"So...what do you like to do, Michael?" Andry didn't have any hobbies, but that didn't mean everyone else didn't. At this point, it was a relief to meet someone that didn't give him fits in one way or another. Someone who was just nice to him without having anything cruel or deceitful in them. Well, Gwyddon hadn't been cruel or deceitful, and Michael actually reminded Andry of her. Only, she had been terrified of him, and Michael seemed to trust everyone. That wasn't necessarily an enviable trait; Andry had trusted everyone once...
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Michael Courtenay on Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:18 pm

Andry, although grateful that Michael said that he would pray and had faith in him, didn't seem like he believed that it would work. The pain on Andry's face conveyed to Michael that, at the very least, he didn't have faith that he could get better... or anything at all for that matter.

Michael frowned slightly, the sympathy still in his eyes. He wanted to do something about this. He wanted to help Andry somehow, to make him realize that everyone could get better if they really wanted it. That was the Lord's message, after all; mercy. Even a sinner who has sinned all his life can still go to heaven if he becomes a good person by vowing to be one for the remainder of it. He didn't know what Andry's issues were, and he knew it wasn't his business to ask, but he felt they couldn't have been as indelible as he thought; Michael had a problem with that himself.

Andry had thanked him for promising to pray for him, then looked away from Michael's eyes for a moment. He then reached over to pat the smaller boy on the shoulder, his hand seeming to twitch as it hesitated.

"So...what do you like to do, Michael?"

Andry's question had taken Michael by surprise, because it seemed like it was forced out, and wasn't relevant to what they were talking about before. But he had asked...

"Um, well..." Michael hesitated. The only thing he liked to do all his life he wouldn't be able to do anymore. But he continued anyway. "I've played baseball all my life, and that was all I did while I was... not here. But I quit the team I was on a month before I came here. I couldn't bring myself to play anymore. I thought it would help me, because at that point, I didn't know what would... but it was the worst mistake of my life, at least the worst mistake not pertaining to hurting people. Luckily, none of my teammates know I'm here. Although, I don't think they'd care. Alan definitely won't."

Michael's voice wasn't bitter, just sad. Alan had been his best friend before he quit. He didn't even know why Michael quit, because he hadn't told him. Alan was too busy screaming about how it would hurt the team. If Alan knew even just SOME of the details as to why Michael left, he probably wouldn't have reacted the way he did. Maybe when Michael worked up the courage, he would write to him.

"I was the ace pitcher for the team, so I was the pitcher who was relied on the most for official games. I don't think anyone else has pitching experience, at least not recent experience, so they probably floundered in the rest of their games."

Michael gulped. He hoped that didn't happen. If it did, then Alan would write back telling him how much he hated him, or worse, wouldn't write back at all... not even looking at it when he saw the name on the return address.

Michael decided to change the subject. He didn't want to dwell on the past.

"What do you like to do?" He asked innocently. "There must be something- you'd probably go crazy here if you didn't find a way to spend your time."
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Andry Buernsey on Thu Jun 16, 2011 12:16 am

Andry knew nothing about sports of any kind. He was as unathletic as they came. Even the thought of several large men chasing him for possession of a ball made him a little edgy. A long time ago, he had played basketball, but he could hardly even remember that. It seemed like several lifetimes ago. He wondered why Michael had quit and who Alan was, but he would never ask, mostly because of the tone of the other boy's voice. It was obvious that he didn't want to talk about it, and Andry didn't want to make him uncomfortable. Everyone had things that they didn't want to talk about, and Michael was no exception. Whatever it was that was wrong with this kid had a lot to do with guilt, Andry thought.

"That's cool," he said of Michael's baseball stories. "I always wished I was good at sports." But he wasn't. And he wasn't good at art, which was evident from the art-therapy his mother had shanghaied him into, and he wasn't good at music, and he couldn't sing, and he couldn't dance, so he was absolute shit at everything. He could remember things, that was it. So what did he do all the time?

"I write a lot," Andry replied, almost unintentionally. "Though it's not to keep myself from going crazy; I think that happened a while ago. I write things I remember, mostly. I guess it's kind of a diary..." What guy ever wanted to admit that he wrote in his diary a lot? But it wasn't like he was particularly manly in the first place, so he didn't really have any standing to lose in anyone's eyes but his own. Self-confidence wasn't exactly Andry's strong point.

"I have a lot of things to remember, and they don't all stay in my head. Writing it all down keeps me a manageable sort of crazy, I guess." he continued; he was joking, and so he smiled. He wasn't so sure that writing was as therapeutic as everyone said it was, because he always came away feeling vaguely nauseous every time he wrote. It didn't stop him from doing it, because unless someone completely objective was going to sit there and listen to him ramble for days on end, it was the only way to let out the acidic memories that were eating him away inside.
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Michael Courtenay on Thu Jun 16, 2011 6:47 pm

"That's cool. I always wished I was good at sports."

Michael smiled sympathetically. "That's okay- even if you're not good at sports, there's got to be something. Everyone has something they're good at, or at least love to the point of doing it all the time. If you do whatever it is enough, you'll be good at it."

He leaned back on the tree as he revealed something else about him: "When I was first introduced to baseball, which was... gosh, that had to have been when I was five or six years old. Anyway, when I was old enough to graduate from tee ball and into playing with a hard ball team, I fell in love with pitching. But I quickly found that I wasn't very good at it, because I couldn't throw very fast. To be honest, I still can't- my fast ball, generally the first pitch you learn, is actually my worst pitch. At top speed, I can only throw up to 62 miles per hour, and that's pretty pathetic for someone my age. But I still loved the position, so I got into a routine of practicing every single day- up until a month ago, I threw at a target every day after school, setting the bar for at least 100 pitches, usually more. Luckily, I didn't get injured- I just developed my control. Eventually, doing that every day allowed me to gain more control of where I put my pitches- I have a slider, screwball, change-up and a curve ball... while most kids my age don't have as many different pitches. I've never hit a batter with a ball yet, knock on wood-"

Michael tapped the tree with his knuckles. "-and that's what Alan liked about me. He was our- their catcher, and he always told me how he loved that he could give a sign for anything and it would wind up in his glove. He told me that speed comes from natural talent, but control takes work, and he told me that I worked my ass off for my pitching control."

The smaller boy sighed. He didn't want to think about Alan. "Anyway, all that was to tell you that anyone can be good at anything if they love it and work at it enough. Even if you don't have talent necessarily, there are other ways of doing it."

Michael smiled brightly when Andry mentioned writing. He seemed kind of embarrassed that he wrote in a journal.

"It's great that you write your thoughts down- I bet things would be a lot harder if you didn't. And I write in a diary too! Although, I never used to. It's something I picked up last month. It doesn't replace baseball, but it's something to keep me from falling off the deep end. I mostly write in lists- last night, I made a list of fears that I've always had that I need to get over."

He tried to remember all that he wrote down. Michael didn't mind telling Andry- he trusted him. "I'm afraid of being alone, the dark, heights, needles... um... zombies... and Golem from "The Lord of the Rings". I think that's all I wrote down last night, but there are others."

Michael heard himself sigh. "My dad told me that I definitely need to get over my fear of being alone; he said that you should get over it when you're a kid."

Michael wondered what Andry was afraid of, but he didn't ask. He didn't want to be intrusive.
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Andry Buernsey on Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:19 am

Andry listened to the story about Michael pitching, interested. He didn't know sweet fuck all about baseball, but the kid telling the story amused him. He was quite possibly the most sincere person Andry had ever met. When the moral of the story was delivered, he smiled; it had been a long time since he'd heard a story with a moral.

"I guess that's true," he agreed, nodding. It was and Andry realized suddenly that he'd never really tried at anything. He did everything once, got fed up, and retreated. It was kind of a disturbing realization -- the fact that he'd never tried to better himself. He just took it for granted that he was bad at everything, and that couldn't be true, could it? Not really. His first therapist ever had said that the first thing he had to get back was his self-confidence, and here he was, four years later, still lacking enough self-confidence to try and learn anything. It was stupid and angsty of him, and he felt like a huge idiot.

When Michael started to list his fears, Andry was pulled out of his thoughts -- he felt bad that he'd zoned out for a minute, so he tried to look extra-interested. It was a pretty basic list of fears, ones that everyone had, but most people had just one. Michael had them all, plus Golem, who was indeed creepy, but not completely terror-worthy. Being afraid was something he could understand and relate to. When the other boy mentioned his father disapproving of his fear, he felt a rush of empathy -- Andry's father was not the most understanding of men. He was a lawyer, and thought in lines and conviction rates and cold facts instead of in emotions.

"I think it's fine to be afraid of things, as long as you don't let it rule you," he said, and knew that it was really, really ironic for him to be giving that advice. "I mean, who wants to be alone? I don't. And no-one really likes the dark or needles or being eaten by zombies; it's just...being on top of the fear, I guess." He paused for a moment -- he wanted to share his fears, too, to be part of the conversation, but his fears weren't of the dark or of fictional characters. They were oddly specific and related to dark holes and grown men.

"Everyone's afraid of something. I'm afraid of going back to places I've been, and not being able to get out again. I'm afraid of enclosed spaces. I'm afraid of the dark. I'm afraid of...people. Touching people...it's really, really hard to explain. And, yeah...I guess I'm a little afraid of zombies, too." Andry smiled faintly and shrugged. "You know it's not going to be a good day when the undead try to eat your flesh."
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Michael Courtenay on Sun Jun 19, 2011 6:58 pm

"I guess that's true,"

When Andry said that, Michael smiled sincerely. He was glad that, in a small way, Andry was looking at the bright side of things for once. He guessed, from Andry's general personality, that those moments didn't happen often. Michael silently made a vow to help Andry see the silver linings in his clouds more often.

"You know," Michael began. "I really consider you a friend. You're my first friend here, after all- and friends help each other out right?"

Michael sent optimism and cheerfulness from his green eyes to Andry's blues. "I'm going to try my best to make you have these moments more- from what you said, and correct me if I'm wrong, but you're about to try new things, right?"

Michael resisted the urge to put an elbow on Andry's shoulder. From the way he patted his shoulder, it seemed as though Andry really didn't like being touched. Instead, he pointed his thumb to his face and winked.

"I'm going to help you believe in yourself, which is kind of ironic for me of all people to say considering I don't have any self-confidence either."

The way Michael looked at it, he didn't want any self-confidence. He firmly believed that other people were better at making decisions than he was, so he always let other people lead and make judgements for him. Other people were far more capable than him in everything imaginable... at least, this is what he had believed all his life.

When the two started talking about fears, that's when Andry opened up. Michael's eyes emanated his awe when Andry said that it's okay to be afraid of something as long as it doesn't end up controlling your life. Michael then looked down, slight sadness and anger showing in his eyes.

"Some of my fears... honestly do rule my life. The two fears that completely took over me, being alone and fearing that I hurt people, always had me in... chains. I can't be alone anywhere... so I have to wait for someone is in a room before entering it and I have to wait until someone else enters the bathroom before I go in. That's kind of why I was crying when you found me- because there wasn't anyone in the room I was assigned, I ran away and got lost. Also, because I'm still wrestling with the fact that I've been away from my mom for a month- that was one of the main reasons for the mental breakdown that brought me here. And as for my fear of hurting people, I've been told that I have a really drastically inflated sense of right and wrong when it comes to my actions. Like, my therapist told me that crying and apologizing 20+ times to a girl I ran into in the hallway isn't... well, healthy. She also told me that I won't get arrested for peeing on my neighbor's cat by accident... while that was the worst thing I've ever done. I tend to make a big deal out of things that other people wouldn't think twice about. That's where my OCD comes in."

Michael sighed. "Whenever I feel like I hurt someone, the instance repeats itself over and over and over again in my head so that I won't forget it. Like, I remember things as far back as kindergarten: our class had a goldfish named Picasso and when it was my turn to feed him, I fed him too much... so he died. I still haven't forgiven myself for that... I'm a murderer."

Michael shook his head, trying to rid himself of the thoughts that were coming in a tidal wave:

'You killed Picasso.'
'You killed Picasso.'
'You killed Picasso.'
'You killed Picasso.'
'You killed Picasso.'
'You killed Picasso.'
'He never deserved his fate.'
'You're a murderer!'

"Everyone's afraid of something. I'm afraid of going back to places I've been, and not being able to get out again. I'm afraid of enclosed spaces. I'm afraid of the dark. I'm afraid of...people. Touching people...it's really, really hard to explain. And, yeah...I guess I'm a little afraid of zombies, too. You know it's not going to be a good day when the undead try to eat your flesh."

Michael was brought out of his repetitive thoughts by listening to Andry. He wondered what those 'places' that Andry mentioned were, but he didn't ask. So he's claustrophobic... and he's afraid of the dark too... and he didn't like touching people. Michael was glad that someone older than him was afraid of the dark too... it made him feel less immature. Michael was right about the touching thing at least. He wondered what happened to Andry to make him afraid of closed spaces. Michael laughed a little bit when Andry mentioned the zombies.

"The only reason I'm afraid of zombies is because I played Resident Evil on PS2 with Alan... worst mistake of my life next to watching "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy in the youth home with Jorge... that's why I'm afraid of zombies and Golem. When I was in the youth home, I'd be afraid to open my dresser because I thought that Golem would be inside of it. Jorge made it worse because he told me that he told Golem that I have the One Ring and now he's after me..."

Michael sighed again, then smiled. "Jorge tricked me all the time, because I'm completely gullible. I believe everything everyone else says as the truth, and Jorge told me that that attitude would get me killed in his neighborhood."
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Andry Buernsey on Thu Jun 23, 2011 2:44 am

Andry's smile was sincere for once. He needed a friend, even if it was just a weird little kid who was afraid of his own shadow. Despite the fact that he'd only talked to Michael for a little while, he liked him and had no doubt that his offer of friendship was wholly sincere. About whether or not Andry thought that the other boy could help him "believe in himself" was another matter entirely, but once again, it was the thought that counted. If Michael thought he could reform Andry, then he could sure as hell try.

"Thanks," he said. "Friends it is." It was the easiest friendship he'd ever made, and he couldn't help but wonder how long it would last. Michael was obviously the kind of person who had a lot of friends and was used to relying on them, so probably longer than Andry thought.

When Michael told him all about his problems, Andry couldn't help but feel bad for him. He was destroying himself; no-one else even had to lift a finger. It was amazing how a person could turn on itself. He didn't know what to say...he was at a loss. It had to be something nice, but he didn't know what. He opened his mouth, closed it again, smiled uncertainly and said,

"You know what? I'll help you get over your fears as much as I can. Because -- what did you say? -- friends help each other out." Andry hadn't had any friends besides Bella for a long time, and he wondered whether or not he was even capable of keeping up a normal relationship. His relationship with Bella hadn't exactly been normal; even he could concede that. But it had been a pleasant abnormal. The question was: could he have a pleasant, normal friendship?

"There are things that I can't help you with, and there are things that you can't help me with," he continued, now thinking aloud. "But I think we're going to do good things for each other, Michael."

Andry laughed a little at the reasons why the other boy was afraid of such ridiculous things. Being gullible was no laughing matter, though. Being gullible could get you killed. And believing everything everyone said was even more dangerous. Suddenly, with a little humiliated twinge, he remembered the things that Tony had told him to get him into his car. Stupid things, but he'd believed it. That his sister was sick, and that Tony was his mom's good friend and would take him to the hospital. He had once been as trusting as Michael, and it made him sad to think it; he resolved himself that no-one was going to take advantage of Michael's trust while they were friends. Andry had finally found someone weaker than himself, and he wanted to save him more than anything.
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Michael Courtenay on Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:20 pm

Michael smiled to match Andry's. He didn't know this for sure, but he kind of got the sense that Andry didn't have too many friends before they met, which was okay- Michael didn't either. The friends that he had left him after he quit the baseball team, and Jorge was still in Michigan. He wondered how he was doing for a few seconds before focussing his attention back on Andry.

Michael's smile became brighter when Andry agreed that the two were friends. Now, Andry had one more friend... which probably was needed very much.

"You know what? I'll help you get over your fears as much as I can. Because -- what did you say? -- friends help each other out."

"You will? Really?" Michael squeaked with childish enthusiasm. "It's a long laundry list, so I hope you're prepared, 'cuz it won't be easy! But the same thing goes for you too. I believe in you, and I'll help in any way I can with your fears."

Michael was ecstatic, which had been a welcoming change from how he'd been a moment ago. "Thanks for helping me calm down. I'm much better now. Usually when I cry or have anxiety attacks, other people just kind of stare because they don't know what to do. That's why I try not to have them in public, but I can't really control them- I think that's why it's called an anxiety attack. You helped me, and that's only one of the reasons why I think you're a good person."

Since he was very little, Michael had an ability to see the good in the ones who everyone else had labeled 'bad' or 'unforgiven', even those who clearly didn't deserve it. But Andry, at least in Michael's opinion, definitely deserved to be viewed as a good person... and it was obvious that he didn't think the same way about himself. That's okay- Michael didn't either.

"We will do good things for each other! I'm not a psychiatrist, but I'll definitely do my part to help you realize the good in yourself that I see in you. Going back to the talents thing, can I give you some advice?"

Michael sat up and looked at the leaves again. "Sometimes, you find that you're good at things without even realizing it- I have this one thing that I've been told I'm really good at, but it was discovered on a dare and since then I've kind of been a one-man circus show."

He took a deep breath before explaining. "I can imitate voices. Here, I'll show you- um, I just have to think..... Right! Okay, so this is a conversation between Cartman and Butters from South Park."

Michael cleared his throat, turning his head each time he switched characters. His voice switched cleanly from Butters' weird, mumbly voice to Cartman's angry, Neo-Nazi shout. "I don't wanna play World of Warcraft..." "Butters, you said that you were on the computer all the time!" "Yeah, but I'm playing Hello Kitty Island Adventure..." "Ugh... Butters, go buy World of Warcraft, install it on your computer, and join the online sensation before we all murder you!" "O-Oh... al-alright then!"

Michael found himself laughing after he was done. When he imitated voices it was always on command, and once everyone saw how creepily well he could voice act, they always laughed, sometimes they clapped. Whenever someone laughed, Michael had a habit of laughing too, even if he didn't hear what they said. His light laughter at the end of the imitation was a reflex for whenever he was done.
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Andry Buernsey on Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:46 am

It wasn't very often that Andry felt good about himself, but he felt good about helping Michael. Sure, it had been a little bit about him, but mostly about the other boy; it was good to know that he wasn't completely caught up in himself. Not yet. He laughed a little at the overenthusiastic way that Michael reacted to his speech, and nodded in agreement with the things he said. This was definitely going to be good for him...not scary at all. Unlike his unorthodox relationship with Gwyddon, this one was slightly more healthy; for one, neither boy was cripplingly afraid of the other.

After Michael had done his impersonations, Andry laughed at the ridiculous voices he had done, even though he'd never seen South Park; he found television overstimulating and stayed away from it most of the time. His little sisters had their favorite shows, but they had obviously never watched anything that people his age would find funny. He was still out of touch with popular culture; Bella had tried to bring him up to date, but she'd only been able to do so much. He didn't like to read or watch television or listen to music too loudly...he was pretty much hopeless with any kind media, stuck in his own personal dark ages.

"That was good," Andry said, not entirely sure that it was, in fact, good, having had nothing to compare to. "I doubt that I have any hidden talents, though. I'm pretty one-dimensional." Andry had had the unfortunate experience of having had spent far too much time with himself, and, frankly, he was sick of himself. There weren't any hidden surprises; he'd exhausted searching through all the interesting bits of himself while trying to entertain himself for three dark years. He was comfortable alone with himself, with the familiar, boring cushion that was his own mind. Until it turned against him, but that was an entirely different story. Then there was nowhere safe.
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Michael Courtenay on Mon Jul 11, 2011 11:56 pm

Through talking to Andry, Michael found that he wasn't afraid of him. It really depended on the person, and if Michael was particularly anxious when meeting them, if they instilled fear. Sometimes, Michael would have understandable reasons to be afraid of someone- like certain members of the wrestling team who beat him up every chance they got for his stuttering problem and the fact that he looked a few years younger than he actually was. Or Butch from the youth home... who was afraid of Jorge so he eventually backed off. But other times, Michael was afraid of them simply because of the situation- like when he was young enough to be babysat by a friend of his mom's. His separation anxiety would cause him to run away and lock himself in the coat closet, only coming out when the door was pried open. Even though he caused those poor women so much grief, they tried their best to make his time at their houses easier. Once he got to talking to them, he trusted them and sometimes had fun. With Andry, he was a breath away from slipping into an anxiety attack, and yet trusted him right away. It was a nice feeling, and one that Michael had already gotten used to with Andry.

He giggled at Andry's approval. "I don't actually watch the show- I just remember the parts because I'm always asked to do their voices. I never watch TV unless I'm hanging out with someone. My mom says it's pointless. Besides, I was always cleaning the house- I just never had the time to sit in front of a television and watch it."

Michael shrugged. "I have a habit of cleaning things. Like, if I see something out of place, I have to fix it. I just have to. The summer I first met my dad, his new wife Morgan was absolutely furious when she found that I'd re-arranged the contents of the cabinets in the entire kitchen and couldn't find anything. I told her it was because I saw a cup that was turned on its side... which is true. From that point on, I had to have the dishes passed to me as I set the table and had to ask for a cup if I wanted something to drink. When I still lived with my mom, I cleaned to the point where she had to tell me to stop. This one time, I was scrubbing a plate that had a spot on it for, oh, I'd say a good two hours. She bought it from Good Will, so it was probably always like that. She told me to stop scrubbing it to the point where she was screaming at me, and had to smash the plate against the wall until it shattered so that I'd stop."

Michael deflated slightly when he said that, sadness shining in his eyes again. He missed his mom terribly, and felt so guilty about what he had done. "I'm such a terrible person for doing something like that. I mean, I couldn't control it... but I still blame myself for causing so much pain. She told me to stop, and I wanted to stop, but I just couldn't."

He then sat up straight when Andry told him that he was one-dimensional. "What are you talking about? I'm sure you have talents- you like to write, right? Is there anything else you like to do... or want to learn how to do?"

Michael looked down in thought, then looked at Andry: "The year I first met my dad, he told me that he'd always wanted to learn how to scuba dive, and he finally did a few years before he met me. He showed me all these cool pictures, like one of an ene-mo- ... ene-mo-ne-mo... en-en-ne-ne..." Michael's face was starting to turn red in frustration as he tried to say 'anemone'. "En-en-ne-me-ne- the noodley thing that lives in the sea! Okay,"

Michael took a deep breath. "Anyway, moral of the story: you could learn anything, even if you have to wait until you get out of here to pursue. I mean, I've always wanted to learn how to play guitar... well. I know how to play chords, but I can't finger-pick or play bar chords. My mom plays guitar, and she was in a local alternative rock band before she became an English professor."

He didn't let himself get sad again- although he missed his mom, he put that aside for now and echoed his previous question: "What have you always wanted to learn how to do?"
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Andry Buernsey on Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:25 am

Andry was interested in the habits that Michael had concerning cleaning -- it was weird, and kind of fascinating, and kind of sad. He could imagine living with that all the time; it would drive him totally up the wall. Andry's cleaning habits involved maybe clearing himself a place on the floor to walk every once in a while, and then only maybe...it drove his mother insane. She cleaned up faster than anyone could make a mess, usually, but she had been forced to abandon her son's room to utter chaos. Andry really didn't know what to say when Michael started to berate himself, and he wasn't sure that there was anything to say.

"You're not a terrible person," he said, which he imagined would suffice in light of the fact that there was actually nothing convincing that he could say. It was true, anyway; if anything, Michael was too good a person. "I mean, I'm sure you know that, but...it doesn't hurt to hear it."

Andry liked that Michael's stories had a moral...that was kind of awesome. No-one had ever actually taught him a life lesson in normal conversation before, at least not in fable form. They usually just preached at him, but this didn't feel like that; it felt conspiratory, sort of. He tried not to laugh at the boy's interesting pronunciation of anenome, and managed to only let a slight grin escape. He doubted he could say it either, but that didn't stop it from being funny.

"There are a million things I want to do...I just have to get around to doing them. Little things that everyone else has done a thousand times. Like...I've never been on a roller coaster." Andry had been terrified of amusement park rides when he was a kid, and by the time he was old enough to like them, he had a new fear; big, loud, bright things. He'd hid in the bathroom most of the day when his family had gone to Six Flags. "And...I don't know how to play any musical instruments or do any artsy things, and I damn well can't play any sports...learning now seems weird. Everyone else has kind of established themselves and their talents. I guess I could have a really obscure talent. Like knife throwing. Or...making sculptures out of cans." Neither of those things sounded plausible, but the thought that maybe he was good at something, no matter how bizarre it was, made him smile.
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Michael Courtenay on Thu Jul 21, 2011 2:10 am

In truth, Michael beat himself up about his cleaning compulsions because of how they had affected his mom. Instead of a normal boy his age driving his mom crazy about how he doesn't clean, she hit her head against walls repeatedly because he cleaned too much.

"My mom used to yell at me because I cleaned, which is weird, because it's usually the other way around. Like, she would have to hide the Windex from me and everything. A typical afternoon would be where she came home, and saw that I'd given in to my OCD. Michael James Courtenay!" His mother's voice was projected perfectly. "Why did you vacuum twice? You know you're only supposed to do that once a week! What else have you done today? And then I'd get all jittery because I can't lie, so I'd give in and tell her what else I cleaned. Usually it wasn't anything too major, just I'd just mop the tiled floor in the kitchen, vacuum, re-organize the dishes in the cabinets, clean the windows, and sometimes I'd hand-wash all the dishes, but if I was lazy, I'd load them into the dishwasher. Anyway- so, then she'd be like, "We have to go out to eat tonight because you vacuumed more than you were supposed to." Oh- another thing. I hate eating at restaurants or anything public because I hate asking for things. I feel so selfish and on top of that, I'm indecisive so I have trouble picking out what I want. I usually just say that I'd have whatever someone next to me was having. But no- when I was being punished like that, I had to ask for something I picked out myself. I really don't like asking. It's so unfair."

Michael put his face in his knees again, but then looked at Andry after he said that he was a bad person. His eyes were wide with awe as he tried to understand it:

"You're not a terrible person. I mean, I'm sure you know that, but...it doesn't hurt to hear it."

Andry thought that he wasn't a terrible person?

Michael bit his lip and stared at the grass as he pondered what to say. Michael honestly did think that he was a terrible person- all of the hurtful things he'd been the cause of (and their dates) that he kept track of proved that. But... how was he going to reply? He couldn't outwardly oppose what Andry had said, he had never done that to anyone... but especially not to Andry after he'd been so kind as to say that in the first place. But he couldn't lie either... so what was he to do?

"T... thank you."

Michael's voice was blank as it tried to cover up his own thoughts. In the end, he hadn't lied... or tried to and failed at it. It was more like withholding... which was a few steps away from lying.

He paid attention when Andry spoke about what he wanted to do, and laughed when Andry said that he'd never been on a roller coaster.

"You're not missing anything. I mean, I've been on roller coasters, but that was only because my friends went on them, and I'd be a coward if I stayed behind. And I've had many anxiety attacks while on roller coasters, because of my fear of heights and falling. So, basically, I had a miserable time. But if you like rushes and thrills and adrenaline, by all means try it out when you get out of here."

Michael smiled warmly at Andry. He was so glad he met the other boy. He'd probably be in the clutches of an anxiety attack at this very moment if it weren't for Andry.

"It's never too late to learn something new," Michael offered. "I've seen women in their forties try to learn how to play tennis, and they got the hang of it once they practiced."

Michael looked back up at the sun through the leaves again. "When I met my dad for the first time, I was twelve, and I guess he felt sorry that he ignored me basically the entire summer I was there with his family. So he taught me how to play tennis. I was terrible at it, but I know how to score it now. I guess my coordination is really only limited to baseball, and in the beginning, I had to work really hard to not fall over when I ran or to catch fly balls."

He giggled when Andry mentioned all the things he could become good at. "Of course! As long as you love it, go for it! Like I said before, I wasn't good at pitching or playing baseball in general when I first started out, but I made the most of practices and practiced on my own because I loved it so much."

The fact that he was speaking of playing baseball in past tense bothered him a bit, and it showed on his face.

"Anyway, as long as you love it, go for it."

He sighed as he looked away again. "I mean, the sport I once loved isn't a part of my life anymore, and it definitely won't be while I'm here. I really don't know what I'm passionate about anymore."

He looked into Andry's eyes again. "Do you know what your passionate about? You know, what makes your heart race... or devote your time? There isn't a feeling that can replace the last pitch of a game that ends in victory... or landing safe on base... or hitting past the infield. I've never hit a home run because of how tiny I am, but I have gotten a ball through the field despite there being in-fielders... and there's not a feeling like it."

Michael sighed happily, letting the good memories of baseball sink in instead of the bad ones at the tail end. "What makes you happy, Andry?"
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Andry Buernsey on Fri Jul 22, 2011 1:32 am

{ OOC: I just upped the weirdness ante in this thread. Oh yeah. Shit just got real. xD }

The biggest fear in Andry's life at that moment was that he was going to cycle through institutions forever. So the phrase 'when you get out of here' sparked a little spurt of anxiety. Was he ever going to get out of here? At least at Hadley, there had been the guarantee that he'd get sprung at eighteen. Now, he would probably just be shuffled over to the adult facility and left to rot until he was ninety, because there was no way he was ever going to 'get better'. Maybe he would, at some point, learn to cope, but he would never be better.

Michael looked so sad when he talked about baseball...Andry felt bad for him. He knew that losing something dear to you was painful, and he hoped that the kid found someone to at least throw a ball back and forth with him. He would have offered, but even the thought of a small dense sphere hurtling toward him made him want to run. Sports made him want to shudder.

The question of what made Andry happy was a hard one to answer. Not a lot of things did. He'd been disenchanted with life for a long time, essentially out of love with living, just going through the motions. The only thing that had made him happy in a long time was Bella, but he didn't know how to tell Michael about her. It was hard to talk about her knowing that he couldn't see her.

"What makes me happy? Um...I guess the only thing that's made me actually happy in a while was my girlfriend. I had to leave her in Boston." What Andry did not know and would not have understood was that Cassandra Tours was no longer his girlfriend, and had moved to live with her grandmother in Maine after the trial that had thrust him into juvie. He didn't know that he was a rapist, and he didn't know that he'd done anything wrong; neither would Michael, unless he made a habit of reading Boston newspapers.

"I still really love her; she was pretty much perfect. No-one liked us being together, I guess because I don't exactly have a history of stability, but neither of us cared. You would like her...she's really nice to everyone. When I was with her, it was like things weren't so bad, and I could be normal for a while. Just be myself. She's...special." He had drifted off into his fondest memories, the only memorable happy time in his life, and he was smiling a distant smile. A thought occured to Andry suddenly -- Michael probably didn't have a lot of experience with girls; the boy was only fourteen, and he acted even younger. He thought for a moment, then an idea came to him, a way to explain his feelings in terms that would be easily understood.

"It's kind of similar to baseball, actually. You're always...batting. Trying to make her happy. And when you do, it's a matter of how happy you've made her. This analogy sounds kind of dirty..." He laughed, somewhat uncomfortably, not sure how Michael was going to take his innocent analogy gone sexual. "But what I actually mean is that it's like trying to hit a home run. Trying to get her to fall in love with you. It was easy for us, because I think we're just meant for each other." It was comforting to him to think that for once, he had been lucky, that something good had been meant for him all along. It was the only thing that was keeping him going, really.
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Michael Courtenay on Sat Jul 23, 2011 1:13 am

"What makes me happy? Um...I guess the only thing that's made me actually happy in a while was my girlfriend. I had to leave her in Boston."

Michael frowned slightly after hearing that. Since he was blissfully clueless about what led Andry to St. Christina's, his heart was tugged a bit when Andry said that he had to leave her. If Michael hypothetically had a girlfriend back in Michigan, he'd feel so guilty for leaving her and he'd also feel sad knowing that he was being forced to. He didn't want to go to St. Christina's in the first place, but that feeling of unfairness would be stepped up a level if he had a girlfriend he had to leave behind more than 1,000 miles away.

In truth, Michael didn't have too much experience in romantic affairs- he'd never had a girlfriend, hypothetical or not. Of course throughout the years he'd been in middle school, he tried his hand at love a few times, but was always rejected, despite all the creative things he incorporated into his swooning. But anyway, Michael knew that the problem wasn't in what song he sang (in his opinion, he sang terribly), or what kind of useless homemade craft he offered as a gift. He knew it was actually within him- no one wanted him, and for more simplistic reasons than he realized. Middle school girls, in general, were after boys who were more confident... and who also didn't appear as though they were three years younger. But because Michael was Michael, he thought it was because he was a terrible person with absolutely no likable qualities at all.

And this is what he told himself all his life, so he didn't have any resentment at all towards the girls who'd rejected him during his time at Graveraft Middle School. He felt it was inevitable, and it was what he deserved.

"I-I'm sorry," He said finally in response to Andry. "That must've been hard. Leaving her I mean."

Michael listened attentively to Andry talking about his girlfriend, and smiled warmly as he did. He heard the sincerity in Andry's voice and thought to himself how lucky both of them must have been, to be (what Andry and Michael thought) mutually caught in love soup.

Michael nodded when Andry said his girl was special. "She seems it. I mean, it really does take someone special to see past someone's faults and love them for who they are regardless of what they went through or did in the past."

In all fairness, if Michael had thought about rape, he would have reworded his answer. But he didn't because of a combination of naivety and being sheltered all his life. How people hurt each other was almost never on his mind. Instead, he continued:

"It sounds like you guys really do love each other. That's so great..."

Michael thought for a moment, then blushed. He looked away at the grass as his face turned the color of a brick wall.

"How did you guys meet, and then how did you..."

Michael thought for a few seconds to ponder how he would word his question: Reel her in? Keep her after she kept you? Show her how much you have to offer without being awkward?

"... What exactly happened? How did you fall in love?"

Michael took a deep breath to alleviate some of the heat in his cheeks. "I-I... I know love exists. I've seen it. And you and your girlfriend are clearly in love. But... I don't know it exists from personal experience, obviously... and my parents were never in love."

He was silent for a moment before he continued: "My parents met when my mom was just finishing up college, so she was paying off loans by being a bar tender. My dad, his name is James, just finished driving a really long distance when he went to the bar my mom worked at and got... pretty drunk. Like, shit-faced. He was trying to wash away a lost love with alcohol, and my mom felt sorry for him because she's an alcoholic so she knew the feeling all too well. Anyway, I technically wasn't supposed to happen- I was conceived the night they met. And they started dating once they found out my mom was pregnant. But then... a month after I was born, my dad left. My mom doesn't like to talk about it, so I still don't know why... but that's the most I know of my parents' relationship. It was the closest thing I knew to love for a while, but it's pretty far off from the real thing."

Michael grinned despite the sad story he told. "Anyway, you and... what's her name? But you two seem like you truly love each other. I didn't mean to scare you- you won't wind up like my parents."

Michael listened to Andry's analogy, and as predicted, didn't pick up on the sexual innuendos. The point of batting was to try and get the ball through the in-fielders so you can run. He understood the innocent part to what Andry was saying- love was about trying to make your loved one happy.

"How does it sound dirty? It makes perfect sense to me." He said innocently.

"I get it. It's easier for some people and harder for others. Like, with you and your girlfriend- you bat against a really weak defensive team and you fell in love once you scored. If the defensive team isn't there to hold anything back, you're in the clear. But my parents... well, let's say my dad forfeited before he stepped up to the plate."

Michael shrugged, trying to keep all of the anger associated with his father from showing on his face, then asked a question he was pondering about minutes before:

"How come nobody wanted you two together?"
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Andry Buernsey on Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:25 am

"She offered to give me a ride to school. After that, it just kind of happened. She offered to drive me home, then showed up at my house again the next day like it was what she always did. There was never a moment when we all of a sudden fell in love; I didn't notice it until it had already happened," Andry said. It had been unexpected to say the least when she had pulled up beside him; she was one of the most popular girls in school, and they'd never talked before. He listened to the story about Michael's parents, and, frankly, he was horrified. The thought that it was possible that his parents didn't love each other anymore had never crossed his mind, probably because his parents were still very much in love, or at least appeared to be. He'd had a good role model for a healthy relationship; it was a shame that things had gone so wrong so early. However, Michael hadn't ever had the right template...what would his future relationships be like?

Andry didn't know what to say about Michael's apparent lack of a love life...'there's someone for everyone'? 'There are plenty of fish in the sea'? He didn't know that either of those things were true, and he didn't want to sound trite. So he decided not to mention it. Michael seemed too young to date anyone to Andry anyway, but he didn't really know what a normal fourteen was. At fourteen, he'd still been hitting himself in the face and wearing a shit ton of sunscreen everyday and sitting on his couch zonked out on antidepressants all day. Maybe other fourteen year olds were out picking up girls in the baskets of their bicycles.

"Her name is Cassie," Andry said; he didn't really like using that name. It made him feel uncomfortable for reasons that he didn't quite understand, and every time he tried to figure out why it escaped him. He always thought of her as Bella, but he'd figured out by now that people didn't really understand that and preferred to know her real first name. In a weird way, she was two different people; she would always be his bella, but she was everyone elses' Cassandra Tours.

Andry almost laughed when Michael missed his accidental innuendo, but what he said after wasn't funny. Andry had his problems with his father, but Michael didn't have a father at all, and that was really sad. There was a giant gap of misunderstanding and confusion between he and his father, but he still didn't know what he'd do without him.

"I'm sorry," he said, looking down at the grass. "That sounds really rough, not having a dad."

The next question was a tricky one to answer without inadvertantly answering a slew of other questions; Andry thought carefully for a moment before uncertainly saying,

"They thought that she was too good for me, and I can't say that I really disagree. She's a good student, a brilliant pianist, and a really popular girl. I haven't lead the most...sane life. People are kind of scared of me, I think. They didn't think that we'd be good for each other because we're so different...they thought that I was going to drag her down, and that she was going to mess with my mind. But they were wrong, so...it doesn't really matter."
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Re: Sense of Direction? Nahh... (Andry)

Post by Michael Courtenay on Tue Aug 02, 2011 8:32 pm

Michael listened to the story of how Andry and his girlfriend fell for each other, and the confusion he felt was finding its way to his face. That was it? Was it really that easy? Michael was half-expecting some kind of formula, like a step-by-step guide to make top-secret chemical concoction. Michael knew what love was from watching other people, but the mystery was how it happened. What exactly clicked in both Andry and his girlfriend's mind that switched things from 'I think you're interesting' to 'I don't want to be without you'?

Then, as he listened to Andry more, he figured it out. There wasn't a set of instructions to how humans fall in love with each other- it was different for each person and situation. And you couldn't have just the right people or situation either... you had to have both. It made sense to Michael- his parents wouldn't have fallen in love if they met during a poetry reading at a cafe in Paris.

"That's so great. Even though it seems that no one else wants you two together, I think God does. It may have seemed unlikely at first, but now you two are stuck together like glue. That's what He would've wanted."

Michael smiled at Andry. Whoever this girl was, she sure was lucky to have a guy like Andry, who loved her like no one else would.

"Cassie," Michael repeated, trying it out. "That's a pretty name. It's the name of a Flyleaf song- my mom's a huge fan."

What Andry said next caught Michael off guard, and he had to process it fully before responding:

"I'm sorry. That sounds really rough, not having a dad."

The feelings that Michael usually pushed away on the subject (anger, emptiness and longing to name a few) were accumulating at the base of his trachea. He swallowed them forcefully as if swallowing one of those huge, old-person vitamins.

"I technically do," Michael said softly. "I met him twice so I know he exists. At first, that's all I ever wished for- it was in my prayers, written on my Christmas list. I just wanted to meet him- to see how tall he was, what he smelled like, what his voice sounded like... because before, I only had a picture, a bunch of old birthday cards and the envelopes from when he sent my mom child support. And then, two years ago, I finally got my wish. He invited me to come visit him in Kentucky that summer... and I couldn't have been more excited. I was willing to go to the airport and the plane by myself and freak out due to being alone just so that I could meet him. And then when I met him, I took in everything- dark brown hair, glasses, stubble, tall, slender, smelled like Old Spice, scratchy and deep voice..."

Michael's expression conveyed numbing, forced down anger next. "And then, I quickly learned that he wasn't going to be in the house much, because he's a neurologist who works for a pharmaceutical company... and they have a new drug in development or something. So I was stuck there with his psychotic, paranoid wife and the twins, Tori and Brielle, who think they're so mature. I was either ignored or screamed at for cleaning the entire summer. They're compulsions- if I could control them, I would. And I went back last summer too because I thought it would be different. Shows you how stupid I am."

Michael unclenched his fists and stopped gnashing his teeth finally. Every time he talked about his dad, he started off with such explosive anger, then everything left over made him want to cry. Michael had never truly shown anger his entire life- he always either forced it down for fear of hurting people, or he cried or felt guilty. His anger was either stored away, or turned to guilt or sadness. He didn't have a true understanding of how to be angry.

"But even if he left me, my mom never did!" Michael's voice became cheerful again. "When I was nine, my mom was talking to her colleagues while I was cleaning. My OCD was obvious to them- they saw how I was obsessively cleaning the house and organizing stuff. And they suggested that she send me to the Veer Children's Center in my town. It's basically a children's home for really, REALLY mentally disturbed kids. And you know what my mom did? She stood up and started screaming at them." Michael's voice projected his mother's perfectly, low and honeyed. "Sure, he has OCD and a little anxiety. But he is not some kind of rag doll that someone can just lock up just because he can't stop his compulsions to clean and fix! That would be the easy solution, wouldn't it? That's what his father did, but I'm not abandoning him like that-"

Before Michael could finish quoting his mother, he stopped dead. She already gave him up. He wouldn't have been in the foster home and then sent here if it weren't true.

Michael's shoulders sank as his face displayed his anguish. "I-I'm sorry," He said finally. "That story's a little outdated."

He then sank into his knees and couldn't control himself from crying after that.
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