Side Stories Speaker: Stay.
A/N: Speaker is a character that is very dear to me. I created him before I started building the Puppeteer world and found a perfect way to integrate him into it. This is a a little “side story”, depicting a very important moment in his life before the main story starts. I think I’ll be doing side stories for all my characters – missing moments from my bigger plot. A little background even but for now you have Speaker.
Speaker found himself looking out at the sky. Deep in thought he was not but he definitely wasn’t here. Not with his friends, family, and the best and worst of all people. He was just gone and he couldn’t really wrap his head around it to begin describing it.
Something struck right at his heart. Something he wish he didn’t understand. Something that would just end up hurting his head if he tried to pretend he didn’t.
For such a bright boy, he sure could be quite stupid when he wanted to be.
Maybe he just didn’t want to start down that path again. Didn’t want to wrap his head around these thoughts that he knew would never rest when he slept that night. No, he decided, it wasn’t a maybe. Not anymore. He didn’t want to dwell on this.
His body ached everywhere, a sign that he was breaking down all too well. It wasn’t just his mental state anymore. It had gone beyond that in his self inflicted pity. He had been running too much, too far, and too hard. He had been running until he wanted to throw up and cry at the same time and then some. He ran until he couldn’t anymore and now he was feeling the consequences of his choices.
Speaker was an athlete. He knew how and when to push his body. Knew how to protect it from this kind of pain. He knew better but he didn’t care. Now a part of him wished he did.
Oh well. He can’t change time. He couldn’t go back to this morning and tell himself not to run. To get a few more hours of rest. He would just have to deal with it now.
He started counting back from 100, hoping it would help ease his soul a bit. It wouldn’t but at least he was trying. Unfortunately Speaker was all too aware of the note that he had tucked safely away in his breast pocket, folded three times over, a square shaped print burning a box into his heart.
He had way too much on his mind.
It shouldn’t have been this difficult. He should have been happy and yet he wasn’t. It was soul sucking and darkness inducing.
He was finally aware of his fear of loneliness as he read the Times New Roman over and over again until the image was branded into his mind.
“Penny for your thoughts?” A familiar voice interrupted his self pity. A voice that he had known for more than ten years, quite an accomplishment at fourteen.
“Not worth the penny. Trust me.” He answered with a small slightly hollow smile. If she noticed it, she didn’t say anything so Speaker turned around, leaning his back against the railing he had just been facing, his hands fingering the metal bars once he flipped over.
“That’s not what the teachers, principals, judges scientists -” She would have continued if he didn’t stop her, so he did.
“Yeah yeah, I get your point.” He almost always did.
“So Mr. Grumpypants – what’s on that brilliant mind of yours?” She was cheerful as ever, clearly enjoying poking her fun at him.
He pouted but didn’t object to the nickname or her sarcasm. He had long since learned not to argue with Lizzie when it came to things like this.
He would just lose.
Instead he pulled out the little note from his pocket and handed it over to her. His hand still burned from the imprint and implications it left as it swapped hands.
She obviously couldn’t feel the same tingling he did.
She gave him a weird look before unfolding the note and Speaker waited patiently for her eyes to widen and her confused face to melt away into one of complete excitement and cheer. She was positively beaming. Happy for him even. And of course she was. Why wouldn’t she be happy for him? She was always happy for him.
“A full scholarship to Marxwin Academy!” She shouted, eyes glowing and looking like she was holding herself back from spinning around or dancing.
“That’s-!” She paused for a half a second trying to find the appropriate word “That’s amazing!”
Yes, of course it is.
“Did you know they just refurbished the gym? And got a whole new shipment of lab equipment?!”
Yes, I read all the brochures.
“Seriously Squeeks! Can you just imagine all the things you can do there?”
All the things I’ll be doing alone.
“Heh! They might actually get to teach you something for a change.”
He cracked a smile and Lizzie finally looked up from the 12 pt. font and at him. She frowned slightly. “Why does it feel like I’m the only one excited about this?”
Because you are.
“Come on Squeeker, spill.”
“It’s just going to be different is all.”
Not a complete lie.
“Oh yeah, you’re not going to be the smartest one in the room anymore. What ever are you going to do.” She was dripping with sarcasm, rolling her eyes as she handed the note back.
He rolled his eyes too before he took it.
She grew serious suddenly. “Speaker, it’ll be alright. You’re still a fucking genius and you’re competitive to a fault. You’ll get used to being surrounded by people who challenge you for a change and you’ll even be relieved that you don’t have to explain yourself every ten seconds. Who knows, you might actually enjoy it.”
A mix of “It’s not that,” and “I’m not a genius” rolled into his head but he just nodded instead.
“Try to be excited for once.” She said with a huff, “Don’t you want to go? It’s like your dream isn’t it?”
“Well yeah but I didn’t think it was ever going to happen.” He spoke for the first time in a few minutes. “It was a pipe dream. Like curing cancer or running in the Olympics.”
“Well it did so why don’t you try being happy about it Grumpypants?”
She didn’t believe him. “So are you going?”
“It’d be stupid not to.” He said plainly. And it was true. He worked hard to learn and it would only be fitting to go to a school that would challenge him for once. Make him worth something for once. “Four years without me. How are you going to survive?” He asked, folding the note into threes again. He wasn’t actually worried though. She would be fine. She always was. It was him he was worried about.
“By knocking on your door and getting you to do my homework.” She jumped on the railing next to him and sat on it. Staring in the same direction he did. He wasn’t worried. He knew she wouldn’t fall off. She never did.
“What makes you think I’ll have the time or ability?” He could feel the smirk he was wearing on his face.
“Oh you’ll have time.” She gave him no room to argue, even going so far as to wave away his question. “It’ll be like nothing changed.”
Speaker didn’t say anything. Everything would change, even if she didn’t believe it. Seeing her only on weekends and after school wasn’t enough. He couldn’t be expected to face this new world without her. She was the brave one. Not him. He just worked hard is all.
She always protected him.
She wouldn’t be there anymore.
Ask me to stay.
“Hmm?” He couldn’t bring himself to look at her.
“Congratulations – really. You’re going to do great.”