Tuesday, 3 April 2007
09:41:22 PM (GMT)
'Tis a paper I wrote for English-turned story.
I'm hoping to continue with this piece until it makes me sick, and hopefully it'll be
good by that point.
“Hey hey, who’s the newbie, huh?” asked a girl sitting in the corner, a
half-burnt cigarette flopping between her cracked lips as she spoke. A pale, bony
hand reached up to her lips and removed the cigarette, then smothered it out on the
“She says her name’s Haku!” I yelled back, tossing an empty can of soda into
the wastebasket, or at least attempting to. It missed by a mile, and instead of
clunking into the basket, it fell noisily to the ground alongside several other cans,
sending them scattering in all directions. Just my luck. I threw myself to my feet
and clambered over to the cans, grabbed them, and threw each one into the basket,
cursing them under my breath as they bounced into the wiry basket. Then, blowing a
strand of my sickly bleach-blond hair out of my face, I marched away from the now
full basket and towards the girl in the corner.
“Mariner, you look like you could use a bit of a smoke. Wan’ some?” asked
Selena, the girl in the corner, as she waved the tempting box of cigarettes in front
of her face.
I sighed, knowing that they really weren’t the best thing for me, but allow me my
indulgences for Christ’s sake! I took a cig’ from the box and stuck it in my
mouth, then waved my hand for the lighter.
“Git your own,” snapped Selena, ducking the lighter beneath her shirt and out of
“Selena, will you just give me the goddamned lighter?!” I screamed, earning me
an odd stare from the four girls who were strewn like ignored ragdolls over the ratty
furniture in the Quarters. At any one time, there were twenty or thirty people
crawling around here, looking for any sort of work, whether it was a “date” or
even something as extravagant as a ring-up; an assassination request. The Quarters
was a place where everyone went when they had no one else to go, when society had
turned its back on a person and made them live for themselves. Everyone supported
each other, and any money earned from doing a job went directly into the group fund,
which was dwindling down to an almost nonexistent concept.
“Selena. Lighter. NOW.”
Selena rolled her icy blue eyes and threw me the lighter, blowing a smoke ring
around my hand as I caught the almost empty lighter. I coughed and held the tiny
flame to the end of the cigarette and it flared to life, sending a rush of smoke into
my mouth and lungs. I had long since been desensitized to the noxious fume of the
smoke. I took a deep drag on the cig’, the smoke seeping into every inch of my
lungs before I blew a thick plume of grey smoke through my nose.
“I wonder when the next payday is…” Selena huffed. “I can’t buy these
things with the shitty pay from all these little jobs.” She flicked the cardboard
carton and sighed. “I need some big game!” She threw her arms out so wide that
she nearly clipped off my knees as I stood beside her. Selena liked to talk with her
hands a lot.
“Big game?” I asked, snorting out a laugh. “You think we’re going to get a
ring-up for some Tsubasu Corp. high-man? Those bastards’ got some pretty rewards
on their heads, and with all the new security measures, it ain’t like we can just
swoop in and clip ‘em anymore.” I paused and slid down against the wall, my hips
clicking as I folded my legs beneath me to cushion my tailbone. I cast a solemn
glance towards Selena, and for an instant my chalky brown eyes met with hers.
Selena paused and bowed her head, knowing that my words, as pessimistic as they
were, were too true. She sighed and looked over to me, her eyes turning into the
hollow shells each of us possessed.
Life on the streets isn’t easy on the soul.
“Mariner…” whispered Selena, her voice unnervingly weak. “Why’d you even
come to this hellhole…?”
I took another drag on my cigarette and shrugged, letting the smoke seep slowly from
my mouth. “Got me…” I was lying. I knew exactly what my reasons were, but
they were my reasons and mine alone. I didn’t need to have Selena’s pity. She
was the last person I wanted to worry…Besides, we all had our sob-stories, and it
didn’t matter where you came from. Everyone’s story is the same in the
“I mean, come on Mariner! You had everything we could only DREAM of! Nice house,
nice folks—” she stopped to cough, her whole body shaking from the force of the
cough. “We’re all stuck here whoring ourselves out and for what? Just enough
cash for a pack of cigarettes and a small fry from McDonalds.”
I could feel a knot tying my tongue in the back of my throat and I turned my head
away from her as my face began to heat up. I never liked thinking about where I was
before I came to the Quarters. It was just too depressing…I wanted away from all
that; to never have to feel the cold sting of another person’s gaze only because I
“What I had was the life of the invisible man…I was there, only not there….I
was a ghost that flitted around town, never earning so much as a warm glance from any
human. Sure, I had money…but money doesn’t buy everything…” I could feel
two streaks of tears running along my cheeks and I took the cigarette from my mouth,
the phlegm choking my flow of breath to an almost nonexistent trickle.
“Invisible man, huh? I think I’d rather be invisible and well-fed than noticed
and starved. Hell, we’re never even noticed around here…Just the other
day…Jane passed away on the street corner, and someone shoved her body into
oncoming traffic because they couldn’t fit their five-hundred dollar baby carriage
on the sidewalk. We’re as good as the rats to everyone else.”
I shook my head. To everyone else, the “normal people” of society…I was as
good as the rats to everyone period. When I felt I could stop crying, I turned back
to Selena and snickered half-heartedly. “I came here to stop being all depressed,
and you’re not doing a very good job of it.”
“It’s true Mariner, and you know it! You’ve seen the worst of it! You--”
she stopped and coughed again, fragments of tears forming at the corners of her eyes,
whether from the coughing or the nature of the conversation, I do not know. “You
should be able to understand!” Selena shouted, hoisting herself up to tower above
me. Even though she was tall, her frame was so thin that she seemed to fade into the
background like a thin piece of paper. Heh, now that I think about it, that’s a
pretty good comparison. She’s a shade of white that would make any untouched area
of snow envious, and there isn’t a single flaw on her skin. Her hair was a shade
of black so dark that if she were to sprinkle glitter in her hair, she could pass as
a small snippet of the night sky that had descended to earth. She has an eerie,
porcelain doll appeal to her, and to see her so angry and so strikingly beautiful at
the same time was…haunting. Not disturbing, nowhere near disturbing, but
“Mariner….hey, I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to freak out on you…it’s
“I get it…” I mumbled. I stood up and started to walk away, cigarette
flopping uselessly in my bony hand. I crushed the cigarette into my palm and tossed
the dead embers to the ground, then smothered them out with the toe of my boot. As I
walked away from Selena, my heart felt like the embers I so emphatically crushed. My
body drooped with a new weight it had never once felt before, and my frame felt as if
it would collapse from the burden. She was the one I never wanted to turn my back
on, but here I was doing just that. I could hear her stifling loose sobs as I walked
away, and I couldn’t help but cry myself in a silent reply to her sorrow.