Silence Heals

Alexis Moore

 

Leon Lennox's eyes go crossed as the geometric pattern of the brick wall rushes at him. His vision blurred as his face was propelled toward the side of building, coming to an unforgiving stop suddenly as his head was cracked against its surface. This one moment took less than a few seconds, but to Leon it spread out into a tormenting eternity.

 

His nose hit the brick first, emitting a sickening cracking noise as it broke. Jets of blood erupted from both his nostrils. The hand that was pushing him forward was placed on the upper part of the back of his head, buried in his sweat drenched hair, so the next part of him to hit the surface was his forehead. Leon felt his skin break apart, forming a linear cut that spanned from the top of his eyebrow into his hairline. Blood flowed down his face, burning his eyes and flooding into his open, gasping mouth. He choked suddenly as his tormentor let go, leaving his small body to fall onto the sidewalk below him.
           

David Berinson took a step back from Leon's motionless body. The older, stronger boy looked down piteously at Leon, his greasy face split into a malicious smile. Berinson was a junior at Leon's high school, but still had managed to grow quite a bit larger than even the most impressive senior boys. Not being very smart himself, Berinson lashed out at others to make himself think he was important. Leon was usually the butt of said confrontations, but today's encounter had escalated beyond what Berinson originally intended. The sight of blood made him gaze down at Leon stupidly. He muttered a homophobic slurr, and with a few quick strides was gone.
           

Leon's hot breath ricocheted off the damp cement, erupting in desperate huffs as he gasped for air. Laying pitifully on his side, blood oozed from his mutilated face. Leon tried to roll over onto his back. As he moved his damaged body he let out a pathetic moan of pain, only slightly muffled by the blood leaking from his nose into his open mouth. Hacking and choking on blood, he coughed and wheezed, watching red particles shoot into the air while he seized.

 

+++
           

Fifteen minutes earlier, Leon Lennox strode proudly down the hallway of the third floor of his modest high school. With two rows of red lockers on either side of him, his dark brown oxford shoes softly padded against the floor tiles. He noted that the cleaning crew must have already been through here, as it was after school hours, because Leon could catch his reflection in the shining tiles. He had stayed after school to make up a test he had missed because of a sick day.
           

Sliding a stray lock of hair deftly behind his ear, he pushed open the door into the stairwell with his shoulder. Merrily he descended down the stairs. His school was basically just a series of long hallways stacked on top of each other, so after he exited the stairwell on the ground level, the front entrance was at the opposite end of the hall.
           

He thought over some of the questions he had second guessed at while taking his test. It was a science exam, which had always been one of Leon's worst subjects. Always being a bit of a dreamer, he preferred literature or art to the cold hard facts of science. He also didn't like the idea of a subject he couldn't debate and argue his way out of. He always thought of life as having more than one answer, and his attitude towards school reflected such a notion.
           

A flash of movement interrupted his daydreaming, and he suddenly felt hands on his shoulders as they pushed him forcefully into a locker. It clanged loudly, slicing the silence of desolate hallway. Pain erupted from his shoulder and before he could voice his displeasure, strong arms wrapped themselves around his neck in the form of a headlock. Gasping desperately for air, Leon's legs kicked out frantically, trying to gain ground. The soles of his shoes squeaked as they scuffed against the tile.
           

The boy that held him remained silent, but the stink of him was familiar. It was the same terrible stench he was forced to endure every Monday in Biology where he sat next to one David Berinson.
"David-" he gasped, voice exasperated by lack of oxygen and rage, "Lemme go you dumbfuck-"
           

Suddenly his neck was released and Leon was spun around, only to be pushed down, his elbow cracking against the floor as he fell. A swift kicked was delivered mercilessly to his stomach. Leon saw stars and gasped so hard he wondered if he would ever be able to breathe properly again. He laid there, dazed for a few seconds. Strong hands buried themselves into his clothes and hoisted him up. Half staggering, half walking, Leon­ was lead out a side door. The large brick wall of the south building loomed over him as the doors clicked shut behind them.

 

+++
           

I have to get up now. I can't... His thought trailed off. His eyes fluttered open and shut several times, at one point he may or may not have lost consciousness. Leon snapped his eyes open and coughed.
I can't just lay here.
           

He shakily got up to his feet. Testily taking a few steps he tried to steady himself.  He felt his body give way when an eerie chill washed over him as his vision clouded. Leon could barely spread his hands out in time to cushion his fall. Cheek against the concrete, he let out a tortured sob.
           

Leon got up again, this time at a painfully slow pace. Looking down, he grimaced at the spatter marks his own blood had made on the concrete. He lifted a hand and gingerly touched his nose. Stars blinded him. Such anguish from such a small gesture baffled him. His emotional and physical pain was so heavy on his shoulders it was almost palpable, like something he could put his hand through; like an insidious fog.
I have to go home now.
           

Leon only lived a few blocks away from the school, but with all the blood he had lost and was continuing to lose, the odds of him making it all the way home seemed slim. Maybe if he could somehow get there everything would be alright.
           

He took one small step after another, eyes bloodshot and unfocused. The longer he walked, the more he felt his emotions wash away. Leon knew he should be pissed beyond all reason at what happened to him, but he couldn't feel it anymore. His limited consciousness wouldn't let him hold onto the anger.
           

He turned left onto the street that would lead into his cul-de-sac. Wanting to keep his wits about him, Leon tried to focus on a level line of thought. His state of being was shaky and unstable. His mind was not functioning properly, he could tell. He wasn't sure if this was shock, or the after effect of not having quite as much blood in you as you are supposed to. A drop of blood dripped off his swollen brow and fell onto the lapel of his shirt. His hands numbly raised themselves and stopped to rest on his chest. The fabric of his sweater was stained black with blood and reeked of sweat.
           

His mind kept wandering to odd places, which he knew was a bad sign. Leon was teetering on the line between awareness and unconsciousness. He saw flashes of memories and whispers of thought pass in and out of his head sporadically. He noticed his mind did this sort of thing right before he fell asleep at night. He saw his mothers face, surrounded by her crown of long dark hair. Her rose colored lips. His English teacher, Mr. Lensherr, his dress shirt clinging delicately to his torso. Lensherr hands him a heavy book one day during class. They chit chat about the story, Leon's fingers nimbly playing across the worn leather cover. His two brothers, Nicholas and Robbie. A distant memory of the three of them as children playing some miscellaneous sport. The ball had hit Leon in the back of the head. Nicholas laughed, Leon cried. Where is Nicholas?

 

He tried to quicken his pace, but staggered.

 

They don't know what has happened to me. I haven't told them yet. I haven't told them why. Oh God, they don't know.
           

"I need to call my mother," he whispered to no one, his own voice soothing him in a weird way. He looked stupidly down at his hands and realized he had left his bag back at the school. His books, money, phone, all left behind. Leon hadn't even noticed they were gone until this moment.

 

They don't know because I haven't told them.
           

He didn't pass many people on his quest home, but the few he did never offered to help him. They just stared in horror at his demolished face and soaked clothes. A soft wind blew past him, cutting through his wet garments, making him shiver.

 

They don't know. I can't tell them why.
           

He was almost home. His feet fell on familiar sidewalks, he was turning onto his street. His house was the third on the left. Dark brown paint, a wraparound porch: it was so close. The throbbing of his head had reached an unbearable peak. He was just a few feet away but he didn't know if he could make it. The steps up his porch seemed impossible. He paused before his front door. He heard voices behind it, but they weren't making sense. All he could hear was slurred speech, like it was in a different language. He felt like he was going to fall over.
           

A tall figure slammed the front door open. His eldest brother, Robbie, sauntered out the door, not seeing him at first. Leon noticed his keys in his hand, his dark hair combed. He was probably leaving to go see about a girl. A wave of hot shame washed over him. Tears started to fall from his swollen and bruised eyes. Pure sadness overcame him, tugging at the sides of his mouth, turning them down. He stared at his stupid, handsome, fucking perfect brother. Stared at him stupidly through the blood and tears that had caked around his eyes.
         

Robbie finally saw the massacred mess in front of him that was his brother. He stopped mid step, not entirely believing what he was seeing. A look of terror frozen on his face, he exhaled violently like he was choking on his own breath. Robbie's hands wrapped themselves around Leon's delicate waist to steady him.
           

For a brief moment Robbie's face was level with his own. His brother's eyes scanned over Leon's face, desperate for answers. Leon slumped forward, his head finding the nook between Robbie's neck and shoulder. Leon inhaled the familiar scent of his brother. His vision was blurring, but the unmistakable smear of blood-his blood-on his brothers crisp white shirt burned into his eyes. Leon felt himself being hoisted up. A wave of warmth washed over him as he was carried inside.

 

I can't tell them.

Euphemism Campus Box 5555 Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790