+ malt: no time for that, no, no. he'll worry later, tomorrow (summer challenge)
story: second chances ; high school . wordcount: 985. rating: pg.
Wherein Rayn stretches himself entirely too thin. And starts to suffer the consequences.
notes: Ok, this piece kind of stressed me out, and I wrote it! Erring on the side of being too sensitive, I'm going to warn for a possible anxiety-related compulsive behavior trigger. (I'd probably want a warning for something like this, so). The picture's just a hangnail though, I believe. And it's not behind the cut anyway.
Rayn unhooked his bass strap from his shoulder and sat down on a crate. Tony and Jack were at it again; apparently they couldn't even make it through half a song today without some kind of argument. Jack wasn't singing the hook right, Tony was being too critical, Jack was being too sensitive… It went on.
Rayn glanced at Wren. She seemed unperturbed; she could sit behind the drum kit and play with her phone all day like nothing was happening. Rayn supposed she expected him to step up and mediate, but he wasn't much in the mood. These practices were starting to feel like a joke. They spent so much time just standing around, wasting the hour.
There were so many other things he could have been taking care of: the paper he still had to write, the pile of math homework. The lines he hadn't yet memorized for that play. He bit the side of his thumb. What else? He was forgetting something. Maybe he should make a list.
Jack and Tony were still carrying on.
"Come on, Jack, can't you try to sing it more like…Day, after day—"
"That's not how I sing—that's how you sing."
"That's how it sounds in the song—"
"That's why it's a cover!"
Oh yeah, the chapter study guide for AP Euro. They were supposed to have those done by Monday, in time for the review. Would he have time this weekend? Rayn supposed he could get a start on that during play rehearsal tomorrow, before they needed him on stage. He bit down on his cuticle until he tasted blood. Maybe he could skip soccer practice, give himself an extra hour…
"Rayn, what do you think we should do with the song?"
They must have said his name three times before he realized. When he looked up, everyone was staring at him.
"What are you doing?" Wren asked, eyebrow raised. "Are you biting your nails?"
"No." Rayn dropped his hand to his lap. Really, he'd never understood that; what was the point to biting something you couldn't feel?
"Well?" Tony was giving him this crazy look; he'd been uncharacteristically agitated all week. "What do you think?"
"I think you're both being assholes," Rayn said.
Wren let out a low whistle and went back to looking at her phone. "Okay," she said, "I think y'all need to start smoking again."
Tony threw up his arms. "I don't smoke!" He spun around the garage like he was looking for something to kick, but he had to settle for storming out the door.
"I'm gonna go too," Rayn said standing up.
"Great. Fine." Jack yanked off his guitar strap. "Fantastic fucking practice everyone."
"He'll get over it," Wren said, once Jack's disappeared into the house.
Rayn snapped his bass case closed and hefted it onto his shoulder. "I'll see you later," he told her.
At home, he stood at the bathroom sink and turned on the cold water. He looked down at his hands. Blood had started to well up at the base of one of his thumbnails. When he was twelve, he'd stripped down the skin on every finger until he could barely hold a pencil in either hand.
It had been so long though; he thought he'd stopped.
He watched his reflection wince as he plunged his hands into the water.
He left them there until the blood washed away and the skin on his fingertips turned white and puckered. Then he reached for a towel and the box of Band-Aids.
"I want to ask you about something," his mother said, pushing her empty plate aside. She turned to reach behind her, tilting her chair back on two legs, to grab a piece of paper from the counter.
"What is it?" Rayn asked. Tina reached over his shoulder to grab his plate; it was her night to do dishes, thank God.
His mother held out the flyer. "I just found out about this SAT prep course. It's really reasonable, and since you're taking the test soon…"
"Oh," he said. Mechanically, he let her hand it over.
"You should read the testimonials," his mother continued, "It sounds like such a good program and it's only a couple of hours a week."
"Right," Rayn said. He glanced down at the paper again, but couldn't bring himself to read one word. "Mom, I've really got a lot of stuff going on right now…"
"But isn't this important?" She reached across the table to tap the flyer. "Look, they have a class on Tuesdays. You don't have your play rehearsals that night, right?"
Rayn blinked down at where she was pointing. His brain was still refusing to process any of the words.
Tuesday's were the only day he made it home before seven.
"I guess," he said, letting the paper fall back to the table. "I'll think about it. But I should really go work on my paper now."
"All right," his mother said. Smiling at him like, of course he'd say yes.
When he walked through the kitchen, Tina was scrubbing out a skillet in the sink.
"Don't offer to help me or anything," she said. When he passed without comment, her tone changed: "Um, are you okay?"
He didn't respond to that either.
He shut the door to his room and dragged his backpack over to the desk. He unpacked his notes and his history book and reached down to turn on the computer. The old PC clicked and sputtered as the monitor came to life.
It was just one more thing. It was just two more hours.
No, it wasn't. But. No. He shook the thought from his head. It was better not to think about it at all. With a sigh, he spread his notes out in front of him.
As he watched the computer boot up, he slowly unwound the Band-Aid from his thumb.
SO OKAY. This is kinda tragic by itself, but it's also a prelude to something bigger I'm working on that involves Rayn's brief and crazy um, 'relationship' with this girl names Lucy (you might remember her brief appearance in this pocky chain). And this crazy, stressed-out time sets the stage for that.