Boys don't cry
Flinching away from touch, he rushed along the hallway to his next class. Always forward, forward, never stop, never look up, never make a sound, don't let anything out - the harsh words of someone he had held in high esteem, a father figure, echoing in his head.
"Boys don't cry," he muttered to himself every time he felt his eyes getting prickly, his head bowing all the way to his chest. He had to be strong, had to take it like a man. Men didn't show hurt, or any other feelings. Displaying things like that was weakness, and men were supposed to be strong. Women were weak. Was he a woman?
He winced, remembering the bruises on his mother's back, remembered pressing an ice bag against the ugly blue-black marks, holding back angry tears and a feral rage towards the person he had begun to think of as a father. Grinding his teeth together, he put a hand in his bag and stroked the sleek, cool metal.
It would all be better soon.
Fuzzily he witnessed the hours ticking by, being ignored by everyone, even those who once would have tried to find out what was weighing on his mind. Too far gone, they said, shaking their heads sadly. Such a shame, he was a fine, talented boy, they would say. If only...
If only what?
His grip tightened around the edges of his table, his knuckles white, the uneven spot under his right palm biting into the skin. Only scarcely did he stop himself from biting his lip hard enough to draw blood. He was attracting strange looks and muffled laughter from the others as it was, it would be better not to give them any more reasons.
He shuddered, thinking what the sight of blood had done to him the last time, fingers just brought down from his temple.
They didn't need to know. He nearly reached into his bag again, but the shrill noise of the alarm jolted him from his dream-like state. He followed the students with his eyes, darted his gaze to the teacher, pupils widening as he became more distressed. Slowly, he started to stand up, started to reach for the comforting coolness of the metal in his bag - and froze.
There should be no hesitations now. Yet he looked on helplessly as the students trickled out of the room, laughing and bright and oblivious, and then the door had slammed closed behind the last one, a girl who always lingered behind, and he hated her the most because she still never said anything, and then he was alone with the teacher who was calling his name. Worried? No, they didn't bother worrying about him anymore, if they did, this would have been over long ago.
He pulled the gun out of his bag and pointed it at the teacher. She had her back turned, but he waited. He waited, and when he saw her expression, a succession of feelings chasing across her face - worry surprise anger fear sadness - he grabbed the handle with both hands, palms sweaty now, closing his eyes and furiously ignoring the tears that began to form at the corners.
He remembered the words again, the hurtful words, the ones his so-called father had said, and then the teacher when jokingly trying to cheer him up. She didn't know, how could she know? It didn't matter.
"Boys don't cry," he whispered, throat constricting, shifted his stance, and pulled the trigger.
No one entered that room for a long time to come.
Blessings of the muse