It’s not a cry you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s cold and It’s a broken
- Leonard Cohen
Moritz was never the type of person to say much during a conversation. No, he leaned towards the ‘stare at your shoes and fiddle with the hem of your shirt while you nod and try not to cry’ end of the social spectrum. In fact, he was never the type of person to say much at all. He had been more open as a child he remembered, or at least thought he remembered. Thinking of his past was like watching a silent film, games of pirates in the park outside school, feeling free to cry and laugh without his own neuroticism clasping its clammy hands around his throat. Those moments when he was happy captured like pictures from a polaroid camera he carried in his mind. Life had been simple like that. Just simple.
He studied himself in the mirror of his cluttered bathroom. Sometimes he just wanted to get out. Out of his house, out of his city, and especially out of his head. His bathroom, like politician’s public speeches, had too much useless stuff in it. Old razors he didn’t throw out, cosmetics and hair products his sister left at the house, paintbrushes he left to soak for eternity. The old mirror was cloudy due to lack of cleaning but he could see himself just fine. He looked too much like his father. It always came back to his father. Always some way to lay the blame discreetly yet firmly there. One day he might glance back and realise he was being juvenile, blaming it on his family. Always.
/“Silvia, where’s Moritz?”
“In his bedroom papa.”/
His sister, forever the Pontius Pilate in Moritz’s life, disappearing whenever he needed her most. Part of him hoped to reconcile his relationship with her but another wanted to keep hating forever.
Hate was always so much easier. The silhouette of his father danced in his memory of the hallway at his old house.
/“I thought we’d spoken about this crying Moritz. Or have you forgotten?”/
He winced, glad his mother had decided to move after her husband was sentenced.
Admittedly, not knowing the precise coordinates where it all got complicated made it easier to conclude with an ‘always’. His thoughts tripped over themselves and he relished the relief provided by the familiar lull of the numbness, replaced by a swelling tide of pure anger. An emotion with which he had become well acquainted. Angry at his bastard father whose genes would taunt him forever. Pollute him. Angry at his coward sister who would never grow up enough to apologise. Even angry at his mother who scarcely gave him reason to be so for her silence was as wide as the fucking sea.
/“It’s natural Moritz.”/
His best friend’s voice drifted through the humidity in the bathroom.
/“That’s what dictators do, instil fear to a point where not even those they are imprisoning can communicate. You need to be better than him. Talk to your mom.”/
Moritz smiled at the memory of thirteen-year-old Melchior telling him this after experiencing one of the many stilted exchanges between Moritz and his mother first hand.
Sure, he wanted to talk about it, but how does one captain a ship if he has no knowledge of the ocean? People couldn’t expect the best from Moritz when he’s been taught nothing other than how to decipher the hidden meaning behind the sounds of slamming doors. To him, love was as terrifying and uncharted as the surface of a distant star and anger a familiar yet bittersweet hovel.
A sigh. Moritz inspected his complexion. As nearly anyone at his high school could have told you, Moritz was officially the third hottest guy in the grade (although it was the general consensus that the higher class of good-looking teenage males attended private schools, an elite club from which, as his drab casual clothes reminded him every day, Moritz was excluded). This ‘Objective Hotness Ranking’ had been posted on the schools Facebook page several months ago. It was also printed out and stuck in every hallway and bathroom stall by a group of girls Moritz knew from middle school. There were very few students at their school so placement in the list was by no means competitive or unbiased.
Melchior was awarded top place for his all-round charisma and chivalry. Not only was he highly intelligent and opinionated but he also possessed dazzling looks not all too dissimilar to that of a movie star. His dirty blonde locks sat perfectly atop his head and soft lighting often gave the illusion that he was supporting a halo. His jaw was firm and his eyes a shimmering yet mysterious blue that could be simultaneously cheeky and scary as the raging fires of hell. He was tall and fair skinned. As unapproachable as he was charming and could come crashing down on people with strength such that you could think the sky was falling and doomsday had arrived. However, the thing that made people really swoon was this: He cared nothing for what others thought of him and even less for what the consequences of showing it were. He took every possible opportunity to miss class if he thought the lesson was unimportant and had no fear of the teaching staff who had learnt to treat him more as a problematic acquaintance than a pupil.
/“What is this you’ve just put on my desk Melchior?”
“Why, that’s my assignment Ms.” He replied with innocence enough to convince any sceptical mother that, no he had not stolen that last cookie and it was his brother Jamey.
“But it isn’t about Jasper Jones?” The teacher removed her glasses, perplexed.
“Oh, right” he chuckled, “No, it’s on Emma by Jane Austin. I think a much more interesting read, don’t you?”
The front row tried not to snigger too obviously.
“You cannot fulfil the success criteria with this piece of writing Mr Gabor.”
“Pardon me ma’am, but where in the success criteria does it say anything about the novel Jasper Jones?” He drew the criteria sheet from his school bag, infuriating the teacher further with the fact he was anticipating the conversation, “‘explores themes and evaluates the novel critically and concisely’, etcetera. ‘Spelling and grammar’, ‘stylistic features’, as far as I can see, Ms, the only possible place I can be penalised is in the ‘addresses the essay question’ section of criteria AE3 and even that’s pushing it a bit as I did technically answer the allocated essay question, just on a different book.
“So, if the system is fair I should theoretically be able to achieve an A grade regardless of what I wrote about.” He flashed the teacher a toothy smile before turning around and making his way to his seat next to Moritz whom he’d winked at. Moritz had blushed, but this was nothing compared to the seething red hue of Ms Clark’s face./
Melchi had received a B+ for the task and claimed he was more than satisfied with his success.
It was such things that drew people’s attention to Melchior. Such things that drew Moritz to Melchior.
The second place on the official attractiveness scale of high school was Bobby Maylor. Awarded on the most part to his ‘good body’. It was rumoured the guy was born with extra abdominal muscles and had broken the world record for largest pecks. This could possibly be whittled down to the fact that the majority of girls he had dated probably couldn’t count the number of abs he did or didn’t have but the story had stuck regardless. Ignoring the people he chose to swap spit with, Bobby was a good guy. Sharp and hardworking; it was well known that he wanted to be an attorney once he finished school. It had also been reported that a number of students had discovered the gym where he worked out and were offering the information in exchange for hand jobs. Bobby was dark skinned and a bit of a jack of all trades, but aside from that Moritz knew little about him as they had shared no classes since eighth grade.
Moritz glared into the mirror as if that might be the thing responsible for the emptiness settling deep into his stomach. His complexion was pail and gaunt, with a sprinkling of blemishes on his forehead that he was told suited him somehow. The combined effort of his high cheek bones and lean figure gave the impression he was undernourished but anyone who knew Moritz was fully aware of his remarkable ability to consume mountains of food and not gain an ounce. His hair was completely hopeless and any attempts to contain the mop of chestnut curls had been long since abandoned. People would sometimes commented on how Moritz’s hair would stick up oddly, giving him a permanent aura of ‘I just got out of bed’. He would always scowl at this and mutter about not having washed it in a while.
The boy had a handsome swagger about him but it was his deep set, soulful eyes that won him third place over others at school. He was a jittery enigma and few people dared scratch under the surface for fear of discovering something unexpected.
He ran his palm down the side of his face. It’s not like he gave a shit what the girls in his school rated him appearance wise, it didn’t give him any real advantage socially or academically. Heck, it didn’t even give him a romantic advantage, he was gay anyway.
No, Moritz was never the type of person to say much at all. He kept his thoughts and feelings to himself. The barrier stayed up even when submerged among the Melchior’s of society who let everyone know how they felt ninety percent of the time. The barrier stayed up through the days when he felt nothing and everything all at once, when the dam was bursting and when the world felt like it was ending he held it together at the seams with pure will power and an icy resolve. And, just like those times, the barrier stayed up now as he clenched his hands on the bathroom sink, knuckles white, watching the tears crawl slowly down his cheeks.