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My 30 Day Challenge

Chapter 16

Day 5: What part of self-harm do you dislike the most?

I woke up to see the usual note on my door from Vic. ‘What part of self-harm do you dislike the most?’ After getting dressed and showering, I went downstairs to see (for once) the whole family there. Mike and Vic were shooting each other glares from opposite sides of the table, seemingly unnoticed by Mr and Mrs Fuentes. I took a seat on the end of the table.

‘Morning, Kellin,’ Vivian said brightly. ‘I was just going to ask you boys what the final plans for this evening were.’

I heard a light thud from under the table and Mike jerked a little as though being kicked. Vic stared at him, and he mumbled something unintelligible.

‘What was that, Mikey?’

‘I don’t really want to go, Mom. Danny’s a tool.’

‘Now, now. I’m sure he’s not, and that both he and I would appreciate you not using that language,’ Vivian responded. ‘Vic, Kellin, are you two still going?’

‘I don’t know yet, I’ll see after school,’ Vic said. Vivian looked at me.

‘I don’t know either,’ I said quietly. I wasn’t about to go if Vic and Mike weren’t.

Vic stood up. ‘Kellin, you finished?’ I nodded. ‘Good. Let’s go.’

As we were walking out, Mike called out. ‘Wait for me?’

‘No,’ Vic responded calmly. He must have been really pissed, because he wasn’t a rude person. Usually. ‘Get the bus.’

Once we were in the car, Vic turned to me and apologised.

‘Sorry, Kellin, I’m just really pissed off with Mike. He swore he’d never see Oli again after what happened, so I told him that if he didn’t want me to tell Mom he’d seen Oli then he wouldn’t go to the party.’

‘What… what happened?’ I asked slowly. I wasn’t sure if this was an okay topic to talk about, but I was desperate to find out.

He sighed. ‘I guess you should know. Just keep in mind that this was a long time ago, alright? About a year ago. Nearly everyone involved, as far as I know, is very different now.

‘Oliver Sykes used to go to school with us. He was in my year at school, and we were friends, but he and Mike were always really close. He moved away when we got into high school, but he kept in contact with us. By this point I’d found Jaime and Tony, and they have been my best friends ever since. We’d go visit him sometimes, Mike and me, a couple of times a month. He apparently got himself mixed up in the wrong type of people at his new school, and started smoking cigarettes and occasionally weed. We didn’t think anything of it, and started dabbling a little ourselves. Mike was always more willing to than I was; I just sort of went along with it because I was bored.

‘Then he started doing heavier drugs. Cocaine, mostly. I don’t know where the hell he got it from, but he did. Started doing crazy stuff while he was high. One time, we came over and he just straight up started trying to beat the shit out of us. I refused to go back after that, but Mike somehow persuaded our mom to take him over there. I didn’t know, but apparently he started letting Mike try some of the shit he was taking. When I found out, I almost went back there just to kill Oliver, but Mike talked me out of it and I made him swear that he would never go back there. For months after that I made sure that either Jaime, Tony or I was with him at all times or was keeping an eye on him, because obviously I didn’t believe that he wouldn’t go back. But he kept his promise, so I let him be.’

I was shocked, to say the least. Vic and Mike had been friends with this guy? And Mike apparently still was! But that didn’t explain what Jack had told me…

‘That’s… wow. Is that how that guy at the party knew who you were?’ I asked. He nodded tersely.

‘Hey, uh, Vic, can I ask you something?’
‘Clearly,’ he stated, apparently amused by my awkwardness. ‘What’s up?’

‘Someone at school told me… that Mike almost, um, got sent to juvie last year. Is that true?’

He seemed to freeze a little. ‘Who told you that?’

Jack had pleaded with me not to mention his name if the topic came up. ‘I don’t remember.’

‘Well, yeah, it is true. I don’t know the finer details of what happened – I didn’t ask, because I didn’t want to know – but it was about the same time as him and Oli started doing all that stupid crap. If you want to know, just ask him. He won’t get pissed, I promise. Is that why you’ve been avoiding him?’ he teased. Damn, I thought I’d been at least a little bit subtle. ‘It’s okay, man, I don’t think he noticed.’

‘Uh, yeah, a little,’ I said. He chuckled.

‘So you got today’s note?’


‘Nothing to add just yet?’

‘I don’t… I guess I need a bit of time to think.’ He nodded.

‘Anyway, what do you plan on doing tonight? I haven’t decided what to do about Mike. I’m not sure if I should go, or stay at home and make sure he doesn’t go back there.’

‘Well, I probably won’t go if you decide not to,’ I said slowly.

‘I see,’ he said, and all conversation ceased. As we pulled into the school parking lot, he decided to speak up again. ‘I’m going to go. And don’t think I’ve forgotten about today’s question. We’ll talk about it in the car on the way home.’

The day was uneventful; I sat with Jack, Jesse, Gabe and Justin at lunch and break, and with Vic in class. It seemed that I was now a part of a friendship group. I really liked the guys, and was glad they liked me too. I found out that they were in a band, and was made to come to rehearsal next week to listen to them. The plan for the party that night was still on, and it was basically the only thing that was spoken about the entire day.

Mike was granted access to car privileges, apparently, because he was sitting in the back of Vic’s little car when I got there that afternoon.

‘I hope you don’t mind that Mike’s joining us this afternoon, Kell,’ Vic said to me, trying to read my face. I kind of did mind. I didn’t know about him, but I wanted to keep these little conversations between the two of us, and no offense to Mike, but I didn’t really want him here. But how could I say that?

‘No, no problem,’ I said softly. Vic seemed to read my mind, though, because he didn’t mention the subject. Instead, he barely spoke at all, simply asking me a couple of questions about homework and assignments.

However, when we got home, he followed me straight up to my room and shut the door behind him. I sat on my bed, with my back against the wall, and he sat opposite me.

‘I figured you didn’t want to do today’s question in front of Mike,’ he said. I nodded guiltily. ‘Don’t worry about it. I don’t think he knows you’re doing it, and I don’t think he’d particularly care or want to be much of a part of it. He isn’t the world’s most sensitive person, and thankfully he’s aware of that, so he doesn’t try to be a shoulder for people to cry on.’ I smiled in relief. At least he wouldn’t be mad if he found out we were, in a way, excluding him.

‘So today’s question is what do you dislike the most about self-harm?’ the question seems to burst out of him, as though he’s been holding it in all day. This was an easy question.

‘The pain,’ I responded almost instantly. ‘Physically, I mean.’ He seemed surprised.

‘That was quick. Why?’

‘Well, I guess I remember times when everything got really bad, right, and… well, this one time, I cut my arms, and the next day, I could barely move them because it hurt so much. I was clean for a week after that.’

Vic looked shocked. ‘You could… how deep were they?’

I shrugged.

‘Not very deep, but not shallow, either. There were just a lot of them and it hurt to move.’

We were silent. After a few moments he turned around and sat against the wall next to me, and wrapped an arm around my waist. I leaned my head on his shoulder.

‘How are the most recent ones doing?’ he asked gently. I unbuttoned my shirt and rolled up my sleeves in answer. They weren’t deep, and so had healed fairly quickly. Only a few little scabs on the faint scars gave away their disguise. He nodded, seeming pleased. I buttoned my shirt up again, but left the sleeves up. I was suddenly hot.

‘Anyway. Are you going to go to the party or not?’ he asked.

I sighed. ‘I probably should, but I don’t really want to.’

‘Why not? It’ll be fun. Come on, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Tony drunk,’ he joked. ‘Please? I really want you to come. And you already told Jack you would.’

‘Fine,’ I caved. This boy was persuasive as hell. And he barely has to say anything to get me to do exactly what he wants!

‘Yes!’ he crowed, jumping up and doing some weird little dance thing. I giggled, and he saw, so he did it again. In a few moments I was doubled over laughing, and he was on the floor.


‘Kellin! Hurry up!’ Vic called. ‘Jack’s here!’

Almost instantly I jumped up off my bed and ran downstairs. I was either extremely excited or nervous. I’d been ready for an hour and had passed the time sitting on my bed, staring out the window tapping my foot.

As I got downstairs, I saw Vic standing there waiting for me. I saw he was wearing jeans and a plain button up shirt, and my nervousness decreased slightly – I was wearing something similar, and had been worried it was too formal. I breathed a sigh of relief.

‘Come on, let’s go,’ he said impatiently.

Going outside, we saw that Jack’s dad did indeed have a giant van, and Jack, Justin, Gabe and Jesse were all inside it.

‘Hey, dude, take your time! We’re not in a rush or anything!’ Jesse called out of the window. I grinned and got in the back with Vic.

A half hour later, we were outside one of the biggest houses I’d ever seen. It was on the outskirts of town, and it was Danny Worsnop’s. His parents were apparently loaded, because it looked like the huge garden was attended by a gardener, the property was on a cliff and overlooked a beach below it, and the house itself looked tall enough to be three storeys high.

As soon as we were inside, I could smell the alcohol. Vic was lost on the throng, and I was left with Jack and the others. From the few days I’d been at school with everyone, I was fairly sure Vic, Mike and Tony were really popular, and the guys I was with were somewhere in the middle-class in terms of coolness. Justin was suddenly attacked by a girl drunk off her face. She was calling him ‘baby’ and ‘Jus’, so I assumed the two were dating. Once they started trying to stick their tongues down each other’s throats, we left them to it. Gabe and Jesse went off to try to find some other people they knew, and Jack and I headed to the kitchen, where the alcohol was supposedly being kept.

‘Ah, yes; rum, the amazing liquid that changes me from slightly awkward and nerdy to incoherent and apparently hilarious and attractive. I have no idea why, but whenever I try to pick up a girl, it only works when I’m drunk,’ he joked. At least I was pretty sure he was joking. He poured a cup, and offered it to me. I declined, remembering the last time I got drunk and what happened afterwards. It had caused me to end up here, so I figured I’d leave it alone just this once. He shrugged, and took a mouthful. ‘Suit yourself. Hey, I have to go to the bathroom – can you watch my drink for a minute?’
‘You know, you will have more fun if you drink a little,’ a girl on the other side of the counter said. ‘Being around drunk people isn’t fun when you’re sober, trust me.’

‘I don’t really want to, thanks,’ I said, a little startled. ‘Last time I drank it didn’t really end well.’

‘Whatever. I haven’t seen you around town at all, where are you from?’ she asked.

‘I just moved here last week,’ I responded.

‘That would explain it. I’m Hanna; you?’


‘Well, Kellin, welcome to San Diego. The guys are stoners and most of the girls are sluts. Enjoy your stay,’ she joked.

I laughed a little; to be honest I was kind of uncomfortable. Jack reappeared out of nowhere.

‘Hey, thanks, man. Wait, who’s this?’

‘We just met,’ she broke in and smiled at me. He raised his eyebrows at me. I shook my head, trying to get across the message that I wasn’t interested without hurting her feelings. It wasn’t that she wasn’t pretty; she was, actually – strawberry blonde hair, waist length and wavy, green eyes, pale skin and a nose ring. I wasn’t sure why, but I just wasn’t interested. In fact, I hadn’t seen any girls that I’d thought were attractive. I guessed that the lack of clothing and drunkenness put me off most of them. Thankfully Jack seemed to get the message.

‘Well, Kellin, maybe you could introduce us,’ he said charmingly.

‘Jack, this is Hanna. Hanna, my best friend Jack.’ I decided to do my best to give him a shot with her, and to be honest, it was kind of the truth. He seemed to smile a little more. ‘I have a bit of a headache, I think I’m going to go outside.’

‘Are you okay, man?’ he asked, seemingly genuinely concerned.

‘Yeah, I’m fine. Just need some fresh air, you know?’ I dismissed his question. Plus I was feeling a little claustrophobic with all the people.

The backyard was, for some reason, empty. I found a spot against the wall and sat there staring at the moon. I guessed I wasn’t really the party type; I didn’t like alcohol that much, and girls throwing themselves at anyone who was male wasn’t my thing. I kind of liked just sitting there, the faint drum line of the music in my ears mixed with the crashing of the waves, and –

‘Hey,’ Vic mumbled in my ear. ‘I saw you come out here and thought I’d check up on you.’

‘I’m fine,’ I said quietly. ‘I think it should be me checking up on you, though. How much have you had to drink already?’ His breath stunk of beer.

‘A bit,’ he giggled. ‘Are you sure you’re okay?’

‘For now I am, I guess. I just felt a little cramped and awkward so I came out here to be alone for a bit.’

‘No one should be alone.’ I didn’t respond. It was sweet, really; that he thought to come check on me in his tipsy state.

‘Hey, Kellin, can I tell you anything?’ he asked suddenly.

‘Sure, I guess,’ I said.

‘And, like, you won’t tell anyone?’

‘Not if you don’t want me to.’

‘I think… I think I might be gay.’
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