Neglected, abused, mistreated, and worn down, nine boys fight daily to stay sane in the harsh world that they lived. Fear, anger, pain, the only emotions they had each day, the worst part?
They were all alone in the world.
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Dongho's mother yelled for him to return, but he was already sliding the door shut with a sound 'swack'. It wasn't that he hated his mother, he just hated what she did. He also hated that there was seemingly nothing he could do to stop her, and what he did manage to do...it wasn't ever enough. No matter what he did, his paycheck at work, the 'tips' that he received, it couldn't help their situation. He couldn't stay at his house when she would have another man over to use for and money. He couldn't listen to their noises and be okay with it. No. It was too much and no amount of music could drown it out. Especially not in their one bedroom apartment with paper walls and a broken heater. Dongho made his way through the alley, meeting with the dimly lit road, there was nothing he could do this late at night. He kicked a stray rock on the sidewalk, hearing the light 'pat tap plunk' in time with his thundering pulse. He was angry at himself, because it was his fault his mother was forced into that situation. If only he had never been born...He breathed out heavily, staring up at the sky, trying to pick out the star formations he once learned about. But, it was no use, he had forgotten. Just like he had forgotten how it felt to not feel so scared, lonely, and useless.
Kevin gave a satisfied smirk as he looked down at the swirling liquid. Another binge, another toilet bowl session. Now, he was going to be thin. Soon. Not soon enough, Kevin frowned, not soon enough to satisfy mother. Kevin bent down again, knowing he could force more up. His knuckled stung as they scraped against his teeth. Beauty is pain, he chanted in his head. Just a couple more weeks, and mother will be happy...just a couple more weeks and I can stop. Kevin brushed his teeth, and his chin length blonde hair, thinking that maybe if he appeared put together, he would feel like it, too. He sighed, puffing out his smooth cheeks. Thin fingers grasped the edge of the sink, and he stared at his reflection hard. It was so ugly, too chubby...too oily, too pale. Nothing he saw in the mirror satisfied him enough. He would need to fix all of this, too, if he was ever going to be good enough for his mother. He needed to become perfect, like his sister, like the second daughter his mother had always wanted.
Another fist boxed the side of Eli's head, and a foot connected with his ribs, he curled in a ball, wishing the torment to end. He could feel blood gush from his pounding split lip, and taste the metallic saltiness of his blood mixing with sweat and tears. Why did they beat him up? He never did anything to them to make them hate him so much. Miraculously, the sharp kicks and punches ended, leaving Eli with the dull ache of the forming bruises. No doubt there would be many of them. Apparently, they were done with their jeering and abuse for the day. Eli stood up slowly to make sure nothing was broken and limped home. He lived alone, eating ramen noodles every night by way of supper, his only meal. The rest of the money he earned at his minimum wage job was taken to his neighbor, to purchase for him what he could not legally buy for himself. The only solace he found was the cheap alcohol he managed to get to take the pain away. Eli winced as the liquid stung going down, though it felt so good in spite of that. The edges of his vision blurred as he poured more of the poisonous fluid down his throat, the memory of his day fading into numbness.
Coming home from class, Soohyun saw his mother passed out drunk on the couch. He smiled in contentment, though this was a near daily occurrence in his home since he started primary school after his father died. He smiled because of what he needed to do. It wasn't a want anymore, the need thrummed through his body, and he could barely get through school anymore before he needed another dose. He shut himself up in his room, digging in his closet under the mounds of dirty clothes for his box. His box of goodies, his only release. Soohyun had long since become immune to the feel of the needle pricking his skin, or even the sensation of it pushing itself deeper inside. The drug, however, still had the same effect, it took a moment to incorporate into his system, but when it did... Soohyun was in heaven. A reality so much different, so much better, than the one he normally faced. If he could, Soohyun would permanently substitute this strung out reality with his sober reality. There were too many feelings of loneliness and worthlessness in his regular one, it wasn't what he wanted. He wanted this one, where his heart raced, and he felt prickly all over. In a good way.
Kiseop felt the cold metal kiss of the blade and sighed in relief as he dragged the blade across his skin. It was strange how the weight on his chest eased as the blood flowed out of the wound and down his skin, leaving dark red streaks. He once read somewhere that cutting released some kind of mood lifting hormone, endorphins, he recalled. He didn't know if it was exactly true, but the action always did put him in a better mood. He watched, mesmerized as the blood continued to flow. It was beautiful, the color, how it flowed over the previous cuts and scars, and the way it pooled in his palm. Eventually, he pressed a wad of toilet paper to it long enough to stop the bleeding. He sat on the toilet seat cover a moment longer, willing the feeling of being lightheaded to disappear. He cut too deep again... but, after a day like the one he had, he figured he should do something nice for himself. He sighed, walking through his empty house once more, hoping for something to change. Why would it? It never did at school, with his parents, or anywhere else. He was always overlooked, mistreated, and ignored. Kiseop felt like he might as well be a ghost for as much as people saw him. Or invisible, because sometimes, rarely, people could see ghosts, and he wasn't looked at even that much to be considered one. In fact, it was probably an insult to ghost kind everywhere to compare himself to one.
Alexander took another drag from his cigarette, leaning against the headboard. The cold wood felt nice on his heated skin. He pulled the cigarette past his lips, and looked down at the girl next to him. He couldn't remember her name, and really what was the point? He would never see her again after this moment. He gently slid out of her bed and got dressed quietly before exiting her room. Before leaving her house entirely, he took a beer from her fridge to drink on his walk back to his own house. Did he feel bad for the girl? No, because this was a common occurrence and he had long since lost the ability to care, or feel any other emotion besides lust. Inside, he was just a big, empty, dark, nothing. His soul was as black as the shadows made from his retreating form and his heart was as cold as the bed sheets he left. He was okay living like this, because he was never the one who was hurt, he never gave anyone the chance, not anymore...He tossed the can away after his last swig and chuckled. Hello, beautiful, he said to himself as he approached a lonesome girl outside an all night club.
AJ lit his cigarette, tossing the match to the wet ground. He needed to get to the store to buy another lighter, but his next appointment was late. He hunched his shoulders against the cold wind blowing through the alley. From the street, the only visible thing about his form was the orange tip of the smoke he held between his lips. This was a good thing, because no one would approach but his next customer. He tapped his foot and took his hands from the pocket of his coat just long enough to check the time. Five more minutes, and he was leaving. Even if he would miss the money from the sale, he couldn't wait out here forever. He had other business to attend to, more pressing and reliable matters. Soohyun better have a good excuse for this, he seethed as he turned to the back of the alley, not going to walk on the main road since it was already past curfew. He walked a good five minutes, finishing off his cigarette and tossing into a puddle as he passed it. His next customer was a short, shaky woman with a red nose. It might be a cold, or a result of the she snorted daily. AJ counted the money quickly before handing over her package, satisfied with the amount tendered. She ripped it open to test it quickly, she thanked him vehemently and went on her way. AJ snorted, poor fools, he thought as he lit up another cigarette.
Hoonmin tossed the empty can of spray paint aside, smirking at his masterpiece. His chest swelled with pride as he examined his creation more closely. He was getting better at doing this quickly, as he didn't want to get caught by the police. They had started cracking down on tagging ever since he started a few months previous, before that, he only did petty vandalism, like toilet papering city buildings, and busting up old abandoned buildings. He had to work out his frustration somehow, since no one else seemed to listen. His parents were too concerned with their jobs to listen to everything that was giving him troubles, and he didn't have many friends at school to vent to, and the few he did have, he didn't feel comfortable sharing his troubles with. They were friends he went out during the nights with, and that was it. Hoon's friends called for him quietly, using the safe word they had to announce a police car. Hoon quickly hid in the thick of the hedges surrounding the building, waiting with bated breath for the headlights to keep going down the street. As soon as the car turned the corner, Hoon straightened and joined his friends, continuing to wreak more havoc on the city's property.
Kibum winced as a woman dressed in fancy business clothes bumped into him on the busy street, her rushed apology didn't suffice, for the bruised and most likely cracked rib Kibum had still stung from the impact. He mumbled an 'it's nothing' before continuing. He had nowhere to go, but he didn't want to hold the lady up from whatever business matter she was to attend to in such a hurry. If he went home now, he would only get beat again for disobeying his parents' orders. His stomach roared ravenously, reminding him it had been almost a full day since he had eaten last. The sweet smell of the baking district flooded his nostrils, and he cursed himself for instinctively walking down this way. Moments later, he passed and unattended bread cart. He looked around quickly, no one was paying any attention to him, of course, and why would they? He lifted a roll off of the cart and stuffed his cold hands into his pockets, walking quickly away and into a deserted alleyway. He scarfed down the roll, the meager portion of stolen bread not in the least bit enough to quiet his hunger. He frowned, knowing that no matter how much he prayed, unless he stole more, that was all he was going to get. Probably for another day or two.
Shin Haseweok stacked his papers neatly on his desk, trying to decide if he should organize his work even more before clocking out and going back home. This school, he sighed, pressing his index fingers to his temples, there were so many kids in here seeking help from him. Too many kids these days had too much to deal with, he opened his eyes and dropped his hands to his side, sinking down in the chair. It was almost too much for one man to manage by himself, but he did it. And, for every student that came to him, he knew there were at least four more who hid their troubles from him. All he wanted, all he cared about, was the safety and security of the teens going to this school. It was the reason he became a school psychologist, because he wanted to help and support them. He hadn't had the easiest of childhoods, and times, it seemed, were only getting worse and rougher for each passing generation. He couldn't imagine the expanse of emotional and physical pain these kids were going through on a daily basis. It distressed him to know some were facing it all virtually alone....