Author’s Note: Break These Chains will contain mature themes and scenes within it. I will not have bad language, or explicit content–but it will be rather dark. Will contain manipulation, addiction (though no drugs), abuse, intense emotion, and mention of rape. If you have problems with these, don’t say I didn’t warn you. If you don’t want to read it here is a summary.
It was quiet at the beach, the sound of the waves soothing my frazzled nerves. It was the night of a costume dance of my school, and I hadn’t wanted to go. But Cesario, like always, begged me to take someone his date knew. A sister. A cousin. A best friend. This time it was a cousin, and the dance had been a total disaster, worse than I expected.
I had tried to get out of dancing and then when she finally did convince me, I wound up knocking her over and giving her a bruise on her arm. When I tried to apologize, she backed away from me and into someone holding food which spilled all over the back of her dress. She slapped me and took off with her cousin, which resulted in Zari getting ticked off. I just left early, not wanting to deal with his temper.
But I didn’t want to go home either, so here I was. Getting sand on my stupid costume, brooding over the events of the stupid night. I won’t ever let him talk me into this again, I decided. No more cousins, or sisters, or whatever. My eyes closed and I stretched out, enjoying the cool evening air.
I sat up, giving a yelp at the voice from no where. I glanced over my shoulder and saw a boy standing a few feet away from me, his arms folded, his face unknown to me due to the mask over his upper face.
“Sorry,” he chuckled. “I didn’t mean to scare you. Mind if I join you?”
“I–I don’t care.” I wrapped my arms around my knees, feeling uncomfortable as he sat next to me. “Um, I’m–“
“Panthera tigris tigris,” he cut in quickly with a smile. “I know.”
I was confused for a split second but then laughed, realizing he meant my costume. “Yeah. And you are…?”
“I dunno.” He settles his hands on his knees, face towards the sky. “A masked stranger, I suppose. You okay? I saw you take off like a bat out of hell. Or a tiger out of hell, whichever you prefer.”
“I–had a bad evening,” I mumbled. “People and me don’t seem to mix well.”
“Me either,” he admitted with a half-shrug. “You know, sometimes I think things would be better if we just wore masks all the time. Anonymous, always. Nobody knows who you are.” He turned his head and smirked. “Nobody knowing who you are if you fall, or slip up. It’d be nice.”
I raised my eyebrows, surprised by this. “Yeah but if you were anonymous always, you’d never be able to…” I trailed off and shifted a bit. “It’d make relationships a wee bit difficult.”
“Relationships?” he asked with a laugh. “I thought you and people didn’t mix. Wouldn’t it be easier if no one knew you, ever? Wouldn’t it be easier to deal with masks instead of people?”
“I… guess, sometimes,” I said. “But wouldn’t people remember you by your mask?”
He leaned in close, his breath on my ear. “Not if you changed your mask,” he whispered in a low voice. Then he pulled away, laughing heartily. “I guess I’m worse with people than you, but I agree. It’d be hard to have a relationship. Unless you found someone you truly trusted. Course, things can go wrong even in relationships like that.”
I was silent, not really sure how to answer him. I felt like I was falling for some reason, the way he talked–it was so strange, yet compelling. Then I jumped, as his hand brushed against mine.
“I’m making you nervous,” he accused. “Should I stop talking?”
“N-no,” I stammered. “I mean, if you want to you can. I…”
“So do you have a relationship, Mr. Tiger?” His change of subject was like a door I was leaning against suddenly being pulled open. “A girlfriend?”
“No, not a girlfriend,” I said. “Not,” I added quickly, “that it’s any of your business.”
“I think… sometimes… finding someone anonymously, behind a mask, would be wonderful. Then they wouldn’t judge you on your looks, but your personality.” His fingers brushed against my hand again. “Who a person truly is matters more than anything else. Do you agree? Mr. Tiger?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“I find you interesting,” he said, turning so he could look at me from behind his mask. “Do you find me interesting?”
I stared at him, my heart racing. “You are mysterious,” I said.
“Mysterious is good.” He reached up, pushing some of my hair back and suddenly I realized I was not in familiar territory anymore. My palms got sweaty and my heart disappeared completely. “Tell me, Mr. Tiger, have you ever been kissed?”
“I… I…” Words failed me and my hand twitched away from his. “Excuse me.” I quickly got to my feet, and he got to his, a hand on my arm.
“Now I am making you very nervous,” he said, though not in a joking manner. “Forgive me. But I am intrigued by you. Always alone, or tagging behind his younger brother…”
His fingers brushed my cheek but I couldn’t move. “You–you were spying on me!” I snapped halfheartedly.
His lips twisted, smiling. “I noticed you,” he corrected me. “Can you blame me?”
“I’m not gay,” I said flatly, deciding to end this now.
“Are you not? How do you know if you don’t have a girlfriend?”
“J-just because I don’t have one now doesn’t mean…” I stopped and felt my face getting hot. “I… don’t… Please, don’t.”
“Don’t what?” he asked, tilting his head. “Do this?”
And his lips were against mine before I could stop him. I raised my hands to push him away but found myself in a tight embrace I couldn’t get out of… a embrace part of me didn’t want to get out of. But then his lips were gone and all I saw were glittering eyes behind the mask.
“Did you like that? I can tell you did, so don’t lie,” he whispered. “If you really didn’t like it, you’d have run off by now. I think, Mr. Tiger, you liked this a lot more than you let on.”
I couldn’t answer him because he was right. I didn’t know why he was right, but he was–and when he kissed me again, I didn’t bother stopping him. I hadn’t been kissed before, I’ve done nothing like this before. But I liked it, at least right now I did. Was it the setting? The night sky over the ocean, us in the sand. Was it his words? The way he spoke?
Or was it more? It had to be more, because I kissed him back, wanting this more than I wanted anything else. And he sensed this, so we stayed this way for a long time. Locked in an embrace, needing this human contact like a lifeline. And I wanted more–but knew it’d be a mistake. So did he. When we said our goodbyes, hours later, he gave me a very gentle kiss and asked me to wait for him.
I replied yes, without hesitation. Even when he told me he didn’t go to my school, I still agreed. I promised I’d wait for him, and it wasn’t until he was gone that I realized I had no idea who he was.
The rest of the night was a bit of a daze, and I got into so much trouble with my parents for staying out after curfew. I didn’t care. I felt so different now. Lighter. Free. Even if he was out of my life forever, those hours with him changed my life for good.
And in the morning, my parents told me there was an envelope for me. No return address, nothing but my name. Inside was a folded piece of paper with the words ‘I always keep my promises’ written on it.
I knew I’d one day see him again.