heart“You wear your heart on your sleeve,” was the mantra he heard day and night. The words were whispered against his ear, shouted from the roof, scratched into his skin by the people who were supposed to love him.

“Weak,” the insult is spat his way after he once again let tears slip out of his deep, hot eyes.

“Control yourself,” he whispered, pulling the blanket over his chest and turning on to his side.

His phone started singing promptly at three am that night. He slapped the ‘off’ button and pushed the blanket to the floor, exposing his sweating legs to the cool, sharp air. He tugs on his dirty pair of jeans and a large sweatshirt before fishing the worn bag out from under his bed.

The window was already locked open, something he had done the day before to lessen the amount of noise tonight. He carefully pushes it up and night air circles his skin singing praises of the evening’s promises.

He smirks and jumps out of the window, letting it slide shut behind him.

The car is waiting for him down the street and he jumps in, dropping the bag on the ground as he pulls the door shut behind him.

“Hey, loser,” Liz greets, affectionately hitting his shoulder.

“Yo, Liz,” he pats her hand before she places it back on the steering wheel and peels off.

They drive with the windows rolled down and no music playing. Liz taps the wheel in a rhythmic manner and he can’t quite tell what song she is singing in her head.

Instead of asking, he focuses on nature’s playlist. The rush of the wind, the shriek of cars, the melodies of nocturnal animals and bugs. He smiles and lets his eyes slide close, falling into the smooth playlist of the world around him.

They stop under a bridge at the back of town. He grabs the bag and follows Liz to the top, where three other teenagers are already painting on their works in progresses.

He digs out a deep red color and a shiny silver and returns to his piece.

It’s six am before Liz says it’s time to leave.

He nods towards his final product and Liz throws her arm around his shoulders.

“I like it, bro,” Liz says, glancing over the large anatomically correct heart surrounded by wires and flowers. “Wearing your heart on your sleeve.”

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