He was not Ravenna. And therefore, his attempts at hiding his worries weren't nearly as effortless.
However, he prided himself in being the opposite of her. Because he knew for a fact that Ravenna wouldn't give a shit if Griffin was bloodied and broken.
Winston held out his hand, "Come. Just sit down."
Griffin paced around the bedroom, shifting his gaze at Winston's hand, before turning away, a sigh escaping from his lips, one he clearly tried to conceal, "Thanks for coming, pal. I didn't think you would."
"Griffin," he muttered softly, "I'm not Ravenna." Code translation: 'I'm actually a real friend.'
Griff's face tightened slightly, a fleeting expression that disappeared the moment Winston blinked. He lowered his head, walking, turning, pacing around like a lost puppy with no sense of direction. He ran his fingers through his auburn hair and gripped it for a moment. His hands went to cover his face, muffling his voice, "I don't know what I'm doing anymore."
Winston tilted his head, "I don't under--what do you mean?"
"I don't know, I just-- I'm a fucking mess, dude," Griffin finally stopped in his tracks, and gripped the edge of the table, as if it were the only stable foundation he had in his life.
"Griff, just sit down. Talk to me."
What the hell was going on? Winston felt a pang of unease at the strangeness of this scene. Griffin fucking Stewart, pretty much the happiest kid alive, famed for his easy-going grin and natural charm, cursing for the first time in a million years. And something even more strange: he wasn't smiling. Now that he thought about it, Griffin hadn't grinned in days. Well, sure. Maybe a few smiles here and there, but they weren't genuine. His eyes didn't twinkle, his body didn't reflect the same joy on his lips as they usually did.
Of all the years Winston had known him, a simple, neutral expression coming from Griffin meant something was wrong. The last time he saw him like that was when his father got into a car accident that resulted in a coma. Winston couldn't forget that day two years ago, when Griffin had sat on the bleachers, not attending a single class, staring straight into the distance for hours on end, ignoring the staff, the teachers, the worried expressions of everyone around him. His facial expression had been neutral, not sad, not angry. Just emotionless. Like a dead doll. That was the exact same face he was wearing now.
Something ached within Winston's chest, so he reached his hand out to Griffin again, who stared at it with glossy eyes, reminding him sorely of a hopeless puppy. "Finny... Talk to me."
Griffin's bottom lip trembled for a brief second, so fleeting that he was uncertain if it was real or just his imagination. "... I'm fine," his voice came out soft like a whisper.
Winston couldn't help but laugh, "Man, that's the biggest lie you've ever told. And you were always a great actor."
With empty eyes, Griffin stared at him for a while longer, making his heart drop. There was just something about Griffin Stewart and his emotions that were just so contagious; his joy, his charm, his laughter. People felt him on a personal level, which was why they all loved him. When Griffin laughed, people chuckled with him. When he smiled, they had the urge to grin back. It was a natural, visceral instinct. So when Griffin went into any emotional state that wasn't pure joy, Winston felt it too and it ached him from the inside out.
"Finny, please. Just sit down with me."
Griffin forced a smile on his lips, but it only made his eyes glossier, "You know, you haven't called me that since...you know, when my dad..." He trailed off, not completing the sentence.
YOU ARE READING
The Red Ribbon: The PrequelTeen Fiction
[Prequel to "The Screams of Silence", COMING SOON] [COMPLETED] It's the beginning of a new school year as elite junior Ravenna Griselda continues her reign of terror over the student body after the infamously traumatizing events of sophomore year. T...