What If...? Zell was never adopted?

By Malice Shaw

My head hurts. My face burns. I feel sore all over. Oh gee what could it be?

Out partying again. Smart Zell, real smart.

Not like you're anything or anyone's problem for that matter. Sure, you can sit here and wonder how the hell you became like this, but you know the true answer for that piece of shit conflict: you're a nobody. A loser. The last damned kid at the orphanage to leave. Not because anyone loves you and decided to adopt you. But because at age twelve, you were a five foot nothing, a hundred pound nothing, scrap of leftovers that your parents didn't give a shit enough about to keep.

Laying in this bed, I look to my side and see yet another example of my stinkin' beer banging. Bottles lined up next to one another, labels peeled and shoved down to the spitty bottom, along with a few packs worth of cigarettes that you smoked on up. Next to those are car keys. Oh now I remember, I went out driving. I got a free weekend off from my job as a secretary clerk at the local factory in Dollet. A tidy job barely able to tide me over until I pay the rent on this charming infested rat hole with hot and cold running cockroaches. All I have to do is keep up a pretty face, smile at the customers, and get them to buy stock in the company. But take it from me man, the place ain't worth shit. It's got more bugs and shit running around in it then my one bedroom apartment that I try to keep alive and upbeat looking enough to keep any social workers from telling me I have to go to some Hyne forsaken foster home.

I left my last home three years ago. The Orphanage I mean. When I realized I was actually there just to keep myself busy and my mind off the truth, I went crazy inside. I mean, well look at the facts, jack. I was thirteen. I was a nothing. No one wanted Zell. Tch, I can't believe I got so jealous when those other kids got adopted. Well, only three did in fact. Four if you include Sis, but I don't really. I mean, Sis was cool and all, but she was pretty much one of those people who annoy you to no end with her eternal goodness. It was gross.

So, yeah, I was an orphan. So, yeah, no one loved me enough to adopt me. The name's Zell. Zell Dincht. It ain't my real last name, that information was lost a long time ago. I just saw it in the paper obituaries and smiled, liking the sound of it. So I made it my last name. Just gotta keep myself outta Balamb, where the REAL Dincht's live. Wouldn't it be nice to explain to them that I stole their last name from the dead people's page of the paper? Sure. Like they would want a scrawny orphan like me to hold their great name. And it is a great name. Don't argue with me on that.

The orphanage is as clear as day to me. Sometimes I wanna catch a plane over there and give them a visit. See what new kids had parents who were too young and too stupid to take care of them. Also the select few who were TRUE orphans, the ones with no family left in the world. The ones like me. There were a few of those at that rickety stone house, beside me. Most of them were pretty damned cool too.

I can remember Squall clearly. He was what I called the lone wolf of the pack. Always wanting to be alone, always gave us the silent treatment. It wasn't until Sis came by did he actually open up. But only to her, not me or the others. Sometimes I'd catch them late at night talking to one another secretly. Found out later that they had a secret code as well. Could never decipher it. It became more and more complicated as time went by. He had real dark hair and bright eyes, and sometimes I thought he was way more weird then I figured at first. But he never bothered anyone, so I didn't give a fuck. When Sis, or Ellone as her real name tells, was taken from the stone house, Squall clammed up again. He resisted us all, even bossy little Quisty.

Now THERE was a girl who was nuts! Quistis, I mean. Man she was a bitch! Even at that young age, she deemed herself the mommy of everyone after Sis left. But mostly only to Squall, and sometimes Seifer. She was only about two years older then I was, so it kinda pissed me off when she thought she could tell me, us, what to do. She was a cutie, I have to admit, with golden hair and dark blue eyes. But her attitude and her constant bickering about keeping our rooms clean, be on time, don't do that, don't do this, and chew your damned food twenty three times sucked all the beauty out of her. I think, if I ever saw her again, I'd laugh and point out wrinkles she'd collect over the years. Of course, she'd have quite few by now, always frowning and giving me a dirty look when I misplaced her deck of triple triad cards. Whiny pain in the butt pinched me once too. The Matron sent her to bed early for a week when I came to her, clinging to her skirts, and cried.

Another person I grew up with was Selphie. Hyne what an annoying sprite! I mean, geezus, how the hell can one even understand her? Every minute she was changing her feelings, her thoughts, her sides, the works, and she became so complicated I never actually got under her skin. That's a word that could describe her perfectly. Complex. She could be all scared of a tiny spider one moment, calling out for her knight in shining armor Irvine to squish it, but then be running out to the beach at high tide, buck naked, to jump into the ocean and not feel like she'd ever be taken away by the waves. And damned, she was TINY! Half the size of the rest of us, but with more spunk and fire to kill all of us if she ever caught a spark. That's why I secretly call her a sprite. She even had hair and eyes like one. Honey brown hair flipped up at the ends and glittering green eyes, always full of mischief and delight. I remember crying to the Matron when she pushed me into the water, and she had to sit in the corner for three full hours. Afterwards, those eyes held nothing but pissed off contempt when they looked at me.

I mentioned her knight in shining armor right? Irvine was that guy's name. Whatta cretin he was. Dude, he would hit on anything that moved! Yet he always stuck by Selphie like a rock to dirt, never moving, and she'd love it always. He was a reasonably big kid, tallest outta us all. But I guess he just liked his women short and his hair long since he constantly whined whenever the Matron wanted to cut his hair. He had great hair, I'll give him that, and a damned nice color. Most thing that scared me outta that loud mouth was his obsession with guns. He loved 'em, and always begged for a toy gun at Christmas or on his birthday. He had one massive collection under his belt and yet would never let any of us play with them. So I would whine to the Matron of the orphanage and get to play with his guns for an hour and he would be chided for not sharing.

And next, there's Seifer. That son of a bitch, he was cruel to us all. He was a lot like Squall, in a way, but if you ever told him that you'd get a black eye for sure. I know this from personal experience. Always calling us names, always calling me a cry baby, my blood still boils just thinking about it. Cwy baby Zell, he would always say. That little tormenting clause started when I caught them all on the beach lighting fire works after bed time. Soon he had almost everyone calling me that. No one dared tease him about the lisp he had, even though he'd find the faults in all of us and tease us about it. Most of the time he liked to be the leader, and have Quistis at his side. They went good together, since she was the one he almost never teased, probably because they were about the same age. With his pale blond hair and green eyes, he seemed like an angel whenever the Matron was around, so calm and quiet. But Hyne help us all when she left the room and we were trapped with him. It's been a long time since I've seen him, or heard about him. But I still gotta say that if I ever see him again it'll be too fucking soon. I just might punch his damned lights out.

Heh, I notice now that if I think about it, maybe I was a cry baby and a tattle tale.

Doesn't matter anymore. Not like I'd ever see them again.

Right now, I'm going on sixteen but I feel like I'm sixty three. Past few years of my life were spent on the streets. Looking for a job and begging for hand outs. When I made the mistake of asking a social worker for some cash to feed myself, she took me under her wing and tried to get me to go back to the orphanage. Instead, I started screaming at her and kicking up a ruckus until she just nodded and let me alone, giving me a few months to get my ass in shape and get a job, and a place to stay as well. By some odd miracle of life I pulled it off, and here I am now. A clerk at a factory hat builds half the world's supply of boxes, making a little more then no money. But surprisingly enough, I'm keeping myself in shape. At least I still have my looks. I can pass for twenty one, and my friend at the bar barely cards me. Only when he's got his boss watching his ass. If that's the case, he'll just give me the bird and make a show about how he doesn't serve drinks to minors, and then point me down the hall to the convenience store clerks who don't know how to card and they'll sell to me. I think I supported them with my drinking habit during their tough years.

So here I am again. My face still hurts, my body's a mess, and I don't have work until tomorrow. Turning to my side, I see Elize, my fuck of the night at my side. Oh yeah, now I remember, bringing her home and having raunchy sex until midnight before we both passed out. Might as well head to the bathroom and see why my face is burning. With luck she'll wake up and leave. With out luck, well, I guess since I do feel like puking I'll stay in the bathroom until she does leave. After sex conversation is no good, especially with the loosest whore around who probably gave me an STD or something.

Standing up, I groan low enough not to wake her, and pull on my boxer shorts slowly, as I can feel the butterflies, wasps, and mosquitoes in my stomach start eating at the lining. As I do that, I tilt my head and feel something totally unusual on my shoulder, and notice I have a huge bandage on my face. Fuck, just what did I do last night? I can barely remember anything. How much did I fucking drink anyways? I know for a fact that the three bottles lined up on my bedside table ain't all I drank. Swearing to myself when I tripped over a chair, I hustled my sorry ass to the toilet and let whatever I ate out then and there. Almost missed that time. Gotta be careful Zell. Leaning back, I let the last bits of nausea drift away, letting my head clear up. Not like I hadn't been in this position before.

Lifting a hand to my face, I pulled off the bandage and looked at the contents inside, and notice it was coated with clear liquid and very little blood. Why would I have such a big bandage if it wasn't something that serious? Lifting myself to my feet, I leaned on the sink and spat into it, turning the water on and watched the saliva drizzle down the drain. My vision was clearing up. I wasn't in some sort of box like movie anymore. Closing my eyes, I'm almost scared to look in the mirror, but convince myself that hey, there wasn't much blood so the scar can't be that big. Besides, all I gotta do for work is just keep a pretty face.

Opening my lids, my eyes widened in horror and I screamed at the criss-crossing lightening that adorned me.

Oh my fucking Hyne....

What the Hell have I done to my face?!


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