The Sad Boys Club

"Sadness is a lifestyle choice rather than an emotion."
Righton keeps boys from ever seeing their Tattoos and from affecting the society the world has come to protect. Gat, the newest boy to the school, doesn't agree with it. But in a world that breeds sadness and sheltered humans, he's going to need all the help he can get.


1. Lifestyle Choices




Sadness is a lifestyle choice rather than an emotion. It's boys who wear jumpers with patches on the elbows and music swept hair and backstories that continue like that one familiar bucket underneath that always leaking ceiling tile. These boys have brittle lungs and book stained fingertips, brains living piece by piece rather than holistically. They are taught to have a toxic relationship with themselves before they can love anyone else, or have the chance to even think of loving someone so beautifully.

There is, therefore, such a thing as the Sad Boys Club.

And it simply wouldn’t be the Sad Boys Club if there aren’t any boys in it – that’s not being sexist or inclusive it’s just that Northern Righton Boarding School only has male students. It is the total opposite of Southern Righton Boarding School which only has female students.

The Sad Boys Club is named from five boys after they sat in a rainy dormitory and decided that after two solid weeks of not finding out about one another they would figure out who each of them is. Or rather one of them has the bravery to introduce themselves to the group as a whole.

The first is Gatwick Charles Lockhart. He rolls his shirt sleeves and grimaces as they catch on the bandage that is always secured to the inside of his elbow. He knows what rests there, but he knows that he cannot speak about it. He must forget it entirely.

“First off, who calls their only son Gatwick?” That is Charlie Manson, a boy with glasses but shocking blue hair styled to perfection. There are no bandages visible even when he wears shorts and a tank top. He is one of the lucky ones.

“Yeah, that is about the most London, posh name you can go,” Lucas Everhart grumbles from where he reclines on his bed. Gat knows from the bulge around Lucas’s sock where his bandages lie. His blonde hair is messy, unkempt despite the many standards that Lucas holds and his sleeves are nearly always rolled to the elbows.

“They must have been on drugs or something. Anyway, I much prefer Gat because it hides the middle-class gentleman lurking beneath.” He pushes off from near the window ledge and sits cross-legged near the trunk at the bottom of his bed; right in the middle of the room.

“You manage to hide it?” Peter Daglish chuckles before swearing as Andrew checkmates him again. The former boy is as classic indie you can go, the beanie always on his head despite his buzzcut. Gat wonders whether his tattoo is on his scalp and his hair just refuses to cover it and do him a favour. Andrew Reed shakes his head at him from across the board and leans back in quiet victory. He is the only other one that has an obvious Placement, a bandage wrapped around his hand and wrist like he has broken bones. At the moment he has his brown hair in a top knot to keep it off his face and Gat wishes that he could rock the style.

Gat had kept quiet about his name, the late comer in the room when another boy had Left. (The Headmaster never elaborates on what he means when he says ‘they Left’ or ‘they are another Leaver’ but Gat knows that they didn’t graduate. No one graduates from Righton, that simply wasn’t the point of Righton.) His name was a secret for days as he trudged from classroom to classroom, dragging the days into something more tolerable even when he learned about the other boys.

“Well, no I don’t, I definitely blame my parents for that one.”

“Ahh, they’re New Antis then,” Andrew says as he waves a hand for Peter to pack away the board. They have played five games and Peter has only won one. It is therefore decided he has to clean up their mess.

Gat nods numbly. His mother was fine with the tattoos until he turned eighteen, then she became radical and went to protests and typical Mom-Meetings. Maybe she was prompted by something Gat did but he doesn't like to think about it. Next thing he knew he was bundled up in the car at five in the morning on the way to the Boarding School. She had packed for him and kissed his forehead before signing the waivers to keep him there for eleven months of the year.

Righton is two huge mansions situated in the middle of nowhere, a bridge over a small creek connecting the two. One is for boarding and one is for education. The grounds sprawl off into the woods where other small buildings lay. Back then Gat thought them to be posh and over portentous. And since he actually walked the halls of both buildings his feelings had only heightened.

He demands his eyes not to look at his Tattoo – and it was always Tattoo, never Soul Marks like what they used to be called, and he gulps as he restrains himself. The flowers are there from birth and they depict what your soul is really like, the very essence of who you are.

He does not remember the last time he sat and stared at his tattoo, not since the Head Master secured the bandage around his arm and tailored it so it wouldn’t itch when he bent his arm.

“You’re looking sad there,” Andrew suggests as he looks up at Gat from his position spread out on the old floorboards. He is relaxed and uncomposed, riding the high of his latest chess win no doubt.

“Just reminiscing you know?” he replies, shaking out his bones to get into bed. It’s late and he had taken precious hours sucking up the courage just to say his name to these boys.

“That’s bad for you, you shouldn’t do that,” Lucas pipes in, getting underneath the covers. He looks tired, more tired than any of them, but Gat doesn’t want to ask.

Peter throws a stray chess piece at Andrew’s chest and they tussle for a few moments before Andrew gives up and taps at the floorboards. He’s not a fighter, far from it. Charlie tells them to settle down half-heartedly and they all go through their own night time routines.

When Gat looks in the mirror he sees his usual reflection; pale and skinny, dark eyes looking far too inward and his black hair too tousled for his liking. He gets that from his mother, her curls falling more on the frizzy side rather than the Hollywood spirals. But he is happier, his shoulders are more relaxed, he stands straighter and there’s the haunting of a grin on his lips.

It is only when Gat is in bed, the covers tucked up to his chin and his arm firmly stuck underneath the sheets, that he hears Charlie whisper something to him.

“Welcome to the Sad Boys Club, it’s what we call ourselves by the way.” He is to the left of Gat and he still feels far away.

“Thanks?” he whispers back, not knowing what to truly say.

“Being sad is attractive, it’s not all bad,” Peter says, and he can’t whisper, his whisper is just his normal volume. It's perhaps a good thing that he is at the back of the room, farthest away from the door.

“You fit right in,” Andrew whispers to him from his position to the right of Gat’s bed. But the words are comforting, and Gat relaxes into his pillow, his grip on the sheets loosening ever so slightly.

“Now just shut up and go to bed,” Lucas grumbles from near the door, but he doesn’t mean it – not really.

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