Maybe I’m just naive or I just try to see the good in people too much,
but you had me fooled
As the rain falls on the coffee house windows,I sip my latte and look into those eyes.Those eyes that remind me daily of how lucky I am to have you.Those eyes with flecks of gray surrounded by a sea of blue.The one ocean I’m not afraid of.When I look into those eyes I feel safe. I feel whole. I feel like my life isn’t caving in.When the world outside threatens to tear me down, tear us apart, tear down the walls I put up. It’s your eyes I see.It’s your fingers that intertwine with mine, steading my shaking hand.It’s you.We sit silently sipping on our drinks, me with my soy honey latte and you with your black coffee, no milk or sugar please.If our drinks were our personalities would that make you dark and bitter and me an irregular sugary conncotion?If that was the case I think we’d need to switch drinks.I’m brooding and jaded, the bitterness of your black coffee runs through me.And you’re light and foamy, the sweetness of my latte coursing through your viens.The silence between us drowned out by the indie playlist soothing the other patrons.I don’t notice the furitive glances you give those around us.Though your eyes stray, mine only see your blue.I stare into them as your hand grasps mine, and a domino effect leads us to the door.We exit the coffee house, and the rain falls on our heads.Getting trapped in our eyelashes.Now your ocean eyes are surrounded by the water of the sky. They slowly fill with tears as you try to explain to me the storm that is coming.And though you’re my safety net when I’m jumping into the unknown, you rip the net from under me.Your fingers release mine and my shaking hand wipes a tear from the pools of blue I’m staring into. Your eyes are cold. Your eyes look away.Those eyes are no longer a safe zone. The once steady sea of blue is now turbulent and clouded with anger, like the ocean you’re putting between us.Those walls I took down for you are being built back up. Higher than ever in order to protect the fragile interior that you’re leaving behind.And as the rain falls on the coffee house windows, and splatters the ground below my feet.The sky isn’t the only thing that’s crying.*This is a revision of Eyes
Lately everything someone does has been driving me bonkers.
I feel bad since they’re one of my closest friends. But it’s like they have this constant need to be the center of attention at all time. And everything turns into a competition especially with our guy friends. It’s like she needs to better friends with all of them. Like I understand you need the attention, but if I’m sort of talking to someone can you not try and flirt with them 24/7?
But worst of all I feel like every conversation with her turns into a monologue. Last night we were talking and she was on a rant about something and I since I wasn’t really paying attention I just would occasionally say “yeah/uh-huh/why?” and she carried on for like 30 minutes without realizing I wasnt paying attention. And then if I do try to have a conversation she’ll half listen then change the subject.
Okay. I think I can be done being a bitch now.
One day I hope you wake and think of me as something more than a little sister.
I want to be the one you tell all your friends about.
The girl whose frown your try so hard to turn upside down.
We’ve got a strange connection. But it’s left as friendship.
And while one day I don’t want to be the little sister, I’d rather stay silent then end up missing you.
Friends first. Maybe friends forever. But never more.
And it’s not one of those 5 second calls telling me you’ve arrived at my house and are waiting in the car.
It’s not one of those “Hey can you cover my shift” “yeah of course” phone calls either.
Nor is it one of those phone call you have with your parents, where you try to make it end quickly. “Yes…uh huh….yeah okay… Okay Mom…I love you. bye”
It’s a long distance phone call and it’s going to raise your cell phone bill.
But this phone call will change your life.
It will introduce you to things you never knew existed.
It will be long, and often uncomfortable at times. It will even make you cry at some point.
But it will also make you intensely happy and aware of who you are and everything you want to become.
It’s going to be a phone call with up and downs, and some “woah that came out no where”.
But it’s going to change you for the better.
So if London’s calling.
Are you going to answer?
I wrote this for my detective fiction class. Not sure if I think it’s good enough or not, but at this point I don’t care anymore.
My Brother’s Seeker
August comes too soon. It blends with June and July until the summer becomes a blur of wet cheeks, closed blinds, and unexpected sunrises. Despite the inevitable passing of time, my world is frozen. Another summer ends and with that I turn another year older, making no difference, since I lock myself in my room. Soon though it will be time to face the chimes of school bells, the bustle of backpacks, and worst of all, the furtive looks from all those that think they know.
They don’t know.
I don’t even know.
It’s been months, and there’s still no sign of him. Three months, 82 days, 19,444 hours, that’s how long my brother Malcolm has been missing. Yet no matter how it’s measured those 116,640 minutes have been full of unanswered questions and heartbreak. The police wrote him off, since he’s now 19 and graduated from high school, so he’s legally allowed to do whatever he pleases. Worse yet, my parents accept that he’s just a kid running away from a broken home and he’ll return eventually. I think they blame their divorce and the inevitable custody battle which ensued. The constant finger pointing and screaming at each other only makes this worse. I can’t accept that he would just leave home, leave life, leave me! He had plans. He wanted to be a lifeguard at the pool again this summer, working his way through all his female co-workers. He was signed up to go to the community college in the fall. He promised to help me pick out a car for my 18th birthday. Most importantly, he promised to always protect me and be there for me.
"No matter what," he’d say, "I got your back baby sis."
But he’s not here.
He vanished without a goodbye. And he hasn’t tried contacting me or anyone as far as I know. Trying to pretend it never happened doesn’t work; neither does acting like it’s okay. It’s not okay; it’s so far from okay. There’s this unimaginable emptiness inside me. I tried filling it with music, then movies, then blogging and reading, but the void remains. I even tried to fill it with social interaction, but every face I pass on the street is openly staring at me with an annoying appearance of empathy. Even my homes don’t feel welcoming anymore. Since his disappearance, I’ve been living solely at my Dad’s house since my mother’s home feels emptier than I do. When she isn’t hovering over my every move she’s pretending like his disappearance never happened. She’s gone so far as to take down all his photos from our childhood. His basketball trophies have been boxed up and taken to the garage, and all that’s left of his Prom King crown is an absence of dust on mantle where it used to be. It’s like she’s removed all traces of him from the house. She apparently never had a son. Each time I try to talk about him, she gets angry with me and stalks away in a huff. All reminders of him infuriate her and I can’t help but wonder if she’s the reason for his disappearance. It wouldn’t really surprise me though; Malcolm was always closer to her than dad, even if they were constantly fighting.
They had a weird love-hate relationship. She’s always bothering him about the girls he dates. She wants him to stop bouncing from one cheerleader to another, but he always refuses, saying that they’re all too vapid and shallow to spend more than a month with. I think her pushiness stems from her constant worries about keeping up with appearances. It’s as if she needs the entire town’s approval in order to be happy. She’s made it apparent that Malcolm’s playboy ways weren’t helping her Stepford wife dreams. I think that is what irks me about her — acting as though he didn’t exist. It’s like her wanting to forget him has to do with the town’s approval. Unlike my mother, the town’s approval of me doesn’t drive my every action. And it certainly doesn’t make me want to forget about Malcolm. I don’t want to forget him.
I want to be surrounded by his presence as much as possible. I want to remember the nights we’d stay up late playing Call of Duty, and how he’d let me win when I was having a rough day. I want to remember how he’d motivate me to do my schoolwork. That constant nagging he’d do to motivate me to get out of this town. I don’t want to pretend that he’s gone. I want to find and save every little bit of him that I possibly can; especially the memories those are freshest, and might help me figure out what happened. So I’ve asked countless times to see the photographs mother took of his graduation, but she refuses even if it’s the last time we saw him. He left from graduation for his class’ graduation party and never returned. It’s like he took his diploma and ran. I’ve tried asking my Dad why she’s being so ridiculous about shutting Malcolm out of our lives, but he just sighs and says,
”Ainsley, I stopped questioning your Mother a long time ago… She does what she wants and doesn’t really care how it affects those closest to her.”
Hearing the disdain in his voice is just a reminder of their messy divorce. Malcolm and I were in middle school when it happened. It’s what really brought us together. Malcolm transitioned from being an annoying older brother, always pulling my braids or making fun of how much I studied, to being the protective older brother I could look up too. He would drag me to the park with him when their fighting got bad. And he would stop the older girls from making fun of me in the halls. He would even let me hang out sometimes with him and his friends. He let me take a small step into his world of popularity and while I still am on the fringes of the “in-crowd” at school, his friends will acknowledge my presence on occasion.
As I lie in bed the night before school starts, I think about how returning to school tomorrow is going to be a chore. Not only will I be stuck taking four advanced placement courses on top of everything with Malcolm, but it’s also the first year without anyone to sit with during lunch. With his friends graduated, and Malcolm missing, I’ll be completely isolated. Not that I mind. Most of the girls at this school will end up married and pregnant by the time I graduate from college. Why try to associate myself with them?
I awake the next morning with a knot in my stomach. It’s going to be an incredibly long day. I mentally prepare for the questions, stares, and ignorance that awaits me as I cross the parking lot to the hellhole they call high school. Classes drag on, mundane and full of kids who have nothing better to do than stare at me and whisper behind my back. This will be the start of another enriching year, I’m sure. By lunch, I have a headache from the stress and anger building up inside me.
“Honestly Karen, how was I supposed to know he’d flip out like that and book it out of town? I thought he was just a player, but apparently he actually had a heart.”
Glancing over at the owner of that horrendously nasally voice, I realize that this is the last girl Malcolm was rumored to be dating. I think her name’s Kelly or Kelsey. She looks just like Malcolm’s type tall, blue eyes, and superficial. I wonder what she thinks she did that would make him leave town over her.
“Ohmygoddd. He’s totally heartbroken. I mean why wouldn’t he be? He walked in on you cheating on him.”
“Yeah. But it’s like he never wanted to, so I had to find it elsewhere. Ya know? Like I have needs and he just wasn’t fulfilling them.”
These two make me sick. Overhearing their ridiculous conversation irritates me to no end. I don’t think that this vapid cheerleader meant that much to him or he would’ve mentioned something during our late night talks. But what makes me wonder is what she said about him not wanting to have sex with her. Sex was something we never really discussed. It was a taboo subject considering the closeness in age, and how often I hung out with him and his friends. He didn’t want to know about my sex life, and I certainly didn’t want to know about his. I just always assumed that he was dating these girls because of the sex, and once he got over it he’d move on. I guess that wasn’t the case though. Despite having a plethora of sarcastic remarks I could direct at whatever-her-name-is, I decide to save them for another time, and try asking her about him. Preparing my ears for her nasally responses, I wander to over to their table.
“Hey, I’m Malcolm’s sister Ainsley. Can I ask you a few questions?”
“Ohhhhhh. Hiiiiiiii.” She replies, as I notice her exchange judgmental looks with her equally Barbie-esque friend. “I was just telling Karen here about how he ran out when he saw me and this other guy Chris having sex.”
“Fantastic” I quip “Could you tell me more about when you were dating Malcolm and then what happened that night. Just spare me the details of you and Chris.”
“Umm… Sure.” I can tell my bluntness is making her a little uncomfortable, but I could care less. I just want to hear about my brother.
“We were dating for like two months. He was always super sweet and gentlemanly. Definitely knows how to charm a girl. But he never really tried to move past that. So naturally I got fed up with it and had to go somewhere else. Like nothing against him, I just have needs. So when he walked in on me and Chris hooking up, he got angry and ran off.”
“When did this happen? Did he yell or do anything before he ran off?”
“Um…like the night before graduation. Didn’t yell at all. Just booked it out of the room. I think he saw it coming though. He was always texting someone when we were together. Then sometimes he’d get a text and leave without a reason.”
“Uh. Alright. You don’t know who he was texting though right?” I ask, hoping she isn’t as oblivious as she seems.
“No. I didn’t really care either. Are you done harassing me now?” Rolling my eyes as I walk away, I hear her tell her friend how different Malcolm and I are and how “that family obviously has issues.”
My lunchtime exchange ignites something within me. Until today I’ve been passively living with my brother’s disappearance, neither accepting nor really acknowledging that it’s happened. But her words sparked my determination. I will find out what happened to Malcolm. It’s the most important thing in my life right now.
That night I decide I have to face my mother’s home in hopes that she hasn’t cleaned out Malcolm’s room yet. Attempting to spare myself from her harassment, I sneak in same door Malcolm used to sneak out from. Luckily, she has decided that removing all traces of him from the rest of the house is enough and has left his room exactly how he left it those three months ago.
Walking into his room, I smell his cologne and see his backpack in the same place he left it on his last day of high school. His cell phone still sits on his bedside table. Dumping it out on his bed I find his yearbook and some random receipts, along with his class notebooks. Since both the police and my parent’s wrote him off as a runaway they never bothered checking his bank records or through his cell phone. As I scroll through his phone, I see a series of texting conversations.
“Bro. Basketball at the courts in twenty” Standard.
“Sounds good. See you then” His reply.
“Hey do you have the English notes?” Not unusual.
“Yeah man. I’ll email you them.” His reply.
“Hey baby, let’s meet up.” I assume that one is from his last lady accomplishment.
Nothing seems out of the ordinary except:
“We really need to talk. Meet me at the place.” From a no-named number.
“Why? What’s wrong? I’ll be there in 30.” This last exchange is dated and timed right after graduation. Figuring this must be the person he had been texting so much before his disappearance, I quickly call the number.
“We’re sorry, the number you dialed is no longer in service. Please hang up and…” I cut off the automated response in anger. The glimmer of hope I had felt only a few seconds earlier had dissipated. Who is this random number? Why did they need to talk? Did this unknown person take him away, or did he go with them willingly?
The questions whirl around in my head as I turn my attention to his yearbook in hopes of finding more information. Though none of the signatures stray from the conventional, “It was a amazing getting to know you.” “Don’t ever change.” “ Keep in touch!” that cover most yearbook pages. Clearly the students at my school don’t really want to keep in touch with my brother, since none of them seem to care that he is gone. Flipping through the pages I notice Malcolm in a lot of photos with girls. He looks like he’s happy, but I can tell that the smile doesn’t quite reach his eyes. Something isn’t quite right.
Since his yearbook didn’t really have answers to the most important question, I shuffled through his receipts. There is the typical fast food ones along with some from the grocery store. The only one that stands out is a bank receipt. He had withdrawn two thousand dollars from his bank account just two days before graduation.
Taking his stuff with me, I left my mother’s home and began mulling over what I had found this afternoon. A strange texting conversation, and bank receipt, both could signal different things. The texts could mean he left without any premeditation, since they seemed like they were urgent. It could also mean that the unknown number took him, which is why he didn’t tell anyone. But the receipt contradicts the notion that it was a spur of the moment departure. He purposefully withdrew a large amount of money right before he vanished.
After yet another torturous day of school, I decide I should step up my inquisition into Malcolm’s disappearance. I approach his usual basketball buddies at the only park in town. Malcolm spent most of his afternoons here when it wasn’t basketball season. Ben and Alex see me coming, halting the pick-up game. It’s the only second time I’ve seen Malcolm’s best friends since his disappearance, and the first time didn’t end very well. They blame my family for not trying to find him and while I feel the same way, it wasn’t their place to insult my parents. Hopefully this conversation ends on a better note.
“Oh look who we have here, little Miss Ainsley Kay.” There’s that snarky voice I know and love.
Smiling sweetly as his grimacing face. I reply, “Hi Ben. It’s been a while. I think the last time I saw you the words ‘you’re a bitch’ were coming out of your big mouth.”
“I see some things haven’t changed.”
“Relax, both of you.” Alex interjects, trying to ease the tension between Ben and me. He had always been the more sensitive one in comparison to Ben. He typically sides with Malcolm and sticks up for me especially when Ben tries to tear me down. I’ll admit I’ve missed talking to him. He always knew how to listen. Unlike the rest of Malcolm’s classmates, these two were both staying in town for a little longer, waiting for their respective colleges to start.
“Alright Princess.” Ben’s harsh voice breaking my thoughts up. “What can we do for you?”
Glancing around to the other boys on the basketball court, I lower my voice and tell them I want to discuss Malcolm. As Alex directs us to the nearest picnic table, I begin questioning them about the months leading up graduation. They both give me a similar story about how he was always texting someone, and that he would often get a call immediately ditch them. Ben thought he might have been seeing some other girl and was trying to hide it from them. Alex on the other hand feared Malcolm was probably selling drugs. He said he had seen him hanging around this guy Marco, a presumed drug dealer. I guess that would explain the cash withdrawal, and even the strange text messages. But it seems so far off from Malcolm’s character. He’d always been pretty straight edge, though he drank on occasion and even then he’d keep himself under control. He had told me once that he was afraid of what would happen if he lost control while he was drunk. Concluding our conversation, I say my goodbyes to Ben and Alex.
Walking away from the courts I hear my name being called only to see Alex running after me.
“Wait… Ainsley. Are you really trying to look for Malcolm?” His eyes meet mine with a questioning gaze.
“Yeah. I just need to know what happened. I need to know that he didn’t leave me here on purpose to suffer alone. I need to know that he’s okay.” The words tumble out of my mouth before I have a chance to contain them.
“Ainsley.” He coos, “Malcolm cared about you so much. He would do anything for you. You know that. He wouldn’t leave you to suffer. He must have a reason.”
“What if he’s hurt? What if he didn’t leave by choice?” The thoughts that had been swirling in my head for three months were now vocalized. I couldn’t take them back.
“I worry about that everyday. But I have to hope that he’s okay. I need to. If I think otherwise things start to crumble. You know?” Nodding my head in response, Alex continues. “If you’re serious about looking for him. Let me help you.”
“Thanks, but I need to do this on my own.”
“You shouldn’t be running around alone.” His protective side was coming out. “Especially if you’re going to talk to Marco.”
“I think I’m capable of handling it. But thanks for looking out Alex.”
His offer to protect me is sweet, I’m sure it’s a side effect from hanging out with Malcolm all these years. But I need to do this — alone. I won’t find sanity if I don’t. I guess my next stop is going to be chatting with Marco. I’d seen him around town for a few years now. His dark hair is messy and unkempt, while his eyes were harsh and uninviting. I don’t expect it to be a pleasant conversation nor do I expect him to actually be helpful. But I’m running out of ideas and it seems like the next logical step.
Driving around town is always a grim reminder of how I could end up stuck in this monotonous life. A daily reminder to keep up with my homework and college applications so I can get away from the busybodies and burnouts that walk the decaying halls of my school. Malcolm and I would spend hours discussing our futures, once we escaped, that is. He wanted to go into public relations, something I never doubted he’d achieve since he’s always been the more outgoing between the two of us. But his grades didn’t really reflect his aspirations, which left him at our local community college. Not his favorite place to be, but he was excited to start the next chapter; at least that’s what he told me.
I pull into the one place I think Marco will be, the seedy dive bar on Main Street. I know it’s not as bad as people make it out to be, but I’m still a little frightened about entering alone. Malcolm mentioned to me that he’d come here a few times. He’d always talk about how the bartender knew he was using a fake ID but didn’t really care, since they shared the same opinion on how depressing our little town is.
My nose is accosted by the smell of booze as I walk in. It doesn’t bother me anymore considering the amount of times Malcolm’s sneaked in late smelling like alcohol. There are five guys scattered around the small dark room, and I immediately spot Marco in the corner hovering over a beer. His glare instinctively turns to me, sending a shiver down my spine. I can’t back down from this. I need my brother, and if this creepy dude is the only way, then I have no other choice. Sitting down on the bar stool next to him I hear his sharp intake of breath and sigh that follows. Clearly he doesn’t like visitors. Pooling all the courage I think I can muster, I clear my throat and begin.
“Um…Hi… My name’s Ainsley Kay. I think you might know my brother Malcolm, and I know this is kind of strange but I was wondering if there’s anyway I can ask you a few questions?” The words pour out from my mouth much faster than I anticipated. Slowly looking up from his beer I see a glimmer of something in his eyes. I can’t place the feeling behind it. I just know there is something. He knows something.
“Yeah.” His gruff voice startles me. “What do you want to know sweetheart?”
“Well,” I start. “Someone told me that my brother was hanging out with you a lot before he disappeared. I’m just hoping you might know anything. Like where he went or why.”
“People think he was selling drugs with me then?” His bluntness doesn’t faze me.
“Yeah. That’s what I hear.”
There’s an awkward silence between us, it hovers in the air like a dark rain cloud. I don’t know whether to ask another question or wait till he says something.
“Look,” He sighs, “Your brother and I were friends. I’d like to know what happened to him just as much as you do. Let’s just say he owes me an explanation.”
“Um…okay. Do you know where he might have gone? Or why?”
“I might know why; it’s just a hunch. But I’m not going to tell you. Though he’d always talk about going to the city. Some shit about more opportunities or something.”
“What the hell? What do you mean you won’t tell me? He’s my brother. I need to know what happened to him. What do you not get?” I’m absolutely furious. The anger welling up inside of me. How could he know something and refuse to tell me.
“Look sweetie,” There’s another obnoxious moniker. “That’s his business. Not my place. I told you what I know. Leave me the fuck alone. Now.” Slamming his now empty beer on the counter, he gives me one last glare and departs leaving me to wonder what the hell just happened.
This search for Malcolm is becoming increasingly more frustrating and emotionally draining. I’ve spent the last three months being despondent about his disappearance, only understanding he was gone, but not grasping that there’s a reason behind it. Now that I’m looking for answers, really searching, the sadness is turning into confusion and I’m hurting more. The more information I receive, the more I realize that maybe Malcolm and I aren’t as close as I thought. That maybe, just maybe, he’s not the person he led me to believe he was.
“I knew your brother.” The bartender’s voice jars me from my emotional turmoil. “You look just like him. Only he didn’t go by Malcolm here. His I.D. said Jacob Colton. He and Marco used to spend a lot of time together here. Didn’t look like it was anything illegal was going on though. One of the last times he was here, he told me that he was celebrating something. Not sure what though. But unless you have an I.D. that says your 21, you need to get out of here.” I thanked him and asked him to let me know if he thinks of anything else that could help out.
So Malcolm hung out with Marco a lot, had a fake I.D., and was constantly texting someone unknown. Fantastic. More verification that I know apparently nothing about my brother. Maybe I should just give up before the overload of new information completely changes my perspective on my brother. My obnoxious curiosity will keep me pushing forward into an unknown, but I’m at a loss about what the next step should be. I’ve talked to his friends, snooped around his stuff. The only thing I haven’t done is check his computer. Something I probably should’ve done months ago. Taking that to be my next step, I return to my Mother’s home and log into his computer. His search history contains the usual set of social media websites, and a lot of sites on San Francisco. I guess Marco was telling the truth when he said Malcolm was really into the city. That must be where he went. But how am I supposed to find one person in a giant city that I know nothing about? Hell, I’ve never even been outside of this tiny town. I print out one of the maps of the city Malcolm had found, then return to browsing his search history. I find both Craigslist and job searches. He’d obviously put a lot of thought and effort into leaving. This new understanding breaks my heart even more. He clearly planned his departure and hadn’t told me. Although I know I should stop looking, I’m not going to.
I find an email correspondence between him and who I assume would be his new employer. Why wasn’t this the first thing I did, instead of running around town? Jotting down the address and snagging the printed map, I make plans to go to the city this weekend. I’ll just tell my parents I’m staying at each other’s houses. Their mutual hatred will prevent them from actually checking.
Friday comes quickly, and I depart for San Francisco as soon as school lets out. The drive takes four hours, and all the while I review what I know in my head until nothing makes any sense. The address takes me to a small coffee house in some hippie looking area. Not a place I would figure Malcolm would go, but this is my last hope.
I walk in, my heart pounding inside my chest. These last three months have left me weary and hurt, but this moment feels right. As my gaze travels around the room, noticing the artwork scattering the walls, couches in the corner, until my eyes finally reach the man working behind the counter. His eyes meet mine. We both freeze and I feel my pounding heart catching in my throat. He’s changed. He aged. He’s grown. No longer the clean-cut Prom King he once was, his hair is longer and he’s even has a little chin stubble going on. But it’s his eyes that have changed the most. It’s as though they’ve gotten colder, they almost have the same glimmer of something unknown that Marco had.
My name escapes from his throat, and with that single word, I hear the hurt in his voice. He knows that I’ve been suffering; he can see it on my face I’m sure. And I can tell he’s been struggling too.
“Wha….what are you doing here? How did you find me?” His nerves are apparent.
I want to yell and scream at him for leaving me alone, for hurting me, for not even trying to contact me, for not telling me, for making me think he was hurt or worse. I want to make him understand that every moment in the last three months has been excruciatingly hard, spent thinking about him and what happened. Instead, I just look at him unable to formulate a sentence.
Instead of waiting for a response, he turns to the other guy behind the counter asking him for the rest of the night off. I see them look at me, then exchange a look and the other guy nods. Malcolm comes around the counter grabbing my arm, pulling me out of my frozen trance. He leads me to the couch area in the corner. Taking a deep breath, he begins.
“Knowing you, heavy research was involved in finding me.” I nod and he continues. “And I’m guessing you have about 5 million questions about why.” I nod again. “I guess I should start explaining myself.”
“You think?” the anger evident in my tone. “You fucking left me without a word.”
“I know. And for that I am truly sorry. But I swear I had a good reason.”
“It’d better be fucking stellar.”
“Look. I get it. You’re upset and hurt. That’s fine. But can you please shut up for once in your life and let me explain my side of the story.”
Crossing my arms, I tell him to proceed.
“Okay. Here’s the thing Ainsley… I’m gay.”
“Wh…what? No way. I mean, I don’t care one way or the other. I just don’t understand. What about all those girls you dated? Why didn’t you tell me? What does that have to do with why you ran away?” I’m rambling but I don’t care. Unless I’m a completely oblivious sister, this is out of the blue.
“Thanks baby sis, but let me explain. I told Mom when I was a freshman that I thought I was gay. She completely flipped out. Telling me that I wasn’t allowed to feel that way. That it was wrong. She threatened me with a lot of crazy things and because I was scared I went along with it. I had to date all those girls in order to maintain our family’s appearance. That’s why we were always fighting. I got so sick of trying to pretend. She’s fucking ridiculous. She’s so obsessed with what people think about her. She forbid me from telling you or anyone else. Dad knew though. That’s why they fight and avoid each other. He was furious at her for making me hide who I really am.”
I’m speechless. Everything I perceived and thought was completely turned upside down. I had no idea my Mother was that manipulative and superficial. No wonder she removed all remnants of him from our house. She’s probably angry with him and, I would hope, ashamed of herself for driving him away. That partly explains why he left, but I’m still confused about the texts and a few other things.
“So by Senior year I was already so sick of the whole charade. I was tired of pretending to be the jock. Everyday was a struggle, I didn’t really know how to cope so I got a fake I.D. and started going to the bar to drink it away. But I met someone…”
“Marco” It was out of my mouth before I could stop myself.
“Um… yeah. I met Marco. He understood. He was stuck in the same horrific town trying to hide how he felt, as well. He helped me though. He made me understand that it was okay to be gay. We had planned to run away together.” Seeing my face, he chuckled and continued, “Not in a romantic way — just in a ‘let’s help each other out’ way. But the night we were planning on leaving he told me that he couldn’t leave anymore. Something came up and I was now on my own. We got in huge fight and I haven’t spoken to him since. He’s changed his phone number or something.”
“That explains the texts I saw on your phone. But when I talked to Marco he said you owed him an explanation?”
“Yeah. We were actually supposed to go stay with his friend in L.A. He said I could still go, but I obviously ended up here.”
“I’m so sorry Malcolm. I had no clue. Some sister I am.” I’m frustrated at myself for not recognizing how much he was hurting in high school. I can’t imagine living a lie every single day. How much it would drain you emotionally.
“There were so many nights I waned to tell you. But with Mom’s constant hovering and threats I couldn’t. Plus what if you told Alex? I know how well you two get along. I’m just afraid of how those guys would react. I’m terrified of how the town will react. I guess Mom rubbed off on me.” He was crying now, his ocean colored eyes revealed his true pain. The only thing I can do is embrace the brother who taught me so much.
When I was ten, he taught me the beauty of reading, just by loaning me his favorite Harry Potter book. At thirteen he taught me that boys in their teenage years are disgusting creatures. But this has been his most important lesson. His pain, his suffering, his struggle, has shown me that despite the horrific things people do to us, we can be strong enough to move forward.
Spending the rest of the weekend with him only shows me how much happier he is now that he’s free to embrace who he is. His smile extends all the way to his bright eyes; the joy apparent on every crevice of his face. I’ve decided to keep my newfound knowledge a secret. It’s between my brother and me. No one back home, in that small, horrible, conservative town, deserves the privilege of knowing my brother. They’ll be judgmental and only spread horrible rumors about him.
As for my Mother, I don’t know if I can bear to look at her. She didn’t just break the most important person to me, she made him leave me without a word. It is her fault. All of this. If she didn’t put everyone’s opinion over the well being of her family, then maybe he’d still be here with me. Her lies hurt. Her deceitful tricks and threats hurt. Her need to maintain appearances hurt. Everything is hurting.
While I thought having all my questions answered would help me move forward, I think I’ve only placed myself in greater emotional chaos. All I know is that I can’t look at my surroundings the way I used to. While my hometown remains unchanging, I’ve changed. My drive to leave this town is far more powerful then before. I need to get away from these people who have caused so much suffering for Malcolm. There’s so much disdain churning within me, I know that I’m going to spend the rest of Senior year with my head buried in books and college applications so that I can get out this place.
This journey has taken me to places I never anticipated going both physically and emotionally. I never thought I’d make the trip to San Francisco alone. The city seemed so unnerving and huge, but I loved it. Being surrounded by the energy and the feeling of acceptance was like nothing else. Maybe I’ll apply to college there, and live with Malcolm in hopes knowing who is really is, now that he’s not hiding behind a façade.
Though here’s the truth: everyone is hiding something. Even if you think you know every little intricacy of a person, right down to the way their eyes light up when someone they love walks in the room, or their immediate reaction to losing a video game, but the truth is you have no idea what they do or think when they’re in a room alone. What thoughts run through their heads, what they search on the Internet. No matter how close you are to someone, you’ll never know or understand everything that goes on in their head.
As I pull my car back into the driveway of my Father’s house, I realize that I’ll never know exactly what my brother went through, and I don’t think I want to. All I know is that there’s nowhere to go but forward.
It amazes me how awkward of a person I am sometimes.
Talk about how to handle a situation in the most awkward way.
Congrats, you’re a professional situation ruiner.
— Psychologist Meg Jay (via kristinemydaisy)
If there was ever a moment to freeze time…
that would’ve been it.
The moment where my head rested perfectly on your chest. The stars overhead reminding us how vast the universe is.
Where I fit like a puzzle piece into the warm nook between your arm and your body. A place I wanted to call home.
The moment when you sang some obscure lyrics into my ear, sending shivers down my spine.
That exact moment when your fingers were twirling my hair so that it mirrored the knots forming in my stomach.
The minuscule moment between two irrelevant teenagers trying to figure out a new place.
A moment so short it could only be captured in memories.
The monumental moment I fell for you.
Yet, as moments often do, they end.
Just as falling for you was over before it began.
If there was ever a moment to freeze time that was it.
Seriously considering doing next year abroad.
Our differences are really starting to come out. Or maybe I’ve changed? I’m not sure. But things aren’t how they use to be though. I feel like Im intruding on something and that I’m not longer wanted here. Please tell me if I’m being annoying or irritating I would like to fix that.
Maybe I should just stop talking.