Waking up to the sound of my mother’s over pitched voice gives me an instant headache. Tears of exhaustion slide down my vacant face and I blink to get a feel of the environment around me.
Home. I am at sweet, sweet home.
At first, I feel nothing at all. Nothing washes over me as I lay against the soft cushion of our couch; aware but empty at the same time. I see my mom in the crook of the kitchen cooking breakfast, her favorite thing to do. She is unaware that her son is wasted and in hangover mode, which is one reason why I love my mom. She has poor observation skills.
“Ron! Emily! Breakfast is ready,” she chirps with her sickly sweet voice.
I watch her grab the plates and start putting the food in order. Steamed biscuits, hot strawberry pancakes, and some meat I can’t identify from here. She puts a lot of hard work into taking care of her family, and in return, I just have to be such a crappy, worthless son.
No wonder my life is full of never ending torment.
Finally, after she exits through the dining room and into the living area, she spots me and widens her eyes. I feel my face is still as stone; hard and gray and emotionless.
“Ron, baby what are you doing down here?” she asks, over-protective mode being set to activate.
I stare at her expressionless, my brain still fuzzy with the previous night. So turns out, I didn’t collapse in my room like I thought I had. I stopped at the couch, because it was right there and my knees couldn’t take it anymore. And, judging by my horrible stench and body etiquette, I obviously give myself away that I’d been doing something I had no business doing.
But my sweet mother will just think I’m sick.
“Are you sick?” she comes closer after I hadn’t answered her.
I slowly blink, my lashes heavy against my vision. She’s in my face, kneeled down so she can comfort me. She has no idea I’m full of toxic and bad memories. I try to smile, try to crack the smallest, fakest smile I can manage. She falls for it. My sweet, sweet mother.
“I-I feel okay,” I lie to her blue eyes.
Mom nods, her freesia scented hand smoothing my cheek. My throat burns with the left over acid and bile. The aroma of her breakfast makes my temples sweat. She most definitely thinks I’m sick now.
“Honey bun you are burning up. Do I need to take you to the doctor?”
Before I can answer, my little sister Emily flies her tail into the living room, hovering over me like your average, nosy eight year old. Her blonde locks fall around her face as her bright ocean eyes squint at my poor complexion.
Now I’m being stared at by the only females that actually care about me.
“What’s wrong with Ronald?” Emily questions, mimicking mom’s voice of concern.
She knows I hate being called by my real name, and this sparks irritation out of me.
“Stop calling me that,” I say dryly.
“Why Ronald? It is your name after all.”
“Emily,” mom stops the fire. “your brother doesn’t feel well, please go eat.”
I watch her while so still that I feel the room shifting in whirls of color. My mom is still knelt down in front of me, hand pressed against my cheek. She then removes it and stands up. I shift as well, just to loosen my muscles a little bit.
“You know eating something will make you feel better,” mom smiles.
This makes me stare at her even harder. Where on earth did I come from? Such a sweet and caring woman, who’d do anything for her family, and the least I could do is not be hung over right in front of her, even if she thinks I’m an angel.
Who does she think I am?
I finally manage to get up, every bone in my body aching with sore pain. In the overly white kitchen, Emily is already munching on her pancakes and when I step under the fluroscent light - revealing who I really am - Emily stops eating, her fork halted at her mouth.
I am pretty sure I look disgusting. Hell, I feel disgusting. Stains and rips and spots dot me like unorganized paint, except this painting is not exotic at all. The artist did not care about me at all.
No one outside this house does.
“Ron,” my mother’s voice is small. This frightens me, as she can see every detail now. No hiding in the dimness of the living room.
“Ron, w-what happened to you? You didn’t look like this last night.”
By the will of luck, my dad comes down the stairs, well-dressed and ready for work. He takes one good look at me when he steps in the kitchen and furrows his eyebrows.
“What the hell?” he stops short.
I feel fire all over me. Again. And to wither it away, I grab my plate, sit down, and try to ignore their puncturing glares.
Especially my father.
“Ron, why do you look like that?” his voice is sharp. Serious. I’d better speak up.
“I uh, just...”
I take a bite out of my bacon. Yes. That’s what she fried. It makes my stomach turn, and I regret even speaking at all.
Soon, I guess my dad has lost his patience, because he just grabs his lunch that mom made him and leaves the house. Eight on the dot. Out the door. Everyday.
Mom then joins Emily and I for breakfast. I feel crummy as hell, actually eating solid food. Greasy bacon and starchy pancakes on top of that.
“So,” mom starts conversation. “it’s Saturday. What does everyone feel like doing today?”
Emily of course answers, her eight year old self eager to say she participates in stuff.
“Me and my friends are going over to Daniella’s house to go roller skating with her friends,” she announces proudly.
Mom swallows a mouthful of biscuit before she responds brightly, “That’s great!”
Then she looks to me, and I don’t even meet her eyes, knowing I’m full of trash and shit combined. It’s so uncomfortable just sitting here. I can feel the tense air; I know my mother wants to question me.
The real question is just when and what will she want to know?
“Ron baby, do you uh, have anything you want to say?”
She didn’t ask me what was I doing today, or anything along that perimeter. She just blantly asked if I have anything to say.
My mom is so sweet and innocent, no wonder why she’s so happy and I love her. Dad loves her too. Emily also. Everyone in this damn house loves everyone because the Mitchell’s are just kind people. I say that collectively. Individually, we are our own people, and I am the darkest one in the family. I’m a thousand percent sure if anyone has any clue of an idea about me, it’s Emily who knows a little something something. Sometimes, I don’t think she’s a simple eight year old.
In order to properly answer my mom to properly dismiss the situation, I state, “I’m fine. I really am.”
This shuts up her concerns. Mom and Emily continue to chat about girly things, getting along rather well. Mother-daughter bonding, no big deal. But it’s during this interval of time that I really just notice how “out of place” I am. Not just as a family member, but as a person.
See how unimportant you are? Everyone has moved on from you, no further conversation. Do you want to push it a little more?
I get tired of hearing them talk about children things related to girly things, so I hoist myself up and travel upstairs to my bedroom, the last one down the hall.
If one were to step inside my room and judge my character based upon it, that person would say this is a room belonging to a girl of at least 13 years of age. But then one part of it feels really dark. At first sight, just on the surface of things, one can see that my walls are pastel blue. I have teddy bears on the border of my frilly bed, with everything organized in labeled clear bins with shimmering stickers decorating those surfaces. My dresser contains miniscule items such as loose change, my hair accessories, and make-up powder, for when I have to disguise an ugly bruise or two.
But I am the only person who looks deeper into my room, beyond the seemingly “fruity” appearance. I know where my suicide notes are. I know where my razor cutter is, for when I have to make myself man up. I know exactly where every single bad, awful, god-forbidden thing is, beyond my feminine bedroom belonging to a 15 year old guy.
After I walk around to get a feel for how neat everything is, I curl up on my bed next to my favorite stuffed animal, Squirtle. He is the actual thing, and I won him in one of those grabby machines when I was eight years old myself. He makes me comfortable. The good side makes me comfortable.
Nostalgia is damp on my head, and it makes me shudder. I was a better person back then, before I discovered things about the world. About myself. And only I know how I feel because no one ever cares to look me deep in my eyes and know immediately that something is wrong.
They all believe me when I say, “I’m fine. I really am.”