"This is your house?" My voice rasped.
It was almost pitch black in the forest we were in. From what I could make out, the house was big.
"Yup!" Jeanette giggled.
"And yours now too, Luc." She said.
Hehe...I kind of forgot they adopted me.
"Let's get inside." Brian said as he turned off the car and got out.
I got out and Jeanette pulled me to the front door.
She unlocked it and pushed it open.
A huge chandelier made of metal and deer antlers graced the large two story entry way. There was a flight of stairs leading to a hidden downstairs area.
"I can show you around the house tomorrow if you'd like." Jeanette whispered as she led me upstairs.
"Ok." I whispered back.
It was pretty late when we got here, so I assumed the other boy was asleep.
Jeanette opened the door to a bedroom, "Here. This is yours."
She flipped on the lights.
I went inside. I put the box on the floor by the door and held the picture in my hands.
"Thanks." I said to Jeanette.
She smiled and pointed, "Our room is over there. Your bathroom is that door there."
"Goodnight." I responded.
Brian came in with my bag after Jeanette left.
"I'll just put this here." He stated as he put it beside the red box.
"Goodnight." He said before leaving and closing the door behind him.
I took off my shoes and socks and put them against the bed. I placed the picture on the nightstand.
The mattress and bedding was soft. I couldn't stop rubbing them.
I scooted under the covers after turning off the lights. I didn't bother to put on pajamas because I was so tired.
I just seemed to sink into pillow and off to sleep.
In the morning, I woke up to the sun shining in my eye. I rolled over to my left side.
Maybe it was in my head, but I heard the door close. I opened my eye. It was closed.
I heard hushed voices.
"I just wanted to see him." A boy's voice whispered.
"He's sleeping. You can meet him after school." Jeanette's voice responded.
"Go on. Your father is waiting for you." She said.
"See you later." The boy's voice said.
I heard footsteps departing. I was kind of worried. What kind of older foster brother is he? Like Winn? I'm scared to find out.
Once again, I was sitting and staring. This time I was on the floor. For some reason I felt like I didn't deserve the bed. It was a stupid ideology.
On the tour, I noticed the house was mainly wood and glass. After Jeanette showed me around the house we ate lunch together in the kitchen.
We spoke, but I could barely choke out any words. What's wrong with me?
"You know, you don't have to be anxious." Jeanette eventually said.
"Sorry. I just am." I replied.
"Um...is it okay if I go upstairs?" I asked.
"It's fine. You don't have to ask." Jeanette said. She gave me a reasurring smile.
"Thanks for lunch," I muttered as I left.
When I got to my room I patted my hood, made sure it was still in place. I patted my hair as well. It hadn't moved.
I exhaled and sat on the floor again. I put my forehead to my knees.
I should be fine now.
I wanted to call someone, but I didn't feel right using their phone.
Hours passed. I heard footsteps coming, "What are you doing?" The boy's voice laughed.
There was a small clatter, "Nothing." Jeanette.
I stood up and opened the door and stepped out. I only saw Jeanette.
"What's going on?" I asked.
Jeanette smirked and lunged to the right (her left) reaching for something.
She pulled a boy into my line of sight. I jumped a little. Brian's son; they have the same dark hair. He looked to be the same height as me.
"This is Jason!" Jeanette said.
"Oh," he extended his hand, "nice to finally meet you Luc. I look forward to getting to know you."
I hesitated to take his hand. "Nice to meet you." I said politely.
I let go of his hand.
"So uh...are you like emo or something?" He asked.
"Or something." I responded.
"Don't be rude, Jason." Jeanette scolded.
"Brian says we should all go out for dinner tonight." She then said.
"Luc, there's a bar and grill not too far from here. The food is pretty good." Jeanette said rubbing the back of her neck.
"Casey's?" Jason asked.
"Yeah." She responded.
"You want to go there?" She asked me.
"Uh, sure." I answered.
We sat in a booth in the restaurant. Jeanette and Jason sat together. I sat by Brian. An appetizer of wings was ordered. The others ate a little, but I didn't.
I looked at the menu. I had to constantly "dart" my head back and forth.
"Grilled cheese sandwich sounds nice." I thought. What's the price? It's not saying. I'm trying to be as cheap as possible. I don't want them to waste their money on me.
The waitress came back. She started taking orders.
I just stared ahead while I waited.
"What can I get you?" My eye darted to Brian.
Silence -- except my heart pounding in my ears.
"Luc." Jeanette called.
"Huh?" I turned and looked up at the waitress.
"Uh can I get a grilled cheese sandwich please?" I asked quickly.
She wrote down my order then took Brian's.
I looked at the table.
"Oh Luc. I'm sorry. Would you like to switch?" Jeanette asked as she started moving.
"That'd probably be best." I said quietly.
"Sorry." I muttered to Jason when I sat.
"Sorry, I forgot." Jeanette apologized.
"It's fine." I muttered.
"Forgot what?" Jason asked. No one answered him; there was just a heavy silence.
The awkwardness was dissipated when the waitress brought the food.
"You guys switched it up on me!" She laughed.
Brian chuckled. "Yep." Jeanette smiled. I noticed Jeanette always smiled.
She put our plates in front of us. When she left they started eating.
I stared at my sandwich. What if they don't like the way I eat? Well, I already ate with Jeanette, so it should be fine.
I picked up the sandwich and took a small bite.
Tasty. Warm. Chewy.
Due to anxiety, I ate slowly. I should eat faster, everyone else is almost done.
"Um, sorry," I started when I saw Jeanette was done with her meal, "may I get a box please?"
"Sure." Jeanette said as she wiped her hands on a napkin.
Luc looked both ways before starting to move, "May I go to the restroom?"
I snickered. Just go. I don't know what's up with him, but it's kind of weird.
"Sure." Dad said.
He looked again and then left.
"What's up with him?" I asked once he was out of ear-shot.
"He's just adjusting." Mom answered.
I'm genuinely interested in getting to know him, getting close. I've always wanted a brother.
After a few minutes when he didn't come back, Dad sent me to check on him.
I went down the hallway and saw Luc standing at the door. Literally, just standing and staring. Or at least I think he was; he kept his face covered.
I stood still and watched him for a bit. He didn't move -- I think he was trembling.
"Hey," I called and put my hand on his arm.
He shrieked and jerked away.
I held my hands up. "Jesus."
He looked at me.
Are you okay?" I asked slowly.
"Do you want to go back?" I asked.
He nodded again.
We went back to the table and sat down.
"Sorry." Luc said.
"You apologize too much." I said. It kind of slipped out.
"Sorry." He said again. I sighed.
"Calm down." Dad said.
"Well, we ready to go?" Mom asked.
"Yep." I answered.
I yawned as we walked down the sidewalk.
At a crosswalk the cars incoming stopped when the light turned red.
We started walking. I looked over to the right. A car was still coming -- didn't look like he was slowing down.
We stopped of course. Every village has its idiot.
I looked up, waiting for the car to pass.
"Luc!" Mom screeched.
He was still walking, he was in the path of the car.
What is with this guy?!
I ran forward and yanked him by the arm. He yelled in pain and began to fall. I shrieked when the back of his head hit my face. Luc just slid down to the ground.
"Fuck." I said as my nose stung and eyes teared up.
The car zoomed by us.
"What's the matter with you?! Open your eyes!" I yelled at him.
He seemed to cower in fear.
"Boys!" Dad called.
They rushed over to us.
My Dad helped Luc up and then checked on me.
"I'm fine!" I swatted his hands away. The pain had subsided, I was agitated more than anything. Mom kept going back and forth between us, checking for anything else.
Luc rubbed his arm and shoulder.
I sighed. "Are you okay?"
He nodded. "Thanks..."
"Let's get out of the street." Mom said.
When we got into the car, I started fussing at Luc again. He didn't even stick up for himself.
"Calm down Jason!" Dad raised his voice.
They turned to the two of us.
"It's not his fault there are people who just want to speed." Mom stated.
"He should watch where he's going." I grumbled.
"He can't! Not from that direction, at least." Mom said.
"What?" I questioned.
She looked at Luc.
"Are you alright with me telling him?" She asked.
He looked away silently.
She looked at me with a somewhat sad face. I made eye contact with her.
"Luc...only has one eye." She explained with a roll of her hand.
My stomach dropped and I felt my heart get stabbed with a needle. It all made sense now.
"So you guys switched because..." I said.
"Yep." Mom answered.
"He kept walking because..."
"Yes." Mom said.
"He keeps his eye covered because..."
"Yes!" Both parents said.
I slid my hand down my face.
"Oh dude, I am so sorry." I apologized.
Mom turned to Luc.
"Luc," he looked up at her.
"Let's agree that you walk in between Brian and I from now on. Yeah?"
"Yes." He agreed.
Mom sat normally in her seat.
"Anything else?" Dad asked.
"Nah." Mom and I said.
"Alright. Home." He said as he turned the car on.
I looked at Luc. He was staring at the back of Dad's seat. I turned forward and sighed quietly. What happened to the kid?
I could feel myself tossing and turning.
"He raped a fifteen year old boy! He left his body deformed, burned cruel words into his back, severely damaged the right side of his face!" The lawyer explained to the jury. Pictures were involved.
I could feel it all. Their eyes. The eyes on me. I heard their gasps and murmurs. I'm scared!
Stop staring at me!!
The gasps and murmurs increased, they were so loud. I felt so small.
"...years in prison..."
"He's going to get me!" I thought.
I heard his voice in my head; the last thing he said to me.
"I'll kill you."
I kicked off my covers and sat up. I clenched my chest tightly. My breath was erratic.
I massaged my temples, "Stop it...he's accounted for." I whispered.
I grunted in pain. My shoulder was so sore. I could just barely lift my arm.
In the morning, Jeanette came in my room and sat on the edge of my bed.
"The Sun shines in here...right on your face." She noticed.
"I can ask Brian to install curtains." She stated
I grinned. "It's fine," I turned onto my left side, "I can just turn this way!"
"I'm glad you can see the bright side, Luc." She said.
"I had time to deal...I guess." I stated.
There was a knock on the door. We turned. It was Jason. He was dressed and had a ball in his hands. I sat up.
"Good morning." Jeanette said.
"Morning." He responded.
He looked at me.
"Luc, you wanna hang out with me and some friends?" He asked.
Jeanette looked at me.
"Uh, sure." I answered.
"Cool." Jason smiled.
Jeanette stood up, "I'll leave you boys to it."
She left and closed the door.
I got dressed in my normal sweathood, pants, and shoes. I left my hood down.
"Where are we going?" I asked Jason lowly when we got on the porch.
"To a field. We play kickball or soccer. Or just throw everything out the window and chill."
"Just warning you, it's forty minute walk." He finished.
"Okay." I said.
When we started walking I moved to Jason's right side. I held my hands behind my back.
He played with the ball a bit.
"So..." Jason started.
"Where did you come from?" He asked.
"Seattle." I answered.
"I know that. I meant before Seattle." He said.
I didn't answer.
"Okay." He drawled.
"Okay. I'll ask a painless question." He then said
"What was your old school like?"
I didn't have any questions for him.
We made it to the field. I saw a few people sitting in the grass.
"Hey!" Jason called.
"Hey J!" One guy said with a smile as he got up.
I started turning around. Looking around, getting familiar with the area. The field was roughly a circle.
"Who's shifty?" One voice asked.
I turned around to them.
Jason gestured to me. "This is my brother, Luc."
"Cool." One guy said.
Already calling me his brother. Okay. He seemed proud to.
"You really went out and got one. I wouldn't have believed it unless I saw it myself." Another guy said.
"Okay, this is Bar." He pointed the the blond in front of him.
"That's Eric." A boy with brown hair.
He pointed to the last boy. "That's Roland.
"Nice to meet you all." I said.
"Come on. Let's get crackin." Bar said.
That has to be a nickname.
"Luc, do you want to play kickball?" Bar asked.
"Sure." I said quietly.
They set up the game; used rocks as bases.
Jason, Roland, and I stood in a line. The other two were serving.
"Shouldn't kickball have more players?" I whispered to Jason.
"They're all there is." He responded.
Bar rolled the ball. Jason kicked it and took off running as it flew through the air.
The other two ran too. They were fast. Eric caught the ball and threw it to Bar. He threw it and it hit Jason in the back with a hard thud.
"Ooh." Roland and I winced.
Jason jumped around rubbing his back.
"You're turn, Luc!" Bar called.
I pivoted and walked away. Don't really feel like getting punted.
I heard a 'thwack,' felt a sting, saw black.
"You threw the ball at my head?" I thought.
"Did you kill him?" I heard after a few seconds.
"I didn't hit him that hard." Bar stated.
"Leave him alone Bar." Jason snapped.
Am I facing up or down? Well...I can feel the grass on my left side.
I am sick. I'm sick and tired of people treating me badly!
Fury willed me to drag my hand along the grass and begin to push myself up.
"See look! He's a trooper!" Bar clapped. I don't like you.
I made it to my feet and shook my head. I whipped around and my fist connected with his jaw. He grunted in pain. The others gasped a little. Bar's lip bled.
I grunted angrily (along with pain) and walked away.
This time no one bothered me.
I held my shoulder and hissed, "damn it."
God, I hope I don't get lost in this forest.
What am I thinking? Of course I'm going to get lost!
I kept walking, against my better judgement.
Thank God. I found it.
I rang the door bell. It opened after a bit.
"Hey Luc." Jeanette smiled.
"Back so soon?" She questioned.
"I left." I replied as we went in.
"Mmhmm. What happened?" She asked.
She walked down the hall and I followed.
I took off my sweathood, then smoothed my hair down.
We went into the kitchen.
"The boys too rowdy for you?" She asked playfully.
She turned around and her eyes flew open wide.
"Luc. What happened to your arm?" She gasped.
I could barely move it again, so I tilted my head. I saw a handprint; a bruise of it at least.
I looked at Jeanette. "It's nothing."
"Don't give me that. Did one of the boys do that?" She questioned.
"No wait," she said as she studied it. "That's from yesterday, isn't it? When Jason pulled you?"
When I didn't answer she rolled up my sleeve, past my shoulder.
"Oh my god." Jeanette gasped.
"Brian!" She yelled.
I looked at my shoulder. It was red and bruised.
Brian came into the kitchen, "What's going on?"
"Luc's arm." Jeanette gestured to it.
He walked around us and lightly touched my arm.
He sucked in air. "That's not looking too good."
"Can you move it?" He asked.
"Barely." I answered.
He and Jeanette exchanged looks.
"I'm taking you to the hospital." Brian said as he looked at me.
I didn't respond, just followed him out the door. Jeanette sat on the porch.
"I'll wait for Jason to come home." She stated. She had a concerned expression.
"Ok." Brian responded.
I opened the door to the car and got in the passenger seat.
Brian got in and turned on the car. He wasted no time to drive off.
"Luc, why didn't you tell us about your arm?" Brian question.
I hung my head, "I'm sorry. I just thought it was the normal effect of being pulled." I think that was my first lecture from a parent figure.
"You don't have to keep apologizing to us. You've done nothing wrong." He said.
"You never did." I heard him say under his breath.
I looked at my shoulder.
"Is it broken?" I asked.
"No. Just sprained." Brian answered.
"The way that's looking, you're going to be in a sling for a few weeks." He added.
Well Brian was right. My shoulder was sprained. And apparently he's the head doctor in this hospital.
The doctor who examined me pulled Brian to the side. Deep down, I knew he was telling him about my scars and deformation -- even though Brian already knew about them.
Never been in a sling before. Nor have I had a parent figure take me to a hospital.
I'm not allowed to move my shoulder at all. This should be fun.
"Is everything okay?" Jeanette asked when we got into the house.
"Yes. Just a sprain." Brian answered.
"Luc, have you eaten? You need to take some pain medication." Jeanette said.
"I haven't." I answered.
"Well I'll fix you something." She said as she reached into a cabinet. She pulled out a white pill bottle and set it on the counter.
"Sit." She ordered as she tapped the counter. I sat in the chair. Jeanette started to grab things from the refrigerator and cabinet.
Brian sat in the chair beside me.
I saw him looking at me from the corner of my eye.
"Not trying to be mean or anything Luc, but would you like a haircut?" He asked.
I looked at him.
"Leave him alone, Brian." Jeanette jumped in.
I didn't mind it long or short, as long as it kept my eye covered.
I pressed my hand over my eye. For whatever reason I thought my hair would move. I'm stuck like this, aren't I? I knew the answer.
"Sorry. If you want me to cut it I will." I said.
"No, no, no!" Brian stammered and waved his hands. "It's fine how it is. Just do what's best for you!"
I saw Jeanette shake her head.
Jeanette put a plate in front of me after a bit.
It was spaghetti, green-beans, and corn. Everything was chopped up. I've never had anyone cook for me either.
"It's easier to eat with a spoon." Jeanette said as she handed me a spoon.
I only wish it was my left arm he grabbed.
While eating with my left hand I trembled non-stop. It's only a wonder how I finished the plate. After I took the pain medication I went upstairs.
"Damn." I heard Jason say when I got upstairs.
"I didn't realize I pulled you so hard." He said.
"And I'm sorry about Bar. He can be a dick." He finished.
I only nodded my head. I wanted to lie down, so I went into my room and closed the door.
Eventually, I had to go to school.
"Have a good day you two!" Jeanette called from the car.
At this point I realized: I don't have Hunter, Wesley, or Rachel to protect me.