"Bye, Carson!" he shouted back. I turned around to give him a look. Was he ever going to actually call me Christian? Probably not.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever," he chuckled. I turned back around and went indoors. I watched Theo drive away from the window before going to the kitchen for some breakfast.
"Christian? Where the hell have you been?" my dad demanded to know. I turned to face him and looked at his shoes.
"Sorry, dad. I was at a friends house," I explained quietly. "I didn't mean to worry you. I'll tell you where I'm going next time. Sorry."
"Yeah, you better!" he yelled, throwing the notebook he was holding at me. It hit my arm, the spiraled wiring leaving a cut. I winced in pain but didn't move to tend to the cut. He wasn't done. I watched him stand up and walk over to me.
"I'm sorry," I whispered. His hand whipped across my face in a harsh slap.
"Go to your room and stay there. No breakfast for you. If you want food, then get a job and buy it yourself, you brat. The two men are coming over tomorrow afternoon. Be ready."
"Yes, dad," I said quietly. I turned around and quickly walked up the stairs and into my room. I closed the door and headed for my bathroom to clean the cut and bandage it.
I looked at Moody. He was rolling around next to his food bowl. It was empty.
"Oh, sorry Moody! Gosh, I can't even take care of my cat right!" I grumbled to myself, turning away from the bathroom to feed Moody. When he was feasting happily, I walked back to the bathroom and washed the cut before bandaging it up. Taking my old bandage off of my hands, I inspected the cuts. They weren't infected, but were bleeding a little. I turned the shower on and stripped out of my clothes, gathering up a new set to change into after my shower.
When the water was warm enough, I stepped inside and began to clean myself. I was uncomfortably sticky from last night and I was still really sore. I wonder if Brian was going to keep doing that to me. Was my dad asking him to as punishment? Was he being allowed to do it by the two men or Mark? Was it actually rape if my dad allowed him to? Should I tell the police? No. If my dad told him to, then my dad would get in trouble. Could I ask my dad if he allowed Brian to touch me? Probably not. He'd get mad. I've already made him upset too many times. I need to be a better son. Do the two men or Mark even know who Brian is? Maybe they're friends.
My thoughts drifted to a lighter subject. Why did Theo say he'd take me home last night? Was Scott okay? Is he okay now? I wonder if Theo was going to tell anybody about what I told him last night. I hope not. I need to ask him not to tell anybody. Would he listen? Would he tell the police?
I turned the water off and dried off. When I was done changing, I laid down on my bed and put some music on. I wasn't allowed to leave my room until my dad said, so might as well try and sleep.
Let's open up here for a change
And tell 'em things you tuck away
And say the things you never say
"Tell 'em that you miss your mom. And tell 'em that you're not that strong. You're sleepin' with the nightlight on to try and keep your demons gone," I sang along with the music. I want to visit my mom. I wonder how she's doing. I should give her a call. I haven't talked to her in ages. Sitting up and dialing my mom's number on my phone, I waited for her to pick up. She always did.
"Hey mom!" I said happily. She couldn't know what was happening to me. It would worry her too much. I really didn't want her to worry. She had enough to worry about anyways.
"Christian! How are you honey?" her voice drifted from the speaker. I smiled. I loved her voice. It was soothing and calming. Just like hers.
"I'm doing great, mom! How are you? How's Jake and Char?" I asked. Jake was my mom's husband and Charlotte was their new born daughter. I've never seen her in person, but my mom's sent me pictures and videos.
"We're all doing well, thanks for asking. How's your dad? Is he treating you right?" she asked. Her voice was shaky, but she was trying not to sound worried. She knew I hated it when she worried.
"Yeah! Everything's fine. You don't have to worry, mom. I'm doing great," I assured. I heard her sigh in relief and smiled sadly. I missed her so much.
"How's Scott?" she asked next. She always thought of Scott as a second son, even though she had never met him in person. Scott basically was her second son, to be completely honest. She sent him care packages sometimes and he would write her letters and call her.
"He's good. I've met somebody new, mom. His name's Theo."
"Oh? That's great, honey! I bet you two will get along just fine. I have to prepare dinner for Jake, Charlotte and I now. I love you, Christian. Don't you ever forget it. I miss you so much. Come visit sometime soon, yeah?" she asked. We both knew that wouldn't happen.
"Yeah, I miss you too and I love you, mom. Bye," I said, hanging up. The song had switched.
Down to the place we used to lay when we were kids
Memories, of a stolen place
Caught in the silence
An echo lost in space
I closed my eyes, letting the lyrics and melody soothe me to sleep. The music communicated what I couldn't. It took the thoughts from my head and threw them at me through my speakers. I had always thought it was magical. How do they read my thoughts? They were always in a foreign language to others. It was as if I was the only one who could decipher them. Music was my translator. Everything I couldn't explain, music did it for me. It was a beautiful thing. She loved music. She was a beautiful thing. The most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. They took that beauty. They took it and shred it, leaving her scattered and broken. They broke her right in front of me. And I couldn't piece her back together in time.
"Christian! Get down here and make dinner!"
I opened my eyes, startled at the loud shout. Glancing at the time, I got out of bed and shut my music off. I didn't mean to sleep for so long. I guess I needed it though. I tip-toed down the stairs and walked quietly into the kitchen to make dinner. A small pot was thrown my way, hitting me in the side before I had time to react. The breath was knocked out of me and I doubled over, clutching at my side. There would definitely be a bruise there by tomorrow. I picked the pot up and limped over to the drawers, putting it back in its place.
"Make sandwiches and grab me a beer," my dad commanded. I obeyed, grabbing a beer bottle from the fridge and setting it down in front of him before going to gather sandwich ingredients. I decided on turkey and cheese sandwiches, taking the cold cuts and bread out of the fridge. I assembled the turkey and cheese on two slices of bread and spread butter on the other slice. Then I put the two bread slices together and handed one to my dad on a plate. His beer was already halfway empty.
"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" he asked when I picked up my sandwich. I blinked, giving him a confused look. He grabbed the sandwich from my hands and threw it at my face. I blocked it with my arms just in time for it to splatter all over me. What did I do wrong? What did I do?
"You don't get to eat! I told you to get a job or starve, idiot!" he yelled. I hung my head in shame. I forgot. I can't believe I forgot!
"I'm sorry, dad. I'm sorry! I'm so sorry," I whimpered. "Please don't punish me! Please, dad, please. I'm sorry!"
He stood up and walked over to me, grabbing my collar and throwing me into a wall. Pain shot through my back and I fell to my knees. He started kicking at my sides and I whimpered in pain. Don't cry. Don't cry. Don't cry. You can take it. You deserve it. He's knows what's best. This is for your own good. He's doing it for you. You deserve this! I laid there, taking the kicking for what seemed like forever. When he finally stopped, I started to stand up, but I couldn't.
"Get up!" he shouted and I winced at the loud noise. I tried standing again, succeeding this time. I heavily leaned against the wall as my side pounded with pain. Don't cry. You're okay. This is for you're own good. Don't cry. Please, don't cry. Don't let him see your tears. Only her.
"Get out. You've already broken a painting, so you're sleeping outside. Go!" he yelled, pushing me towards the door and walking away to finish his dinner. I shakily limped out of the house when I had put my shoes on and headed towards the cave. I was halfway there when somebody honked at me. I turned to see Theo's car. He stuck his hand out the window and motioned for me to get in. At this point, my side was swelling up, my hands and legs were shaking heavily, and I was shivering from the cold of the night. I got in with no hesitation, relieved to be in the warmth on his car.
"Carson, are you okay? What happened? Was it the guy at the party? Are you okay?" Theo asked, bombarding me with questions as soon as I closed the car door. I shook my head, shivering and shaking. Tears threatened to spill. If I talked, I was going to break down. He seemed to understand and stayed silent until we reached his house. He got out of the car, running to my side to help me out. I leaned heavily on him as I limped into his house. He set me down on his living room couch and went to get a first aid kit.
"It's nothing. I'm fine now," I said when I could talk properly. Theo looked at me like I was insane. I guess I was kind of insane. He set down the first aid kit.
"You're really not. What happened?" he asked. I waved the question off by pulling my phone out of my phone and putting music on. He sighed, but didn't push any further.
I'm really on the ropes this time
I've been fighting all my life for you
I never should have said goodbye
But maybe that's what stupid people do
I let him clean and bandage my arms and legs, but I don’t think he knew about my side. It’s fine. It’s just a few bruises anyways.
"I'm really messed up, aren't I?" I asked, giving Theo a dark smile. He gazed at me in concern before looking away, not bothering to answer my question. We both knew the answer, anyways. He put the kit away and sat next to me on the couch. I sighed.
Thank you for the happiest year of my life
Thank you for the happiest year of my life
We used to listen to this song all the time, her and I. We would lay on the hill, stargazing for hours on end. We'd pull all-nighters, just talking and listening to music. I loved those nights. I missed those nights.
"Tia, look at that star!" she said excitedly. I followed her finger to a bright star. I gazed up at it in wonder.
Thank you for the happiest year of my life
Thank you for the happiest year of my life
We listened to this song a lot. I guess it's her favorite song. Should I ask her? I heard her laugh and I turned my head to face her. She was pointing at more stars. The Little Dipper. I smiled. The Little Dipper was my favorite constellation. It was so bright and probably stretched across a million solar systems, but we called it the Little Dipper. It reminded me of her. She was such a small girl; such a small human, yet she contained some of the saddest secrets, some of the wisest words, and some of the kindest gestures. She had such a big heart in that small body.
I snapped out of my thoughts when Theo shifted on the couch. I noticed I was staring at him and quickly averted my eyes. Does he think I'm creepy now? Does he still want to be friends?
"Whatcha thinking about, Carson?" he asked curiously. I puffed air out of my nose in a quiet laugh and shook my head.
"Yeah. I know," he replied with a soft smile. It reminded me of her smile; soft, caring, sweet. I stared at his smile for a little longer, thinking, before I got off the couch. The smile dropped off his face and he stood up after me and grabbed my arm.
"Woah, woah. Sit back down," he said in concern. I shook my head ‘no’ and he sighed, but let go of my arm anyways. I began walking towards his front door and I heard him following me.
"I want to take you somewhere. I... I haven't taken anybody there for years. I don't know why I'm taking you now, but I just have a feeling that I need to. Follow me," I explained. He nodded and grabbed his car keys, but I stopped him and told him I wanted to walk. He hesitantly nodded and put his keys back. I grabbed my phone, stopped the music, and limped out the door. He followed me out and locked the door behind us. I began limping in the direction of my destination. I knew the way by heart, even though I hadn't been there in years. Theo's arms found they way to my shoulders and I shot him a grateful look as he helped me walk.
"Where are we going? Are you okay walking this long? Do you need my to carry you?" Theo asked after a few minutes into the walk. I sighed.
"Theo, it's a fifteen minute walk. I can manage," I replied. I led him past my house and towards a cluster of trees on the other side of the road. We walked past the trees and onto a slightly worn trail. Tall grass surrounded us as we walked on the flat path towards a big hill. When we reached the hill, Theo stopped walking.
"Carson, no. I'm not letting you limp up a hill. Here, get on," he said, crouching to my height. I shook my head in embarrassment.
"No way! I can walk fine! Let's go," I refused, starting to limp up the hill. Theo grabbed my arm and pulled me back to him.
"No!" I pouted crossing my arms. He sighed and shrugged.
"Guess we're doing this the hard way," he mumbled. I raised an eyebrow in confusion. He used his grip on my arm to pull me into his chest and lifted me into his arms bridal style. I flushed bright red and hung my head so he couldn't see my face as he started walking up the hill.
"You need to eat more. What did you have for dinner?" he asked nonchalantly. I didn't answer until he set me down at the top of the hill. I grabbed his arm and pulled him towards a giant stump on the hill. Memories flashed through my mind at the sight.
"Nothing," I said quietly, sitting on the stump. He sat next to me.
"Well, what did you eat for lunch?" he asked. I put some music on and laid down on the old wood.
"Nothing," I repeated. He copied me and laid next to me, turning his head to face me with a worried frown.
"If I ask you what you ate for breakfast, will you say something other than 'nothing'?" he asked next. I chuckled humorlessly and turned my face to face him as well.
"Nope," I answered, popping the 'p'. His frown deepened and he opened his mouth to say something but I cut him off.
"Theo, I'm fine! Stop worrying. I'm not even hungry."
"Carson. You need to eat! You ca-"
"Look, Theo. I brought you here for a reason, okay? Just drop it and lay here with me," I said, interrupting him. He sighed loudly.
"You are so frustrating!" he whined, but didn't say anything else. We laid on the old stump and listened to music together silently. I shivered lightly, the cold night breeze tickling my skin. Theo noticed and pulled the red beanie he was wearing off his head and placed it on mine. I pulled on the sides so it fit better. I saw him looking at me from the corner of my eye and had to fight a smile from crawling onto my face. He was looking at me like she did.
You've been on this road too long
Hearing music but it's not your song
Wanna scream but your voice is gone
Days trapped inside your head
A new song started playing. Theo stopped staring and returned his gaze to the sky with a smile. A shooting star whizzed by and I closed my eyes, making a wish. I know it's childish and probably stupid, but I've done it ever since I was little. When I was with her. I opened my eyes in time to see Theo also open his eyes. Did he make a wish too? I looked at him curiously. His eyes met mine for a second before I looked away.
"Look!" I said, pointing at a constellation. He followed my finger to see what I was looking at.
"The Little Dipper. It's my favorite constellation, actually," Theo said with a smile. It was?
"It's mine too," I said quietly.
Can't look up cause your world is down
Walking miles staring at the ground
All alone inside the crowd
Letting pockets hold your hand
Theo sat up and I copied him. I shot him a look of confusion. Why did he sit up? Did he want to leave? I didn't want to leave. I didn't ever want to leave. A few moments of peaceful silence passed before Theo broke it.
"Are you okay? Like... really okay?" he asked me seriously. My eyes hardened. Was I okay? Was I? I didn't even know if I was okay. I looked him in the eyes and saw a million things. I saw concern. I saw wisdom. I saw strength. I saw her. Why did he remind me so much of her? Was it his personality? Was it his voice? Was it the things he said and did?
"I-... I don't think I was ever okay. I don't think I'm ever going to be okay," I answered honestly, looking back at the stars. I could feel his eyes still locked onto mine. He looked down, then back up at me, biting his lip as if he wanted to say something. I turned my attention back to him.
"What?" I asked, tilting my head to the side curiously. He stopped biting his lip and sighed for what seemed like the fiftieth time. He didn't look at me, but at the sky.
"Are you scared of the dark? Or the night? Have you even ever been scared?" he asked finally. My thoughts immediately shot to that night. I was terrified that night.
"Somebody help! Please! Somebody help!" I screamed, tears running down my face like waterfalls. Nobody paid attention. Didn't anybody care?
I was so scared that night. I don't think I've ever been more scared in my life. I don't think I've ever not been scared since that night. I've always had this... terror inside of me since that night.
"Please! Call 911! Somebody help! Please, she's dying!" I screamed, my voice cracking. I was losing my voice, but I didn't care. I couldn't care.
"Carson?" Theo's voice snapped me back to reality. I looked at him and he looked back with concern in his eyes. Was he always worried or something? He always seemed to worry when he was around me. I shot him a dark, pained smile.
"Scared of the night and dark? I've loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night," I answered finally. He didn't reply, so I went on, "I've never been scared of the night or the dark. If anything, I'm terrified of the light; of the day. Somebody told me once, on this hill in this same spot, that I was like a star. I would hide away during the day and come alive at night. They told me that you had to look for me to see me in the day. I think..." I paused, thinking, "I think that changed when they left. I became hidden in the day and night. You couldn't see me either way. I was too far away. But, I was brought back into view. Somebody noticed I was too far out of sight, and pulled me back to Earth. That somebody was you, Theo."
"Me?" he asked and I nodded. "How is it me? I... I didn't do anything to help you. I just bothered you and forced you into a friendship. Sorry not sorry, by the way."
I chuckled and replied, "Yes, but that's what brought me back into sight again. You bothered me and bothered me, but because of that, I was able to come back here. Don't ask me why it's you, because honestly? I have no idea why. I just kinda know. I think I'm glad you forced me to be friends with you."
He smiled at me, but it wasn't returned. I didn't want to fake a smile around Theo anymore. If I smiled, it was genuine. I think he understood that when I didn't smile back. The song that was playing drifted to our ears as we laid back down.
You've got stars in your eyes
So lets paint the sky
I took in a deep breath of fresh air. Neither of us made any move to leave as we watched the sky and the stars together in silence. This is how I would spend my nights with her. This is how I want to spend my nights. Maybe I've finally found the right person to do it with. I closed my eyes and let the music slowly put me to sleep under the night sky.
[December 1, 2020]