Life As He Knows It

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Lost & Found

I wasn’t gay. I could tell. My love for Josh wasn’t like that. It wasn’t intimate love. It was family love to an extreme. He knew I didn’t love him like that. He knew I was only testing how far I could go before I broke. I guess that’s why he didn’t want to talk to me again. I didn’t want to talk to him either; my heart was a pile of ashes again. I was still building my strength from the bomb of the USB message.

Tears came in waves at random times again, and Aubrey had to keep stopping every hour so I could throw up the food I had barely gotten into my stomach.

Depression is a sickness that nobody wanted to have but many people acquired.

Where are we going? Don’t ask questions that can’t be answered, you’ll break the universe. Fine, I’ll shut up.’ My brain spun with rivers of questions and sayings I wanted to speak, but my tongue felt like a piece of brick.

Violet was on my lap and licked the tears away that streamed down my rosy cheeks. ’Ring around the rosy/ a pocket full of posies/ Ashes ashes/ we all fall down.’ The rhyme that most kids sang in a circle, arms linked and smiles big, that rhyme was about the Black Plague.

Behind every happy face or cheerful song lyric, there was an evil monster that waits to tear you to shreds.

“Ben,” Aubrey said from the front, “Do you want me to pull over again?” Her knuckles were white from clutching the steering wheel too tight. I wanted to tell her that she was going to break out of her skin if she kept doing that. My voice would have been as playful and sarcastic as a puppy’s, but I couldn’t speak.

I shook my head in response to her question; my eyes looked out my window and into the foggy afternoon. Aubrey nodded and Josh grumbled something I couldn’t hear from beside her.

I thought that adults were the only ones that dealt with true insanity and pain. I thought that kids couldn’t feel anything but happiness because of their innocence. And then there was me, too mature for the kids my age, but not mature enough for the people older than I was. And then there was me, who knew real insanity and pain just by listening to a voice I thought I would never hear again. And then there was me, who wanted to escape my own mind and not have to deal with the real world. And then there was me, who wanted nothing more than to hurdle myself out of a window, curl into a ball and die.

Like most things, Insanity and Pain was a lovely couple from afar, but not up close.

My greatest fear was my own mind, and it crushed my soul until it shattered into millions of pieces until I lost control.

“Ben,” Aubrey said again, “I dunno what was on that USB, but you seem really upset about it. Can-can I help in any way?” I didn’t look at her. I didn’t know if she could help, it depended on what she was going to say.

I shrugged my shoulders and stared out into oblivion some more while thinking about different way to punch myself in the face without seeming insane.

She pulled over anyway. Then she started to cry. Not the little tears that meant you care, but the full on sobbing tears that meant you felt pain.

I once read somewhere, that if you cry out of your left eye first it means that you’re sad, and if you cry out of your right eyes first it means you’re happy. What if you cry out of both eyes at the same time? Are you happy, sad, or just confused? This was what Aubrey was doing, crying out of both eyes at the same time.

Josh unbuckled and cradled his big sister while she cried. Aubrey sobbed into her brother’s chest and heaved huge gulps of air. Violet walked over to their seats and whimpered beside them. I stayed in my seat and waited for the depression that ran through the vehicle to pass.

It had been two weeks since I had last seen my mother cry. It had been two days since I had last heard my father speak. It had been a lifetime since I had seen myself happy. I wanted it all to end, the sadness, the loneliness and the terror, the pain, the emptiness and the sorrow.

It needed to end, all of it.

Aubrey’s sobs buzzed in my brain like a thousand bees. ’Shut up.’ Her tears hit the seat with a deafening crash. ’Shut up.’ Her heart thumbed like a train on top speed. “SHUT UP!” it came out even before I could process what I was saying.

GET OUT!” Josh yelled back at me with a look of pure rage on his face.

“W-what?” I stuttered.

“I said get out. Just leave. Leave us alone!” His voice was strong and intimidating. Like a bear stalking its prey.

“If I’m not mistaken,” I snapped at him. “But you two were the ones that invited me on this trip.”

“And now we would like you to leave.” Josh growled back. I was shocked at his anger; I had never seen him this angry before. It wasn’t like I had done anything wrong.

I grabbed my bags and stepped out of the van to watch it roll away and back onto the highway.

Then I started to walk in nowhere particular, just not in the corn field that was beside me. I didn’t even know where I was, or where to go; I just started walking.

Some person had the generosity to stop their vehicle and give me an umbrella and the directions to the closest town. He also gave me a granola bar and a water bottle. I thanked him and tried to give him money, but he refused politely and drove away.

That’s when it hit me that the world wasn’t as cruel or nice as it may seem. It was somewhere in the middle, like most people.

I started to walk in the direction of the town, following the road, and soon I saw it; the buildings and houses, the cars and bicycles, the shops and restaurants. I had made it on my own for the first time.

I went straight to the cheapest restaurant I could find (which was a McDonalds) and ordered myself a burger and fries. It felt good to do something on my own for a change. ’Maybe this won’t be so bad. Maybe it could be good to be on your own. Shut up, we’re going to die. I don’t like your attitude, Mister. Deal with it.

The burger tasted like heaven and the fries had a lot of salt on them, which was nice because I loved salt. After I finished, I started to look for a park bench with a little bit of shelter. The town was nice to me, and it stopped raining when I finally found somewhere to sleep.

When I sat on the bench and set down my bag I did something I hadn’t even thought of doing.

I checked my phone.

You’re such an idiot.’ 120 missed calls from: Mom. 50 missed calls from: Dad. ’Great, you even got Dad to call you.’ But instead of calling them, I plucked in my earbuds and started to listen to music. I leaned my head back against the bench and put my hood up against the biting wind. It was oddly cold for June, and I wanted it to warmer. I wanted it to be earlier in the day as well, so I could explore this paradise I had found in a world full of loneliness.

Somebody tapped my shoulder and I opened my eyes to see who had disrupted my music listening.

A soaking wet Josh stood in front of me as he shook like a leaf in a fall thunder storm.

I yanked out my earbuds with my hand and stood up to hug him. Not because I had missed him, but because he looked absolutely freezing. Josh scrunched up against me to make himself warmer, and I wrapped myself around his torso and tried to heat him up as much as I could.

“How’d you find me? How’d you get here? Why didn’t you bring a jacket?” The questions popped out my mouth and into his ear.

“I followed you,” he answered me in a small voice. “We got down the street a bit before I jumped of the van and started chasing after you. I didn’t bring a coat because I was in a hurry. I thoroughly regret it now.” He half smiled and blew air out of his nose, sort of like a laugh.

I hugged him tighter and tried to forgive his stupidity.

Aubrey found us sitting on the bench while we were hugging ourselves against the cold. She crossed her arms impatiently as we tried to beg her forgiveness. In the end, we weren’t allowed to leave her sight again. And so, we started to drive again, but Aubrey made sure to stop at Tim Horton’s to buy us hot chocolate.

Josh and I were freezing, and we would probably get a cold, but we didn’t care. It had been an experience, not a very fun experience, but an experience.

“You boys are in sooo much trouble,” Aubrey exclaimed as she drove away from my mini-paradise. It was the first time I had seen her really angry. It looked like she might’ve ripped our heads off.

I was scared of her at this moment, she seemed to breathe insanity and anger, and then I realized why ‘mad’ was another word for ‘crazy’. Anger and hate makes you do insane things.

“I thought I had lost you two. Jesus Christ, why would you do something like that?”

“It isn’t really my fault?” I chided in and Aubrey glared at me in the rear-view, “Right?” This, of course, was not the right thing to say. Aubrey gritted her teeth, and I could tell that she wanted to call me a lot of nasty things but her mouth stayed closed.

“Don’t ask questions nobody has the answers to,” Josh said jokingly, “You’ll break the universe.” I rolled my eyes at him and he winked playfully at me from his seat. Aubrey let out an angry huff and I started to chuckle as I stared out my window.

We didn’t speak to each other after this; all of us were in our own little worlds of thought and emotion. My father once said to me that the best kind of friendship is when you can sit with a friend and not talk to each other for hours but still have fun. I agreed with him, and liked it when it was silent like this.

“Can somebody else drive for a while,” Aubrey whined to us, “I want to take a nap.” This made me giggle.

“Sorry to break it to ya, sis,” Josh joked, “But you’re the only one who knows how to drive.” He winked at me again.

“Next year, when you get your learner’s permit, I’m making you drive me everywhere.” Josh and I laughed at this and started talking about what we will do once we can drive.

“I’m totally going to Disneyland.” He said with a smile.

I scoffed. “I’m going to just drive down to the corner because I can.” We laughed some more, and soon, Aubrey was smiling with us.

Her green eyes sparkled with joy and her blond hair looked like a canola flower in the sunlight. It was then that I realized that she, just like her brother, was beautiful. Not that I liked her in any way, she just looked happily beautiful and very confident with herself.

Aubrey carried herself with a satisfaction that most adults didn’t have, it was pride that she had, a proud pride that most people got drunk on, but not Aubrey.

She respected the people who respected her. And I thought that that was really wonderful.

“Guys?” Josh looked out the front windshield with a panicked expression. “We got a road check.” I knew what he meant, and total chaos overload went through my head.

At random parts on highways, cops would pull up and ask you if you were drinking, what you were doing, etcetera. It was normal, but in our case we had two minors who had runaway with a barley legal adult. I could see why Josh was worried about a road check. Aubrey drove on as she bounced in her seat nervously.

And then it was our turn.

“How are you this afternoon?” A female officer with dark hair and light eyes asked.

“Fine, just taking my little brothers shopping,” Aubrey said coolly and smiled sweetly. The officer looked at us, smiled slightly and then nodded.

“Any alcohol today, Miss?” Aubrey shook her head.“Alright, drive safely.” Aubrey nodded.

“I will.” She drove further away from the cop cars and the officers with handcuffs. All three of us let out shaky sighs of relief. Josh tilted head back against the seat in relaxation.

“I am literally shaking,” he exclaimed. I nodded even though I knew he couldn’t see me. Aubrey took in a deep breath and breathed it out slowly. “I’ve always hated cops.” Josh said, and I couldn’t have agreed more with him.

They’re scarier than the guns they carry.

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