We stopped at another hotel that night, and I started to wonder how much money Aubrey had, and how much she was willing to spend on this ‘adventure.’
She seemed happy to spend it though, too happy to spend so much money.
“It’s our dad’s money,” Josh said suddenly, as though he could read my thoughts, “She doesn’t really like him, so she wants to spend as much of it as she can.” I didn’t understand all of it, but I nodded anyway.
Hate was something I knew about anyway.
Josh and I were sharing another bed, which we were both fine with. Our romantic fling of affection was over; it was after all, only a fling. He was over me, and I could tell had other things on his mind. I knew this because he wouldn’t stop mumbling to himself at random moments. ‘Okay, so you gotta watch this video later... Oh, my God Josh, why are you being such an idiot today?’
It was exactly how my brain sounded at moments.
“Please tell you two are not going to start fighting again?” Aubrey asked us as she stepped out the bathroom; she had changed into baggy grey track pants and a faded pink tank top.
I looked up from my really good book and poked Josh in the side to get him to take out his earbuds. He glared me, but reluctantly took them out. I nodded toward Aubrey and looked toward his sister.
“Don’t fight,” she pleaded and raised her hands to her chest as if she was praying to a god of some sort, “Please.” Violet climbed on my/Josh’s bed and lay down in front of me.
I nodded at Aubrey and Josh gave her a thumbs up so he could put his earbuds back in.
She sighed at us and rolled her eyes in annoyance.
“Boys,” she said, annoyed.
“Excuse me, Miss,” I said jokingly in a sassy tone and put my hands on my hips. “But we are men. We are as manly as Hell!” Aubrey scoffed and started to giggle; Josh didn’t hear me, which made it even funnier.
I flopped onto my back and Violet got up to start licking my face. My skinny arms couldn’t push her off, so I gave up and let her give me the most slobbery face wash I had ever had.
A laugh came out my mouth and Violet put a paw on my chest to make sure I didn’t try to run away. Her brown and black muzzle whipped up and down my face as her pink tongue licked over my eyes, up my nose, in my ears, and on my face.
She was definitely the relief in our little band of misfits.
After Violet stopped licking me, Aubrey turned off the lights and it was time to sleep. But I wasn’t tired; my mind was wide awake again and was wandering toward the darker side of myself. ’Join the Dark Side,’ it said, ’We have ice cream and a whole bunch of shit you don’t want to deal with.’ I joined the fun and found out a lot of things I didn’t want to.
I had another nightmare.
This time, I was standing alone in an empty field of dead and yellow grass. I looked up and saw that the sky wasn’t blue or grey, but blood red. Then it started to rain. It wasn’t normal rain water, but acid rain that melted my clothes and skin until I was nothing but bones.
Still standing, I started to walk around in my new form. Then I started to run, faster and faster and faster, as though someone was chasing me, and I got the feeling that someone was.
Not someone, but something. The thing that was chasing me was not human, maybe not even an animal.
I ran as fast as I could, and then I was falling through air. My mind was racing and my heart was pounding and my breathing was bounding. I was just about to hit the ground when...
“Ben! Wake up!” Josh’s voice boomed in my ear. He sounded concerned, scared even, but I didn’t know why he was scared, I was the one who was about to die after all. “Wake up!” I groaned. ’Shut up! ’
My eyes opened slowly. “I’m up. I’m up.” I sat up and looked around our room groggily. My hair stood up in odd angles but I didn’t care. Light streamed through our open curtains and I felt a blush creep to my cheeks; the whole world could see me in my pajamas.
And beside me, Josh stared at me with wide, shocked eyes.
“What?” I asked him.
“You started to scream, in your sleep.” He said it as though it were a new concept to him, but sleep screaming was a very common thing I did. I shrugged at him, and he gave me a surprised look in return.
Aubrey was still sleeping in her bed, Violet laying at her side, one paw on her boob. I flipped my legs over the side of the bed and walked over to the fridge to grab a Mountain Dew. Violet flinched and grumbled in her sleep, her breaths deep, slow and peaceful. Her sleek, athletic body lay on its side, the left rib cage facing up and rising with each breathe the dog took.
“She’s cute.” I said to myself more than anyone else.
“You’re cute.” Josh replied quietly.
“Nothing,” Josh said swiftly. “It was nothing. I didn’t say anything. Wait, did you say something?” I shook off his rambling and took a sip of my citrus Mountain Dew. ’Mmm, Mountain Dew.’
I enjoyed the simple pleasures in life: Family, friends, fun, joy and citrus Mountain Dew. Josh sighed in relief, for some reason, and Aubrey rolled over onto her stomach. ’I wonder if that hurts her boobs, or something? Wait, what am I thinking? OF COURSE it hurts her boobs!’ I shook my head at my thoughts and walked back over to Josh.
“Hi.” I said as I stood in front of him.
“Hello.” he replied.
“How’s life?” I took a sip of my Dew.
“Good. How’s yours?”
“Great!” I took another sip, put the cap on, and crawled over Josh to get to my spot. He chuckled. Before I could get to my side he started to tickle me under the ribs. The thing was, I was extremely ticklish, but I hated being tickled. A guffaw escaped my mouth before I could stop it, and I could hear that Aubrey had sat up to glare at us.
“Go to SLEEP!” She grumbled.
“Good mornin’ to you, too, Sunshine!” Josh said sarcastically. I laughed and Aubrey got up to push me off of her brother. She then stepped away from us, crossed her arms in front of her chest, and pouted like a little five year old. Violet jumped up from her slumber and hopped off the bed to join the fun.
I couldn’t stop giggling; the feeling of Josh tickling me was still going through my body.
“Aw, c’mon big sister,” Josh whined at her, “I want to have some fun today. Maybe play outside or somethin’.” Aubrey rolled her green eyes at him and flipped some loose blond curls behind her shoulder. “Or we could just blast some music and dance around the halls like psychos. Yeah, I like that idea.”
“Who are we going to play then?” I asked him, Josh turned to look at me and smiled wickedly. I knew this grin; it was an evil grin with an evil idea behind it.
“MCR of course, we’ll bring out all the nerds and geeks.” He laughed greatly.
“MAY THE KILLJOYS AND BLACK PARADERS UNITE!” Aubrey shouted and pumped her fist in the air. Her enthusiasm excited me, and I loved the band that Josh had picked. My Chemical Romance was one of the best punk/emo bands there were. I was kind of sad that they had broken up, but I didn’t think of that at this moment.
“What album?” I asked.
“Danger Days, another obvious choice,” he replied confidently. I grinned at him, and he grinned back. ’This is going to be awesome!’
“Look alive, Sunshine
109 in the sky but the pigs won’t quit
You’re here with me: Dr. Death Defying
I’ll be your surgeon, your proctor, your helicopter
Pumpin’ out the slaughtermatic sounds to keep you alive
A system failure for the masses, antimatter for the master plan
Louder than God’s revolver and twice as shiny
This one’s for all of you rock ‘n’ rollers
All you crash queens and motor babies
The future is bulletproof!
The aftermath is secondary!
It’s time to do it now and do it loud!
Killjoys, make some noise!”
Josh held his laptop over his head and let the music blast from its crappy speakers. I let the full on punk rocker boy that had always been inside me come out and take over my body. My body turned, twisted and let loose all of its worries into my dancing.
I didn’t care what I looked like, my emotions were pouring into the music and I didn’t want to let that go. Aubrey laughed and danced beside me, Josh jumped, swayed and whirled on the other side of me; his laptop safely secured in his two hands.
Doors opened all around us and, surprisingly, people joined in. Little kids, pre-teens, teens, adults, seniors, they all joined in our dance of freedom and happiness. We all started to move towards the stairs, and soon we were dancing and laughing and singing down in the main lobby. Even some of the workers started to join in with us; some just stood and sang along. ***
“Move your body when the sunlight dies
Everybody hide your body from the scarecrow
Make a wish when your childhood dies
Hear the knock, knock, knock when she cries
We’re all alone tonight
Hold your breath when a blackbird flies
Count to seventeen and close your eyes
I’ll keep you safe inside”
Many people had left by this point, but a lot of us were still dancing. We danced and sang and laughed, and I wondered how long it was until people would realize that this wasn’t our intention. All we wanted to do was to annoy the Hell out of people until we got kicked out, but this was way better. It showed the power of one simple gesture could go a long way.
And then it happened. Josh was dancing beside me, he turned to face me, I looked back at him, and then we were kissing. We had stopped dancing of course. I had put my arms around his head and he had hugged my waist. The music kept blaring around us, and the guitar solo started and I smiled under the kiss.
This was what I wanted out of life: love, music and someone to share it all with.
We broke apart and I put my head on Josh’s chest, and in this moment I liked that I was shorter than he was. It made me feel like he could hold me tighter than anyone else could.
Josh kissed the top of my head and I nudged my head closer into him in as an answer.
“Ben,” he whispered to me. “I really like you.” A weight on my chest I didn’t know was there suddenly gave away. I sighed into him and looked up at his face.
“I really like you too,” I replied. This made him smile, and I loved his smile so much. His brown eyes weren’t as dark as normal that day, and instead of being empty they shone with something I had never seen them with, they shone with love.
My heart raced as he gently pressed his forehead against mine, and we started to slow dance, even though the song was fast. I truly loved him in this moment, not just puppy love, but the love that everyone needs to have. A caring love that not many people find in a person: a lover, a friend, a parent... anybody.