The Journal of James Oaklund

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So I called Ryan today, and asked if we could talk for a while. I wanted to hash out what Amaryllis had told me, see if we could make some sense of it all. He seemed a little reluctant to pull himself away from his TV, but he seemed to understand it was really important by the tone of my voice. I didn't say outright what it was I wanted to talk to him about, I figured I'd explain that in person.

Ryan pulled up in front of my place and greeted me with a bro hug and a playful ruffling of the hair. It kind of made me forget for a moment that there was some weird shit going on, if I can be honest. Seeing him so happy was a little surreal in and of itself, but I was glad for it.

I showed Ryan up the stairs and into my place, grabbed a few beers from the fridge, and plopped down on the couch. We shot the shit for a little while as I beat around the bush, but I eventually did get to it.

"Hey, man, so...Y'know how things have been going weirdly great lately? Like, everything's going your way?"

He gave me this odd look and his jaw sort of dropped a little, then he shook his head and chuckled.

"I don't know how you knew that...But yeah. I've been weirdly lucky lately. What about it?"

I took a deep breath and sighed, preparing myself to say what I needed to.

"I've been having it too, but it's not just happenstance or random luck. It's Ben's doing."

Ryan looked at me like I'd grown a second head and opened his mouth to speak, but I held up my hand and continued.

"The flowers that're around everywhere? They only seem to appear for people who've had something changed in their lives, and they seem to grow in areas where Ben changed something. That's not all."

Ryan was looking increasingly concerned, likely thinking I was starting to lose my mind. He waited for me to collect my thoughts and have another swig of the beer in my hand.

"Amy-our Amy-is gone. The one that we've been talking to the past month or so is a fake, an imposter or something. Our Amy was named Amelia, the fake is named Amaryllis. I don't have any proof, but...I think Ben got rid of Amy somehow, and put Amaryllis in her place in the hopes we wouldn't notice, or something."

Ryan took a long, deep breath, and sighed. He looked over at me and shook his head, laughing.

"Jesus, man. I think you might be workin' a bit too hard on the job and not restin' enough. How do you even know any of this? Did the doc tell you?"

I returned his look, dead serious, and solemnly shook my head.

"Amaryllis told me herself. She invited me over for dinner, told me that Ben had been making things happen somehow, and that she'd been put here in place of our Amy, and that she didn't know where she ended up. She got really, genuinely terrified after her phone went off and she pretty much shoved me out the front door."

Ryan had definitely stopped smiling then, and just looked back at me with this expression of a dawning realization hitting him.

"So...If she straight-up told you all that, then it's probably true, right? Damn...That's just...Heh, wow. Holy shit."

He laughed incredulously and shook his head before looking back over at me with a curious look on his face.

"So...What are you gonna do about it?"

I took yet another deep breath before replying.

"I'm gonna go confront Ben and put a stop to all of this. It's just not right. Plus...I want our Amy back. Amaryllis just...Isn't our Amy. I need to make Ben put everything back, just the way it was before it all started."

He sounded a bit more serious when he asked his next question.

"Everything? Back exactly like it was before this all started? How do you intend to do that?"

I shrugged and gestured over towards the closet by the front door of my apartment, a dire look on my face.

"I've got an old pistol. I'll just use it to intimidate the guy, I don't want to have to shoot the bastard. Don't want a murder charge on my record, heh."

Ryan didn't laugh with me, instead silently looking down at the bottle in his hand. It was a few moments before he started speaking again.

"Y'know, James, have you ever considered the fact that Ben has only ever made our lives better? He got you your dream gig, got me my dream car, I mean, Christ, he even woke my mom up. Even if he did do somethin' weird with Amy, we can just make him give her back. Though we do still have an Amy here...I dunno dude, she seems just like the real Amy to me. Just promise me you'll think a bit more on this before you do somethin' stupid."

I looked back at him, with a look on my face like he'd just kicked my cat or something.

"Are you being serious right now? You're willing to completely overlook him making our best friend fucking disappear because he got you a shiny new car?"

I regretted the words as soon as they left my mouth; they were coated in a certain vitriol that I'd only intended for Ben, but it had slipped out as the topic was fresh in my mind. Ryan looked down at the beer bottle in his hand as it began to shake. He looked back over at me, quiet rage brewing like a storm behind his eyes.

"I'm a little pissed about that, yeah, but y'know fuckin' what, James? I got my mother back. Years of never knowin' if she was just gonna goddamned croak in the middle of the night, stayin' up till the crack of fuckin' dawn worryin' about it, havin' to deal with the doctors talkin' shit about me behind my back for thinkin' she was gonna wake up...Never havin' to deal with that shit again makes anythin' worth it. I know you don't have a lot at fuckin' stake here, Mr. Hero, but maybe take a second to consider the fact that other people have some pretty big fuckin' horses in this race too."

Ryan stood up and walked over to the door promptly, getting ready to leave. I couldn't help myself...I followed up, consumed by agitation.

"Well, at least I'm not being fucking selfish."

Ryan shot me a glaring look as he pulled open my front door and slammed it shut behind him. I could hear him hurry down the stairs, likely trying to get out of here quickly so he didn't do or say something he might regret. Well, regret more than coming over here today, I guess. The anger subsided fairly quickly, replaced by a well of guilt.

I've kinda just been...Sitting here, stewing, thinking about what I'm going to do. I have to confront him, but...Ryan's right. Other people seem to be getting things they want out of life they may not have gotten otherwise, and I feel a little bad taking that from them...But at the same time, he took my best friend away to...God knows, maybe she's gone for good, maybe he can bring her back, I don't fucking know. I can't forgive that.

Tomorrow I'll call and let him know I'm coming by for another visit. I want some answers.

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