“Sophia wasn’t the typical girl...” Carmichael started as he stood at the alter, an inch or two away from his daughter’s casket, hanging over her grave. “She was always comprehensive of how her dad wasn’t as rich as the others and always had a way to calm me down whenever I feel extreme emotions. She had a way with friends too. Ones I’ve seen the longest were Mia and Adrian.”
He paused as tears filled in his eyes. He tried breathing to relax himself, but tears ran as fast as a bullet down his old cheeks. “I had always feared that I would die alone. Because she was there, she would tell me not to worry. Exactly what she told me before I left town. She threw a party. Later on, her wrist was found oozing in a swamp. Such a terrible way to die! She had no idea that I never stopped worrying, never stopped loving her. These past few days, especially during the end of summer, I could tell she wasn’t her usual self. For most parts of this year she wasn’t, actually. But…in a way I’m relieved. She was going through so much pain. She criticized herself, a lot. And I would tell her she was beautiful and enough…every day. But…I know how it works. Sometimes just telling your child that you love and care about them isn’t enough.
Sophia killed herself. And we, parents, weren’t there for her. I urge you…to do better next time. That’s what she would have wanted. She would have wanted absolutely no tears during her funeral, that I know. Baby (Sophia)…I love you so much. And no amount of time will ever replace you. Wherever you are…behave yourself.”
A small applause followed as Carmichael sat down.
It was a day full of sunshine. But sad as the blackest day. I didn’t think I wasn’t ready for her burial, or her death, when the casket lowered. It was as if my heart was sinking with it, as heavy as the Titanic. I slowly hyperventilated as tears fell down my eyes. Gabriel held me towards his shoulder as he caressed my head. It felt like utter betrayal to notice that all her friends were at the funeral, except for Mia.
Mia had been reported missing, by the way. She couldn’t be found by any social services center around the city. Any detail about her, everything, was non-existent. But what’s funny was…no one cared. William, Mason, Jason…no one actually cared and that made me mad.
“You came.” I tried to smile.
“Of course.” Alan smiled back. “But…how are you coping?”
I sighed. “Im just glad this is all over.”
“Yeah, me too. A lot of shit has been going on. Sebastian’s at the hospital.”
“WHAT?!” I whisper-yelled. “Why didn’t you tell me this?”
“You know him…very prideful. I actually had to hear from his parents.”
“But…why? What happened?” My heart pulsated like a drum.
“I think you need to sit down for this.” He whispered as he sat down.
I mutely sat down, dying of suspense. “Yes?”
“Sebastian has chronic Leukemia.” Alan sighed.
And…I don’t know. After those words, something left me. I felt empty and apathetic. I felt…wrong. I wish, subconsciously, he had told me a week or two from now. But when? When it’s too late?
I stood up while he was talking and marched to my car. I could hear him yell, but I didn’t hear any actual words. Next second, I was driving my car, driving out of town apparently. I had no destination. No plan. Just driving.
I passed the beautiful artistry of dams and tall mountain rocks as the sun peaked to the middle of the sky. I found myself taking off my tuxedo, one I had initially planned to wear on my junior dance.
“You know I’ve never actually dated anyone.” Sebastian smiled as we held hands at Sophia and I’s favourite cafe outside of town, close to Clinton Hills.
“I did not.” I giggled.
“I’ve always tried to be perfect, even physically look perfect because…people would expect a certain ideal from a man considered to be the stereotypical appearance of a male model.”
“Maybe it’s why you and I dated in the first place.” He grinned.
“Because you have beautiful long hair?”
“And pretty teeth.”
“And pretty teeth?”
He sighed. “Would you say otherwise? Would you say you know me that well, Adrian?”
“What are you talking about? Of course I know you, Sebastian. I know that you are brave. I know that you are kind and thoughtful, although superficially you may come across as an asshole but…I know you.”
“None of the qualities are true.” He scoffed.
“Sebastian, pretty teeth and long hair are nothing but the cherry on top. And cherry is just cherry without cake. And I like the cake. You. You weren’t sure if you should date me, but you did. Despite the hatred and bashing you saw me receive with Alan. You love me anyway. You are kind enough to wait and thoughtful enough to be available, wherever you are, whenever I need you. I know you, Sebastian.”
“I know you too.”
“Is that our way of saying ‘love’.”
“Mh. I don’t know.” He shrugged. “We’re nonconformists in this world anyway. We can do whatever we want.”
“Whatever we want?” I giggled.
“Well…technically, I am a year older than you and legally, we shouldn’t be dating.”
“Gabriel wasn’t allowed to throw a freshman party with booze, but he did.”
My car drove into the small town of Nahoo again. Further driving toward the sea, my mind again drifted in back-to-back memories of ‘what could have still been’. My mind was contorted with guilt and regret. I remember thinking that Sebastian was only Niall’s puppet…only to find out that he was being manipulated.
I remember loving him so much and hating being apart. I remember stroking his hair and moments when Sophia would barge into my room when him and I were making out purposely only because she liked Alan for me more than Sebastian at first.
Eventually, like I did, she fell in love with him too.
“Why would you do this to me?” My eyes watered as a mysterious picture sent by an anonymous person of Sebastian kissing Katie, his classmate and ‘project partner’ at the Ski trip shredded my heart apart.
I showed him the picture and his eyebrows peaked. “It’s not what it…”
“I’d advise you not to use that cliche with me. OF COURSE I FUCKING SEE WHAT’S GOING ON. I WANT TO KNOW WHY!”
“BECAUSE I CAN’T HAVE SEX WITH YOU, DAMMIT!”
My heart froze as I looked at him. My voice wobbled. “W-what?”
“I mean I can’t…I can’t have sex with a minor.” He teared up.
“So you rather have it with Katie? Your ‘project partner’? I would have at least appreciated it if you broke up with me before you did!” I sob-yelled.
He shrugged. “It’s not only that. You’re so…BORING, man!”
“What?” My voice depleted.
“You heard me. You don’t even want to ride bikes with me. It’s like you live your life in fear and you’re pretty but…you don’t bring the…fire I need in my life. You don’t challenge me…it’s like…I’m dating a blank page with nothing to read.”
A low sigh filled with anguish left my mouth. “Sebastian…”
“Get out, man. I don’t want you anymore. And I don’t want you to want me.”
“Good.” I scoffed, now my anguish decomposed to fury. I walked around his room and opened his fridge in which, absentmindedly, I grabbed a bottle of beer and instantly THREW IT ACROSS THE ROOM on the wall, making a loud glass-shattering noise that startled Sebastian, the most relaxed person to exist.
I uncontrollably grabbed a paint brush (he was a visual painter, yes) and dunked it in black paint before smudging his recently completed portrait, violently tearing the page apart in venomous rage.
“NO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?” He ran to his portrait with widened, terrified eyes.
“I’M GOING CRAZY, CAN’T YOU TELL?!” I roared on his face before grabbing his bedside lamplight and destructed everything in my path, screaming as I burnt with hurt.
“Adrian, you are acting childish…”
“YOU SAID I’M A FUCKING MINOR, REMEMBER?!?”
I dropped the lamp furiously before grabbing my bag and stormed out. After closing the door, outside, I sobbed.
The pain was unforgettable.
Being told I was boring fueled my insecurities…that I would never be sufficient for a person, especially finding out after my relationship with Alan that he had been consistently cheating on me…both for the same reason. SEX!
I stepped out of the car and locked as soon as I was entirely out. I slid off the funeral sunshades I had bought specifically to hide my tears during the burial. My hair blew in all directions, since I had it untied to hide majority of my face. The sea breeze was wild as I could hear every crash of each wave.
There were only a few parkers at the lot and a few swimmers. As soon as I approached the sandy shore, I took off my formal shoe and walked heavily towards a distant place, where I would not be heard, holding my shoes in my hands.
David would take me to distant places, such as the abandoned hall he once took me to for gun practice, in hopes that my mind would restart. Unlike me, he liked the outdoors and found external ways to cope with internal conflicts and tribulations such as anger and…pain.
When I had finally isolated myself, my mind reminded me that I had just lost a friend and about to lose one again. Life was that. Life, when everything is dead and gone and you’re tired from internal and external war, steps on your head continuously until you struggle to knit the actual meaning to life.
I figured why I was there in the middle of the shore…
An earsplitting, age-long and hideous scream left my mouth and it wouldn’t stop. My body lost all power, but my mouth and voice kept crying. The voice, that cried, roared and laughed at the same time. Laughed, because how both Sophia and Sebastian were happiness-catalysts when things were collapsing. Roared, because I was furious. She died a vague death. She died painfully and everyone was angry at her. And maybe, I cried because it hurt.
It hurt to acknowledge that anything could be gone any minute. Anything, in an instant, can be nothing. I was afraid too. Afraid that Sebastian was just a boy. Scared. He was threatened as a child to fit in with others. He never lived to meet Love. Beauty was all he knew, all he was ever seen for and just when I was about to give it to him…I was underage for him, all to suddenly. That made me mad, but as I’ve once said…some things are more important than others.
My grief, my past feelings and my opinion doesn’t matter more than his life at that hospital.
And because of lockdown, I couldn’t see him. Although that made me wonder how Alan got to town in the first place. I didn’t bother cracking my skull about that…he came from a wealthy family who could buy the Gates to Heaven if they so desired.
Sebastian never had it easy. Both his parents were in local gangs around parts of Bellington. He was always the price to pay whenever his parents fucked up.
That molded him to being an object who everyone wanted to use. He had no identity in the eyes of others. No one, besides me, ever got to know him. And I’d say that confidently.
Thinking about him was easier. Thinking about Sophia felt like a stab, the same stab I felt behind my back the day she chose to believe Matthew over me. The day she sided with Julie over me.
But she apologized. And I said I was over it.
We spoke. She even gave me a gift that still remained sealed at the top of my closet. I should have tried to make amends. However, whether or not she was killed or she committed suicide…she’s dead. And nothing can ever bring back those shared moments I had with her.
Not even a flicker of light or a snap of a finger!
The following day…I felt better. It wasn’t different completely, but one stone was laid to bed. Sebastian had not answered my calls. I even left him messages, senseless messages, with no response.
David knocked on my door. I frowned. I had not seen him since I ran off at the funeral.
“I think I’m the one who’s supposed to be mad between the two of us.” He smirked.
“I’m not mad!” I hissed.
His eyebrow raised with a smile.
“Okay.” I sighed. “Maybe.”
“You’re not grounded anymore.” David smiled.
I looked at him and of course. It all made sense. “There’s a condition, isn’t there?”
“Uh huh!” He nodded.
I sighed again. “Yes, what’s the condition?”
“Conditions. First, whenever you feel like having a breakdown, come to daddy and not drive aimlessly to Nahoo.”
I nodded. That one wasn’t so bad.
“Second…I need you to learn to trust me. That means that every heavy decision that you make, or an accident you caused, you tell someone you trust, myself included.”
I nodded again.
“And lastly…I need you to see Dr Wells.”
I sighed heavily this time. “Yeah…I’ve been thinking about that a lot, daddy. I think I want to see Dr Wells.”
He grinned. “That’s my boy. C’mon, you’re going to be late.”
“For what? It’s Sunday.”
“You’ll see.” He kissed my forehead.
I nodded. After doing my morning routine, I joined the others on the table. “Morning.”
“Hey.” Gabriel and Alejandro sang with smiles.
“Feeling any better?” Alejandro smiled.
“Yes, actually. Thank you.”
“Your father is taking you to the mall, by the way.” Gabriel snorted.
“Oh no.” I smacked my head.
“I mean…do you dislike the mall?” Alejandro’s eyebrows raised.
“I do. A lot.”
“And you are certainly gay, you say?” Alejandro giggled.
“Gabriel doesn’t like shopping.” I shrugged.
“Which is why we’re getting him an outfit.” David joined the table. “His punishment is over.”
“Wait…him wearing thobes was a punishment?”
“Rather an initiation. I offered to buy him actual clothes, but he had, apparently, fallen in love with thobes.” David giggled as he dished for himself. “Plus, I had to expand my budget to save for the three of you going to college. At least you Adrian would have to wait another year.”
“Yay.” I responded sarcastically.
“Dr Ricky Langford found in his cell dead with sixteen stab wounds after allegedly starting a fight with one of the inmates. The town of Belvyn mourns a rapist, sex offender who has been involved in multiple criminal cases…” The news bulletin reported by an urgent female voice, caught our attention.
“Sixteen?” Alejandro exclaimed.
“The town of Belvyn mourns for him? Who’s mourning?” Gabriel shook his head.
David looked at me and caressed my shoulder. “Are you okay, son.”
“Oh daddy. Fights and fatal accidents happen every day. I’m not the least bothered.” I drank my orange juice with a hidden smile.
Things were about to change.
For the better.
Better be gone than living.