M A B E L
Hayes is still in bed by the time mid-afternoon rolls around. I don’t want to leave him alone after what happened last night– after I saw the vertical scars on his pale arms. He’s lying wide awake in his room, but something is completely off about him, and it’s honestly starting to worry me. Part of me is scared to bother him, the man seems to want to be left alone. Maybe he’s just not feeling well. Maybe he’s still hungover.
Riley had left first thing this morning, rambled on tiredly about how carpeted flooring is more uncomfortable than it looks as she made her way out the front door. She didn’t even mutter a goodbye, though I’m honestly not that surprised since Riley is a total monster in the mornings. But I’m honestly kind of grateful for the silence that envelopes me as I sit on Hayes’ ratted couch– nothing has been this quiet, and peaceful in a long while.
It’s a little too quiet though.
I push myself up off the sofa, begin to head towards the stairs to see if the green eyed man needs anything. I feel bad that I don’t know how to make him feel better– he’s been quiet all day. I step into his bedroom, the afternoon sunlight being blocked from entering his room by a wool black blanket covering his window. The man definitely isn’t himself.
He’s lying in his large bed, covers pulled over his head to shield himself from the world around him. I wonder if he’s asleep, or if he’s still wide awake like he was not even an hour ago. This isn’t normal, is it? To lay in bed all day with the curtains drawn, and covers pulled up over his head?
I don’t get a single response– not a sound. So I sit on the edge of his mattress, springs creaking under me as I shift to get comfortable, and face the mountain of grey blanket with a beautiful man beneath.
“Hayes, you shouldn’t lay in bed all day.”
Again, I don’t get a response, so I take it upon myself to pull back the covers slowly. His black hair is disheveled, an inky mess atop his head. The man’s dead green eyes are opened, but he isn’t looking at me, he’s lying on his side staring at the wall like it somehow intrigues him. There are white earbuds in his ears, blaring music so loud I can make out every lyric. I pull out an earbud gently, being careful not to hurt him.
His gaze snaps to me, eyebrows furrowed, and teeth biting down on his lower lip.
“It’s two o’clock, Hayes,” I speak again, this time being heard. “You haven’t eaten all day, and you should at least get some fresh air.”
All the man does is shrug before he rolls back over onto his side, pulls the gray covers up to his bare shoulders.
“I want to be left alone.” He mutters, voice muffled by the pillow he shoves his face into.
I shuffle closer to him despite his request, and I’m about to touch his messy hair, but I stop myself. He doesn’t remember what happened last night, it’s not like I expected him to, but a small part of me still feels hurt by it. I’m just about to ask him what’s wrong when the doorbell rings, and Hayes curses into his pillow.
“I’ll get it.” I speak softly, and he only nods.
It worries me that Hayes is in such a state, but I obviously can’t do anything since he wants nothing but to be left alone. With a small sigh I force myself off his bed, and out of his bedroom. Someone is ringing the doorbell again once– twice, and I hurry down the stairs so I don’t have to listen to them press that damned button one more time. I skip the last two steps, landing on the ground perfectly on my sock covered feet.
The doorbell is rung once again.
I grit my teeth, grip the doorknob so tight the coldness of the metal bites into the palm of my hand. I huff out a frustrated breath before swinging the front door open, plastering on a smile that I’m sure doesn’t quite reach my eyes. Why is every little thing pissing me off lately?
“Where the hell is my son?”
My smile drops instantly, staring wide eyed at the older woman on Hayes’ front porch. There is no doubt that this is his mother. He looks just like her– exactly like her. Strong cheekbones, eyes the palest shade of green, and hair so dark it makes midnight jealous.
I gape at the frantic woman.
“H-he’s upstairs.” I curse myself for stuttering, but I’m shocked to see this woman standing before me. “But, Mrs. Winchester, you shouldn’t bother him, he says he wants to be left a–”
I don’t even get to finish my sentence because she’s walking into the house, sliding past me, and heading straight for the stairs. I’ve never seen such a woman so determined, it’s inspiring.
“Hayes!” She calls out as she walks up the stairs two at a time. “Sweetheart?”
I glance over my shoulder at the woman once she reaches the top of the staircase, and I’m just about to close the door when three boys step onto the front porch. My eyebrows furrow at the sight of them, each one a couple years younger than the other, but they all look so similar.
“Damn, who are you?” The oldest speaks, brown, almost black hair being rustled by the cold December breeze.
Definitely Hayes’ siblings no doubt, they all look just like their mother– beautiful. I step out of the way for them to come inside, to escape the cold that is no doubt biting at their exposed skin.
“Mabel.” I introduce myself, though I’m sure none of them really care.
The younger one follows after his older brother, pushes his glasses up the bridge of his pale nose before taking in his surroundings. He’s a lanky boy, tall, and intelligent looking with a dark sweater that hugs his thin frame. If the boy didn’t wear glasses, and had just a bit more meat on his bones, he would be the spitting image of Hayes Winchester. But the boy definitely has more sweeter, and softer features.
The boy who had asked me my name smiles boyishly, leans up against the door after I close it with a loud slam. Freckles litter his cheeks, and along the bridge of his sharp nose, which only seems to add to his charming features. He doesn’t look old enough to have even graduated high school.
“You’re hot.” He comments, which causes his lanky brother to snort.
I roll my eyes, cross my arms over my chest before shooting the boy a glare.
“Like coffee,” I remark. “Hot and bitter.”
The littlest boy smiles at me, braces and all, and it takes me by surprise that it reaches his eyes. They all look so alike that I couldn’t help but think that they all act the same– I figured they would take after their oldest brother.
“You’re such a pig, Chance,” the lanky boy says to his brother, blows his dark hair off his pale forehead. “Can you not be a gentleman for a single millisecond?”
So he was the one Hayes shared a bedroom with? I can’t imagine how agonizing that had to be for the poor man, his brother seems very obnoxious, and he hasn’t even been here for five minutes.
“At least I don’t have a girl name.” Chance retorts, sticks his pink tongue out at his brother childishly.
“It’s unisex, you ass.” The boy rolls his eyes, walks further into the house to get a better look. “Why do you always have to bring that up every time you open your mouth? It’s a bit pretentious, if I do say so myself.”
Deciding to ignore their little argument, I walk into the kitchen. I can vaguely hear their muffled voices as they bicker back and forth, and as I begin to dig through the cabinets for a cup the youngest boy shuffles in. He smiles at me again, like we’ve known each other since he was in diapers.
He’s a strange little boy that takes every detail of the small kitchen in with his big blue eyes. He seems fascinated with the smallest things that catch his eye, and touches everything he can reach.
“I’m Leo.” The boy beams, bounces on the balls of his feet.
I smile politely at the young boy, continue with my search for a glass, but eventually I give up, and turn to look at Leo. The boy doesn’t even look old enough to be in high school, his fascination with everything clearly gives that away as well. No high schooler is fascinated with everything they lay their eyes on.
“Are you Hayes’ girlfriend?” He asks, takes a seat on an empty barstool.
I shake my head with a smile.
“No, I’m not, Leo,” I chuckle. “I’m far from it. I’m just a friend.”
His dark eyebrows furrow, nose scrunched up in confusion has he stares at me.
All the Winchester brothers are strange.
The lanky brother walks into the kitchen also, his black rimmed glasses resting perfectly on his pretty face. The boy is too pretty for his own good, but by the way he walks shows he doesn’t think so himself. He’s so easy to read it’s honestly sad.
“I don’t believe I had the opportunity to properly introduce myself,” he holds out his slender hand after pushing his glasses up again. “I’m Brooklyn.”
I shake his hand, smile at him because he’s the most normal out of them all.
“But people just call me Brooks.” He finishes, and pulls his cold hand out of mine to sit down beside his younger brother.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” I joke, and Brooklyn smiles in response.
I’ve never seen a boy so angelic looking. He looks so sweet with high cheekbones, and hands that look like they belong to a writer. He must use those pale fingers to scratch words into paper with a pen clenched in his hand. Within the short amount of time that I’ve listened to him I can tell he’s intelligent, he has to be.
Mrs. Winchester steps into the kitchen, each of her soft footsteps are wary, and unsure as she catches my gaze. The woman smiles sadly, heads toward a row of cabinets nailed to the wall above the counter I lean up against.
“I’m sorry I rushed in here without being invited,” she apologizes as she begins to dig through her son’s cabinets. “That was very rude of me.”
I smile at her, nod my head because I honestly don’t understand why she’s apologizing to me, this is her son’s house, not mine.
“What’re you looking for? I’d be happy to help.” The woman seems taken aback by my kindness.
The poor woman is abused, she must not be given much kindness other than by her own children.
“Hayes didn’t take his medication this morning,” she shakes her head sadly, but continues to open more cabinets. “I knew something was wrong. He didn’t sound in very good shape last night, said he was drinking. I told him to call me this morning, but he didn’t, so that’s why I’m here.”
I gape at her.
There are way too many questions running through my mind all at once, and if I don’t get answers to them soon I just might become dizzy.
“Can you tell me what happened last night, please?” She’s disparate for answers just as much as I am. “I’m just worried about my son.”
What parts am I supposed to tell her, and what parts am I supposed to leave out? How can I possibly tell a mother that I found her son lying on the side of the road after mixing pills with alcohol, it would completely ruin the poor woman.
But I tell her anyway since I know it’s the right thing to do, she has a right to know. I tell Hayes’ mother about how he called me so scared. I tell her how he wasn’t just drinking, but taking some unknown drug too. I tell her about how I saw his scars and when he told me about his dead best friend and how he ruined the floorboards in the back of my truck.
Mrs. Winchester is a crying, blubbering mess by the time I finish telling her the events of last night. There’s three different pill bottles in her shaking hands now, and all three of them have three different names for three different illnesses, and I know about none of them.
Brooklyn is wiping at his eyes with his black sweater sleeves, sliding off the barstool, and stomping to god knows where. But just before he can step out of the kitchen, Hayes shuffles in wearing nothing but baggy sweatpants that look a little too big on his waists.
Please Jesus, have mercy.
His mom wipes her eyes with the backs of her hand, pill bottles rattling as she does so. Hayes isn’t looking anywhere other than his silently crying mother, and without a word he tiptoes toward her. His bare shoulders are hunched, and his head bowed low like a little boy being scolded by an angry parent.
“I’m sorry, Ma.” He whispers, and he’s about to hug her, but she shoves his medication at him.
Brooklyn glares at his brother, and I suddenly feel like I shouldn’t be here, but I stay cemented to the counter.
“Take your medicine, Hayes Michael.” She sniffles.
Hayes nods solemnly before taking the orange bottles from his mother’s trembling hands, and shuffles closer to the counter– closer to me. He reaches up, opens the cabinet just by my head, and I just can’t help but whisper quietly to him.
“When they leave,” I pause, stare at the bottles in his hands before meeting his dead gaze. “We need to talk.”
He sighs, but nods again nonetheless. Everyone watches his every move as he pulls out a small cup, fills it with tap water. I hand him one of the bottles he left on the counter, and he slips it out of my fingers carefully– gives me a tight lipped smile.
All of us watch quietly as he takes three differently shaped, and colored pills, one from each orange bottle. He dumps the remaining water from his ceramic cup into the empty sink, leans up against the counter for support.
“I’m sorry, mom.” Hayes says again, this time softer than the last.
His mother sniffles, wipes at her watering green eyes again.
“I know you are,” she nods, opens her arms for her oldest son to walk into. “But you can’t keep doing this anymore, sweetheart, it’ll kill you.”
I can practically see the unspoken words on his pierced lips as his mother wraps her arms around him and he’s hugging her back and I think he might cry– if he does I will hug him too.
“Group hug!” Chance walks into the kitchen with his arms open wide, and a goofy smile on his face.
Hayes curses at his obnoxious brother, but hugs him nonetheless. Brooklyn walks over to his family with a slight laugh, wipes at his eyes again before throwing an arm over Hayes’ bare shoulder. Then Leo is skipping over and joining his family in their big hug and I can’t help but smile at them because I wish my family could be like this.
“Hayes, don’t squeeze me so hard, you muscle man!” Chance yelps. “I’ll shit my pants!”
“Language!” Their mother scolds.