Ecstasy (LGBTQIA+)

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[Ecstasy] Temptasia: Chapter 4 - Can U Feel The Rush? (Tyler)

“(But it’s you) You’re the one that I want

(You’re) Everything that I want”

“Can you feel the rush? Can you feel the rush?”

- TOMORROW X TOGETHER (TXT) ‘Blue Hour’

********

Tyler’s POV

Everything seemed wrong somehow.

Without her. Everything seemed so wrong.

So empty.

I hated it. And so did my father and brother, it seemed.

“Tyler!” Father called, hunched over at the car of the Mercedes that she had bought him last spring. It stung somehow. “Bring in your bags!”

“Coming,” I rasped, my voice sounding like I hadn’t used it in a while. Indeed, I hadn’t. It felt scratchy.

Father looked up, his gaunt face unreadable. He seemed to be studying me. Although numbed a little by grief, the intensity in his hazel-brown eyes was still there, the cutting edge ever-present.

I walked on over and thumped my bags onto the others. It wasn’t much, just some clothes, gadgets and other essentials. I didn’t dare bring other stuff. Stuff that she had left mark on.

It wasn’t like I was trying to forget her.

It just hurt a lot, knowing that the person who had affected our lives in so many ways, the person who had made those marks, heck, the person who had brought two of us into this life, was now gone. Forever.

Tears stung at the back of my eyelids, a lump forming in my throat yet again. I turned away and opened the door to the backseat, got in and flung the door shut. I lay back against the seat and looked up at the car ceiling, staring at nothing, the mind just wandering in that place between thoughts and no thinking.

It seemed like hours had passed when Father finished putting all of our stuff into the trunk. He shut it close and both my brother and he got in, David riding shotgun, and Father behind the wheel. With close to no conversation, we began on our journey. Just like that.

No goodbyes.

I could almost feel her ghost standing on our front porch, looking at our car slowly driving out of sight with a sinking look of sadness and hurt. I didn’t look back to find out. I was too busy blankly staring off into space, the dark place I had sunk into since her death a month ago.

Since they took my heart with them and buried it six feet under with her corpse.

Hannah Miller had ceased to exist, and so had Tyler Miller.

My mother.

*********

A thundering knock that sent my door quivering on its hinges had me lurching out of sleep. Sunlight shone directly onto my face, which made me squint. I had gotten accustomed to the darkness; too much light made me wince and irate.

“Tyler!” A furious deep voice behind the door yelled. “Are you awake yet?"

“Yes,” I called out groggily. The loud knocking stopped before that deep voice said gruffly, “You had better be.”

I sighed, sitting up, and rubbed my eyes. Today was the first day of school, the only one in this godforsaken town. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry in horror.

The first day of having to forcibly socialise with other pathetic screw-ups my age.

Alright, that was a little too much.

But not that it isn’t true.

If it hadn’t been for Father, I would’ve been taking online classes. But he straight-out refused the first time I even brought up the notion. He told me I needed the social interaction, and it wouldn’t be good for my health, mentally and physically, to stay cooped up in the house all day long, like I had been doing for the past two months.

Like he was doing any better, but I had the better mind not to voice it out loud.

Father was one most affected by her death amongst us. Mom and he had fallen in love in college, their love for each other blossoming into a healthy relationship soon after they entered their third year. Father then had been suffering from heartbreak for eight months, and Mom needed help moving on from a toxic relationship. Together, they found bliss in a happy, healthy marriage, and two boys, David and I, were born soon enough. But then... it happened.

“Tyler!” Father hollered from downstairs, making me start and get up quickly. “Get your ass up now!”

“Have done!” I yelled, off-key from not talking.

“Good!”

I quickly got into the ensuite bathroom and took a shower before Father could yell some more.

Back in the city where I grew up, we had a three-storey mansion right at the outskirts, where it was more green and silent. The house was huge. My brother and I had almost five rooms to ourselves, along with many, many gadgets, mainly because... she used to spoil us a lot. We had a huge backyard and a pool and a tanning place too, and one too many times the house had a raging party hosted by David when our parents were away. That was where I learnt a few... not-so-good things and how to do them. But, back, like all other teenagers, I wanted to be ‘cool’.

Back then, I also had a lot of friends, particularly one: Austin Taylor and I grew up neighbours, our parents’ good friends too. He used to be my best friend, the one I could trust to have my back, the one I could tell my secrets to and not expect any serious judgement from. But now... I don’t know.

When my mother died, I cut communication with everyone. I smashed my old phone and refused to talk to anyone after the funeral. When everybody else had given up after a fortnight, Austin didn’t stop. He banged on the door several times, only to be sent away by my grief-stricken father; he couldn’t really insist there. He tried breaking my window to rile me up, but I was much too numb to feel any rage. He then tried calling the house phone, so many times that Father then got very angry and sent me out to talk.

There, I did something I should never have done: I hurt him. A lot.

I said things I shouldn’t have said at all. I took his deepest insecurities and sneered at him for it, rubbed it in his face. The hurt in his face still haunted me in my recurring nightmares. He refused to believe at first, that I would say anything like that to him, but the crushing realization and pain hit, and I turned away, walking up to my house and shut the front door, apathetic.

I did not feel anything. It was like I was watching the world from behind an unbreakable hard glass wall and that I was powerless to do anything but what my mind told me to. There was a hole in the middle of my chest, an uncanny blankness in my eyes. I had become a zombie.

I had sunk into a hole I’d dug myself into.

And now I didn’t know how to climb out.

******

“Ready for the first day, brother?” David asked after parking his old Kia Seltos in the school parking lot. “Nervous?”

Admittedly, yes. For the first time in two months, I was starting to feel something that was not negative, at least, as much as it wasn’t negative: nervous. My palms were clammy clutching my backpack - a tell-tale sign. But I wasn’t to let him know that. I quickly took off my seatbelt, and slipped out of the car with a mumbled: “See you.”

David had been the least affected among us, at least compared to me and Father. He wasn’t as close to Mom as a person as I was, and not at all as much as Father; actually, I think he had a normal relationship with her. He didn’t see her much, and she didn’t him too. Mom and my dynamics were pretty complicated: we were very close, and she was my best friend. I could talk to her about almost anything, but David couldn’t; he was very much his own, private person. Hence probably why he felt grief, but not a soul-sucking sadness that threatened to swallow him whole.

Like my case, I suppose.

I made it to the receptionist without dying, I’ll give it to myself. The crowd was huge, not at all what I was expecting. I’d thought there would be lesser kids, but no, it seemed like any other high school. Everyone was bustling on their own way, heading to either classes or Homeroom. Thankfully, by the time the receptionist handed me my papers, the crowd had lessened a little, and with little to no conversation, she sent me on my way. I was glad for it, and I think she knew because she smiled a little at the end.

According to the map, my locker was on the west wing of the halls. I walked along, desperately trying to blend in with the students.

That’s when I saw him.

His heavily mussed dark hair lay on his head in a long spiky halo. He looked like he’d walked straight out of shoujo manga and lost his way among humans. The most striking feature about his face was his jaws, all sharp-edged and taunt, standing out in his pale face. He had blue eyes whose clear hues were distinct, although they were sunken in his sockets. The boy looked exhausted, never mind that it was early in the morning. I could see from far away that his lips were dry, skin pale, light stubble on his face. He looked like he’d lost weight and was only here because of his sheer willpower. I wonder why-

No. I shook my head, shaking my head clear of thoughts. You don’t care why, Tyler. Just move on and stop fricking staring at him. He might be handsome, but he’s nothing to you. He’s just a stranger, Ty. A handsome one, but still a stranger.

I forced my feet to start moving but it was too late. The boy had already noticed my staring. The look he gave me wasn’t what I expected; he just gave me a curious look.

A look that had my heart racing.

What the heck, Ty? Two months of numbness disappeared with just a curious look from a total stranger?! What the heck is wrong with you?

I willed my heart to calm as I kept walking along, turning left. Now there were a lot fewer stragglers in the corridor, leaving to find my way to class in peace. I didn’t dare look behind for the handsome boy whose one look left me in a puddle of mush.

Meanwhile, I finally found my locker.

I skidded to a stop, and once I opened it, leaned my head against its cool surface.

Whew. The first few minutes in, and I’m already sweating. Good job, Tyler.

Please God, let it be this way for-

“Hey, Shortie.”

I went as stiff as a rod and turned to face him.

It was the boy from before.

His eyes are blue-er than I thought.

Indeed, his blues hues were the colour of the clear, cloudless sky at around 11 during the day, a crystal shade of azure I could only admire. And it pisses me off, how much I like it.

His voice too added to that tension. His raspy voice was hoarse and deep, exactly what puberty should make us sound like. But what pissed me off more than that was-

“Did you just call me short?” My incredulous voice rang out in the corridor, the end a little off-key. I probably sounded like a horse.

A little smirk graced his chapped lips. “I did.”

I spluttered, though I think that was more his deep rasp’s doing than his actual statement. “What the heck?”

Amusement flickered behind those clear blue eyes as he leaned onto the locker next to mine. By now there was no one in the corridor. I had a really bad feeling I was going to be late for class.

“I think I should ask you that,” he said, interrupting me out of the escape scenarios I’d been thinking up to get out of here. I blinked. “What’s with the staring?”

Oh. That.

“Oh, uh, I - I just found you intriguing, that’s all.” The intensity of his stare made me nervous and skittish.

“Intriguing, huh?” He mulled it over, frowning slightly. “That’s a new one.”

And then he turned abruptly and walked out of sight quickly, leaving me to wonder what the hell just happened.

I barely made it on time to class.

Damn you, pretty boy.

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