Holding Ryker’s hand on that roof gave me a feeling of peace. I remember how nervous I was when I first walked in on him playing the piano. Thinking he’d be like everyone else I’d already met at Copper Cove Academy that day, I quickly learned Ryker was different. He was a mystery in a similar way to me.
No one knew why he could hear songs indicating life and death coming from people, and no one knew where I came from or why to him, my soul was silent.
We got back in the car and drove back to Lexington.
“What do you want to get to eat?” I ask.
“I need coffee if I’m going to stay up for much longer,” he replies.
“McDonald's? Starbucks?” I inquire.
“You pick,” he replies lying back in the seat.
I glanced at him, smiling.
We get back into Lexington, and I got into a drive-thru line for McDonald's.
“Ryker, what do you want?” I asked shaking him a bit unsure if he’d fallen asleep.
He lifts his head and fixes his lop-sided glasses so he can look at the menu.
“Angus, bacon and cheese, coffee with two sugars, and fries,” he replies holding up two fingers.
“Okay,” I reply as we pull up the speaker.
I order Ryker’s meal and get a sprite, fries, and McChicken for myself. I also get us some apple pies and cookies for later. I pull up to the pay window and pay and move onto the delivery window.
They hand us over our drinks first and then our meals each in a bag and the treats in their own bag. Ryker sits up and takes the bags so I can drive. He goes in search of a straw for my sprite and opens his coffee. He blows on it a bit before taking a sip.
I drive to a park and park in the lot next to it so we can eat. The park is empty and so is the parking lot. Ryker hands me my meal and sets the treats down in the center console. We eat and I can see the sharpness in Ryker’s green eyes come back as the caffeine kicks in.
He finishes his meal quickly, probably because we didn’t have dinner yesterday and now it’s eight the next morning when we’re eating. He leans against the passenger door facing me with his legs crossed sipping his coffee while he waits for me to finish my fries.
“Where are we going next, captain?” Ryker asks as if I’m sailing a ship rather than driving a car. I guess either way I’m the one in control.
“Do you actually want to go see a movie?” I ask.
“I don’t think the theatres are open at this hour,” he replies.
“Hilana has a movie room,” I reply.
“I don’t think she’ll be up at this hour either,” he answers.
“Only one way to find out,” I replied holding up my phone.
“What are we going to watch?” he asks.
“We can decide when we get there if she’s up,” I reply.
I text Hilana but she doesn’t answer, so I guess it’s off the table. An unknown number calls and causes my phone to ring but I ignore it, thinking it’s the scammers again.
“She’s not answering, is she?” Ryker asks.
“Maybe you were right, what do you want to do?” I reply.
“I want to go back to the house and play more music with you,” he replies.
“Okay, let’s go,” I reply smiling.
I start up the car we drive through the snow back to my house. We arrive back at my house and go back inside, strip our winter clothes off and run upstairs. We sit side by side on the piano bench.
“What are we going to play?” I ask.
He smirks, “It’s past nine, right? Sound policy is off?” he questions.
I check the time, “Yep.”
He types the song up on his phone and pulls up the music sheet for the song, “My Junk” from the musical “Spring Awakening”.
He starts the cords on the piano that would match the cords on the guitar that are normally being played.
I smile and start singing.
“In the midst of this nothing, this mess of a life. Still, there’s this one thing: just to see you go by. It’s almost like loving, sad as that is. May not be cool, but it’s so where I live. It’s like I’m your lover, or more like your ghost. I spend the day wondering what you do, where you go. I try and just kick it, but then what can I do? We’ve all got our junk, and my junk is you,” I sing, smiling.
He continues to play the piano keys and I continue to sing. Wide smiles plastered across our faces. After the chorus, he jumps in.
“Well, you’ll have to excuse me; I know it’s so off. I love when you do stuff that’s rude and so wrong. I go up to my room, turn the stereo on. Shoot up some you in the “you” of some song,” he sings his voice reverberating off the walls of my room.
I laugh a bit before continuing with the next lines.
We’re both laughing by the end of the whole thing. We can hear my parents moving around now, we’ve clearly woken them up. It’s a good thing we waited to a somewhat civilized hour or they would have killed us for waking them.
My mother opens the door.
“If you’re going to subject us to waking up to you playing, could you at least play something for us, Porter?” she asks in both, a sarcastic and tired tone, directed toward me because she still believes Ryker has stage fright.
I get an idea. Ryker sees it, too. He doesn’t know what’s really in store though. He moves off the piano bench. He stands next to me to see what I play though. I started “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham! for comical purposes because they just woke up.
After the first chorus, my mother rolls her eyes, Ryker giggles.
“Have you boys had breakfast, yet?” she asks.
“Yes,” Ryker replies once he gains control of himself again.
“You better hope the neighbors don’t yell at us,” she continues leaving the doorway. We go through the rest of the song and my father comes in snapping along and starts singing along despite his voice cracks and all. We laugh at him too, but I continue to pay. I finish the song.
“Great playing and song choice to start the morning,” he comments.
“Thanks,” I reply.
“Thanks for teaching him now I can I have my own personal concert in my house,” he states to Ryker as he leaves.
“You’re welcome,” Ryker calls after him.
We continue to play until my fingers hurt and our throats are sore. We lay at the end of the bed together.
“I don’t think I could have asked for a better Christmas,” Ryker says quietly.
I take his hand.
“Me, neither,” I reply quietly.