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PACIFY

PACIFY

It was the last week of summer vacation. I was still quarantined in the house. It has been two weeks since Benjamin’s death and a week with four days since the shooting incident that happened so unanticipatedly.

I think I had sunken back into that deep hole again. The era of deep blues. A mild depression.

My ankle was fine now, however, things fell apart ever since the shooting day, the day I almost died and how dad is still trying to avoid having a talk about it with me. He has trusted Alejandro more than his very own son, reason being my naivety.

I wasn’t jealous of that. Alejandro gave me more than a reason to believe that I was indeed naive. But now I was completely left out. Sebastian, Jeremiah, Mia, Alan, Alejandro, Jason, Craig, Elijah now, Gabriel and Mason were involved in my father’s ‘plan’ except me.

With this conflicting feeling of despondency, which was apparent to both my friends, valet and father, my father restored the music room for me where I could go to ‘free my mind’ and have something to do, which I love.

The feeling was impossible to explain. It was as if I wanted to cry, but literally couldn’t. I went down the stairs, I noticed that there were cars outside and I assumed that they were having a private meeting, my friends, valet and father. I knew something heavy and scary was approaching, like winter. Both literally and figuratively.

It was already close to the end of the first semester, the first age. And a new age was to come, one that, like Shakespearean tragedies, ended with the protagonist of the story, which was now I, buried in his grave. I was so toxic that everyone had found reason to over-sympathize with me, Gabriel now visiting my room more than often, Sebastian agreeing to read a book with me which I know he despised reading books in general, Mia listening to music with me that I knew she hated but nodded to. I was ostracized in my own home.

I unlocked and opened the door to the music room. Although the song I had in mind wasn’t really as pessimistic as my soul was, it was quite the opposite. I sat on the stoel and picked the piano by playing with each key first before the melody came to me. What A Wonderful World, by Louis Armstrong, was the song I had in mind. I tried to think of a sadder song, but the song was engraved in my mind.

I began harmonizing the song on the piano, picking each key to every note Louis used in the song. I cried but didn’t stop playing. It was so beautiful and soothing. It was a frequency of humility and ambience in a clouded, conflicted mind. The more I listened to the beautiful melody my fingers made, the more it felt okay to cry.

By the end of the song, I did an off-cycle and continued to Can’t Help Falling In Love by Elvis Presley. It was my most favourite song. I loved how it sunk me back in a world, a time when I didn’t exist. The 60′s, if I’m being accurate. I harmonized the song on the piano and as much as tears flooded down my eyes, a smile shined from my face. It was a beautiful song.

I heard a satin guitar joining in. It startled me until it registered that it was probably my father, Alan, Jeremiah, or Gabriel as they were the only people who could play instruments. A bass guitar joined from behind, which made me assume that someone else was inside. Then, following by the strum and bum of drums which compelled me to ′melodize′ slower. Then the music sank in, I was silently sobbing. The drums, most especially, brought in a crashing feeling in my heart by introducing a Blues and Doo-Wop symphony. I just couldn’t continue playing when the violin harmonized Elvis’ lyrics and suddenly, the drums and bass guitar were the only instruments that hit me where it hurt.

I buried my head on the top of the piano and I just sobbed. If Alan was in the room, I was then certain that he must have told them to keep on going. Even Jeremiah never understood how the music made me feel, and I knew how it made him feel, but Alan knew that music was the epiphany and the manifestation of my truest, most raw feelings and solace for my pain and distress more than words.

When the song ended, Alan who was for some reason attired in heels because I could hear the clack of heels in the room without having to look behind me. Or formal shoes? My eyes were still closed, but his scent and aura made me certain it was him. “I can sing She by Harry Styles if you like.” He whispered. It was indeed him.

I wiped my tears before looking up to him. “NO! I DON’T WANT Y’ALL COMING TO ME, PRETENDING AND OVER-SYMPATHIZING WITH ME.” I turned back and Gabriel, Jeremiah, my dad appeared. “I came here to be alone.”

Then I noticed that it was Alejandro who held the satin guitar. He frowned when I said these words, like everyone in the room.

Alan sat next to me. “Adrian, you can play a piano...but I know a symphony orchestra hits home more than a single piano can do for you. Let us help you get there, to those emotions you’re trapping inside.” He stood up and smiled at me. “We don’t even have to say anything, just say the song and we can melodize it in sounds. But you have to let those emotions go.”

I was now exasperated as I walked up and walked to the door, storming. I looked back, laughing with a patronized tone. “Y’all are over-sympathizing with my mental health and y’all are terrible at lying about it. I’m going upstairs! It’s probably the only place I can actually be alone.”

Jeremiah yelled. “Adrian...”

I looked back and he gave me a look, one that said so many. I could almost hear his thoughts. I furiously folded my sleeves and showed him. “I HAVEN’T BEEN SCRATCHING FOR A MONTH NOW, YOUR OVER-SYMPATHETIC ASS CAN FUCKING RELAX.”

I stormed out, having nowhere else to go but my room. Dad had the keys to my car anyway. I looked for the key to lock my room, I couldn’t find it. I just laughed, now even more pissed. They made sure I do not get any form of privacy. They made sure I find it impossible to hurt or kill myself.

You want to die? You could just jump out the window, fool!

The windows are burglarized! You seriously don’t want to die. It would kill Gabriel and your father most.

If they cared about me, at least they would have my best interests at heart!

They can’t even lie!

They’re caging you and expecting you to be a tamed animal. They’re treating you like there’s something wrong with you!

No, you have a mental condition!

Say it! You have Generalized Anxiety Disorder...

Bipolar too

Ohh, don’t forget the Borderline Personality.

Borderline? Adrian, what do you get these diagnoses from?

You’re hazardous! You’re a menace to society and they’re caging you because of that!

No! It might be because of the shooting!

“But why isn’t anyone telling me what’s fucking going on?!?” I yelled out loud. “Why aren’t they telling me, at least? I’m quarantined anyway!”

I gasped, noticing that I was, out loud, responding to the multiple voices in my head.

What? You’re shocked that you’re crazy?

You’ve beeeeen crazy, Adrian. You just didn’t want to accept it.

You had to endure abuse from your traitorous father who abandoned you and never took you with! Left you with that woman! He was a coward!

David is trying to make things right, Adrian. You believe in redemption, don’t you?

If you truly do, why didn’t you give the same benefit of the doubt to Niall? You left a person brotherless!

“HE FUCKING DESERVED IT!” I punched the wall with my right knuckles. Then the thoughts stopped and pain dominated my right hand, my forearm and a little with my upper arm. I screamed, growled in pain actually as I collapsed on the floor.

Everyone got inside and began looking around, I was on the floor sobbing. “What happened? Adrian, are you okay?” Alejandro lifted my head in his hand. Everyone was looking at me as if I just woke up from a short rest. Until I realized that the pain was too much, thus for a second, I had fainted.

“My hand...” The pain continued to radiate to my head. “It’s painful.”

“You punched a concrete wall?” Mia’s eyes widened.

“Gee, I don’t know Mia. Did I?” I responded sarcastically.

“What were you thinking? Were you thinking at all?” Craig said as I then noticed that I was no longer on the floor, but on my bed. I almost never noticed. He gave me a glass of water and a pill. I immediately drank up, with his help, and thought again. Like the pill kicked in faster than I thought.

“I wasn’t, actually.”

“Gorgeous, we’re your friends. Where is this venomous rage coming from?” Sebastian sympathized as his hands went in his jean pockets, with his now back-long hair untied.

I laughed, patronized again. “I swear if you call me that again, I will cut off your tongue.”

“With which hand, Precious? Besides, it’s true. You’ll always be gorgeous to me.” He smirked.

I ignored him, as my fury didn’t allow. “Where’s David?”

“He left a while ago.” Alan replied as he now sat on my bed. They were all surrounding me. And that made me even angrier. Mostly, I was furious that David wasn’t even at the premises. Typical!

“I’d like to be alone.” I said with a low voice.

“No, Adrian. I still need to apply balm and bandage to your hand. Give me your hand.” Alejandro said as he already had a bowl of cold water, a translucent petroleum-jelly-like balm, bandages and a towel.

I gave him my hand and he softly caressed it. It was big and swollen. My nerd-ish self was beginning to worry if I was to be able to write again when the second semester begins.

“I am... WE’RE not leaving until you tell us why...” Craig had a vein across his forehead. He was furious. I would have just let him be, but my fury is nothing compared to his. His needs to be tamed and kept in control. His is destructive.

“Craig...” I felt like I was dying. My heart felt like it was beating slow, and I felt high or sedated. But I was falling asleep.

“WHAT?!” He yelled.

“Easy, buddy. He has more right to be angry at us than any of us. We isolated him, all so suddenly under the obligation of his father. Adrian...we’re doing this because getting caught in a world of violence is our thing. Not your thing. I know you well to say you’re very fragile, unlike us. You’re unlike us, Adrian.” Jeremiah explained as he was sitting below my feet on the bed.

I ignored him, I didn’t have the energy to be mad and defensive. “Craig...”

He stormed to my left, unharmed side and began crying. Everyone was shocked, confused actually. But I understood why. He knelt to my bed level and my free hand touched his head, caressing it. I felt Alejandro stop the massage but I was too weak to turn my head to my right to see his reaction. I was falling asleep.

“It’s okay, Craig.” I whispered. “You’re okay, I’ll be okay too.”

"Kelly, I’m scared.” Craig whispered.

I could feel eyes widen in the room. Alan walked to Craig and knelt to his level. “Dude, it’s Adrian. Not Kelly. Are you okay?”

I shook my head to Alan, as he didn’t understand. Craig and Kelly experienced or witness spousal abuse, and it would be the father who would burn their mother’s body with burning cigarettes, tied. He’d do this drunk and would hunt the kids down until they would hide in the basement, in the dark. Because Kelly understood her elder brother’s venomous anxiety, she would caress him on his forehead.

They slept at the basement, in their own home.

He told me this story as I got close to him during his sophomore year, making him a recipient to my letters. In the letter, I promised to be his Kelly. I said I would be his comfort when he was scared, his tranquillity when furious. I admitted to wanting to be part of his life more than I did with Daniel. This was not because I liked Daniel less, but because Craig was a very interesting person from every aspect. He was fire and ice at the same time...

And I realized that I didn’t just like fire or ice simultaneously, but collectively in one person who I thought was Craig. At first, I believed that person was Gabriel, although he was never a recipient, however things changed. He changed long before he betrayed me. Gabriel had more venom than blood in his veins, but Craig had both in equal amount.

He was an uncontrollable fury freak, yet can be tamed. He allowed me in his life again even after my coming out, even after the outbreak of the letters. Remained loyal, remained persistent that he was more than just his sexual orientation and whatever he was, it didn’t matter more than me knowing that he cared too. So when he came out as gay, it was just easy to befriend him, to admire him...to find me attracted to him. I’m not saying he is my crush, however, if Alejandro, the mysterious human thesaurus, wasn’t in the picture already, I would have said it was definitely him when Alan and Gabriel asked.

“Sssh. I’ll be okay. Just breathe.” I caressed, with my thumb, the vein that drew itself on his forehead. It was almost like hypnosis, because to Craig it worked. “Now sleep, Craig. Rest. It’s okay now.”

“He’s asleep?” Alan’s eyes widened.

“Impossible.” Alejandro finished bandaging my hand and stood up to check on Craig. He was asleep, sitting next to the bed under my left arm. “It’s not even been ten minutes. He must be faking his sleep. WAKE HIM UP!”

“Don’t,” I whispered, yawning too. “Let him sleep. I personally understand.”

I then rested my head in the middle of the bed, with my hand still caressing Craig’s hand. I closed my eyes with tears falling down my face, memories of being terrified of going home flashing back, but it was like I was dying. Like I was letting go of my soul. But it was the heavy paracetamol or Advil or whatever pain-relieving pill I had drunk.

I too fell asleep.

I woke up the following day because I could tell from the screaming light through the blinds that it was morning and a sunny one. My right hand was so painful, I could not feel it anymore but pain. I wanted that pain when I punched the wall. Only, I never intended to faint.

I wonder what happened to Craig.

I sat up, positioning my legs to the floor, hanging them aside from my bed. I screamed as I felt an abnormal sensation beneath my legs, followed by another masculine scream. My heart almost froze, until I noticed it was a person I almost completely stood upon. “CRAIG?!” I softly yelled.

“God! I slept here?” He scratched his sideburns and played with his neck. He was as lost and drowsy as I was.

A knock came from the door. Craig’s eyes and mine widened. Subsequently, without permission, someone entered. “Greetings. I figured from the screams of two grown men, at least one of you are awake. Adrian, how does your hand feel?” Alejandro didn’t smile like he used to.

“A lot worse, actually. I can now feel the pain. More than ever.” I moaned.

“And you, Craig? How was your sleep...on the floor?” He had a mean face. I seriously wasn’t in the mood to ask what happened as a result of his morning bitterness.

“I didn’t even know I slept. How did I sleep and...why didn’t anyone wake me up?” Craig groaned with a morning voice.

“Adrian said we shouldn’t before he fell asleep as well. Seemingly, he was using a method that pacified your anger which also made you sleep. I tried shaking you, twice, to confirm if you’re actually asleep. You were. How does that work, Craig?”

Okay, now Alejandro’s bitter mood was starting to irk me. “You seriously don’t want to know.” I scoffed.

“On the contrary, I do. How, Craig? A single massage on your forehead made you fall asleep in less than ten minutes. It was as if you were under a hypnosis...well, was it?” Alejandro smiled, but ‘on the contrary’, he was just being rude at him for some reason.

“I don’t know how, but I think I know why it works. And I’m not willing to share that with some guy I had just met in weeks.” Craig stood up. “Adrian, I’m sorry if this was all disturbing.”

“No no.” I smiled. “I would have preferred you sleeping on the bed than on the floor.” My eyes then widened, realizing how disturbing that sounded.

“With both our clothes on, yes.” Upon seeing my expression, Craig softly chuckled.

I noticed a look, one that was so resentful toward Craig. His jaws were clenched as if he was even disgusted by the sight of him. “I apologize if I went beyond my limits as a valet.”

“You sure did,” Craig smirked at him. “It’s all good. You’re a PI, right? You’ll probably find out even before I tell you so...I find no use to. Adrian...I need to shower, can I use the en-suite?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“I ask of you to hurry, Craig. After breakfast, Mr Spector said you, Adrian, immediately need to take a bath and be ready for the doctor that will be assessing your hand.” Alejandro said with a stern voice, which captivated Craig’s attention.

“Dude, it will only be two minutes. Five, if the both of you are still in this room.” Craig still replied calmly and tiredly.

I was so exasperated, I stormed out of the room. Alejandro instantly followed. My speed notified him that I was angry. “What’s the matter, Adrian? You’re storming off and the risk of you falling down the stairs is very likely. Your ankle hasn’t perfectly healed.”

I ignored him as I went down the stairs in speed, not falling when I got downstairs. I went to the downstairs bathroom. “May I use the restroom? Alone, without a tail?” I roared.

“Wait...Is there reason for your sudden morning fury?”

“You do not talk to Craig like he is a ‘commoner’ or stranger! Craig is my friend. What made you think you have the right to ask about something that is conspicuously confidential? Whether he slept on my bed, on the couch or in that en-suite, he’s welcome to stay for as long as he wants!” I snarled at him.

“Adrian, your father is not home. I need to assess who enters and leave the house because, well, Gabriel is not so much of a good guardian.”

“And by following me to the bathroom and being inquisitive about something over confidential that is not within your perimeters to ask about in the first place makes you a good guardian? You were blatantly rude to him, even I could tell!” I continued to yell.

“I’m sorry, Adrian. I needed to understand how he just understood that he can’t sleep over when your father has restricted such.”

“Wait...dad didn’t return since yesterday?”

“He’s out of town, Adrian. He asked me to watch after you. He may not be back until the following week.

Now I could just feel the rage growing in my throat. “See how I didn’t ask why? Learn to know your place, Alejandro! You owe him an apology!”

“I will apologize to him as soon as he’s done upstairs. I apologize too for upsetting you. This continuous pattern of rage isn’t good for your...”

“Alejandro...get out of my sight before I do something to you I’ll regret. NOW! DAMMIT!” I felt the rage about to come out in vomits. It was venomous for my health, yes, but how many times has he reminded me of this as if I don’t already know I’m crazy. I punched a concrete wall for Christ sake!

Alejandro ran out of sight. I went inside the bathroom and instead, I took both a shower and brushed my teeth. The bathrooms in the house had either morning gowns or white towels, usually to wrap your waist. Obviously, I took the gown and stepped out. I hated showers, loved baths on the contrary.

"The other woman

Has time to manicure her nails...

The Other Woman

Is perfect where her rivals fail..."

This singing voice came from my music room. I walked silently and snuck in. Mia was singing, Alejandro was only playing a satin guitar. The song reminded me of the story of how my dad and mom met. I remembered her singing voice well too, how sometimes when she was happy and cooking for her husband and child and the song was her favourite. Coincidentally, Mia sung the song exactly in Cynthia’s voice and a memory came to me, one so unanticipated...

“Cynthia,” I whispered, which caught Alejandro’s attention.

He stopped playing and Mia stopped singing too when they both realized I was in the room. “Adrian. Done with your bath? I was going to call you to the music room to sing the song for you, because...”

“I need to see mom,” I said, blankly.

Mia and Alejandro looked at me. “Adrian, your father said...”

“My father cannot hold me hostage, first of all, and second...I’m an adult. If I’m going to...work on myself and my...sanity...I need to see mom. I need closure.”

“Seeing your mom may just build more...”

“Alejandro, for a second, could you just stop psychoanalyzing me? As long as you’re not a doctor in psychology, I don’t expect you to diagnose everything I do as a symptom of my mental condition.” I sighed as I walked to him. “I need to see her. Forgive her. Maybe that might be the root of my rage after all, as you diagnosed...doctor!” My eyes rolled.

“But Adrian...we’re not keeping you indoors because of that...someone wants you dead. And we all know who may have intentions of such.”

“So I can’t visit my mother in Alex? I’m going to die anyway...”

“You’re not going to die, Adrian.” Mia got off the mini stage.

“I am if I’m going to be treated like a crazy person hiding in four closed walls. I can’t even go to the backyard.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea...” Gabriel came into the music room. My eyes rolled. “However, I have a plan.”

Alejandro’s eyebrow furrowed. “And what could that plan possibly be?”

“Your mom is done in rehab. David thought that would upset you if we told you but...you’re willing to find closure and forgive her. You, at least, deserve that. She’s in Alex. She works there now, getting better...”

I nodded. It did sound like a good plan, but what was the plan exactly? “So, you can ask her to come over?” I asked.

“That can be arranged. But you have to talk to your father about it. You can just blame me for informing you about her.”

“Obviously, because you’re the one who told him. Do you ever listen to what David says to you? Do you really want to know what happens when you betray him?”

“I want to know, Alejandro! What does he do?” My face was sterned.

Alejandro’s face frowned, as he had no response, for once in his lifetime.

“And if he doesn’t approve?” Mia asked. “Adrian, you have to take into consideration that your mother may not want to...”

“To see me again? She went to my apartment...well, Benjamin’s apartment, to ask for forgiveness. Because I wasn’t willing at that time, and because I was still mad at her, I kicked her out. Threw a vase at her. She must feel terrible and I want to take that misery away from her by making things right.”

“Is this about her or you, Adrian?”

“It’s going to be therapeutic for me, closure for her. It’s going to be mutual, Alejandro. Just trust me, for once, in this one.” I begged.

Alejandro sighed. “Call your father and ask. If he’s willing, then we can make arrangements. But if he finds it as a bad idea, as I do, then I’m not going to be part of whatever plan you may have against your father’s wishes. I do have your best intentions at heart, but I don’t think you’re fit to see her again.”

“Why? Because you studied psychology?” Mia defended me. “God! Fine! You won’t be part of it. But if you truly cared about Adrian and his wishes, you’d want him to have a moment with his mother.”

“I apologize. My protectiveness comes from background experience. I cannot prohibit you from seeing your biological mother, however, I’m David’s valet. Whatever I do, I need to do under his command. If not, then I’m sorry Adrian...but I can’t be part of it.” His eyes teared. “Excuse me.”

He walked out of the room. “We’ll keep you in a straight-jacket if it will convince him you’re not crazy but...” Gabriel smiled. “I cannot betray your wishes ever again. More than I am loyal to your father, I am to you. Possibly making things right.” He shrugged.

“I treated you like a psycho too. Your father said we should spend more time together with you as friends, but to be honest...I hate Lost Under Heaven. They’re just a very drunk-sounding band that seems too inspired by ska. It’s not my cup of tea.” Mia smiled.

I giggled, knowing well that her music choices and mine clashed a lot. She forced herself to like my music, under my father’s commands. That must have been hell for her. She continued. “But my point is...I wish I had a moment with my mother. Gabriel probably relates to that too and maybe this may bring you closure and peace that you deserve. I don’t want to be weird around my own friend.”

She came in for a hug. Gabriel made it a group hug by joining in. If it wasn’t for that song, I have no idea if I would have thought of her and how she may be the root of all this. I needed to let her go, to forgive her and as much as I’m not planning to make her part of my life again, despite the fact that she is my mother, I was planning on making things right...Before I lose my mind.

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