This story is purely fictional. If you are not over the age of 18 or are opposed to this type of material please Do Not Read It. This story belongs to Green and reproductions without permission are not allowed.
This story will have cameos from some of the characters in my other stories.
You can find my other stories at www.geocities.com/greenmeccatoon
Please let me know what you think. Email me Greenmeccatoon@Yahoo.com
At The Edge Of Our World
“Good morning folks It's ten after eleven and the sun is bright. Welcome back to Dave Live on flash one point four F.M.” The DJ said into his microphone. “This is Dave Little your host and I'm here with world famous photographer Christopher Dean.”
“Hello,” I said, wondering if Ben was listening.
“So Christopher is here because last night the lucky seniors at Maybury high school were photographed by him for American Teen Magazine. Am I correct?”
“Yes Maybury high school was one of ten high schools chosen as part of the magazines year book issue.” I answer. “The issue will be out this summer.”
“And the kids will each get a set of photographs as well as a copy of the magazine,” Dave adds and I nod. “We were there last night and let me just say that these kids were having the time of their lives. I saw some of the prints and they looked incredible.”
“Yes we had an old Hollywood theme for the kids. They all dressed up like old movie stars and the magazine brought in several make up artists and hair dressers to help them fit the look. I am very honored to be a part of all of it.”
“Also the members of the superstar band Mr. Black sings A Sad Song rocked out giving the kids the concert of their lives. It was great but you know what I thought was very cool?”
“What is that?” I ask Dave.
“The fact that you and the Members of Mr. Black actually attended Maybury high,” David says.
“I attended Maybury until my junior year.” What I should say, is that I attended Maybury high until I could get away.
When I found my escape I took it and I never looked back. Now that I'm back here all that I can think about is the reason why I left. I left because I lost the person I loved and facing that was the hardest thing I have ever done.
“Thank you for joining us Chris,” David says, ending the interview.
“Oh you're welcome, it's my pleasure,” I say and he puts on some music.
“That was great,” he says, motioning me out of the sound booth. “Christopher I want to thank you once again. Brian Black called earlier he wants to meet with you when you're in Boston.”
“We also had a call for you from someone called Mary Carey,” David's assistant says as we leave the room.
“Thank you,” I say taking the paper. I don't read it till I am outside in my car.
The note reads, Please come and visit if you can Chris. We all miss you and would like to see you. I'm sure you want to see Ben. Mary. A minute later I found myself driving back to the place I once called home.
One summer night when I was fourteen my parents decided I was old enough to be left alone in my house. Naturally I invited my two best friends over. We went to the backyard. Catie brought a radio and Ben brought the soda pop.
Catie switched the radio to the oldies station. American Pie blasted through the speakers and Catie and Ben began their love dance. When that song played I knew I had lost him. I was watching them from the steps. I don't know what caused me to raise my camera, but the photo I took would torment my existence for the rest of my life. A perfect moment that didn't belong to me and to this day that song sends chills down my spine.
I still curse myself for taking that photo, no I hate myself for it. Every time I think of him I find myself staring at it for hours. I cry, I laugh and I take myself back to that time. We were so innocent back then.
“Come dance with us Chris,” Catie said.
“Come on is the first day of summer vacation,” Ben added. “Dance with us, we need to celebrate.”
“No you guys dance I'm fine here,” I said.
Truth is I wanted to dance. I wanted to dance more than anything in the world but seeing the way they looked at each other hurt me. I couldn't let myself see it from up close, it would kill me.
I suppose that if I were any other person I would find it romantic. They were so definitely in love. Everything was perfect. The sun was setting in beautiful shades of red and yellow and there was a warm breeze. A magic moment that no one will ever see but me. The sad part is that I knew they were perfect for each other. As they danced they connected in ways he and I would never connect, making me the third wheel. We were no longer us, but them and me. I was in love with him and jealous of what she had and for that I was ashamed.
These days I wonder where he is. I wonder if Catie and and him are still living out their fairy tale life, going to the same college just so they can be together, rooming together of campus and preparing for their perfect marriage.
I never told Catie how I felt, but in retrospect I think she knew. She stopped leaving us alone, always sure she was right there making sure that my heart broke. Alright so she probably didn't do it on purpose and I don't blame her, if I had someone as perfect as Ben I would never let him go.
But I did let him go and I let her have him. Not only because she was my friend but because she deserved him and he'd never be happy with me, he'd be happy with her. So I avoided them, Going out of my way not to see them when ever I could.
I have lost a lot to get to where I am and I am not happy, I don't remember the last time I was. Now here in my twenties I find that all those things that used to matter to me no longer do and what matter's now is not really as important as I make it out to be. I have traveled the world, seen so many wonderful things and it's all lost on me because I don't have Ben to share it with.
The last time I saw Ben was in our junior year of high school on the day I moved away. We said we'd keep in touch and he said he'd come visit but I never gathered the courage to call him. Deep down I knew I would never do it. I didn't want him to visit. Leaving meant that I had release from the pain, and I couldn't bring the pain back into my life.
I need closure and the only way to get it is to go back there. I want to confirm what I fear so I can move on. My every instinct is telling me to avoid it, to run back home to my meaningless life, but if I do I will live the rest of my life without the answers I need. So I find myself driving back home.
It's been so long since I've been here . Every thing is smaller than I remember. The old high school still looms at the edge of my street. I notice a little boy running inside of my old house, my father's new family. I don't belong there anymore.
I see Ben's house, the small ranch at the end of the street. My heart stops when I see a couple holding a baby leave his house. There it is, closure. I can go back home now. I don't look at them as I drive past. Tears well up in my eyes and my nerves begin to take hold. Somehow I manage to pull over.
I don't know what's wrong with me. I can't expect him to be single and waiting for me. He's not like me. I should be happy that they are together, that they have a family. Who am I to come between that?
At some point I leave the car making my way over to the couple. At one time they were my friends and I came all of this way just to congratulate them? No I can't convince myself of it either. I came here in hopes that he remembers who I am. I came here in hopes that he feels the same as I do.
They watch me as I approach them. I don't look at them until I am close, realizing that the couple isn't Ben and Catie but Ben's older brother Ritchie and what I assume to be his wife.
“Christopher Dean?” Ritchie asks. “Is that you?”
“Hello,” I say. “How are you?”
“Christopher this is my wife Stephanie and my son Peter,” Says Ritchie, showing me the little boy in his arms. “What brings you back around these parts? Last I heard you were some big hot shot photographer.” Stephanie's eyes light up when he mentions that.
“Oh my god I know you, you did the Maybury high photo shoot last night,” she says, causing me to blush. “I just heard you on the radio.”
“Yeah I did.” I say, looking over to the house, wondering if Ben was inside.
“So you got mom's message,” Ritchie asks.
“Yes, is she inside?” I ask. He nods and motions me inside.
“Where is Ben?” I ask.
“Oh sorry man you just missed him, he went to help a friend.”
“How is your father? Is he inside?”
“Chris, dad died two years ago,” Ritchie says. I instantly feel guilty.
“I'm sorry Ritchie. I wish I'd known.” Their father Stephen was like a second father to me. In fact he consoled me when my father told us about his new girlfriend Marlie.
“It's Okay Chris, I didn't mean to make you feel bad,” he says.
Their house is still the same inside. It still has the cozy welcoming feel it had when I lived across the street. There is even a picture of Ben and me hanging on the wall. I look at them one by one looking for one that would show me Ben after I left.
“Christopher Dean, my god I never thought I'd see you again,” Mary, Ben and Ritchie's mother says. The strong woman hugs me and kisses my cheek.
“Hello Mrs. Carey, how are you?”
“Mary son, call me Mary,” she says, leading me into her kitchen. I notice a picture of Ben and Catie. “They took that the night of senior prom, they tried inviting you but they couldn't reach you. But enough of that. Come tell me about yourself. It's been what, four years since I've seen you? We need to catch up.” Mrs. Carey says.
“It has been a long time,” I whisper. She stares at me for a moment.
“I know what it feels like to lose the love of your life.”
“Mom I don't think it's appropriate to speak of that,” Ritchie says. “Chris, Stephanie and I have to go. It's nice to see you again.”
I shake his hand and I watch him leave. “He doesn't know what love is. Not like you and I,” she says.
“Mrs. Carey, I mean Mary, I don't.” She cuts me off.
“Don't do that honey, I know why you are here. I only wish it could have been sooner, but I guess that's how life works. In fact I didn't think you were going to come. I think it's time you two spoke.”
“What about Catie?” I ask.
“What about her, she's fine I know she'd like to see you.”
“But are they together?”
“I cant answer that, Chris.” she leaves the room and returns with an album. She places it before me. “I always knew you'd make something of yourself. The first time I found a photo you had taken in a magazine I cut it out. I have a lot of them and I save them here in this album.”
One of my mother's friends in New York city saw my photographs. He thought that they were great and he got me a job working for a small art magazine in Soho. That job led to the many commissions I have today.
I open the album. There I find a copy of the first cover I did for the art magazine. “You know you have more of these photos than I have.” I flip through the album and I stop when I see that photo again.
“That photo is my favorite,” Mary says.
“Wait, how did you get this?” I ask, wondering if Ben had seen it.
“I found the negatives when I helped Marlie clean up your room,” She says, causing my stomach to turn. Marlie is my father's wife. I never wanted anyone to see this picture especially not Marlie. It wasn't meant for any of them, just for me to look at and remember what I didn't have.
“Ben didn't see this did he?”
“I'm sorry Hon,” she says.
I look at that photo once again. The two of them dancing before a golden sky on a perfect summer afternoon. I should have danced with them.
“Why are you in such a mood tonight?” Catie asked me. “We are free for the whole summer. We need to celebrate.” She sits next to me and hands me a bottle of pop.
“Guys come look at the sky with me,'” Ben says, laying on his back. We join him, finding ourselves on opposite sides of Ben. As he hugged her, I looked at him. Nothing could be as perfect as the boy next to me.
“Do you guys think we'll be friends for ever?” Ben asked us.
“Sure why not?” Catie replied.
I never answered that question. I knew if I did I would have lied. Things were in motion that would break us apart. I was on a different path, one that would take me around the world and make me the sad and pathetic person I am today.
“Christopher will you be seeing your father while you are here?” Mary asks, breaking me away from my thoughts. “He should be home by now, I'm sure he would want to see you.”
“I don't know if I should, I don't think I belong there anymore,” I say.
“Why not? He is your father after all. Why don't you go on over there. I'll come by in a few minutes and I'll take you to Ben's.”
I find myself standing before that familiar door. I regret ever coming here and I fight the instinct to run back to my car. However before I am able to leave, a small boy opens the door.
“Who are you?” the boy asks.
“My name is Christopher. Is your father home?”
“Daddy! Daddy! There is a man here to see you,” the boy yells and disappears into the house. A minute later the man I once knew as my father returns.
“Christopher,” he whispers to himself and for a long time we stare at each other. Four years of anger and regret rips through my mind. “What are you doing here?”
“I was doing a photo shoot near here and I thought that I could...” He hugs me and holds me tight.
“I thought I'd never see you again,” he says, keeping me close. “It's been so long.” His eyes pierce through me as he sizes me up. “You look good son.”
A long time ago my father was a hero to me. I would wait for him to come home in our driveway with a big smile plastered on my face. Daddy, Daddy I would yell until he picked me up and hugged me. In some way I wish I was still that little boy.
“I miss you Chris,” he says as he leads me into his house. “How long are you here for?”
“Just until tomorrow, I have a commission to do in Boston.”
“How is your mother?” My father asks.
“She is doing good..”
“He's, well he's Brent,” I smile. Brent Is my mother's husband. She remarried two years after the divorce. “How is Marlie?”
“Marlie is great,” he says as the little boy returns. “And this is your brother Carter.”
“He's not my brother,” the boy says. “He's doesn't look like me.”
But I did look like him. Or rather he looked like me when I was four years old.“Hi Carter, I'm Christopher you're big brother,” I say extending my hand. He looks at it suspiciously for a long time.
“If you are really my brother then you know about the secret closet in my room,” he says.
“When I was your age that led to the attic,” I say and he shyly walks away.
“Daddy he really is my brother,” he whispers before leaving.
“He is so like you, when you were at that age,” says my father. “I wish you were still that young.”
I look around the living room and I notice a large print of a photograph I had taken. I took it a year ago when I went on safari for National Geographic. The print was of three elephants washing themselves in a small pond. A little African boy was on top of one of the elephants, covering himself from the water coming from the elephants trunk.
“Where did you get this?” I asked. “I don't even have a print that big.”
“Marlie gave that to me for Christmas,” he says. “She has a friend at National Geographic.”
“It was well worth it Chris,” Marlie says, walking into the room with my younger brother Adam.
“Hello Marlie,” I say taking her hand but she pulls me into a hug. I always liked Marlie, yet I kept her at arms length. I felt like I was betraying my own mother if I spoke with her.
I was so confused about everything back then. My mother moved us to New York City, saying that she couldn't stay here anymore. My brother Adam chose to stay with my father. I needed to go with my mother. I'm ashamed to say that I left for selfish reasons. It was the release that I needed at that time.
Adam looks at me and then walks away. He and I haven't spoken since I left. Even when he came back home to visit he stayed away from me. It stopped bothering me a long time ago. “He'll come around,” Marlie says. “Chris how long are you here for?”
“Just until tomorrow,” I say as she leads me towards a couch.
“Would you like something to drink?”
“No thank you, I have to get going in a few minutes. Mary is taking me to see Ben.”
“Have you spoken to him?” My father asks.
“No, not since I left,” I say, noticing the exchange of looks he and Marlie share.
“Christopher how is your mother?” Marlie asks. “I hear she 's opened a new store.”
“She's doing great. Her markets were voted best in the city.” My mother opened a chain of five markets. The markets cater to the neighborhoods that they are in, making each store different.
“That's fantastic. Adam says that your mother will be taking him to Europe this summer. Will you be going?” my father asks.
“Actually they are going to meet me there. I am photographing the band Mr. Black Sings A Sad Song on the European leg of their tour. It's for their new CD cover.”
“That's great. I wish we had the time to do stuff like that,” Marlie says. “I wonder if we'll ever leave this town.” Her words bring me back to that night years ago.
“Do you think we'll ever leave this town?” Ben asked.
“I hope so,” Catie said.
“I want to see the world,” Ben added.
I kept quiet once again. I didn't want to think about the future. Wherever life was taking me I didn't want to know. I knew that it involved heart-brake. To think that I was the one that got out and I saw the world and still everything brought me back here to this small town, makes me frown.
“We start high school this year,” Catie said. “That's going to be so different.”
“Yeah we won't see each other as much,” Ben added.
“But we'll still have this,” Ben added. How could I tell him that he was wrong. We didn't have this anymore. They had each other and I was kicked to the curve.
“Christopher are you ready?” Mary asked.
“Yes,” I said. I hugged my father and Marlie. I gave David a high five and I told him where the loose floor board was. I kept my toys in there. Adam never came down so I went upstairs to his room.
I knocked on his door. “Stevie it's Chris. I wanted to say goodbye.”
“Goodbye,” he yelled through the door.
“Adam come on,” I yelled back. “It's been a year since I've seen you. You could at least be nice?”
He opened the door, but he never invited me inside so I walked in. His room was filled with posters of my photographs. “Wow,” I said.
“Every time I find one of your's I put it up,” says Adam.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“You just did,” he says with a satisfied look on his face.
“No jerk seriously, what's going on? You don't talk to me, you haven't since I left.”
“Because you left me,” he says with a frown. “I was mad at you for leaving. You were my only friend and you left me alone.” I never thought of it like that. I guess the last few years he and I became closer. I very rarely talked to Ben or Catie so I turned to him.
“Adam I'm sorry. I never meant to leave you, I just needed to go with mom. You could have come with us you know.”
“I know but since you went with her, I felt that I had to stay with dad,” Adam says.
“Adam listen. Why don't you come with me to Boston tomorrow? I have a shoot to do with some bands.”
“Really? Oh I can't It's a school day,” he says with enthusiasm leaving his voice.
“Well I leave at three tomorrow and It's Friday. So why don't you go to school and I'll pick you up from there.”
“Welcome back to Dave Live on Flash one point four f.m. We're still live with Photographer Christopher Dean,” played on the radio and I turn it off. Christopher is back here and all I can think about was how it it is all my fault.
“Is that the same Chris Dean, you guys know?” my friend Jerry asks, pointing at the radio.
“Yeah,” I say, wondering if I should go see him at the radio station, but what can I say? That I was jerk and an asshole and that I should have picked him over Catie?
The last few years Chris was here, he wasn't happy. I know Chris left because he needed to leave. He traveled across the world looking for what he needed through his camera lens when what he needs is right here waiting for him, I'm just a little slow to realize that.
“Guys the food is done!” Jamie yells from the kitchen.
“Why is it that when you are happy someone important to you is not?” I ask. Jamie, Jerry's boyfriend as we enter the kitchen.
“Well the grass is always greener on the other side,” Jamie says. “But who are we speaking of?”
“He's talking about his friend Chris,” Jerry says, kissing Jamie.
“Ah the one that got away,” Jamie says, amusing himself.
I think of him every day, cursing myself for not telling him. “I should have told him, I thought that being with a girl would have been so much easier. I took the easy way out, leaving him to search for a way to deal.” I tell both of them.
“So what did he do?” Jerry asks me.
“Well Chris got distant after Catie and I began dating. He rarely invited us over to his house. He was always out doing something and when he wasn't he was just plain avoiding us.”
“Well can you blame him?” asks Jerry.
“No I blame myself,” I say, handing Jerry a fork.
“Does Catie know?” Jamie asks as he takes out two plates and places food on them.
“I think she found out when she saw that photograph. She knew about me in high school, she just kept it to herself. ”
“Why?” Jamie asks, sitting next us with his own plate. “It's not like it was helping her any?”
“She felt she owed me that much so she kept it quiet,” I tell them, thinking how different things would have been. “She wanted me to tell her myself.”
“Wow my sister kept quiet about something?” Jerry asks, causing all of us to laugh.
“Yeah, but after we broke up she didn't speak to me until she met Trevor,” I say as I take my first bite. “She wanted some time away or something like that.”
I remember the night he took that photograph. We danced to a perfect song but it wasn't perfect for Catie and me. It was perfect for Chris and me. I asked him to dance with us so I could pretend I was dancing with him. Yet all he did was look at us with a broken heart.
“Why don't you go to the radio station and talk to him?” Jerry asks.
“Because I'm afraid. Besides it's been too long. I haven't seen him in four years and I don't remember the las time we had a conversation,” I whisper almost to myself. “He probably doesn't remember me anyways.”
“So he took that picture you have in your living room?” Jamie asks. “You know the one of you and Catie?”
“Yeah he took that the summer before we started high school. You should see the ones my mother has. They're incredible,” I tell them.
“I can't believe I never met him during high school. I was almost always with you guys and Catie always spoke well of him,” says Jerry before taking a huge bite of his lasagna.
“In high school he just kept to himself. I think he used to go home for lunch, so we never saw him much during the school day.”
“Wow and now he's a famous photographer. This reminds me of my brother Charlie but Charlie isn't famous just reclusive,” Jerry adds laughing but Jamie doesn't. Jamie frowns.
“How is your brother by the way?” Jamie asks with irritation in his voice.
“He's, well no one really knows. He's coming to the ceremony though. I'm a little nervous. I haven't told him about us yet. To tell you the truth I don't know why he's coming. He didn't show for Catie's wedding.”
“Shit I almost didn't show,” I joke, trying to ease the building tension between Jamie and Jerry. We all laugh. “I'm sure he'll like Jamie. Every one does. Speaking of the devil, how is Catie dealing with the fact that your brother is coming?”
“She's freaking out. I don't know why they don't get along. I mean Catie always has something against him,” Jerry says. “And she's trying to control everything as usual. It's like your prom remember? She freaked out when the limo was five minutes late.”
“I feel bad for Trevor, she's getting worst every day,” I say.
“I know, I wanted to kill her last week when she kept making Jerry try on the white suit. She didn't stop until Trevor took her away,” Jamie says, shuddering. “Then she yelled at Trevor outside of the store, saying he wasn't being supportive.”
I remember those days. Catie and I dated until halfway through our freshman year of college. We had grown apart in so many ways. She wasn't happy and neither was I plus I knew full well that I was into different things. Having Jerry there as a friend truly helped me. Catie took it hard at first but when she met Trevor things changed and she finally came around. Now we are just friends.
“God I feel bad for the kids their going to have,” Jerry adds. We all laugh once again.
“You know you guys aren't really discreet when you talk about someone,” Catie says, walking into the kitchen. We watch her grab a plate and she sits next to me. “Were you listening to the radio?”
“Yeah,” I barely choke out. Jamie and Jerry share amused looks as Catie smiles.
“I'm sorry if I was pushy the other Day guys,” Catie says. “It's just that I love this stuff.”
“It's alright,” Jamie says, taking her hand. “I wish my family was as supportive.”
“Oh honey, you know were always here for you,” Jerry says, kissing Jamie's cheek.
“So Chris is back in town huh?” Catie asks. “You should go see him.”
“He wont,” Jerry says. “He's afraid.”
“Why not?” Catie asks. “He's meant for you.”
“Can we just drop this?” I ask them. “Christopher probably has someone. They always have pictures of him with somebody.”
“Alright, we have to go anyways,” Jerry says, kissing Jamie and motioning me outside. “I'll see you guys tonight.”
“How do you know that he felt that way?” Jerry asks as we pull up to my house. “I mean he never told you that did he?”
“Well when I told Catie told me that she thought he felt the same way. And last year I read an article on him and they said he was gay.” I tell him, hoping that the article was mistaken.
“So now you think he left because he had a broken heart?”
“Yeah,” I say, already feeling stupid. I've thought about it for so long and something tells me that I'm not wrong.
“I think you are taking this too far,” Jerry says. “I think you should go talk to him before you jump to conclusions.”
“I wish I could,” I say noticing my mother and a man sitting together in my living room.
“Well now is your chance,” my mother says. “Ben, you remember Christopher?”
The last time I saw Chris I cried. Seeing him here is bringing back the feelings I felt when his moving truck pulled away from us with him in it. I promised myself back then that If I saw him again I would tell him how I felt.
“Chris,” I whisper to myself as his face freezes me in place.
“What am I doing here?” I ask myself. And I find that I can't answer that question. They sent the invitation and I said, yes I'll come, like the Idiot that I am. Now I'm here facing the people I purposely took out of my life years ago.
My sister Catie who lives in a nice house, living her wonderful life, is probably waiting to rub my face into what ever success she's had. My brother probably has a beautiful fiance who flashes her pearly whites and flips her blond hair as he worships the ground she walks on.
What do I have to compare? I have a small two room apartment and a dead end job that will own my soul until my school loans are paid off and the only meaningful relationship I've had in the last four years, is a small cactus plant I water once a week.
“Charlie!” My mother yells. “Oh my god, I can't believe you're here.” She grabs my light frame and pulls me close. I should tell you that I have not seen this woman since my freshman year of college, four years ago, but she looks exactly the same.
“Hello,” I say, trying to catch my breath as she pulls me inside.
“Ben, Catie and Trevor are here. Come we have so much to catch up on,” she adds but I could care less. Ben was never really my friend, Catie could burn in hell as long as I was concerned and her husband Trevor is probably nothing more than her idiotic servant.
“Mom I'm a little tired is there any way I can just lay down for a bit?” I ask, trying to avoid the greet fest that will lead to the questions and the fighting.
“Oh Charlie, they won't bite. Come on your dad is waiting to see you,” My mother says. “I promise they'll keep it light.”
“Thanks mom,” I whisper.
My twin brother Jerry is getting married, that's why I am here. I remind myself of that as I enter my parents house. I am not close to my brother. I am very surprised that I said yes when my mother called me. I know what you are thinking, twins should be closer than anything, but he and I were never close. He was moving in a different direction than I was. I was in his shadow and no one noticed until I was gone.
“Hello,” I said, causing everyone in the room to look at me.
“Charlie!” My father says, hugging me. “It's been so long.” I smile and look around to everyone in the room.
Ben stares at me for a second before he shakes my hand. “Welcome back,” he says.
“Where is Jerry,” I ask.
“He went out with,” my father tries to say but my mother cut's him off.
“He went to get some stuff for the reception,” my mother says.
“So Charlie how is life up in New York,” Ben asks.
“Here we go,” I whisper to myself.
“It's good,” I tell Ben.
My life will never be great, that is something I have accepted. I'm not going to tell them that I hate my job and that I don't have any friends. They don't need to know that I am one payment away from eviction. Why should I?
“That's all, it's good?” my sister, Catie asks.
“Yah pretty much,” I reply but she's not defeated. No she is just beginning her terrible inquiry.
“What about girlfriends? Do you have any?” she asks. Trevor flashes an apologetic frown.
I feel like a little boy in an interrogation room. They always want to know everything about everybody. When someone keeps something to themselves it's like a challenge and they must win. Not this time.
“I don't kiss and tell,” I say with satisfaction clearly evident on my face. “It's not polite.”
“Well alright, why don't we eat. Jerry should be here soon,” My father says, cutting Catie off before she can say anything else.
When I was younger my mother always served as the mediator in the family. She remained neutral as my brother, sister and I would argue. My father would eventually take my side and my sister and brother would back off.
“Charlie why don't you come with me. I want to show you my new game room,” my father says, pulling me away from every body.
“So how are you? Tell me the truth.”
“Dad I'm fine, I swear.”
“I worry about you Charlie. Living up north by yourself with no one. What if something happens to you?”
“Dad nothing is going to happen,” I lie, hoping to reassure the man. My apartment has been broken into twice in one year. Somebody attacked me for the change I had in my jacket. My life couldn't be worst off, but I know that it's better than living here.
“How about your job, Charlie? Where is that going to lead you?”
“I have a good job. I just need to work harder and then I can get promoted.”
“Do you expect me to believe that when it's clear that you yourself don't,” he says. “Look let me speak with a couple of my buds at the club, they can get you a job here and I can pay for those loans.”
“Dad no! Please just leave it alone, I am fine. I like my job.”
“I just want to help Charlie. You are my son, I'm not judging you I'd just wish you'd trust in us more. Can you blame me for wanting you near me?”
He was right. I could definitely use his help and I'd die to get out of that job but what would be the cost? Catie would put me down for being a loser, Jerry would curse me for taking my parents money. I'd go to hell before I'd let them do that.
“Dad look I don't want you to think of me as a burden. I am fine and no I don't blame you for wanting me near but I am an adult now and I'm living my own life. I want you to trust me alright?”
“Alright son, but I am paying off those loans whether you like it or not,” he says, leaving me with my mouth open. I follow him to the dining room. My mother smiles and motions me to a seat.
“So Charlie how is that job of yours?” Catie asks with a smug look on her face. “Trevor was up north last week and he says that firm is a mess. How do you do it?”
“With patience,” I reply once again dodging her questioning.
“Catherine, stop that. Leave Charlie alone he is happy where he is.” My mother says, winking at me after she says it.
The last time I saw Catie was the summer before I left for college. She finds amusement in my failure. It's like a habit for her. Normally I'd just give in but today I wasn't about to let her win.
“Catie, how is that horticulture degree working for you these days?” I ask and she breaks into a cough.
She asked for it and I was ready to dish it out. “Nice,” Ben mouthed, Trevor was holding back a laugh and my father shook his head as Catie shot daggers at me with her eyes.
“Hey don't look at me you started this,” I tell her but it just infuriates her.
“Listen you little shit!” she bellows across the table, holding a butter knife that Trevor quickly removes from her hand.
“Charlie!,” Jerry yells from the other end of the table.
“This isn't over,” Catie says as I walk by her.
Jerry and I could be identical if we both had the same length of hair, if we both wore the same type of clothes and if we shared that closeness that most twins did but we don't.
“You look good,” he says, hugging me. The hug isn't a close one but rather a forced one and we find ourselves pulling away quickly. “How is New York?”
“Good, I like it there,” I respond. “When do I get to meet my new sister in law? Where is this Jaime?”
“Oh boy,” Ben says from across the room.
Jerry seems nervous for a second, but quickly recovers when he realizes I'm looking at him. “What?” I ask.
“Charlie can I talk to you?” I nod and he motions outside.
“Let's go for a ride,” he says leaving me in the room. I turn back to everyone. “Go,” Ben and Trevor say as my father and mother pushes me out.
In silence he drove us out of town. I can't say where he's taking me, or why he nervously tried to say something every other minute but I know it's important. “Are you going to tell me what you want to say?” I ask.
“Charlie I want you to meet Jamie,” he says, pulling into a dirt driveway.
“Sure, that's what I came back home for right?”
“Well yeah, but I want you to understand that if you don't want to be a part of this you don't have to be.”
“What are you talking about?” I ask as he stops. A man is standing in the driveway.
“Hello,” the man says, extending his arm. “I'm Jamie.”
“Jerry your gay? He's gay and I.... I can't breathe,” I choke out. A minute later my lunch reappears in liquid form on the ground next to my car.
“Charlie are you OK?”
“Bring him inside,” Jamie says.
“No! No wait!” I yell. “You are telling me that you are both gay?”
“Charlie come inside,” Jerry says, holding me.
“No Jerry, No!” I yell at him. “You are telling me that you are gay?”
“Charlie if this is a problem!” Jamie yells but I don't let him finish.
“Jamie Can I have a word with my brother for a second?” I demand from the angry man looking at me.
Jamie looks at my brother then me for a second. “Sure. Call me if you need me Jerry,” he says then goes inside the house.
“Charlie I,” he tries to say but I put my hand up.
“Can you drive me home please?” I ask him.
“Listen I'm sorry if,” he tries to say but I cut him off.
“Jerry please take me back. I have to go home and I want to leave before it's dark.”
I feel like a jerk. My twin brother the person I should know the best turns out to be the person I know the least. Now I'm making him bring me home so I can drive an even bigger wedge between us just because he is gay.
When I was younger they always left me behind. As everyone I knew moved one by one at the speed of light, I was stuck living my life at a slower pace, watching from my own boring world. Stuck between lies, frustration and the fear that came from being a gay teen. I always felt awkward around my family especially my siblings. They had proms, homecomings, pep rallies, while I watched from a distance hoping that I would catch up to them one day.
I never did caught up, so I chose a different way out. I took off for college and never looked back. Sure there were phone calls here and there, but nothing made me want to come back here.
“Please think this over,” my mother says as I put my bags back into my car. “Honey he is your brother. You cant treat him like that because he's gay.”
“Mom I'll call you when I get home. Tell dad that I will call him,” I tell her before getting into my car. Jerry jumps in the passenger before I can pull away.
“I'm going with you,” he announces.
“Look Jerry, I'm not mad at you and I'm really happy that you found someone to lead your life with. I truly am happy and please tell Jamie that, but I need to leave right now and I would like it to be without you.”
“Honey let him go with you,” my mother adds from my window.
“What about Jamie? You are getting married the day after tomorrow, you can't leave them like this.”
“I spoke with him, he's alright with this. I'll stay with you tonight and then I'm flying back tomorrow night. Now can you drive please?”
I don't like this. I can't take him to my apartment then he'd see how I am living. I pull away from my parent's house wondering where this was taking us. I'd have to speak with him eventually and I'd have to tell him how I feel.
“Why are you doing this?” I ask.
“Because it's what I need and it's what you need. We are twins that's supposed to make us close and I'd like to have that with you,” he says.
I keep quiet as I drive us out of town. I can feel him staring at me, looking for something that's not real. I can't give him what he wants. I don't know how. Even if I did where would that take us? Sure we'd talk more frequently and sure we'd see each other more often but what about all that came before? Can I truly forget the reasons we weren't close in the first place.
“Are you going to talk to me?” he asks.
“Why Jerry? For what? So you can feel better about yourself because you tried to be a brother?”
“No Charlie I don't want to try, I want to be your brother so please just give me some time. I'm sure we can find a common ground.”
“I don't know, Jerry. I don't know if this can work.” I don't know if I want it to work.
“He fascinates me,” I tell my friend, Chris from the fire escape.
“Does he know that you are watching him?” Chris asks, joining me at my window.
“I don't know, he very rarely looks up here. You should take his picture for me.”
“Steve, that's invasion of privacy. I can't do that,” Chris says, handing me his camera. “But you can.”
I focus in on the man, through the cameras viewfinder. He's pacing back forth he seems nervous. “Stop moving so I can take your picture,” I say to myself.
“You'd think living in a city you'd learn to shut your curtains,” Chris says. “That's why I have my own place.”
“Well you know some of us aren't world famous photographers with the ability to own their own building, and we do have to live in small apartments. Besides you don't seem to mind coming here.”
“That's because you are the only person in the world that doesn't care what I do. I asked if you wanted to move in with me and you said no,” he says, stepping up to to the fire escape.“and I love being here. It's so lively.”
“Yeah, well if you think drug dealers and hookers are lively you should step into that alley over there. I'm sure you can find something worth taking a picture of. A cat maybe.”
The day we met Chris had wondered into the ally behind the restaurant I worked at, photographing some stray cats. Somebody had locked the gate that led to the outside while he was taking his photos. He had been there in the cold for three hours until I came out with the trash. The rest was history and we've become close.
We both share a laugh, remembering how we met. “I can't believe how stupid I was,” Chris says.
“Yeah I know, you're lucky my boss sent me out to take care of the trash.”
“Look he's stopped moving,” Chris says, taking his camera back. After a few clicks the camera begins to rewind and he reloads. “We have to go, and this belongs to you.” he says putting the roll in my shirt pocket.
“Can you tell me why I am doing this in the first place?” I ask him.
“Because you want to move out of here some day and this is your first step,” Christopher says. “Come on you don't want to keep your future fans waiting. And I got Brian Black to come.” Chris got me a chance to sing at a local bar and my nerves are getting the best of me.
“Chris, Thank you,” I say before we leave my apartment.
“No prob man. That's what friends are for right,” he says punching my arm.
The experiences I once had gave me a new perspective on people. I found that along with the bad people come the good people and I surround myself with them. People like Chris who is my best friend. There couldn't be a person more opposite than me but he is the most loyal person I know.
I learned long ago that if you live your life how you want it you can be happy without complication. So I did, I got away from the negative things in my life, putting myself in top priority. Every thing is alright now. My father doesn't use me as his punching bag, my mother doesn't yell at me and I no longer live with the hope of dying I once had. Leaving has made me who I am today.
Life is good now and I can say that because nothing can ever make me me feel as worthless as I did when I lived with my parents and nothing will ever be as important to me as getting away from them was.
“Hey can we stop at the one hour photo place before we go?” I ask. Chris looks shocked.
“What did you say?” Chris asks, raising his eyebrow.
“I want to know if we can go to the one hour photo place, you know the one across the street, before we go?”
“Don't you ever mention that place in my presence,” he says, pointing across the street. “If you must go, you go and you go alone. I'll wait for you in my car.” Christopher hates one hour photo places. He says that they cheapen the art of photography. I smile and shake my head.
I like to take deep breaths before I go on stage. When I sing my whole world is replaced by a different place. All I see is a spotlight and a microphone. I like to think that someone out there is connecting with me or understands me just by hearing me sing.
“You were great,” Chris says, snapping his camera.
“Thanks, I am a nervous wreck,” I say as Chris leads me towards the bar. Brian Black, the lead singer of my favorite band, is approaching me. He smiles and seats next to me.
“Hi I'm Brian,” he says. “I am with.”
“Mr. Black Sings A Sad Song,” I finish for him. We both laugh and he extends his hand. “I'm Steve Kelly,” I say, Taking his hand.
“You were really good,” Brian says. “My friend Drew over there was wondering if you have an agent?”
“No,” I say, looking at his friend Drew, who is also the lead singer of a band.
“Well you should give me a call,” Brian says, handing me a card. “Call me tomorrow Maybe I can speak to my agent for you.”
I am in shock. My favorite singer just gave me his number and he thought I was good. Chris started hugging me as we jumped up and down. “That was so awesome!” I yell.
“I know, come on let's get some drinks,” Chris says but I stop when I see someone looking at us from across the bar.
“Chris look it's that guy we took pictures of, no wait there is two of them.”
Chris looks at them for a long time. “Wait a minute, I know them,” he says, heading over to the two guys. I watch from where I am as he shakes their hand. A minute later he motions towards me and they all approach me.
“Guys this is my friend Steve,” Chris says. “Steve this is Charlie and Jerry. They're friends of Ben.”
I look at them, introducing myself. They are Identical but Charlie is blushing as he nervously shakes my hand. “You like taking pictures,” Charlie asks, leaving me with my mouth open.