The following is a work of fiction. The story may contain profanity and references to gay sex. Any relation to similar events or persons, fiction or real, is completely fortuitous. If such content offends you please leave now. The author retains all rights to the story. Do not copy or use without written authority from the author. Write Bobby at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments.
Have you forgotten all I know, and all we had?
You saw me mourning my love for you
And touched my hand
I knew you loved me then
I believe in you
I'll give up everything just to find you
I have to be with you, to live, to breathe
You're taking over me
Taking Over Me © by Evanescence, 2003
Control. It's extraordinary the tactics people employ to obtain it. Some rely on deception while others engage in outright trickery. Then there are those who resort to extortion. Why do we fight so hard for control? Because we know to lose it is to put our fate in the hands of others. And what could be more dangerous?
© by Marc Cherry, 2005
The towering firs and aromatic pine trees swayed gently in the wind. Goosebumps covered my skin every time the stray breeze moved past me. The gravel beneath my feet crunched softly, still damp from the early morning dew. Birds flew overheard. Their songs carried over the sound of the babbling creek. I took it all in. The sights, the smells, the sounds, all created a flood of peace within my shattered soul. That's what the great outdoors can do to a person. Make them feel whole again. Hiking in the wilderness, bearing witness to the simplicity of life, makes me sort out the bullshit and I remember the important things in life: health and happiness. I have the health part down to a science. I eat right, exercise, don't do drugs or drink-heavily, anyway-and I'm incredibly conscious of the fact that the human body is a temple. The happiness part is what I've been struggling on for the past while. What is happiness anyway? Is it the pursuit of such a delicate feeling? Does it have to do with reminding yourself about how lucky you are with what you already possess? I don't think I know anymore.
"You've been this way before, right? Like, we're not gonna get lost?"
I sighed to myself, frustrated that I thought bringing Torry was a good idea. This morning I'd had a sudden urge to go hiking. Not wanting to venture on my own and only having one brother that I don't want to murder, I texted Torry and asked if he'd like to go. I'm now not sure if it was hiking that excited him or being pulled out of school early on a Friday. Tyler will be furious that I pulled him out, but he'll get over it once he hears that I only did it to do a little brotherly bonding.
"I've been this way a ton of times, Torry." I said for the fourth time. "We're following the creek. We can easily follow the creek back."
He muttered, probably not thinking I could hear, "I'm sure,"
I decided to begin the bonding process. Perhaps that would also ease his fears.
"How's school going?"
Torry huffed, "Okay,"
I waited a few seconds for him to possibly elaborate, but when minutes passed I figured that was the best response he'd provide.
"Prom is just around the corner. Do you-oh, wait. I forgot you're only a freshman." He shot me a look. "Your maturity always throws me off."
"Yeah, real mature," he mumbled.
"You are," I argued.
I frowned. Doesn't he realize how bloody mature he is? Sometimes I think he's more mature than I am. Sure, there are moments when his childish attitude can flare, but for the most part Torry is incredibly responsible and makes the best decisions he can.
"Don't doubt yourself, man." I began. "You're a good kid. You get good grades, you help around the house, you know what you want to do with your life already. That's awesome stuff."
"Sometimes it doesn't feel awesome. Sometimes I feel like things don't matter. Keegan ribs me good a lot, too. He says that grades in high school don't matter at all and that I should be spending more time doing normal things instead of being such a nerd. Maybe he's right." Torry let out a sigh. "Maybe I am too much of a nerd."
"Who said being a nerd is bad thing?"
"Other than Keegan?"
"Yeah, other than that little butt sniff."
"Pretty much seventy-five percent of guys my age." Torry kept his head down. His eyes locked onto every pebble on the ground.
"People your age think they know everything. Believe me, I was one of them. The race to be accepted as normal is a tough one. You want to fit in, be thought of as cool. I get it. Perhaps being different than the rest of the posers is cool, though."
Torry chuckled, shrugging his shoulders. "I wouldn't know,"
"Hey, let me tell you something." I stopped walking, grabbing his arm so he wouldn't walk past me. Our eyes connected. Mine, serious and determined. His, soft and saddened. "There will be people who tell you negative things all your life. They'll say things to discourage you and try to take away your accomplishments. Don't take your accomplishments away from yourself. Being smart is the best thing in the world for you. If Keegan believes what he told you, then that will be his loss someday." I suddenly remembered a little pep talk Jared once gave me about being a man. Perhaps it's time for Torry to hear the same talk, even if it's not from his father. "If you're a man, you take life with its ups and downs. If you're a real man you never go down. You only stay up. Look at all the things I've been through in my life. But here I am, strong as ever. Stronger than yesterday because I acknowledge my accomplishments and don't let anyone take them away from me.
"There's this guy in my history class that has been at Sand Canyon for five years for what should have only taken him, at most, three. He's had a tough road filled with mistakes on his part, but no matter what he hasn't given up. He has his future planned out and nothing will stop him from bringing his dreams to reality. That's what being a man is all about. So keep your accomplishments close at hand and don't let anyone diminish their quality, okay?"
A silence washed over us. His soft, cinnamon eyes were shiny. Hopefully our chat has boosted his self-esteem. I've noticed it's never been as high as it should be. The reality of the situation is that he's a very worthwhile individual and that fact isn't lost on my part. Early teenage years are difficult. Mine sure as hell were. The feelings of worthlessness, confusion, angst, and embarrassment are powerful detractors. Torry seems to be having an extra difficult time.
I decided to move on, but I had just one more bit of pep to give him.
"I am always here for you. No matter the time of day. We're brothers." I gave him a quick squeeze, then continued on our path.
The next half mile or so was done so in silence. I didn't know if it was a good silence on his part or not. I'm as content as a cucumber. I feel good that I was able to help him out. Well, I hope I did. He hasn't said a word since.
I began to grow a bit winded. We've been hiking for about an hour now. Who knows how far we've come, but the elevation has increased and I can just see the edge of dirt lot where my car was. I'd say it's a few miles away at least. Torry's huffing has only picked up and become more ragged. He could definitely use a rest. A small clearing lies just ahead. We'll rest and gather ourselves there, then continue on hiking if he feels up to it.
Once at the clearing, we plopped down on a comfortable-ish boulder. I grabbed two small bags of trail mix from the backpack I'd brought along as well as a bottle of water for each of us. He gratefully took the water, chugging half of it in the blink of an eye.
"You know, I can't believe what he did to you." Torry finally spoke. Unsure of who the "he" was, I asked. "Keegan. Well, and Trevor. Like, I can't imagine your own brother doing anything more disgusting and betraying."
A spine tingling chill surged through my body at just the name of that little shithead.
"Yeah, well, whatever. I'm over it." I'm not sure why I said that. It certainly isn't true. By the look on Torry's face, he didn't believe it, either. "Okay, I'm not over it, but I'm trying to move on. I don't know if I'll ever be able to forgive him."
"How could you? How could you forgive either of them? They both should be completely ashamed of themselves. It really sucks that you're moving out, but I'd do the same thing, or end up killing Keegan." Torry was working himself up, I could tell. This hike is supposed to be fun, relaxing. I certainly don't want to ruin the mood with talk of the two biggest douche bags on the face of the earth.
"I'm pretty nervous about moving out, to be honest." I took a big drink of water before going on. "I've never been on my own before. And the fact that I'm moving in with a stranger is even more nerve-wracking."
"You get along with everyone. I wouldn't worry if I were you."
"Not everyone," I mumbled sullenly. "I'll just have to see how it goes. If worse comes to worst, then I can always move back home."
Torry patted me on the back. "Now there's the spirit."
"I'd prefer not to have to do that, though." I countered. "I just hope this all works out, because if I have to move back in with Keegan I can't promise I won't massacre his alabaster ass."
"Well as much as I'd like to see that, it probably wouldn't fly with Tyler and Jared. I'm still kicking myself for missing the first fight."
The two of us finished our trail mix and most of the water. I looked up into the clouds and felt at ease with my life all of a sudden. Sure, certain fractures exist in the overall picture, but the picture itself is still very intelligible, very vivid. Asking Torry if he'd like to go home, I wondered what life could possibly throw at me next.
Jared asked me the question I've been dreading for hours.
"Are you ready?"
Am I? Now that moving out has become a reality I've not been able to shake the idea that this is a bad one. So many things could go wrong. The biggest problem is that I can't even back out of the deal. Dan already has my first month's rent and he readied the room for me. I'd feel like such a douche backing out now. No, I can do this. I just have to remember what I told Torry. Real men never go down-mentally, anyways.
"Yeah," I gave a fraction of a smile. "I'm all set."
"Tyler packed you some food." Jared patted my leg.
I sat up, swinging my legs over the edge of the bed. "Great,"
"Having second thoughts?" he asked, sitting next to me.
Rolling my eyes, I grumbled, "Yes,"
"Hm," he sounded.
This is usually the part where he gives me some fatherly advice. I'm ready for whatever words of wisdom he may provide because I need all the support available right now. This has become too real. I'm moving out of my parents' house at nineteen. Granted, it's with a roommate, but the anxiety and fear are pronounced.
Tired of waiting, I asked. "Well?"
Jared rubbed his chin for a moment before saying, "I got nothing."
"Gee, how encouraging," I laughed, nudging him on the side.
"Hey, you wanted this. I already told you I think moving out will do you some good. And if things don't work out, then you can come right back here. Don't be nervous, don't be stressed." Jared squeezed the back of my neck a few times.
"Okay," sighing, I said. "I guess it's time to go then."
Tyler was waiting in the kitchen. A plastic grocery bag full of food sat on the counter. Although we had just finished dinner I couldn't wait to eat whatever he packed. Some food is actually tastier when reheated. So far there hadn't been any negative emotions. Tyler came home from work a few hours ago and started dinner right away. While eating, conversation was normal, typical of what it usually is. Nothing about the move, for which I was grateful. Inside, I was desperately hoping Tyler would beg me to stay. I would have. I would've said fuck the money. Money is replaceable. The closer the time came to leave the harder my heart would thump. By the end of dinner I was damn near a heart attack. Why is fear suddenly rushing in? The move was an exciting thing up until now.
I stared at him. He stared back.
"There are leftovers in the containers with the red lids. The two with the blue lids are a special treat." Tyler paused, probably trying not to become emotional. "Perhaps you can have one tonight if you begin to feel homesick."
One of the corners of my lips curled upwards.
"Thanks," My eyes became misty.
"Yeah," he smiled.
I grabbed the bag of food and headed towards the front door. Before opening it I turned around to face Tyler and Jared and Torry.
"Well, I guess this is goodbye."
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