For Everything You Were
It was approaching a very sad day as I lay in my bed, the twilight hours starting to give way to a faint light outside. It was almost a year since Ethen died, or should I say my world ended. Life had never been the same since. As much as I willed myself to get back to some sort of normality I just couldn't shake that hole in my life that refused to be filled.
I turned over onto my back and let my head drop to the side seeing the silhouette of Cody sleeping soundly just next to me. I wondered what we were at that moment as I looked at him intently. He and I had been locked in this flux where he assumed we were together and I just went along with it. I guess we were together in every sense of the word, but it was not a togetherness I felt wrapped in.
Not like me and Ethen.
The sky's shade of blue was becoming lighter the longer I laid there awake. It was going to be another hot day and people would be out in the summer sun enjoying themselves where as I wanted nothing more than to just hide away alone in this very room.
I took in a deep breath and let it out in a sigh, and as if by coincidence Cody stirred and opened his eyes.
Maybe he heard my mental pain.
"You ok. Why are you laying there with your eyes open?"
"Today is the day," was all I said in response.
"I'm surprised you remember, but yeah Ethen. It's hard for me Cody, I know you don't understand."
Cody propped himself up on his elbow and ran his fingers over my chest. "I do understand, and I knew today was the day, I just didn't know whether you wanted me to remind you."
I groaned. "It's been on my mind for weeks, as if I was counting down to some kind of doomsday."
Cody gently squeezed my peck and smiled. "I'm sure he is in a better place and having a really good time somewhere."
"It's funny how people always say that isn't it."
"I mean, is it supposed to make people feel better? Instead of thinking that Ethen is six feet underground being eaten by worms, people like to say he is on some magical cloud where young girls with rings above their heads sit there playing the harp and everyone is having a great time."
"I think it's just supposed to be comforting," Cody responded, softly.
"its bullshit, that's what it is," I barked, thumping the mattress. "There is nothing after this, and that's the reality, it's all shit Cody. All I know is, it seems to be the good honest decent people that always end up dying and the other evil fuckers out there seem to hang onto life forever, its shit."
"Look Jake, I know this is a hard time for you at the moment, but YOU are still alive and so am I, so is your family and friends-"
"Friends? So who are they then?"
I felt myself getting agitated now listening to him go on about how I should be almost grateful for what I have when the only fucking thing that really mattered was gone, kaput, erased, torn away.
"You do have friends… look if this is making you grouchy let's talk about something else."
"I'm gonna get up, I need the toilet anyway… do you want a drink, I'm pretty thirsty?"
"Sure, but Jake listen, you can't keep doing this, Ethen's death was not your fault, it was no one's fault, it was just a freak accident. Everyone lost something that day and-"
"And what, I should feel sorry for them? Yeah sure, I get you had to leave Luke behind and dad had to quit his job, but that job was swapped for one here and you can get another boyfriend whenever you want, mine is fucking dead!"
Cody's eyes went wide, his moth fell open and I immediate regretted what I had just said. Those eyes went from wide to narrow as he looked at me with a face full on anguish.
"I have a boyfriend remember?"
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean-"
"Six months we have been trying to be something, if this is not working for you please just put me out of my misery Jake because hearing you talk like that just makes me feel like a spare part in your life."
"Its not like that Cody, I really like you, more than just my best friend."
"I can feel a BUT coming."
"But I feel like there is something missing, something that binds us together. It's like our relationship is a brick house with no cement."
Cody fell on to his back again and sighed. "Man, you really do know how to put things in a lovely way. So what are you saying you wanna call it quits?"
"No… I mean, I don't think so, maybe I just need some time."
"Time… time? Jake you've had a year, how much time do you want?"
"How the fuck should I know, some people grieve for years Cody, some even grieve for someone until they are in the ground themselves, I don't have a fucking manual on this."
"Let me ask you something, when we have sex do you think about him?"
"Cody, now you are just being spiteful."
"Well it makes me wonder, the way you talk sometimes."
"If it hadn't escaped your mind I am dealing with a lot right now."
"We all are Jake, yes it's been a year since you lost Ethen, but it's also been a year since we have been home from the desert, a year home for mum and dad, a year since I left Luke behind and almost a year since my parents disowned me for falling in love with a guy. We all have a lot to deal with Jake."
"Are you seriously trying to make me feel worse or better, I really cant decide?"
"I'm trying to make you see we are all in this together, instead of pushing me away why don't we just try and support each other and stop this madness."
I got up off the bed and took my bathrobe from the door. "I really need a piss now."
Cody jumped out of bed and came over to me, taking hold of my arm. "Look, I'm sorry, I guess I can't begin to know how you are feeling but us arguing will not make things better or turn the clock back. Why don't you go get that drink and come back to bed, it's still early."
I pursed my lips together and gave Cody a thoughtful look. I was hard on him, I knew that. My venting at my unfixable situation was not his fault as much as I wanted to blame someone. I felt blaming someone would almost give Ethen some justice, but there was no one to blame because no one was at fault. In moments of clarity I could see that, like now.
It's a shame those moments didn't come that often.
My eyes jolted open as I heard a knock at our door, with my mum coming through it moments later. I almost dived out of bed thinking I was late for college until I saw Cody still in bed, his head nestled on my chest.
"Hey baby, I just wanted to see if you were ok, you know what with today being…"
"Thanks mum, yeah I'm fine… I think."
"Good to hear… say, he looks peaceful at least," mum said, eyeing a still sleeping Cody.
"Yeah we were up last night, well early this morning actually, I haven't had a lot of sleep, nor has he."
"Well come down when you are ready, there is a letter on the table for you."
"A letter, who is sending me mail?" I asked, as I never got mail.
Mum shrugged, "Dunno, but it's got an American postage mark on it." With that she walked out closing the door.
"America?" Cody groaned, half asleep. "Did I just hear America?"
"Uh huh," I replied dreamily, consumed with thoughts of who it could be from. "I need to go read it."
"Want me to read it with you?"
"Naa its fine Cody."
Getting out of bed I pulled on a random pair of knee shorts and a white t-shirt and headed down the stairs yawning. I could hear the radio being played in the kitchen while I could see dad wrestling with his roof rack on the car outside, the front door pushed wide open.
"Oh, Jake, come give me a hand would you, I can't get these brackets to slot in. Every time I do one side the other side pops out."
"And you are installing a roof rack because?"
"I gotta go pick up a bed. The robbing bastards wanted Sixty pounds for delivery, and this roof rack cost me fifteen. It was a no brainer to go get it myself."
"I guess… so who is the bed for?"
"Mum said you and Cody are going to need a bigger one seeing as he is with us for good,"
"Yeah, well thanks."
"You could at least try and sound grateful Jake, seeing as the most effort I am putting in today will be on this bloody roof rack."
"Yeah sorry dad, just a lot on my mind."
"Yeah, I know, I'm sorry."
I just smiled and went to work with my dad trying to get this bastard rack to slot in place. Once that was done I headed into the kitchen and heaved myself up to the breakfast bar taking my letter in hand and eying it wearing a suspicious look on my face.
"Yeah in a sec mum, let me open this first."
Mum came over and took the letter out of my hand and gave me a stern look.
"Grrr," I said hopping off the stool before going to grab my test kit to measure my blood sugar. Pulling out my machine I pricked my finger and began the process, letting the machine do its thing.
"Six point two, happy?" I asked, holding the screen up to her."
"Jake, I know you think I nag you about this but its for your own good, you are careless and one day you are going to pay a high price for that. I would have thought your episode in the states would have taught you a lesson."
I just rolled my eyes. "Can I open my letter now?"
"Don't you think you should have some breakfast first?"
I ignored the comment sitting back up at the breakfast bar and looking at the letter again. I looked at the postmark seeing it was stamped Colorado. Creasing my forehead I slowly started to rip open the flap before looking inside. There was a single piece of white paper enclosed which I casually pulled out and unfolded.
The first line read in bold. Feeling all of a sudden scared I did as the letter asked not bothering to see what was written further. I shoved the paper back in the envelope and jumped off the stool starting to leave the kitchen.
"Who is it from?" Mum asked, seeing me leaving in rather a hurry. I stopped frozen and turned round to face her, probably looking as white as a sheet.
"Oh, um, just someone from that school I went to in Beale."
"A love interest at some point?"
"Mum, do you have to do that?" I asked, finding the need to blush for some reason. She just laughed and I took that as my opportunity to escape the room and head for the bathroom, which was the only room I could be truly alone I felt.
As I walked up the stairs I could see Cody coming out of our room. Quickly stuffing the envelope in my shorts I passed him in the hallway and went straight into the bathroom trying to look as normal as possible.
"You ok?" he asked, as I passed by.
"Yeah Just need the toilet badly."
"Sugar levels ok?"
"Yeah fine Cody, be out soon ok?" I said quickly closing the door and locking it.
Breathing a sigh of relief I took the envelope out of my shorts with a hand that was now very much trembling and sat down on the toilet seat looking at it. Once again I pulled out the piece of paper that was inside and dared myself to read on.
Ok I'm alone, I thought, what's next?
I suddenly realised I had run out of words to read as I sat there puzzled. Nothing more was written and there was nothing else to pull from the envelope. I always used to love a good mystery when I was a little kid, but somehow this one didn't seem all that exciting. In fact it felt pretty fucking scary.
I read the letter again and again almost as if trying to extract something else from it – a code maybe, a hidden meaning, a clue to who it was from, but nothing… nothing was coming to mind and the more I read it the more freaked out I was becoming.
I looked at my watch seeing I had two days to wait for this 'contact' to be made. Two fucking days of what I knew was going to be sheer agony for my curious mind. What's more I didn't feel particularly comfortable following these instructions anyway seeing as I didn't know where the hell this was coming from, or why for that matter. I didn't know anyone in Colorado, I didn't know anyone in America really, only the few people who lived on our small desert patch and if it were one of those, why all the secrecy?
Stuffing the envelope and letter back into my shorts I emerged from the bathroom and headed to our room seeing it was empty. Cody was probably downstairs having breakfast, something I was planning to do as well, but now I didn't feel all that hungry.
"So what are you boys going to be doing today seeing as you have just under six weeks of getting under my feet?" Mum asked us, clearing away the breakfast leftovers.
"Well I'm up for going to the beach, what about you Jake?"
I looked at Cody and mum as if they had were mad. "You two might have forgotten what day it is but I haven't, I won't be doing much I'm afraid, I don't really feel like it."
"Oh Jake, come to the beach it will do you good," Cody said, squeezing my shoulder.
"Jake baby, I know this is a really hard day for you to get through but make the most of your break from college, before you know it you will both be back there and regretting you didn't do anything."
I knew mum was right, but I just didn't have the motivation to do anything right now. Part of me wishes I was still at college, at least which would have took my mind of the current demons occupying my mind. She gave me a reassuring smile and left the kitchen.
Cody came over and put his mouth close to my ear. "Unless you want to go back to bed and I'll give you some loving?" he said in a suggestive tone. I looked at him and frowned.
"Is that all you think about?"
"Hmm, now that you mention it, pretty much… made you smile though didn't it?"
"That you're always horny? Yeah that does tend to make me smile."
"So there you are, beach for loving, make your choice, but I refuse to let you mope all day, Ethen wouldn't want you to do that would he?"
"Moping or having sex with you?"
"Ouch," Cody said, looking sad.
"Sorry, I keep doing that don't I."
"Comparing me to him, yeah you do, but fuck it, what can I do?" Cody shrugged.
"Nothing, it's just me being unfair to you, I'm sorry Cody, I'm still-"
"Grieving, yeah you tell me most days, guess I've got used to it now… I'm going to get changed."
He left the kitchen causing a building urge in me to call him back and apologise again, but I didnt. I was so fucking cruel to Cody sometimes it made me kick myself. I didn't do it on purpose, but he did hit it on the head with his comment about me always comparing Ethen to him… I did, which was so unfair.
I just couldn't help it!
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