For Everything You Were
"I feel sick… I… I mean how, you're not real you can't be."
"Jake, I can't explain… I mean I can explain, but I can't right now. You need to believe me, I am who I say I am."
"Ethen, I… I mourned you, I grieved for you, what the fuck… I mean what the FUCK!"
"Can I see you?"
"WHAT?!" I screamed, making the few people that were in the park look over at me. "How is that even possible?"
"I… I don't know baby, I just have to, I couldn't do this anymore, wondering where you were and-"
"Why have you done this, I just can't get my head around it, what's going on."
"Baby… Jake, listen. I know you have many questions, and I have many answers but I need you to promise me you will keep this call a secret."
"A secret, how am I supposed to live with a secret like this, I'll go mad!"
I heard Ethen heave down the phone starting to sob again. "I've missed you so much and I… I never meant for this nightmare to happen, I'm so sorry."
"Then why, and how… Jesus to fuck Ethen, I don't know how I am going to deal with this, can you at least give me something. Your fucking dad buried you, my parents saw your coffin… you in it!"
"Jake, listen! I'm getting a flight over to the UK, I needed to make sure I found you before I did. I can't say too much, but things happened when you was in America that were wrong."
"What things, please Ethen!"
"Like I said, I can't explain on this phone. Look I am coming to the UK to see-"
"Where is your dad?" I blurted, cutting him off.
"Yeah, you know Colin Jones who doesn't really exist!"
"I don't know… Jake, I know you wanna get angry about this and I know you probably despise me for doing this to you but I had to contact you."
"D e spise you… Ethen I fucking loved you, I loved you until my heart ached… and answer my question, where is your dad?"
"I don't know, I told you, I left Jake, I ran, took a load of money and ran."
"For fuck sake Jake I can't talk over this phone!!!… I'm sorry, I'm sorry baby, I didn't mean to get mad. Please just believe that I never wanted to hurt you, I never wanted this, and I know you wanna ask a hundred questions but I can't answer them, I need to get to you where I can explain everything."
"I… I don't think I can see you, do you know how much this is screwing my head up, I can't do this, I need to let you be dead, that's what I have accepted. This… this is all just fucking warped and wrong. I don't think my sanity could take it, seeing you again. I am so in love with you!"
"Jake, please I need to make this right… hang on, what did you say?"
"I said I am so in love with you, that's why I can't see you, I have never got over this, and you just call out of the blue and wanna see me. I think I'm going fucking crazy here."
"Ok, calm down… Jake calm down and listen to me. Where are you?"
"In the park at the end of my street, why?"
"Go home and take a long shower, let us end this call and let me get here, I will get the next flight possible and come to you."
"Go home and take a long shower, are you fucking mad? What am I supposed to do when I get home, just act as if nothing has happened in front of everyone?"
"I'm trying to help."
"You can help by telling me why I watched you fall off that rock face and die in front of me and the others and now you are talking to me on the FUCKING PHONE!"
"Jake, I can explain all that and more but right now I am running out of time. I've done some things, bad things that have landed me in trouble. I didn't want to do them, you know that's not me, but I had to escape my father and I need to keep moving."
"Shit Ethen, how bad?"
"If he finds me, he'll never let me go… heal make me carry on living this lie and my freedom will be non-existent. He thinks he's doing it for my own good, he expected me to see this through to the end, but I got in too deep and just couldn't do it."
"Too deep, with what?"
"With you… I have to go, I'll be in touch."
With that the phone went dead and I was once again left in silence. I tried to call back but there was no number. Wherever he was calling from either had no return number or he withheld it. I dropped the phone onto the grass and buried my head in my hands, starting to sob again. The built up stress and anxiety that had acclimated was now seeping out into the raw emotions as I tried to take in what just took place.
The thoughts of speaking to Ethen were bending and twisting what I thought was reality. I wanted to scream, cry, and tear my heart out as the desperation of trying to understand was getting too much. What was this, THIS! What was going on, why, why, why, why, WHY?!
As I got to the front door I was a dazed mess. I had to stand outside for a few moments trying to compose myself. I didn't want to go in, right now I didn't know where I wanted to be. Part of me wanted to run, and just keep on running, but where?
I placed the key in the front door and I saw Cody walking towards me at a brisk pace, opening the door before I even turned the key. Time felt like it had stood still as I felt like I had been ages but in truth…
"Hmm, that was quick, I expected you to be longer… at Kit's," Cody said, turning his head as if to make sure mum and dad heard. "Are you ok? You look pale babe."
"I need the toilet, would you fetch me a drink please?"
"Sure Jake, are you sure you're-"
"I'm fine," I cut in heading for the stairs.
I got to the bathroom and locked the door before rushing to the toilet where I almost lost control of my bowels, such was the stress I was feeling. As I sat there with liquid the consistency of meat gravy falling from my ass, I started to well up again, wondering how on earth I was going to survive the night with Ethen in my head.
Feeling that I was done I got off and flushed quickly, not looking at the monstrosity I had produced. I quickly turned on the shower and got in. I felt dirty for some reason, dirty, like I had been violated. Using the noise of the shower as cover I allowed myself to cry once more and slid down the tilled wall and on to my butt. I rested my chin on my knees and sobbed my heart out.
As the water washed over my head I tried desperately to compose myself as snot and saliva hung from their respective openings on my face. I knew I had to get out. I couldn't sit here all night without raising a worrying alarm. Me in bathrooms for ages at a time didn't sit well with mum, and so, rinsing myself off, I got out and switched off the water.
Emerging with a towel round my waist I got some clean clothes on and headed downstairs into the lounge where mum, dad and Cody were. Mum and dad just nodded at me as I came into the room, it was Cody who looked concerned as he was the only one to know where I had really been. The thing was though, he didn't know what I had just been through and that was becoming something I could not bear to have round my neck a minute longer.
I went over to the TV and switched it off, turning round to see almost horrified looks coming from my parents. It was now Cody who looked the calmest.
"Hey, I was watching that," my dad lurched.
"Mum, dad, I told you a lie tonight." I said standing in front of the TV.
"A lie honey? Have you eaten something again you shouldn't have?" mum asked, frowning.
"I didn't go to Kit's." Mum looked at Cody who just shrugged before glaring at me.
"So where did you go son?" dad asked.
"To the park."
"The park?" mum asked, tilting her head sideways. "Why did you go to the park?"
"To speak to Ethen."
"Awww, honey, come and give me a hug, God, this has been a real bad couple of days for you hasn't it? You should have said, I would have come and sat with you if you wanted to do that. Sometimes it's good to go to a quiet place and remember someone."
"Jake, what the hell?" Cody blurted.
"Mum, I don't think you are understanding me… I went to the park and SPOKE to Ethen."
"Jake, that is not very funny," dad said, shaking his head.
"Jake is this some kind of joke, because it's not funny," Cody chimed in.
I pulled out the small phone from my pocket and held it out, then looked at Cody. "The person… who was calling me tonight, was-"
"Shut up Jake, this is bullshit!"
"Cody!" Mum barked at him. "Jake, I know this has been tough for you, but you really-"
"Can you all just fucking listen to me for one minute!" I yelled, causing mum to gasp and dad to bark back.
"Watch your mouth young man, and tell us why you are saying these things."
"DO I have to spell it out? The person… who I SPOKE TO… on this phone… was Ethen, theeee Ethen, dead Ethen, same person, no joke, no lies, no funny business. It was him and he is very much alive!"
"Go to your room Jake," mum yelled at me.
"Mum, I'm seventeen, aren't I a bit old to be sent to my room."
"Alan, tell him this is not funny."
"Jake, I don't know what-"dad started, but I was done listening.
"Mum, do I look like I'm laughing. I just spent the last ten minutes shitting and crying my eyes out in the shower because of this phone call. I am very much serious!"
"Ok, let's all just calm down a moment," dad said, holding out his hands and lowering them. "Jake, Start from the beginning, we'll all listen but you got to understand what you are telling us is impossible right?"
"I saw your boyfriend in a coffin Jake, do you understand that?" mum stated, wiping a tear from her eye, sounding emotional.
"Jen, let Jake speak… go ahead Jake."
"Well, just so you know I am not supposed to be saying anything because he asked me to keep this all a secret so I have already screwed him over."
"Jake, son. I've trusted you with things I've talked about. Give your mum and I some credit with things that you are supposed to keep to yourself."
I looked at Cody. "You're quiet."
"I'm just waiting to hear what this phone line scammer has fed you."
"It wasn't a scammer, it was him, I know Ethen's fucking voice, Cody."
"Jake, Cody… enough. Jake please tell us what is going on." Dad intervened.
"I got a letter in the post three days ago, you know mum, the one from America?"
"Oh god," she blurted, bring her hand to her mouth.
"In that letter was a message telling me to collect a pre-ordered and pre-paid for phone from Whizz. The letter said I would be getting a call on the twenty first of July at seven pm, which was today. The letter didn't say who it was from or why they were calling. I told Cody because I had to, but this was supposed to be a secret because I didn't want anyone else involved."
"Son, we are your parents, what if collecting that phone or taking that call was dangerous?"
"I wasn't thinking about that at the time, and yeah curiosity got the better of me. So anyway I picked up the phone and went to the park tonight and waited."
I looked around the room looking at all of them, shocked and worried looks on their faces.
"And this person who called… you think it was Ethen?" Cody finally spoke.
"I know it was Ethen, not just because he said it was but because I know the little twangs that sound in some of the words he uses."
"Jake, are you actually aware of what you are saying?" mum asked, leaning forward in her seat.
"I know what you are all thinking, and believe me I felt the same when I heard his voice… impossible right, Ethen is dead… but that's just it, somehow he isn't.
"Either that or you spoke to a ghost Jake, I just don't believe it," Cody announced.
"I don't know dad, he wasn't able to give me all the details over the phone. All I know is that he and his dad have had a massive falling out and he said he is kind of on the run from him. I asked him about Colin and got the feeling that whatever is going on with you at your work dad, Ethen is part of it."
"You did what? Jake, I said that had to stay between us, do you realise what can of worms you might have opened, what if you just gave secret information away to some stranger."
"Dad please, I keep telling you, I know who this was, it was Ethen."
"So what now?" Mum asked. "If this is Ethen, and believe me Jake I am very very sceptical, why has he called, what exactly does he want to gain from doing this?"
"He uh… he wants to see me."
"Absolutely not! Mum cried.
"No way Jake," dad added.
"You gotta be kidding me?" Cody finished.
"I didn't want this, I didn't ask for him to call me. As I mentioned to him on the phone I grieved for him, like we all did, this past year has been hell, but I need to know what went on, WE need to know, and that's why instead of going behind all your backs I am asking each of you, let me do this, especially you Cody, especially you."
"Out of the question Jake, I don't like this, I don't like it one bit, tell him Alan," mum said, sternly.
"Jake, your mum is right, this feels very wrong and strange."
"You'll do what you want to Jake, you always have, I'm just a passenger in this nightmare."
"Don't say that, it's not true, we are together."
"Are we, what after this?"
"What do you mean?"
"I think you know… If it is Ethen, what then, are you saying you will just find out what went on and then just ask him to leave? I don't think so, I think our relationship just ended on this very night."
"Why would you think that?" I asked, perplexed.
"Because I know what he meant to you, and once you see him again, if it is him, you'll be right back where you were with him, like in America."
"Jesus, you think you have me all worked out don't you. Do you think loyalty means nothing to me."
"Raw emotion will always outrank loyalty Jake, I know you, you're a heart-on-your-sleeve kind of person, it won't take much."
"I'm not listening to this, its crap. I wanna see him because I want to know how the hell he is calling me when he should be in the ground."
"We'll see," Cody responded looking away from me.
I looked at him and huffed. "I'm going to lay down."
"Jake?!" mum called obviously not done with me, but I was done with her… all of them.
I stood looking out of our bedroom window on to the street below. Scattered on the windowsill were little offerings that Cody and I had brought each other over the years to signify our friendship, every one of them screamed US. Us as friends, us as partners and us as lovers. I picked up a card he had sent me and read it.
Happy 17th Birthday babe, it read. Did he really hold me in such low regard he thought I would just jump back into bed with Ethen at first site? It was a question I didn't know whether I was asking him or myself.
In some respects there was some truth to what he had said. Not the bed swapping part he seemed to imply, but the question of how I would feel if we did meet. What feelings would remain, how would I deal with seeing him again… how would I react?
I could see his face so clear in my mind. His smile, the way his eyes would narrow at me when he gave me that thoughtful look. I remembered our first date in the desert where I had admitted to sleeping with Cody. He had forgiven me. Why? Because he knew I was the one. Was it I never get over him because subconsciously I knew he was still alive? That was impossible I knew, but something powerful still remained. Something residual still plagued me.
I heard a floorboard creak and turned round to see Cody standing in the door way.
"You thinking about him?"
"Does it hurt you that I am?" I replied, gently.
"The logical part of me says it shouldn't, but yeah of course it does. Are we gonna talk about this?"
"Downstairs you seem to have it all worked out, is there much more I can say?"
"Jake, how would you react if you were me?"
"I don't know Cody, it's not like these kind of situations happen frequently. Right now I feel like I'm going fucking crazy," I snapped, banging my fist on the window.
Cody sighed. "Happiness with you sure is hard work sometimes."
"Well go then, I'm not stopping you, I can't fucking believe you are pinning this on me. What do you want me to do, what do you want me to say? I'm not the one who has just called from beyond the grave. In fact no, I'm wrong Cody, it's not about pinning it on me that's the issue, it's about yet again you making this about you."
"Yet agai… what the fuck? What would you have me do? Some things you say really cut deep you know that. So you want me to go? Ok, I'll go… I'll go right now."
Cody marched over to the closet and pulled out a suitcase and started hurriedly chucking clothes into it.
I rolled my eyes. "Cody, what the fuck are you doing?"
"What you want, going!"
"Just stop will you." He carried on regardless, piling more and more clothes in. "Cody, I said stop already." Still he ignored me. I marched over to him and pulled him away from the case. He seemed to snap at that moment and swung round striking me across the face with his hand.
"Arrrh," I yelled. "Fuck you!" Grabbing hold of him by the neck I tossed him across the room and onto the bed. I jumped on top of him and we wrestled around until mum came running in with dad and pulled us apart.
"BOTH OF YOU STOP IT!" she screamed at us. "Cody, what you doing?" she asked, eying the case.
"What he wants, for me to leave."
"I never said that, it's what your paranoid head made up."
"Cody, put your things back, Jake, out of this room NOW, go downstairs."
I marched out in a major huff, kicking the door as I left.
I awoke from a dream to find soft lips touching mine. With my eyes still closed I lay there not responding while gentle kisses continued to be placed. Then a hand cupped my cheek prompting me to open my eyes.
"Why are you on the couch?" he whispered.
"Thought we needed some time apart, plus I fell asleep down here."
"I'm sorry about earlier, I'm just scared that's all."
"I'm sorry too, Cody. I could have handled some things better, but you really need to stop with the whole insecurity thing you have going on."
"I know, I just couldn't help it. It was like a nightmare was happening and I couldn't wake up."
Cody, in his kneeling position lay his head down on my chest and sighed. I stroked his hair lovingly to try and reassure him things were ok, but I didn't really know if they were.
"What time is it?" I asked, seeing it was still dark.
"Just after two, I woke up and found you weren't in bed."
"C'mon, I'll come back with you."
I got off the seat and took Cody's hand in mine before leading him back upstairs and back into bed. Stripping off my clothes I got under the single sheet and cuddled up next to him so we were spooning. We held hands for a while in the silent darkness until we must have both drifted off to sleep again.
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