For Everything You Were
Searching for The Truth
Two days had passed by and I'd had no further communication from Ethen. Perhaps this was just a cruel joke, I thought. But then, someone had to be pretty sick to do a thing like that to me, but why was it all so authentic?
Cody had been distant with me ever since I had revealed all in the lounge, I couldn't blame him though. This act by Ethen or whoever this person was had thrown up a shitstorm of questions that inevitably played on Cody's insecurities.
I was trying to handle it the best I could, darting from one emotion to another. Feelings of frustration, led to sadness, sadness led to joy that he was alive, then uncertainty around how I would feel if and when I saw him again. One thing that was certain, was the fact that despite mum, dad and Cody saying I could not see him, I was going to anyway. This was not something I could just simply ignore. I had to know… I had to know he was alive, and more importantly, why?
Sitting in the garden with my shirt off, I soaked up the rays that were beating down from the midday sun. Cody, upstairs playing on the Xbox had not really said two words to me since we both got up. Dad was at work and mum was too leaving me to have some much needed alone time to think.
Thinking or overthinking seemed to be my forte lately and I wasn't sure if it was doing me good or wrecking my nerves.
Pulling the small phone I had guarded day and night out of my shorts pocket, I looked at the screen. Nothing! Ethen had said he was on the next flight over here, even if he flew out the next day he should still be here by now I thought, trying to calculate in my mind how long it would actually take.
With a feeling of strange loneliness coming over me, I placed the phone back in my pocket and let out a heartfelt sigh.
It finally happened at one forty six in the morning. A dull vibration from under my pillow threw me into awake mode as I looked at the alarm clock on my side of the bed. Trying hard not to wake Cody I got up and went downstairs in to the lounge and closed the door, franticly trying to answer the phone before it stopped.
"Hello, Ethen… Ethen?" I whispered quickly.
"Hey, I'm sorry it took-"
"What the hell happened? I cut him off, annoyance in my tone. "I thought something bad had happened, either that or this was a sick wind up.
"Jake, I'm sorry, I had some loose ends to tie up, but listen, I'm here… I'm in the UK."
A surprising feeling of dread came over me making my stomach turn over. Hearing from Ethen he was here should have filled me with, I dunno, happiness maybe? But no, quite the opposite, it put me on edge."
"Jake, are you still there?"
I swallowed hard. "So where are you?" I asked finally, my voice shaky.
"A hotel about five miles from Heathrow airport." Again, I went silent trying to figure out what I wanted to do… what I needed to do, or rather what Ethen was expecting me to do.
"You uh… you want me to come and see you don't you." It was not a question.
"I could meet you half way, I think it's best I don't approach your house for a number of reasons."
"Yeah, I dunno how that would look."
"Not very good, seeing as no one knows I'm alive, well except one person, but we'll discuss that later."
"You mean me?"
"It doesn't matter Jake, the only thing I care about right now is seeing you."
"Well I'll have to get the train in the morning, everything has stopped now. Fuck it's so good to hear your voice," I suddenly blurted, feeling a wave of nostalgic emotion drench me.
"You too baby, I'm-"
"Please don't say you are sorry again, I'll be the judge of whether it is warranted when you explain to me what the hell has happened. Right now, it doesn't mean anything to me."
"I get that, really I do, but none of this was my doing, you have to believe that."
"Jake, call a cab, please just call a cab and get meet me now."
"Ethen, I've had three hours sleep, it's almost two in the morning and how am I supposed to get away now? My parents are already going psycho that you have contacted me from beyond-"
"WHAT?! Jake, you didn't tell them did you?" Ethen hissed down the phone at me.
"I had to," I loudly whispered back. "Cody already knew I went to whizz phones and-"
"Shit, your dad… does you dad know?"
"Yeah, they all know-"
"Oh fuck, this is bad… did your dad say anything unusual to you these last few days, anything at all that might seem out of the ordinary?"
"I don't wanna go into that over the phone, look I need to see you ASAP, what's the earliest train you can get?"
"They start running about four a.m. But Ethen, if I come to see you, my parents and Cody are gonna try and stop me."
"You shouldn't have told them Jake, Jesus this is a mess that could have been avoided."
"Ethen, this mess could have been avoided if you hadn't of faked your own death, I think your little trick there trumps mine a thousand times over."
"I know you're angry and everything you say is accurate, but I really need to see you to make you understand."
"I have a plan, don't worry about it," I said, almost confident sounding, even though really, I didn't have a clue what I was about to do I could come back from. "I'll get the first train out, but where to?"
"You suggest, I don't know your country. Make it somewhere between your and the airport and I'll book a hotel for us to meet in."
"Fine, I'll text you the details now I seem to have a number for you." Ethen didn't say anything to that comment except that he agreed.
We left the call there.
Sleep since my phone call had been out of the question as my brain charged along like a runaway train. "Madness, madness," I kept whispering to myself as I snuck round the house putting a few clothes into a bag with a couple of other items essential to my travel.
Wandering into my dad's study I wrote two short letters. One to Cody, and one to my parents. I didn't know the legality of what I was doing but I assumed that they would stop short of calling the police when they found me gone.
It felt like there was some driving force within me, willing me to do this no matter the consequences. In the end I guess you could say Cody was right, because in this moment of madness I was jeopardising, and quite possibly crashing my relationship with him for Ethen. But this was not about sex or the like, this was about satisfying my own burning desire to find out the truth. Right now, No other feelings were there whatsoever and this desire for truth was the only thing stopping me from coming to my senses and putting an end to this.
For Cody, I wrote that I was sorry and explained why I had to do this. I added that it was possible he might not be able to forgive me and that I understood. I didn't of course and knew it was going to hurt like mad if he did end with me, but alas these were the prices I was paying for accepting Ethen's wish of a meet.
To my parents I simply asked them to trust me and not to worry, that I would be on contact soon. I asked them to forgive me for going against them and hope they too understood why I was doing this. It was all very heroic and dramatic, but it was how I was feeling at the time so I didn't care.
I took one final look at my watch and saw it was twenty to four in the morning. Tiredness was not biting yet but that was just because I was pumped up on a constant stream of adrenaline. One half of it because of Ethen, and the other half because of what I was about to do – walk out against everyone's wishes.
With a deep breath I walked into the hall and collected my duffle bag which I had placed at the bottom of the stairs. Taking one last look up them into the darkness of where they all slept I turned round and gently pulled open the front door before stepping out into the warm night.
As I walked up the street I could see the first hint of light starting to appear with a very faint change in the sky as it changed from black to navy blue. All was dead quiet apart from the creaking of my duffle bag as it lightly swung by my side.
Things started to liven up as I approached the end of my street and turned right onto a main road. The petrol station across from me already had queues of car waiting to fill out. I could see delivery Lorries were starting to arrive ready to deliver their goods to the small shops that were due to open in the next couple of hours.
Finally I got to Bell Street tube station and brought a ticket. I'd arranged to meet Ethen at a well-known hotel chain which sat around half way between where he was and where I lived.
For me, I just wanted this journey to be over with already.
"Tickets please," I heard the voice say nudging me on the shoulder.
I cleared my throat, a little groggy. "Uh yeah, sorry." I said, pulling out my ticket from my pocket. I waved it across his face and he nodded grumpily before moving onto the next person.
To speed up my journey I had jumped off the tube and got aboard an over ground train as it stopped a few stations. It was not my intention to fall asleep so the fact that I did told me I was actually shattered.
I looked up at the LED marquee screen on the train ceiling, seeing I had two stops to go before I had to get off. It was almost five a.m. and I knew dad would be getting up in the next hour or so and wondered how long it would be before he called. The thought of that actually scared me because I was already running through the various scenarios in my mind as to how each of them were going to react, and yes, none of them ended well.
The train pulled to a stop at my station and I alighted feeling shaky and tired. I wasn't sure in this state I was going to be able to deal with the emotional rollercoaster our meeting would likely create. With the sun now up I stood for a moment on the platform taking deep breaths before pulling out my phone and Googling the hotel to get directions and an estimate of how far away it was.
The phone worked out a calculation which told me by foot I was looking at a mere ten minutes. Ten minutes seemed and awfully short amount of time to get my shit together as I pulled out the other phone and called Ethen.
"Tell me you're here," were the first words out of his mouth when he answered a little after two rings.
"I am, and I feel like a wreck. What the fuck have I done Ethen?" Ethen didn't reply, his silence telling me all I needed to know, which was he didn't know.
"Where are you?"
"I'm walking to the hotel now, what should I do when I get there?"
"I'll meet you out front, is that ok?"
"Is that ok? I don't know Ethen, this all seems out of this world, I keep thinking I am going to wake up and this all be a horrible dream."
"Is that how you see me?" he asked, in a rare and out of place touch of humour.
"I'm serious Ethen, something is screaming at me to just go back home."
"But you won't, right?"
"Too far in now wouldn't you say?"
"We'll work something out, I'll see you soon baby ok?"
"Please don't call me that, it makes me… sad." I replied, looking up and the sky and all but hanging up on him.
As I got to the top of a small hill I could now see the huge hotel sign that dominated the horizon. Mild panic seemed to take me down as I connected that hotel to Ethen, knowing he was there, after a whole year, the boy I thought was dead was actually in my country, alive and meeting me. The anticipation was palpable as I neared the building.
Getting closer still I could see a few people standing by the entrance, about seven or eight in total. One of them had to be him but I wasn't quite close enough to get recognition. Taxi's seemed to come and go at an alarming rate telling me this was a big hotel.
I stopped for a moment and brushed down my clothes. What for, I don't know but I wanted to look tidy for him, stupid really. I used the reflection on my smart phone to see what state my hair was in as I had been resting my head on a train window for some time. It all looked ok, although I could see my eyes looked tired and I hope he understood why. Which a quick hunch up with my bag again I started walking.
That's when I saw him!
I stopped again, just staring. Our eyes hadn't met yet and I was glad because my knees went to jelly and my heart started to race furiously. He looked… older, losing none of the looks he had been born with. Wearing a black vest that showed of his torso, feelings of love came flooding back to me… thousands of images of our times together floated through my head. All of the anxiousness and dread I felt, at least for that one moment, disappeared until suddenly, his eyes met mine and they came back.
I saw his hand slowly raise up until it was covering his mouth. Then a lurch forward as a sob must have escaped him. We both just stood there frozen, around a hundred feet separating us, me watching him sob and him watching me with my mouth open.
I couldn't move. As much as my mental being compelled me, my physical mechanics would not shift me forward. I wanted to collapse in the road, or be sick, whichever came first. Finally he edged off the hotel window and started to walk towards me, slow at first until his pace quickened, almost ending in a jog. I dropped my bag to the floor as a fizz of emotion entered my cheeks and tears started to form. He came at me with his arms held open and we crashed into each other ending in a tight embrace.
"Oh my god, oh my god… fuck me, you're real," I choked out.
"Yeah… yeah I'm real," he sobbed.
We stood for ages until he tried to break our hug, I latched onto him tight, my nails digging into his back as I craved his embrace. His smell, his breathing, his skin… nothing had changed. It was Ethen, he WAS alive and he was holding me.
The only action that brought me back to reality was when he tried to kiss me. It was probably innocent in hindsight because he was pleased to see me, but that brief event seemed to change my emotions as I dodged his kiss and stepped backwards, looking at him.
"Sorry, I just-"He went to say before I slapped him hard across the face and started to beat franticly on his chest with my fists.
"How could you do this, how could you do this to me," I yowled in the street. Ethen just stood there letting me pound him as I got the built up anger out of my system. I collapsed to my knees and cried hard at his feet while he lent down and placed his hands under my armpits and pulled me up again.
"Let's get to the hotel room, I'll let you sleep, you look exhausted," he declared. I just nodded and wiped the snot from my nose onto my t-shirt before drying my eyes.
"Anyway I can't sleep, I don't think I'll ever be able to sleep again."
"You will," he replied, placing his arm round my shoulder comfortingly. "I'm gonna make this ok."
"I got you some mineral water, I know you can't drink certain stuff, so this was all I could think of," Ethen said, passing me a bottle. I looked up at him from one of the beds I had collapsed on thinking how sweet it was he remembered I was a diabetic.
"Thanks," I sniffed, sitting up.
"Do you want the air-con on?"
I shrugged. "Up to you."
Ethen went over to the control panel and pressed a few buttons and I immediately felt a cool presence consume the environment around me.
"Have you got your kit with you?"
"Yeah its in my bag… Ethen…"
I pushed the pam of my hand into one of my eyes and shook my head. "This is all just so confusing."
"Look, I will tell you everything but before I do I need to know you are ok. Are you're sugars ok, do you need to call your parents and are you sure you don't want to try and get some sleep?"
"Yes, no and yes," I replied. "I'll wait for one of them to call, I don't want to call this early they will freak out anyway."
"Ok, well just let me know if I can do anything to make this easier… oh and here, I want you to have this," Ethen said, gesturing me with two twenty pound notes.
"Your travel, I didn't expect you to pay to come and see me."
"I don't want any money Ethen, I just want to know the truth."
"Well, I'll leave it on the side and I still expect you to take it. So, where do I start?"
"At the beginning perhaps?" I replied, bringing my knees up to my chin. Ethen tilted his head towards the ceiling and took a deep breath before letting it out.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]