The Others

Chapter 15: I Like Being Matt

I feel bad. No, I feel worse than bad. Telling Sam about Yuri felt good at first, but I think I’m not really the sort of person who talks about themself. Every time someone finds out about some part of me, whether I told them or not, I get a weird feeling in my stomach. It's like I accidently showed someone my face without wearing a mask. I can’t have people find out about me, about my desires, my feelings and my past. I don’t think Yuri traumatised me, I think I've been like this my whole life. I’m not a sharing type of guy, that’s how it is, right?

Maybe, I like it just a little bit, just a tiny little bit, that Sam now knows about me. She was the first one to learn about my sexuality and she didn’t freak out. I should feel relieved now, right?

Though she isn’t actually the first one, of course. Yuri was the first one. He screwed me up, so maybe Sam will do the same? I can’t imagine her hurting me, but I couldn’t imagine it of Yuri either. Even worse, after he hurt me, I still couldn’t imagine he did it on purpose. I still believed his little lies and I still absently stare at his pictures, even though I know it’s just some guy picked at random from the internet.

When I found out about the pictures and their origin, I did some background checks. The real person in the pictures is some boy from Bulgaria who once – a few years back – won a Justin Bieber look-alike contest. Ugh, can you believe that? I hate Justin Bieber, but apparently I fell for a look-alike? In my opinion he doesn’t look like him, but who am I to judge? People in Bulgaria would clearly disagree with me.

My phone beeps. I pick it up to see a text message from Codey. Okay, bye bad feeling and hello warm enjoyable feeling in my stomach. Is this what love feels like? I can’t fall in love with Codey! He is practically my step-brother, even if he doesn’t know it.

“Hey Matt. I thought last time we were together, I maybe, you know, was a little bit pathetic… Maybe we can get together soon? I’d like to talk to you without crying like a baby, haha.

Codey”

He definitely knows how to make me smile. I want to text back, but I don’t. I don’t want to look like I’m too eager to speak to him. Instead, I go online and check my blog emails.

What I see there brings back a smile, or maybe it keeps it, I don’t know if it ever left my face.

“Hey AB,

I just have to tell you, I really enjoyed your last two part blog post about kissing in a friendship. You really opened my eyes about the difference between loving and caring, as well as about the difference between the instinct kind of love and the loving kind of love. Woah, you can surely see I’m not a good writer.”

Hmm, the email stops there. Weird. I reread it, just because I can. I really like the email. Or do I just like the fact Seth enjoyed my post? Is it supposed to make me feel good?

I wrote about friendship. In a friendship you want your friend to feel good. Does this mean I consider Seth to be my friend? I shouldn’t go too far now! A day ago I wanted no one to be my friend, today I decided Sam is a real friend, but I can’t just add everyone to the pile of friends.

My eyes wander over my computer screen and fasten onto another email.

“O my. Stupid me. I accidentally pressed the send button, but I’m not even close to end this email. This email is important to me. You are important to me.

Of course you don’t feel that way. It’s weird, I think, because I feel like I know so much about you while you know very little about me. You helped me more than you can ever start to imagine. I already told you that.

No, I can’t do this. I planned on telling you a little bit about myself. I know so much about you, so I thought a way to balance it out is to tell you who I am. However, I don’t think I can.

I’m just not the sharing kind of guy. That’s how it is, right? I told my biggest secret to a close friend and although she didn’t betray me by telling others my secret, she did hurt me. I almost felt like she ridiculed me, but I don’t understand why. She could’ve, you know, given me constructive criticism or something. That’s why I, at first, decided to email you, because you clearly are good at giving constructive criticism.

Still, I think I’m not good at sharing things about myself. Especially not to strangers, because although I feel like I know you, you are still a stranger.

So, this email is just to thank you, again. I don’t think I can ever thank you enough.

the AR.”

What should I make of this? He doesn’t like sharing? Oh god, I hate people who don’t feel like sharing things about themselves!

His secret. He told Sam he liked her and she ridiculed that. Does she think she is too good for him? I know he told her, that’s why he left in tears when I walked in a few days ago. Sam probably told him she likes me instead. Why is life so complicated?

I don’t feel like responding right now. I don’t feel like doing anything at all. Wait a second, let’s get that song. I go to YouTube and look for the song from Bruno Mars. I click on it and start spinning on my chair while listening to the music. It seems to relax me a little bit. I get interrupted when my phone starts ringing. I answer it.

“Hey sweetie,” I hear my mom’s voice.

“Mom,” I answer, trying to sound annoyed.

“So, how was your day?”

Yeah, fine mom. Sam came in today, she rubbed my hard-on, I told her I’m gay, but I already said that last night when I was drunk.

“Fine. I haven't done much, you know some homework etcetera.”

My mom starts laughing. “Adam, you can’t keep using that excuse. The year is almost over, I’m sure you don’t have any homework to do.”

Why are moms always right?

“I was thinking about you going off on your bike. We have some tents here, so maybe I can get one for you?”

“Thank you, mom, but I’ll sleep on my hammock. A tent is way too much to carry with me.”

“Are you sure?” she asks in disbelief.

Now it’s my turn to laugh. “I’ll survive mom, in a year I’m supposed to be living on my own, so a few weeks shouldn't hurt.”

“You’re right, you’re right. What are you going to eat tonight?”

I glance at the clock. Shit, it’s already gone 6. “I don’t know yet, I was about to go to the shop when you called.”

“Sure,” she replies with a laugh. “I’ll have to go now, just one more day and two nights to survive and I can go back home!”

“Bye mom.”

I run downstairs and jump on my bike. Within five minutes I’m at the closest mall. It’s the same place where I usually go when I get sent out of class. The moment I walk in I see the exact same cashier as a few days ago when I stumbled on Dean. I smile at her watching as she turns away from a customer the smile fading from her face. I buy the ingredients for a simple pasta and go to pay for them at her check out. I don’t say a thing, I just keep smiling.

“That’s 11,25,” she says.

“Here you go,” I respond and give her the money. “Oh, by the way, there is a friend of mine somewhere in the shop, he’s going to buy me beer. I forgot my identification, though, but I hope it's not a problem?” The smile doesn't leave my face and I see she’s getting annoyed with me. I know she couldn’t help it, the rules are the rules and because they spotted me and Dean together, he wasn’t allowed to buy any beer. But, for real, how stupid is that rule? It doesn’t work, when teens go to the mall together and one person is allowed to buy beer, they’ll split up before they get to the cashiers. “This is not funny,” she says.

“You weren’t funny either. Oh, can you maybe make sure there is a chair for me next time, when I’m here to make your customers angry again, I’d like to be comfortable.”

“Next please,” she says ignoring me. I decide I don’t want to waste any more time here and head back home.

Before I start cooking I read Codey’s text again. Am I just imagining things or do I read that he really likes being with me? I smile to myself.

This day has been really exhausting. With everything that's happened, talking to JayJay last night, talking with Sam about Yuri, reading Codey’s and Seth’s messages, so much has happened. I think I’m going to bed early tonight and I won’t be getting drunk for a long time.

I text Codey back:

“Hey man, I didn’t mind though. I know you’ve gone through a lot, so you need to let it out. Tbh, I kinda liked being able to help you. I’d love to talk to you again, what about the mall? Tomorrow?”

Apparently Codey doesn’t feel that responding too quick is pathetic, because within a minute after sending it, I get a reply:

“Tomorrow is good! Let’s say 2 PM, okay?”

I quickly respond with “okay” and start cooking. As planned I’m in bed early. Before the clock hits 10PM I’m asleep.

As always I arrive early at the mall. It’s ten minutes to 2 and I’m on my usual bench in front. Ten minutes later Codey arrives.

“Hey man,” I greet him and get up to shake his hand. Instead he grabs me into a man hug.

“Hey Matt. How’ve you been,” he asks when he releases me.

I think he is about to go for a walk again, but I don’t feel like walking today, so I sit down and gesture for him to sit beside me. I always thought Codey was this shy boy, the way he was always staring at the ground in the school corridors. But maybe he’s just, like his mom told me, sad. When he’s with me, he doesn’t seem sad anymore, he is suddenly a very confident guy. If only he had some friends, he could be happy again.

But that’s the problem, I think. His best friend is in the hospital and because of one bad experience with friends he shuts out all other possible friends. As long as he keeps doing that, he’ll be sad, while in fact he only needs a new best friend. That sounds almost cruel, his last best friend didn’t even die yet, but there isn’t much difference, is there?

“You are not saying anything,” Codey says with a frown.

I laugh. “Sorry, I was thinking.”

“About what?” he asks.

Sometimes I do speak the truth. Only if I know it’ll help me achieving what I want, but still, it’s the truth and that’s worth something, right? “About you.” I notice that got him blushing and I also notice he is cute when he blushes.

“What exactly were you thinking about me?”

Many possible answers flash into my mind. I could say I think it’s cute when he blushes, I could say I’d like to see him naked or touch his tongue with mine, but I actually say: “I was wondering about your new dad.” When I say “new” I make a gesture with my hand to tell him I don’t mean it like that, but I just don’t know another way to put it.

“What about him?” “He wasn’t at home when I was there. To spy on me,” he adds with a smile.

“To spy on you,” I repeat. “So, is he away a lot?”

Codey’s face turns a little sad, not much, but just a little. “Yeah. He’s working a lot. Actually, he’s away every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The other days he is in town, but he still works long days then.”

“But you do like him?”

“He was there for me and my mom when we needed him.”

I smile. For some reason it makes me feel good that my dad at least managed to get those people happy, even if he totally abandoned us. “That’s not an answer to my question.”

“True. I tend to avoid responding to such questions. But I think you earned an answer, especially after you let me cry on your shoulder for a good ten minutes. I like him, but I limit myself in liking him because I fear it would hurt my dad if I start liking John as much as I liked my own dad.”

“I understand,” I assure him. “I can’t imagine how difficult it must’ve been for you.”

“What about you?” he asks.

“What about me?”

“Your family. Your life. I want to know about you.” He smiles.

“There isn’t much to know,” I reply and stare at the ground. When I look up I see Codey has a curious expression on his face. He wants to know and I have a feeling he won’t let me get away with changing the topic. “It’s only my mother, my brother and I. My dad left us when I was very young.”

“I cannot understand how someones dad could leave his family. My father died when I was young, but I believe if that hadn’t happened, he would’ve never left us.”

He left us for you. You know, I’m not sure whether I want to hate Codey for taking away my dad or not. I like him, he is easy to talk to and listen to. It’s just like, there are never any of those awkward silences in our conversation, either we are talking or the silence is pleasant. “It’s getting cold,” I say and point to the clouds that are covering the sun. “Maybe we can go to my place?”

Codey smiles. “I’d like that,” he says.

“Follow me, mister…”

“Rills,” he says.

I stop dead in my tracks. Rills? I smile at him. “I think that’s the family name of your real dad?” I can’t help but emphasise “real” when saying “real dad”.

“No, it’s the name of the new one,” he responds, obviously a bit confused why I said real dad. “I changed mine when my mother and John got me a little brother. They didn’t want us to have different family names.”

“Oh, of course,” I say. Rills. His name is Rills. Does that make him my brother? “John, you said?” I ask while walking to my house.

“Yeah.”

“Do you know his history?” I ask and notice a confused expression on Codey’s face again. “You know, who was John before he became your new dad?”

“No, not really. Why?”

“I was just wondering, if you changed your name, that maybe means you have another brother from John.” I smile, but it quickly fades. Shit… I’m stupid. I don’t want him to wonder about a possible… me. Maybe he will ask my dad and he’ll look for a picture of me.

“I’m sure he doesn’t have any other kids,” Codey says.

Did my dad lie to them? Does Sandra know I exist? Does she even now they live that close to us; his old family? I’m taking a whole lot of risks by getting to know Codey and getting him to know me. Maybe they already know who I really am. What if Sandra saw a picture of me once and immediately knew who I was when she caught me spying on them. I really should be more careful.

We arrive at my home and I open the front door. We enter the house and right when I think I can enjoy some time alone with Codey, Tyde calls out: “Adam, I’m home!”