Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Oh Brother Episode 10-12

“I’m going to give you a chance,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest.
Christian’s eyes widened as he sat up on the couch, tilting his head slightly as if to determine whether I was being honest. To the shock of myself and everyone else, I was.
After an entire week of wondering, I had gone insane. It wasn’t his request that had bothered me, or even my mom’s treatment of me, it was Christian. He, himself had drove me insane with thoughts. Curious thoughts of who he was.
Thanks to my mom, I had assumed he was Mr. Perfect. Annoyingly good at everything. Annoyingly too nice. But, I had been wrong. That was proven by the swing he took at the creep. Innocent was what I labeled him as, but it didn’t seem like that defined him by the way he knew how to punch.
“You’re giving me a chance?” Christian asked slowly, still in shock.
My eyes narrowed as I held up my index finger and brought it to his face. “One chance. You’re going to mess it up, so I thought what the hell. Might as well gain a reason to hate you from it.”
Despite my harsh words, Christian smiled. He smiled his childlike smile of his that ruined his bad boy exterior. Now that I thought about it, was Christian actually a bad boy? Was the black clothing he wore actually supposed to match his dark soul?
“When do I get to fulfill this chance for you?” he asked, sounding amused.
“Um… Tomorrow.” I smiled to myself. “You better come up with something fun by then.”
“Oh, I will.”
Christian’s eyes suddenly shone with challenge, the exact way they did in the bowling alley. I couldn’t help but smirk, knowing he was being overconfident. There was no way he’d win this. I was the judge, so there was no way.
*****
Christian walked out of the house and locked the door behind us, looking as nonchalant as ever. I on the other hand was nervous, but surprisingly excited. He hadn’t given me any details, so I had no idea where we were going. But, from the fact we had to wear casual clothing I knew we would be doing some physical activity.
As Christian walked towards me, the sun shone down on him in a way that made him stand out. Dressed in gray sweatpants and a black v-neck, he somehow looked perfect. Not in an attractive way in my eyes, but genuinely perfect. His facial structure was well defined, his blue eyes bluer than the sky. Somehow his hair was both messy and neat, and his body – I had to admit – was something many girls would jump at. Not me, of course.
“Why are you staring at me?” he asked, snapping me out of my thoughts.
Only then did I realize he was standing in front of me, staring down at me as his eyebrows furrowed. Blush filled my cheeks as I realized I gave him the satisfaction of me staring at him. Not even people I’ve crushed on in the past had that satisfaction. I glowered.
“I wasn’t,” I said flatly. “Don’t get cocky.
His eyebrows rose. “I’m worried about today now.”
At that, I smiled. “You should be. Can we go now?”
He nodded and led me to his new black car. A car that matched his everyday outfits. I shook my head, amused by the thought.
*****
I blinked. “We’re going hiking?”
“Yes. Good job Autumn. I once brought a girl here and she thought we were going to do some very interesting things here.”
I fought back a smile and thought about the activity for the day. Of all the things he could’ve chosen, he chose hiking. A part of me couldn’t believe it and was slightly disappointed. There was so much we could do, but instead we were going to shed pounds in a forest that was probably infested with mosquitoes.
“Like I’d ever go near you like that,” I couldn’t help but say back. “Or in any way.”
“You wish you could.” Was his simple, but surprisingly fact-like reply.
I blinked as I made a mental note. Christian was cocky when he didn’t have anything to be cocky about. It seemed like I was already learning something new about him a minute into our day together.
“Can we get this day over with,” I suddenly said, wanting to be rude after his response.
He smiled slightly at that and nodded, taking a deep breath in. I then watched as his eyes wandered around the place, taking in the greenery of the dense coniferous trees and bushes. Now I realized he had brought me here for his own needs, not to please me. I added selfish to the list of traits he was.
Taking a step forward, he said looking back at me with a sudden grin, “Follow me.”
“Only for today and then we don’t know each other. Okay?” I replied, smiling despite my inner self telling me to stick to being a hardcore b---h.
Christian rolled his eyes, but he smiled as well.
*****
We were still walking. In silence, we dodged branches and twigs and just walked with no destination in mind. To both my surprise and dismay, I was actually enjoying something as simple as walking in peace.
The sun was beating hard on us and the area smelled like nature. Other than the plants that surrounded us, there weren’t any living creatures other than the two of us. And even though it was just the two of us, we didn’t say a word. We just walked through the green forest with sweat trailing down our faces, and I was surprisingly happy with this. Probably because I was in the mood to be at peace when life was not peaceful at all.
Looking at Christian’s broad back as he led the way, I suddenly felt my heart clench as he was a physical reminder of my mom. Of how she didn’t love me anymore. Of course I knew I couldn’t blame Christian for that, but he did seem to be the reason why she didn’t. Because of that, I couldn’t help but still feel resentment towards him.
Suddenly Christian stopped in his place, and with my ongoing thoughts I nearly crashed into him. I kissed my teeth at that and stepped back, narrowing my eyes at him.
“What?” I asked, annoyed.
I just wanted to keep walking in peace. It was the only way I wouldn’t feel like crying like the girl I wasn’t over my new life. Because honestly, having your very own mom hate you s----d. Even though I was an independent person, it s----d because she was all I had.
Christian raised an eyebrow, but soon dropped it as his eyes suddenly softened. Once again he was looking at me with pity evident in his eyes. Anger welled up within me because he still seemed to think I was some sort of delicate thing.
“Sorry,” he said. “I want to take a break.”
“I don’t want to,” I shot back, feeling even more annoyed.
Suddenly he reached out towards me and wiped a finger across my forehead. I flinched at the touch, surprised he dared touch me. As I narrowed my eyes at him, he held out his finger that now had a drop of water that I soon realized was sweat.
“Autumn, I’m not the only one who’s tired,” he said. “Relax. This is my chance to get you on my good side, so let’s take a break. Let’s… Bond.”
My eyes widened slightly as I remembered that this had been my goal all along. To get to know this boy who happened to be my stepbrother. It was smart to know your enemies, which made me all the more excited.
Tiredly, I said, “Fine.”

We were now sitting on a bare area of grass, facing each other but looking anywhere else. I was happy for the break, but I hadn’t expected it to involve more silence. A part of had hoped he would try to talk to me. To at least get on my good side. He had to know that hiking wouldn’t cut it, yet he wasn’t trying. I didn’t understand.
Tired of waiting for him, I looked at him. He was looking to his right, staring at a tree that was enormous. From its size I had to guess that it was at least a hundred years old. Maybe more. That was why Christian seemed to be staring at it with great interest.
“Christian,” I said, causing him to look at me with his bright blue eyes. “Why aren’t you talking to me?”
“I’ve tried to in the past,” he replied, lips twitching up into a smile. “But all I get are shut ups.”
I couldn’t help but blush as I looked down in shame. From the start I knew I was being a b---h to him. It was obvious to everyone, yet I didn’t do anything to change. I had assumed he deserved it, even though I didn’t have a good or even clear reason to hate him.
“Well, this is our day to take chances.” I smiled as I looked back up at him. “I promise I won’t snap or even tell you to shut up.”
His eyes shone with a happiness I rarely saw in him. Which was strange because I always thought he was a genuinely happy person. He was Mr. Perfect. Everything was handed to him on a silver platter.
“I can ask you anything?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Anything you want.”
The happy shine in his eyes slowly turned into a challenging shine, and I found myself feeling defensive because I suddenly remebered. We were in a contest where I was the judge. The judge who would decide whether to continue to hate him forever or accept him as my new – still unwanted – stepbrother. This entire day would be the basis of the contest, and I knew he was determined to win. But, so was I.
“Tell me about yourself,” he said, smiling slightly as I crossed my legs.
I sighed. “Ask me something more interesting.”
He shook his head, but smiled. “Were you always like this?”
I couldn’t help but smile as well, even though I should’ve taken offence. At least he was asking a question that should matter to him.
“Kind of,” I replied honestly. “You might’ve brought it out more.”
“I can tell.” His smile grew. “You ask me a question as well.”
“Anything?” I asked, just in case.
“Anything.”
“Were you okay with your dad marrying my mom?”
Honestly, I always wondered that. In a way, Christian was in the exact same position I was in. Forced to live with strangers who would now be apart of your family you had been used to. It sure as hell wasn’t a good surprise for me, so I wondered if it was for him.
“Are we being honest for today as well?” he eventually asked.
“We’re taking chances, remember?”
He smiled at that and looked down, contemplating something. I couldn’t help but watch him, slowly becoming amazed by his long eyelashes that casted a shadow across his face. I never understood why guys got long eyelashes that girls would die for.
Eventually, he looked back at me and simply said without a hint of emotion, “I don’t know.”
I blinked, dumbfounded by his simple reply. When it came to me, I knew. I definitely knew how I felt about the news.
Because we were taking chances, I said, “You don’t know? Really? Because I was pretty horrified. When my mom told me on her birthday, I nearly shoved her cake onto her face because I hate change. Especially unexpected change.”
Christian looked away, but I noticed the corners of his lips turn up. “Well, honestly I guess I was pretty mad too. Especially because I had no idea my dad had been dating some woman for two years.”
“Me too!” I exclaimed. “She didn’t even dare tell me she was seeing someone and she expects me to welcome her news with open arms.”
“Same. Then next thing I know I’m forced to pack up my stuff and move in with a bunch of strangers.”
I fought back a smile. “Same, but strangers actually moved into my house. They made it quite crowded too.”
Christian looked back at me with a huge smile now plastered onto his face. I couldn’t help but smile as well because I realized I had finally met someone who could relate to me. Relate to all of the stress of having your life thrown upside down by the one person you thought would be your rock. This person was living with me, yet I had closed a door on his face at the first sight of him. Guilt twisted within me.
“You can ask me the next question,” I said, wanting to change the subject.
“Okay… Best memory?” he asked.
I couldn’t help but smile as an answer quickly popped into my mind. Shaking my head, I realized I had nearly forgotten about that day. The day of my twelfth birthday, which was also the last one I spent with my dad.
“On my twelfth birthday we went to this festival,” I said, still smiling. “It was called the Festival of Lights because it was a festival held at night to give praise to the beautiful lights of the world.”
“Oh, I’ve heard of it,” he interrupted.
Ignoring him, I continued, “So my dad and I went together and it was fun and all, but near twelve o’clock we were given golden lanterns. The ones that you can let go so that they float up into the sky.”
“Like the ones in Tangled.”
“Exactly.” My smile grew at the thought of him watching Tangled. “So, exactly at twelve we let go of the lanterns and so do about a hundred people. They all float into the sky and the sight is beautiful. It’s like stars, but somehow even more beautiful. So as I watched them my dad told me that this was how you let go. You do it and watch as something beautiful disappears with a smile on your face.”
I suddenly laughed and looked away as I realized how cheesy my tale was. It was almost stupid because such a simple thing had been my favourite memory. I wouldn’t blame Christian for thinking I was insane.
When neither of us said anything for a minute, I decided to suck up my pride and look back at him. To my surprise, he was already looking at me with gentle eyes. Eyes that weren’t pitying me, but instead seemed to be almost in awe of me. For some reason my heart skipped a beat.
“That sounds beautiful,” he replied, smiling. “Have you ever gone back to that festival?”
I shook my head. “I wanted it to be a tradition for my dad and I, but…”
His eyes softened even more, but thankfully they didn’t seem to be pitying me. That was all I wanted when it came to these cases that included my dad, and I was thankful.
“Can I ask you something?” I asked, realizing something.
“Of course,” he replied, extending his legs in front of him.
I realized we had been sitting for a while and that we should get going soon. Four hours had passed since we left home, and my mom and Stephen would be back in about three more. They didn’t know we were spending time together, and I preferred it to stay that way. I wasn’t even sure why.
“What happened to your mom?” I asked carefully. “I don’t mean to intrude but my mom never told me.”
Christian looked away and I caught the sorrow in his eyes. A part of me regretted asking him such a question, but I had to know. If I wanted to fully come to understand this boy, I first needed to know something about his past.
“She cheated,” Christian simply replied, still looking away. “Then she ran when my dad caught her in his own bedroom cheating.”
My heart clenched at the thought because Stephen was a good guy. Even if he wasn’t, no one deserved to see the person they love doing an act that showed them they actually didn’t feel the same way. I guess my mom was luckier, which was a terribly sad thing to say.
“I’m sorry,” I responded, feeling the urge to force Christian to look at me.
Sometimes I really did forget that just because he seemed perfect, it didn’t mean his life was. Maybe we both had f----d up lives, and I chose to judge him because he had been a part of the messed up parts of my life. By now guilt twisted painfully at my heart.
Wanting to return to the peacefulness of earlier, I said, “Let’s go. We should hike back.”
Christian whipped his head back to face me as his eyes shone. They shone with curiosity, and even vulnerability as he looked at me. Once again my heart skipped a beat as I couldn’t look away from his eyes that were bluer than the very sky.
“Wait,” he said, eyes slowly turning back to their neutral look. “One more question.”
I nodded, completely fine with whatever he wanted to ask.
“Why do you hate me?” he asked. “Do you finally have a reason?”
My eyes widened, surprised that he would ask that now. Of all the questions I thought he would ask, I didn’t expect it at all. Maybe that was why I just stared at him blankly, trying to come up with an answer.
“A real answer,” he said, sounding serious.
I blushed as I remembered my old response of him being perfect. By now I realized how stupid that was. His life had been pretty messed up and here I was, making sure that his life continued to be that way.
Honestly, at this point I felt like I didn’t hate him. Maybe I didn’t like him, but I had just told him things that I never told anymore. My best moment being one of them, and I wasn’t sure why. Probably because he could relate with my current f----d up life clearly.
“I don’t have one,” I eventually replied. “And… I…”
He raised an eyebrow. “You?”
“Can we walk,” I pleaded. “I promise you I’ll be honest with my reply if we do.”
To my delight, he smiled and said, “Sure. I’ll wait.”
Patient . I added that to my list with a smile as we both stood up and continued down a trail that someone had created.
*****
I climbed out of his car and sighed as I felt relief. Relief that my mom wasn’t home. Knowing her, I knew – despite ignoring each other – she’d ask a bunch of questions I didn’t want to answer. Questions I didn’t even want to answer to myself.
As I began to walk to the door, I suddenly felt a hand clasp around my wrist. Instead of throwing a fist at the boy who had touched me, I slowly turned around to face him. Face his face that was staring at me with gentle eyes.
“You promised me an honest reply,” he said.
“Do I have to?” I asked, feeling embarassed because the reply I would give was something I also didn’t want to admit to myself.
“Please,” he said gently.
Sighing, I looked down at his hand on my wrist. It was so gentle and that had been him. Always. Gentle to me, even though I had been a factor that changed his life a lot too. We were in the same boat, but he had never been a b---h.
“You win,” I eventually said, still looking down.
His grip on my wrist tightened. “I did?”
I nodded, making sure to not look at him. “Yes, but I can’t say that things will be much different between us. It just means I’ll try not to hate you.”
“So you still hate me?”
Slowly, I shook my head. “No, I don’t… Think so. It’s just that things are complicated and…”
“You rather just focus on your own issues than the stranger in your house.”
I smiled sadly and finally looked at him. “Exactly.”
He smiled sadly and nodded, letting go of me. He then walked ahead of me, and I looked down and shook my head. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I knew this was how things should be. Christian needed to remain as someone I knew, but wasn’t close with. That seemed to be the best solution – for now

Two weeks has passed since we had spoken. Maybe ever since we looked at each other, and I didn’t know how to feel about it. This was what I wanted, what I had asked for even, but I couldn’t help but think about Christian. Wonder about the boy who lived in my house. It was almost frustrating how everywhere I went he would be there, yet we had no interaction.
“Autumn,” Dee said, snapping me out of my thoughts. “Why do you keep zoning out?”
I sighed. “I don’t know… I’m tried.”
That was kind of true. I was tired. Tired of thinking about Christian, that was. I finally had what I wanted. Us pretending the other doesn’t exist, yet I was still bothered by his existence. Stupid, perfect boy.
“Christian’s bothering you?” Dee suddenly asked.
I suddenly froze as my eyes widened. Somehow she had guessed right, and I was now horrified. No one should know that I actually thought about Christian.
“No,” I quickly replied, narrowing my eyes at her. “We don’t talk anymore and I don’t care.”
Her eyes widened. “You guys don’t talk? What happened?”
“Nothing.” I shrugged. “He realized I hate him and gave up on befriending me. That’s all.”
“Really?”
I nodded, feeling pride at the lack of feelings I felt as I said that. He had given up on me and I was fine with that. Being alone with my issues was what I told him I wanted, and he had given me that. Honestly, that showed me that he was nowhere near a bad guy.
“But, you don’t hate him,” Dee stated, frowning as she grabbed for a juice box across our lunch table.
“What makes you say that?” I snapped, suddenly feeling defensive.
“Because, your eyes don’t look cold at the mention of him anymore.”
At that, my heart froze because she had spoken the truth. I didn’t know about my eyes, but every other part of me had slowly lost its hate for Christian. Still, I wouldn’t say I liked him, but a part of me was willing to get to know him. To finally discover what it was like to have a sibling. That part of me disgusted me, but I had faced the truth. I truly didn’t hate Christian anymore.
I suddenly sighed. “Can we not talk about Christian. I told you I’m tired.”
“Tired of pretending you hate him?”
My head whipped to my left as Cheryl joined our table. Her eyes had their calculating gleam to them and I groaned as I realized this topic wasn’t going to drop anytime soon. In fact, it seemed like I was about to have an intervention about Christian.
“I don’t like him,” I stated, raising my eyebrows as Cheryl scoffed.
“But you don’t hate him,” she shot back.
Suddenly I felt my frustrations rise up within me. Everything I had been holding back was ready to erupt, causing me glower at Cheryl. They didn’t get it, they would never leave me alone because they saw things differently than I did. Both of them needed to understand.
“Fine!” I exclaimed. “I don’t hate Christian. I don’t hate that stupid, frustrating boy who I can’t stop thinking about. But guess what, we aren’t talking. We don’t even look at each other and even though it’s my fault, I can’t help but feel annoyed by the situation.”
As a weight lifted off of my shoulders, I watched Dee and Cheryl’s eyes widen. Both of them seemed equally as shocked because I never bursted like that before. I rarely talked about my feelings either. Christian was turning me into a psychotic person, I realized, who would end up with no friends.
“You think about him?” Dee suddenly asked quietly.
I scowled at the question, but I felt slightly embarrassed. “That sounds weird. I wonder about him, I guess. I don’t know how to explain it.”
“Why don’t you guys talk?” Cheryl then asked.
Once again, I sighed. “We hung out one day and I guess I realized he’s not a horrible person.” I scowled as Dee broke out into a grin. “But I told him that things are complicated and that I would rather focus on myself then the stranger in the house.”
Cheryl frowned. “Why did you say that?”
“I have no idea.”
Honestly, I didn’t know why I told him that. I didn’t even know why I kept pushing him away. With my mom hating me, Christian seemed to be my only option when it came to having a family member who cared. Yet, I kept pushing him away.
“Autumn, things are really complicated,” Dee said, smiling sadly.
“They are,” I agreed.
“And you’ll figure things out along the way,” Cheryl added. “By first talking to Christian.”
“Never!” I blurted out instantly. “Not over my dead body.”
Both of their eyebrows raised as they stared at me, causing me to blush. I had to admit I had a huge pride that I would never let anyone touch. Especially, Christian.
“Then continue on waiting for him,” Cheryl said, shrugging casually. “Wonder about him for the rest of your life.”
I gulped at that, realizing that was actually the only other option. But being me, I had to go with that option. There was no way I’d talk to him first. It was just who I was and I wouldn’t change for anyone. Especially not for golden boy.
*****
It was time to go home. To go to my bus stop, I had to walk past this empty hallway that never had any traces of humanity in it. It was weird, but people seemed to avoid that hallway like the plague. Until today, that was.
To my shock and horror, today that hallway had a single boy in it. A boy who was at his locker, packing his bag. This boy was Christian.
I looked down at the ground as I walked nearer to him, shocked that he was here. I never knew where his locker was, but here was the last place I expected. The last place I wanted, since I passed there everyday. Internally, I groaned.
Still looking at the ground, I took a deep breath in as I walked past him. For some reason, I found myself feeling nervous, so I tried to think about anything to forget about him. But then I thought about the conversation I had with Dee and Cheryl at lunch.
Cheryl was right. As long as we didn’t talk, I would wonder about him. Feel nervous about him, just like right now. Was it really worth it? Should I let my pride fall for a second? Those were the questions running through my mind at that moment.
“Autumn,” the low voice I knew well called, exterminating those questions from my mind.
I stopped in my place and slowly turned around, feeling my nerves rack up. Christian was walking up to me casually, as if everything was fine between us, and I had no idea how to act. At this point being a b---h didn’t seem like it would cut it.
“Hey,” he said when he reached me. “Are you heading home?”
I nodded, finding myself looking at his black converse because his eyes seemed brighter than usual. He seemed happy, which was the exact opposite of how I felt the past two weeks. The thought stung.
“Do you want me to drive you home from now on?” he asked. “We do live in the same house and I have a car now. It would be for the best.”
I looked back up at him and stared at his hopeful face. This was what I wanted, for him to talk to me, but it was so random. Out of the blue because he was acting like nothing had happened between us. In fact, he was acting like how we first met. Too polite and kind of annoying in his hopeful ways of pleasing me.
Despite those things though, I said, “Sure. But let’s start tomorrow. I want to bus home today.”
He looked confused, but he said, “Okay. I’ll see you later.”
I nodded awkwardly and ran off, feeling like a typical girl. I had only asked for tomorrow because I needed to ‘prepare’, and I barely spoke during the entire time due to my nerves. He could probably tell I wasn’t acting like myself, and I wondered if he would assume that he was the reason why. Even though it was the truth, my pride would take a huge hit at that. Christian couldn’t know I was like this over him. Not yet, for sure.

To be continued..

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