Can You Find Me? II: Exordium

Disclaimer: Mature Content

I always knew there was something fucked up in my head.

It wasn’t like I was really destined to be this way. Mom and dad were in the picture from birth. Neither of them ever raised a hand to me that was too harsh or spoke a word to me that was too cruel. My mother doted on me for every minor achievement I made growing up and my father was your typical suburban dad, dead-set on making me the king of football or baseball while teaching me life lessons on how to be a man. We had money, we had a nice house, and I never went for longer than a day without something I asked for. Sure, I was a spoiled kid but I wasn’t a spoiled brat. My best friend in high school was even more well-off than I was and anyone would call him a good kid. A good friend, a good guy, a good son, yet his only faults were a short fuse and a tendency to be over-protective. At least his mistakes never hurt anybody; Mine did.

In regards to the “Nature vs. Nurture” argument I have trouble seeing where my nurturing failed me. I mean, maybe my good life was the reason for my problems, but then I remember my best friend and that he doesn’t have the same issues I do. In fact, he doesn’t have any of the same issues that I do. He had his emotional outbursts so that it was no secret what was going on in his head. I was always calm, cool, and collected. My demons rarely came to the surface.

I grew up being everything my parents wanted me to be. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to play baseball and take photography classes, I’m just lucky that I wasn’t stuck doing anything that I hated. I was being cultivated into the perfect little plant for all to see. Once I hit high school my GPA and sportsmanship spoke for themselves. By junior year I was good-looking, I was successful, and I was popular. My future seemed unlimited to everyone else but me. My paraphilia was the demon hidden inside of me, waiting for me to slip back into his clutches at any moment. I started over-stepping my boundaries as a child. Many young children are caught and disciplined for certain behaviors before it can get worse. Sadly, I was never caught and never disciplined. Because of this, what started as simple curiosity morphed into a complete obsession. That obsession took me down an unforgivable road that put some of the most precious people in my life in danger.

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It Takes A Year: Part Six

[Updated: 2/15/17]

Tara and I played a few more songs together before she stopped to answer the texts that she’d gotten. While she scrolled through her phone I pulled out my own too, wondering if the vibrations I was ignoring were from Will. One of my messages did turn out to be from him but it was just a generic reply to our earlier conversation about his annoying new coworker. I was kind of used to it by now to be honest. I also saw that Tyler had texted me asking what was up. I hadn’t seen him since the first time we met and I honestly wanted to hang out again in a less tense setting. He seemed genuinely concerned for my well-being. We texted pretty much daily and it felt nice. Will didn’t really bring up personal things in our conversations anymore. The more casual he kept it, the easier it’d be for us to move on. At least I suspected that’s what his plan was. It’d be just like last time, except now we weren’t looking towards a reunion.

“My friend Lana just invited us to a party at her friend’s house, you wanna swing by?” Tara asked.

My senses perked up a little. A party didn’t seem to bad, it’d be a nice way to unwind and meet Tara’s other friends. Alicia’s crowd was getting boring and predictable. I could use some new faces in my life.

“Yeah, I’m down,” I said.

Tara put her guitar aside and closed her laptop. We both agreed that we needed to change clothes. I headed to my room and started flipping through my closet for something extra cute to wear. I had to admit that I was slacking on my appearance as of late. Will used to tell me that I looked sexy with messy hair and no makeup on but my recent mornings in the mirror begged to differ. Tara, on the other hand, seemed to look flawless all the time. I couldn’t decide if it was her chic hairstyle, her healthy amounts of sleep, or her enviable body. She had youthful skin which she could probably thank her mother for. I remember her coming over once to drop something off for Tara. That’s when I found out that Tara was half Vietnamese. I knew she looked mixed.

It was easy to notice that Tara’s eyes were bright and lively while my lids seemed to be heavier than before. It took a decent amount of concealer to hide the darkness cradling my sockets. They always got worse when Will left.

When I looked at Tara on those days that she sat cross-legged on the couch, hair tussled and guitar in lap, I wondered if that’s the way he used to see me. Existing beautifully in my own little world, gently in focus. Back when happiness actually shone through my skin instead of hiding away in hollow bones. The perfect candid.

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Can You Find Me? I: Summer

Disclaimer: Mature Content

It was the summer after we graduated high school. The summer I’ll never forget.

My friends and I were dead set on having the time of our lives before we parted ways for college. My parents had gotten me a hybrid DSLR as a graduation gift and I planned on using it to capture memories of our summer adventures. Our first couple months of freedom was pretty typical; we went swimming and fishing at the lake, visited the amusement park, hung out downtown, and partied at our friend’s big, two-story lake house. It was my first year without a curfew and I was taking full advantage of it. I also got to celebrate my eight month anniversary with my boyfriend Nick. Most of my favorite moments that summer happened with him by my side. Looking back now, those hot summer days were picture perfect. I thought that my whole summer would just be an array of happy memories and good times. I was wrong.

At the beginning of July we were all sitting on the back porch of our friend Aaron’s house. I had my feet kicked up on the table and was listening to Nick and Aaron talk about cars while I sipped some lemonade. Whenever I listened to those two talk I swore that they were long lost brothers. If they didn’t look so different their vibe could totally fool anyone into believing so. Nick had short, brown hair and freckles painting the skin of his nose and shoulders. It was my favorite thing about him. Aaron, on the other hand, had no freckles to detail his olive skin but was gifted with dark shoulder-length hair that was thick and lustrous enough to rival that of any of the girls we knew. Katy, my best friend, was notoriously jealous of how easily his hair kept itself while she was left struggling with her own blonde locks every morning.

Katy was reclined in the chair beside me and scrolling through her phone, ignoring the impassioned conversation going on between Aaron and Nick. I glanced over at her just as she began to sit up.

“Hey, this looks pretty cool,” she said, offering her phone screen to the table for all of us to see.

“What does?” I asked.

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It Takes A Year: Part Two

[Updated: 4/20/17]

“So what are we?”

“I don’t know.”

I was irritated. It had been three weeks after our first kiss and we were sitting in Will’s room again on the same bed where it happened. Many more things had come to pass in those three weeks. We saw each other often, we went on dates, we fell asleep together, and he started grabbing my hand in public places. I couldn’t deny that it was a blissful time. Things just felt easy. Natural. I’d shower at his place and he’d knock on the door, saying he had to come in. Truth was he just wanted to sneak me wet kisses on my skin and hold me from behind while I combed my hair. He blew up my phone while I was gone and it didn’t bother me at first. I just got used to it. I got used to Will.

But that week he’d been questioning me. He was eager for us to be something more tangible. I just wasn’t sure yet. Even though I liked him a lot and he sent my heart in a flurry I was scared. Looking back now I know that I was afraid of committing to him.

5 days after I kissed Will I kissed a boy who I’d liked 2 years ago. The boy had finally expressed his interest for me at a party and I let a mix of vodka and nostalgia wrap my body around his. I felt a writhing in my gut, a sickness that burned my throat and tore me away from him momentarily. He found attention from another girl for awhile before finding me again. I still smiled at him after, still hugged him and hung off of his arm that night while he sneaked me kisses on my drunken mouth. We passed out together on the couch.

I didn’t talk to Will for a few days after that. I shut up in my room listening to slow music and a buzzing phone. I wanted to be distant. After he became almost frantic in his calling I finally told him I was coming over. He asked me how the party was and why I didn’t ask him to go. I told him it was just a spur of the moment thing and that I wasn’t really thinking about it. He assumed I just wasn’t thinking about him at all. He had seen the pictures of me grinning and hanging over the other boy’s shoulder. I didn’t know an old flame of mine was going to be there. Will didn’t know our lips touched. I just got up and went with the same freedom I’d been used to having. I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings.

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Carmen

She was a bold beauty and a careful madness. A willowy storm filled to the brim with honey-coated words and sensual desire. I had been to hell and back with that girl and I could honestly say that she was nothing but an angel to me with the devil’s charm. The boys in town could brag all day about having her, but we both knew better. I was the only one who gave a damn enough to show her that she was worth more than a Gin Rickey and a pricey night at the motel. I never made myself out to be a hero because of it. I thought it was just common decency to take her away from dirty men and cheap drugs. I didn’t even recognize her at first, what with a few years of disaster taking away the light in her eyes. But sure enough I knew after a few words that it was her; That sweet girl I dated back in high school with her wavy blonde hair and her full red lips. God I missed the sparkle in her eyes. She took a few drags off the cigarette I gave her, saying she’d just been working as a waitress and living with a friend in L.A. I should have known better from the darkness under her eyes and the frailty of her frame. I’d come to find out that she was living in her car making money off the next customer that saw her strolling down the boulevard. She thought that was all I wanted at the time.

“Let me guess, you’re here to fall in love with me too huh?” she said, flashing me that Hollywood smile.

“Don’t flatter yourself honey.”

I took her out to dinner a few times. One night we sat in the diner talking until the sun rose. She was going on and on, laughing and smiling at me, reaching over for a playful nudge to my shoulder every now and again. Finally she rested her hands on mine.

“I feel like I could tell you anything.”

She looked at me with such dreamy eyes. There was no faking that look.

“Sweetheart, you know you can,” I said.

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Of My Darling

If you could powder up a storm and give it diamonds you’d call it Emily. Who but me would know that her hair was once untucked beneath the Midwest sun and that her breaths were girlish laughter instead of sultry sighs? It had escaped me then but her outer glow was the trophy of New York, at least to those blessed enough to kiss her hand and get tipsy on her conversation. I don’t think she’s ever fluttered her lashes so much or pouted those rosy lips until she danced across marble floors and broken hearts. And God how tempting she was, how seductively slender and impossibly charming that girl could be. Most would assume that shame had left her after girlhood, but I should know better. Beyond the champagne nights and glittering jewels was the home we had to come back to. The home where those heels fell messily on the floor as she whined drunkenly for her towel to wipe off her sultry mask. “What a darling wife!” they’d say, “You’ve got the best looking girl this side of Manhattan!”. Nobody knows that Emily has freckles or dying eyes or sickly breath. They don’t know that she can only stand to make love when she’s tipsy or that her face was actually more beautiful back in Iowa than under the chandeliers in Paris on our honeymoon. Nobody knows that she’s shattered as many wine glasses as she has hearts or that her only talents are for petty conversation and making the world believe she’s anything but a pretty face.

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