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 One

[Updated: 2/9/17]

It took a year to destroy his heart.

And I’ll never forget that year.

He came to me with a wide smile and a worn out soul. I was high on freedom and he was lost in loneliness when he stumbled through the haze. I had just gotten to the venue and headed to the bar to grab a drink with my friends. We returned to the floor and leaned carefully against the rails in front of the stage, a gaggle of pretty faces and dewy skin. I saw him among the crowd. His brown hair was swept back away from that handsome face, the face I’d see covered in tears many times after. Who knows why my eyes didn’t wander to the other men for the rest of the night? I suppose destiny wanted to play games with me.

I noticed a couple of girls and guys tagging along with him. I nudged my friend and nodded his way.

“Check this guy out.”

“Oh my god.”

“Right?”

“Go talk to him!”

The other girls and I turned into a giggling mess. I agreed to go talk to him if one of my friends went and talked to some blonde gym junkie nearby. It was only supposed to be a spectator sport. It was never meant to spiral into the depths that it did. A year was never supposed to start here.

When I started heading his way I was glad that I had taken a little extra effort to do my hair and makeup that night. That was back when I flaunted what I had when I had to. He’d later hold those nights against me.

As I approached him I had the shallow hope that one of those girls wasn’t his girlfriend. Even if one of them was I hoped that it was the one with the big nose and the baggy jeans, someone who couldn’t immediately hold a candle to me. I’m not going to act like I was a nice person back then. I wasn’t. I never was.

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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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