Two

He was buried three days later. I didn't think it was possible for such a quick procedure but, then again, Eli's death wasn't exactly cherished. It wasn't respectable, it wasn't pretty; it wasn't normal. The weather was strange. There was sun and warmth everywhere, as if it were laughing. I guess I could see it. It was almost funny; all of us standing around in our black clothes with an old man lecturing about sins and the magnitude of death, some crying, some looking as if they were going to vomit… And then there was my family. My stupid ignorant family just standing around looking embarrassed as hell. As if Eli's suicide was this stain. As if they wished that they could turn and pretend that he had never existed because God forbid that someone would find out just how fucked up the Jamenson's really were.

But, if any of them had happened to be grieving, if any of them had happened to feel lost and sterile; I didn't care. Sometimes I would notice things; the deepening lines on my dad's face or the fading of his hair. I would notice Jill and how she would just stare at me, just sit there and put her gaze on my face and leave it there forever. And I didn't notice Caitlin's pain. It wouldn't have mattered if I had. I wouldn't have given a shit if she had happened to be the most tortured soul on earth. She was not important, she was not important, she was so fucking not important. Not with her face appearing everyday, eroded from too many drugs and too much alcohol. She probably was hurting, she probably was upset. But it didn't care. It wasn't enough, it was never enough, because none of their feelings could have matched mine.

The moments of us returning home after the funeral were bittersweet, containing a hopeless, pathetic feeling of resignation. The kind where you want to change things, but it's too late and no matter how much effort you put into understanding a situation, reality will eventually come back and laugh directly in your fucking face. Reality.

"Kyle, are you hungry at all?"

My dad had asked me this, bringing me out of my thoughts. It took me a little bit to realize that I had been standing in the foyer of the house staring at the stone floors and marble fixtures. Jill was no where to be seen, nor was Caitlin. I suspected that my sister was most likely upstairs in her bedroom cutting some lines, while my stepmother popped a Valium or two. And my father…well, my father was staring at me with some strange emotion on his face. I couldn't tell if it was concern or if he was even seeing me standing there in front of him at all: probably the latter.

"Not really. I'm gonna head out in a couple minutes anyway."

His eyebrows rose at my answer and it almost looked like he was going to protest against my up and leaving so soon after the funeral. He opened his mouth and then closed it soundlessly.

"Fine, do whatever you want," he had said and gave me a tired look before turning to leave me standing in the foyer by myself.

I looked after him for a bit as he moved into the living room before shrugging and moving toward the staircase. His statement fell into my ears, only to be drowned out, forgotten a couple minutes later as climbed to the top and walked toward my room. When I was halfway down the hallway, I began to feel a strange prickling along the back of my neck. It intensified the closer I came to Eli's bedroom and practically screamed through my head when I reached his closed door. I paused in front of his room, frozen, unable to move or shake the feeling within me. It was so foreign and eerie that I couldn't explain it even if I had wanted to. So I stood there, unmoving as I hesitantly contemplated the oak surface of the door, before finally walking in.

Everything was as he had left it. Clean, his schoolbooks stacked in a neat pile on a desk, all of his dirty clothes were placed in a blue hamper in the corner. The entire room smelled like cocoa butter and sunscreen. Next to his stereo system was a fifty gallon aquarium filled with all of these stupid fish that I didn't know the names of. There was a bass guitar sitting on a stand in a corner of the room, trophies and plaques that he had won for swimming sat all over the place along with tons of photos plastered everywhere. To what I was looking for, I wasn't really sure. Even if I did know, it still would have proved useless because there wasn't anything unusual. His room was very normal, very boy-next-door, All-American…very normal. I turned around and saw a wall of pictures that he had drawn and painted. There were tons of them, black and white, splashes of color, all hanging like wallpaper. Buildings, things, scenes; nothing was left out. There were drawings of people; their faces sketched and posted all over the walls. I was in the Twilight Zone. This freaked me out.

I had made it on the wall. But, there was nothing special about the gesture. Alyssa, his girlfriend was posted right next to me. Jill had made it on the wall, our parents had made it on the wall; fuck, even Jordan Oliver had made it. My eyes wandered over several faces, most of which I didn't recognize, until I came to one drawing in particular that never failed to creep me out. Brendan August hated me, hated me with the most intense, purest form of hate that you could have for a person. And there he was, staring at me with his angry immortalized face. The image felt alive. And Eli had drawn him; actually had August pose for him so that he could sketch his features. As far as I could remember, Eli had never even particularly liked the guy. August was always following him around, practically crawling up his ass, most of the time with this half moody half depressed look on his face. I couldn't understand what Eli had been thinking. Christ; and the bastard hadn't even bothered to come to his funeral.

August was an arrogant fucker. The guy was exceptional and he knew it. You could tell that he knew it just by the way he would get that smirk on his face while strutting through the halls and how whenever anybody talked to him, there was always that look on his face that said 'don't you feel privileged to be talking to me?' He was the type that would turn on this cheesy smooth charm whenever a hot girl was nearby, yet would constantly be giving the underclassmen wedgies and shit like that. He was lean, he was built, he had dimples and lots of hair and he loved to look at himself in the mirror.

His family owned this large law firm called August & Brown. Every year the guy would get a brand new car of his choice and of course he would always pick out the most expensive vehicle on the market. Hell, his family was so loaded, that the guy would receive this allowance of about five thousand dollars every week. He had every new toy under the sun, a life time supply of any type of drug he wanted, the most expansive savings account of anyone I knew, yet sometimes I actually felt sort of sorry for him. Whenever the holidays would come around I would notice a change in him. He was like this despondent creature starving for attention. Oliver once told me that around those times, August used to beg his parents to let him come home to spend time with them. His folks would always refuse and end up taking off for Europe or some other tourist infested landfill. It took some time for him to realize that he was never going home. After a while, he stopped asking to come home during the holidays. And a little later down the road, he had finally stopped calling them all together.

I'm not really sure why all of the shit between the two of us had started, but it seemed like it had began sometime around when Eli had arrived. Strangely enough, things hadn't always been that way. Up until a couple years ago, August and I used to be close. We were in the same grade, were the same age; he would hang out at my place a lot. Brendan's an only child and a boarder who was stuck at Lincoln by himself practically year-round, while the rest of his family lived out east in Boston. Talk about trying to get your kid as far away from you as possible. His parents couldn't even be bothered to visit him at least once a year. So you got this kid who's practically a fucking orphan, always coming around to have dinner at your house, talking the ears off of your family. Maybe it was because he had nothing better to do or maybe it was because he was just plain lonely. Either way, he had always been there. But then later...he just…wasn't.

I ended up lying down on Eli's unmade bed and proceeded to fall into a comfortable doze. It wasn't until a little while later when I looked over at the bluish gold clock shaped like a fish that sat on his nightstand. I was more than a little surprised when I realized that it was eleven-fifteen p.m. I had been sitting on his bed oblivious of everything for almost seven hours straight. I realized then how tired I was and sat up with a groan to stretch my muscles a little. Taking the pillow off of the bed with me, I threw my arms up over my head, and arched my back as far as I could. I did this until I heard that comforting cracking noise from my joints, and then sat back up with a deep sigh. I didn't really feel like going back to my room even though it was only a little way down the hall, so I decided to just camp out in Eli's room that night. As I stood, the pillow fell to the floor. I started undressing. First my black shoes, then my black slacks and socks, then my black shirt, and my boxers, the entire time watching in a sort of trance as each piece fell into a small pile. When I turned around to scoop up my clothes into a heap, I noticed something lying on the bed near the headboard.

I stood there staring at the thing for probably five minutes or so before I finally picked it up to take a closer look at it: a notebook, thick and worn. I turned it over a couple times, wondering why it had been hiding under Eli's pillow, instead of sitting on top of his desk with all of his other stuff. Curiously, I flipped open the top cover: blank page. I flipped the next page, which had some writing on it, but by then room was so dark that I could barely make out the print. There was a lamp on the nightstand next to the bed. I turned it on.


August 19, 1996:

I just turned sixteen a few months ago. This is my first time writing in one of these things. I feel a little gay doing it, but I could really care a less at this moment. Tomorrow I have to get on a plane. I'm flying out of here: heading back to California. I have to live with my mom and stepdad. I can't exactly live with my dad anymore. He's dead. I'm really nervous. I threw up in the toilet at least three times this morning. Ha. Yeah, if my friends could see me now type of thing – right? I haven't seen my mom in a while. But none of that really matters anymore.

-Eli