|Sleeping with Ghosts
Author: urbantease PM
This story is about Soren, an ordinary boy who has ordinary experiences but reacts to them in extraordinary ways. Not everyone will open up about certain things and not everyone will dwell on the tiny things. This is just what happens when you open up andRated: Fiction T - English - Hurt/Comfort/Friendship - Chapters: 5 - Words: 19,596 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 4 - Updated: 01-03-10 - Published: 07-24-08 - id: 2549838
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Friday, May 15.
Soren. That is my name. Its five letters long and none of the letters repeat. Sometimes I wonder if the fifth letter is lonely. S has O, R has E, but who does N have? If my parents thought about this before they named me, maybe they would've given me a nice name like Wolfgang or Xavier. None of those names have lonely letters in them, not like Soren. But I am Soren, the five letter name, the lonely letter name.
I'm sitting in my room, looking at my yellow walls. My mother calls them custard, as if that was a colour. But custard is a dessert, not a paint colour. My parents painted the room before I was born and before they knew if I'd be a boy or a girl. Apparently yellow is gender neutral, but name one guy you know who has yellow walls. My walls have posters on them for bands I don't even like and movies I have never seen. I bought them to cover up the feminine feel of my room, but mostly they make my room seem like it doesn't belong to me. I'm not even sure what my favourite band is. Older, uncommon movies like The Last Picture Show or Harold and Maude are my favorite, but I've never once came across a poster for either of those. I wonder how people decorated their rooms back then, if there were no posters.
Monday, May 18.
When a race horse falls, it breaks its legs. Race horses are bred with thin legs so they can run fast. The horse's legs cannot heal and it is usually killed.
I'm thinking about the horse's life. They are born to run and running is all they ever get to do and all they ever get to see. But running is also what kills them.
Thursday, May 21.
At dinner tonight my mother asked me how my day was that day.
"How was your day today?" she asked. I looked up at her as I ate my chicken. It was good chicken but it reminds me that I should become a vegetarian.
"Fine," I told her. It wasn't a lie. I had a fine day that day. But even if my day had been horrible, I would probably still have said fine. Or even if my day was one of the best of my life, I still probably would've said fine. She wouldn't know. I always say my day is fine, because if I said it was a fantastic day or a dreadful day, I would have to tell her why. And sometimes it's easier to just say "fine" than to explain your whole life story to someone. But today, my day was only fine, it wasn't horrid and it wasn't the greatest of my life. I still think I should find a solid definition for fine so that I can more accurately let my mother know how my day was. Or maybe I should just get out of the habit of saying "fine". I think that mothers deserve to know how your day really was.
After that there was awkward silence so I asked my mother how her own day was. She told me that she had an "absolutely great" day. In fact, she didn't tell me that, she exclaimed it to me. Perhaps I should tell her how my day was with more emotion next time. I think I will, because that is what my mother would want to hear.
My father is out of town on business.
Friday, May 22.
I've found a band that I really do quite like. One of their songs has absolutely no lyrics in it. I wonder if the songwriter couldn't think of lyrics to write for the song. Or maybe he thought there was something perfect enough about the instruments alone and didn't want to ruin the song. If the song did have lyrics in it, I think that they would be about anger. But maybe just playing the song on their guitars and drums was enough for the band to get all of their anger out. There's something beautiful about that.
Monday, May 25.
Today it has been one year exactly since my older brother died. My father is still out of town on business, so it is only my mother and I. Well, technically only me because my mother is staying in bed today. I'm contemplating whether I should go lie with her or if it's better to just let her be. These kinds of things are hard to decide.
I was thinking about when my brother died last year. He was in a car accident. My parents were out to dinner with some friends when it happened. Paramedics tried to revive him for nearly an hour. I was at home doing schoolwork. It's weird to think about how my parents were out and I was in and my brother was dying and no one even thought about that. I just figured he was still out with friends and that I had homework to do. My parents just figured that they were having a great time and he was having a great time, too. When really, he was dying and all of us were off having fun. It's a weird thing to have to think about.
Tuesday, May 26.
I just reread what I wrote yesterday. It's very odd, too, because it doesn't sound like me. I'm not that calm about everything. I'm really not.
Friday, May 29.
On Fridays I stay up to watch Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Did you know that Oprah is on at one in the morning? After Conan was over I began flipping through channels and came across an Oprah rerun. She was interviewing a kid who went to Mexico to be a prostitute or something. But I don't understand why he couldn't have just stayed where he lived to do that? Either way, the show seems dark, unfriendly, and cheap at one in the morning. I wonder what Oprah Winfrey is really doing at that time.
Saturday, May 30.
You know that problem that occurs when you have only two best friends and they just happen to be dating? And then you go to the cinema with them and you sit there feeling awkward and alone, like a third wheel? Well, I have that problem, and their names are Alison and Andrew. A lot of people find it cute how their names match. But really, it's just awkward when your only two friends are dating.
Saturday, June 6.
School is finally out for the summer. I don't know if I should be happy that I have no more exams, or if I should be sad because I won't be seeing my friends as much anymore. I really don't know, but I think I'll be happy because the weather is perfect and I don't have to eat a bag lunch everyday. I'll just lay outside in the shade and read.
Monday, June 8.
There's this thing that I do where I feel like I should be hungry, so I go to the kitchen and open the fridge or the cupboards and then just stare in at them for a few minutes. None of the contents even register, I just stare blankly at all the food. And after a couple of minutes, I just walk away without any food.
Well, I really hope that other people do this, because I do it all the time. I really do. And I was thinking about it today, when I realized that I probably waste 10 minutes of my life, daily, doing this. And I'm not even kidding. I guess that is the sad truth about mankind.
Wednesday, June 10.
It's funny because I was very excited for the summer, but I still haven't done anything yet. None of my friends have called me and I haven't felt like calling any of them. They would want to go swimming. But I don't like swimming, I really don't. And if they don't want to go swimming, they want to go on a bike ride. But I don't have a bike. All I really want to do is go on a picnic.
Friday, June 12.
Andrew called today to see if I wanted to go swimming. But I didn't. I probably should've, too, because my parents are getting worried about me not going out. Instead I stayed home and watched Roman Holiday with my mother and father after we finished dinner. My mother really loves that movie, my father tolerates it. I quite like it and it makes me laugh. Everyone was so different back then, in the '50s. I wouldn't have minded living in the '50s. I really wouldn't. My mother thinks that Gregory Peck is "so sexy" which really gets my dad going. My dad thinks Audrey Hepburn was "so pretty" which my mother agrees with. It's funny how that works out. Anyways, I agree with both of them.
Monday, June 15.
I'm seeing my friends tomorrow! Alison called today and asked if I wanted to come hang out with her and Andrew and some of their other friends who I pretend are my friends too, even though they tend to bug me. It will be the first time I've seen anyone but my parents and my neighbours this whole summer. I'm looking forward to talking to them all again. Even the ones that I've never really liked.
Tuesday, June 16.
It seems like all of my friends have hung out together a lot so far this summer. And it sounded like they've done things other than just going swimming and going on bike rides. They talked about a couple of movies they saw together and a concert a few of them went to. I wonder why none of them asked me to come. Maybe someone called but I didn't answer the phone. Our message machine mentions no one else living in our household except for my parents. Perhaps this was confusing for my friends.
Either way it was fun to see all of them again. We got drinks at a coffee shop and just talked about all that we'd done this summer. Since I haven't done much, I mostly just listened. I'd forgotten how lonely I'd been this summer.
Saturday, June 20.
I've decided to take the leap and become a vegetarian. I'll just have trouble giving up chicken, but everything else is easy. But I'm basically a chicken addict. I hope that my mother can think up enough ways to prepare tofu.
Monday, June 22.
Today the anchorman on channel 11 news reported that the polar bear population in the North Pole has been decreasing "at alarming rates and by 30 years time more than ¾ of the population will be gone." When he announced it I started to cry, I really did. I love the polar bears and the coca cola commercials, so I'd hate to think of them as gone because of global warming and the human population. Maybe crying over polar bears isn't appropriate because I've only ever seen them at the zoo, but they always look so lonely and they probably die alone, too. The polar bears make me think about how my brother died alone, too. I cry for the polar bears because I didn't cry for my brother.
Tuesday, June 23.
At dinner tonight I mentioned to my mother that the polar bears are going extinct. She looked surprised that I hadn't known and nodded.
"They're drowning because the ice is melting and they can't find anywhere to rest," she told me. It seemed as though she accepted the fact and had moved on.
"Don't you care that all the animals are dying?" I asked her, ready to begin crying again. I get worked up easily, I really do.
"They're not all dying," she told me. "Just the polar bears are. Of course I care, but what can I do?"
I fought off the tears as I looked down at my tofu. That was all? What could she do? I thought about a polar bear…I remembered seeing a stuffed one at the science museum, 9 feet tall. It looked angry, its great mouth open and its teeth bared. It's hard to imagine this huge animal with giant paws, swimming through the water, not finding any ice. I could hear it snarling and calling out into the emptiness as it grew tired and eventually gave up. What could my mother do? I tried to pretend that there was something that could be done. Maybe it was for the polar bear's sake, maybe it was for my sake, but it was probably for my brother, even though I knew he wouldn't have given a damn about the bears. I just couldn't let there be nothing anyone could do about them and I didn't want them to die alone.
Wednesday, June 24.
I forgot to mention that my birthday was last Monday, the 22nd. I guess I was too upset about the polar bears to remember. Also, I didn't celebrate it on Monday because my father was out of town. Instead my family celebrated my birthday tonight. Birthdays really are not a big deal to me. It's just the day you were born on. It just means that you were lucky enough to survive another year. I think that I used to like birthdays and I used to like getting presents. I just don't anymore. Birthdays aren't that great.
We went out to dinner, and I got asked if I wanted a kid's menu. The kid's menus are for boys and girls 12 and under. I told the waiter that I was 15. I look young for my age, I know that. Anyways, we got chocolate cake after dinner. It was very good. That's one thing I like about birthdays – chocolate cake. As long as there are no candles.
I don't really like getting presents. I don't want anything in particular anymore and I don't like when people sit around and watch you open up presents, waiting for your reactions. I'd rather take them up to my bedroom and open them up by myself. I'd rather not get any presents.
Friday, June 26.
I went to a street fair today and there was a lot of art there – cool art, but still nothing interested me. Sometimes I wish I could draw myself to be interested in stuff like paintings or sculptures. I really do. But to me, all of this is just strokes on paper and funny shaped rock. I ended up with a hot chocolate, sitting outside a café watching people wander around. I had my back to the door of the café, which always makes me anxious, but that way I could watch all the life around me. I love people watching, but I try not to judge. People look at me and think I'm innocent because I'm some skinny little boy who couldn't hurt anyone if I ever even tried. And I don't think I would ever try to hurt anyone, at least not physically. But to me, words or thoughts have a lot more power. They can cause more hurt than punching or tripping. That's why I try not to judge.
When I went back inside the café, a new boy was behind the counter. He refilled my hot chocolate, asking me why I drink something hot when it's hot outside. I had no real answer for him. He had some of the bluest eyes I had ever seen. They made me cold and reminded me of the dying polar bears. His eyes were like the arctic ice, but maybe they would never melt away.
"I just like the flavour of chocolate and I miss the polar bears," was all I told him. I don't think I meant to say that, but I did. He seemed confused but didn't ask anything more. I like that, when people don't always question about your feelings. If they do, it's like they're just trying to make you screw up your words to prove that your thoughts and feelings are all wrong.
"You heard that all the polar bears are going extinct, I'm guessing?" he asked as he handed my hot chocolate back. I nodded sadly, hoping I wouldn't start crying again.
"Nah, don't believe any of it."
He was looking out the window now. His blue eyes searched the sky quietly, but he looked frustrated. I just nodded and walked away; what else could I do?
Saturday, July 4.
With my father in town for the fourth, we decided to go watch the fireworks. It's very peaceful to lie in the grass on the bluff, watching these giant things rocket through the sky and blow up into a million tiny fragments of light, right in front of your eyes. But it's also a bit nauseating to think about. Being shot up that high into the sky is not my idea of peaceful, which is why I prefer to be grounded here on earth than to be flying up into the crystal clear July night.
Sunday, July 5.
I wonder if the boy with icy blue eyes from the coffee shop actually cares about the polar bears. Maybe he sensed that I was about to burst out in tears, which is why he said it. Maybe he really just couldn't give a shit about the bears, like everyone else.
Wednesday, July 8.
I went back to the coffee shop today to see if the boy was working; he was. I waited in line and when I reached the counter he looked me straight in the eyes and said "What can I get you?" right as I was opening my mouth to ask about the bears. It threw me off for a moment that he wanted to take my order.
"Do you really care about the polar bears?" I asked when I recovered. It came out harsher than I meant. "Or do you just not give a shit like the rest of the population and simply wanted to shut me up?"
That shut him up. He looked startled and just stared down at me with those blue eyes through his mop of brown hair. I didn't look him straight in the eyes because everything between us was already ice cold. It felt like a whole minute went by before I finally nodded and walked out of the café.
No one wanted to do anything about the bears. And that made me cry. But this time, I cried for the bears themselves and not for my brother.
Thursday, July 9.
I went to a second hand bookstore today. When I was walking out of the store, a group of teenagers were standing outside. I hadn't bought anything inside the store.
"Hey kid," a girl with red hair called at me as I passed. Her hair was greasy and it was dyed a fake-y Kool Aid red. I didn't like it. "You were Harry's little brother, right?"
The group of kids looked dingy and unwashed, with sallow skin and dirty hair. But I nodded at them, even if I didn't like them.
"I still am Harry's little brother," I corrected them after a few moments of silence. Why did everyone always use past tense? It's not like my brother's death changed the fact that he existed and that he was part of my family. But the girl just nodded. One of the guys she was with shifted uncomfortably.
"So…how are you?" she asked.
"You don't even know me." Why was she so concerned?
"Well, just, we were friends with your brother," she said. I nodded at her. Harry was popular and I wasn't surprised that she knew him. She'd probably kissed him too. Harry was always going out with girls.
"I'm fine." It was all I felt like saying, because my brother was the last thing I wanted to talk about right now, or ever, and I didn't feel like spilling my emotions out to a bunch of teenagers.
All of a sudden the whole group looked over behind me, all at the same moment. It was one of the oddest things that has ever happened, to have all eyes burning into me and then all at the exact same moment to just snap away from me, focusing in on something new. I turned around and the coffee shop boy was walking over to the group. I began to worry.
"Hey, what's up guys?" he called. I spun back around to face Harry's friends. When he reached the group, he just stood and looked down at me for a moment. I tried to look anywhere but at him.
"This is Harry's little brother, we were just talking to him," one of the boys from the group said. He had thick black hair and a Beatles cut. I felt the coffee boy stiffen next to me. I looked at him. He looked down at me with those fierce blue eyes. His face was twisted in pain and frustration. It was a bad look and I didn't know what to do; I looked away. Nobody said anything for a few moments. I figured he was still confused about the incident at the coffee shop the other day.
"I'd almost forgotten about Harry, for a while," the coffee boy finally said. It was hard to hear and I'm pretty sure I was the only one who heard. It was an odd thing to say, but then again I didn't know how well these people knew my brother. He walked over and sat on a wall that his friends were leaning against. I suddenly felt very alone standing on the sidewalk, exposed.
"So, what's your name again?" The boy with the Beatles hair asked me this time.
They all nodded. It was almost funny to see all the heads going at once, like those bobble head dogs that people stick on their dashboards. More silence followed and I felt like I was intruding. I figured they wanted to talk alone, but I didn't quite know what to say or how to leave.
"I'm Peter," the coffee boy offered after a minute. I looked up at him and met his eyes. They were a friendlier blue but still severe.
"I'm Soren," I said, looking straight into those eyes. I knew that I'd already said that, but it just seemed like the right thing to do. He almost smiled.
"I already knew that you were Harry's brother," he said, but he didn't stop looking at me. I had a feeling that this was our conversation, and not for the group. I just looked at him as he explained. "In the coffee shop. I'd never seen anyone more like Harry before."
I didn't know what he was talking about. Harry was big and buff, he had a lot of friends and drank coffee instead of hot chocolate. He was always smiling and joking. Harry and I were very different and that was the problem.
I left after that. The whole group was silent again. I didn't want to talk about Harry anymore and I didn't want polar bears to be brought up again. I just said bye to them and left. I don't think they cared because I think they realized that I wasn't Harry, and that was the problem.