The year I met Tyler was the year that my family finally forgot my name, allowing it to be replaced with "Bubba." It was 1999, May 16th, exactly a week after my sixteenth birthday, and not a damn breeze of cool air had yet to cross our remote town in central Florida.
My step-mom, Camilla, my dad (whom I knew as Ralph), and I were living in our twenty-seventh house, only a few miles away from my thirtieth school, which went by the name of Plash Washington, and tried to suck the life out of all of it's students.
Before I met Tyler I was a heartless asshole, cold by the way that society had rejected me, a mourning loser, due to the recent loss of my best friend, and still a virgin, and taking pride in that fact. I knew nothing about what love was, nor did I want to know. I still believed that with my thick piercing in my nose, and my paintings, I was going to make it through alright.
I met him long before I realized how reality can completely warp a person into the kind of people they hate, and it was long before I was comfortable with my sexuality.
Before his abrupt arrival, Camilla had gone to the clinic only to find that she was nearly two weeks pregnant, and hoping for the arrival of another boy. Like Tyler. Like me.
Our house, by that point, was filled of rooms we never used. Such as the exercising room, which Camilla had only added after Ralph started having people over for meetings, and wanted everyone to think our figures were from exercise, and not from the lack of nearly every food that held one percent of carbs. The lounge, which I soon took on as my own room, because I liked it so fucking much, was basically the best room in the house, and, of course, going to Tyler. The maid quarters, which was only two rooms given to Ms. Toni, some old woman in her early forties who was desperate for a job and a place to stay. Ralph's study, which was off-limits to everyone but him. Camilla's rooms, which were mostly filled with clothing she made, considering she was one of the top designers of our year. The livingroom, diningroom, kitchen, garage which held five cars (one for the three of us, Mrs. Toni's, and the one they bought for Tyler), the library, and, of course, all of our bedrooms.
I was a snobby rich-boy only child, much like the common stereotype, but not exactly fitting into it.
I wasn't spoiled by my parents. I was sure they hated me.
I also didn't dress rich. Mostly took on the appearance of grungy black clothing. I had black hair that reached the ends of my ears at that point, and I didn't want to cut it until it hit my shoulders. I was built with female hips, my mom's lips, my mom's blue eyes, my mom's hair color, my mom's teeth...(basically built as a copy of my mother, who left when I was four), I only stood 5'3", I was 91 pounds, and I was mostly seen wearing thick pink or black eyeshadow.
The only things I liked about myself were my speed (which made me the star of most track teams), my drawing abilities, and my bitch attitude. It kept me from caring.
Tyler, of course, swooned over Camilla and Ralph the moment he stepped inside the door.
I'm going to murder this brat. I thought, twenty minutes before he arrived, when all of us were sitting on the opening staircase, which would be leading into my room, where Tyler's shit would be staying until they found a spot for it.
I was picking at a scab on my arm, due to the current burns, just trying to piss Camilla off. "Bubba, can you please stop that?" she cried. "You're just going to make it scar."
"So?" I snapped back.
"So, you can't scar if you plan on being a model."
"...And when did I decide I wanted to become a model?"
"When we took the family photos... I turned in some pictures to my friend, who happens to be an agent-"
"Don't you have to be 'pretty' to be a model?" I snapped, scab-picking forgotten.
"Oh, Bubba, you're beautiful." I snorted. "I have no idea why you have such low self-esteem."
"Yeah. Beautiful. I'm a fucking God."
"If you don't stop with your fucking cussing, I'm going to fucking show you who's God around here." Ralph snapped.
He didn't have a problem with my cussing. They normally could have given a fuck less. I guess they just wanted me to seem perfect when the new-boy arrived. "Ooh, daddy, that's blasphemous. You're going to hell." I taunted.
"Bubba, please." Camilla said. "Why do you always find a way to diss religion with us?"
"Because I don't give a fuck about it and I know you guys do." truthfully, I wasn't atheist. I just found it easier to ditch God when I needed to. With all my feelings being directed at guys I needed to get him out of my life, and as far away from me as possible.
I had stopped believing the moment he let Greg drive his car off the road.
Greg, my best friend, the nicest guy I knew, could not be going to hell for committing suicide.
There was no justice in that.
And if I had nothing to believe in, it made things easier to believe that Greg was reincarnated as a cat, like he had always wanted, and was roaming the streets now, living a happy life. God just didn't fit into what I pictured, so I'd murder every belief I'd ever had to get rid of it. To make it bona fide.
A knock on the door woke the three of us up, and Camilla went to answer it, while Ralph draped an arm over my shoulders, putting on a false smile.
What I had expected, I wasn't sure, but it sure as hell wasn't some gorgeous guy walking into our house and making everything compared to him seem so dull, when I had always believed it to be so grand.
He had light brown hair, with blond streaks in it. It was longish, longer than mine, and met on the middle of his neck in a "U" shape, looking tousled and wind-kept.
His teeth were as white as or fucking interior panting, and I wanted to break them for their perfect alignment, and their amazing sheen. I subconsciously found myself running my tongue over mine.
He was shorter than me by an inch or so, something I wasn't used to, because I was so short. And though they had already told me he was fresh of seventeen, I hadn't expected to feel so young around him. He was barely a year older than me.
"Well, Bubba, looks like you've got some competition, eh?" Ralph asked quietly, chuckling into my ear.
I wanted to lift my knee and hit him in the groin, but controlled myself for the time being, and put on a false and shaking smile. I never smiled. Could never smile. Never wanted to smile.
Tyler and I locked eyes.
I'm going to make you bawl like a baby. I thought, making sure I looked as cold as my insides always were. As I always felt.
They played off his arrival like it was the best thing in the fucking universe. As if they had expected him to come all along, and like the last time Camilla had seen him was a few days ago - not ten years. "Yeah. It looks like it." I responded, with a pissed-off voice.
"Ok, time for some introductions, I guess." Camilla said, causing Ralph and I to move closer. "This is Bubba, your step-brother." I refused to be acknowledged by that name, and gave her a glare. "And this is my life-partner. Ralph." the two of them shared a kiss for emphasis.
Life partner? Who the hell is she kidding? I wondered.
"You can call him dad." she claimed, and both Tyler and I froze.
Camilla, of course, noticed none of it, being as completely fucking oblivious as she always was.
"Go on, Bubba. Show him up to your room." Ralph stated, and then looked Tyler over. "We're sorry, but until we have the lounged straightened out you're going to have to share with him." he said "HIM" like I was some sort of disease.
"Wait... he's staying with me? Not his stuff? In my room? Until you clean out the lounge?"
I sighed and muttered "fuck". "Is that ok with you, Tyler?" I snapped to him.
"It's alright." Tyler said, and I hated how his voice even sounded perfect.
"Be excited." I said, in an obnoxious voice. "You get the best room in the house, while I, the one who has been here longest, gets the shitty one."
"Bubba!" Camilla cried, in the middle of one of Ralph's famous speeches.
I grinned at the sound of them insulting me, and tuned out the conversation until I was sure they were finished. "Alright. Fine. Whatever. He can have the lounge... Just stop calling me Bubba." I turned to Tyler. "Come on. I'll show you to my room. And don't drag behind. I don't feel like slowing down."
He grabbed his suitcases and followed me up the long staircase.
"So..." Tyler said, as we walked up the long staircase. "...Are you and my mom close?"
And I kept thinking, what a dumb thing to ask. "Yeah. Camilla. She's a little ditzy, but great non-the-less."
"Does she still wear lots of pink clothing?"
"...No..." it occurred to me then, that he probably knew less about his mother than I did. I doubted she had kept in touch with him during all those "lost years", except maybe to give him our addresses. Tyler seemed like the kind of guy who would try as hard as he could to keep a relationship working. I wondered if all those letters Camilla had carelessly sighed at and thrown away were from him. The only time she had ever seemed upset was when she received one of those envelopes.
Some, she stored in her safe, I knew, but even after I learned the combination I never really had an urge to go through it. I figured it was maybe money, jewelry, and some important documents. I had no reason to take any of it, so I left it alone. Besides, we were pretty big on privacy in our house. In fact, we were so big on it, neither of us hardly knew anything about each other.
It was fine with me, because I liked it better that way.
I wasn't quite sure about the new boy, however.
"Oh." he looked around, uncomfortably, and rolled his shoulders. The weight of his suitcases seemed to be getting to him, and I wasn't about to offer to help him carry the load. His eyes grew more hollowed as he looked at the family portraits of Camilla, dad, and me. Me playing baseball. Dad sleeping with a teddy bear. Camilla putting on lipstick. All of us standing in the doorway of our new houses. Maybe he wasn't noticing that never in any of those pictures we had - and we had millions - that we didn't smile. Camilla never frowned, but she didn't go around smiling all the time, either. Dad cracked small smiles every now and then - but when it came to me I didn't know how.
"So, Tyler, what do you like to be called?" I asked, starting a nice conversation... As nice as I could manage, anyway.
He shrugged. "Whatever you wunna call me, I guess. Back home my friends called me Tee ...It really just depends." he smirked slightly. "And what about you," I'd never seen such a seductive-yet-happy smile in my life. I was one for seduction, and he was already winning my loins over. "Bubba?"
"Not funny, considering my name is Addison."
"Addison, huh?" he raised his left arm to wipe the bead of sweat forming above his lip. "Can I call you Addi?"
"I s'pose you can call me what ever you want, Rapunzel."
When he smiled, I realized exactly how badly I had missed having a friend.
I had known Greg for-fucking-ever. He was the only person I had let get close to me, and then he committed autocide, as if not caring that I was going to suffer over it.
I longed for the kind of relationship that he and I had once had. Wanted to get to know Tyler better, considering he would be living with me from then on - but I couldn't. Another part of me wanted to hate the fucker for all he was worth. To make him cry, and scream, and beg for mercy. To put him through the hell my entire life had been.
It was hard, though, considering he was the first guy I had spoken to in a long while.
"If you don't mind me asking... Where'd you get the accent from?" he questioned.
"The accent you have..."
"Oh." my neck burned. "It's a mix of Hawaiian, Spanish, Canadian and New York."
"I take it you travel a lot."
"Yeah. We do. I've lived everywhere. France, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Canada, Japan..." I numbered them off on my fingers. Until I got to thirteen. "It's difficult to live where you have no idea what they are saying. I got put into lots of...lower...classes. Didn't have time to make friends before we had to leave again." I didn't mention how Greg used to go with me.
"Why'd you move around so much?"
"Because. Ralph and your mom have wanted to go around the world. And they couldn't leave me at home while they were gone for three months - so I just went with them."
"It's gotta suck moving around so much."
"You'll get used to it."
"You don't look like you enjoyed it very much."
"I'm just all around unpleasant. I don't enjoy anything. Ask around."
He paused a moment. "Are you Ralph's real son?"
I raised an eyebrow. "Yes... Why?"
"It's just... you don't look like him... His hair is red... and your hair is black... and his eyes are brown... and your eyes are blue... and... you just don't resemble each other."
"Yeah. I hear it all the time. I take after my mom."
"Where is she?"
"I dunno. Haven't seen her for years."
"Oh... Sorry." he said, though I wasn't sure if I believed it or not.
"Yeah. Whatever." we reached my room, then and I paused in front of it. "Before we enter, I'd like you to know that if I lose you during the night... sorry."
He laughed, and I flung open my door, to allow him into my 'realm of darkness'.
My newest paintings, which I was drying before he arrived, were laying side-by-side on my floor, newspaper underneath them.
I could have killed myself after realizing what I had left out.
Jesus fucking Christ. Two boys kissing. A lighter being held to an arm. A burning Bible. Greg's tombstone.
If I had known in advance that Tyler was going to be staying with me I would have put them somewhere else.
However, much to my luck, Tyler hadn't turned to see them yet, so I covered them with newspaper, and turned back to him. "Um... you can just put your suitcases wherever... Floor, bed, shower... Doesn't bother me."
He put them on the ground and sighed in relief, bending his elbows and stretching them out. "I thought I was going to die if I had to carry them any longer."
"Hm. Never heard of someone dying from carrying suitcases, but maybe you'll shock the doctors."
"That would be just like me."
We sat down on my bed, and he laid back into the pillows.
I could smell his natural scent, and felt it surrounding me. He had to smell like innocence, didn't he? Something along the lines of sweat I could take. But something as sweet and pure as that was - every though of hate I had hoped to gain disappeared. I couldn't do it.
I could act like it, however.
"So, Rapunzel, where did you before you came to my humble abode?"
"With my cousin Ted."
"Ted. There's a great name."
"As if Addison is any better."
I took no offense to it, because he didn't say it to offend me. "Fuck you. Tyler's plain and boring. At least Addison isn't something you hear everyday."
"It reminds me of Madison. I once dated a girl named Madison. She was fucking insane."
"Ooh, watch the words."
"You should talk."
"You fucking right I should talk. I am not going to allow any fucking cuss words while you are parking your ass under my roof. You understand bitch?"
Tyler grinned. "Yeah, yeah. Just hurt me. Like everyone else." he faked a sob.
"Alright, good night."
He blinked. "You're going to bed?"
"Today has been a long day."
"Oh, really? What did you do?"
"Got rushed to the ER at four in the morning, came back at six, went to bed for thirty minutes. Couldn't sleep. Had to wake up Ms. Toni to get me my medication-"
"Why? What's wrong with you?"
"What's right with me?"
He rolled his eyes. "You know, you're scary for a short guy."
"I'm not short!" I cried, suddenly pissed off. My height is never a good thing to insult. I am how I am, and when people have a problem with that it rubs me the wrong way. "Fuck you."
"You've told me that twice within the three minute time span of which I've known you."
I threw his heaviest suitcase at him. "Yeah? Get used to it, punk. You're going to be hearing it a lot."
He just sighed.
We sat at the dinner table that seated eight. Tyler and I. Two. Camilla was away for awhile. She disappeared a few times each day. I had assumed only her and Ralph knew why. Ralph was on the phone with one of his clients, and even though he was screaming behind his thick mahogany doors, Tyler and I could almost hear him perfectly.
The sounds of his spoon touching his glass plate made me cringe on occasions. The sounds of an almost empty room were irritating to me, simply because that was all I had heard for most of my life. I would have rather it been just me.
Reaching for my napkin, my soup spilled onto the ground, and I sighed in annoyance as Ms. Toni headed over. "No - go away. I'll get it myself." I said to her, verbally shoving her off of me. "It's fine."
"Well... let me go and make you some more, then."
"No. I don't want anymore. It was nasty." I actually enjoyed it. Just found it an everyday habit to insult her cooking.
Somewhere along the few years I had known her - the insulting things I said about her seemed to become hilarious. I was sure she mocked me over the phone to her friends when she was speaking her native language that I didn't understand.
I proceeded to clean up the mess, and then sighed.
"...Spacey." Tyler said.
My back hurt after rising again. "Problem, asshole?"
He frowned. "I was just saying-"
"I don't give a fuck." I snapped. "Your attitude annoys me."
Something flickered across his face. It was either anger, or surprise. "My - attitude-" he sputtered.
"Yeah. The way you expect everything to be so goddamn perfect-"
"Perfect?!" he cried, rising to his feet. "You don't know a fucking thing about me, so don't start!"
"You're right! I don't! Because you were the problem child that Camilla wanted nothing to do with so she forgot about you! I didn't even know that you existed until now, and frankly, I was better off then!" my speech hadn't turned out exactly how I had wanted, for I had admitted a weakness of mine to him, and then panicked at how his anger had melted away, and how he looked...calm. And I wasn't. I was a fucking mess.
I stormed off, into the lounge, my sanctuary, and threw myself onto the couch, breathing in the scent of the pillow that had then become the scent of my hair.
I breathed heavily a moment, and then quickly sat up, after hearing the door creak open. "Go away." I snapped.
"This is my room-"
"No yet!" I cried back. It amazed me at how quickly he raised my pulse.
"What the fuck is your problem?" he demanded, snapping the door closed behind him. "I'm trying to be nice and you're just being a stuck-up rich...snob!"
"A stuck-up rich snob?" I mused, glaring.
"You know, like it or not, we're step-brothers now-"
"Yeah? And like it or not, that doesn't mean shit. To me. To Camilla. To Ralph. To this fucked-up faamily. We expect nothing from you - don't expect anything from us." I fidgeted under his stare, and noticed that his hair had moved out of his face, exposing an eye with a faded bruise under it. "What happened to your eye?" I demanded.
He laughed. "You're two-faced, you know? Now all the sudden you want to be friendly?"
"No. Now all the sudden I wanted a fucking change of subject."
"Couldn't you have commented on the weather?"
"What does it matter? I said something, didn't I? What the fuck was happening to you when you lived with your amazing Ted? Did he beat you every day-"
"Listen, you stupid-"
"I was just trying to say! I know abuse." I snapped, and he was quiet for a moment.
"You know abuse? Why? Have you experienced it first hand?" I said nothing, watched his face heat up and turn red. "Have you gone home to screaming that turned to violence in a matter of seconds? Been told you were shit-"
"It wouldn't matter if someone told me." I said, causing him to stop. "Because I already am."
Another silence passed, and I regretted my words. "And why's that?"
Because I helped murder my best friend. "None of your fucking business." I stood up and left the lounge, heading to my room.
Trying to force my heart beat to slow down.