Something Close To What I Have
Chapter One: Glass, Flowers and Shadows of the Dead
Ara sat on wooden steps swigging down a bottle of Captain Morgan, hidden by the shrubbery. Basically, a giant-ass plant and a tree were the only things protecting him from fifty-seven annoying family members. God, how he hated parties. People were okay, but did Dom seriously have to invite everyone within a 50 mile radius to come? They wanted to see him, the one who caused so much death and pain in his family.
Several loud clamoring steps behind him informed him that his hiding place was found out.
A small, three years old child, screeching happily at the top of her lungs, advanced towards Ara, tripping on the way there, and flying down the steps. Ara flung the rum bottle away from him so he could catch the falling child. He grabbed her and quickly tucked her against his chest, protecting her while the bottle smashed against the tree, glass and rum flying everywhere. A large piece of glass slashed into his back, breaking in little pieces, right where the little girl's head was in front of in. Rum splashed and soaked his hair and part of the little girl's dress. Ara looked up when all had settled. Getting up, he took the little girl with him.
"Are you okay?" Ara asked the little girl.
She nodded, then began to sob. Her brown hair stuck up at odd angles, as though she'd just been through a war zone.
"Marie!" a loud French woman yelled. Ara walked up the steps and handed Marie over to her mother—probably one of his aunts—and walked inside to dump water on his head and clean out the sticky mess of his hair. Something cold and wet smacked him on the side of the head, and exploded, right next to his ear. Water splashed the right side of his face and dripped down his shirt. He looked to see a ten years old child quickly run away. Ara sighed and sat down on the grass. Today was just not his day. With a sigh, he remembered that what he had been drinking was his last bottle of rum.
A large red haired male was smoking a joint on the bathroom toilet while a blonde female, Kendra, ate chips in the bathtub. The bathtub, the toilet and the sink were all white stone, and the floor made out of wood. The green curtain on the bathtub had been ripped off. The mirror over the sink was shattered.
Ara walked into the bathroom with a cup, and filled it with water.
"'Sup, mate?" the red head asked Ara.
Ara nodded in acknowledgement, dumped water on his head, and rubbed his hair in a towel. He ran his fingers through the shoulder-length black strands to comb them down into a semblance of order, but it just stuck out in random ways anyway. He sighed, trading his shirt in for a black one.
"Don't smoke that in my room. If Dom gets pissy at me, I'll tell him where you keep your porn," Ara warned.
"Yeah, yeah. Don't have babies," the boy waved him off dismissively.
"Shut up Eric. And anyway, I heard you're the one getting saddled with kids."
Eric sighed, his piercing green eyes staring at the wall. "Yeah, got Emma pregnant. She's having twins, you know."
"How old is she again?"
"Twenty-five this summer."
"What were you doing, banging a girl seven years older than you anyway?" snapped the blonde in the bathtub.
"Eh? Well, the first time, we were drunk." He grinned. "Then we tried again. And again…"
"You're just asking for someone to beat the shit out of you," Kendra sighed, wiping her hands on her pants, then her hair. They started bickering back and forth.
Ara wheeled around to face his bedroom, and shut the door. Eric's junk was all over his bed. If he was in a nastier mood, he'd dump it on the floor. He sighed. It was just as well to sleep on his chair. It was more comfortable and probably smelled less foul.
He plopped down in a large satellite dish-like chair with a red satin cushion, and fell asleep, curled in a ball.
Ara opened two dark bleary eyes and blinked. A blanket slipped off his shoulder as he rubbed his foot, which had fallen asleep. He picked up the blanket and sniffed it. Whoever had chosen it had done so carefully: it was probably the only blanket in the room that didn't smell like pot. It had a definite masculine scent to it. Ara didn't recognize the scent, it could almost be Dom's: a sharp wood-spice scent. It was similar to his father's. This thought shocked him. A memory slip through his mind, but faded before he could catch it. Ara wiped his face, horrified to find tears there. He quickly dried his face with the blanket. Startled, he realized that it didn't smell like pot because it had never been in his room before. He'd never even seen it before. Calming himself down, he rationalized it was probably someone else's, the person who put the blanket on him in the first place. Maybe it was Dom's. Panic overtook him again: someone had crept into his room while he slept and he hadn't woken up, or noticed. He breathed slowly. The person—male—who had put the blanket on him had no ill intent. There was no startling aura on the blanket, or in his room. Still, he got up, checked his bookshelf, and made sure his money was where he had left it, in a large fake bible next to his father's six inch hunting knife.
The thought of someone being in his room while Ara was asleep bothered him. He was so locking his door from now on.
Ara walked out of his room, looking at a sleeping Eric and Kendra. That was odd, but not abnormal. He looked at the white wallpaper with little pink roses. Roses had been his mother's favorite flower. Ara closed his eyes. His father had some delivered for her every week, when he didn't go get them himself. Ara climbed down wooden steps to his basement than out the door. The reunion was still going on, though a fair few of the original number left. A tall male with his short, dark hair in spikes stood outside, staring into the fish pond Ara's mother had made herself.
"Dominic," Ara said coolly.
Dom, still handsome at thirty three, turned his piercing blue eyes towards Ara, eyed him up, noting Ara's body language and tone. Or, maybe just checking him out, Ara mused lightly. Ara noted Dom's as well. He had taught Ara to be observant.
"Ara," Dominic replied, matching Ara's tone. "It's about time. Sleeping in again?"
Ara frowned. So it hadn't been Dom in his room. Mentally, he filed through the people he knew with a similar scent to the blankets. He blanched. People that were still alive. Dom grabbed gently, but firmly Ara's arm in a steadying gesture. Ara shrugged him off. Ara breathed, clearing his mind and glared at Dom.
"I'm fine," Ara snapped and disappeared around the house.
A small female, with big blonde hair and green eyes stared at Dom.
"He's not 'fine'," she told him, with a slight southern accent.
Dom sighed. "I know. He's broken. And that everyone's been saying in whispers that it's his fault doesn't help either…" He sat down in a chair.
"How could Marc's accident have possibly been Ara's fault?" the blonde asked.
"Rumors of a suicide note have been floating about," Dom sighed.
"Is it true?"
Dom looked at the ground, and shrugged. "I couldn't say."
"Poor kid. He needs a mother," she declared, then staring at Dom again.
Dom grinned suddenly, reaching over to kiss her. "Applying for the job?" he asked.
"Maybe later. I have to go help Maggie with her baby." the blonde smiled.
Dom stood, and gave her a tight hug.
"I love you, Taylor." He looked at her, smiling.
"I love you too, baby." She cooed at him, touching his hair, and stealing another quick kiss. He loosened his grip and she spun away, smiling.
Ara sighed, and pulled petals off an odd pink colored tulip. He pulled several off saying, "I'll find love one day." He pulled off another. "I won't." He pulled off another. "I will." He pulled off the last one. "I won't." He frowned, and tried again.
He ended with "I won't."
He gave a humourless laugh. Even the flowers were in agreement with the general population. Nobody had come near him with a ten foot pole since the police found a suicide note in his father's office. Apparently, people agreed it was his fault and he should be generally avoided. So Dom had thrown this reunion, and invited everybody, the family, friends, even Taylor's parents, and a couple of her gal-pals. Ara snorted. Nothing like hiding in plain sight. The police hadn't told anyone at their boss' request. They thought the note might have been planted and his father could've been murdered. But someone had cracked and main stream society found out in whispers.
Ara sighed. It was a possibility that his father killed himself, and likely. After his mother's sudden death, his father was never really alright again. He worked all the time, not talking to anybody, or eating. He saw his father in the morning if he was up, his father would tentatively pat Ara's head and leave without a second glance. Sometimes Dom would be up too. Ara's father would pat his head, nod at Dom and leave. Ara sighed.
A large shadow of a black tabby cat flicked by Ara's peripheral.
"Hey Neko," Ara said, snapping his fingers. The tabby flew at him, rubbing against Ara's legs. Neko ate one of the flower petals Ara had thrown away. Ara shooed Neko.
"Don't eat those—they might be poisonous." Ara sighed. They were tulips, so probably not.
"Who listens to what flowers say anyway?" Ara demanded suddenly. Neko ate another, and mewed at Ara. Ara laughed softly, and watched Neko rush into the bushes.
Ara sighed, shaking his head. The dead always scrambled his brain cells for a moment.
Neko had been hit by a car when Ara was twelve. It was nice to see Neko around, even though it wasn't anywhere close to the real one. A shadow, a memory of what had been. The shadow of the bull frog Jeremiah still protected the pond from small birds.
Ara never saw his father's shadow, and was too young to remember if he ever saw his mother's. He only occasionally saw others, but rarely. Usually the dead didn't stick around.
Something shined him in the face from the red flower bed. Someone had dropped their half-empty vodka bottle in the red mulch. Ara brushed it off gingerly and downed it in one swig, fading into blackness.