: Dying Young
& Other Things I've Been Doing Lately :

:Chapter One:

I guess we can't pretend that what we are doing is humane. By just being, we are sinning. By just living, we are hurting. And so we are all thrown into the murky and sunless world of the conscience. It happens whether we want it or not. It happens regardless of ones childhood, upbringing, or attitude. It happens whether you are the reincarnation of Mother Theresa or a serial killer rotting away in his concrete cell. And it happens because there is no pretending that what we're doing is humane. And by using the word "we," I mean to emphasize that everyone's got the same dose of it. Everyone's caught the same scary glimpse of it. It matters not what you've done. In our minds, there is no logical scaling. What it bad is bad. And what is done is done. Because even if you've broken a heart, shattered a childhood, killed another soul, or severely sinned in some other odd way, you've not done what I did.

As a child, I was too willing to fall in love. I didn't have crushes. And when I got over somebody, my heart was broken, even though they never knew I loved them. I would make false excuses to my guidance counselors just so I could express my sadness. Usually they caught on. They told me I was making excuses to myself and feigning sadness. Sometimes I wonder if they were right. I might have been lying to myself again. But obviously, if they were right, they did not know what they were right about; which is why it was strange that they were so sure of themselves. I wonder if any one of them actually knew what love was and could sense it. But I suppose that isn't in their job description. And that's not to say that I wanted them to sense it. Like I said, I thought up excuses.

And then there are other people who, like bloodhounds, can sniff out love. But these people aren't your guidance counselors and therapists. They're more natural people. Like artists and bartenders and mothers.

...

My life was heavily edited. My memories were ripped with those precision point scissors, and then replaced - with different memories in different places. It's as if I was directing. But directors don't have souls. Their work is based solely on what they believe other people want to see. If other people weren't interested, what would be their purpose? That's how I believe I was - not even subconsciously - soulless. And like those counselors who knew something was wrong but didn't know what my real issues were, I became fake. I became as generic as the clone of the American dream. I wanted what everybody else wanted. Needed the same things every other human needed. And the question arose later, if I believed myself to be soulless, was I really human at all?

And that's when I decided to stop analyzing everything. And that's also when I met Sullevan.

Sullevan was one of those people you hear stomping by your window at nighttime. One of the really loud people - possibly coming back from the bar or some place like it. He was a walking autobiography. And he wasn't stopping for anybody. He worked for my brother's friend's family. I believe when I first saw him he was thrown off by my cockiness and conviction (I was later to learn that all that analytical stuff was a phase.) But he knew who I was. He could see through the stories and excuses that even I did not know were there. That's not to say that he liked me, but he was one of those boys that I knew would stick up for me if there ever was a situation. The reason being, he liked being the tough-guy, and he loved attention. And usually when I'd show up, he'd have fresh cuts under his eyes.

Sullevan looked like more of a man than he acted, if that makes any sense. He was a sinner, though, and he had the conscience of a little boy. He felt guilt like a restless child in a church pew and he hurt like silenced failure. But I didn't know why because I never bothered myself to learn about his past.

Stirling and I were pretty close. After all, he was only a year younger than I. I found it humorous that he had grown from the fragile child I needed to protect into a handsome gentleman whom all the ladies at school were after. I remember walking on my street, past all the perfect houses one afternoon, and seeing "I heart Stirling Killough!!" in light chalk letters on the sidewalk. Stirling went on dates, but he did not have girlfriends, that much I knew about his "private life." 'And anyway,' I used to think, 'What sort of private life could a fourteen-year-old possibly have?'

Bobby looked up to Stirling. He was Stirling's only friend that couldn't be himself when they were together because he did not consider Stirling and himself equals. I'm not so sure if Stirling ever realized it, but it was clear to me. Bobby's family had more money than our family. Bobby was always was wearing better clothes. Bobby's father drove him to school in a sports car every day. But Bobby looked at Stirling and could see only his translucent, yet shimmering green eyes, his straight hair, and his smooth and barely-freckled skin. And there was that conscience thing popping up again. Bobby didn't feel adequate. His self-esteem was at an all time low around Stirling and he would beat himself up on the inside if he even said something that he felt was wrong in front of Stirling. I would just imagine Bobby, laying in his double bed at night, twisted in his 300-thread count sheets and sweating, feeling horribly bad that he'd lost the love note that Stirling had told him to deliver to a girl's locker. Bobby shouldn't have sweated the small stuff as often as he did. He was friends with Stirling, so he was popular at school. But there was something unknown to me taking place inside his soul. I pitied him.

Bobby had crushes all the girls who loved Stirling. I don't know if he had a crush on me, and I see no reason he should have, but nevertheless, I would flirt with him sometimes. He was younger than me, which was extremely uncool, and he had too much acne, but there was that conscience thing. It was constantly pounding in my head, like a heartbeat in your temples. I was never forward with him - that is, I would just wink once and awhile. For Bobby's birthday, his parents threw him a big bash in their basement. Stirling was first to be invited, and I was told I could come along. Unfortunately, I'd made hanging out with Stirling and his friends a bit of a habit.

Bobby's party started off with fighting. Stirling was not a part of this - he never was. But Bobby had invited many people that had felt the need to make an appearance. This included his rich cousins and his lazy school-friends. This included little kids his mother had to beg him to invite and other boys' sisters. How the fighting started, I really couldn't tell you, but it got to the point where a few boys had to return home. This scared me. It was another thing I couldn't explain, but I surely had a case of goosebumps.

"Is there going to be party games?" I whispered to Stirling once we were safe inside the bathroom I had dragged him off into, "Why are we here?"

Stirling's eyes surveyed the tiny room, searching for answers, "I dunno," he whispered, "But it's not Bobby's fault."

I shrugged, "Whatever. I actually like Bobby. He's kinda shy and such, though. But that's just another reason I know he didn't start this whole mess."

"Boys are tameless," Stirling replied.

I smiled, "They just don't learn."

Stirling closed his eyes for a bit, "I guess we don't have to whisper," he said, loudly this time.

I walked over to the light switch and turned the on fan so it would drown out any sound that might leak out of the crack at the bottom of the door, then I climbed on top of the toilet and sat down on my hands.

"So did you see Charlie's sister. She's a junior. She's really pretty," Stirling said, tapping his foot on the tile to a song in his head unknown to me.

"You in love?" I asked. He thought I was teasing.

"No," he said plainly, with a shake of his head.

I chuckled, "We're not children anymore, I guess," I replied.

Stirling raised his eyebrows, "But we're not adults either," he said.

"Somewhere in between," I offered.

As we were leaving, a door was slamming. Bobby looked at us sheepishly. He dug his foot into the dirt that lay beyond his front porch. Stirling and mine's mother was waiting in the driveway, her cigarette out the window, in our little Honda.

"I guess we're having a little trouble with the house keeper's son," Bobby explained in a whisper.

I shrugged, implying it was none of my business anyway.

"Well, it's not really her son…Um, anyways, I'll see you at school Stirling?"

I was surprised that Bobby had said it like a question.

Stirling nodded, "Oh yeah, Bob. Oh, and great party! Happy birthday."

Bobby smiled and put his hands behind his back, flattered.

All of the sudden a wild man who seemed like a boy ran through the yard, screaming obscenities at some invisible person. He disappeared into the woods in front of Bobby's house before I could get an adequate look, but what I did notice were the blackest eyes I'd ever seen, yet somehow not sinister.

Bobby rolled his eyes, "I'm not related to him," he assured.

Both Stirling and I tried to laugh the comment off before we began slowly walking towards our mother's car.

"I've gotta go pick up Simon," Maeve, my mother told us as we were opening the car doors and she was taking the car out of "park."

"Allrighty then," I said with a sigh as I dropped into the front seat, giving one last wink to Bobby before we sped off.

I dreamt that night that an old man with a make-shift walking stick and horribly dark eyes was chasing my baby brother Simon through the forest. Simon was screaming and screaming (something he didn't do in reality) and I was somehow watching on the sidelines but could do nothing to help. I woke up fresh and ready to conquer the day the next morning.

I did not analyze that dream.

an: I think it's gonna stick this time.