Pass

There is a person in my life that is utterly ridiculous.

"99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer.
Take one down and pass it around, 98 bottles of beer on the wall."

I don't know how I've been able to be around Tom for so long.

"19 bottles of beer on the wall, 19 bottles of beer.
Take one down and pass it around, 18 bottles of beer on the wall."

He came to live in my house after he was kicked out by his parents. He'd asked me if he could live in my house when I was in my sophomore year of high school and he was in his senior year of high school.

"8 bottles of beer on the wall, 8 bottles of beer.
Take one down and pass it around, 7 bottles of beer on the wall."

Of course, I thought he was joking so I said sure, he could live in our back room, except the back room has no insulation. Except he took it seriously, and told me to ask my parents. They said yes. Except, the back room really has no insulation.

"3 bottles of beer on the wall, 3 bottles of beer.
Take one down and pass it around, 2 bottles of beer on the wall."

So it wasn't weird when he came into my room just before bedtime. It was to get warm of course, we played video games and talked; he wound up sleeping in my room. The first time was just getting used to living in a strange place, the second time was just for companionship, the third time was because he was lonely, of course, and after that... by then it was just habit. The reason he slept in my bed instead of on the floor or in the back room was to save energy; why waste energy and money heating the back room or not and risk getting hypothermia when you can just share body heat?

"1 bottle of beer on the wall, 1 bottle of beer.
Take one down and pass it around, no more bottles of beer on the wall."

Before Tom graduated he had already had a job, so he could pay rent. My parents are a little frivolous and a lot eccentric, so they of course immediately accepted him as though he were a second son who just happened to be paying them. Tom was a good boarder, he helped out around the house, never used the utilities excessively, always told us when something was low in the fridge, took out the trash, went grocery shopping, ran errands, cleaned... By the time I was in my senior year, he was already part of the family.

"No more bottles of beer on the wall, no more bottles of beer.
Go to the store and buy some more, 99 bottles of beer on the wall."

How was I supposed to know that I wasn't supposed to fall in love with him?

Webs

I don't think he realizes how much I love him.

"The itsy bitsy spider"

I really was joking when I asked if I could live in his house. I expected Peter to say no and laugh at me in that absolutely adorable way he always does. Imagine my surprise when he not only said yes, but even asked his parents about it when I jokingly told him to.

"Climbed up the water spout;"

He always takes things seriously. Well, everything except for me that is. He's the strangest and most completely selfless person I've ever met, with the lowest self esteem I've ever seen. He's under the strange impression that he's not good enough for anything.

"Down came the rain"

I always wonder who exactly gave him that impression. I sit, watching him as he sings to his baby cousin in a soft voice, gently stroking the kid's hair, the hair that's the same honey-kissed brown as his own and just as soft. The sunlight streams through the window, making the dust particles in the air golden and illuminating the tender expression on Peter's face.

"And washed the spider out;"

I wonder if he realizes just how many people love him. His parents are the best of people, maybe a little airheaded at times, but they can be sharp. They notice the people that watch him, myself included.

"Out came the sun"

I doubt Peter even remembers the first time we ever met. We were in class, an after school drama class, and he was typing away on his laptop. At that point I was going out with one of his friends – a real ditz of a girl who he had known since third grade. He had stuck with her all that time, put up with her drama that often dragged him in, with her mood swings and bad personality. She was the sort that liked to be a victim, but he had shielded her from all he could, eased her through life. If she ever had a redeeming quality, I would say it was that she really loved him (in a platonic way of course), even if she did treat him like dirt. She was one of the few people that actually noticed him, in our school

"And dried up all the rain;"

It was like he never saw me until she pointed me out. Well, the first three times she introduced me that is. Every time she reintroduced me, Peter always blinked with that hopelessly cute little clueless look on his face and then ducked his head, his fringe of bangs falling in front of his face like a curtain. He didn't even remember my name the first five times we talked without her there.

"And the itsy bitsy spider"

But it was the first time I ever talked to him that really got me. He was typing away at his laptop and I asked him why he seemed so scared. He cocked his head and looked up at me with a puzzled expression but it was sort of faraway, like he was at once looking straight through me and at my soul. He glanced down at his computer and typed something.

"Climbed up the spout again."

I'm no good with people.

Choosing

"Eeny, meeny, miny, moe"

I'm not so unaware as people think I am.

"Catch a tiger by the toe"

I know when people are making fun of me, and I have to say that this is not funny at all.

"If he hollers let him go,"

But if there's one person I never expected to save me, it was him.

"Eeny, meeny, miny, moe"

Oh sure, Tom lives with me now and, oh sure, now we sleep together and maybe I have feelings for him; but that doesn't mean he has any special feelings for me. We're just friends. That's exactly what makes my feelings toward him so awkward. We weren't even close before; he was simply there. He was exactly the sort of person I never gave any thought to. But when someone saves you, I guess you start to see them in a different sort of light. Before that time, I thought nobody noticed.

"Out goes one"

It was before I ever really realized that he existed. One of my childhood friends had introduced him to me, but I knew her and I knew that, her being her, she wouldn't likely be talking to him in another month or so. Again, I'm not as clueless as people think I am.

"Out goes two"

It was just after fall semester in sophomore year ended. Rumor after rumor was appearing, me with some girl, me with some guy, me with a teacher, suddenly I had a drug problem, other days I'd been suicidal. Somehow I had made an enemy of one of the "popular" kids, probably because of my art or because of her. This sort of thing is why I'm not much of a people person, my circle of friends stays within a very small group of people and, very tentatively, my classmates and my friends' friends.

"Out goes another one"

It was Tom that helped me endure the rumors. He was the one that finally got me out of my shell, after several years of my other friends' attempts. He was random and spastic and funny and charismatic. I couldn't help but to be drawn to him. I never once doubted that he had good intentions, a feeling that was entirely foreign to me, but I was right. I trust him completely.

"And that is you."

But I don't think I can take much more of this.

Rest

Peter is famous. And I guess its a good thing.

"Good night, sleep tight,"

But now he's constantly wired and anxious and feeling pressed.

"Wake up bright"

It was a little bit after his parents moved to Oregon – they had given him the house and money to go to college and he still had the money I gave him for rent so we weren't doing badly – he was "discovered."

"In the morning light"

Peter writes, acts, draws and has a really good head on his shoulders. He was in the top three of our school, and our school was a Nationally Acclaimed Academic blah blah blah school. Suffice it to say, he's smart. After his parents moved, a scout discovered his work for the drama department of our school, both his work with the script and his acting. Once they found out that he writes novels and can draw as well, they were all in a tizzy. They called him the Renaissance man, the newest thing in Hollywood. No more Starlets, they were going for the intellectual, the modern day DaVinci they said – never mind that DaVinci was more into making inventions than acting.

"To do what's right"

I'm probably the only one that thought it was vastly amusing when he turned his manager's offer to live in Hollywood down. A polite no thank you ma'am, I live close enough anyways and besides I wouldn't fit in. I was the only one happy. But of course I am; he's still living with me. Even if I don't see him a lot because he has work, I always know he'll come home to me. That may sound corny, but its true. Sometimes I worry, though, about the fact that Peter would turn down things like that. I mean, what if moving to Hollywood had really boosted his career? But no, I like him where he is. Is that strange?

"With all your might."

Is it wrong that I want to keep him all to myself?

Winter

I hate the rain.

"It's raining, it's pouring;"

Tom doesn't know what the rain means to me.

"The old man is snoring."

It rained on that day. It was the first time I ever truly felt devastated.

"Bumped his head"

She had died. I had known her for fifteen years. Fifteen years, the same amount of years I had lived when I met Tom.

"And he went to bed"

And yet when I found out she had died, I felt nothing. Was it because we had grown apart? Was it because she had used and abused me? To be sure, it wasn't right that she died, but the way she lived... maybe it wasn't completely unexpected.

"And he couldn't get up in the morning."

It was when I told him that it struck me. He simply sat there, his eyes staring wide. I knew it, he still cared about her. That was why I felt nothing for her, because she had taken him and she had known it.

"Rain, rain, go away;"

Everyone who heard had been shocked and miserable. She had had a lot of friends, unlike me, but more often than not the friends were users and abusers, just like she had been. During the funeral, I glared at the group of people that called themselves her friends. They had never been there for her, they had never stopped her. I wouldn't blame them for her death, no she brought it upon herself, I actually pitied them. Dying was probably one last way to prove that she was loved more than anyone else, one last way to play the victim, one last way to show her power.

"Come again another day;"

I felt disgusting, being angry at a dead woman.

"Little Johnny wants to play."

It was truly devastating, to see the ugliness in my own soul so clearly.

Anxiety

Peter is too forgiving.

"Jack, be nimble,"

It's the anniversary of her death again and he has that moody, brooding look on his face. He doesn't know how many times she betrayed his friendship, how many times she would have taken advantage of him. He still loves her.

"Jack, be quick,"

It was around the time of her death that he started going into a downward spiral.

"Jack, jump over"

No, it wasn't Hollywood that made him crack. It was the death of a girl that claimed to be his friend, the woman who had used and abused him, and he let her because he cared about her.

"The candlestick."

He still works for Hollywood, but now he works more as a scriptwriter. I think its because he can find release in it.

"Jack jumped high"

He winds up trying to lock himself in his room for days on end. He would succeed too, if it weren't for me.

"Jack jumped low"

Of course I wont let him destroy himself, especially not over her. I love him, I take care of him, I sleep with him (even if its in a platonic way), even if he doesn't think that I love him.

"Jack jumped over"

I won't let him be miserable. I'll let him think that he can continue mourning for years on end, I'll let him keep thinking that I don't notice when he cries when we're in bed, I'll let him destroy himself, but only a little. And then I'll get him out of his shell once again, I'll put him back together. I've done it before, I'll do it again.

"and burned his toe."

I will protect him.

Broken

I'm broken.

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall."

It was my own hubris that made me think that I could love him.

"Humpty Dumpty had a great fall."

I don't know if I can get out. I think I love him too much.

"All the king's horses and all the king's men"

My manager offered me another house in Hollywood again, she says she doesn't know why I stay in this dinky, run down house when I'm worth so much. I've never told her about Tom. Maybe I can move back east.

"Couldn't put Humpty together again!"

Maybe. But I do know that if I stay I'll go crazy.

Despair

Peter seems to be getting better.

"Star light, star bright,"

He's started to go out again, that is to say... constantly going out. Some days he just won't come home. Its frustrating.

"First star I see tonight,"

Now I only ever see him on TV, he's taken to acting more. He stays at hotels with strangers and follows where his manager leads.

"I wish I may, I wish I might,"

I think maybe he found out that I love him, he's just disgusted. Or maybe he simply no longer needs me.

"Have the wish I wish tonight."

Even if he hates me I don't think I can give him up.

Life

Life without him is empty.

"To bed, to bed,"

There are so many people around me. They all remind me of her, wanting to use me, disguising their intent behind coy glances and sweet words. I miss Tom so much and the draw to go back home is constant, tugging at me and I must not go.

"Says Sleepy-head."

For the first time, I finally realize just how much Tom had sheltered me. It makes me love him more and that's bad.

"Tarry a while, says Slow."

I don't think I can go, but if I stay...

"Put on the pan,"

I stare at Tom as he sleeps, a little fitfully, he looks as though he's having a bad dream. He whispers my name and my heart aches. He's dreaming of me, and I'm hurting him. He seems to sense that I'm here and unconsciously comes toward me. I promised myself that I wouldn't ever let myself get hurt, I cared too much about myself to open up. But I also promised I wouldn't hurt my friends. His hair is soft under my fingertips.

"Says greedy Nan,"

Does my selfishness know no end?

"We'll sup before we go."

I think I may have to break my promise.

Remembrance

How do I know what is a dream any more?

"What did I dream?"

I know I felt his lips on mine, but it was just a dream.

"I do not know;"

At least that's what I think, but when I awake he's there, staring down at me, eyes filled with some unnamed emotion.

"The fragments fly like chaff."

I, thinking this is a dream, drag him toward me, my hands running up and down his body, murmuring words, nonsense, anything that will prevent him from leaving.

"Yet strange my mind"

He yields to my touch so sweetly, and its even better than the best dreams I've ever had.

"Was tickled so,"

And he starts to cry as though the world were ending. He cries, like he never did. He had never cried like that, never, not even when he had been bullied, not when the rumors had broken his heart, not when she died, not when she betrayed him.

"I cannot help but laugh."

He tells me that he loves me and I'm surprised. Even in my dreams he had never said that, the dream always ended before he said it or I'd been doing something horrible to him and, naturally, he wouldn't say that. He disappears from beneath my fingertips. This is not a dream.