…Yeah. It's been a while. Would it suffice it to say I've missed you?

Probably not. But I'm sure you'll understand that sometimes life gets the best of you, and you lose track of time. And other times, you're just too damn lazy to do anything but eat-sleep-dream.

Well I should probably warn you that, if you've read my other stories, this is quite unlike my other stuff.

That being said: please read :) Let me know what you think, yeah?


The Kindness of Lies

Chapter One: Her name was Eliot—nuff' said.

April 1, 2010.

That was the night of my 18th birthday.

No more April Fools jokes. Any more of those, and I'll probably jump in front of a semi. A human being can only take so much abuse, especially when he's entirely choiceless in the matter. If it makes you feel better, I would've stayed put in ye olde womb for another day to spare you of all your comedic efforts.

But like I was saying: 18th birthday.

It was at some point between the third and fourth round of shots. My poor mother, thinking the promise of alcohol would be enough to keep me on my best, "gentlemanly behavior." But even she should have known that there wasn't even enough alcohol on this planet to accomplish that feat, because enduring this shit with a smile is just not happening. Not even in theory.

And it really didn't help their cause at all that their idea of my "friends" included every single girl I'd ever, well, "dated."

Nope. Definitely not enough alcohol.

Sure, my folks were friends with their folks. Most likely, they would have given anything to adopt any one of those bitches in my stead. Whatever.

Pushing away the offered glass of fizzy pink liquid away with the shrimp fork, I got up from the table. As soon as PSD (psychostepdad) opened his crazy mouth, I mouthed the word "bathroom" to him and booked it. Never mind that the bathroom was in the opposite way I was headed. By then it was too late to do anything. What, would they give a good ol' belt whooping to their grown-ass son in front of all their friends? Yeah.

Talk about bad parenting.

I was halfway to the balcony when I heard footsteps behind me. My first instinct was to slow down and hit first, ask questions later (bonus if it turned out to be a crazy ex...accidents happen, you know).

But then, there's that whole taboo deal about punching out women, and odds were 50/50. Not to mention that stupid clicking that heels make. Damn it, probably a psycho ex. And it was too late to hit now…

What could I have done? I turned around.

And good thing, too, because it turned out to be neither.

I need not have worried about exes and such. It turned out to be some braided runt I had never seen before. Not a far cry from those Little House, prairie freckled Ginger-types, which made me wonder what she was doing at a place like this at all. And I couldn't recognize her, so I doubted she was family. I looked around for parents—screaming mom, cursing dad. Anything. But save for us, the hallway was empty of any panicky, crazy parents.

Thinking I'd drag her to the front desk or something, I grabbed her arm without thinking, forgetting that no little girl under the age of 18 liked to be man-handled by a stranger, even one who looks like me. Something they taught in those "Stranger Danger" rubbish videos.

I knew something had to be wrong when she looked up from my hand with that fucked-up kind of grin, all crooked and no teeth. I would have rather she screamed, or reached into that beaded baggie of hers for some kind of rape whistle, or spray.

Instead, she smiled, extending a mouse-sized hand. "Hi. You must be Travis."

Her smile was a little too knowing for me. I was weirded out for all of thirty seconds before everything fell into place.

I suddenly recalled years and years of conversations with mom that involved my future. And I fought to keep those thoughts out, but they rushed in all the same.

Of course. Of course they would bring her here. This was the moment they had been building up for almost a whole damn decade. Why they had even bothered waiting until now was beyond me, but I had long since stopped kidding myself that they had any idea what the fuck they were doing. Hopefully this wasn't some retarded "welcome to manhood" type deal. If this was their idea of an invitation to adulthood, they were more senile than their Botox led on.

I had been waiting for this moment for so long that it finally struck me to actually get a good look at this girl. After all, she would be very important to me. Ha… Not that it made any difference, but even I couldn't fight the temptation of looking.

She was…well damn. She was tiny. That was kind of a shocker. I was expecting a lot of things, most consisting of ass and tits. You know those girls with "means." Why settle for mediocrity? Most things I was flexible in, like blonde vs. brunette, chesty vs. model, even bisexual vs. barsexual. But I was absolutely certain of some things: that whoever she was, she'd be rich, pretty (no doubt to fulfill some kind of grandchildren wish), and clueless. More or less like me.

But no, she was…god, she wasn't any of these things. I mean, maybe the rich, although that was unlikely, considering how her dress was reeking something fierce of 'home-made.' It was some kind of flowery t-shirt-like number that looked like it came from Forever 21, or in her case, 16. And…well, not to say she was ugly or anything. Definitely not ugly—but not hot, either. Gods no, not hot. That dress.

And so thin, my god. I could snap her wrist right now if I wanted. Which reminds me, I should probably let that go now. Although she had said nothing about it so far. Weird girl.

The thing that got me the most, though, was how young she looked. Really, parents? I'll be nice and say…16. Hence, the parents thing. Speaking of which, now that I'm getting a good look, are probably here.

Maybe not taking that shot had been a mistake.

"Right. Listen. I'm going out to have a smoke."She wasn't fazed at all by my smirk, which quite honestly pissed me off a little. "Care to partake?"

She shrugged, following me out onto the balcony. May as well have kneed me in the groin, her following me. The whole purpose of the stepping out for a smoke was really just to get away from them all. And now…company.

Nearing the door, I slowed my steps, listening for the device. If my hesitation confused her, she said nothing.

No sound yet, so I stepped through.

I saw the ledge and felt that familiar itch to continue.

You wonder why any self-respecting guy has his 18th birthday at home?

Step.

Step.

Let me tell you.

Step.

Beep.

And right before the edge, too. Another big "fuck you" from the heavens. So close, but sorry. Not today, big guy.

The thing on my leg was screaming like a bitch in heat. I took the smallest step backwards, listening to the following silence.

I slipped off the suit jacket and threw it over, watching as it landed on a wandering bum. He looked up at me, mouthed "Jesus!" and did one of those Hail Mary plus signs.

"Drugs?"

I could've fallen over the edge, the way she scared me like that. I hadn't known she was right next to me, let alone even remembering she was there.

"And why's it any of your business?" I muttered around the cigarette. And, remembering my manners, threw one her way. Missed her by like a mile since she just stood there like a retard.

Just to spite her, I shook out another one and stuffed it into her mouth.

"Smoke up, my dear. You're 18, right?"

She didn't answer; smart girl. Instead, she pulled it out of her mouth and fiddled with it like it was some kind of fucking cereal box toy. The wasteful bitch.

To answer my first question, she shrugged, leaning over the ledge and staring at the newly suited bum outside the gates. "In case you're some kind of sex offender. Read about something in the news the other day."

Her voice had a surprising rasp to it, about five years ahead of her.

"Yeah. You got me. And it just so happens that skinny cigarette-wasting kids are my type."

She shrugged, staring down my leg at the blinking device. "It's fine. I suppose it'd teach me a lesson for following strangers outside."

I exhaled through the rest of the cigarette, turning to face her with a laugh. "But we're not strangers, are we? You know my name. You know all about me."

She stared unblinkingly through the ring of smog I blew her way. "Maybe. In which case, I'll just push you over and have the police come for your corpse."

I shook my head. I was not standing out here, talking about sexual harassment and murder with a stranger. Especially one that was out past her bed time. "God you're weird."

"How long?"

Everything about her was suspicious. I realized than that nothing about her could be trusted. "Do you really want to know? Why do I get the feeling you already know?"

"It's a question. You don't have to answer it." She tilted her head at me. "You don't have to do anything."

I took out another cigarette and chained it. "3."

"Years?"

"Jesus, you really think I raped somebody or some shit, don't you? Three months."

She nodded. "Lonely days ahead, then?"

I gave another dry chuckle. "It's only house arrest. And besides. I won't be too lonely. Not if you can help it. Am I right?"

Thing is, I don't remember what she said to that. It might have been that I wasn't listening anymore, or I hadn't been to begin with. I just remember her tossing over the shredded remains of her unused cigarette, as if to remind me what a fan-fucking-tastic role model I was. Sometime after that my mom had come out to the balcony, her own cigar in hand, asking me if I'd met Eliot.

That was her name.

"Happy birthday, son."

Yeah. Happy birthday to me.

And for my gift?


Her
. Eliot.

The girl I'd marry, one of these days.