As promised, I started mere seconds later. But, the one thing I can't promise is that I've actually continued past this little opening, and that it will be up anytime soon.
I just want you to know Steven, that I love you, and that I'm so glad that you were a character in Ryan's story, and in your own story. See you in the sequel!
Chapter 12 (Present Day)
I was in the kitchen. Alone. Kyle, Terry, and the baby had all gone to the park, taking the dog with them. They'd asked me to come alone, but I knew it was an empty offer. They didn't want me to come. They hadn't wanted me in this family for three years.
I'd gone into the kitchen to get something to eat, but somehow, I'd ended up in front of the silverware, holding a knife. A very sharp, deadly knife. I could easily end my life with it.
The last few months, there had been a growing thought in my head. That life wasn't worth it anymore, not for me anyway, not when I had so little. I should end it. I'd tried to push it away, but it kept coming back, over and over again. It made me think everyday of how bad my life was.
My brother was gone. My parents didn't want me. I had only one friend.
I probably would fail school, and get nowhere in life, become homeless, addicted to drugs, and die some lonely death under a bridge, or in a dumpster. So why not spare myself the grief, and end it now, by my own hands?
I felt the tip of the knife with my fingers. I pressed the sharp side against my neck, and slid it softly back and forth across my skin. Not enough to do damage. Not yet.
But I could.
And no one would miss me.
But then I thought of of Miley, and Ryan. Miley would miss me. And Ryan would miss me, once he came back. Because he was coming back. Hadn't I said that right from the start, that he would come home, and that everything would be okay?
If I killed myself, wasn't the same as giving up on him? Wasn't that admitting that I wasn't going to see him again?
No, I couldn't kill myself. Ryan would need me once he came back. He would need as many people as possible to guide him back on to the right path, and lead him to safety, far out of harm's reach. And I wanted to be one of those people.
Please God. I thought. Save my brother. And save me.
I was in school when it happened, the very next day after the kitchen incident. Sitting in my second period of my sixth grade class, not paying attention. Just doodling on my paper as the teacher talked, little swirls, dot patterns, and shapes that didn't exist. I knew the teacher saw me, but she didn't say anything, because she was one of the more sympathetic teachers, who pretty much let me do what I wanted and passed me anyway. So basically, I was getting a free ride through math.
At the price of my older brother being kidnapped.
It was a pretty bad deal. I'd rather it be normal, be being forced to do the work, like the other kids.
With only about ten minutes left in class, the door opened. Everyone turned their heads, curious to see who was being called out. It was the principal, but it was also Thomson, which surprised me. He was supposed to be in Wyoming, looking for Ryan. So what was he doing all the way back in California, and why had he come to see me, and why did he look so happy?
The other kids in the room were talking excitedly, wondering why a cop had come to visit our class. All heads swiveled to look at me when I said, "Thomson? What are you doing here?"
"I got here yesterday." he said, and I cocked my head, confused.
"Yesterday?" I repeated. Why hadn't he visited me yesterday then? Then again, cops were busy people.
"Yes, yesterday." he said, coming over to me. Behind him, the principal was grinning broadly, the kind of grin he got when something news worthy happened to one of the students, something he could use on television.
"And I brought somebody with me." Thomson finished, and now he was standing in front of me. For a second, I didn't get it. In fact, Miley, who was sitting in the front of the class, got it before I did. But then I heard her gasp, and I looked again at the smile on Thomson's face, one of pure happiness, and I could see tears in his eyes, and finally, I understood.
"Ryan!?" I gasped. I couldn't breath. I wanted too, but it was impossible. My legs were shaking, and my heart was pounding so hard I could hear it in my ears. I heard gasps all around the room, and then complete silence as everyone looked back to Thomson, waiting for him to either confirm or deny it, waiting for him to either save me, or let me fall.
And he smiled. He smiled and hugged me tight, and said to me. "You were right, Steven. You were right all along."
"Oh...God." I whisper, because I don't know what else to say, even though there is so much that I want to say. God had heard me yesterday? Had he realized that he was about to lose me, and saved Ryan, knowing it was the only way to save us both?
Thomson's grip on me loosens, and I pull away. Around the room, everyone is watching me, and out of the corner of my eye, I see Miley, crying. Crying tears of joy. And then one kid starts to clap, and another follows, and soon the room is clapping, except for a few of the kids who had tortured me ever since Ryan's disappearance, who are staring at everything, stunned. There's even the boy who I attacked on the playground years ago, the one who had said that Ryan was dead. He's watching me too.
"He's...home?" I ask, just in case, and Thomson nods.
And I start to cry. Loud, wailing sobs that can probably be heard from the room next door. Everything I'd been holding in, the anger, the rage, the pain, the sorrow, the guilt, it was all rushing out of me in that moment, plain for everybody to see. My brother was home. Ryan was home. He was alive. I could see him again.
I wanted to see him again.
Did he want to see me too?
I was aware that now Miley was beside me, and was grabbing on to my hand, and I pulled her into me, hugging her tighter then I'd hugged anybody in a long time.
"He's okay." I sobbed, and she nodded as much as she could, and I could feel her smiling.
"He's okay." she repeated back to me, her voice wobbling with tears.
"Ryan's...alive!" I gasped out, and she hugged me tightly.
"Go see him. Quickly."
I pulled away from her, and looked into her eyes. This wasn't the time to be thinking about it, not the time at all, but now, I realized, the two of us could be together. And I really wanted us to be. Did I even have another choice? There was nobody in my life like her. She couldn't fill the hole Ryan had left me with, but she'd built something new in me. If it hadn't been for her, I would have gone through this as a totally different person. Maybe somebody that Ryan wouldn't want as a brother.
Right in front of the class, I kissed her. On the lips. There were gasps and whistles. It was quick though, because I had somewhere to go. But as I ran out the door, with Thomson at my side, I saw her smiling anyway.
The halls of the hospital are empty to me. I know that really, there are lots of people in them, but I don't see them. I'm just trying to find the door Ryan is behind. Kyle and Terry are behind me, running, but I'm faster than them. After picking me up at school, we had gone to get them, and they'd spent the ride over holding each other, trying not to cry, listening to Thomson as he told us what had happened, and how a women had seen the man, whose name was Dominic, in the woods, and recognized his description.
That was the room Ryan was in. I looked at the door I was passing.
Room 534. I had to keep going.
I ran faster.
Ryan was here, and the end of this hall. The brother that had been ripped from me three years ago, and been put through a undoubtable hell. He would be different. I knew that. It made me sad to think of, that he would have changed, physically and emotionally. Would I recognize him?
Would he recognize me?
Now I'm at room 522, and even though I can hear Kyle and Terry starting to pant, I'm not breaking a sweat.
Ryan, I want to scream. Ryan, I'm here! Here I come. It's okay now.
I would help him through this. With my help, he would be okay, and one day, it could go back to the way it was. With only little changes. The baby. She was no problem, not as long as Ryan, the real Ryan, was here. Miley. Ryan would have to meet her. He'd like her, I knew.
My footsteps are echoing down the hall, and I wonder if Ryan came hear them, if he can hear me coming. Is he as happy as I am, at the thought of seeing me again?
Finally, I'm in front of Room 512. For a split second, I hesitate. The moment I opened this door, I would have to see all that had changed between us.
But I would risk it.
I threw the door open.
And standing there, facing the doorway, looking right at me, is a boy, my older brother. His hair is longer, so much longer, and his eyes are sad, and I see scratches and bruises on him that were no doubt put there by the man who took him, Dominic, who I hate with a passion I'd never known.
I feel like I want to cry. I just might.
Kyle and Terry are behind me a moment later, but he doesn't take his eyes off me, looking at me the same way I'm looking at him. My heart's pounding, wondering what he's thinking about me.
I don't know if he knows it, but he looks scared. For a brief second, as we look at each other, I can see the fear he's been living with, feel his pain, and I know he doesn't believe it's over. But then his eyes soften, and I think he feels my pain too, and he looks like he might be about to cry too. And he takes a step forward, and he says my name.
And I run forward.
I think I feel okay about the ending. I might just a few things when I edit it and stuff. It probably would have come out better if I had some music to listen too, but my sister is sleeping only a few feet from me, and I don't have headphones.
Thank you for reading this, and sticking with Steven on this painful journey.
And a special thank you to those of you who walked along side both brothers.
See you soon!