This morning I woke up to find my sheets a mess and my shirt I had worn to sleep was somewhere on my bed or floor. I had a nightmare, but when I finally made my way out of bed, I forced myself to forget about it. All it was, was a flashback of what was the worst day of my life. Sometimes I wish I could just go back in time and stop it from ever happening. If I had paid more attention and bothered to actually talk to Dennis, it would have never happened; he would be here. As I got ready for whatever I was going to do today, I kept thinking about Hailee and how we've become great friends already. I feel like she could be my best friend, but I don't want that. I can only have friends, which is better than before when I couldn't. Having a friend that close can never happen- not again at least.
By the time I was in the kitchen and having breakfast, I sent a text to Hailee to ask if she wanted to hang out today. Yesterday, before we left work, she didn't mention anything about watching her little sister or going out with friends. I want to do something today instead of sitting around all day, all the time. When I was back home in Oregon, on weekends I'd take spontaneous trips to Portland with my friends and just hang out there on Saturdays or Sundays. We had fun and I liked how I used to get out more. Here, I still feel like the new guy who gets lost too much. I need to start building a social life, and Hailee's a very good start. It's a shame she texted back and said we'll hang out tomorrow.
As soon as I put my empty cereal bowl and dirty spoon in the sink, there was a series of knocks on my door. After the fifth knock, it stopped. Confusion, anxiety, and a partial feeling of irritation came all at once. Who would knock on my door and why? The only other person who ever came to my apartment was Emily and I didn't even expect her to.
A new feeling arose, but I can't describe it. I kinda wish Emily thought of knocking on my door. I haven't talked to her for a couple of weeks, the last time being when she came over and then left. I've seen her around, but she was serious when she said she didn't want to talk to me. I haven't been able to stop thinking about her since- and it is more than I usually do. Without another thought, my phone rang.
"Hello?" I asked, unsure of who called because I didn't bother to check the ID.
"Niall, my favorite son!" My dad excaimed on the other end of the line way too loud.
"I'm your only son."I replied after rolling my eyes and half smiled at him.
"I've missed you so much, though. I haven't seen your face in a very long time. Is your hair still blonde?" Did I ever mention he's very dramatic? He's the biggest drama queen I know.
"Yes, my hair is still blonde. Not completely anymore because my natural brown is starting to show."
"How's that friend of yours? Hailee I think you said is her name."
"She's doing well. We're going to hang out tomorrow."
"Oh, so your free today?"
"Yes, I am."
"You're not going out without anyone?"
"Are you implying if I have a date or am seeing someone? Because I told you on Monday I'm single and that hasn't changed two days later."
"Okay, okay, I was just curious. So, I called because I was wondering if your dad and I can come over soon?"
"Of course, thanks for asking instead of just showing up randomly. Do you know how to get-"
"Yes, I looked up the directions on my phone. Don't worry, we'll get there." I know they will, I'm not sure if I'll be ready when they come even though I miss them both.
"Okay dad, anything else?"
"No, I just miss you."
"I miss you, too."
"Alright then, bye Niall. Love you,"
"Love you, too." He hung up and I stared at my phone for a minute afterwards.
Usually the calls last longer and my real dad comes on the phone. Again, there was knocking to disturb my thoughts. I quickly walked to the door. It could be Emily, so I don't want to keep her waiting. My jaw dropped when I saw Emily wasn't standing in front of me. Instead, my dads were there grinning like a bunch of idiots who think they're the kings of surprises. Honestly, they kinda killed my hopes because I was looking forward to seeing Emily.
"Niall!" My dad, who not even three minutes ago I was speaking to, pulled me into a suffocating hug like he hasn't hugged me in years.
"I've missed you so much!" He pecked my temple before letting me go to give me a chance to actually breathe.
"Hey," I smiled, still trying to take in the fact my dads are over.
"Hi Niall, I'm so happy to see you, son." My real dad said more calmly before pulling me into a not-really-bone-crushing, but comforting hug. With a couple of pats on my back and a peck on my head, he let go.
"I'm happy to see you both. Um, I totally wasn't expecting you guys to come out here so soon."
"Oh, it was nothing. I had the day off already and your dad took the day off to come down." My real dad shrugged.
"We wanted to surprise you, too. I made sure the plans didn't get ruined with you finding out. I was hoping that your dad didn't give the surprise away when he knocked before I called to make sure you're free." My other dad added.
"No, you definitely surprised me."
I stood to the side and let them inside my apartment. I started to bite my lip hoping it would be up to par with them since I really haven't cleaned up the place. It's not like there's trash and dirty clothes litering the place, but I would've swept the floors and dusted. I also would've done my laundry as well if I'd known they would be coming today. The place still doesn't look that great and hopefully they don't notice the can of bug spray I keep under the sink where the trash is.
"This is a nice place." My dad said as he looked around. He wasn't really inspecting, he was just curious. I'm sure he mentally wishes I decorated more. I noticed him in the kitchen and looked at my real dad in the living room.
"Yeah, this nice." My real agreed. He was actually being an inspector. I'm sure he'll find something that needs fixing.
"Oh Niall, you need to go to the grocery store. I don't see any greens, actually I don't see any vegetables. And your freezer only has a box of Popsicles and ice." Yeah, I've been pigging out lately. It's only because there's a creepy old lady who watches me as I pick fruit at the grocery store.
"Niall, you have exposed wires lying around. You need to go to an electronic store and replace them." I never bothered buying new ones, because its not like I'm going to accidentally spill water behind the TV and get electrocuted or start a fire.
Not only did I listen to my parents politelycomplain about how unkept my place is or how unhealthy I am, I had to listen to them boast and gossip. I didn't care that my real dad had a new paint job done on his Mustang or that he had the interior redesigned, so now it looks shiny and new. I didn't care that my old friend's little brother was playing football like we did in high school and is wearing my old number. What bothered me was when they brought up Dennis' parents. I had to relive my nightmare in a long flashback and watch my worst day all over again. They know I don't like speaking about this, and especially not after my nightmare.
"I was talking to Mrs. Mundy the other day. She told me that they have decided to move to Portland. Mr. Mundy has been looking for a job for a while now and was recently offered one. They're leaving soon, too. Mrs. Mundy said she can't stand walking past Dennis' old room anymore. I don't blame her. It must still be very hard for her despite it being, what, six years ago I think."
"Dad, please stop."
"I just thought that maybe you'd want to know. New people will be living in their old house."
"I really want you stop, please."
"Niall, like I said, it was about six years ago. I think it's okay to let it go now. I'm not saying to forget about Dennis, but-"
"Aaron, just drop it." My real dad cut off.
"Vince, he has to learn how to move on. He's eighteen now. He's older and matured, he's practically an adult." It's like I'm not sitting on the couch next to him or across from my real dad who's on the coffee table.
"You know how hard it was for him. Imagine being in his shoes at the time. At least he's making friends now. There's Hailee he's talked about. I'm worried, too, but I'm not going to bother our boy."
"But there's no one else and talking about Dennis' house and parents shouldn't be hard."
"I had a nightmare last night. I-I saw... It was like it happened all over again." I butted in. The memory played again and I closed my eyes, hoping it would go away; hoping the same pain would go away. It didn't. It just started to get worse and worse.
"Niall, it's okay."
"How can you still say that? It's not okay! It never will be. His freaking parents are moving because they can't stand to be in that house anymore. They can't bear to relive the moment they found Dennis in the freaking bathroom! They want to run away from all the memories and pain. I tried doing the same thing, but it doesn't work apparently." I didn't notice I started to cry until I blinked and the hot trails started to slowly fall down.
"We were supposed to go to the park and play football. He was going to help me improve my catching. It was raining, but he didn't care- we never cared. I-I went to his house right when... right after they found him. He didn't even say anything. Th-there wasn't a note. I never got a-a goodbye. He never helped me catch the ball better. It was all because I wasn't there for him. He said he l-loved me, but I just never took him seriously enough."
I cried. It was the only thing that seemed to make sense and help me. Dennis was my best friend, but he killed himself because of me. How the hell am I supposed to get over that? It was my fault he did it. His parents used to hate me because my parents are gay. They hated me even more when they found out their son was gay. They blamed me and said I turned him. They're very religious, like there's a crucifix above their front door and they have their blessed miniature statues of saints and other relics around the house. I just... I didn't know he was and there was a time I thought I did turn him. I know I didn't, but none of it even matters.
Dennis is gone. He's gone forever and I miss him. Running away from the place we grew up together in and the memories didn't help with the grief. Running away from my parents who don't hesitate to remind me didn't help, either.
"Niall, we won't say anything anymore." My dad whispered beside me, but I shook my head. The whole freaking day took some majors turns and I woke up unprepared for it all.
"Niall, we're sorry." My real dad whispered in front of me.
Soon I was placed in the middle of a hug, but it didn't help soothe me. I just continued to cry because I missed my best friend. Dennis was always there for me, but I wasn't there for him when he needed me. His parents may blame me for what happened, but I blame myself.
"Who's hungry?" My dad asked. I already cried my river and the three of us had shared a few laughs already. The air was still thick from my outburst and breakdown, but that's only because I held that in way too long.
"Yeah, I'm definitely hungry. Niall, are you ready for lunch?" My real dad asked.
"Sure, why not?" I shrugged and sat up straighter.
"Okay, I could really go for some pizza."
"Vince, we had that earlier this week. Besides, I think Niall should have a bit more... something better than pizza." My real dad looked at me and smirked.
"Niall, would you like your dad to make a very nutritious salad or would you rather have pizza."
"When you say it like that, pizza sounds better." My other dad muttered. I laughed and nodded.
"I know of a good place, too."
As we headed out of my apartment and reached the stairs, I stopped. Emily was heading up the stairs with an unlit cigarette in her mouth and her head held low as she watched her black Converse take the first two steps. She won't notice me because she's ignored me for the past couple of weeks. I am invisible to her and I will not have to give her an awkward introduction to my homosexual dads. Yeah, it's too easy repeating that in my head.
"Niall, keep moving, son." My real dad said from behind me. Emily looked up and her eyes caught mine before they bounced to both of my dads.
"I see you've started stopping on the stairs again." Emily smiled with her cigarette in her hand. So now she decides to talk.
"Hi, and you are?" My other dad asked, being a little too curious. Nice, now Emily must know why I don't have a mom. What else is going to be spilled?
"My name is Emily. I live down the hall from Niall." Emily smiled. I know it's fake, but my dads don't know that.
"Oh, you're a neighbor. Well, we're Niall's parents." My real dad introduced from behind me. I didn't bother looking at her face; I just waited for a laugh to start. Of course she didn't, because I've never heard her laugh.
"Oh, nice meeting the both of you. I'd love to ask embarrassing questions about Niall as a kid, but I gotta go to my place." There wasn't time for any replies. Emily walked up the stairs as we stepped aside to give her enough room. The smell of cigarettes followed her up and to her apartment.
"That girl is, um, different." My real dad announced a couple of minutes after Emily left.
"She smells of cigarettes and she looks so depressed with the dark colors she wears." My other dad added.
"Well, I find her intriguing." I finally said before they could go on to judge her.
I know Emily's had enough of that already and I don't want to hear what they have to say. The entire way to Rocky's, the whole time there and on the way to the grocery store since my dad insisted, I kept thinking about Emily and if she'd talk to me again. She talked to me now, well she said one line to tease me in front of my dads. But she'll talk to me, and hopefully soon. I've already thought of what I'm going to say and I won't let her walk away from me again before we can actually talk about herself. I have to know everything there is to know about her. And just like that, my day took the last and final turn. It was a very good distraction, too.