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Misuzu

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Misuzu last won the day on May 29

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    Ellie Montanari

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  1. I know I was only on OWL for around 6 to 7 months or so, but this place meant a lot to me. I've shared a lot of good memories here - got to know myself a bit better, met some amazing friends that I hope to be stubbornly stuck with for the rest of my time like @Vubstersmurf@ItsMelodyy@Moore@ShadowSix@SadisticWolfoid(among many others) and made some great memories that I know will never fail to make me laugh or smile when I look back on them, nor will I ever forget. OWL gave me the opportunity to develop a character that has honestly been the most fun and interesting to develop in years. I had started seeing roleplay almost like a chore that I chose to do only when I was bored and had nothing else to occupy my time with, but OWL reminded me what roleplay, and gaming in general, is actually supposed to feel like. I was able to get back into writing thanks to OWL, something which has helped me out massively over the past few months especially. It's definitely been great fun while it lasted and I hope to be able to continue interacting with y'all over at Paradise. Thank you to everyone whose ever put their time and effort into OWL over its years, whether it be on MTA or GTA V, and whether that be as a player, administrator or developer, even if it was only for a short while. Take care, everyone. Thanks for the fun ride.
  2. 24/APR/2021 I thought I'd finally got it all sorted. I'd apologized to Dad, to Mariya, Xio... pretty much everyone who I'd managed to get muddled up in yesterday's mess. I guess maybe what happened yesterday makes sense of what happened today. Even then.. I'm just so done with it all. My legs have been aching all day. Considering all the climbing we did yesterday, I'm honestly not surprised at all. Still, taking this hike up Mount Gordo wasn't that much of a bad idea. It's actually nice up here. Me and Noah are all laying on the ground of the top of the mountain, just sort of taking it all in. Well, it initially wasn't just us three. Grace was here too, but she's just gone back to go do some work, told us to stay here and enjoy the view for a bit. Jason was with us as well, but he sorta.. I don't know, I guess he stormed off or something after we got all the way up here. I know he'd been kinda playing on Noah's nerves during the entire walk. I'm not sure he meant to, but either way it's not hard to tell when something's irking him off. We'd first all met up outside the house. I'm pretty sure I upset Noah when I said I wanted to go in Grace's car whilst him and Jason traveled out in their own vehicles. I just wanted to sort of explain a little more to Grace about what had happened yesterday. She's only known us a few days and yet has already seen quite a fair share of weird stuff go down. I think she deserves to know what went down. I don't wanna scare her off or anything. I got a bit nervous when we were walking up. None of us had any hiking experience, and it seemed like none of us had exactly come prepared for it either. We hadn't brought any flashlights, blankets, or even much food or water. There's so many things that could go wrong up here. It's something I felt I needed to be prepared for. Jason had started talking about wanting to find himself a partner, whether a boyfriend or girlfriend. That's when I sorta first noticed Noah's change in attitude. He kept poking at him as well. Grace and I got left behind at one point since I was struggling to catch up. I really hadn't anticipated the climb being as steep as it was. Grace offered to stop for a while, but.. I was sort of worried about what Noah would do if we left him alone with Jason for too long. Regardless.. after a short stop down at one of the lakes, we finally made it here. Jason started insisting on going our separate ways at that point, but.. I wasn't exactly up for us splitting up in a place like this, even if we're not exactly getting on as well as I'd hoped. Even though it was him who suggested stopping when we finally did get here, it took only minutes for him to leave us by ourselves, stating he didn't feel well or something. I felt bad letting him go down on his own, but.. I knew if I started following him down, so would the rest of the group. I just actually hope he makes it down there safe. Still haven't heard from him yet. My phone starts going off in the background, so I think maybe it's Jason telling me he made it down alright. Instead, it's Dad. Apparently Hana is intending on coming back to the city. I'm not 100% sure how I feel on that. I know Dad's been dying to see Nari again, however.. seeing how much Hana hurt and upset Dad the past few months.. he's finally moving on, he's finally becoming happy again. What if that gets ruined? We finally decide to head back down, but.. we've left this way too late. It's pitch black out and we can barely see anything. This is sorta why we need to start being more prepared for these things. If there was more of us, maybe I wouldn't feel so uneasy. It's not that I don't trust Noah to keep me safe, because I do, but we've got absolutely no clue what we're doing. The terrain in this place changes constantly. Suddenly, I have an idea. Maybe we don't have an actual flashlight, but we do have phones.. and phones have flashlights. Maybe it's not the best, but it's something that could help. I take the phone out my pocket and briefly check the light down against the ground. I'm not sure how long my battery is going to last with this, but it should be enough to get all the way down, if not enough for the terrain to flatten out a bit. "Come on, it's not /that/ dark," I perk my head up at Noah's response. Oh, okay. Well excuse me for trying to play it safe. I turn the flashlight on my phone off and put it away. I don't know why, but I really, really hate it when people try and downplay shit I'm nervous about. I take it as a "fuck you" kind of thing, like it doesn't matter to the other person when it very much matters to me. I don't know, though. Silently, we made our way back down the rest of the path and drove down to the beach where we were sat yesterday. We had a brief.. discussion, I guess, about what happened back on the mountain. As always, I didn't fail to make it obvious that I was upset. I just tell him what I know. I'm not mad or upset with him, I just feel hurt when I feel like people are downplaying my fears or concerns. He says he gets it, he just finds it easier to try and make situations more light-hearted. Noah and I are sat together when my phone rings. It's Dad. "Ay love, where are ya'?" "Uhh.. me and Noah are down at the beach. Why, what's up?" "Not much, just checking in. Just you two?" "Yeah." "Alright, tell Noah I need to call him about work." Without being able to say a further word, he hangs up. That was a.. weird phone call. He never usually calls me just to check in.. normally that's done over a text. And why do I need to tell Noah Dad needs to call him about work? As expected, Noah's phone then rings. There's a bit of a conversatino about something, though I'm not 100% sure what they're talking about. Once he hangs up, he says there's apparently some car parts back at ours he wants Noah to take a look at. I mean.. alright, I guess. Just seems a bit weird for some reason. Apparently, Dad left the car parts in the living room, which.. again seems a bit peculiar. We have a garage, I mean.. and even though Dad said that's where they were, when we actually go to check, there's no car parts to be seen in the living room at all. Why would Dad say that's where they were if they weren't? Moreso, Noah then just proposes we stay here. There's two things I don't really like about that. Number one - why not just call or text Dad to double check where they are? Number two - Noah suggesting to stay in one place just feels.. not right. Usually he always wants to be different places if there's nothing else to do. I just can't shake this feeling that something's off.. something's just not sitting right with me. What aren't they telling me? "I mean.. I was sort of hoping to stay out a bit longer," I say casually. If he insists on staying here, don't I know for sure that something's up? He lets us go out, though, so I don't know.. but he seems insistent on googling the place I suggest us going to, which is, again, something out of place for him. Usually he just rolls with it so easily.. so why is he stalling? I drive us down to the place I used to work at and grab us both some food, leaving it up to him to decide where we go to eat this stuff. There's this giant car park he takes us to, which is probably the only thing not out of place so far. But something still doesn't feel right with all of this. I stand there with my food quietly, not even sitting down next to Noah who's asking me what's up like it doesn't seem obvious. Maybe he really does think I'm that dumb that I wouldn't notice when someone isn't telling me something. He keeps trying to make normal conversation with me, but it's just.. Fuck this.. "I'm gonna go on a walk," I say. There's no way I'm going to be able to stop myself from snapping if I let myself continue here like this. The beach isn't too far away from this car park, so I trek down there without having noticed Noah is following me, but in all honesty.. I don't care. There's clearly something I'm not being told, and I don't see how it can't be clear that I've figured it out. You're my best friend, you're supposed to tell me this sort of shit. More-so, why has nobody else said anything? I reckon that whatever is going on is what Dad called Noah about, so clearly he knows too. Am I really that untrustworthy? Noah finally catches up to me, not that I really want to hear anything about.. literally anything unless it's about what's really going on. "Was it really about car parts?" "All this over that?" Downplaying again? "No, it wasn't. There was a dude being chased by PD who was doing dodgy shit. Had nothing to do with your Dad, but he wanted to make sure we were safe. Happy now?" You're kidding, right? I don't care if it had anything to do with Dad. He could've told me that himself over the phone. I can handle shit like that. What do they expect me to do? How do they expect me to keep myself safe if they aren't going to tell me when there's stuff to look out for? I'm not going to depend solely on others for that. Noah says I would've reacted the same way if I had been told. Bullshit. I may be sensitive and I may not have the best set of reactions, but I'm not that stupid. Not only that, knowing it was dangerous out here, he then proceeded to let me OUT of the house despite purposefully having taken us there. If he had been honest and said it was dangerous outside, I would've just fucking stayed put. Now, by not telling me, he's not only put me but himself back into said danger. What the actual hell.. "Just go home.." I say. I really don't want to talk right now, for several reasons to be honest. "What do you expect me to do?" What do you think I expect you to do? Not only do I want you, but I also need you to tell me when something's going on. That's not just because I don't like not knowing what's happening, but also quite honestly because, like I said, how am I supposed to protect myself if I don't know what to avoid or when something needs avoiding? No matter how much I try to explain it, he isn't latching on at all. "Why the fuck are you mad that you actually have people who are here for you?" "You don't get it at all, do you?" "No, because unlike you, I don't fucking have anyone who cares." That sentence did it for me. What sort of utter bullshit is that? What sort of stupidity is that? "I have nobody who cares for me." Idiot. Do you think Dad doesn't? Do you think literally everyone who I've seen you get introduced to the past few weeks doesn't care about you? Do you fucking think I don't? I turn on my heels again and continue walking. He doesn't follow me this time. And I just keep walking. And walking. And walking. And walking.. Until I end up stopping somewhere that seems overly familiar, yet completely new. I'm exhausted. It's at that point all the thoughts start flooding in. Shit.. what do I do? What did I do? What did I say? Crap.. fuck, how do I fix this.. I look down at my hand that's begun stinging. There's grazes all over my knuckles. I know that these definitely weren't here before.. so where the hell did they come from? Shit.. okay, look, uh.. my car's back at that car park, I can't go home, i'm gonna have to see if my friend will let me stay the night, maybe I should call Noah.. but crap, if my car's all the way out here and I'm all the way out here.. uh.. I guess I could use my phone to pay for an Uber or something? Maybe that's my only option, I can't be all the way out here.. not at this time of night, and.. holy shit, wait.. this is the bridge. As I struggle to walk up a slanted road, I'm halted by someone shouting. I can barely hear them over the wind, but I turn over my shoulder in the glimpse of hope that it's Rae, or maybe even someone Mum or Dad knew. Even seeing Uncle Ray would be great just about now. Then again, part of me didn't really care who it was. It's a car I don't recognize, but I can see somebody staring back at me through the rolled down window. He asks me if I'm alright, something I can now hear a bit clearer now I'm facing him. I'm anything but okay. I nod anyway, still not wanting to stir up concern. I can't tell what his intentions are, so I keep staring back at him. I feel wary, but the other half of me is too exhausted to really give a care about what the situation is. He pulls the car up on the pavement and I take a step back almost instinctively. "You don't look okay," he replies as he steps out of the vehicle. I'm not sure what to think. He doesn't exactly pose as threatening, but I still don't know this person. He's wearing something weird on his head that I can't quite make out, but he continues keeping his distance nonetheless. He briefly turns around and opens up his back door, taking out what looks like a large blanket. Is this a kidnapping? What the hell.. My view is stolen away from the now familiar scenery as my phone starts ringing in my pocket. Almost having forgotten the situation entirely, my mind takes a few seconds to ponder who exactly might be ringing me this time of night, until I see Xio's number on the screen. I bring the phone to my right ear, finding myself unable to keep my breathing properly steady. "Hey Ellie, you alright? It's late mami, you coming home?" Wait.. what time actually is it? "Ellie?" "I, uh.. yeah, sure, no, uh.. I was going to stay round a friend's tonight.. sorry, I.. forgot to tell you or Dad, I guess.." I reply, pretty much stuttering if not revising every word that I spit out. I guess my mind was trying to desperately fumble for valid excuses. "Are you alright there? Where are you?" My voice has already been so easy to read through.. why should now be any different, I suppose. "I'm good.." "But where are you?" That really is a good question.. I know what this place is, but I don't actually know where. I couldn't describe it to you. "Uh.. I'm just walking to my friend's now, it's near.." I sigh and give up. "I don't know where it's near." "Okay, well, uhm.. do you recognize anything around you, landmarks or anything? I'll come and find you and I can drive you to your friend's." "It's alright, I'll, uh.. I'll figure this out somehow." Her and I spend what feels like maybe around 10 minutes trying to figure out where exactly I'm stood, until Xio finally proposes that I go looking for a street sign. El Rancho Boulevard. I expected to be waiting there a while. I don't know how far away exactly from the house this is, not by vehicle nor by foot. Regardless of my expectations, her car is stood in front of me less than three minutes later. We kept speaking whilst she was driving. Or rather.. she kept trying to talk to me. All I could do was stand there and try and run around in the back of my head chasing memories that I can just about catch onto. Despite this.. it still took her some convincing to even get me in the car. We eventually pull up near my friend's house, even though I never actually called to speak to her. Xio stops the car and looks over at me, "looks like you've had a rough day again?" I swallow a lump in my throat and nod. She's surely bound to have heard it from Dad, if not Noah, by now. It's obvious she knows that I'm upset by something. "You remember what we spoke about before? That's still true, you know? That you aren't a burden.. that the shit that happens isn't your fault, and that you are loved, cared for and treasured. It's still true, mija, it's never changed. In fact, as each day goes by, it's increased." Nobody must've told her yet.. "I fucked things up again, Xio.. there's no going back from this." "Really? Well, I guess the new cookie batch at home will have to wait. But I'm curious, what happened to make you think you fucked things up?" "I don't know what happened.. I just.. fucking over-reacted again to pointless shit. That's the best way I know how to explain it." I explain the entire story to her like it's a full out bed-time story. About how Dad called me but the phone call just didn't seem in place, how he told Noah to go looking for car parts in a place where they weren't and how I eventually ended up storming off because Noah just started saying all these things that didn't seem himself either but wouldn't tell me what was up, even though I felt like something clearly was, and then it turned out there really was something. "I don't get it.. I don't understand why they lied, dot hey just not trust me or something? Is there other stuff that I don't know about? What if everything's been a lie, has any of this even been real? How the fuck am I supposed to tell anymore?" There's a brief moment of silence welcomed by both of us as Xio gently takes ahold of my left hand. "Well, I think maybe they didn't tell you because they wanted to protect you? They didn't want you to get scared of the reason why, but they did it out of love for you, because they don't want you to be afraid or worried." "But that's the thing. How am I supposed to know when to keep myself safe? How do I keep myself safe if I don't know I'm in danger? Why tell everyone but me? Am I really that bad..?" "Well.. it's not about you being bad. The thing is, at least from what it seems like to me, you're pretty sweet,innocent and pure. They'd not want you to get involved in the.. bad things that happen in the city. Perhaps, to them, the less you know, the less you're involved. The less you're involved, the less anyone would want to try anything against you." "I've been told to hide before, though.. I spent months out here all on my own. Why was this time so different they felt they couldn't tell me?" "Honestly, Ellie, I agree with you. You're almost an adult. I know that you're well aware that the world can be a scary, nasty, bitter place. But also as an adult, you should be able to handle the truth and act accordingly when given said information. Do you think maybe he said it because you'd take it and internalize it, then blame yourself despite it having nothing to do with you?" "Noah said I would've walked away if he was honest with me.. that I'm pissed because people care about you, that he doesn't have anyone who cares about him, clearly he's the bad guy.." "Well, when he says those things, what's your opinion on them?" "I wouldn't have fucking walked off. I would've gone back to the house with him. I know I don't always have the best reaction to things, but if someone tells me that there's a dangerous person going around and may endanger you if you run into them, I'm not going to go out looking for them." There's a sense of hypocrisy in my words. "I'm not pissed because people care. I'm just upset that everyone got told the truth, everyone except for me, and no matter how much people keep trying to explain it, I don't understand why. He says he doesn't have anybody who cares about him. Which hurts. That really fucking hurts. More than any of this now." "So.. sounds to me like they need to stop treating you like a child and lying to you under the guise of wanting to quote un-quote "protect" you, hm?" "But what if it is just me, Xio..? It wouldn't be the first time. I don't react well to situations, I know that. Everyone does. Even then, it's just.. I don't know. I don't know what to think.. or what to feel. It's just so fucked up... ... I'm so fucked up." Once again, we share a brief moment of silence. I've gone back to staring out the window, Xio's hand still pressed lightly on top of mine. "I have an idea," she breaks. "You wanna take a trip with me?" "To where..?" "Well, I'm thinking of visiting that one, uh, that Island, you know off the coast? We can have a short mini vacation or something. Get away from whatever bullshit is going on. We can both cool off, let the folks here cool off." "What's the point of it if everyone's still mad with me back here though..? I don't know how to fix what I've created yet again." Xio says I shouldn't worry about any of it, and that I worry way too much. It's shit I need to "throw to the wind". Dad would miss me, she'd miss me. She sees me as her daughter, even if she knows I'm not, but that I should "get what she means". Plus, as she puts it, we still need to do our shopping. It makes sense, but I just.. I'm fed up with myself. Which is something I'm aware I've said time upon time upon time again by this point. Just.. endlessly. All of it's endlessly. Without her asking me, or me even having to admit that I never actually asked my friend to stay, she starts driving away, I presume back to the house. "I just don't want people to be mad at eachother.. I don't mean for all of this to keep happening." "I know, honey, but it's not your fault either." she says. "Feels like it always is.." "Because you're blaming yourself, right?" "There's nobody else to blame.." "Doesn't mean it needs to be you, though." "Then who?" "Doesn't really need to be anyone, sweetheart. You don't need to point fingers at anyone. Things in life happen. A lot of it, we dont' really care much for, but they do. We can't control it but, as they say, it is what it is." "Yeah.. but what can I do? I've fucked things up between me and Dad most likely, and I've definitely fucked things up with Noah." "So you think that the incident today is all it took to make him walk away from you?" "Yeah.." "Well.. with that logic, if I got in an argument with your Dad, we'd never get married. But our relationship is worth more than a single argument of course, and I'm sure you and Noah are the same way." "What if it isn't?" "But what if it is?" I bite the inside of my cheek, unsure on what to say. Instead of continuing, she changes the subject. "I wonder.. just curious anyway, if you could do any job to make money, what would you have the most fun doing?" "I don't know.. I never planned that far ahead." "I feel that.. that's sorta where I am myself. I never thought I'd have a place like this, with a family like you. I never thought I'd live to be this age. I should be dead. Or rather, I'd probably be if I stayed in Venezuela" "Yeah, me too.." I say, scratching away at my right wrist a little. I ask her what she thinks I should do with Dad. I feel like I keep causing him constant stress, worry, panic, anger.. all the negative emotions on the list, basically. I worry I'm going to do something I eventually can't turn back from. I'm still worried that this is that moment. He's going to be upset with both me and Noah once he finds out, surely.. Xiomara offers to be the one who talks to him. I agree, but.. I still want to talk to him tomorrow when I get the chance anyway. I need to apologize for my own mistakes, not anyone else. It just feels disappointing that every time I think I'm getting the hang of it, every time I think I'm finally getting control over my actions again, I end up taking more steps back than I took forward. We eventually both go inside, but I still feel lost in so many ways. What if Dad doesn't forgive me? What if he doesn't forgive Noah? What if Noah doesn't forgive me? I've still got to figure out how to apologize for it.. knowing him he's probably switched to blaming himself, even if it is all my fault. I guess that's one of the main similarities between me and him.. we take everything and spin it to blame ourselves, even if deep down we know it really isn't. Like it's almost some sort of fucked up habit installed into both of us.. Maybe we really are more alike than I first thought.
  3. 23/APR/2021 I really am starting to slowly grow against the people in this city. Liars, cheaters, traitors, all of the like.. you think you know somebody until you don't. So how are you supposed to know when to trust somebody when at any given point it can turn out that they aren't who you thought at all? I am so damn tired. Then again, I am every time that I have boxing classes. I'm not sure whether I'm actually tired or whether I just convince myself that I must be. Today, I made the silly decision of thinking I could handle walking from the house to the gym, taking a few good hours of boxing and then walk all the way back home. Turned out my legs were absolutely not up for that, and I ended up agreeing with Noah when he offered to pick me up in his new car, which he apparently traded his Sentinel and some cash in for. Noah took us down to one of the convenience stores to pick up some food since I'd skipped breakfast. As usual, I picked out my favourites like it wasn't about to undo all the calories that I had just worked off through boxing, but donuts are always worth it. First rule of life. He drove us up to these dock things, somewhere up on the hills with this giant lake. I don't know the name of it, but it's a great place. Surprisingly peaceful and, whether it's a general thing or just the fact that we picked the right time of day, barely anybody else was around. After a brief discussion, it seems Noah's begun comparing me to that of a lizard, "cute, calm, quiet with small arms". I'm not sure how I feel about that last part, and I'm not sure I'd exactly refer to myself as calm or cute either. Quiet, on the other hand, I could probably agree with. Although I definitely wouldn't have imagined him as the type to be, Noah spoke about how cool he thought it'd be to live in one of those boat houses that just chills out by the docks. I mean.. it definitely fits the criteria of being simple, but I think I'd feel a bit too cramped. I can't imagine you'd get much privacy living in a place like that, unless you're completely on your own. But I am glad Noah and I have got to keep our friendship like this. At the same time.. like I said, I've still not stopped thinking about his offer. Simultaneously.. I feel like I've been purposely trying to distance myself on the lowkey. Grace really likes him.. I can't take that away from her. They share a lot of common interests, so who knows.. maybe he feels something for her too? I can't let myself be the reason another relationship gets ruined. Yesterday, Dad gave me some stuff as well. I think he knows I'm feeling a bit torn up on how I'm supposed to feel over him proposing to Xio. I'd told him about me completing the first aid course with Grace the other day, so he'd brought me a first aid kit of my own to carry around with me. He'd slotted in some cereal bars and marshmallows as well, deeming them as "emergency packets", though I half-jokingly yet very much knowing I was half serious told him that there was no way I was saving these for emergencies. On the side of that, though, he'd given me a small ring. Sort of like a promise ring between Father and Daughter. He explained he understood that things had been moving incredibly quickly, and that even him and Xio are having to get used to a lot of things, so this what his promise to me that their happiness includes me and that no matter what changes, the fact that we're all family never will. We finally managed to get the paperwork sorted out for school as well, though that's still something I've been meaning to post. Even once that's done, we've still got to arrange a meeting with the Principal and then actually settle on a date to start going back, providing there's no issues with the paperwork, or from their end in general. Noah and I stayed at that little lake for what I reckon was a good hour before going back down to the skate park. We were stood around, sort of chatting as normal, about all the usual things we do, when all of a sudden this boy zoomed past right behind me on his skateboard, which all would've been well, I didn't mind it at all, only he ended up falling off his skateboard trying to get back down onto the dip, smacking himself flat in the face, or at least from what I could tell. We both sort of exchanged looks, me and Noah that is. We're not really people to just go and.. talk to others like that, but it was clear he was hurt. We had to go make sure he was okay, right? Maybe it was only me who felt such an obligation, but I somehow knew I would argue with myself for hours if I didn't follow what my gut was telling me in that moment. He'd injured up the side of his arm a little bit, but thankfully it didn't seem like anything more than a few grazes. His phone was.. a different story, however. I managed to put that first aid kit Dad gave me to some use, though he insisted on putting the bandages on himself. Truth be told.. I'm sort of glad that he offered. I'm not sure I could've done it myself. Noah, myself and him stayed put for a while, despite the fact it was clear neither one of us either had anything to say or knew what to talk about. Eventually.. he went off, but I was so tired that I ended up falling asleep without really noticing or thinking about it. I felt super bad about it.. merely based on the fact that Noah had sat himself behind me to run his hands through my hair. I'm really scared that I'm letting him become too close to me. I can only assume Grace hasn't told him the way she feels yet.. After who knows how long of napping, we got back into the car and just decided to drive around until Dad got home from work. Almost as if he knew what I was thinking.. he asked me if I had put any more thought into the whole dating thing. I just told him I think it's something I need to figure out by myself and use being new to the whole thing as my chosen excuse. As for now, we've just joined the others at the beach. Right now, it's Dad, me, Noah, Terry, that guy they called "D" and this new person that I'm not sure I recall seeing before. Marusya shows up herself as well after a bit, not long after Noah and I do. Even Jason, that boy from earlier, and Grace show up as well. It's a good group, at least I think. Dad's gone off to the side with that "D" person, though.. I'm not exactly what sure. I've never been a fan of watching people go off and have private chats like that, even if I do those myself sometimes. It's not that I don't understand the importance of them, it just makes me nervous. It's been around ten minutes, and we're all still sat here just.. waiting. You can tell the tension over there isn't good though.. whatever it is. I can't hear anything from all the way over here and I don't dare get any closer.. but I really am having enough of this. Why do stupid arguments like these always have to happen? Ironically, most of the time, I'm taking some sort of part in them, I'm aware. Even then.. when are things really going to calm down? I push myself up, deciding it's in my best interest to just go home. I'm not going to sit and watch whatever the hell this is. Noah follows me through the bridge up onto the main pathway, telling me to sit like I'm some sort of dog. I try and explain to him that I'm just going to get my car and then go somewhere to cool off for a bit. It wasn't a lie, either. What else would I be doing? Dad sends me a text, but right now.. I can't be bothered to read it. Not whilst I'm like this. It's either going to rile me up more and cause me to say shit I don't mean or just throw me completely in some other direction. I've agreed to let Noah meet me at the car park, and I've agreed to let him come with me to where-ever I decide to go. However, I very much anticipated and assumed he meant following along in his own car. Not getting in mine. I drive all the way out to Paleto Cove. Despite the fall I took here, it's still a go-to place when I just need five minutes. Following a walk up the side of the place, I'm finding myself feeling a little bit calmer. I'm not sure if I'm even angry or upset at this stage. I sit down on the grass with Noah lowering himself next to me. "Are you gonna talk to me about it now?" "I don't want to talk about it." "Then what else are you going to do? Hold it all in then end up feeling ten times worse?" "I feel like talking about it does absolutely fucking shit. Like it changes nothing. Every time we talk about it, and every time nothing changes." Our conversation is interrupted by a phone call. I decide to pick up, standing up and walking away from Noah to take it. Yeah, I remember what I said about disliking private conversations. Don't worry. Maybe I'm a hypocrite, but I'm sometimes a painfully self aware one. "Look.. I know you're upset with me. But you need to understand why I got upset with him. He did it, El. Remember the incident at Mirror Park Gas? The one with the gunshots? Yeah, that was him. The kid had a family. Not to mention he put you in danger that night. He just admitted murder not just to me but in front of a cop as well. He admitted the blame." Dad offers to stay away from the house tonight if I think it'd help me. That really isn't what I want at all. I'm not mad at him. I can't be mad at someone for getting angry over something like that. But I just care about him. If he's capable of shooting up a gas station, what else is he capable of? What if Dad got too angry and ended up saying something that set the other guy off? What if he ended up going for him? "Right.. I get it. I'm just a violent guy. Don't worry, you won't see me again." The phone hangs up before I get the chance to say anything. I feel sick. Why do I have to fuck conversations like these up every time? Why do I always end up saying the wrong things? Why do I always end up saying the opposite of everything I mean? What did he do to deserve this? "Mhm.. I had better go. Stay safe, and I'm sorry." The phone hangs up before I get the chance to say anything. I feel sick. Why do I have to fuck conversations like these up every time? Why do I always end up saying the wrong things? Why do I always end up saying the opposite of everything I mean? What did he do to deserve this? I sigh and slip my phone back into my pocket, going to head back towards the car without alerting Noah. It seems I don't have to, though, since he starts walking behind me at his own accord. "Where you off to?" "Just walking." Again, he tells me to sit like I'm some animal. If I sit, it's not going to do anything good. I need to walk so I can cool off, what's so hard to understand about that..? I walk over to the edge where the water and the cliff meets, taking my phone back out my pocket. I wonder what happens if I throw it. There's so much fucking shit on here I wish I could just dispose of, but I know I can't. But if I'm going to keep fucking things up like this, what's the point? Might as well evolve into a fucking hermit. Noah gently takes the phone out of my hand, probably knowing it's a ridiculous thing to do and that we both know I'm likely going to regret it in fifteen minutes from now. He gets me to sit back down next to him. That numb feeling's kicking in again. It's like it's what my mind defaults to when it's not sure what to think or feel. I wish it didn't do that. "Listen.. I love you, I do. To pieces. And I'd do anything to make you happy, but I can't help you if you don't let me. When are you going to realize that this is a bad idea..? He takes me by the hand. I don't do anything. "Just.. stop thinking, completely. About the whole scenario, pretend it never happened. Don't want any excuses, I know it's hard but just force it. It's just me and you, sat besides the ocean, hugging as always, and that's never going anywhere." I can't concentrate because I can hear my phone going off like mad. Noah still has it in his pocket after taking it off me minutes earlier. "Can you just.. give me my phone, please..? I'll just text Xio and then I'll give it back.." "Promise?" "Yeah.." He offers me my phone back. I text Xio just to apologize and ask her to check in with Dad, telling her I think it's best I keep my distance from them for a while. She says she'll check in on him, but that she's worried about me as well. I simply tell her not to be, and hand my phone back to Noah. Regardless, the phone keeps going off. Noah picks them up this time. "Mari's asking where we are." "Up to you if you tell her I guess.." I guess Noah decided to tell her where we were at as he went up to go meet her at the cars. I decide to stay behind. I have no intentions of going anywhere, but I do need ten minutes to myself to think and process. Almost like a computer, I suppose. I eventually make my way down to join Noah and Marusya at the vehicles. "What's going on?" "It's nothing. Just the usual shit." I say. It's not like that's a lie, either. I feel like I'm a record stuck on repeat sometimes. Is talking about it really going to change anything this time? "You didn't fuck anything up. Darryl did." I can only assume that's "D". "And he got what was coming to him. Wanna hear about it?" I shrug my shoulders, adjusting my stance on the ground. I've got both my arms folded across my chest. "That man looked Rico in the face time and time again, knowing that Rico was questioned, threatened, stressed out by all this shit, and still lied to him. I can understand him getting angry. Had I ever known the notion of family or what it is to protect them, live for them, I'd have had it too." "I know. So would I. But that's not what I'm getting at here.." "Then what's wrong?" "The issue here is myself. I fucking.. got angry and walked off again without knowing the situation. Then, as always, said situation turns out to be perfectly fucking logical, but by which point I've already fucked things up with everyone else to go back. If it weren't for me, Dad wouldn't be running off to the fucking Cabins all the time. Wouldn't be constantly getting hurt the way he does. I'm the one who keeps causing that by doing this every time something goes down. I'm aware. I don't fight. I don't get involved. I don't try and calm people down. Don't try and diffuse the situation. I just run away and make things worse. I'm a coward." Marusya goes quiet for a few moments herself. "I've been here for nearly a month. I've met wonderful people, a wonderful family, a group of close friends. And all of that was more or less credit to Rico. When the first dipshit started to discredit the MC, he took it personally and.. obviously his attitude and mood changed, thing that you seem to be very perceptive of. And then the shooting happened, once again pointing back at them.. not your fault. You guys are just tow peas in a pod and you really need to understand that nothing you do is the reason why he gets hurt. We've caught and arrested the guy doing this to him. And all I want is for everything to be fine. I'm here right now." "Maybe, but there's stuff that's happened before this as well. This isn't the only instance of me doing stuff like this.." "What happened?" "Well.. that time he got sliced by that guy outside the bar? That was because of me. When someone punched him the other day? That was because of me. He's ended up either running away or landing up in Hospital several times, all because of me. That isn't what I want." "Honey, you went through serious fucking trauma. Your fight or flight is normal. Everyone does something when they feel threatened. Like me, I fight. I like to fight. I am defensive. I'm protective and relentless but the flight? It's normal. All you have to do is realize that there's an army of people out here to keep you, and each-other, safe. You're part of a chain that simply cannot work without you. You, Noah. We're all linked now, one way or another. When shit goes down.. we don't blame. We don't mope. We deal with it in our own ways. Sometimes broken, wrong, fucked up... but we do what we gotta do." Noah puts his opinion out. "You don't handle things the wrong way. What's the point of sticking there if you're gonna either lose your temper or feel like utter dog shit? If anything, when you remove yourself from the situation, you're doing the best thing." Marusya suggests that I ask what the best thing to do when situations like those go down is, making a back-up plan in case people get lost or separated. That way we know where youa re, no one worries and we'll come get you when it's safe or.. literally just tell you it's alright." "We've tried.. and every time it just never seems to work. I just go wherever feels safe in that moment." "What makes this safer than home?" "Because.. it just feels like every time I fuck things up, they're not going to want or need me home. That if I'd just.;. go away, it'd be better for all of them." "We could do so much more if we were all united though, you know?" "But what's the point..? By that point I'd just sit there either getting angry with everyone or just not saying anything at all. I just sit there because I never can figure out what to say to make it better. Just sorta figured it's better to stay away when things turn bad.." "Maybe you're not supposed to say anything. You're just supposed to be 'there' because people don't want anything more than company most of the time." I just roll my shoulders and nod with a gentle sigh. I know she isn't wrong. At the same time.. despite being told all this hundreds of times.. those doubts won't go away. Marusya and Noah switch to talking for a bit whilst I just stand there, still very much having struggled to process everything that's gone on. Xio's text me to say Dad's home and asleep, they talked over how he felt and he's feeling a little better, just tired. "So, how about we go back? Get some sleep." Marusya proposes. I just give in by this point and agree to go back. I know deep down for a fact that none of them are leaving this place until I do. Might as well not keep them held back.. Noah and Marusya tail me back to the house in her car, making sure I actually get there. Sometimes I appreciate stuff like that. Maybe tonight was one of those nights. I push open the door, finding Xio standing there looking at me. I'm pretty nervous about it. I'm sure she's heard many stories of me being like this before, but I know that actually having to deal with me during them can be.. next to impossible. "Hey, there you are.. you alright? You're looking kinda rough." "Yeah.. I'm fine." "You'oun look fine.. look, I know you had a long.. you and tu padre, tu savy? Pero, I have something for you. You might be interested in it a bit. I ain't gonna bug ya' about t'shit you been into, I know ya'ain't in the mood for talkin' right now." Without her or myself saying anything, she goes to take something off the kitchen counter. In the most simplest words possible, it's a plate of white chocolate chip cookies. I take the plate from her, although on second thoughts, was I only supposed to take the one cookie off it? "Thanks.." I mumble back, keeping my vision locked on the cookies for a couple of seconds. "Like I said.. I won't make you talk about ti. You'll talk when ya' wanna, I figure. You just enjoy. You wanna be alone, then be alone, you're all good. If you do ever wanna chat about the shit.. I'll always be at your side. You'll be okay though, mija, I promise." She moves in to hug me. I let her. She steps back, afterwards speaking again despite my silence. "Now if you want.. I'll be up here watching Toy Story.. can join, or not. Up to you. Do what ya' want. I'm just really happy to see you." I pause for a few seconds to debate my answer. "Sure.. I'll, uh.. I'll join you." "Course. I was hoping ya would. I have one request, however.." she says, looking over my clothes, which I figure must be pretty dirtied up from sitting on the mountain still. "I need you to go shower." Well, I guess if anything, that's something I can do.. I go downstairs with one of the cookies, which.. turn out to actually be pretty nice. The shower somewhat makes me feel better, but at the same time my legs are kind of sore.. guess that's to be expected. I get changed into my pyjamas and go back upstairs, waiting by the top of the stairwell as if waiting on some sort of cue to occur. "Y'know you can sit down, right?" Xio asks, looking over at me. I just nod in acknowledgement and head over to the sofa, sitting down on the opposite end. "Are you.. sure that Dad's alright?" I ask, finally speaking up. "Yeah.. he's jsut fine. We met up and spoke, hugged it out. We came home, I fed him, which he REALLY seemed to enjoy. Then he went to sleep." I give two light nods. "And you?" "Yeah, I'm doing alright," she says with a quiet chuckle. She looks back over towards me. "Have you, uh.. ever thought of donig anything else with that?" She gestures a palm towards my hair. I explain that I'm not sure. I've had my hair longer before and all. I tell her the story about how I used to wear my hair down all the time, but after running away from my Mom's, I started wearing it in pigtails. It just helped me feel safer, like perhaps she wouldn't recognize me if she saw me. Somehow, wearing it up has just become a habit of mine now. I find it gets in the way of my face otherwise. Xio says she thinks I should totally color my hair up. Apparently she could see me with blue, purple or pink hair. I'm not sure I could. I think I'd stand out too much. She motions me closer on the notion that she doesn't bite, so I shuffle myself a bit closer to her, apologizing for causing such a mess. The way Xio says she sees it is that Dad was just concerned about me, and that when he is, he takes it out on himself. He figured he fucked up, whilst I figured I fucked up. He pours his heart and soul into his family so when he saw me upset, he panicked. "Maybe.. but that's sort of exactly my point," I say. "Well, regardless, I think you being there and walking off actually made him realize he needed to stop and walk away himself before he did end up doing something stupid. You served as a reminder of why he needs to not get so worked up. So.. in essence, you saved him from hurting himself. I get what you're getting at.. I really do. But you can't control other people or what they do. If they were meant to leave, then it would've happened with or without your interjection. Plus, can't change nothin' with what ifs, and maybe if I hads, ya' know?" "Wish I could.." "I do too.. so much I'd.. well, there'd be a lot of shit I'd have done different with my life if I could. However.. had i done so, I may not be here right now, with you, these cookies and Toy Story. And that's something I'd never wanna change. You're not my daughter in the sense that I ain't had ya, but I damn sure love ya' like I did. That's a fact. And wouldn't change me being here with you and your Dad for the world." Somehow, there's something about that that makes me begin crying again.. I don't get how people can be so nice and understanding about shit like this. I can't even understand myself. How are others doing it so.. easily? Especially someone like Xio who's so new to all this.. "Hey, hey. No tears, mija," she says, scooting a bit closer, wiping her hand against my face, if only for a brief moment. "Look.. your Dad is a grown man, ya? He can make decisions for himself, just as I do, just as you do. We don't need no catalyst for what we do, we just.. do. You are no scapegoat, no matter how much you try to make yourself out to be. You wanna internalize the things that go on around you and take it in, blame it on yourself, as if you're a problem, and you're not. He loves you to death and wouldn't be able to function without you. I know this for a fact. You're literally a ray of sunshine in his life and he wakes up daily thankful to have you. You're loved, you're treasured, and you're not a burden. You're not a problem, a scapegoat, nor a catalyst for issues in other people's lives or decisions that they make as adults. I promise you, mija, you aren't. And I'll be sure to tell you every single day if I have to." "Plus.." she pauses. "You should know this. I made ya' cookies. I don't even make Rico fuckin' cookies, fuck outta here." She gives me a soft chuckle along with a smile. Somehow, I can't help but smile a little back, but at the same time.. I can feel myself trying harder and harder not to completely break down. It's not of sadness.. nor of anger. I don't know what it is. It just is. Xio puts her arm around me. "I know.. it's alright, mija. I need you to remember you're safe here and you're loved here. Y'know.. we should go out sometime together, you and me. We'll go clothes shopping, a nice light and easy day. Get some clothes, maybe even some ice cream, sit at a park and chill." I give her a few light nods of approval, having slightly buried my head into her shoulder. "Good.. we'll hash something out and find a time and day. Saw you hanging around with another girl before. Didn't catch her name but you can even bring her along if you want. Entirely up to you." I tell her the story about how Noah and I met Grace, although apparently she never knew Noah's name. Thought it was a whole load of things. Victor, Stanley, Justin.. I definitely couldn't imagine him as a Stanley. It makes me chuckle, just a little. She suggests I try and get some sleep. It's been a long day for everyone and we all need our rest. I can't help but agree.. with all the walking, the crying and just.. emotions in general, and if you add boxing from this morning on top of that? I feel like I could just sleep the rest of the day off. I walk up to the edge of the stairwell, turning to go down the stairs. I falter and look back at Xio, who's stood there to watch me. "Thank you.." I say, albeit quietly to her. And I do mean that. "No need for thanks.. I may not be your Mom, but I figured I could play the role a bit. Attempt to.. anyway, I'm inexperienced and learning.." Even she seems to be stuttering worse than I do when I'm nervous. I swallow a small lump in my throat, giving her a brief smile. Saying what I want to say makes me nervous, part of it even feels wrong, like I'm betraying somebody, but.. if it's what I honestly feel, then I have to speak up about it, right? "You're doing good.." Xio gives a smile back towards me, but for once seems speechless. "Make.. sure you and Dad both get a good rest, yeah..?" "Without a doubt," she says. "You do the same as well." "I'll try to.. I'll see you tomorrow?" "You know it," she replies, with a final smile from both of us before I make my way down the stairs. As I crawl under the bedsheets, despite what Xio said to me, I can't help but reflect on the "what ifs" and "if onlys". I'm not sure where I'm going to start tomorrow.. I guess by first apologizing to Dad, Mariya and the others.. that usually seems to be a starting point that works, but I'm scared that it's growing into a "boy who cried wolf" situation.. someone who always apologizes for the same thing time and time again without ever really changing who they are. I don't wish to become somebody who just spouts empty words and promises.. that's something my Mom would do. She's the last person I want to be anything like. I wonder for how much longer such a simple response will work for, though. Is it going to see me through until the very end of all this?
  4. 21/APR/2021 4 months, and I still hate this place just as much. I still don't feel like I can say anything. There's just something about opening up to people like this that just feels so uncomfortable, almost like it's an interrogation as opposed to an actual conversation. What feels even more weird is that Lani, technically my Aunt in law, is now my psychologist. This morning, I finally got that first aid course with Grace done and out of the way. She insisted we went without making an appointment, though I still think we should've rung up to ask first, just in case they were busy. We end up having that friend of Dad's as our Instructor. I still can't remember her name, though. We learnt all about "basic procedures", as she called them. Stuff like staying out the area and just calling nine one one if it's the scene of a shooting, just in case there's more than one of them, or if they come back. Grace and I are also taught how to check pulses - something about being able to check through both the neck or the wrist with your fingers. There was a dummy on the ground that she kept trying to demonstrate the techniques on, though I kept trying to see if I could feel my own pulse, very much hoping I would have one. There's a bit more to it. Learning how to stop bleeding and how not to take objects out of woudns, how to help someone who's choking, dealing with burns, and probably my least favourite part, how to try and start a stopped heart. It's definitely not on the list of scenarios I like to imagine or things that I like to think about. Overall, it wasn't too bad though. We even got a certificate and leaflet for it, which is nice. I actually feel oddly proud of myself for completing it. Later on, I met up with Noah. I'd gone out cycling round the City for a bit, since I still had a little bit of time left before I needed to return it to the rental company. Noah kept being stupid on his bike and falling off. Grace then showed us this small place she was using to try and start professionally getting into photography. Turns out she had some money saved up, and both with that and some help from her care provider, she'd manage to start renting out this small office space which, funnily enough, is right opposite the station. Noah and I also decided to take the time to show Grace the Creek Trails. It's slowly become one of our favourite hang out spots. I end up having to explain the situation with my Dad to her as she sort of got confused when I told her he was only thirty years old. After a quick shopping trip down in Morningwood, we finally head back to my own place to wait for Dad and the others to arrive. It's whilst we're standing there that I get a text from Lani stating I've got a psychology appointment down at SEMC, which I thought was.. odd, since I definitely didn't schedule one for today. I definitely would've remembered, and if not, I would've written it down in my phone calendar, surely. I felt bad leaving Grace and Noah alone, especially as I know Grace was sort of getting a bit bored of waiting. Even I didn't know where Dad was. For a while, I just had to trust Noah to make sure she was alright. The psychology appointment was nothing really different than usual. Talking about some things is getting a little bit easier, or at least I'm finding that they are. I took the moment to tell Lani I'm sorry for the position I put her into that night. I realize now that I should've told Dad first thing, before I even let it happen. Lani seemed convinced that it was fine and then moved on to talking about how slow their devices are being lately, which caused us to then eventually end the session early since she literally couldn't get the stuff she needed off there. I didn't have a problem with it, though. By that point, I kind of just wanted to get back to the others. Right now I've just gotten back to the house, and everyone has already showed up at the house. Or, well, is just about showing up. Grace has gone out front and isolated herself by the wall though, so.. I've decided I should go and check up on her. That's what friends are supposed to do.. right? Grace tells me it's just because she's not used to big crowds, but it turns out there's something else as well, which.. has made me feel like I've been left at a bit of a crossroad. Grace admits to me that, even though we've all known eachother for barely any time at all, she really likes Noah. Like, really, really likes him. I.. honestly don't know what to say about it. I've still not stopped considering what he asked me before, and truth be told.. I was growing on the idea. But I can't stop them.. can I? I don't feel frustrated, but I don't feel upset either. I'm not sure what I can call this feeling, although that, in itself, is very much frustrating. Grace told me she'd be back round in about ten minutes, but she isn't, and Noah's had to go home thanks to having work tomorrow. As per usual, everyone is sort of busy with their own thing, so I perch myself back against the stair rails. I like it back here. You get a good view of everything and everyone. Kinda lets you keep an eye on everything, I suppose. It's at that point when Xiomara suddenly comes and leans next to me to ask me how I am. If anything, I feel a little upset that everyone's suddenly disappeared. I've no idea where Grace, or even Ruby, went. And, well.. so as it turns out, Dad's asked Xio to marry him, but she.. apparently wanted to talk to me about it, since I'm his daughter. I mean.. what am I supposed to say? I guess I kind of figured it'd happen at some point. Things have been kind of settled lately, her and I have been getting along pretty well and I've never seen Dad happier.. I don't know, I don't get why she's seemingly asking for my blessing on this whole thing. There's a whole mix of feelings rushing through my head right now, and honestly I think I'd just rather sleep.. perhaps it's just one of those things that you need to sleep on to know what you really think about it. "Also.. you don't have to call me like.. 'Mom' or anything once it's all done. I figure that might be fucking weird or something, so it's all good," she says, to which I just nod. I try and give her some sort of awkward as hell side-hug, not really sure what to say. I just want her to know I'm not going to stand in the way of it. I have no reason and no right to. Xio walks off to go join Dad for a bit after I tell her she should. Stuff like that.. you're supposed to celebrate, not stand with the mopey teenager. Even Dad comes over to talk to me at one point though, asking me if I'm happy. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm not happy.. things haven't been too bad recently, like I said. But I don't know, I'm just still so scared. I'm not used to this. At all. What's that sort of stuff even like? Is it going to be like my birth Mom and Dad all over again? Or is it going to be completely different? Marriage is supposed to change everything, right? At least I'm pretty sure that's what they say about it.. With everything going on with what Grace and told me and now this.. I'm starting to feel all drifty again, so I decide it's in my best interest to just go to bed and leave the others up here to celebrate. There's a weird feeling in my head. It's not painful, but it's not empty either. Maybe dull? Or even Hollow? None of those feel like they exactly fit, either. I wish I could find the right words for these things..
  5. 20/APR/2021 I don't exactly like being asked questions. Especially when people are just asking you things over and over again. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind answering them if I can, but it feels almost suffocating - like some sort of immense pressure that's put on my shoulders until I can answer. Perhaps, however, that's just me worrying too much about providing the wrong kind of answer. Either way - was agreeing to this game of truth or dare really a good idea? I'm still unaware why I've dragged myself down to the beach. I barely slept last night and then, on top of that, I had boxing at 10am. Dad's gone for his usual Hospital stuff today, so it's just me. Simultaneously, as much as I could do with a nap at this very moment, my sleeping schedule is already beyond messed up and I don't exactly want to create any more of a hassle with it. Walking along after leaving the bridge, when a dirtbike suddenly pulls to a halt next to me after seemingly coming out of nowhere. It feels like my heart itself actually skipped a beat before I realized it was Noah perched on top of said dirt bike. "Shalom," he says in his usual greeting tone. "Dude. You scared the shit out of me," I say. "How come?" Well, Noah, I'm not sure if many people would exactly be at ease if a dirt bike approached the way you just did without warning. "Didn't see you," I explain. He gives me nothing but a friendly roll of his eyes before parking the bike up. For once, he's actually utilized the parking spaces. I'm impressed. He suggests that we go to the coffee shop, but to be perfectly honest, I am way too tired to deal with other people right now. I think I might just about snap, and that's the last thing I really want or need at the moment. We sit down on the floor and go through our usual questions. What we've been up to, how we are, that sorta stuff. He keeps bugging me about the fact that I refused to share a bowl of cereal with him the other day. Although, one thing that's making me laugh is that he doesn't say "cereal". No, he says "ceral", because according to him, "that's the right way of saying it". I don't know why it makes me laugh so much. It just does. Noah and I sort of discuss how things have been at home. I talk to him about how I'm worried I'm feeling the wrong things over Xio having moved in. As far as I'm concerned, it's just one of those things I need to try and get over myself. It's my own issue. We end up talking about school as well. I still haven't got that paperwork done with Dad yet. We've both kinda been busy with our own stuff, I guess. Eventually we move off the more trickier topics, although only because Noah starts going on about how he wants to nick my shoes. He then proceeds to address me as a midget so I jokingly pick up some sand with my hand, albeit most of it immediately sives through. I move over to him and just put a small amount of sand on the top of his hat as a decoration. I'd make a sandcastle on there if I had the time and energy. He wraps his arms around my legs which then causes me to fall flat on my behind before taking his hat off to drain the sand away, so I take my chance and gently steal the hat right out of his hand, putting it over his face so he can't see a thing. "There, now you look good," I joke. He takes the hat off his face and chucks it right at mine. I try dodging it but apparently I was no match for this hat. I catch the hat in my palms after it momentarily blinds me and throw it right back at him. SOMEHOW he dodges it. The cheek. I decide now is the time to take drastic measures. As tired as I am, this must be done. I crawl over to retrieve the hat and absolutely bolt it through to the other side of the beach, knowing full well Noah won't even dare follow me. He hates running. Someone's left a random chair in the middle of the sand, so I gently position the hat on top of the chair. I can only hope whoever put the chair here doesn't come back. I don't exactly feel like the games are over yet, so I try to sneak round to the other side of the wall, meaning I have to tip-toe behind Noah to actually get there. Thankfully, for once, he's as oblivious as I know I can be sometimes. I lower myself behind the wall and pick up a pebble. My goal is to not throw it at him, and preferably nowhere near him. I don't trust my aim or co-ordination whatsoever. This is supposed to be fun. I don't want to risk turning it into something it's not. However, when I perk my head up from behind the wall to try and see where he is, I'm met with his face right in front of mine instead. Damn it.. I was looking forward to confusing him. "You moved!" I say, jokingly pouting as if I was a young toddler about to enter a full on temper tantrum. "I don't think I did." "Clearly you did." "Nah. Just seeing things. I'm the ghost of Noah." I squint my eyes at him, but at the same time give him a soft smirk so he knows I'm not actually mad. I can just get him back another time, he just won't know it. Then again, I suppose I did already steal his hat. Before I have a chance to tell him otherwise, he hops over the fencing that shields off the ledge above the canal leading to the ocean. "Reckon it'd hurt if I jumped?" It's like the moment he says that, I'm so easily switched to a place of unease. "Look.. this isn't you. Just please come home with me, I don't want to go back by myself." There's a look in his eyes I can't explain. I want to stop this. So why can't I stop this? "Dude, don't.." I unconvincingly speak out, my tone having definitely changed. Noah explains that he's joking, but I think he can tell it's unnerved me. I've never told him about what I did at the bridge that day, and I'm not sure I ever intend to. I'm not proud of it and it's not something I want to look back on when I can avoid it. I keep telling you, I don't know why I did it. It wasn't even me. Not really. At the same time it was.. look, I don't know, I don't understand as much as you don't understand. I'm not sure if anyone really ever.. fully understands this kind of stuff anyway. There's always so much more to it. "Look, just.. don't joke about that sort of stuff, okay? Like please, seriously." "It's just water." "I know it's water." You know when.. you go to do something silly, but you don't actually think anything's going to come of it? And then you're immediately like.. "Well, that was a stupid thing to do?" It was like that, only I didn't have time to think afterwards, because the damage was already done. I just knew. I'm not sure I'd ever wished for time travel so quicker than in that moment. I'm beginning to feel myself get a little agitated. "I can dangle off here. Done it before." I give a slow nod of my head. He hops himself back over the railings, pulling me slightly closer towards him. "Sorry.." "It's alright.." I mumble back. Noah initiates a change of subject, asking me how old Cookie is instead. Dad says she likes to run riot when I'm not home, trying to play with his bar earrings. Somehow.. that's unsurprising. "Where does she sleep?" "Uh.. sometimes on the couch but usually down on my bed." "Does she give you free cuddles or is she one of them who just goes to the end of the bed and sleep?" "Uhm.. sort of a bit of both, I guess..? I.. think she likes to pretend she prefers the second one but usually when I wake up she'll have crawled up next to me." We stay talking about that line of subject for a while. I guess it kind of helps. I don't know.. what was all that about? Apparently Noah's thinking of getting a dog as well. A husky, to be specific. I swear everyone I know has a husky. I can't blame them though, they are cute. Then again, all dogs are, at least that's what I think. I'm starting to feel a little better, like I'm not getting dragged in to some old memory, so we break the location and head up to the shop on the pier to grab some marshmallows with the initial intentions of just sitting down somewhere, making our way through them and then heading back most likely. We're sat just by the row of telescopes when this girl approaches. Compared to when you first meet most people in this City, she seems rather.. upbeat and almost.. bubbly? Literally right off the bat. She's got her blonde hair wrapped up in what I believe they call space buns? I don't know, I've seen this style around a lot. Kind of always thought it was cool. That's when I realize she's holding Noah's hat in her hand. "Heyaaa~," she greets in almost a sing-song like tone. "I found this hat, it belong to either of you?" Noah glances at me for a brief second before eyeing the girl again. "That'd be mine, sorry." She hands the hat back to him and he shuffles it back on top of his head, telling the girl the story of how I stole the hat. "I don't blame her, it's a nice hat." I adjust my position on the ground slightly, mostly letting those two converse. At the same time.. maybe now would be a great time to try and help build against my anxiety when it comes to talking with strangers? "Name's Grace, and you two?" "Noah, feel free to grab a seat. We're anti-social fuckers." 'Coming from the one actually socializing..' I think to myself. "That makes three of us," Grace adds, sitting down on the sand as opposed to the wood Noah and I are both perched on. I offer Grace one of the marshmallows, though she denies. It feels sort of awkward like that, but I can't force her to take a marshmallow. As it so turns out, she's seventeen years old just like us two. Like "normal" teenagers, I suppose, we vent about school for a bit, even though I haven't started actually going back yet. Still need to get that paperwork sorted. Grace now makes a third person that school just hasn't been working well for. Grace suggests we all meet up at the skate park a little, rent bikes or something. It's been ages since I've ridden a bicycle. Sure, there was the dirt-bike. But that's a dirt-bike. She tells her a bit about herself, how she used to live up in Vinewood but her parents kicked her out. She's into photography as well, which captures my attention a bit more - no pun intended. Apparently she loves cars as well, which I think shocked Noah way too much, but it's nice to see him finding common ground with someone. I don't get to see it often. We go back on to talking about school and how all three of us have, at some point or another, been victims of people who are assholes. "Good, you can defend me then," says Grace. "Nah, I'll get called a simp considering everyone likes that word all a sudden. Hate that work." "You're telling me you don't simp Ellie?" "What's simp?" I ask, perking my head up, prompting Grace to grin even harder than she already is. Noah explains how a simp is basically something a dude gets called every time he sticks up for a girl, apparently. Not that I really understand. We part ways temporarily after that and arrange to meet up at the bike rental place. I take a bit longer than the rest of the others since I'd left my car back at the house. Noah had brought his dirt-bike, so I couldn't use that, and I didn't feel comfortable enough asking to use Grace's vehicle. We eventually reach the skate park after having some troubles with myself when it came to getting down the ramps to an area suitable for sitting. Unlike Grace and Noah, I decide to stay sat on my bike, leaning forward against the handlebars. "Noah. You're a simp," I say, having looked him dead in the eyes. Now, normally I wouldn't have said that, but Grace may or may not have dared me to before we left earlier. I think it was that reminder that brought Grace to suggest the next activity. "You guys wanna play truth or dare?" I've never had a liking for this game. It just feels so.. personal, either that or embarrassing, depending on which you choose. Some of the times it's both personal AND embarassing. Simultaneously, I can't help but wonder if maybe this is what I need to get out of my comfort zone. It starts off pretty easy. Grace dares Noah to show us his best dance moves, which aren't too great at all. In fact, they cause Grace to tip herself over with laughter, causing me to laugh more than I already felt like. Noah asks Grace about her life goals, and then when I struggle to come up with something to ask someone else, Grace tries to get me to do a forfeit by saying I have to cuddle Noah for the rest of the game. Don't get me wrong.. I don't mind hugs, but I really struggle with ones that just go on and on. I don't like it for some reason, my whole body just tenses up. Plus.. maybe with anyone else it would be fine, but I'm not sure how I feel about showing that sort of stuff in front of Grace, or even in public in general. On top of that.. what if he gets the wrong idea? I try my best to force out a question for Noah. "What's one thing you wish people knew about you?" It just seems like a typical question, I guess. He shrugs lightly, "Everyone already knows I'm fucking awesome". Grace then asks me what the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to me is. There's a thousand easy answers I could give to this one, but I decide to go with an extremely old memory, about when I was in second grade and we'd gone on our swimming lessons. Didn't listen when the teacher told us not to run by the pool and I ended up going splat on my face in front of everybody and winded up with a nosebleed. I did get to miss out on swimming lessons that day, though. Dared by Noah, Grace licks the skate park wall. I can't help but grimace. She did it so easily as well, like it was nothing. I don't want to imagine what's been on those walls. I don't think this stuff ever gets cleaned off. I then dare Grace to try and talk in a British accent for 2 minutes, since I find those sort of funny. She manages it for one sentence. Eventually, Grace turns her looks back to me. "Ellie, truth or dare?" "Uhh.. truth." "What's the thing in life you've done that you're most proud of?" I have to take a second to think. There's nothing specific I can think of. "Probably surviving, I guess?" She just nods, not requesting further context, much to my luck. All she says is, "proud of you, you're turn now". Noah wants a dare, so I give him something that's a bit of both. There's this thing I saw on a playthrough of a video game not long ago, where the person has to tell you two truths and a lie, and then the others have to guess which one the lie is. "Mmh.. I hate living alone, I think Ellie is straight up adorable, I've been in handcuffs." "Handcuffs is the lie," Grace announces. I have to agree with her, though at the same time, maybe he doesn't hate living alone. I can't tell with him sometimes. But as it turns out, it was hating living alone that was the lie. The game goes on for a bit longer. We learn a bit more about Grace. I end up daring Noah to howl like a wolf, which was pretty funny. After exchanging phone numbers, I head back to the house to take Dad some stuff. When I go back, Grace is gone and it's just Noah, though apparently she's coming back later. For some reason, it's like the environment's changed since she left. I think I know why. We go and sit near one of the lifeguard huts, but it's evident something's playing on that mind. I wonder if that's what others think of me when I'm feeling down. "You're pissed at me because of what I said earlier, right..?" "Not pissed.. just a bit naff, I suppose? Like I'm not sure how to feel or how to react." "It wasn't meant like that.. I don't know how to explain it, but it wasn't meant to come out the way it did. I'm sorry," I say quietly. Noah says he feels like I've got nothing to apologize for and it's just him being daft, but at the end of the day, I still upset him. Noah and I sort it out between ourselves, eventually deciding to just ride up and down the cycling track until Grace returns. She eventually calls me, however Noah had to leave literally all but 10 minutes ago. Something about work tomorrow. Grace surprises me by announcing it's her birthday now, which makes me feel kinda bad. I know we just met and all, but I still would've liked to have got her a card, or some cake, or at least something. In the end, I'm left by myself after a quick phone call with her. It's gotten pretty late and apparently the person taking care of her wants to spend some time with her. I invite her to a barbecue Dad has planned tomorrow. Maybe I can get her something for then. I continue cycling up and down the path until I see a familiar face sat in the parking lot. Ruby. It's been a little while since I've seen her. We get talking about stuff.. how it's been a bit of a long week with all the changes going on. The last time I remember seeing Ruby was when that strange guy showed up, but I vaguely remember blanking her for a bit back then, so I apologize for that. I explain about how I'm considering taking some sort of first aid course.. just with everything that's been going on recently, maybe it'd be good to know something. I know Dad took one a while back as well. If something goes bad, I want to be able to do something more than just standing or running away. Even if I can't fight, maybe being able to help the people who do is at least something good. Ruby offers to take me back to my car and tail me back home since, hey, neither of us exactly trust this City at night. I decide to leave my bike on the beach, somewhere out of view. It's not due back at the rental place until tomorrow and I can just walk down here first thing tomorrow. Doubt the bike will fit in my car. Maybe I need to invest in one of those bike rack things if this is something I'm considering doing often? Who knows? I've got a lot of stuff to consider and think about, it seems.. then again, when don't I? I guess the plan for tomorrow is to call Grace, get her a little something and hope the barbecue goes well. Talking about it like that makes it seem so calm and worry-less, but lately I'm struggling more and more to predict people. You'd have thought predicting people's actions and words would be something I became extremely used to, if not dependent on, for the few months I was relying on the streets. And I'm pretty sure I did, at least I like to think I knew how to guess. Maybe I just forgot.
  6. 17/APR/2021 It's days like today that I hate. Not because anything in particular happened. Well, not until later at least. I woke up today knowing exactly what day it was, courtesy of my stomach feeling like crazy. Unlucky for me, I seem to be one of those people who get the worse side of cramps, especially for the first few days. Somewhat luckily, eating seems to help ease it, if only for a little while. So I did the exact same thing I usually do this time of month - go to the shops, spend what feels like my entire bank account on snacks, head home, eat and pray it calms down. Desperate for fresh air, I stood outside with my bag of food, which I'm sure looked slightly weird to any bystanders. I didn't give it much of a second thought, though. I gotta do what I gotta do, and this is definitely one of those things. Noah wasn't much different than usual and rocked up to the house without announcement of arrival. He kept going on about how I look pale, asking me if I just hadn't slept much or what-not. He just wouldn't stop pushing me for an answer, even though I told him several times it was just "personal stuff. I think he actually got pretty upset when I refused to tell him. How the hell am I supposed to tell him, though? "Hey, Noah, great news, my uterus is exploding". No way.. that shit's just.. well, it's awkward. I was saved by the bell when Dad walked out of the house, albeit he also enquired into the bar of chocolate I was holding. In all fairness, he was probably just wondering why I hadn't shared. Apparently Dad's quote unquote "favorite detective" was following Noah around, no idea why though. Noah went off for a bit so I could talk to Dad. I've not been able to stop worrying about this whole new routine. What if he does things differently to her? I don't know anything about what they like to do, how they want things to be, how they've scheduled things out between them. What days do I need to avoid the house? What's going to change? Dad tried to tell me that Xio moving in doesn't change things, but all this just feels so uneasy. What if I accidentally walk in on something I'm not supposed to, or prevent them from doing the things that they want to just because I'm around? I don't wanna mess things up for them like I did for Mum and some of her guys.. there was one time I came back home whilst she was, uh.. in the middle of something, and he got so pissed, he ended up just walking out. Apparently she never told him a 16 year old child was part of the deal. I know that, in this case, Xio's already aware of that, but still.. this is a relationship I can't afford to fuck up. I don't know, though.. he said Xio apparently thinks a lot of me. I'm not sure how. We still barely know eachother. Dad suggested that we go to Two Hoots once he's taken a shower. No reason to say no, and besides, it'd been ages since we'd been there. Mind you, I got stuck with Terry for a little while, who'd apparently had a bad day thanks to some people "getting on his nerves". Said he'd sold an old car for parts, but the guy trying to sell Terry his car turned out to be a.. ricer, whatever the hell that is. I bet it's a term Noah would know all about if I had asked him. We got talking about pets for a little bit. Terry apparently used to own a breed of dog called "Doberman". Several of them, actually. Said their names were Chase, Ricardo, Julio, Emilio, Ernesto and Josefina. We kind of then just both stood there talking about the same subjects repeatedly until Noah showed back up, followed by Dad who had to quickly run off for a towing job. I still hate it whenever he leaves this place, especially alone. Noah and I were busy joking about crisps until he accidentally said something that apparently sort of set Terry off. Terry had asked me to bite Noah's finger off, to which I said I wouldn't. Noah then chimed in with a "that's what she said". "Kid.. learn some self restraint," Terry started. God, not now, I thought. Can't we just having one fucking day without a single argument? It already felt like too much to ask for. Noah then began arguing back about how he's seventeen and that he is who he is. Terry takes him aside for "a talk", which I really can't be fucking arsed to put up with. Just get along would you? It's not that hard. I took myself round of the back, deciding to just sit there until whenever Dad returned from this towing job of his. Noah came back round eventually by himself. I didn't know if Terry had just finished talking with him or if he'd simply had enough and stormed off. Wouldn't surprise me if it was the second one, though. We sort of all got into a brief argument over it when Dad and the others came back. Well.. I wouldn't say argument, maybe just frustration. I don't know.. all this pisses me off. Noah ended up going home, something about having some stuff to do. I'm honestly not half convinced it isn't because of what either Terry or I said to him.. I know he exactly doesn't handle shit like that well. So.. here we are at the waterfall. Long time no see. Dad gave me a piggyback up the hill of the waterfall when we got here. Talked about maybe going to the zoo in a few days. At least there's something to look forward to, maybe.. Mari and a few other people have come along as always, to no surprise. I'm actually pretty happy to see her, though. We spoke for quite a while yesterday, she doesn't seem as bad as I first thought. Everyone sort of just.. went off and starting doing their own thing, though, talking to the others. I can't say I was really in that much of a talkative mood, though.. especially not after earlier. I just sort of wanted to sit, eat the food I brought along and watch the view, and so that's what I'm deciding to do. It's kind of nice, just doing this. It's not long before Dad walks off, seeming upset about something. I don't know what it's about.. it just happened. Usually there's a phone call, or a conversation, or at least some kind of cause I can figure out.. but this time I just can't. Dexter and Terry have gone after him.. but I just keep trying to tell myself that he'll be okay, right? Maybe he just.. I don't know, maybe he just needs a minute. I'm trying not to jump to conclusions as soon as I usually would, but that sort of a thing is just.. so difficult. God-dammit, why does my stomach have to be killing me so much right now.. I take another bite out of my third chocolate bar that day. By this point it wouldn't surprise me if my stomach pains are because of all the food and not nature's calling. "Hey, kid?" I look up to see Marusya peering back at me. "Wanna come sit with me?" Well, Dad's not here, neither are the others.. Terry and that other girl are sat together further back.. seems like they might have a thing going on. Even without that, I barely know them as it is.. then again, I barely know Marusya as it is, either. But it's better off than me sat here and letting my mind wander. I pick myself up, along with my bag, shuffling round next to her. She's just about on the edge of the rock hanging over the waterfall, so I hang back a little bit. I don't want to feel any more uneasy. "You alright?" "Yeah.. I'm fine," I say. Well, minus all this.. Marusya says to talk to her, but in truth, I don't know what there is to talk about, maybe I'm just trying too hard to focus on not thinking my usual thoughts.. I don't know. She's insistent, however, that there's a lot to talk about. Anything, even. Marusya says that she noticed the moment Dad walked off, I supposedly "absorbed his energy", whatever that's supposed to propose.. I'd ask myself "do I really make it that obvious?", but the answer to that question is even more obvious. I just explain that stuff like this happens quite a bit.. don't get me wrong, I'm not upset or mad with him, not in the slightest. I'm mad with whatever's making him mad. And if it isn't him, usually it's me. I'm just sad that he doesn't seem to be catching any breaks. From me, from his past, from everyone around us, from.. literally pretty much everything. I worry about how much is too much. If someone like me can go through not even half of what he's been through and end up.. well, you know.. how much more until he reaches a point like that? If it continues.. it feels almost inevitable. Marusya explains that she feels partially responsible. Something about her telling him somebody is trying to mess with the club's image. She says nobody has to walk off, since we're all stronger together. I know that, but.. I wish it was easier said than done to just not walk off. Sometimes you just.. have to, because you know staying in the same place is either going to cause you to snap or just drive you mad, neither of which I don't think Dad or I want. I guess.. somewhere, deep down, as much as neither of us want to walk away, we know it's what's probably safer for not just us but for others as well. For reasons like those.. I try not to mind it too much when he walks off. As always, I just wish I could stop him from feeling those sort of ways in the first place. It sucks. Whilst Marusya is talking to me, I finally get a text from Dad, just explaining that it's his PTSD acting up so he's gone down the road for a breather and to let Mari know. I hate this so much.. again, I'm not mad or upset with him, I just.. I wish I knew why he has to suffer so much like this. I know he hates it equally as much, if not more. Sort of like I do when I walk off. I show Marusya the text, since Dad requested me to in his own, to which she just puts her right arm around me for a couple of seconds, having spotted Dexter and Rico sat at the bottom part of the waterfall. I don't know what's going on there. I can see them both sat there, and I can see them both moving. I can see they're fine. He came back like I expected him to, so why am I still worried? Mari informs me she's going to, as she puts it, "get them all". The people that're hurting him, me.. anyone else. Trust me when I wish I could do the same. I just can't accept the fact that sometimes there's nothing more I can do than just sit here and watch as things go down. No matter how much I know it's the only thing I can do, I'm never going to be happy or content with just sitting and watching. I tell Marusya to not worry about "getting the people that hurt me". The reality is.. whatever happens to me, as long as it's not with the people I care about, I don't care how much those people hurt me as long as Dad and the others are okay. Just like you would with a friend, I'd take on all of what they were dealing with if it meant they were okay. The only life sentence that I feel would be worth living. "Ellie, you may not care about yourself. Sometimes you don't get to choose who gives a shit about you. But he definitely does, and you being happy means that he's happy, just like I'm sure you'd be happy to see him happy. It's a chain that's all linked together." But I do wonder though.. if my happiness alone was truly enough to stop him hurting, how different would things be? "Are you happy?" she asks. "Being with him is the happiest I've been in years.. literally," I say. "None of this is his fault.. I'm not blaming him, I'm not angry at him. Just.. when it comes to situations like these, I am completely fucking useless. At least that's what it feels like." "Some things we have to get over on our own, and there's nothing anyone can do. But if I could help in any other way, I'd do it." "Yeah, I know.. I tell him this sort of stuff all the time. I'm surprised he's not gotten sick of it already. He just keeps telling me 'no, Ellie, you aren't useless, I just need you around, that's what makes me happy, you're one of the reasons I keep on going'. Yet whenever stuff like this happens, somehow it's always me getting angry or upset, and I hate that. It feels.. selfish, it feels wrong. Maybe I just.. need to stop talking about what I'm feeling altogether." Marusya simply shakes her head. "He's aware it takes a lot of work to get himself in the right place, and he doesn't want to burden you with shit even he doesn't understand. I can't say I really understand how PTSD works. I love your father. He's my best friend. Every time I see him hurt, I feel it too. Hence why we're always talking, just us sometimes. I really do care about you both. You're the closest thing I've got to a family right now. My Dad's far away and my Mothers are gone. I want to help, and I'm not letting you or him push me away." I heave a short, quiet sigh to myself, having forgotten about the now half-melted chocolate bar in my right hand. "It's just.. it's not a burden. Not to me. I know what this shit does to people, I've been there.. I'm scared he'll do the same. I've already lost one Dad. I don't want to lose him, either. I can't." "He's not going anywhere." I know.. or at least that's what I've got to try and keep believing in. I decide I can trust Marusya enough to open up to her about the things I did that night at the bar. With the guy with the switchblade, being locked in, breaking out, how I kicked my own Dad and.. everything else that went along with that night. "My point is.. what if he ends up losing control like I did that night? Everything I did that night, I did without feeling it was myself. Like I was just watching someone else play the cards for me, some sort of fucked up auto-pilot. What if the same happens to him and he ends up hurting himself without realizing or wanting to? What if it's something worse?" Mari goes silent for a few seconds. I'm not sure if even she knows what to say. Somehow it feels.. better getting that out of my system, though. Even if my worries are stupid, and even if this is the thousandth time I've repeated myself. "No matter what he's going through, he lives and breathes for his family. I don't think he'd do anything like that. It's just incomprehensible to me and most likely to him as well. I won't lie to you, Ellie, but the chances of him going through something like that are null compared to what would happen to him if he thought he didn't do right by you, or any of these people." Perhaps.. I tell myself, but that wasn't exactly something I exactly ever saw myself actually doing either. "Me and him, uh.. we spoke like two weeks ago and he overreacted, he just left me. I just saw him pull over in the distance and the next thing I knew is that I got a message from him apologizing. He's got an amazing capacity to realize when he's wrong, and maybe it kicks in a little late sometimes, but it's ALWAYS there. I've never seen it before in anyone but him. And thankfully.. when he does have some episodes, they're short. Exactly because he realizes what's going on and gets a clear head pretty quickly. It's why I don't chase after him or try to stop him." She's not really wrong.. "What if me not going after him and doing nothing makes him feel like I don't care about him and what he does, or where he goes? That's not what I want him to think, because that's not what's true. It's.. very much the opposite." "Wrong, kiddo." What's with everyone calling me kiddo...? "He'll always come back when he has you to come back for. Or me.. or any one of these people. When he says he keeps going for you, he means it. He needs you just as much as you need him. You've managed a symbiotic relationship that is uncommon to non-blood relatives, but you've still managed it. You guys kind of.. hesitate and think of worst case scenarios about each-other that, if spoken about, all cards on the table, you'd both realize how ridiculous it sounds. And I think that's what you two really need. The impression I get from how you two interact is that you never meet halfway, it's either one or the other doing the talking. Correct me if I'm wrong, of course." "Honestly.. most of the time I just don't know what to say. And if I do, I never know how to say it. Regardless how many times he comes back, my chest still always drops the same way when he goes out of sight. It's like an obsession. But like I said to him.. I don't want him to feel like I'm smothering him or that he has to be around me all the time. I don't want to hold him back." Yet again.. this is something I just need to get over by myself. I hate whatever this feeling is. "I don't think he feels that way, but I think he just doesn't know how to tell you certain things, just like how you don't know what to say either. I've had moments where I kinda wish that telepathy was a thing, or just some sort of way to read these thoughts so we can know how to help him. But you don't really get to live if you don't face some shit at least once in your life. I hate the happy-go-lucky people." "Right now it feels like it's all we go through sometimes. Not that nothing good happens, because it does. I just mean that something good happens, but then it feels like, maybe a few days later if we're lucky, something bad happens that just.. makes me feel like that good thing never occurred in the first place." "Talk to me about something good that happened recently." "Well, he's.. there's Xio,I know he's really happy about that. There's also, y'know.. the documents he gave me the other day." "How do you feel about that? About Xio?" "He's the happiest I've seen him in ages, so.. I'm happy for him." "Well, it means he he listened to me on the thing that I told him, which is.. the thing that lead to him leaving me." I tilt my head at her, slightly confused. "I told him that he needs a partner. To move on. Something like a girlfriend to be there for him on a spiritual level. Take it one week at a time and not let shit overwhelm him. Literally the day before Xio." I nod lightly twice. Our conversation is interrupted by Dad and Dexter finally making their way back up from the bottom of the hill. Marusya joins in the conversation with them, so I just begin focusing back onto eating my chocolate, most of which has gone all melted. Marusya pushes herself up to go join the others. I sit in place and just try to block out the conversation, at least until Dexter comes and sits next to me and ask if I'm alright. Apparently he's taken Mari home since she was really tired and he didn't feel it was safe for her to drive. Apparently he said he'll be back soon and bring cookies. Dexter starts trying to ask me himself what's wrong, but.. if I'm honest, I just don't have the mental capacity right now. It's not that I'm really bothered anymore by anything else going on.. I'm just really tired. My stomach cramps have amped up yet again and I'm starting to feel like I'm trapped in a room where all the walls are closing in. All of this really isn't helpful on top of everything else. You'd think after experiencing the same thing for this many years that you'd grow used to it, but.. you really don't. It's horrible. Either way, Dad eventually comes back and apologizes. We decide to relocate down to the beach to celebrate Tes; birthday, even though it isn't for a few more days. He even offers me a piggyback back down to the car, but to be honest I'm not sure I can take being carried right now. Even walking down this hill feels like a struggle, and this is something I do often. At the beach, I sort of just stand around. I'm thinking I should just go home and sleep.. it feels like I'm going to end up breaking in a minute. Dad stands by me for a bit and apologizes again, but.. I tell him it's okay, because it is. The main point is that he came back and he's okay.. right? He explains that he still feels bad though, and that he's trying hard. I tell him I know, and that I'm proud of him. Because that's true. I do know he is. "Likewise, love," he responds, although I'm not exactly sure what I've done recently that could be marked as something to be proud of. "If you're tired, love, get some sleep. I got a surprise for breakfast tomorrow." I do want to go back home, but.. at the same time I don't. It's not that I don't want to spend time with others. I do. But like this.. interacting feels like a stressful chore. "You do need some sleep though, you don't sleep enough at the moment." "You need to stop stealing chocolate bars. You steal chocolate bars too much," I joke back, trying to mimic his voice and tone. "Guilty as charged." We hug it out and talk for a bit longer about things.. not really anything different from what we usually discuss. Dad explains some stuff to me, about why he started feeling a bit low, and.. I can understand it. I'm not looking forward to that day either when it comes around, which.. really isn't that far away. I take my leave, stopping at a couple of places on my way back. I've been trying to get some night-time shots of places like the creek trails, but I won't lie.. it's extremely scary. Yet again, somehow that makes it all the more fun to do. Getting night-time shots is usually kinda difficult when you've just got a phone, but I've been trying to read up on tips on how to improve. I may or may not have stopped by the shops and got some chocolate to leave on the side for him. When I go to bed, there's something under my pillow. It's a picture of me and Dad when we went to that aquarium a while back.. I really do miss that day. He must've slipped this underneath here. I really hope we can keep doing stuff like this.. even maybe with Xio next time. Maybe change doesn't always have to be a bad thing.. that's something I know as it is. I just still dislike it. There's too much stuff lying in the grey zone. Too many unanswered questions. But I suppose life's always going to be that way in aspect.
  7. 16/APR/2021 Today was... one hell of a mix of emotions. It finally happened. Just like that, on a few A4 sheets of paper, the details of my life changed. The first half of today was anything but ideal. I genuinely thought it was going to be such a shit day based on those solid few hours. I'd had an early shift at Odin's. I hold a love hate relationship for those, especially when it's literally just following boxing practice. The coffee shop is directly across the road from the gym as well, which gives me barely any time to calm down. Usually the morning is when they tend to first push the fresh goods out onto the display counters though, and if you time it right, it's such a nice place to be. We were quiet on customers this morning, which is surprising to say the least. One guy came in that stood out, though, and it's because of him that my opinions of the rest of the day flipped entirely. He wasn't the sort of person that exactly struck you as imposing, maybe other than the fact that he seemed insistent on keeping his sunglasses down the entire time. My social awkwardness was high tide. Recently, I'm pushing myself a lot more to just be more open, if not social, with people. The difficulty is knowing who to trust, or even knowing what to say without knowing what sort of a person they are. I'm not used to this at all, but I have to keep trying. Nothing changes if nothing changes. He just wanted a soda. That was it. Kept talking about his car troubles and stuff. Not that I exactly know much about cars, but I know Dad and Noah do, so I somehow try to keep pretending that I actually understand the stuff that he's talking about. Maybe I opened up too much at some points. Where do you draw the line on this kind of stuff anyway? My shift was drawing to a close so I headed outside with the guy, who calls himself Dannick. Dan wanted to show me the modifications he's been applying to his vehicle. I figure it's fine to do so. It's right outside the coffee shop, and it's not like I'm actually going anywhere with him. Something about turbos. He did want my number, however. Rejecting somebody like that... are you supposed to be blunt and say that you don't feel comfortable or are you supposed to come up with some sort of poorly created excuse and hope they buy in? I choose the second one. He didn't buy in. We went our separate ways after that. I felt, at the very least, a little awkward following it, but aside from that? I didn't really think much of it until he came and stood next to me at the beach. I didn't know whether that was just another meeting created by sheer coincidence or if he'd actually followed me down here, but what could I do? I couldn't tell him to go away, can I? Almost entirely at random, he suddenly fell into me mid-conversation. I wasn't sure if I could even call it a fall, by this point. We were both sitting down on that ledge, yet somehow he "lost balance". It was weird. I thought maybe I should consider going home and just saying that I had other stuff I needed to do, but I didn't. Dad started texting me, which I guess made me feel a little safer, knowing he was just a simple word away if I needed him to be. I learnt that Dannick apparently doesn't have a Dad. Well, he does, but.. much like my birth one, his Dad is apparently six foot under. I had to somehow try and tell him I know how he feels without actually doing so. I'm not sure he'd entirely understand. Plus, it's not like I wanted to explain anyway. We paused for a bit whilst I went and got something from the top of the pier, but it was after that when things really started growing weird, or at least to me they did. He asked as to if I've ever had a boyfriend. That question just hit me as being bizarre and a bit... well, off. He knows I'm 17. It came up in conversation earlier. I couldn't tell you specifically how old he might've been, but I doubt any younger that nineteen, maybe twenty. Based off my answer, he goes, "I was about to tell you some of my problems, but I don't really think you care". I wasn't, and I'm still not, exactly sure what me caring about his problems has to do with if I've had a boyfriend before or not. I tried giving him a similar speech, one recalled from the memories of many past times with both Dad, Dexter and so many others, but then Noah showed up out of nowhere. Despite the boiling weather of early summer, he's dressed in this thick, fluffy hoodie. Not to mention that he had the hood itself up as well. Most of my confusion lied with the fact that I had no idea how on earth he knew that I was here. Dannick takes one look at Noah. "Who are you?" "I'm a dood," he said. "I don't really have time for jokes, buddy." I decided that then might've been a good time to intervene, apologizing and just saying that I know who he is. I thought that'd be fine. Maybe Dan was just worried that he was going to try something sketchy. It wasn't. If anything, maybe it achieved the opposite. Dannick called Noah a "fucking peasant" and just threw his drink in Noah's direction. Then he just got into his car and... drove off. He was parked right next to us and sped off in such a way that Noah and I both got left decorated in sand. Maybe I'd appreciate it a little more if it hadn't have gone into my eyes. Dad rocked up out of nowhere. Another perfectly timed moment of the universe, I guess. I tried to explain the situation, but before I could, we look back at the car park to see that he's shown up again - this time in a completely different car. I couldn't help but wonder what he was planning. It can't have been to apologize, surely. Either way, Dad had already stormed over there before I had the chance to tell him to just leave it. By the time Noah and I manage to chase after him, or well, the both of them, they were already physically fighting. I didn't know what to do. Noah seemed as equally as confused. Dad shouted at me to call Dexter, so that's exactly what I did. I'm not sure what I told him over the phone. I don't think I even spoke to him - I just screamed whatever words first came into my mind. Whatever it was, he clearly got the hint, as he then turned up literally less than two minutes later. They'd stopped fighting, but only because Dad had him completely pinned down. I could hear them just shouting between eachother, but I could already feel myself spacing out. As always, I had already begun blaming myself for the entire incident. From then on, I don't know what happened, but everyone was back in a circle before I knew it. The guy was gone. I didn't know where, but I could perhaps only pray that I wouldn't see him again. We went back to Dad's after. I know a couple more people showed up at one point, but I couldn't tell you exactly when. I still find myself spacing out half of the time during situations like those, but I suppose I was at least able to do something good by phoning Dexter. Maybe I really did do all that I could in that moment. Maybe doing something else would've made it worse. Maybe I did the right thing? I don't know. Right now, we're sat in Dad's back garden. Noah's sat right next to me. I'm still trying to sort of process things from earlier when Dad kneels down in front of me, something I don't think much of. I expected that he wanted to just talk to me about what had happened earlier with Dannick, remind me to be careful of who to trust and what-have-you. But he doesn't. Instead of that, he presents me with some sort of box. I'm not exactly sure what it is. Occasionally he leaves me stuff for things to find, usually framed photos of trips we've been on, stuff like that, but it's really different for him to actually give me something directly like this. "What's this for?" I peer up from the box curiously. "Open it and see," is all he gives me as a reply, so that's exactly what I do. Like I said - it's weird how, in the span of a few seconds, the details of my life were changed by a few sheets of A4 paper. You could write a thousand books on this stuff. I don't know if all those words could compare to the feelings I have right now. The box started off with a couple of framed photos, just the two of us. And then, underneath it all, a framed document. Most of the details on it I end up completely skipping through. Are these real? Like really real? Then again, I'd recognize Dad's signature from anywhere by now. But is this sure this is what he truly wants? I mean, I know it's not exactly.. easy to handle someone like me, but he's said it before, right? That I'm family. Even then, looking at these.. it's like I have to blink twice, and even then I'm sat questioning the reality of what's in front of me. Underneath it all is another set of papers, this time a little different. These ones seems like ones I have to help sign, though.. but maybe in a case such as this, paperwork wouldn't be so bad. Papers allowing me to finally, properly change my name. I don't have long to think about it. Not like there's anything to think about. I guess "process" is the right word, perhaps? "So that's a yes?" he says, having completely forgotten to say anything or respond in any way, shape or form. I glance up from the papers. Unable to find the words, all I can do is smile and nod. "Thank fuck, 'cause I dunno how much the bill would be to refuse the papers," he humors me. I give him a half normal, half almost teary eyed feeling smirk, yet a genuine one nonetheless. He smirks back, wrapping his arms around me for a hug. We hug it out for a while before he ends up having to go off with Dexter. Something about business, moving a couple of crates for Shenanigan's. I can't focus too much on that. I think I just spent the entirety of the time flipping back and forth the papers sat on my lap, asking myself the same questions over and over again, endlessly on repeat. Marusya shows up as well whilst Dad's gone, but stays at the other end of the garden until he comes back, which doesn't take long, but feels like forever. I'm still stuck in the stages of constantly monitoring how long he takes whenever he specifies that he'll be back after a certain amount of time, like I can't stop peering at my phone. Usually I begin panicking the moment it goes even a single minute over. It's not healthy, I know, but it's almost like I can't help it. It's obsessive, but somehow it makes me feel in control of things. It helps keep me safe. As it turns out, that whole pool party thing I'd heard a few things about the last few days was something planned by Dad for me, for all of us. Sort of as a celebration. It's not all too far away - just across the road, actually. I've passed the outside of that place hundreds of times, but I've never actually walked through these gates. There's so much here. For a while, Marusya, Noah and I just stand by the rocks. I've never been too good at social gatherings, especially larger ones, but that's something everyone already knows. Plus.. the doubts about it started creeping in. What if this isn't what he really wants, or needs? What if he's just doing it because he feels he has to, or if it's because it's what I expected to happen? Strangely, I feel almost somewhat aggressive. I end up finding myself leant against the side of the wall. I just sort of need time to run my head around things, I guess. Dad comes over to check on me at one point. I suppose it's appropriate to air my grievances. I suppose I need to, otherwise I'm going to not stop thinking about it. He reassures me that he's nothing but 100% sure about it. I'm not sure what exactly my head needs or wants him to say. I mean, it's been a long day.. maybe I just need time to fully process everything that's happened today. I decide to keep separating myself from most of the group, just for now at least, until I calm myself down and figure out what's going on. There's a ton of seating round the other side of the pool where nobody seems to be occupying. Noah and Marusya do end up coming and standing next to me though, since apparently the agitation I'm feeling is echoing with my facial expressions. Without thinking, I begin ranting quietly to Marusya and Noah about how useless I feel at gatherings like these. I never know what to do at these sort of things. Everyone has their own thing, and then there's just me. I think what makes me feel worse is knowing that Dad planned the entire thing for me, and I'm sat here sulking like a withered potato. It makes me feel so ungrateful, when in reality, I'm exactly the opposite to that. They insist that they really enjoy my company at least, which is nice. Marusya even says she actually prefers hanging around Noah and I more than the other adults, citing that she only comes to these things for "free drinks", but reminds me that good stuff happens in the most unexpected ways and that I don't necessarily have to look for it or wait for it to happen. She tells me that it's normal to think the things I do after everything that's happened, but now is about making new experiences. Marusya says to imagine planting a flower. The hole that exists in the ground are my past memories, and right now I need to start filling it with dirt until, at some point, there's nothing but sand. I can't take the flower out, but what I can do is keep covering it until eventually the flower starts to properly grow. It's a weird analysis, but.. I guess it sort of makes sense. Everyone starts gathering around the same area we're all stood after a while. There's perhaps one or two faces that I don't really recognize as well as maybe I should. Xio's turned up as well now, which reminds me.. Dad spoke to me about her maybe moving in. She hasn't left our house since that day since she came down with the flu or something. I really don't know how to feel about it. I'm pretending not to care, and trying not to care, but the truth is I do care. Probably way too much. It just.. bothers me, but not for any justifiable reasons. Just pure selfishness and jealousy. That's something I already know to be true. I really do need to make an effort with this though.. if she really is part of our family now, I need to at least try and get to know her, right..? I can't just.. avoid her forever. At the same time.. her and Dad are sat cuddling right now. I don't want to remove that from either of them.. they're probably a lot happier than that, after all. But at the same time.. what if I never get another chance to do this? I push myself up from the chair. All the others have gone after Ana and that kid who stared at me outside the bar once. "Anyways, uhm.. I'm gonna go get some stuff from the other side of the garden. Does anybody want to come with?" I pause. "Xio?" I ask, looking at her before taking a glance at the few people still remaining next to us. Even if I can only talk to her for five minutes, maybe it's a start, surely.. She nods and pushes herself up from Dad's lap. Now I'm stuck with my second problem - what do I talk with her about? "So, uhh.. you speak Spanish, right?" "Naturally. Something up?" "No.. not really. I don't know, I guess I just kind of want to get to know a bit more about you and.. stuff. Only if that's okay with you, of course." It sounds creepy, if not extremely awkward, almost like you'd expect someone to act when asking another person on a date. "Nothing wrong with that. Is a good start since you and your Dad, we, uh.. oh yeah, course I'm good with it. It's probably a good idea, y'know?" I'm not entirely sure what her initial plan for the blank spaces were. I'm not sure I want to know. I suggest that we perhaps go and stand somewhere, though if she wants to go back to Dad, that's okay with me. I mean.. I have to be okay with it. What other choice do I have? "I'm down to ride out if you wanna roll?" It's not particularly what I had in mind, but.. I guess it's a good alternative? Maybe even a better one. Then again, what if we're away from people and something goes wrong? What if we don't get along with eachother? Xio suggests that we go and chill somewhere quiet with a burger or pizza, or even cookies. I assume Dad must have told her I like cookies.. either that or she just knows how to read people super well. Xio goes off to inform Dad that we're heading out for a while. I hope he's okay with it.. or at least understands. I figure I should drive her to that pizza place Dad first took me the day I showed up with that black eye. It was good pizza, and.. maybe, as well as that, it might help Xio understand the bond between Dad and I a bit more as well? Ordering pizza from that place has sort of become family tradition as well, after all, so.. it makes sense to help introduce her to the family with tradition, right...? She tells me that she quite has a liking for black beans and rice, stuff like that. Hispanic foods, she calls them. Apparently she also taught herself to drive, stating she just watched other people do it and gradually got the hang of it all by herself. I don't think I could imagine myself ever learning to drive if it weren't for Dad. The thought of it used to terrify me, now it's become routine habit. On our way there, she brings up a question about what sort of music I like listening to, having seen me with my headphones in way too many times. My answer's still the same as always - if it sounds good, I don't mind it usually. I learn that she's into pretty much everything except for Country music, which I suppose I can get. I mean.. I've heard a couple of songs before. They're not too bad. We pull up outside the place; Liberty Style Pizza. "Anyways, uhm.. this is the place I was talking about." "Yes, yes. Upon further inspection of the large sign that says pizza, I feel like this may be a good place to pick up pizza. Not sure on the style of pizza, but I'm leaning towards Liberty." I give her a small, awkward smile. It's funny, but sometimes I have trouble picking up on if someone's intending on it to be sarcastic in a genuinely funny way or if there's actual, malicious intent lying behind it. But I highly doubt right now that it's the latter. I sure as hell hope it isn't at least. If there's one thing it appears that Xio and I definitely don't agree on - it's that pineapple does not belong on pizza. She even likes the same pizza types as Dad as well - meat feast pizzas. I express that my normal go-to are the pepperoni pizzas, but Xio's curious as to if there are any sorts I haven't tried before. "Gotta try new things and visit new locations - that's how you make memories," she enthuses. As it turns out, she really likes her spicy foods. Jalapenos, peppers, all your standard list of things. My birth Dad, and Mum as well, were never really into those things, so I've not had much of a proper chance to try it out for myself. I always trusted their judgement more than my own when it came to what was good or not. I finally suggest that maybe we should get one of those half and half pizzas - have one with pepperoni and the other with whatever she wants. That way maybe I could try some of the spicier foods, and.. if I didn't like it, it wouldn't be too much of a waste. Xio agrees, stating that she wants buffalo chicken and jalapenos with hot wings on the side. Even without having tried much spicy food, I somehow already begin to feel my mouth watering. Whilst we're both waiting for the kitchen staff to get it all ready, she brings up a conversational topic of her own with me. "So, uh.. if it's not obvious, me and your Dad, uh.. I don't imagine it's terribly easy for you, yeah?" "What do you mean?" I pretend to not know what exactly she's trying to refer to. "Well, with his ex-wife and all that, and now suddenly me in the picture." I roll my shoulders nonchalantly. I'm not sure if right now is the place to have this kind of conversation. Not in front of others. "Shall we go talk about it with our pizza?" I ask. Once again, with the world's perfect universal timing, the cashier slides the boxes over the top of the counter, saving me from a potentially awkward conversation. At least for now. Gives me time to think up an honest but appropriately worded answer. Even if they're things I don't want to talk about, perhaps I have to. Besides.. who likes talking about painful memories? Does anyone enjoy such a thing? As studious as always, Xio brings up the fact that she often sees me at the pier, so maybe it would be a good idea to go and eat it there. I decide to be cheeky and drive down a bit further, parking outside the shops rather than in the car park, even though there's literally a singular "DO NOT CROSS" sign by the entrance. "Do you think anyone will mind if I park down here?" "Nah, I'm sure it'll be fine. And if they do, I'll deal with 'em." "You sound like Dad when you say that." "That a bad thing?" "No," I say with a light chuckle. But so far, with everything.. she really does remind me of how he is, almost a bit too much. She even offers to carry the pizza for a 50 foot walk, something Dad would, without a doubt, offer to do. For some reason, it's not surprising at all. We both lower ourselves down onto the bench. I quietly clear my throat. "But no, I'm.. sort of used to it, I guess? As long as he's happy.. that's what matters most to me." "Well, I suppose, but your happiness matters too, you know? At least that's what I think." "It's not really that important to me.." I reply, fully sincere. "I guess it's one of those 'it's whatever' sort of ordeals, huh?" "Something like that.. but I do know that he loves you a lot, so.. thanks for being there for him. I know it means a lot to him, and.. for the both of us, y'know?" I question, having begun almost nervously twirling my fingers around eachother in my lap. The words really aren't coming out anywhere close to what I intended. Xio says she isn't exactly sure what she does to help so much. "What I do know is that you're often real quiet. You just normally quiet or like.. shy around folks?" Sort of relieved by the switch of direction of the conversation, I explain that it's sort of a bit of both. If it's around people I know really well, I don't tend to have any issues, because I know what they're like as people. I know what things they do like and don't like talking about. It takes away the risk of me accidentally making the conversation uncomfortable. It's like there's a switch that flips every time somebody that I don't know enters, and suddenly I go quiet for no reason. "I don't tend to fit in much, so I never know what to say anyway. I just tend to watch. Guess it's more comfortable that way, for me." Much to my surprise, and somewhat even to my doubt, Xio claims that she's sort of the same way - that she even gets anxious around people like that. Do adults get nervous about stuff like that? I begin hoping that maybe it's something I'll grow out of eventually. I'm not sure I expected it, but Xio reveals quite a lot of her past to me. I didn't think she would in the first place, but the stuff she reveals is.. kind of a lot. She says she's from Venezuela. She says she used to be a part of some.. Cartel de Los Soles. I'm not sure how much I like or dislike the sound of that. She points out a gunshot wound on her right arm, and then a stab wound on her torso. Now I definitely don't like it.. I want to go home. She re-tells me the story that Dad once - about how they got close through her sending him letters in prison. She claims that she's out of that stuff now, but old habits die hard. Xio states she isn't looking for trouble, but that if trouble ever did find her, or Rico, or even me, that she knows how to make it disappear. I don't want such a thing at all.. what if people come looking for her or something? What does she mean by old habits dying hard? What old habits specifically? What if she winds up getting Dad into some fucked up shit? She then asks me what my story is, but by this point, I'm not sure if I even want to talk about it. I make up an excuse and say that it's not important, especially in comparison to what her and Dad have been through. It's not exactly like that's a lie either.. what I've been through is barely anything, yet somehow I'm the one who complains most. Xio tells me that it doesn't make my experiences, or me as a person, any less valid. She switches the conversational subject back to talking about food, even asking if I go to school. Dad and I still haven't done that darn paperwork yet.. but I wonder if we'll ever get around to it from now on. "If you could have a career doing anything, what would you like to do?" "I don't know.. never thought that far ahead, I guess." "Yeah, I know that feeling. There was a point in life where I didn't think I'd ever see 25, yet here I am." I guess that's perhaps something else we share. However, she knows that she's made it past 25. She has her answer. I don't. "I was always that live in the moment kind of person because of it." "I wouldn't consider myself to be any of those things." "Just sorta float along and what happens happens?" "Not really. Despite everything, I'm still stuck in the past too much." "I get it. Though I wonder, is that somewhere you wanna be, or would you want to move past it?" "I wanna move past it.. I feel like it's the one thing standing in my way most. The biggest contribution towards why I react the way I do, or feel the way I do sometimes". That's the honest answer, but perhaps admitting it out loud feels strange. "Yeah, I can see that being a thing, and an issue. Is it something you need to confront or talk about to kinda get it out there in the air? Have you thought about going and shouting from the top of a mountain? May sound stupid, but it's liberating as fuck." "I've definitely thought about it sometimes.. that's kind of why Dad got me into those boxing lessons, to try and help with it when I do get angry. But it only helps when I've actually started feeling angry as opposed to stopping me from feeling angry entirely." Xio says I need something proactive, not reactive. Something I can do before I get mad, or just something to keep me from getting to that point at all. I don't disagree, but what sort of things could I even use? Not sure what else to talk about, I suggest that we invite Dad down here to join us. We ended up being out here a lot longer than I think either of us anticipated, and I wasn't sure how long that party was planned to go on for. Xio's fine with it, so I send him a text. She then proceeds to continue talking about the same as before. "When I heard about your Dad getting hurt, I was furious. But I just closed my eyes, took a few breaths. Didn't look at anything in particular, just zoned out within myself, and it helped." I wish it was that simple. "Usually I just can't get to that point," I explain. "It's like whenever something like that happens.. it's not actually me experiencing it. Everything just goes numb and I end up shutting myself off completely without wanting to. It's like I lose control of myself, like I'm watching somebody else take over. And even though I'm stuck watching, begging and begging to just stop and do what I know is the right thing instead.. it never reaches." We sort of continue staying on the topic for a while. She asks me if I've ever fired a gun before. Obviously, I haven't. Xio says it feels good though, helps air frustrations. I'm not sure I could ever learn to, though.. it's not something I can see myself doing. I can't see myself with a gun, especially with a personality and mindset like mine. Maybe such a thing should even be considered dangerous. I don't know. Dad eventually comes along, but.. I figured they'll want their space, time to themselves. I really need time to think all of this over. She seems like an alright person, but.. all that cartel stuff, and then the wounds, I just.. how do I know I can trust her to keep both herself and Dad safe and out of trouble? "Old habits die hard.." I wonder who that reminds me of - sarcasm implied. I take a short drive around the city, trying to grab some night-time shots of the city. It's exhausting, and I'm struggling to find the energy to keep moving around, but.. I need to calm down before I go home. Maybe I'll sleep easier tonight this way. When I get back to the house, I can't see Dad's car in the driveway, so I suspect they were still out. I make the decision to stay in the backyard, drowning myself in music from my phone. How do I know what to feel about this? Am I jumping to conclusions too quickly? Being too over-protective? Like I said.. sheer selfishness and jealousy, I know. I'm not sure how long I stay out there before I go back in. I pick up the box from earlier, deciding to try and focus on the good things that have happened today.. I lie down on the sofa, constantly looking through the photos and the documents, taking to my phone as well. So many memories on such a small screen.. it isn't just the memories of Dad and I that I end up looking back on. It's Mum as well... my birth Dad, too. How did things grow to become this fucked up? How much have things changed these past few years? How much have I changed? Somehow this is something I have to embrace.
  8. Nice jacket! 

    1. Vubstersmurf

      Vubstersmurf

      I rock the jacket 

  9. 14/APR/2021 I really ought to learn to stop relying on others to deal with my problems. The past few days, for the majority at least, have all been great. Some of them not so much. Everything's changing, quicker than I can even begin to keep up with. It's starting to weigh down on me and I'm beginning to feel more and more like maybe, just maybe, I'm finally drowning. On Wednesday, we all went hiking like we promised. When I say "all of us", I mean me, Ana, Dad, Dexter and Noah, who showed up in his typical fashion of being twenty minutes late. I had to teach Dad what a selfie is, alongside the horrors of "duck face", which Dad thought was simply taking a selfie but whilst sitting with a rubber duck. Mind you, he got a bit upset when we got to the giant lake. Took one of Nari's favourite rubber ducks out and let it float out onto the lake, just like that. I wish I could find the right words or actions to make him feel even a little bit happier. I know I can't take away or stop what's going on between him, Nari and Hana, as much as I wish I could, but I think I'd be happy if I could lift the weight off his shoulders by even the smallest amount. Dad and I went on a few roadtrips together in the days after that - going to the aquarium and just exploring the rest of the City in general. Yesterday we went all the way out to Santa Barbara together, it really was amazing. We had to leave super early in the morning, but it was worth it. I'm not sure I've ever done so many things in a single day. On the hiking trip, I had mentioned that I wanted to one day get one of those proper photo albums. I didn't think much of it after that, but I guess Dad did. I had gone off to the shops to try and get Dad a souvenir of his own, which I gave to him that night. Turns out he had something for me as well - a proper photo album, and a leather kutte of my own with the Vikings MC logo on it. There's even a rank made specially for me, decorated on a patch on the back - "Daughter of the President". He spoke to me about how him and Xio have been getting a lot closer and thought it would be nice for me to try bonding with her as well. I guess, but I really don't know. I'm not ready to be thrown away just yet. For the most part of the last 6 months, it's just been him and me. What if he doesn't need or want me anymore? That's the sort of stuff Mum always used to do. Even if she was drunk out of her mind, it'd always be me she spoke to about her problems, always. But the moment she'd bring someone else home from the bar, if they stuck around, then I was considered out of the picture. Most of the time, she wouldn't even want me home because I'd be "interrupting". Can this really still be my home anymore? It's painful how aware I am of my selfishness right now. Perhaps such a feeling could even be called jealousy. I hate myself for even thinking about it. It was the day before the roadtrip to Santa Barbara that things started slipping up again. I don't know why, but I'd made an impulse decision to venture back down to that dirtbiking place. As opposed to sitting in my usual place on that weird construction ramp, I pulled myself up to the top of the same place Noah and I sat that one time. I have to lie down on these things still and close my eyes, especially if I'm up here by myself. I find that sometimes, at heights like these, sometimes it's a rush of adrenaline I can deal with, but other times I'll find myself beginning to freak out. I don't want to freak out at a height like this, especially if I'm alone. I was there completely by myself until I hear someone else ascending the ladder next to me. Not wanting to take any chance, I lift my head up to look. It was Noah, who wanted to know why I wasn't answering my phone. In all honesty, I hadn't heard it ring. I decided to speak with him about the whole dilemma with if I want to change my last name or not whenever Dad feels ready to adopt me, if it's something he still even wants to go along with. I don't know why it's troubling me so much. If I change my surname, I don't want people to think I'm trying to forget them or pretend that my birth family didn't exist, like I wasn't thankful for everything good that they had done for the last 16 years of my life, or like I was throwing away 14 good years for 2 years of bad memories. But at the same time, this is my new family. Maybe this is part of moving on? I opened up to him about the story of how Rico took me off the streets, about the reasons I ran away that night. Talking about stuff like that still makes my stomach hurts, but I've told the story so many times that it feels like those words just flow out of my mouth without needing to even think about it. "Sounds like an adventure," is his conclusion. "Something like that." The point I tried to get across is he's done a lot for me. Still does. He really did see the worst of me in the first few months, and all the times that I thought he was going to abandon me - he didn't. Him, and all the others, they're my family now. One thing lead to another, and.. we ended up talking about some stuff that people do, which leads to a conversation I never anticipate I'd be having. "Famalam," he says like he always does. "Let me take you out on a date". At one point, he even kisses me on the forehead. I really wasn't sure on what to think. A few days on, I'm more clueless than I was in that moment. I've never thought about dating. At all. It's just.. never really been my thing? I've never understood the want or need to be with someone romantically. It's suffocating, right? I told him that I just need more time to think about it, because in reality, I really don't know what else to say. We hung out for a bit more that evening, but it just wasn't the same. Preoccupied by just generally feeling off, this whole name business and now this on top of it? Right now it feels like I can barely think straight. I kept it all to myself for a few days. Well, up until a couple of nights ago. I met Dad and a couple of others round the back for just a sort of.. casual get together, I suppose. I was due to stay round an old friend from work's house since I knew Xio was also staying the night and stuff. As usual, I was overthinking the entire situation way too much. Two of Dad's other friends were there - Terry and somebody called "D". I'm slowly learning to act more like myself around people I'm still unsure about, though I find I really have to force myself to converse. Ana showed up. Same as Xio. Ana brought cookies, which I suppose helped distract me from the fact that Dad went off with Xio to go give her something. Eventually, they came back. You can tell how close they are. How in love with her he is, and how in love with him she is. I don't understand why it made me began to feel like walking away all over again. It feels like I'm losing something. But I've no idea what that something is. I concluded that I really needed to speak to someone about what's going on with Noah. I felt bad constantly leaving him hanging like this. I still hadn't given him an answer. I wasn't sure if Dad was exactly the right person to talk to about this sort of thing, but.. I also wasn't sure who else there was. I stole him up to the balcony for a couple of minutes. I couldn't tell for sure what was going on in his head based on his facial expressions, but he said that I should say no if I don't want to. The issue is I don't know what I want. How do you figure that out? Dad expressed that he's sure Noah meant nothing by it and that he's just a kid trying to understand things, sort of the way I am, but that I need to start learning to say no to these sort of things. Maybe just in general, I think. Even if I decide to say no, how do I convey that to him? I'm crap with getting my emotions across to other people. This is something I know all too well. He offered to be nearby when I do eventually make up my mind. I thought things would probably stay that way until such a day arrived. But now here we are. Xio's been at our house constantly for the last few days, something about her being sick. I feel unable to go home because my head just keeps telling me that she's serving as my replacement and that, if I go back, I'm just going to be getting in the way of what those two want to do or say to eachother. When I spoke with Dad yesterday, he said he wanted to have "words with Noah". Nervously, I asked him what kind of words. His response was to tell me not to worry because he "won't be alone with him". A sentence spoken in that manner makes me feel more afraid. We had a night at the beach which kind of went well. There was this other lady that showed up, someone completely new, or at least to me. She spent most of the evening playing the guitar whilst Dad sung along. There's a song she played that I really liked, called Forever Young. There's been a few versions of it, but I always listen to the one by Youth Group. It's one of those songs that's sad, but song of really relaxing at the same time. I ended up going home early since Dad ended up sorted having one of his episodes. Or, at least, well, the beginning of one.. I'm not really sure what to refer to them as. Today, I guess Dad finally managed to have those "words" with Noah. Noah and I met up at Palomino Cove - a place I've not been in forever. We spoke about how he's thinking of joining the gym, random stuff like that. I ended up determining that "Cookie" was the best name for the cat. She sort of reminds me of one. I even gave Noah a heads up that my Dad wanted to speak to him. I think that, if I was in Noah's shoes, then I'd like to know, but he said if it was what he needed to do to give both of us some closure, then he'd do it. I had to quickly head home to shower before going to the farm where we were all supposed to be meeting, but by the time I got there, Noah wasn't there. He just text me saying he was heading home, but didn't give me a reason why. Even if he did give me a reason, for him to leave so suddenly is just completely unlike him. Marusya, Terry and Dexter are all stood together whilst Dad's by himself on the sunlounger, so I go over to check on him. I sit with him for a bit only to find out that apparently he got the divorce papers through this morning. We don't get much time to ourselves though before Terry ends up getting chucked in the pool due to certain words he shouldn't have uttered. Not long after that, and still hanging on for a response from Noah, we go off to some sort of club thing. I'm not sure why I go to places like this. Even if I wanted to drink, which I don't, I can't. I just stand around being a social misfit as all the adults around me talk about their day and find comfort at the bottom of a glass. Whilst I rest against the back of the metal railings that linger over the open space above the dancefloor, I keep my eyes locked onto the screen of my phone. My headphones at full volume aren't enough to blur out the sound bouncing off the speakers. That's when Noah texts me back. Without hesitation, he tells me that apparently Dad held him up against the wall and punched right next to his head. There's a solid part of me that says I wish he was kidding or lying. There's another part of me that somehow can see that having happened. How fucked up is that? Because I need to think, I've gone and stood outside where I'm alone. There's even a Police Officer who's asked me if I'm alright, citing that it's "unusual to see someone just standing outside with their headphones on". He suggests that I go indoors "that club over there" and "have a good time". I wonder if he knows I shouldn't be here to begin with. Dad himself eventually decides to head home. I have to wait until whenever he's ready anyway, since he took us both here. My car is still back at the farm. I don't think I'm going to tell him about what Noah told me. Quite frankly, I wouldn't know how to bring such a thing up. "Hey Dad, Noah just told me you held him up against a wall, why did you do that?" How ridiculous does such a question sound? But I do wonder if he's curious as to if I know or not. When we get back to the house, he asks if I'm comfortable with the whole fact that Xio is staying around. I tell him I am. If I do decide to talk to him about the whole thing that went down with Noah, I'm not going to let it be tonight. He's tired, I'm tired, but at the same time, we're okay. With Xio, he's the happiest I've seen him in ages. Who would I be to take that away from him? I give him a hug and remind him that I love him - not that it's unusual for me to say or do those things. I'm beginning to feel overly clingy again. I really do hate this. I wish I could make my mind up about what I feel, or how to view a certain situation. But just like everything around me right now, it never slows down. It just keeps changing without an end in sight. I wonder when the beginning was.
  10. Definitely a +1 from me.
  11. 06/APR/2021 It feels like things are slowly starting to improve. For the first few days after what happened, I mostly stayed at home, other than to go boxing like I usually would. I think that was half because I was just so exhausted from everything that had happened, but also half because I was sort of afraid to leave the house. I've had a lot of thinking to do; trying to figure out what to do or where to go next, how to fix all of this. No matter what I think of, though, nothing ever seems to fit quite right with me. Much like he promised, Dad and I went to get that cat the day after. It really did fit the cliche of wanting to just take all of them, but in the end we settled on this little, tabby kitten. She crawls around a lot and I'm pretty sure doesn't understand the meaning of "sit still", but I like to think that she chose me that day. Yesterday, I met up with Noah at Odin's. I told him about what happened the other night. I told him my frustrations about how I just freeze up whenever situations like this roll around, so other people have to try and take care of me, often putting their own safety in jeopardy to do so. Noah's choice of response was to tell me that people are just worried I'll get hurt, sort of like how I'm terrified of Dad getting hurt, and that even if I was thirty years old, I'd still have people urging me to get into a safe place. I get that, but that isn't my mind. My issue isn't that people are telling me to keep myself safe, but it's the fact that they have to take my safety entirely into their own hands, because I can't do otherwise yet. Noah tried to reassure me by saying many people react the same way that I do, especially people like us who have minds that overthink everything. He even says he does it as well sometimes. "Yeah, but I can't stay like this. If this shit is going to keep happening over and over again, I can't let it not change." "It's just one of those.. time things," he goes. "Gotta wait it out until your mind is more laid back." I don't want to wait it out. He then took the time to remind me that it's not even been a few years since everything properly went downhill and that it'll take a while. That life is just a huge waiting game. Surely there has to be something I can do about it, though. Right now it feels like no matter how far forward I move, whatever's chasing me always catches up. He explained that it doesn't help that I keep a lot of stuff to myself - that not discussing it with others is part of what makes each curveball feel more difficult than it necessarily has to be. I guess he's right about one thing. We continued speaking for a bit more after that. I learned that Dad apparently gave Noah a load of money for fixing his car, so he mentioned going to look at renting his own place at long last. Sometimes, it honestly concerns me. I know Dad spoke about having all those medical bills to pay off and struggling with that. Noah also says I apparently have "big biceps", whatever on earth that's supposed to mean. He also mentioned that apparently Dom thought we were dating. I hope that's not what the others think, either. I told him to avoid places like Davis and areas near those when he goes house hunting. After that, we ventured down to our usual spot at the beach. At first, it was just Dexter, Rico and then us two. Dad suggested that I call Ana and thank her for what she did for me the other day. In truth, I was hoping and planning to thank her in person whenever the next time that I saw her was, but I suppose a phone call works just as well. Dad gave me her number, so I called. Apparently they got things fixed between the both of them. When I called Ana, she started insisting that it should be her who's apologizing to me for screaming her head off and not helping the situation. I don't exactly feel like she made it worse, so I explain it's fine. It wasn't really a situation any of us could have expected, but that without her, I wasn't sure I would've made it back inside. She shared the same conclusion as me - that we're both glad nothing bad happened to any of us. As it turned out, Dad actually knew the guy who got shot dead. He wasn't exactly taking it too well that morning. Everyone keeps asking me about if I've come up with a name for the cat yet. I haven't, so I just have to keep calling her "cat" or "kitty", almost to the point where that might as well be her name. I'm pretty sure that's how she sees it, at the very least. Ana's due to go hiking with us tomorrow, so I tried to bring that up to make the conversation more.. normal feeling, I suppose is the best way to say it. When I went back to the car park, Marusya was there as well, but Dad had her up on his back. We went and sat by the bonfire for a little while, but I ended up walking away since they wouldn't stop talking about how the police won't stop going after Dad.. stuff like that. Apparently talk like that makes Dexter anxious as well. Dad's mentioned something about going for a ride as a group in the forest at some point. Dirtbiking or something. Maybe that won't be too bad. Dad went off with another lady - the one who's been showing up a lot recently. She keeps taking Dad away to talk to him. I don't like it at all. Marusya came and sat next to me for a bit whilst I laid down and put my music on to try and block out some of the thoughts that were going on. As for today, it's been a bit of a strange day. I woke up fairly nervous since Dad said he needed to talk to me about some stuff today. I spoke with Noah last night about how I hate when people tell you they need to talk but don't do it in the moment. In the end, I spilled to Noah about why I hate those words and all the past bad experiences I've had with it - my birth Dad being put in Hospital, my Grandma dying, and then when my Dad got diagnosed with cancer. He told me that if it was major, he's sure that Dad would've spoken to me about it straight away, but he understands how hard it is to not jump to the worst case scenario when you have a bad past like him and I do. As it turns out, it wasn't anything bad. Well.. not that bad at least. Dad says that him and Hana are having this trial seperation thing. Apparently she's gone to South Korea with Nari for the time being. There's a couple of other things we ended up talking about as well, but I told him that as long as he's happy and safe, that maybe I can learn to be okay with those things as well. I cooked both of us a fry up as well. He mentioned Noah a couple of times as we sat down, saying he seems good for me. He even asked me if we've ever discussed more than a friendship, but I tell him I'm not into that sort of stuff. I don't know.. I've never really thought about it. I've not had the time, nor really have ever felt the need to. Dad says if he makes me happy, and if we do ever decide to try that sort of stuff, then he "supposes he's alright with it". Noah fell off his bike and got some quote unquote "cool road rash" as he put it. We went over to his house to go check on him, stopping off along the way to get some boots for the hiking trip we've got planned for tomorrow. He's fine, but I'm still worried about him. I suggest that we go to the place by the river that Noah took me to the other day, since I was sort of too sick to enjoy it properly at the time. Dad does his usual and smokes again. I wish he'd realize how much it kills me every time I see him light up a cigarette. I've never understood the appeal of it. I dared Dad to try and teach me all of the names of the ducks - a topic we end up talking about after I bring up the fact that I want to go properly swimming again someday. Dad jokingly picks me up and hangs me upside down so that the water of the river brushes against my head, so I tell him I'm not buying him any chocolate anymore. After remaining at the river for a while, Dad, Noah and I move down to the Hospital to get his leg checked out. We're all sat in the front lobby together, but I can't stop fidgeting. I find fidgeting is the only way to stop myself from zoning out most of the time. All the sirens flying by outside sort of did that job for me though. I don't know what was going on, but there were loads of police cars. Even Dad seemed confused by it. All of us spend the rest of the day back at the farm. I even managed to finally speak with Dad about going back to school and getting my high school diploma. Even Dad's considering going back and getting his GED. He advises me to take every opportunity whilst I can, stating that he'll support me regardless as to if I decide to go back to school or not. By the end of the evening, I'm exhausted. Dad had to walk off for a bit since he was struggling with missing Hana and Nari. I felt like shit not being able to do anything for him as usual. He came back eventually though. I ended up giving Ana a tour of the farm, not that I really know the place all too well myself. Dad has to eventually force me to go to bed since I refused to. I'm struggling even more than I was before to leave him alone, even if I know where he is. What if something happens again and he gets caught in the middle of it? He pinky promises me that he won't get eaten by any bears, goats or mountain lions, and even promises he'll wake me up when he comes back indoors, but that's not what I'm worried about. It's not what I'm worried about at all.
  12. SONG CHOICE: Main Actor by Minami The protagonist of the manga said, "Don't worry, I'll protect you." Protagonists are really so cool. For my part, I'm more of a "Villager B" who only runs away. The protagonist never made unhappy faces. He smiled, and cried only in the shadows, All while fighting and saving people. Everyone loved him. No surprise, since he's a hero. For my part, I'm more of a "Villager C", Who only clings to the hero and relies on his help. -- It never changes, it never changes, it never changes, it never changes, I guess because that's just the way I am. I just wanted, I just wanted, I just wanted, I just wanted, Someplace to belong, even if it was small. Just give me, just give me, just give me, just give me, One piece of proof that I exist. Just give me, just give me, just give me, just give me, Proof that there's something only I can do. Because I'm, because I'm, because I'm, even though I'm like this, Please love me. Please forgive me.
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