Evenings Like This
Inspired by an interview with Jeff Hardy.
I've never been very open with my emotions. At least not the emotions that one truly should be open about. I'm very vocal with my annoyance and frustrations. My anger is heard loud and clear when I rant and rave on and on about something, no matter how insignificant.
My father is the same as I. I learned about emotions from him. I have always been the good son, always doing what Daddy said, and mimicking how Daddy acts, always wanting to please. And I have done so well in that aspect. I've grown to be a good man. My father is very proud of me in everything that I have done with my life.
But then... there's Jeff. He is in many ways my complete opposite. He looks like Daddy, but acts nothing like him. He is deep into the spiritual and all that is eclectic. Music, the arts, the supernatural... just a few of the things that he is attracted to. He baffles me with things. His "emoetry" I never understand. His songs sound strange and also make no sense. His art, though I understand is of the abstract genre, all look like just swirls of color to me. He never follows the rules. At times he doesn't even follow simple etiquette. And all of his emotions are out there for us to see and feel, whether he speaks them or simply shows them in other manners. He tells me he loves me daily. The same with Daddy. Even now as adults if we're in the same building when it comes time to go to sleep, he kisses my cheek and says "I love you" before he says "good night."
And it is because of these severe emotional differences... distances... that he has actually gone on record as saying that I am controlling. That I can "flip out" over little things and be "harsh." He even put into a public interview that I have never spoken to him about our mom unless he's brought her up first. Reading his words about how he felt that he couldn't speak to me about certain subjects provoked an emotion in me... one of the ones he claims that I do not express unless I'm joking.
I sigh and close the window. He's right. I can't say "I love you" without it being a certain moment. To him and my father, or to others in the family I usually play it off as something comical. Love is something to laugh at. With Amy I said it to her in the most intimate of times... When we made love I would tell her I loved her. When we were alone and no one else could hear I would sometimes barely whisper it. I keep seeing the scene from my show, one of the earliest of episodes... Me running over to Jeff like an idiot, trying to hug him and laughing while saying "I love you!" while he in turn shoved me and yelled at me to get out of his house because we had been messing around, shoving and hitting.
I get up from my chair and go out to where he has been waiting for me about fifteen minutes now. I had told him I would join him in the hot tub after I checked to see if Jimbo had emailed me with something that I had been waiting for. I see him out there, his head leaned back on the edge of the tub and music playing loud. I know that he's nude. When I'm alone I do the same, but he does it even when I'm around. I look down at my trunks and then pull them off, dropping them on the counter and going out to the tub. He has a few of my candles lit, but otherwise it's dark. It's also cold as hell out here now that the autumn chill has solidly set in. I blink as he opens his eyes and his head jerks over to me.
"Jesus!!" He starts and blinks back at me. "I didn't hear you come out. Took ya long enough."
"Sorry." I smirk and throw my leg over the edge of the tub to climb in.
And that's precisely why I never get naked in front of him. Always a lewd comment. I sit down next to him, knowing he's smiling like a damn fool at me, but I refuse to look and he also knows that I'm refusing to look at him even though I can see him right out of the corner of my eye. Which is why he continues to stare. I'm used to him doing this. One of his favorite things to do is put on a stupid face and stare at me for an hour. And he can hold that same face without fault for a whole hour and not laugh. It took me years to learn how not to snap at him or start laughing too, instead just staring forward till he finally gives up. Thankfully tonight he looks away sooner rather than later. I blink... still thinking about what he'd said in that interview. He revealed a lot about me to the public. I don't usually like that... not that level of depth. I don't like people seeing my faults.
I look over at him. Can I say it? Out loud? I want to prove him wrong. I want to say it and be completely serious. I can't just blurt it out, though. That's just not me. I can't look at someone and say "I love you" without some sort of provocation. Let me think... well, Jeff kisses my cheek before he says it when we go to bed. Can I bring myself to do that? Kiss his cheek? Unprovoked and out of the blue? Yeah, I can. I have before. I lean over, half expecting him to move or look at me, but he doesn't. He never does really. He's used to my presence even in the closest of quarters. Trusts me completely. I kiss his cheek gently... but my words halt right in my throat and I can't say it. He looks at me.
"What was that for?"
I look away again, seeing him staring at me as before. Now he's wondering where that kiss came from. Intimacy loosens my tongue. Making love to Amy always had me yelling out my love for her. I can't exactly do -that- with Jeff. What -can- I do? I blink as he scoots in closer and lies his head on my shoulder. I smile. Okay this I can do. Snuggling. Jeff has always been a cuddlebug. Cuddlebug... one of her words. There's something I could talk about.
"You're a cuddlebug."
I swallow... "Mom always would call you that."
He doesn't answer right away. "Yeah, I remember that."
There. Ha, I can too bring her up first. Though I don't exactly want to talk much about her. It's too hard. The pain is still so fresh after all these years.
"I remember she used to call you Mattykins."
Again I swallow. "Yeah..."
"And you hated it." I nod. "Did she call you that before she was gone?"
I sigh heavily. "Yeah... she called me Mattykins when she said she loved me."
"That was one of the worst days of my life... the day she died."
"... me too."
He looks at me then. I feel his wet hair against my shoulder and see it floating on the water in front of us. Long and deep blue, picking up highlights of the color-changing light that's under the water.
"You read it, didn't you?"
"Yeah. I didn't like it."
"Is that why you're out here like this? That's what you were doing all this time, huh, reading my interview."
I nod and look at him. "Yeah. I found it posted on my board. In fact, in the Ask Matt thread one of the MFers posted a link to it and asked me to respond to you."
"Not yet. I dunno if I will. I'd rather just talk to you about it. Why'd you say all that personal stuff about me?"
"Because he asked." I sigh heavily. "You kissed me and brought up Mom because you felt challenged."
"Damn right I did."
He scowls. "If I hadn't bitched you never would've come out here like this, ever kissed me, or ever even tried to talk about Mom to me. God you suck so hard."
"Well what did you expect!" I snap back at him, turning slightly to face him. "What did you think that I'd never read it or hear about it! That you could tell the world that I'm emotionally insecure and have issues with my mother's death and I would never know or respond to it somehow! That's fucked up, Jeff!"
"What's really fucked up is that it took me going partway public with your emotions for you to even consider sharing with me! I'm your brother and you don't even try to talk to me about anything! I didn't even know half of the story with you and Amy!"
"I've shared plenty of shit with you, Jeff!"
"You never once held me when I was crying for Mom!" I blink at such a strange answer. "When she first died I cried myself to sleep every night for months and you never held me! All those nights I'd crawl into bed with you bawling my head off and you'd just roll over and pretend to be asleep! You're so emotionally detached that you couldn't even comfort your baby brother when his mother had died!"
"She was my mother too! At least I was there for you in some form! Who do you think was holding me when I was crying, huh! Daddy?! Yeah right!"
"No one held you because YOU NEVER CRIED!" I'm stunned to silence when says that, staring at him as he stares back at me. Before I can say anything else, he continues. "Never once did you shed a tear for her! Just a couple days later you were jumping around because you won a baseball game at school! You just went on with life like she wasn't gone! No, like she was never even there! You didn't give a flying fuck!"
My hand lashes out on instinct, smacking him across the face, splashing water over the candles and extinguishing them, making the black around us that much thicker. I see him snarl and half expect him to smack me back like he usually does. I'm waiting for his attack.
"You're mad because you know I'm right," he says lowly.
I can't answer that... I can't... because he is right. I've never cried for her. I've cried for friends who have died, I've cried because of overwhelming moments of love, I've cried over painful injuries I could barely endure, I've cried for my own broken heart... I've never cried for my mother. I lower my head and look away, not knowing how to respond to him.
"Why didn't you? Why haven't you?"
"C'mon Matt. You're pissed I challenged you, now try to prove me wrong. Show some damn emotion for once in your life. Talk to me about Mom."
"Yes, you can!" He actually splashes me instead of hitting me and I spit water. "Just talk! I can barely see you and you're wet so if you start blubbering I won't know the damn difference anyway!"
"I hate talking about her!" I yell back. "I hate talking about her because it fucking hurts! It hurts to remember her! It hurts to look at her pictures and sit on her furniture and eat food that she didn't cook! It fucking hurts to visit her grave four times a fucking year! I don't like hurting! It pisses me off!!"
I don't get a response from him that I can hear. He's quiet. I think he's trying to listen to see if I am crying. I'm not. I won't cry. I never have for her...
"I've tried to cry for her, Jeff. I've gone to her grave, I've gone to her house... When we still owned it I would go into her sewing room.. her bedroom.. up in the attic where all her old things were. I'd try to connect with her somehow and I'd try to cry for her and I couldn't. There was nothing inside of me and those places meant nothing without her actually there in them."
"Matt..." He groans. I see his silhouette in the dark moving towards me, reaching out as if to take me in his arms... which he does... and I allow. "Matt, Mom isn't in any of those places. You were searching for her everywhere that she used to be. I understand; looking for that imprint of her life so that you could be with her somehow again. But that's not where she is. She's inside of us. She's in our hearts and our minds, in our memories, waiting there for you to see her, to find her and remember her."
"It hurts..." I say quietly.
"Of course it hurts. Taking bumps hurts, but you do it anyways. Going to the dentist hurts, but you do it." He kisses my cheek. "Just sit and think about her, Matt. You don't have to have any great revelation or some moment of worship... It's okay to just remember things that you used to do with her, or things that she said. Remember what she looked like. Remember how she smelled. Anything."
"What she smelled like... Apple butter. Ya know.. the fruit spread.. jam whatever."
"Yeah... you're right. I always wondered what that was."
"She used to make it with the leftovers from Auntie's apple pie. She always had too many apples and Mom would bitch in fits and kittens that she'd have to do something with those apples. And since there was already pie she didn't want to make dumplings because they almost are pie..." I trail off as my throat hurts.
"Why did she only make apple butter though?"
"Because it was the only apple thing she knew how to make besides applesauce. And you hated applesauce so she.. she wouldn't make it because.. she knew.." I press my lips together, shocked at the profound emotion my own memories are bringing up. "She hated apple butter and she'd still make it just for you!"
I give a small sob, tears rolling down my face. Jeff's hold on me tightens just a little, but he doesn't say a word. I blink rapidly, trying to make the tears stop, but they fall like rain. The only sounds are the whirling water in the tub and the music that plays around us. We sit like that for a long time. I finally cry... though it's nothing big, not some sobbing, heart wrenching scene. The tears fall as memories of my mom tumble through my mind.
Finally Jeff moves and lifts a hand to my face, feeling in the dark to find my nose and then my mouth. He leans in and kisses me gently, a kiss I return when I would usually pull away and demand he not kiss on the lips.
"I'm sorry I told all of that stuff in the interview."
"I forgive you." I pause. "Sorry for smacking you."
"It's okay. You've done worse." We both snicker a bit. "You put out the candles."
"Wanna go in?"
"Yeah. I'm pruned."
"Boy am I glad I can't see your pruned up balls."
Legalities: Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, and any other mentioned characters are copyright to World Wrestling Entertainment. I claim no knowledge of their sexuality or personal lives. I gained no profit from this story. This work is complete fiction.