The full story for the one-shot The Alone and the Lonely. Including before, during, and after the happenings in the one-shot. I know most of you who read the one-shot are eager for the 'after' parts, but I definitely think I need to start from the beginning, to elaborate and set up the story. Enjoy!
There are two dilemmas that rattle the human skull: How do you hang on to someone who won't stay? And how do you get rid of someone who won't go?
War of the Roses by Danny Devito
The ceiling fan whirled over my room as classic rock drifted softly from the turned-down stereo, so that all I could hear was the voice coming through my headphones.
"Hey Austin," I interrupted suddenly. The friend's face on my computer raised an eyebrow at me. His movements were slowed down, since my web cam wasn't the best. I would have to consider getting a new one soon, before all this was said and done. I'm sure my mom would appreciate being able to talk to me sometimes. She could have this one, if she wanted. "Your uncle sent the money right?"
"Yup," said the voice in my ear proudly, though on the screen his mouth moved a second behind the words. "And when we get to New York, he'll give it to us and give us room and board for free, however long we'll be there."
I nodded. "Okay. And Roger's relatives are willing to help out too, when we go to Florida?"
He chuckled with delight. "They've already bought the Universal passes for us."
"Awesome," I grinned. "And Mack's grandparents?"
"Have already starting primping the surf boards."
"Perfect. That should mean almost everything is done now, right?"
I watched as the grainy particles of the image changed in hue and shadow as he moved, shifting in his computer chair and nodding. "Yeah except…have you told your mom yet?"
I stared at the screen a moment before I swore under my breath. "Damn! No, I still have to do that. But you know how she is…I don't know how to bring it up. Especially with college so near, anything that comes near constituting her 'little baby leaving her!' makes her cry." I frowned.
Austin's expression gradually turned worried. "You don't think she won't let you go, do you?"
I grinned reassuringly at him. "Nah. I mean, she's always been cool with out of town trips before. Like remember when we went to Mack's grandparent's beach house last summer, in Cali?"
He shrugged. "Yeah, but that was only two weeks and she always knew where you were. Plus, you actually told her beforehand. More than a two and a half week notice, which is what it would be if you told her like, right now dude."
I shrugged too. "Well, I'll tell her when I'm done packing tomorrow."
"Why are you packing so early again?" he asked me skeptically.
"Because if I don't do it early, I'll end up never doing it," I said impatiently. "I'm a procrastinator by nature, so I'm trying to change that."
"Changing that…tomorrow, right?" He grinned at his little procrastinator joke.
I chuckled. "Yeah. Tomorrow, I'll start."
"Damn it," I muttered under my breath, dropping to my stomach quickly as I shone my flashlight under my bed. "Now I understand why mom always wants me to keep this place clean..."
Looking for the things I wanted to pack was taking longer than anticipated. I had thought that maybe it would only take half an hour to sort out what I did and didn't want to take with me. And that would've been easy too - if I had a clear idea of what all I had. As it stood, my room was just a disarrayed mess.
I wished Austin had asked me now why I was packing two weeks in advance. My answer was much better than it had been. Because if I didn't, then I'd never be done in time! This was ridiculous...I needed to develop more meticulous cleaning habits.
I was getting concerned though. My mom wasn't home yet, still at work, but when she was I was going to have to tell her about the trip. But, really. Two weeks notice was plenty of time. It seemed that way to me. Already, that two week milestone was stretching out forever in front of me, close but never in reach. The clocks were slowing down because they just knew how badly I couldn't wait for this.
I sighed, giving up for the moment of trying to hunt under my bed for whatever might be under there that I could possibly take. I decided to work on clothes next.
As I went on vacations often - though, my mom was usually with me - I had quite a bit of suitcases and other various luggage containers. I decided though that since this was a road trip, I shouldn't pack that much. Two suitcases would suffice. One would hold clothes and one would hold personal items.
My drawers were messy, my clothes just thrown in it, but my closet at least had some semblance of control. Everything was hanging up neat in it. Courtesy of my mother.
I threw two fair sized suitcases from the back of my closet on to my bed, the sheets still crumpled from where I had neglected to make them when I got up this morning. I opened them, just so that if I should come across any items in my closet that needed to go into the second case, it'd be all ready to go.
I walked over to my stereo and turned up the station I was listening to louder, allowing myself to get lost in the music instead of the task I was trying to accomplish.
The hard part was deciding how much of each thing to take. Because, how long would we be staying in each place? It seemed I should save my shorts for the beachy places we were going, but how many to bring? And, how many jeans for the northern places? Should I take a couple nicer shirts, or would they ever really be necessary? In the end, I started just putting a little bit of everything in the cases, hoping that my guestimations would be good enough. The suitcase started getting a little too full though, and with a groan I realized that I was probably going to have to fold the clothes. Great. That really wasn't a strong point of mine.
I didn't realize my mom had gotten home until she spoke from the doorway.
"What...what is this Edward?" she asked slowly. I paused the task of putting my keyboard in it's case. There was no way I could leave it behind. Who knew how inspired I might get on our travels? My head twisted to look at her.
"Huh?" I asked, an automatic response. I'd heard what she said. I tried to calm myself, knowing that this was the moment I'd been dreading. I would have to tell her the news nonchalantly, because if I made it sound like a bigger deal than it was, she would just panic. Also, I had to be very careful to phrase this so there was no doubt that it was not a question. I was eighteen, and could make my own decisions. She had to be aware of that. She was my mother, and I loved her, but there comes a point in life where all parents must relinquish their absolute control. "Oh...well me and some friends were going to do some traveling over the summer." I shrugged, showing her that this was definitely not something to freak out over, if that's what she was thinking. "No big deal."
Her brow furrowed anyway, and I resisted the urge to grimace. "And when were you planning on telling me?" she demanded. Her hands went to her hips, and I wanted to sigh. Not a good sign.
"Soon," I told her. I could've said "when you got home" but I doubt she'd believe that answer if I told her it, despite the fact that it was true. She'd just think I was trying to console her. "I'll be back before college starts, I promise." There. Hopefully that would put her mind at ease.
No such luck.
"Young man," she snapped, and I frowned at her. "I don't know how old you think you are, but you don't just get to make these kind of decisions on your own. And especially without talking to me or...or anything! What did you think you were going to do? Just pack and go? No informing me, no setting this up and planning out, no contingency plan? If you wanted to do this, you should've told me and started planning it months ago." I opened my mouth to interrupt her, to tell her we had been planning this out for a while now, but she didn't give me the chance, cutting me off before I even began. "As it stands now, I'm not going to let you go. There's too much you could get up to, you're not old enough, or mature enough. Sex, drugs...at least wait until after college. You'll be home free then," she said sarcastically. I knew she was saying it like that because she was hurt, but I shoved that knowledge aside. Feeling guilty would not be very beneficial to me.
As it was, I was horrified. There was no way I couldn't go! I had been such a big part of the planning, I'd been the one to set the whole affair up, I was the most excited for it. This wasn't fair. She didn't get it at all. "No mom," I said, my voice stammering in my alarm. "We already planned this. I have to go. I swear we won't get up to no good, and we'll be too busy with college soon to go do anything. This is our chance." Why can't you just understand and butt out? I thought desperately in my head, though I was much too smart to ever say that out loud.
"I said no," she said angrily. "I can't believe this of you Edward. You're usually so much more mature."
"Exactly!" I shouted. I rarely lost my temper, and never with her, but this was ridiculous. She was being a tyrant; making something out of nothing. This wasn't how this supposed to go. She didn't understand. "I am mature! I can do this! And I'm eighteen mom. I'm an adult."
"You're also living under my roof," she said pointedly.
I froze completely and just glared at her. She gazed back evenly, the same determination to win inside of her as it was in me. Her argument was true, but still stupid. I mean, I was old enough to get my own place. I was going to soon anyway, when I moved into a dorm. I didn't have to be here, and according to her own logic, if I wasn't I could do whatever I wanted...
The light bulb clicked on over my head then, and I unfroze, letting myself smile in victory. Mother's expression was shocked, and I chuckled internally. I win. "You're right mom," I said submissively. "I am living under your roof, which means I follow your rules."
I watched as she narrowed her eyes suspiciously. "Yes..." she said slowly. I was surprised she wasn't catching on, but I definitely wasn't going to inform her.
I shrugged, setting down my keyboard, and said nothing. I could tell she was still suspicious, and she glared at me for a few more moments before hesitantly turning and leaving the room. I could feel my eyes flash the moment she turned away.
Of all the thirty-six alternatives, running away is best.
Of all the thirty-six alternatives, running away is best.
Only three days after that did I take my already packed bags down to the Greyhound station, and board the bus. Mom was still at work. I didn't want any tearful good-byes, or have her trying to convince me not to go. It would only take longer, and I would never underestimate my mother and her cleverness. It was how I got it, after all. She would find a way to make me stay.
So I left early morning, not long after she'd gone to work. I left my car behind for several reasons. One, she might possibly find a way to track me with that. Two, it wasn't that great anyway. I wanted a better car. And three, I was leaving everything behind me today. I was starting anew; nothing would hold me back.
I left a note though. I wanted her to know I was gone, not kidnapped or hiding out for a few days at a friends house. Nothing so juvenile as all that. I was gone by choice and choice alone.
You were right. Why should I try to defy your rules under your roof? Which is why I've got to get my own roof, somewhere else. I might travel, or I might move to one single place and settle down. Either way, I'm moving on now. Don't try to reach or find me. You won't be able to. Tell my friends I'm gone and to have fun on their travels for me.
For shame or for pride,
I had set that down on the kitchen table. She would find it.
The bus rocked underneath me, and I decided to take a nap. I had a very long ride after all. I had decided that my first destination would be New York. That was where you make it big, right? Or make something, in any case. The cultural center of the States. I'd been there a couple times, and enjoyed it.
Night fell on the bus; my seat beside me filled and emptied, and I stared out the window at the passing world, wondering where all of this would take me. All I knew was that what I going toward had to be better than what I'd left behind.
New York City was fucking expensive. I mean, I had a fair bit of cash, but damn. I was working two jobs at small little stores, and yet my savings were still rapidly depleting.
This was craziness.
Despite that, I enjoyed the energy of the Big Apple. How anywhere you looked, you could find someone who either was famous, or looked like they could be. The flow and energy of the never ending hustle and bustle. Even the slums and littered streets rang of something more, if you could ignore the smell.
My favorite time though, was at night. The city glittered, glimmered, honked, moved. Always moved. I liked that. As long as I kept moving, it was easy to push aside the gentle stirrings of guilt that had been making themselves known lately. It was easy to not think of anything from the past. I was starting to get pangs of loss and loneliness when I thought of it, and I didn't like that. So I just didn't think about it.
It wasn't all great though. The city was rankled by crime. I mean, Chicago definitely wasn't the safest place in the world either, so it wasn't like it was my first time being "exposed". I wasn't some suburbanite shut-in. Still, that didn't make seeing old women's purses snatched - too far away to be able to help - even easier. Or hearing about rapes in the allies I had walked in just that same night, never knowing what might unfold later in their dark, grimy depths.
I had been able to help some though. And it was because of helping one little girl that my career began.
I walked out of work as the cashier of an instrument parts shop. I had an early shift, since my next job started at five. It was currently three now though, and I had a little bit of time to relax. I hadn't gotten a new car yet, since I was fine with walking. Sometimes I had to take the subway if I had to rush, but for the most part, I just walked. The smells weren't always great, but the feelings in the air were. I loved to walked around with my head held high, taking in the sights around me.
And I was doing just that when I bumped into something that barely reached my knee.
I heard a wail and looked down to see a small girl child sitting on the curb of the sidewalk, tears running down her face.
"Are you okay?" I asked frantically, leaning down toward her. "Did I hurt you?"
"N - n - no!" she cried. "But I can't find my mommy!" She couldn't have been older than six.
"Oh…" I murmured, mind racing. "Do you remember where you last saw her?"
"Just - just a little while ago," she sobbed. "She let go of my hand in a crowd of people, and now I can't find her! We were going to the - to the movies!"
"Oh," I said again, this time more surprised. "The one around the corner here?"
She nodded, and I did too, before I picked her up and set her on my shoulders. "C'mon," I said brightly, trying to cheer her up. "Let's go there and see if we can find your mom, eh?"
"Eh?" she repeated blankly, and I chuckled a little, beginning to walk.
We passed by a street performer near a brick wall, standing on a turned over rubbish bin and trying - and failing - to do a good monologue, on the chance that an agent would be walking by. As we passed the tiny group of people surrounding him a white-haired man in a striped suit stepped out the crowd, sighing and shaking his head. He was just a few steps behind us.
"What's he doing?" asked the little girl curiously.
"A monologue," I informed her. "And badly. That's when you take a piece of writing and say it out loud, trying to be a character. Get it?"
"Um…no," she said, and I could feel her shaking her head.
"What's your name, by the way?" I asked suddenly.
"Bree," she sniffled.
"Okay Bree," I said happily. "How would you like me to do a monologue for you?"
She sniffed again. "Okay," she said slowly, sounding a bit better.
I grinned and cleared my throat theatrically. I only knew one monologue that I had memorized back in eleventh grade, when a girlfriend wanted me to audition for the school play with her. I didn't get in but honestly - I didn't try very hard either. I was going to this time though. I cleared my throat again and began speaking in a high woman's voice with a British accent.
"Well, Tommy has proposed to me again," I said, loudly and snobbishly, voice still high and British, making quite a few heads turn. Bree laughed. "Tommy really does nothing but propose to me. He proposed to me last night in the music-room…Then he proposed to me in broad. Daylight." I stopped and dramatically emphasized the words, spreading my arms out to motion to the world. Bree shrieked another laugh and I saw the man in the suit from the corner of my eye, pausing too. " …this morning, in front of that dreadful statue of Achilles." I sniffed haughtily. "Really, the things that go on in front of that work of art are quite appalling. The police should interfere. At luncheon I saw by the glare in his eye - " I paused again, and crouched down, swirling on my heel while making coke bottle glasses around my eyes with my fingers, all for the sake of cheering up the girl on my shoulders. She giggled and patted my head affectionately as I stood up again. " - that he was going to propose again, and I just managed to check him in time by assuring him that I was a bimetallist. Fortunately I don't know what bimetallism means. And I don't believe anybody else does either." I put my finger to my chin thoughtfully. "But the observation crushed Tommy for ten minutes."
I tilted my head back some to look at Bree. I widened my eyes. "Ten. Minutes," I emphasized, spreading all the fingers on my hands.
Bree started laughing and couldn't stop this time, and I grinned, walking quicker now. We were almost to the movie theater. "Well go on!" she said delightedly.
I looked up at her in surprise. "Uh…that's all I got," I laughed. "But we're here now," I told her. "Do you see your moth - "
"BREEEEE!" The shriek came from the movie talking frantically into her phone, before she snapped it shut and ran pell-mell toward us. She grabbed the girl from my shoulders and held her tightly. "Oh Bree," she sobbed. "I was so scared." She looked up at me through teary eyes. "Thank you," she said sincerely. "Thank you so much. Is there anything I can do for you? Anything at all?"
I shook my head, blushing and backing up a bit. "It was a pleasure ma'am," I muttered. "I'm glad we found you."
"At least let me give you some money," she told me, her eyes widening imploringly, and I backed up even more.
"No, really," I stammered. "That's okay. I don't need it. I - "
"You're right he doesn't need it," said a loud voice next to me, and then an arm was being thrown over my shoulders. A stripe-suited clad arm. "Because this kid, is going to be famous one day."
I looked over at the voice and saw the same man who had stepped out of the crowd around the street performer. He was pretty old, judging by his hair color, the wrinkles on his skin, and the milkiness of his blue eyes. But there was an energy about him that gave off the feeling of youth.
"Aro's the name m'boy, a movie agent," he said, clapping his hand into mine, and I shook back, feeling distinctly dazed. "And you've got talent, I can see it sure as day. Could use some work, but that'll come with practice. You've got some potential, and I know just the person who needs you."
"What?" I asked stupidly, my mind still racing to catch up with the pace that was being set now. Too fast.
"Down in Cali, got a friend, working on an independent film. I like the film idea though, think it's got potential. They need the main character still. I think you're it. How about it?"
"I…I um…uh…wha - ?"
"Perfect! Here's my card." A crisp white business card was slapped into my hand. "I'll give you some time to think about it, but you've only got a week. Call my cell when you make up your mind, or my secretary if I'm not available, and we'll ship you out to Cali in the next week or so. Perfect!"
Bree and her mother were staring at me open-mouthed as Aro slapped my back and walked away. I'm sure my expression was similar, frozen with shock as I was. My hand unconsciously clenched the card tightly.
I ended up accepting the offer, and like he said, I was on a plane to California by the end of the week. What did I have to lose after all? There was no harm in keeping moving.
Let guilty men remember, their black deeds
Do lean on crutches made of slender reeds.
Let guilty men remember, their black deeds
"The White Devil" by John Webster
That's the word that could be used to describe my apartment. Two years had passed since that fateful day I met my agent, and I've filmed almost four movies, been in a couple plays, and auditioned for more of both of them than I can even count. Aro is still my agent, and it astounds me how he can still do his job even though he rarely flies in from New York. I've actually only seen him once a year since this began.
Two years have gone by, and, though I know twenty is not an age that exactly withers the bones, I definitely felt aged.
Just looking back on my eighteen year old self, I can see how much I've changed, and how much I'll keep changing.
Arrogant. Foolish. Selfish. Blind. That's what I was.
And maybe still am. Since I've yet to fix my mistakes.
My apartment is tidy and neat. It issn't even dusty. It isn't elaborately decorated either, but I have some nice paintings, vases, and other various elegant knick-knacks around the place. I vacuume three times a week. I dust every two days. I do the dishes as soon as I'm done with them. I make my bed in the morning.
My mother would've been proud. As well she should be, because the only reason I started doing it was because of her.
What child understands why they have chores? Why their parents make them clean up? Oh, it can be done in a day or so…that's what we think. But I can see now she was just trying to prepare me for the outside world.
Now that she can't see me, now that it's too late, now is the time that I do the things that would make her proud.
But is it too late? For the past year or so I've contemplated going back. But every day I decide to procrastinate, the longer the time stretches from the day I last saw her to the day I would see her if I left now. And it seems so long. What would I do? What would I say? I feel so heavy and weary at the very thought that I just push the thought away and promise to try again tomorrow.
I was sitting on my couch one not-so-special day when I made up my mind. Well today is tomorrow. And I swear that I'll see her again. I'll go back, and apologize for all that I've done.
Chicago smelled and looked exactly as I remembered it. I had to keep reminding myself that the years change people more than they change setting. I don't know why I kept expecting to step into a completely different place than I left. But everything was as I remembered, from my eighteen years of living here. A couple added stores and places here and there, but the same city I remembered.
I rented a car. I didn't want to waste any more time walking there, especially with the airport being so far away. This was just easier too.
The house looked almost exactly as I remembered it. With one exception.
My mom had kept a garden religiously, and our lawn had always been the best on the street; in the whole neighborhood, really. Plants and flowers were always full to bursting with life. But the garden was all but gone. The plants that remained were so browned and in such desperate need of maintenance it would've looked better if they hadn't been there at all. It gave the whole house such a feel of loss and abandonment that dread and unease seeped into my stomach, making me feel sick.
Taking a much needed breath, I got out of the car and walked up to the front door, rapping on it three times.
"Just a minute!" called a voice. My heart sunk. It wasn't my mothers. Had she moved? I hadn't even anticipated that to be a concern.
The door opened, and a tiny little old Spanish lady opened the door. "Hello?" she asked, her eyes widening at the sight of me.
"Um...hi," I said edgily, shifting my weight from foot to foot, shoving my hand in my jacket pocket. I still needed work on my people skills. "Is Elizabeth Masen here?"
Her eyes widened even more. "Oh no no, honey," she said. "She's been in the ho'pital for quite some time now! Haven't you heard? I'm just looking over the house for her, so if she comes back it'll be all tidy and clean." She looked at me curiously. "And who are you again?"
But I couldn't say anything, frozen in horror as I was. If she comes back. Was that a real concern, or was the lady just not watching her diction that much?
"Oh no," I whispered, and turned on my heel, racing back to my car.
I knew which hospital to go to. My mother always had gone to just one hospital. It was where I was born, it was where we went whenever one of us was sick, or the time I dislocated my shoulder. It, too, was familiar.
But it loomed over me like a gigantic monster. How perfect that the sky was dark gray today. Looking up at the top of the building, the dark red brick looked positively black against the sky. I was pretty much standing there just waiting for a crack of lightning to shoot over the building and a wolf to howl.
I swallowed heavily and walked up the steps to the entrance slowly, feeling each weight on my ankles as I stepped down and climbed up more.
Then I was at the top and the entrance was in front of me. I could see myself reflected in the bluish tinted glass, standing there in my dark green hoodie and looking for all the world like I had no idea where I was. Snapping myself out of it, I walked up to the panes. I took a deep breath, and opened the hospital doors.
I walked out different than I walked in.
Hope you like it so far :) I feel like his past really needed to be expanded upon.
Hope you like it so far :) I feel like his past really needed to be expanded upon.
If you like the story, remember to go vote for it when the final rounds of Jayeliwood's contest comes around. Thank you so much all those that voted before! And I'll inform you when that happens.
- The Romanticidal Edwardian