I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don't know where it goes
But it's home to me and I walk alone
"Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Greenday
My name is Cody Martin, and I'm an only child. It wasn't always like that though. For most of my life I've had a twin brother sharing my short blond hair, blue-green eyes, face and tendency to get into mischief around the Tipton hotel where we've been living for the past year and a half. Six months ago though, I stopped being a twin and my parents became different people in the aftermath of Zachary Martin's death. No, it wasn't just death. It was cold blooded murder.
"Cody honey, why don't you join us?" That was my mom, Carey Martin, trying to get me to join in on the festivities. She and my dad were having a Christmas party on the eve of the holiday in our suite. Mom had invited some of her favorite co-workers and the parents of my old friends, and said friends themselves, over tonight. I wasn't feeling very social at the moment and so I was hanging in the little kitchen we had, leaning against the counter occasionally drinking my Dr. Pepper just watching everyone and rebuffing their advances for socializing.
"I'm fine," I lied. Truthfully I was a bit annoyed by all the happiness in the room, both real and false. My eyes seemed to study each person here in turn, analyzing them as they had a good time, knowing that each of them was living a brighter life. Sure most of them were bothered and maybe even hurt by what had happened to Zack but none of them could feel what I felt. None of them were his flesh and blood identical twin brother that grew up with him for just over thirteen years of their life on this world. None of them shared the things shared between brothers and no one else. Our hopes, fears, desires and plans not just for our future endeavors, but for the rest of our lives. Without Zack I felt incomplete, especially since no one really knew me half as well as he had, not even mom could come close.
"Uh huh. Well you just come over when you get tired of standing there honey," Mom replied and then attempted to restart the conversation she'd been having with Barbara's parents. I was completely aware that I was freaking everyone out, just standing here in the corner watching everyone for long periods of time. Speaking of Barbara, I kind of missed being with her. She'd tried too hard to comfort me in the weeks after the tragedy and I'd snapped on her, arguing and yelling at her. Man I'm an idiot. I want to make up with her, but I don't know how.
Bob and Max were here too, but they were more Zack's friends than they were mine. I'd driven them away too, but not as badly as Barbara, and I was glad they at least still came over. It was nice to have more people around who truly missed him. I felt like I could share my misery with them, letting them bear some of the weight so that I might feel normal for a little while. So, where was I?
I hadn't coped very well after Zack's death. I'd turned into a complete emotional wreck and never really recovered from it. My grades at school fell, I abandoned all extra circular activities and eventually pushed away all of my friends. They always tried cheering me up, and I didn't feel in the mood for cheeriness. I wanted to be left alone in my grief and eventually it happened just as I wanted it to. It was then Mom and Dad almost had to bury two sons.
Physical pain was my only escape from the emotions I felt. It was like an addiction that I craved. I wanted to be in pain all the time to keep from feeling my grief, but it seemed like the more I got used to pain, the more severe I had to hurt myself to continue living. Eventually I just didn't care anymore and I thought that it would just be better if I ended it all and joined my brother in death. Maybe I could find peace there with him. And so that's how I came to cutting myself.
It was easy the first time, I really just wanted to get it over with and so a quick and clean swipe eventually found me lying on my side in the bathroom in a pool of my own blood. Here I would die lying on the ground bleeding out just like my brother had. Mom eventually found me and managed to stop the bleeding long enough for paramedics to arrive and take me to the hospital. I recovered eventually and came home. After the first time there was merely pity and sadness for Cody Martin, if only someone had tried to understand me and what I was going through I might not have done it again.
The second time I'd only just managed to do it before Mom caught me. This time there was no sadness or pity for me, only the full wrath of her anger. She yelled and yelled at me until the paramedics arrived a second time to tend to my wounds. She hated my guts I knew it in my heart. I was trying to take away the only child she had left. I began to understand her, even if she didn't try to understand me.
It was the third time when I couldn't bring myself to do it. I was upset and depressed, and Mom knew what I was about to do. She followed me into the bathroom where I stood before the mirror, razor blade in hand. She didn't try to stop me this time, she just stood in the doorway looking at me.
"Go ahead and do it Cody. I won't call the paramedics this time. Just kill yourself and get it over with. When you're gone, I'll pickup the razor blade and take my own life. It's hard living without Zack, but without you Cody I have nothing at all. I have no reason to live." It was then I suddenly realized that my mom had understood me all along, It was I who had been the ignorant one this entire time. I put down the blade and walked past her into the living room.
I destroyed the suite that day. I threw things, broke them, went into a rampage smashing everything releasing all the pent up anger inside of me. Eventually I collapsed onto the floor and just lay there, my hand playing with a broken piece of porcelain from a coffee cup I had thrown against the suite door. Mom had let me do all this without saying a word, and when it was all over she was there for me. She gave me her love unconditionally and forgave the destruction that I had wrought upon our home. All she wanted from me was a promise, one that I have kept to this day, that I wouldn't try to hurt myself ever again.
Why didn't he ever come home after school that night? He told me he'd see me later and then walked off campus rather than board the school bus with me. He said he had to go buy something downtown to impress his new girlfriend. That was the last time I saw him alive. When he didn't come home or answer his cell phone, Mom called the police panicked and scared out of her wits. They said that they would keep an eye out for him, but that it was too early to file a missing persons report.
The police found Zack's body the next day, lying in an alley downtown. He had been stabbed several times, and bled to death on the cold hard concrete. My brother had been the victim of a random robbery. He'd fought back and paid the price…
I couldn't believe that I'd been home safe, doing my homework and eating dinner while my brother had been miles away bleeding to death with no one around to try and save him. With no one around to hold his hand and offer him comfort as his life slipped away…On top of that, the bastard who killed Zack had never been found. Justice was not served and the guilty went unpunished…
I dropped the empty cup I was holding and put my head in my hands, fingers running through my hair to the point where I almost pulled it. The pain was strangely refreshing. I slid down to sit on the floor, my back resting against the bottom cabinets. Damn the cheery Christmas music playing on the stereo and the happiness of the people around me. Didn't they know Zack was dead?
"Hey sweetie," Mom said to me, sitting next to me and pulling me into her embrace. I didn't return the hug. I didn't want happiness, I didn't want anyone's pity, I wanted to be left alone in my misery dammit. Didn't anyone understand that?
"Not now mom," I muttered, letting my head slip through my hands so that I was further protected from her love by my arms and knees. She rubbed my back instead. I knew that she could feel me trembling. I was crying again.
"I just wanted to see if you made your Christmas wish honey," Of course I'd made my wish, it never changed!
"It's the same thing I wish for every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month," I replied, with each reference of time my voice getting louder and louder. I came out of my shell and stood up so fast that, along with my raised voice, I attracted everyone's attention. "I just want Zack back!" I screamed at my mother. I felt bad about screaming at her, but my anger and self pity was just overwhelming at that point and I didn't care anymore. I had to get away from everyone, so I ran into my room and slammed the door shut.
There was silence from the living room, only the Christmas music could be heard for the longest time. I flopped down on my bed, pulled the covers around me and closed my eyes. Maybe I could sleep this horrible night away. Mom and Dad started arguing, their voices raising from whispers to a normal volume. They were arguing about my feelings and how reminding me of Zack on Christmas Eve was affecting me.
Didn't they get it? It didn't matter what day it was. All that mattered was that my big brother was dead. Killed senselessly and left where no one would find him until he'd been gone from this world for almost a day. I couldn't take it, I just wanted peace and quiet. I lay there listening to them argue until I could stand it no longer. I sucked down the biggest breath I could and then screamed at them through the closed door.
"SHUT UP! JUST SHUT UP!" I paused, feeling the blood rushing to my head and the scratchiness at the back of my throat. It would be sore tomorrow from that.
"MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS! GOODNIGHT!"
And then there was peace and quiet. The grasp of sleep pulled me in and I gladly embraced it, hoping I'd get away from my life for a few hours and dream of happier times when Zack was still alive.
The cool kiss of wind blowing in from the open window brought me out of a dreamless sleep. I was so warm, curled up in a ball under my sheets that I didn't want to get up and close the window. Wait a minute, I hadn't left the window open last night had I? I couldn't remember. That seemed to happen a lot since my brother died, I had a hard time remembering things.
Without warning I suddenly had the feeling that I was not alone in the room. Turning my head towards my bedroom door thinking that it was my mother checking in on me, I saw that there was no one there. She'd taken to looking in on me at night when I was asleep, or at least when she thought that I was asleep, and she'd stand there in the doorway crying silently. It really hurt me when she did that. Every time she looked at me she saw a living reminder of the son she had lost, not the son that she still had.
My bed sagged lightly on the side by the window. Fear flooded through my body, a cold chill sweeping down from my head to my toes, paralyzing me. I was so afraid, there was someone in my room with me and they were so close to me. What did they want with me? I cringed when a hand gently rested itself on my shoulder and curled into a tighter ball under the covers.
"Cody," whispered the voice of the last person I expected to be there in my room with me, "Wake up man…" It couldn't be…my ears were playing tricks on me or better yet I was dreaming. Yes, that was it, I was just dreaming. Almost every night I dreamed of him and every time I woke up I felt the pain of his loss fresh in my heart. As if reading my mind, I felt a sharp pain on my cheek as he pinched me and said to me, "This is not one of your dreams."
I shifted my position, rolling over on the same spot and sitting up to face the person on the edge of my bed. In the dim moonlight streaming in through my window I saw a warm smile touch his lips when my eyes laid their gaze upon his face. My heart ached to see him, just as he had looked on they day that he was taken away from me and my family.
"Zack?" It hurt to say his name aloud, it was something I had managed to avoid at all costs. It was like saying it only made his death more real to me.
"Hey Codester, it's good to see you bro!" Zack replied, his voice sounded so real and pure. I'd almost forgotten what he sounded like…That was terrible of me. Not even in my dreams did he sound like this.
"How?" I stammered, trying to force down the emotions welling up inside of me. I didn't want to get worked up again over something that wasn't real.
"You wished for me Cody, and so I came!" He said this as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. Like wishing for dead people to come back to life and having it happen was commonplace. He leaned forward and wrapped his arms around me in a loving embrace that I eagerly returned. Zack felt so warm and solid, this couldn't possibly be anything but the real thing. I rested my head against his shoulder, tears of happiness flowing from my eyes. I had my brother back!
"Oh god Zack…I've missed you so much," I sobbed into his shoulder, feeling his fingers gently stroking my hair.
"I know Codester, I know. Everything is gonna be ok though," His voice soothed me, calmed me down enough that I could release him and sit more comfortably on my bed. He looked at me, his eyes seeming to look at me from head to toe. Zack looked exactly as he had the last time that I saw him, still dressed in his loose fitting orange shirt which was on top of a long sleeved black shirt with flames running down the arms and baggy khaki pants along with his new pair of shoes to complete the image.
"I'm so glad that you're back Zack. Mom will be so happy to see you, her heart is broken." I told him, my spirits raising and for a moment I envisioned us as a family again, complete, whole and unscathed. Then I saw Zack shaking his head, and my happiness seemed to get sucked out of me then and there.
"This is only for you, and only for right now,"
"What do you mean?" I was afraid of the answer. Afraid that he'd tell me he had to leave me alone again. The more I looked into his sweet innocent eyes the more I began to dread his answer.
"The dead cannot be brought back to life Cody. No matter how strongly you want it or how many times that you wish it to happen. I'm sorry…" He wouldn't look at me, his head was hung and eyes closed as he uttered the words which stabbed into me like knives.
"You can't stay? Why Zack, why?" I demanded of him, grabbing hold of his shirt screaming in his face, feeling fresh hot tears streaming down my face. He didn't make a move to stop me from manhandling him, instead he just opened his eyes.
"No, not like this anyway," he paused, but then pressed his hand against my chest, "But I will be with you always."
"Why even come back at all!" I screamed, still clutching the collar of his shirt. Zack lifted his head and looked me in the eye, a flash of anger crossed his face but then it was gone, as if he were struggling keep himself calm and mystical.
"I came to say I'm sorry for dying Codes, and that I love you and miss you. I came so that you could say goodbye to me. You've regretted that you never said goodbye to me and have never forgiven yourself for it. I came to give you peace at last brother…"
"How can I have peace without you…I need you Zack…"
"You'll manage. You're strong Cody, stronger than you know." He stood up and walked over to look out the window.
"Zack…" I pleaded, I didn't want him to leave. He was real and alive, how could he do this to me!
"Sorry Codes, this is the way it has to be. I have to go now." Zack replied, turning to face me again.
"No Zack, don't go!" He shook his head again and then smiled warmly at me.
"Bye Cody. I love you, always." This wasn't happening, it was too short a visit, I hadn't gotten to tell him the things I wanted to. Hadn't asked him the questions I'd wanted to. I'd just been selfish with my feelings and the desire to have my brother back. Now I'd never be able to talk to him again…I just had a feeling his first visit was also his last. He winked at me, as if knowing what was on my mind.
"Bye…big brother. Bye Zack…" I said softly, looking down at the patterns on my comforter. I couldn't watch him go, it would destroy me. The door to my bedroom suddenly opened and I glanced over to see my mom standing in the doorway, her mouth opened to say something to me and then her eyes traveled to the spot where Zack stood. I looked over towards the window as my brother faded from view. He was gone forever.
Mom and I never spoke of that night, she just left without saying a word. I know that she knows something happened to me on that night. She knows I saw Zack and talked with him. It made the whole experience real, knowing that someone else had seen him, and so far from being a dream.
Our lives continued without Zack, but things improved over the years. Mom looked at me now and saw only me instead of the memory of her other son. She spent more time with me, helping me make a future for myself. Barbara and I got back together and we made new friends in the world. I got over my grief and actually lived in happiness, knowing that I carried some small part of Zack with me that was watching over me and giving me strength when times were hard.
I got my Christmas wish and thanks to it, my life was able to move on.
I will never stop loving you Zack, wherever you are now.
I will never forget you, and all that you gave me brother.
A/N: Merry Chrismas everyone. I was a day late on getting this out, but I wanted to wrtie something heart warming for the holidays while keeping my typical grim reaper status in there somewhere. I think this is some of my best work yet, probably because it is just a one shot.
Well, hoped you all liked it and if I made you feel sad the entire story but happy for Cody in the end, then my job is done. Happy Holidays everyone, enjoy the good times and travel safely.
Please leave a comment, I'd much appreciate them! Until next time, peace out!