Casey.

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January 23rd, 2019




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Age: 26
Country: United States

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01/21/2019 01:54 PM 

wayward }} d r a b b l e.

W A Y W A R D -- ;

Saddle West Hotel
Pahrump, Nevada

Casey peeked around the corner to get a look at the hallway. Ten minutes passed since he’d last spotted Thomas, or heard him running along the hall upstairs. That could have only meant he’d found a secure hiding spot -- one which Casey was confident he would be able to find, no problem, but the threat of Thomas finding him first still lingered, so he knew he had to keep moving. To the other residents passing by, Casey was just an annoying kid, doing a serpentine down the first-floor hallway. However, to Casey, he was the self-proclaimed villain in a race against time; in a battle of wit and skill. Anyone he happened to run into, or trip over in the process was just a casualty and villains weren’t supposed to care about that. Without a single apology, he jolted down the hall. At the end of the corridor was an exit that lead to an outdoor staircase. If Casey got out there, he could sneak back in on the second floor and catch Thomas before Thomas even realize he’d left the building. Unfortunately, he was thwarted before he even made it to the door.

“That one?”

“Yup, that’s the one! He ran into me three times out in the lobby, and he damn-near trampled my wife coming down the hall! There’s another one upstairs doing the same thing!” A brown-haired guy in an ugly polo was yelling, pointing at Casey who was frozen in his tracks. He contemplated running, but thought better of it considering he’d already been in trouble the week before for splashing water on people from the safety of his balcony while they were coming in, and then a week before that for purposely running out in front of peoples’ cars while they were trying to park. Judging by the look on Shirley from the front desk’s face, she was no longer amused by him. This was no longer a case of “kids being kids.”

“I’ll take care of it,” Shirley said, then parted ways with Polo Shirt. Before Casey could do or say anything, she snatched the water gun from his hand, causing him to flinch when she latched onto his shirt. “What is this?”

Casey didn’t say anything. In that moment, his demeanor had gone from cool, collected villain back to moody teenager with razor-sharp eyes -- his “true form.”

“I sure hope you weren’t running around trying to shoot people with this, Casey,” Shirley prodded.

“I wasn’t,” Casey said, trying to shrug her hand away, but Shirley’s grip only tightened.

“Okay, then what WERE you doing with it? And what were you doing running around tripping people?”

Casey rolled his eyes. “Look, hands off, we were just playing around. I didn’t even run into that guy, he’s full of sh*t…”

“Uh-huh… Well that guy’s not the only one giving me complaints, so forgive me if Ifind that hard to believe,” Shirley remarked, beginning to walk. “Walk.” Usually, when Casey would get into trouble, Shirley would just walk him back to his room. On the off-chance his mother was home, she would scold her for not watching him, while making the point that a fourteen year-old boy shouldn’t have had to be watched so closely anyway.

There was once a time where Casey pretty popular there, but that was before its residents got to know him, and became aware of the fact that his mother inadvertently allowed him to run rampant around the building while she was nowhere to be found. Shirley found herself watching him more often than Jennifer Caverly ever had. When they reached the top of the stairs, Thomas was in the midst of an encounter with the Goldfields next door, quite similar to the one Casey had just had with the polo guy. Casey didn’t say a word. As Shirley gathered Thomas too, and began ushering them back to Casey’s hotel room, he glanced at Todd Goldfield who just shook his head and then went back to complaining about them once their backs were to him.

Shirley asked several times where Jennifer was. For some reason, it took her actually seeing their apartment for herself to realize Casey hadn’t been lying when he said he didn’t know. In fact, he hadn’t seen her in two days, which wasn’t out of the ordinary. Last time she disappeared, she was gone an entire week, and before that she was gone so long Casey gave up counting the days all-together. Because she was so absent, she didn’t really know or care what the room looked like, and neither did her teenage boy who’d never cleaned a day in his life. Thomas wasn’t fazed by it, because it wasn’t his hotel room, and therefore not his problem. He walked in so casually it looked like he’d memorized all the junk piles. Casey was more hesitant, at least trying to step over things or kicking them out of his way when he became frustrated with that. He wanted it clean. He wanted to do something about it, but at that point, where was he supposed to start?

Casey expected a rampage when Shirley saw the state of their room, but in the end, she just seemed more sad than anything. “You should go home, your parents probably worried about you,” she said to Thomas, then focused on Casey. “You stay in here for the rest of the night, okay? We’ll try and track down your mom.”

“Ch’yeah, good luck,” Casey muttered under his breath, but didn’t look at her. Instead he started spitefully picking up some of the dirty clothes off the floor. Shirley left with their water guns, and a promise to return them at the end of the week. Casey wanted to make some crack about how she was more like a mother than Jennifer was, but he wanted her to leave more than anything.

“Do I have to go home?” Thomas asked. Shirley glared at him, which got him up off the couch. He looked back at Casey. “See you tomorrow, man.”

Casey acknowledged him with a small nod while dumping some plastic dishes into the trash can. “Yeah, sure.”

It was nearing midnight by the time Jennifer stumbled through the door, ranting about how Shirley embarrassed her out in the lobby. “I can’t believe she would tell me that!? Who is she to tell me that?” She flailed her arms. She continued on and on while stumbling over the piles remaining on the floor since Casey never got very far in cleaning up before giving in. She slammed her purse down on the counter, leaning against it. She pushed herself off the counter and staggered to the bathroom, spotting the light underneath the crack in the door, which seemed to spark her memory. “Casey!”

Casey, who’d heard the commotion outside the bathroom door, was in the midst of scrambling around trying to dispose of the cigarettes he’d stolen from Jennifer’s purse the last time she was home. His homework was scattered in a disarray across the floor. When Jennifer shoved the door open, it stopped short after hitting him in the shoulder, just in the nick of time. He’d shoved the cigarette -- only half-smoked -- into the sink and washed it down. “Hey, occupied!” he snapped.

“Yup, and now you’re done, get out here!” Jennifer fired back, snatching his arm and dragging him out into the room. She was still stumbling. She reeked of alcohol, but her rage was propelling her through her spiel, as if sobering her to some extent. “Well, first of all, I’m sure you know we gotta get this cleaned up since I have Shirley on my ass now. I can’t believe you let it get like this, I was gone for a few days! A few days and look at this, Jesus Christ. You wanna tell me what the hell happened in the hallway also?”

Jennifer was using every trick in the book to get her point across, but the only thing she was successfully doing was igniting a flame in Casey, who leered at her the entire time she was talking. “You wanna go back to grandma’s basement? Huh? Because that’s what’s gonna happen if we can’t make this work,” she rambled on, flailing her arm around.

“At least grandma’s not a total a**hole,” Casey remarked, gaze trailing from her, over the mess of their hotel room. If they got kicked out, he thought, it might not be so bad.

Jennifer paused, her eyes springing open, somehow wider than they already had been. “What did you just say?”

Casey just stared at her with is arms crossed.

“Casey Adam Caverly, what did you just say to your mother? What did you say to me? I will beat it outta you, you little brat --”

“Come hit me then, mom!” Casey snapped. “Come beat it outta me so someone can call the cops again, and you can clean this sh*t up by yourself tomorrow.”

Jennifer took a small step back, her mouth open, but Casey had her coming up short for words.

“Exactly.”

Casey and Jennifer ultimately parted ways, Jennifer falling asleep on the couch-bed while Casey forwent his air mattress on the floor beside it for the bathroom. He lined the bathtub with blankets so he could lay inside, staring at the ceiling, finally simmering down. When he shut his eyes, it at least started to alleviate the oncoming headache. He felt too young to be complaining of headaches all the time, but that was the third in a week, for the same reason. He thought of running away. He imagined himself taking off down the 160 and hitchhiking away several times, with several different outcomes, until he finally fell asleep.

In the morning, Casey awoke -- having not even realized he fell asleep -- to an abrasive buzzing from the vacuum cleaner he didn’t realize they had, as well as the crinkling of trash bags. His eyebrows knit together. If Jennifer had the vacuum going, then who was taking out the trash? Slowly, he found himself losing interest as sleep started to win him over again, but a disgustingly familiar tickle on his cheek caused him to shoot up and start swatting at his face. He ruffled his hair a bit, and from somewhere, flung a small bug that scampered underneath the cabinet as soon as it was free. Figuring he had no chance at going to sleep again after that, Casey huffed and hauled himself out of the tub, rubbing his eyes as he walked over to the door, pulling it open very slowly so he could sneak a peek before committing. “Good morning!” he heard through the initial crack. He backed away, and the vacuum shut off. A strange man with long gray hair and a biker’s bandanna for some reason felt he had permission to push the door open completely.

“Those are some interesting pajamas,” the man teased, referring to the fact that Casey had never changed from his T-shirt and ripped up jeans.

“Who are you?” Casey demanded flatly. He didn’t want anyone in their space, much less another strange guy that would either hurt or abandon them in the end.So he decided to try something. Before this guy could hurt him, he’d act up first. He’d be the one to sever the connection, and he’d do it before it could even start. “You smell like alcohol, so you probably met my mom at the bar, right?”

“Casey,” Jennifer scolded, eyeing him over her shoulder, but the guy only laughed.

“Well, when the kid’s right, he’s right,” he said, passing it off. “I’m just a friend, I came to help clean this place up.”

Casey had heard that line a thousand times before -- just a friend. Just friends didn’t mean anything to him. Just friends still wouldn’t hesitate to deck him in the face for nothing, or walk out after getting his hopes up. “We didn’t really need the help,” he blunted. The guy kept laughing at him, which was pissing him off.

“Trust me, kiddo, you certainly do.”

“We REALLY do,” Jennifer added, coming up from behind the guy. “You missed all the hard crap, now come on, be polite and introduce yourself so you can start helping.”

“Ooooh yeah, right,” the drunk stranger waved his hand, shaking his head. “Totally forgot, I’m Robbie. And I’m gonna go ‘head and guess you’re Casey.”

“Mhm…” Casey rolled his eyes.

“You know what, back when I was workin’ in Hollywood, I knew this kid who looked just like you. Thought he was gonna be a star too -- he had the face for it, but he went off, did a ton’a drugs and got ‘imself thrown in prison.”

“You sayin’ my kid’s gonna get himself thrown in prison?” Jennifer scoffed.

“No! I’m saying he could be a star!” Robbie laughed. “Maybe he was tryin’a tell you somethin’ with the water gun thing. He wants to play a hero.” At that, Casey actually found it in himself to smile, though Jennifer was quick to interject and ruin it. “Well, he can play the hero of the hotel room n’ pick up a broom then."

01/10/2019 02:45 PM 

all hands }} d r a b b l e.

A L L H A N D S -- ;

“I had no idea you were living in your car.”

I hadn’t expected Isaiah to know since I didn’t tell him, and didn’t initially plan to. In fact, I hadn’t even planned on telling the judging panel for TALENT! but for some reason, I ended up feeling the need to justify how raggedy I thought I looked. Even with a chance to shower and clean up at my co-worker’s place, my clothes were still out of date, and I was sporting ripped up jeans I’d been wearing since the beginning of high school. I had a pretty gnarly split lip I couldn’t cover up from being punched in the face by a friend. It wasn’t as bad as it sounded. I told him to do it because I was drunk enough to think it’d be funny, and he was drunk enough to agree. At least I totally had the pity factor going for me. I was thoroughly convinced it was the only reason I made it through to the next round.

“Ch’yeah… Designed by Subaru, it’s quite a feat. I’d make a great episode of MTV Cribs one day,” I mused, shrugging. Isaiah and I stood together in the parking lot after our audition waiting for Jacob, Isaiah getting a once-in-a-lifetime chance to witness my extraordinary home in the flesh. He looked blown away -- and not because he was impressed -- but I was indifferent. I was used to it. The Outback had everything I really needed, minus a shower. I rigged some cool red curtains to the back windows so I could sleep without people messing with me. Everything had somewhat of a spot, aside from my keyboard and guitar, which were shoved anywhere I could fit them -- in the front seat if I wasn’t there, in the back if I was driving.

“I think you missed the boat on that one, buddy…” Isaiah looked into the front window, then turned his head away like he was afraid I’d scold him for peeking -- or like I’d be hiding a dead body, a fleeting thought that caused me to laugh a little.

“Don’t look too long, you might see something that makes you way more uncomfortable than the fact that I live in there,” I teased, sitting down on top of the hood and lighting a cigarette.

“Sorry…” Isaiah said, becoming way more serious than I was expecting -- way more serious than I wanted. What did he care about some dumb homeless kid anyway? I was his competition, right? “I just can’t believe you had the guts to come out here and live on the street to try this.”

I took a long drag from my cigarette, staring at the ground. Again, I matched his discomfort with indifference, although I could feel my chest getting tight My real reason for being there always lingered on my mind, but I could usually shove it to the back where it belonged. Suddenly, I could feel it creeping its way to the forefront. I remembered having to tell my grandmother while she sat in tears beside my hospital bed that I felt I had nothing to live for. I remember having to tell therapists I didn’t have anything going for me, that I didn’t feel like I had any goals except making music, but I had no way to start. When Dr. Morris told me about TALENT!, I thought that if I failed, I was out nothing because I didn’t care about living anymore anyway. I shook my head, smiling more for my own sake than Isaiah’s. I wanted to keep pushing that memory back. I wanted to keep not thinking about it. If I thought about it any more, competition be damned, I knew I’d be tempted to drive my home straight off a pier somewhere.

“I really had nothing to lose.”

Before Isaiah answered, we both heard someone wailing the lyrics to Looks Like We Made It coming toward us. Despite his efforts, Jacob sounded nothing like Barry Manilow, and when he sang like that, he didn’t sound like Jacob Brooks either. He was holding a little gold card, which meant all three of us were in for another round. When he approached us, still singing, Isaiah and I -- as if acting on some kind of weird musician instinct -- began harmonizing with him, which caused us all to eventually break the song for a laugh.

“So this is the Outback,” Jacob pointed, grinning.

“Yup, my pride and joy,” I said, patting the hood.

“Look, you guys,” Isaiah chimed in. “I know we just met n’ all, but I think if we don’t make it, we should all stick together.”

“Yeah, we’ll keep in touch.” I took a final drag off my cigarette, then tossed it out, shrugging. I wasn’t really sure what his angle was.

“No, no, I mean -- not like that, but as musicians. Did you hear the way we all just jumped right on harmonizing together? Or when we were playing in the hallway?” Isaiah clarified. He was becoming more adamant, and more intense than I’d seen since I met him. “We should really keep doing this, together, if we don’t make it.”

For the first time since I’d met Isaiah, I saw passion flourish in his eyes, and it excited me. The idea made my whole chest start fluttering. “Yeah?” I asked.

“Yeah!” Isaiah turned his head to Jacob. “Yeah?”

Jacob broke our weird train with a laugh. “Hell, I’m in. All hands?” He stuck his hand out.

“All hands in,” Isaiah repeated, then looked at me, arching his eyebrows as he placed his hand on top of Jacob’s.

I didn’t have to think about it. My heart was still going wild, and even though I felt like an idiot, I couldn’t control the smile on my face. When I placed my hand on top of theirs, it felt like I’d already known them my entire life. When I looked up at them, it felt like what I was finally doing what I was supposed to be doing.

“All hands?” Isaiah prodded, smiling down at me.

I nodded, “All hands in.”

12/19/2018 08:16 PM 

cross my heart }} d r a b b l e.

C R O S S M Y H E A R T -- ;

“Look, I know this is probably the last place you wanna be right now…”

Casey glanced around. There they sat at the kitchen table they used to share, drinking coffee from cups they joined forces in buying after spending an hour picking them out together. He sat at his own table as a guest, as a stranger. How could a place he used to call home suddenly feel like another planet? Of course he would have rather been anywhere else. He wanted to say something along the lines of “no, I was actually thinking this was exactly what I needed today” but he banished the remark as soon as it came to him. His back-up jab was a lot more cautious. He looked up at her, his eyebrows arched. “I would like it on record you said that, not me.”

“Casey…” Sarah sighed, glaring at him. “This is hard enough, don’t make it worse.”

Casey’s expression softened once he got a good look at her. As much as he wanted to deflect his own discomfort with sarcasm and goofing around, he couldn’t keep it up when she looked so exasperated. He’d heard from a mutual friend she was trying to get clean, and from the looks of it, it wasn’t easy on her. Another concept which had become familiar, yet alien to him was watching Sarah in distress. Casey used to know how to handle that expression, that defeated sigh, the pain behind her eyes, but he didn’t know that code anymore. He wasn’t able to take her in his arms anymore. He wasn’t able to press his forehead against hers and shut out the rest of the world until Sarah was able to handle it again. All he could do was sit there, equally exasperated, distantly wishing he’d have ignored the call. His gaze fell to their coffee cups. A momentary burst of nostalgia had him thinking about their argument years ago about whether blue or red cups would better match the marble table they’d just bought. It was such a trivial argument, and they’d been absolutely naive in celebrating that it was the worst struggle they’d ever faced as newlyweds. “Look, what did you want to talk about?”

It took a few moments for things to simmer down enough for Sarah to explain. Casey tapped his heel on the ground, his patience wearing thin, but he had to keep himself in line since the ball was in her court. “It’s about Savannah,” she finally said.

Casey’s eyebrows furrowed. “What about her, is she okay?” He glanced at Savannah’s door. In the time he and Sarah spent apart, Savannah never left his mind, but he knew it was better to keep some distance since things were still fresh. Even now, the ice he stood upon was remarkably fragile. “Is she here?”

“She’s fine, she’s in her room,” Sarah assured. “It’s more just… you know, you’ve been here her whole life, and I think… even if we don’t get along, I don’t want her to miss out on that, or wonder why you never see her anymore. She’s already starting to ask questions about it.”

“What did you tell her?” Casey asked. It would be his little secret that he’d always intended to pursue partial custody of Savannah, though he was thankful he didn’t have to worry about that. He was thankful they could still function as a team when it came to her, at the very least.

“Well, I took care of the hard part, she knows we broke up,” Sarah mused, leaning her chin into the palm of her hand, her eyes drifting to the side. “She knows I’m going through some stuff, but obviously not what… She knows you’re not gonna live here anymore.”

Casey nodded, pursing his lips together. After a moment or so, he lifted his head. “Can I talk to her?”

“Go ahead.” Sarah nodded toward the door. “Hey, Casey?” She called his attention just as he was walking down the hall, prompting him to glance at her over his shoulder. “Thanks…”

Casey smiled a little, but shook his head. There was a lot to work out, but Casey still felt like he was the one who was supposed to be thankful. “Don’t worry about it.”

When he came through the door, Savannah was sitting at her desk, coloring while humming to herself. She didn’t seem to notice Casey was there until he was standing right beside her, looking over her shoulder. She didn’t look at him until he started to hum the same tune she was. “You came back!” she beamed. Savannah got a lot of her looks from her father, Andrew -- her extremely pale skin, her sandy brown hair, curling into little ringlets at the ends were unmistakably his, but there was one staggering difference -- one breathtaking detail she had most definitely inherited from Sarah. Savannah had enormous brown eyes, through which anyone could see into the depths of her soul, just like her mother. Through them, in spite of her exuberant smile, Casey could see her pain, her confusion. Suddenly, she caught herself and shied away. “Mom said she didn’t know if you were…” she muttered, turning back to her notebook.

“She did, huh?”

“Mhm…” Savannah kept her head turned away.

Casey exhaled a sigh through his nose. He could tell she was avoiding him -- the situation all-together even -- and he cursed himself for having passed that nasty habit down to her. “Why don’t we put that away and talk for a second, okay?” he suggested. Savannah put her pencil down, pursing her lips together. With two stubborn parents, it was no surprise she hesitated to face him, but after a few seconds, she spun her chair around. By then, Casey was knelt down in front of her, finally able to see what it was she was hiding from him. She stared at him in silence, her soul-baring eyes drowning in tears. “Sweetheart, there is nothing that could ever happen that would make me not want to come back and see you.”

Savannah was frantically wiping her face. She nodded her head, sniffling. “Okay…”

“Seriously. I know things are pretty weird right now, and they probably will be for a bit, but me and your mom -- we love you so much and we’d do anything for you,” Casey went on, reaching up to brush Savannah’s hair out of her face. “And even if I’m not always here, all you have to do is call me, and I will be. I’m never gonna just go away.”

Savannah wiped her face again, nodding along with Casey as he spoke. At his conclusion, she paused to mull it over. Casey didn’t speak, just waited for her to process it, to ask any questions she wanted to, but no questions came. Instead, she held her hand out to him with her pinky extended. “Pinky swear?”

The gesture, in the grand scheme of things, was a simple one. Between two adults, it didn’t hold much merit, but for Savannah who was still a child, it meant everything. It was the ultimate confirmation, the ultimate contract. Despite all the other ways Casey could prove himself, none would ever mean as much to a six year-old as the pinky swear. He couldn’t help but laugh, remembering his own childhood, and how much the swear used to mean to him, and how it was the ultimate sin to break it.

Casey locked their pinkies together, finally smiling. “Pinky swear.”

“Cross your heart and hope to die?” Savannah prodded, holding onto Casey’s pinky.

“Stick TWELVE needles in my eye,” Casey remarked with a grin, pointing at his eye. He finally got a giggle out of her with that. They laughed together as their pinkies broke apart and Casey brought her into his arms, kissing the top of her head. “I love you, kid.”

“Love you…” Savannah brought her arms around him.

“You gonna be good for mom when I’m not here?”

“Yeeees.” Savannah pulled away, nodding.

“And you’re gonna keep practicing piano so we can play together?”

“Uh-huh.”

“And you’re always gonna remember I love you and I’m not going anywhere, right? You believe me?”

At that, Savannah giggled the same way she had a few moments prior, pointing to her eye. “Stick THIRTEEN needles in my eye.”

11/21/2018 02:40 PM 

i do }} d r a b b l e.

I D O-- ;

People tell you a lot of different things when you tell them you’re getting married. By the time my own wedding came around, I’d heard some say it was the best day of their lives, and others say it was the worst; some described it as relaxing, while others had post-traumatic stress flashbacks over their memory of it. What all those people failed to realize was, there is no way to put your own wedding day into exact words, especially not words that would ease the mind of someone who’s never been there before. My own wedding was a mixture of everything I’d ever been told it would be. Magical, fun, sad, stressful, irritating -- you name it, but more than anything, I would just choose to call it fitting.

Sarah and I had never been a conventional pair. In life, we always traveled upon roads that had others raising their eyebrows, and we liked it that way. We enjoyed the perturbed stares, the questions, the speculation taking place behind our backs where people thought we wouldn’t notice. Therefore it was only appropriate for us to have a wedding that would disturb people, even if that wasn’t the original intention. For every family member praising us, there were a hundred strangers complaining that we were too young -- that we were throwing our careers away. I didn’t understand where they were coming from. I didn’t understand at all how my marital status had become a factor in whether or not I was successful as a musician, but I let it go. I didn’t care what other people thought. I knew what I wanted, and that was Sarah. In the end, onlookers who didn’t know me bothered me a lot less than the people who did, especially Sarah’s parents, whose only role in our wedding seemed to be to oppose every single decision we made.

Where we wanted a modest, outdoor wedding, her father had taken the liberty of renting out an unnecessarily massive venue. Sarah and I settled on red and black for wedding colors, but had to change them because her mother was already sold on gold and blue, and her decorations had already been purchased. Mama Emily even took care of picking out a dress she just knew Sarah would love, even though it was white, and Sarah had specifically stated she wanted red. At some point, they’d also bulked up our guest list, but not before scolding us for how selective we’d been initially. Kevin and Emily Hudson, bless them or damn them (I truly didn’t care), had become the most annoying people I’d ever met.

The night before the wedding, Kevin took me out for drinks while Emily dragged Sarah to some kind of bachelorette party I had absolutely no hand in. “Ya’know, Casey, I like ya’ kid… but I have to say this, and I’m gonna make it very clear…” Sarah’s parents were from South Carolina, and it showed most prominently in Kevin, who rocked a handlebar mustache and a white cowboy had which he’d set down on the bar. I always wondered what he must have done for a living, but I didn’t like him enough to ask. “If you ever hurt ‘er, I got a shotgun and a bullet with your name on it, you hearin’ me?”

I listened with my chin in my palm, twirling my empty shot glass around. He raised his eyebrows at me, prodding me for a response, but it took me a minute to conjure up anything nice. My jaw was aching from the tension of my restraint, and I wanted to roll my eyes, but instead I took a deep breath and looked away all together. “Loud and clear, pop,” I simply said, not feeling the need to justify myself to him. Anyone who knew me knew I was crazy about Sarah. Anyone who knew me knew I would sooner die than hurt her.

On our wedding day, I still wasn’t feeling any magic. Sarah and I had barely even seen each other since her parents got in, and while we’d been elated to make the announcement in the first place, I looked into the venue that morning feeling only dread as I watched Emily scrambling around to get the finishing touches on everything, followed closely by our unexpected flower girl Olivia -- Sarah’s little cousin, whom we’d established in one of our brief moments together was the least annoying member of her whole family. I looked to each side of the podium stationed front and center. To the left, Sarah’s family took up three rows of seats. To the right, my family -- tiny in comparison -- took up only one. Behind them was my band and Steve, and further back were a select few of our mutual friends. My heart fluttered. I felt sick to my stomach thinking about reciting vows in front of all those people I didn’t even invite. They didn’t deserve to be there watching us. After witnessing every one of them put Sarah in distress at some point that week, I decided not a single one of them -- save for Olivia -- deserved to be a part of our moment, though such a decision didn’t really matter when they were already sitting there, taking up our space, absorbing our energy. I wanted to go back to bed. I’d have sooner ditched my own wedding and taken Sarah down to the courthouse or something to save us from having to walk down that aisle.

“Gettin’ nervous yet?” Kevin came up from behind. When he pat me on the back, I flinched because I’d been preoccupied staring at the ugly decorations, silently mourning the visions Sarah and I had that never came to fruition. This wasn’t the wedding we wanted. This wasn’t a wedding we would have ever put together, yet it was ours, and it would be a stain on our history forever. Was I nervous? Immensely, but not about getting married. What had me nervous was doing it in front of a bunch of people I didn’t know, or like. “I’ve been that way,” I mused. Talking made me more aware of how nauseous I was, and as soon as that realization hit me, so did the dizziness and light-headedness that could only be associated with throwing up. I leaned on the door to keep my footing. My chest was throbbing. If I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought I was suffering a heart attack.

Kevin looked at me and laughed, and I wanted to punch him for it, but I wouldn’t have had the strength. “I can tell, you look like a ghost!” He pointed.

”Kevin, leave that boy alone,” Emily scolded him. I had no idea where she even came from, but for the first time since she’d flown in, I was grateful for her presence. “We’re almost ready to go.”

“Actually -- I’m sorry, can we like… hold on just a minute?” I asked. I had to get out of there. I didn’t care if we ran late, they could wait on us.

Emily stared at me. I couldn’t tell whether her concern was genuine or not, but I didn’t really care. I was already starting to back away from her. “Sure. Are you okay…?”

“I’m good,” I insisted. “I’ll be fine, I just need a sec. Um, do you know where the bathroom is?”

Kevin was snickering behind Emily. It was everything in me to keep from lunging at him, but I’d already used most of my strength pushing myself off the wall, and I was saving the rest to make it to the bathroom.

“Uh yeah, third door to your left. Hurry now!”

I didn’t answer, I just took off down the hall, to the third door, but in my daze I managed to confuse my right and left, and walk right into Sarah’s dressing room. She shot up from the vanity. There was a woman helping her who started trying to shoo me away. I knew the rule. I knew it, and I’d just broken it. “Aw man,” I covered my eyes and turned my head while the weird woman continued yelling at me to leave.

”No, no, no, no, no, it’s okay. It’s okay!” Sarah finally halted the commotion holding her hands out. “It’s okay, I hate that rule anyway. Can you give us a few minutes, please?” She asked the woman. “Tell everyone we’ll be out in a few.”

”But your makeup isn’t finished.”

”It looks great. Just give us a few, okay?”

”Okay…?”

The woman leered at me as she passed by. I probably wasn’t giving her a particularly kind expression either, but I wanted her out as much as Sarah did. The moment I got a look at Sarah, that lady didn’t even matter to me. No one outside mattered to me. I was completely captured, stunned into silence by the way the light came through the side window, illuminating the pearls embroidered into her dress. That had to be the magic everyone talked about, and I was mystified. The longer I stared, the more bewildered I became by how almost otherworldly she looked. In that moment, I remembered the reason I was there. I remembered why we put up with her parents’ weird demands, and complete overhaul of our original plan. I remembered why I got down on one knee a month before, in front of an entire audience. It didn’t matter to me how ugly our wedding was, I was just happy to be with her. In the end, I won; I had a whole lifetime and then some to make up for this one crappy week that we’d probably forget about anyway. We didn’t need this ceremony; it was only a small part in a monumental picture, or series of pictures, and it didn’t match up to all the other moments we’d shared together, or would share together. I felt a weight off my shoulders upon my decision to just let it go -- to think of it as just an obstacle along the way to our eternity.

“Can you close the door?" Sarah said, jerking me back to my senses. “Sure.” Once it was closed, she plopped back down in her chair and promptly burst into tears. In the entire time I’d known her, I’d only ever seen her cry a few times. I really didn’t want our wedding to be one of those times, unless it was happy tears, but that was far from the case. “Casey, I hate this…” she blurted out, covering her hands with her face. “I hate this wedding, I HATE this dress, I hate those people… This was supposed to be the best day of our lives, and it isn’t, I hate it.”

My knees felt weak. My stomach was still in knots, but I couldn’t worry about it while she sat there bordering on hysterics. In fact, I was glad I’d turned the wrong way, because her pushy makeup artist could have never consoled her the way I could, and didn’t even deserve the opportunity to try. Once again, the universe pulled us together at the perfect time. ”Hey…” I whispered, coming in to kneel down in front of her. God, I hated seeing her cry. I was trying to smile, but my own eyes were starting to tear up, which was something only Sarah Hudson -- soon to be Caverly -- could do to me. I reached up and took her hands, pressing our foreheads together in order to close out any outside influence that could obstruct her ability to hear me. “This day sucks. This whole week has pretty much sucked, I know, but you know what?” I decided to share my realization with her, in the hopes that it would ease her mind. “It doesn’t matter because this is only one week we have to spend doing this versus a whole life we can spend together. None of this changes how I feel about you or how excited I am. We always had to fight for what we wanted, right?”

Sarah took a moment to process what I said, then nodded, “I guess so...”

She always got stubborn when she became flustered. I could tell she wasn’t hearing me, so I trudged on, hoping something would stick. “Think about it. To get into music, we had to fight, right? To get together in the first place, we had to fight it out with Andrew. This isn’t any different. We have to fight through this crappy wedding to be together, so let’s put on our helmets and fight, okay?”

She nodded again. That time, I was sure she was actually listening.

Finally, I brought myself to smile, for no other reason than I wanted to see her smile too. I wanted her to be okay. “…And I know you really hate your dress, but I think you look absolutely stunning.” At that, we finally shared a laugh. She pulled her hands from mine and grabbed my face, and when she kissed me, it felt like we’d gone back in time to the first night we met. We got lost there, and despite everything I just got through telling Sarah, part of me wished we could have stayed there, but we had people waiting on us. “I love you,” I whispered. “We’re gonna get through this, okay?”

She was still smiling, nodding her head while wiping the tears off her face. “I love you too…” Sarah looked to the side and suddenly her eyes went wide. “Casey! You know how we can fight this, right?”

She grinned. This was where our lack of convention came into play. This was what I was waiting for -- what I was holding onto when everyone said it would be an enlightening day. “I’m listening.”

“Well you see, my aunt…” Sarah got out of the chair, leaving me to go to the other side of the room where there were a few gift bags piled up. She rummaged through them and pulled out two bottles of wine. “Must have known we might need some helmets.”

It was perfect. To an outsider, maybe it looked ridiculous for us to sabotage our own wedding, but the thing was, it wasn’t our wedding. It was her parents’ wedding we were sabotaging, and we’d just found our secret weapon. “I love it,” I said, and in a half an hour -- fifteen minutes past show time -- Sarah and I stumbled through the door, onto the gold aisle, littered with little white flowers we both hated. Everyone looked back at us when the door flew open. Emily was out of her seat, presumably on her way to come check on us. To the right, Jacob and Isaiah were the only ones in the venue laughing. “Oh, no way…” I heard Jacob saying through my own fit of laughter. “It’s okay! It’s okay!” I hollered. Steve was sinking in his seat, pretending not to know me, which made me and Sarah laugh even more. “It’s okay,” I felt the need to repeat, just in case the officiant up front hadn’t heard. “You can start.”

“Yeah, get the music going!” Sarah shouted, stumbling into me.

“Sarah,” Emily hissed. More people were starting to laugh, successfully outnumbering Emily and Kevin.

”Are you sure?” Our officiant looked at Kevin instead of us. Kevin was furious; everyone was furious, and their appalled expressions were all the confirmation my drunken self needed to know we’d won. “Doesn’t matter if he’s sure, we’re sure, and it’s our wedding!” I yelled out. It took Sarah and I five minutes to get down there, not because we were really too drunk to walk, but because we couldn’t stop laughing. We couldn’t stop celebrating. When we finally made it to the podium, we stared at each other like children who’d gotten away with a major plot to break their parents’ rules. Sarah was red in the face, and the tears forming in her eyes were undoubtedly joyful ones. She was every bit as exuberant as she had been the night I met her, and her lipstick took me back in time again. Bright red, just like her face had been -- just like her flowy dress had been. I subconsciously started to sway back and forth, remembering the way we held each other on the dance floor. The uncontrollable smiling was making my face hurt but I couldn’t stop. She grinned and leaned against my chest. “Hey, is my face red?” she whispered.

I pressed my lips against her temple. Somehow my smile grew wider at her question. I still don’t know how my face managed such an expression. “It’s beautiful,” I answered, wrapping my arms around her shoulders. Even amid the utter crappiness of our ruined wedding, I never wanted to leave that spot. I never wanted to let her go. We weren’t just standing at an altar, we were standing in the middle of a war zone, where we’d emerged the victors of what felt like an endless battle. I wanted to celebrate that forever. And just as quickly as I thought that, it occurred to me that what I actually wanted was to leave. What I truly wanted was to celebrate our victory where no one else could see us. I wanted to hold onto her without anyone there to pull us apart.

“Marriage is perhaps the greatest and most challenging adventure of human relationships. No ceremony can create your marriage --”

“Hey, can you just like… skip to the ‘I do’ part?” I interrupted. The guy looked at me like I was out of my mind. I felt out of my mind, and I loved every second of it. I could feel the burning stares of Sarah’s entire family in my back, but they didn’t realize they were fueling me.

“Um… well sure, I can… I can do that, uh,.” He was flustered, flipping through pages to get to that part of his speech. I made a note to apologize to him later, if I remembered. In fact, there was a long, long list of people I would have to apologize to, but it was more than worth it. “Do you, Sarah, take Casey to be your husband?"

Sarah and I parted only enough to look into each others eyes. We stared at each other for a moment, not saying anything, which eventually turned into an unexpected contest we both lost due to uncontrollable laughter. She grabbed my face once she composed herself. “I do!”

Our officiant looked concerned by the answer, but probably not half as concerned as the rest of Sarah’s family. “And do you, Casey, take Sarah to be your wife?”

I held onto Sarah’s arms, looking into her eyes. The sun casting through the window illuminated her again, and paired with my hazy vision, she looked like an angel. People told me so many things about getting married. They tried to prepare me for getting emotional and frustrated. They told me it would be the best day of my life. They told me it was enchanting and magical and warm. I’d come to find that a wedding was a mildly toxic mixture of all those things, but in mine and Sarah’s case specifically, I still chose to just call it fitting. Was it the wedding we always wanted? Far from, but it was ours. And just like we’d tackled every other obstacle, we tackled this one too. When I looked at Sarah, beaming from her perseverance, there wasn’t even an ounce of hesitation in me the moment I said “I do.”

11/19/2018 03:28 PM 

last resort }} d r a b b l e.

L A S T  R E S O R T-- ;

"So you really wanna take that piano on tour…?”

”Yes.”

”Like that?”

”Yes.”

”So, you are 100 % done working on it.”

”Correct.”

I could tell Steve thought I was crazy, but I stood my ground. Steve was more than just a manager to me. He was the father I never had. He was the first person I went to when sh*t hit the fan with Sarah and Christian, and the first person I would go to the next time I inevitably found myself in trouble. He even kind of looked like a sitcom dad with the gray hair and thick-rimmed glasses. And, in typical fatherly fashion -- or at least, how I envisioned having a father would have been -- he stared at me with his arms folded, one eyebrow raised, silently scolding me for an apparently stupid decision. It took me a month to get my piano back from Sarah, and another month to fix it so it would play again. Steve and I stood in the middle of my living room, which it took up almost the entirety of, arguing over whether or not I should leave the scars Sarah carved in it in tact. I had my case prepared. I had all the facts lined up and ready to go should he oppose me, and he did oppose me.

”Look Casey…” he sighed, pulling his glasses off his face and pinching the bridge of his nose. “I know you loved this piano, but don’t you think people might look down on you for bringing it out like that?”

”People are already looking down on me,” I blunted, mimicking his posture by folding my arms. I glanced at the piano, then at Steve.

”Well, do you really want to exacerbate that? I’m not real sure where your head is at on this, but to an outsider might think you’re poking fun at Sarah, and you might get some heat for it.” Steve was trying, but I had already considered everything he was telling me. I stared at him, waiting for him to go on, or try a different route. “You have the means to get a new, probably better piano now, so I don’t see why you have to keep this one.”

”Because this is my piano, dude.” I could tell he didn’t understand by the way he was shaking his head, but I didn’t budge.

”Then why not repair the outside like you repaired the inside?”

Nice try, Steve, but I’d already thought of that too. I had this. “Because this is a part of its history and mine, that’s why,” I finally said. I was holding it back because I knew that, if Steve couldn’t understand the rest of this argument, he really wouldn’t understand me wanting to keep the history of my piano in tact -- the history of myself in tact. In my own way, this was how I could accept my mistake. This was my way of showing I understood my faults, and if people took that as me mocking what I’d done, then that was their problem. I felt relieved, finally telling him, even if he was still looking at me like I’d sprouted a second head.

”If you’re trying to preserve the history, repairing the inside defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? If this were history, and that thing was human, it’d be dead.” Steve cracked a smile.

I glared at him, but I couldn’t help but smile too. “Okay, smart ass, but everyone has scars. I have a huge scar on the outside from appendix surgery, but my inside’s all good. I want to take it, and I already know what people will think of it. I just don’t care.”

”You know what this sounds like to me, kid?” Steve asked. I wasn’t fazed. I was far beyond ready to pass off whatever he had to say. “It looks like you’re punishing yourself.”

Uh oh.

I stared at him, wide-eyed. I felt my face heating up. I’d been so confident at first, but I didn’t have anything for that. I must have looked pretty stupid because Steve started smiling. “Let me explain. Have you ever seen pictures online, where a kid gets caught doing something they’re not supposed to, and their parent makes them hold up a sign confessing to their wrongdoing, so all their friends can see it? That’s exactly what this looks like.”

I suddenly lost the ability to look Steve in the eye. In what I, again, assumed was typical of most dads, he’d seen through me before I even saw through myself. I couldn’t dispute that. That was probably the one argument I had not prepared for. I scoffed. I rolled my eyes as if he were talking nonsense, but it made so much sense it made me sick. I found myself staring at the ceiling, wondering what the odds were that it might suddenly collapse and rescue me from this conversation, because I didn’t want to continue on with it. I didn’t want to continue on in general, but I knew that was absurd, and furthermore dramatic. I was being outrageous and I knew it, but why couldn’t he just let me have this? “I’m not a kid, Steve,” I muttered.

”Which is why you shouldn’t punish yourself with this,” Steve countered. He was growing wise to me. We’d probably known each other way too long. “Look, Casey, Sarah will probably never forgive you for what you did, but if you wanna continue on with your life, you gotta at least forgive yourself.”

Why did verbal confirmation that Sarah would never forgive me make my heart hurt so bad? Why was that what my mind immediately decided to focus on? Right, because I hadn’t moved on. I hadn’t forgiven myself. After a moment of excruciating silence, I shook my head. “I’m starting to think I don’t really know how to do that,” I admitted. When Steve was right, he was right, but I would never let him have the full victory. “Which is exactly why I want to take it.”

"Think of it as a last resort.”

10/29/2018 04:45 PM 

ideation }} d r a b b l e.

I D E A T I O N-- ;

TRIGGER WARNING: suicidal thoughts / ideation, overdose.

With the world feeling so entirely unreal, Casey found Christian’s loyalty to normal tasks completely jarring.”So, how are you feeling?” he asked, far too passively, far too relaxed. He nonchalantly stirred sugar into his coffee, just as he had every other Denny’s outing prior to their break-up. However, this time Casey found himself oddly enraged by it as he sat there in silence, donning the dark circles of days upon days without sleep, looking more disheveled than he ever had been. He eyed Christian sharply from across the table, then went back to staring into his own coffee, completely black and untouched, taking some kind of solace in it, like it were a void for him to escape to. He shouldn’t have showed up. He should have stayed in bed, but he couldn’t bring himself to disregard anything that might make him feel like things weren’t completely falling apart. Even though the invitation probably meant nothing, he found himself hopelessly clinging to it, stupid as it may have been.

”Eh…” Casey had just been discharged from the hospital, following an an overdose that was labeled accidental, but Christian seemed to be skeptical about that, and perhaps he was right. Perhaps Casey dove into that binge knowing full and well the risks, but not caring. Perhaps, at one point, he’d even subconsciously hoped he would take it too far, but once again, he hadn’t taken it far enough. He scoffed a laugh at how badly he was failing to display the nonchalance Christian managed so effortlessly, shrugging his shoulders. “I’d probably be a lot better if a plane just crashed right through the ceiling right now, but I’m alright overall,” he mused, leaning his cheek into the palm of his hand.

”Dude…”

Casey could feel Christian’s eyes scrutinizing him, so he glanced up, a soft grin tugging involuntarily at the corner of his lip. His eyebrows perked up, his eyes slightly wide, as if to silently ask if what he said was somehow out of line. What dawned on him was that it was out of line, but only because of the implication that Christian would be killed too. “Oh, don’t worry,” he assured. “In this vision, the plane only hits my side of the table. You would live.”

Christian didn’t answer. He just shook his head, distracting himself with the bustle of the dining room floor.

”Too soon?” Casey asked, his eyes flickering to the side. The floor was too normal too. Everyone was carrying on about a casual day, while he was completely displaced, feeling like an outsider in a world he used to feel like he owned.

When he looked back, Christian was staring at him. “You know, you really f***ing scare me when you say sh*t like that, Casey…”

Casey stared at at him for a moment, his teeth grit together, as if to bar inside of him everything he wanted to say -- everything he probably should have said. There was once a time where he could have told Christian anything, but right then, all he wanted to do was run away from him. He returned to staring at his coffee. “Ch’yeah well…” he sighed. “Trust me, buddy, you are not the only one.”

10/08/2018 02:49 PM 

dream girl }} d r a b b l e.

D R E AM  G I R L-- ;

Even in a crowd full of people, her smile beamed bright enough to distract Casey, who stood at the opposite end of the club, amid friends of his own who suddenly didn’t matter anymore.His eyebrows furrowed. He did a double-take, as if to make sure perfection like that hadn’t been hallucinated, which was all too likely given what he and the others had just done in the bathroom fifteen minutes prior. He could see it in her eyes too -- exuberance like that being rare to come by unless it had been artificially manufactured, but he didn’t care that she’d likely snorted it, or popped it in the form of a pill, or injected it. It was beautiful.

”You checkin’ out Sarah Hudson over there, Casey?” Jacob popped up beside him, seemingly out of nowhere. Casey glanced at him, then back at Sarah. Had she truly been a figment of his imagination, Jacob’s intrusion would have put an end to it, but she was still there, twirling around in her flowy red dress, laughing.

”Wow,” was all Casey could think to say at first. “That’s who that is?”

”Yeah dude, she’s been here all night,” Jacob replied, leaving Casey wondering how he hadn’t noticed her.

”She’s beautiful,” Casey said, stealing another look at her.

”Go talk to ‘er then, man!” Jacob pat Casey’s back, and then he disappeared from both sight and mind. Sarah looked over and his heart stopped. The whole room stopped, the blaring music and overwhelming chatter becoming muffled and all-together insignificant when their eyes locked. She’d caught him. When she turned her head away, time sped up again. The noise returned, clear and overwhelming as it had been. Sarah was consulting with her friends; that could have either been a good thing or a bad thing, but Casey, flushed and disoriented, couldn’t bring himself to stay and find out which. Unable to shake the worry over her potentially filing him in with any other bar creep, he’d opted to go back to the corner of the club, where his own friends had congregated.

”Hey!”

He stopped. The voice wasn’t familiar, but then again, the music would have been loud enough to make even Jacob and Isaiah sound like strangers. When he looked, their eyes met again, and time stopped again. Things were either horrendously slow, or so fast he couldn’t even catch his breath, with no in between -- and therefore no solid opportunity for him to collect himself. “Hi.”

She started to laugh. “Is my face red?” she asked.

It was cherry red, just like her dress, and it was beautiful. Casey cracked a smile. “It matches your dress,” he mused, straining to speak over the music.

She heard him though, and laughed a little before closing the gap between them. Rather than try and yell the way they had been, she leaned up to his ear. “Your jacket too!” She pointed out. “I like your blonde hair!" Her arm jutted out before he had time to react, her fingertips raking overgrown bangs from his eyes. "Come dance with me!" 

And he did. And they danced all over the dance floor while tripping over one another and laughing. He laughed harder than he’d ever laughed in his life -- until his face was as red as hers had been, as red as the flowy dress that occasionally swept against him when she twirled in certain ways. Once, Sarah tripped on her shoe, and when he grabbed her waist to catch her, she leaned on him, their bodies melding together. At the end of the night, when the crowd started to clear, and their lips met for the first time in the hallway leading to the bathroom, he couldn’t fathom how he was lucky enough to exist in the same universe as her, and moreover, how he was lucky enough to find her within its endlessness. He had a thousand new ideas for songs, all revolving around her, and them, and everything they were, and would grow to be.

”I have to tell you something,” she whispered, her forehead pressed against his. He could feel her smiling when their lips brushed together again, her cheeks burning hot underneath the palms of his hands cupping them.

”Tell me anything…” he whispered back.

She could have told him the sky was falling.

She could have told him she was from another planet, that she had a glass eye, or that she wasn’t really who she said she was. She could have told him she lied about her name, about her identity, about any of the things she told him while they were locked in each other’s arms on the dance floor. He wouldn’t have cared.

Just as long as she liked him. Just as long as he wasn’t dreaming.

”This is really bad, but… I kinda have a boyfriend back home…” Sarah lowered her eyes. “I probably should have told you that, I just -- I don’t know what came over me, I guess I just really like you. I’m sorry.”

Anything. He had to say anything.

”Aw man…"

He couldn't help but laugh. Casey's hands dropped from Sarah’s cheeks so he could cover his own face, shaking his head. He felt completely stupid -- stupider than stupid, because given the chance, he’d have come right back to her arms, not giving whoever her boyfriend was another thought. And if he woke up in the morning without her, and they never saw each other again, he could deal with his heartbreak then, but not that night. It was too soon that night. When his eyes came back to hers, it knocked him off-kilter. His heart raced again. His stomach fluttered in a way he’d never felt before, in a way it probably never would again. Her boyfriend, he’d established, was officially the luckiest man on Earth, and Casey hated him for it.

“Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have said ANYTHING,” he teased. She didn’t laugh, but she didn’t scold him either. She just lowered her head, shrugging. She looked upset, so all he could bring himself to do was smile at her, as he brought his fingertips up to lift her chin. Through burning jealousy that ignited in the pit of his stomach, he simply said, ”Don’t worry about it,” before pushing himself off the wall. He had to get out of there, otherwise he’d only make a bigger fool of himself.

When he parted from her, it was like he was tearing himself in half. How could someone already love her? At the same time, how could someone not love her? Perhaps the question was, how could someone get to her before him? Before he walked away, he looked at Sarah over his shoulder. “It was really nice meeting you.”

09/29/2018 01:55 PM 

fear of change }} d r a b b l e.

F E A R  O F  C H A N G E -- ;

“So where’s Sarah at, she didn’t wanna come for the big announcement?” Casey stood in a circle, Christian beside him, then Margo Anderson -- a model he'd recently done a shoot with -- and then Patrick Frazier, who asked the dreaded question. A few years back, Margo and Patrick used to date, and during that time, they went on a few double-dates with the Caverlys, but lately it was becoming more common to see Casey with Christian -- even on the night of his big announcement that 24 Times Rock was going back on tour.

“She’s been pretty busy lately is all,” he claimed, shrugging. It wouldn’t be the first or last time Sarah's habits took priority over things like this, and it wouldn't the the first or last time he had to lie about it. Once upon a time, Sarah claimed a seat front-and-center to every 24 Times Rock show, but now he couldn’t even expect that from her, so there was no way he could expect her to show up to this. The two of them earned their title as well-known party animals after their wedding, in which they both exchanged vows completely drunk, and then stumbled their way down the isle to throw up through their entire reception. It was the lifestyle everyone associated them with, but while Casey had become more tame to some extent, he was now linked by law to watch as Sarah declined further and further.

“Well hopefully she makes the next one, I miss seeing her,” Margo mused, shrugging.

“Yup…” Casey took a long swig of some cocktail Patrick handed him, his face souring a bit at the taste. “Maybe the next one,” he said passively.

“She’s gonna start getting worried about you and Christian hangin’ out so much. Then she’ll start to show up,” Patrick teased, shoving Casey’s shoulder.

Casey rolled his eyes, downing the last half of the drink, pointing at Patrick with his eyebrows perked up. “You, sir, are outta your mind,” he insisted, but Patrick would never know how right he was, and Sarah probably didn’t realize how worried she should have been. For the last year, Casey and Christian had stealing kisses behind closed doors, sneaking around behind the backs of everyone who knew them. They got away without suspicion because they were already such close friends. They’d been playing together for years, and Christian was even a groomsman at Casey’s wedding. No one aside from the stranger parts of the online world seemed to think much of them. Even Casey’s band mates didn’t know how close they’d become. Sarah especially, being dazed on something more often than not, was completely oblivious.

“Are you sure you have to go home? It’s only midnight,” Christian muttered, his hands resting on Casey’s sides. The two of them stood in the entryway of his apartment, where they’d been struggling to part ways for a half an hour or so because they kept getting caught up talking. Casey leaned his back against the front door, his hands cupping either side of Christian’s face.

“I’m sure,” he said, stealing another kiss from him, remaining close enough after parting that he could feel Christian's breath on his lip any time he spoke, causing an instinctive chill to run along his spine, sending a surge through his heart.

“Really sure?” Christian asked.

“If Sarah wakes up puking or something, I don’t want her to be alone, and I don't want Savannah to see it. Plus I still have to get the house in some kinda order. You see, this wouldn’t be such a hardship if you would ditch your plans and come over tomorrow.”

“You know where I stand on that,” Christian stated, smiling.

“And you know where I stand on this,” Casey remarked, finally prying himself away. “I’ll be around okay?”

“Me too. Lemme know things are cool when you get back.” Christian stepped out of the way so Casey could open the door.

“Why, so you can rub it in my face that I should have stayed?”

“Alright, smart ass, maybe it is time for you to go.”

When Christian said that, Casey couldn't help but wonder if the double-meaning was intentional. He paused for a moment, then scoffed a little, still with a smile tugging faintly at the corner of his lip. "You're probably right," he agreed. "I love you."

"Yeah, yeah... Love you too." Christian grinned.

“Thanks man,” Casey waved to the cab driver that got him there before stumbling up to the door, where he proceeded to fumble with the lock on their door, practically the only thing they had left to fix in the place. The sound was punctuated by a loud crock, followed by a loud bang. “Ow, sh*t,” Casey backed away from the entryway table, where he hit his hip trying to get in. He wasn’t used to the layout quite yet. In their old apartment, it was easier to navigate in the dark because there weren’t many places to go, and there wasn’t a whole lot to bump into. The new house was almost like a death trap in the dark.

Savannah's door was closed with the light out. Their own door was closed, but he could see in the crack underneath the door that a light was on. He stood with his hand on the knob, drawing a deep breath through his nose, then exhaling it through his mouth. The potential that she could have been awake was almost enough to make him turn around, but when he got into the room, she was far beyond the realm of sleep. If not for the subtle rise and fall of her chest, he'd have assumed the worst. Sarah never left any evidence behind. There was never paraphernalia strewn about, or bottles laying around, but he was sure they were there somewhere. The blood dried to her upper lip told him everything he needed to know, though in the back of his mind, he knew he wasn’t much better. Casey and Sarah's only difference was their ability to function through their vices. He looked at her, laid out on her back with her arm over her eyes, with no chance of rising from whatever stupor she’d thrown herself into.

She used to work out regularly, to the point of being able to beat him in an arm wrestle with little effort at all on her part, but she’d become frail in the last year or so. If he did manage to wake her, he never knew what state he would find her in. It was a gamble between dealing with a normal, but clearly tired -- and perhaps even remorseful -- version of Sarah, or a crazed version of Sarah that could throw punches while still bawling her eyes out. Unsettling as it had been to establish this, Casey had learned the hard way that it was better not to find out.

He gazed at her for a long time, his stomach in knots and not just from drinking. It pained him to think that there was a time when they were younger that she would have attended that party. They would have stayed until the party ended, and then gone off on some kind of adventure, and afterwards they would return home and fall asleep together until the following afternoon, but those days were long gone, and every time he saw Sarah now he found himself missing them more and more, but that relationship no longer existed. The person he married would have never struck him in anger, nor abandoned him on important nights like this. All in all, everything they’d built together seemed to be withering away.

The wild nights and deep conversations he loved sharing with Sarah, he was now sharing with someone else, though that didn’t mean Sarah meant nothing to him. She could never mean nothing to him. There was a part of Casey that would always cling to the person he married, even if she was no longer there. He couldn't tell anyone about it; he wouldn't tell anyone about it. He loved her, and couldn't stand for anyone to hate her over it, or think of the two as anything other than what they had always been.

Even with Christian waiting on the other side, Casey couldn't bring himself to climb over that wall. A part of him was still fighting that change with everything in him, running from the ultimate confrontation by leaning over and kissing her forehead, because feigning normalcy was a lot better than accepting something so devastating -- something so foreign. He pulled the covers over her and turned out the light, opting to sleep on the couch for the night."

09/25/2018 04:43 PM 

reckoning }} d r a b b l e.

R E C K O N I N G -- ;

- - - - - - -  - -

‘You’ll all find out sooner or later, so I want my first story to be the first you hear. As many of you know, Casey and I have been together for seven years, and last night I found out he decided to completely ruin it by cheating on me with a close friend who I will not say the name of. Needless to say our relationship is not able to withstand the stress of it. At this time, I won’t be answering any questions. I’m extremely hurt right now, and hope for your understanding and support, rather than any prying or harsh words. If you wanna attack him with all your questions and hate though, by all means.

Peace & Love,

Sarah’

- - - - - - -  - -

“So, the cat’s outta the bag, huh?” Christian asked. After Sarah left the house, Casey went back in for his phone on his nightstand, figuring if anyone should know, it should have been Christian. But in the time he’d been sitting out on the porch cooling off after their confrontation, she found an opportunity to make said post. Every social media handle he had access to was exploding with activity, mostly backlash and speculation, all of which went ignored in favor of the few phone calls and texts he’d missed from Christian.

Taking a long drag off his cigarette, Casey rolled his eyes. “Yeah…”

"People eating you alive yet?”

"Oh, of course they are,” Casey laughed, raking his fingers through his hair. "I don't think I'm in a position to complain about that though."

“Well, are you gonna say anything? It wasn’t like it was all on you, right?” Christian asked, though Casey didn’t see it that way.

Casey shook his head. “I’m not gonna say anything.”

“Why not? Dude, she hurt you too.”

“She did, but I can’t get pissed at her for running my name through the mud and then turn around and do the same thing. Everyone’s gonna be on my ass no matter what I do at this point.” He heard the door open, so he started to stand. “I gotta go.”

“We’ll talk later, okay?”

"Sure."

Casey hung up as Sarah came through the front door, her eyes sharply locked on his phone. "So you guys are really gonna stay together?" she asked with a scowl on her face.

“Does that matter?” Casey asked. “Real nice post, by the way. Definitely sheds light on the entire situation.”

“I didn’t say a single thing that wasn’t true,” Sarah blunted. “Jamie is coming to pick me up until we figure this all out. I just came back to get some stuff, so just.. stay away from me ‘til she gets here.”

“Not a problem at all,” Casey muttered, starting to walk off.

“I really can’ t believe you, you know that?” Sarah pulled him back, a crack in her voice as she started to get worked up again. “I can’t believe you’re the one acting upset when I’m the one who just found out my husband of six years has been cheating on me. I can’t believe you can just shrug me off and walk away like that.”

“What do you want me to say, Sarah?!” Casey whipped around. “What the f*** do you want me to say?!”

“How about an apology!?”

“You were everything to me, Sarah,” Casey snapped, throwing his arm out. “You were everything to me, and you think you lost me now, but I lost you a long-ass time ago. You’re gonna be waiting a long time for an apology because I’m not f***ing sorry.” It was a lie, a purposeful jab just to put some distance between them but it hadn’t worked out in the way he hoped. Sarah, from her place at the bar, picked up one of the wine bottles off the rack and chucked it across the the living room.

The shattering glass was like a wake up call for the both of them. It gave way to a stunning silence throughout the room, the air so weighted with tension, Casey found himself struggling to catch his breath. There was a high pitch ringing in his ears that made his heart start hammering. Casey lowered arms from their instinctive position covering his face. For a moment, he and Sarah just started into each other’s eyes, as if realizing for the first time that there was a reason this was all happening.

“Sh*t... I’ll -- I’ll clean it up…” Sarah muttered, scrambling to the ground to collect shards of glass, but then suddenly drawing her hand back.

At that point, Casey knelt down to start picking up where she left off, though as soon as he caught a glimpse of the blood on her hand, he had to turn his head away. “Look I got it just -- just go clean that up, go wait for your sister,” he said.

“No, I can --”

“Just go, Sarah,” Casey snapped. “Go get that covered, I said I got it.”

Once upon a time, he’d have braved the sight of blood to tend to her wound, even though blood always made him queasy. Once he even passed out trying to help her clean up a cut she got on her finger from cooking, and right then, he couldn’t even bring himself to look at her. She gave a small nod, then got up and escaped to the bathroom, and after that, out the front door.

It was like a particularly gruesome nightmare. Casey felt like he was being crushed underneath everything going on, and it all just kept stacking higher and higher upon his shoulders. His hands were shaking. His body felt like it was about to give out on him. He paused what he was doing, sitting on the ground with his head in his hands and taking a deep breath. “God, what are you doing…” he whispered to himself.

"Casey!" He heard as the front door flew open, making him realize he had to collect himself to some extent, though it wasn’t Sarah who came in. Sarah's sister Jamie came roaring down the hall.

“What’s wrong with you, huh?" Jamie asked, pointing a finger at him. "You think that's just okay to treat someone like that?! I knew you were messeded up, Casey Caverly -- I knew it."

By then, Sarah had joined to try and stop her, but she wouldn't have it. Without even looking at Sarah, she went on. "Don't you ever come near her again, you hear me?"

Casey felt fire ignite in his chest, erupting even more when Jamie stepped closer to him. “Get out of my god damn face, Jamie, this has nothing to do with you!” he yelled. “You seriously have no idea what you’re talking about, so to come in here and start insulting me and yelling at me is absolute bullsh*t. Take your sister and go.”

Jamie paused, staring at Casey with wide, disbelieving eyes. “You’re a real a**hole, you know that? It’s got everything to do with me, she’s my sister,” she said, backing away. “I’m serious, you stay away from her. C’mon Sarah.”

Three days had passed since Casey and Sarah's big blow up, but the dust hadn't even begun to settle. Casey had been staying at a hotel near the house while looking for an apartment after deciding he didn’t want to displace Sarah. He had the troubling task of moving his stuff pending, but he had his essentials at least. “Well, it’s… quaint,” Christian mused as he wandered around the hotel room. Casey scoffed a laugh, folding his arms while leaning on the little table near the wall. “Ch’yeah…” he said.

After a brief period of silence, Christian let out a sigh. In the three days that passed, it somehow got out that he had been the third party involved in Casey and Sarah's divorce, and he’d seen no shortage of backlash himelf. “Look, babe… you know I really love you -- I’m crazy about you…” he said, moving in closer so he could get a look at Casey’s face. That only made Casey turn his head as it was pretty obvious he hadn't slept in a few days, and he didn't want Christian -- or anyone -- to see that. “But I think it’s probably better at this point if we don’t keep going with this.”

“Wait what?” Casey looked like he’d been smacked across the face. He honestly felt like it too. “How can you say you’re crazy about me, and then turn right around and be like ‘but let’s break up’?”

“It’s not because I don’t love you Casey, it’s because people are never gonna give this up. If we stay together, all this sh*t’s just gonna get worse,” Christian insisted. “That’s not something I wanna build a relationship off of.”

Casey lowered his eyes, giving a bitter laugh. “Well that… really sucks…” he muttered.

Christian cupped his cheek, directing head chin so he would look at him. “It sucks for me too, but this is what we have to do,” he said, leaning in to steal a final kiss from him. After they pulled apart, their foreheads remained pressed together. “I’m really sorry, I didn’t wanna come here and tell you this.”

"How do you think I feel?" Casey mused. He didn't want to pull away. When he stood with Christian, particularly when their foreheads met, it was like being taken to another world, blissfully far away from a home he never wanted to return to. He shut his eyes, lowering his head again. Finally, after a few moments, he sighed. He had to return, even if it made his chest hurt. Even if the air of his own world felt poisonous. Even if it meant losing the way to the world he and Christian created. "I get it, okay?"

“Okay…” Christian said, standing still for a moment, soaking up their last few moments together. “I should get going.”

“Yeah…” Casey pushed himself off the table, walking with Christian to the door.

“If you need anything, you can still gimme a call, okay? We don’t have to stop being friends.”

“Yeah,” Casey repeated. He just wanted Christian to leave at that point. He just wanted to sleep this off for awhile. When they got to the door, Christian pulled his arms around Casey’s shoulders, kissing his temple. “Hang in there, kiddo, okay? I do love you. I wish things happened a lot differently.”

At that, Casey rolled his eyes, more at himself than anything.

"Yeah well, you and me both."

09/23/2018 02:42 PM 

n a v i g a t i o n.

MISCELLANEOUS



DRABBLES










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