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Oh Brother
by Miimaas
<< Chapter >>
Merry Christmas for those of you who celebrate it, happy holidays to everyone who doesn't, and happy New Year to all of you out there! The timing for this release was actually coincidental believe it or not, as I planned to release the first early-access chapter a week before the public release (January 1st, 2021.) So it wound up being a Christmas present for my early-access patrons, and a New Years' gift for everyone! lol I don't quite know how to explain the schedule I've set out yet, but I'll do my best, so here we go: Chapter 2 will be posted on my Patreon for early-access patrons on January 1st, 2021 (aka the day this one is released publically) and from there/here forward, chapters will be posted bi-weekly. Early-access patrons will be one or more chapters ahead and get their chapter one week before the next publicly released chapter.

The scenery flew by outside the passenger seat window, causing a youthful forehead to bump the passenger seat glass now and then as the car shook.

 

“Oh suck it up already, Iahn. You’re 13, stop pouting like a child. We’re just moving, and it’s much nicer than that dinky little town and that old house.”

 

“Kay,” Iahn mumbled just loud enough to avoid being scolded and repressed a disheartened sigh.

 

At least that “old house” was home.

 

He didn’t care if the house was nicer, he would rather be back with his grandpa. Home was more appealing than moving to a big city with an unreliable parent to live with people he’d never met, whom he was supposed to call family now.

 

He couldn’t help feeling bitter as he watched the scenery zip by, having become increasingly dense with fewer and fewer trees as time had gone by.

 

His mother hasn’t told him anything about the man she married. He’s probably some drug dealer playboy she met at a stupid club who’s gonna cheat on her within a month.

 

This house they’re supposedly going to live in probably isn’t even his or he bought it with drug money or something.

 

Part of him expected there to be a meth lab in the basement and tweakers coming around all the time looking for a fix. It wouldn’t be the first time.

 

His jaw started to ache from glaring out the window the entire car ride but it wasn’t a good idea to talk back to his mom. He’s never done it, but he’s seen enough people try to know better.

 

She’s not happy that he’s not as eager about this as she is, that much was obvious but if he couldn’t get away with protesting while his grandpa wasn’t around to protect him, then at least he can glare out the window for what felt like both eternity and the blink of an eye.

 

For the rest of the car ride, he stared out with his earbuds in trying not to think about anything at all.

 

He’s been gone less than a day and he already missed his friends. He just left and already wanted to go home more than anything.

 

It’s always like this with his mom. He felt like a carry-on bag or some designer purse that she waves around just for people to see — to make her look classy or responsible or something.

 

Like having a kid is a special achievement in the IRL game of life.

 

Congratulations Player! You’re now level: Mother. Next level pending: Parent.

 

She’s always making herself out to be something she’s not. She’s always done stuff like this. Staying away for weeks, bringing weird people to his grandpa’s house just to take him on a trip with them — And 9 times out of 10 those trips were to random towns around them for absolutely no reason.

 

Like, he didn’t need to see those places, there wasn't anything interesting or worth seeing about the next town over or the one over from that, or the one on the other side. They were exactly like their hometown but with a different name and a guarantee that every person he met or saw would be a stranger.

 

Grandpa said that she’d always been like this. Even before he was born when she met his dad.

 

His dad was the best thing that ever happened to her, or so his Grandpa said.

 

He doesn’t really remember his dad much. He was too young when he died, but it sure would’ve been nice to know him. Iahn even finds himself missing someone he never knew sometimes. Usually at times like this, when his mom does something that makes him wish someone besides grandpa was there to stop her.

 

Grandpa & his mom don’t ever mention his dad. Even when he asked, his grandpa just sighed and said that he was a good man.

 

His mom would yell at him though. Said he was deliberately trying to hurt her by asking and it wasn’t gonna work and told him never to bring him up again.

 

Iahn leaned his elbow against the door, propping his cheek on his hand.

 

He misses his grandpa.

 

At least he actually takes care of him when his mom can’t be bothered (which is 90% of the time).

 

He’s gonna be alone in a stranger’s house while she’s out living like she’s 20 with her whole life ahead of her. Getting drunk, going to clubs, hooking up with people the same as ever.

 

He wants to club her over the head and shout in her face, “You’re not 20 mom, you’re a 30 something widow with a kid.”

 

He’s 13 and even he knows that he knows way too much about stuff that he shouldn’t for someone his age.

 

He knows way too much about his mother’s life and the mistakes she makes every day. He’s all for being young at heart, but even kids have to grow up in some ways. Especially if you’re gonna have a kid of your own.

 

He likes grandpa more.

 

He’s the only person who’s ever looked out for him — aside from his friends. He taught him how to paint and draw to keep him out of trouble since he was small and mischievous.

 

Apparently, mischief runs in the family, but knowing where the lines are, doesn’t.

 

Iahn snuck a glance at the woman next to him. Her dark hair falling in carefully styled curls around her shoulders and checking her makeup in the rear-view mirror every few seconds, pretending to drive responsibly — an effort she doesn’t usually make that sent hair-raising twangs of suspicion down his spine.

 

He doesn’t hate his mom but … it sounded cruel, but he couldn’t honestly say he loved her either.

 

She’s his mother but most of the time he just dealt with her.

 

Yes, he heard it all the time, that he should love her regardless just because she’s his mother, but truthfully he didn’t think he should.

 

You shouldn’t love out of obligation. That’s not love, that’s called being trapped, bro. Ever heard of one-sided love? Yeah. The term may be for romantic relationships usually but it still applies.

 

You shouldn’t love someone who’s done nothing to deserve it. Even if they’re family. And especially not if they’ve done the exact opposite.

 

His mother… Iahn returned his eyes out of the window. He wished she would just stop.

 

He has to go along with what she’s having them do all the time. He doesn’t have a choice in the matter when he should get a say. That’s not love. That’s an accessory. Kids aren’t supposed to be accessories.

 

She’s pulled some crazy things in the past but nothing that’s ever made him as anxious as this.

 

Coming home out of the blue — barely a week ago (which was a surprise all on its own) — interrupting his & grandpa’s awesome toast and hot chocolate breakfast, waltzing in like they were as close as a family can get, and announcing that she was getting married.

 

He wanted to be happy for her, he really did. She looked so happy but … suddenly hearing that he was going to have a new dad isn’t exactly what he was expecting to hear before school.

 

She went on & on about how he’s got a nice house, a high paying job, and lived in another city. He didn’t know if he actually believed her.

 

Even now, he’s skeptical.

 

And she conveniently left out the part where he’s got a son a few years older than Iahn (in high school) until literally this morning when they were packing up their (his) stuff into the car and heading on their way.

 

'Mixed feelings' doesn’t even cover how he felt about this — he doesn’t know what to think anymore.

 

He wants to believe that she actually has met someone nice — it could happen (and God knows just about anyone is an improvement over the people she’s dated before), but… people like that don’t just appear.

 

Knowing nothing about where she was or who she was with for a month and then all of a sudden she’s getting married doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

 

He doesn’t even know how long they’ve known each other, much less how long they’ve been together but it can’t have been long enough because just a few months ago she was crying about her last douchebag boyfriend who dumped her and she nearly got arrested for his drugs in the car.

 

All he knew right now, was that nothing he was feeling was anything close to what he knew she wanted from him; and he would rather be headed almost anywhere except where they were right at that moment.

 

If you asked him, he would’ve sworn up and down that his jaw detached itself and hit the concrete.

 

He got anxious the minute mom turned down the street into the obviously richer part of town, but are they even allowed to be here?

 

He felt like he was gonna get in trouble just for standing in the driveway of some random giant honey/cream-colored house.

 

These houses were at least three times the size of his grandpa’s — and his house is a decent size. As far as he knew, it was a pretty average size for a family home, but these?

 

This place could easily fit two whole families from grandparents to grandkids. How many people live here?

 

His gut churned like butter in a barrel as his eyes wandered over the black roof and the pristine white trim of the big house in front of him, no smaller than any of its neighbors and despite feeling like he was gonna throw up and his inability to process the dimensions of this building, he somehow still had the wherewithal to wonder how they even keep the outside clean. Not just clean, it looks brand new.

 

It felt like he shouldn’t even be standing on the nicely paved driveway, much less follow his mom to the massive porch and go inside.

 

“Iahn! Come on.” His mother snapped, tapping her foot impatiently on the porch. Her peach knee-length skirt bouncing with the movement.

 

It was weird seeing her cover-up like a woman her age. Usually, her skirts are half that length, if that.

 

Even though her white ruffle top is sort of see-through, making the cream-colored tank top underneath visible, the shirt has sleeves.

 

His mother’s shirt has sleeves, and she willingly put it on —she voluntarily bought a shirt with sleeves.

 

He gripped the straps of his backpack until his knuckles turned white and his fingers started to go numb, trying to push down the nausea building in his belly.

 

The bottom of his shoe skittered on the ground with his first tentative steps, having a mind of its own and wanting desperately to take him in the other direction instead of towards his mother, but knowing what she’d do if he turned was enough to force them forward, one hesitant step at a time.

 

“You can unpack the car later.” She turned towards the door and didn’t even knock before walking in.

 

Iahn sputtered, stumbling after her to the large black door with a sterling silver knob that she disappeared through.

 

Why can’t he just stay with grandpa?

 

At least finish out the school year? — He’s literally right in the middle of the roughest part of middle school and she chose now, the most ill-fitting moment of his life, to have him transfer to a place he knew absolutely nobody and has to live in a stranger’s house with two other people he’s never seen before; and just for icing on the cake, he had to leave almost everything that’s actually important to him behind.

 

It’s like getting sent to boarding school — actually, boarding school would have been much better than this. At least every other kid there would be under the same circumstance.

 

He stood on the doorstep, looking around at the massive well-kept yard and the other houses that no doubt have security systems that cost more than his mom’s car.

 

I feel like I’m breaking & entering.’ Iahn put his hand on the sleek, expensive-looking door (yes, even the front door gave the impression of wealth) and cautiously pushed on it. Just enough that he could step inside, and quickly but quietly shut it behind him.

 

As soon as the door clicked smoothly closed, yelling pierced his eardrums like a spear.

 

He flinched like a startled bird and if he could have, he probably would’ve taken flight too.

 

That’s enough, Yuen!” A startlingly deep voice boomed from an archway on the left, just a couple of yards down the hall.

 

Iahn took his shoes off in the spacious entrance, watching his mother already putting a pair of house slippers on like they were hers — and they were a beige-pink so they probably were — and headed down the hall towards that opening.

 

He rubbed his clammy palms off on the thick fabric of his jeans, trying to erase the sweat like it was a crime to have sweaty palms, fearing that it would give away how anxious he was. As if his posture alone wasn’t doing that already.

 

His stomach further tightened, feeling like it had been chucked into a blender — scratch that he felt like he’d been tossed into a blender. A fancy one, that had blades that were probably made of diamonds or something, but a blender nonetheless.

 

He chewed his lips to pieces, barely able to keep himself from making them bleed as he slowly went after his mom. She’d kill him if he didn’t keep up and had to come back herself to find him like a lost child. Which is entirely possible in a house this size. The entryway alone was three meters across.

 

He didn’t know how it was possible, but the inside actually looked bigger than the outside.

 

He swallowed, walking past dark grey walls lined with white picture frames and other lily-white fixtures and baseboards, contrasting against the dark varnished wood floor under his feet that felt like it should be making some kind of noise other than the normal sounds of his footsteps but it didn’t. Not so much as a creak.

 

At the very end of the hallway was another opening off to the left of a simple but ornate black & white staircase, where he could see just a sliver of something that looked like a countertop. Judging by the tile flooring below it, he guessed the counter separated the kitchen from whatever the room to the left was.

 

He looked at his mom’s back in the reflection of a gold-rimmed mirror hanging on the center of the wall across from the opening, right above a dresser of some kind that looked to be a place to drop things; like sunglasses, keys, hats, and other bits & bobs a person would grab before walking out the door.

 

He froze mid-step as his gaze locked on the reflection of a tall, furious man with dark hair, glaring at a platinum-blonde head encased from head to toe in dark clothes.

 

“Hi, honey!” His mother bounded into the room without a single care, in direct contrast to how Iahn hesitantly crept up to the opening, sticking as close to the wall as humanly possible while still being in sight but he didn’t set foot over the wide threshold into the massive living room. He didn’t dare.

 

If his mother turned around and thought he was trying to hide (which is all he wanted to do) she’d be mad, but there was a limit to how much he could push himself forward.

 

Both of the men turned as she skipped up to the tall man, and his angry expression instantly disappeared at the sight of her, like it was never there.

 

The blonde, however, fixed a glare as sharp as a shard of broken glass on her.

 

Iahn tried not to cringe as his mother wound her arms around the tall man’s neck and planted a big wet kiss on his lips, her lip gloss making a sticky smacking sound, like the overdone sound effects of a low-budget movie.

 

‘Yuen’ actually did gag and gave the display an over-exaggerated eyes roll, his scowl never leaving but the adults were too busy sucking face to notice.

 

However, the pathing of that eye roll landed those sharp eyes directly on Iahn’s form and they immediately turned poisonous at the sight of him.

 

Iahn’s feet took half a step back without even thinking.

 

He wasn’t the smartest cookie in the jar, but he didn’t need to be a genius to see that the older boy did not like the idea of suddenly having a new sibling anymore than he did.

 

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avatar TheYellowKing - 2021-01-02 08:51:12
Brilliant work! I look forward to seeing how this develops!
avatar Xhak - 2021-01-01 20:32:43
a new year and a new book ... i have really been looking forward to this ... life is all better now :D
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