Paul's Story

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Ian's mother told him he should stop telling everyone Paul was his older brother because, technically, he wasn’t. Ian decided he didn’t like the word technically, even though he wasn’t quite certain what it meant. Of course even though she told him this quite often, nothing could stand in the way of him believing that Paul Hampton was his brother, and a great brother at that. Not only did Ian’s mother tell him not to make that claim, she also wanted him to stop speaking of Paul at all. She claims he’s a bad person, someone not fit to influence someone as delicate as Ian.

When Ian was born, Paul had been fifteen, and Ian was fortunate enough to have him in his life from the very beginning. Paul used to entertain him every day for as long as Ian could remember. He was older and so independent, teaching Ian everything he wanted to know. For hours on end Ian and Paul would sit on the sunny grass patches in their small town neighborhood of Billings, Oklahoma. The sun never seemed to set on the classic white picket fence surrounding Ian's yard. The two of them would run through the summer, camp throughout the long fall nights, boil hot cocoa in a pan every winter morning, and would adventure the bloom of beautiful daisies in the spring. There friendship had truly discovered perfection. Somehow Paul knew everything from tying strung out shoe laces to why only some grasshoppers are granted wings of flight. Eventually Ian took Paul for granted, because he never took the time to ponder how much it would hurt when Paul wasn’t around anymore.

When Ian was seven years old, Paul stopped meeting him at the small town soccer fields, the swing set by Ian’s house, the neighborhood ice cream parlor, or anywhere for that matter. Whenever Ian’s living room phone chirped out, it was only taunting him because the voice on the other end of the line never belonged to Paul. Ian could never comprehend how someone can be such an important and meaningful part of someone else’s life, but yet everyone pretends the past never existed. Occasionally Ian would over hear his mother in hushed tones speaking about Paul, he never understood a significant amount of the conversation, but it was always dripping with negativity. Ian found this odd because his mother had always loved Paul; she told him he was family. Yet now it seems things have changed, she brushes him off saying the past lies in the past and some things are better left there.

One winter afternoon Ian’s mother stormed out of her bedroom with her long black coat draped over her forearm. “Ian darling, do you want to see Paul?” She asked in a tight staccato tone. Ian couldn’t believe his ears. Ian’s mother knew the answer by the way his eyes lit up the entire room. She fleetly bobbed her head to signify the conclusion of the conversation.

Ian climbed his way into the back of his mother’s large gray van and fastened his seat belt. As he peered out of the tinted glass the trees flew by, one by one. Everything flashed by like the window was a T.V. Flashing turned to winking, almost like everything was wishing Ian luck on this magnificent adventure of his. Confusion waved over Ian as they pulled up to a huge building, a cluster of tall walls. Suddenly, as the car advanced, his nerves took over. Ian suddenly felt threatened by his surroundings so he shut his eyes, waiting for it all to disintegrate around him. After a few moments he felt the car abruptly halt, he peered out from in between his scrawny fingers covering his eyes. Ian’s mother was turned looking at him with a kind expression that helped to sooth him. Her docile hazel eyes that ever so slightly creased at the far ends, and her doting lips that parted to reveal a smile that Ian knew very well.

“Come on honey, It’s time to go inside now.” The two of them walked together up a large side walk path. Intimidating wire fences littered the grounds as they made their way forward. Ian’s imagination got the best of him as he slipped away in curiosity. In the background he hears his mother speaking to a large man in a blue uniform, then the man slipped through two heavy black doors.

As if no time had elapsed, the man reappeared with Paul in his grasp, wearing him like some sort of accessory. Paul was dressed in a bright orange jump suit with shiny cuffs around his wrists. His long blond hair was now buzzed down, revealing a very pale forehead that had numerous freckles dancing upon it. He looked much thinner than before, but he still stood tall with stature. Against his mother's warning, Ian sprinted up to Paul and hugged him, holding him very securely. Paul smiled abundantly down upon him, wrapping his arms around Ian’s petite shoulders. Their heads jerked up simultaneously as the large man coughed and pulled them both over towards a sitting area.

“Fifteen minutes,” grumbled the man, and then he vanished back through the heavy black doors just as discretely as he had come. Fifteen minutes turned into five within the blink of an eye. They spent most of their precious time talking about Ian, his schooling, his friends, and his family. Yet what Ian really wanted to discuss was Paul, why he was here? When was he planning on returning home? Every time Ian attempted to squeeze a question in about this odd situation Paul just shook his head. Ian continued to pry as he nervously fiddled with his sticky fingers, focusing down towards the floor. Paul used to be so open, but now he seemed so shut. The only thing he disclosed to Ian was that he was being punished. Ian began to ask him what he could have done to receive this terrible punishment, but he was cut short by the moment he prayed would never come. The large framed man rudely interrupted Ian and Paul as he lifted Paul from his seat by his elbow. Ian rose as well and hugged Paul one last time. As they embraced Ian bent down to his knees so Ian could see him eye to eye, at his own level.

“Chin up Ian, everything will be fine.” And on that final note, he was gone. Paul shuffled away, leaving Ian lingering at his frame from a growing distance. Even though it was only dainty squares of white tile that separated the two, this was the farthest apart they’d every been. Ian tried to believe Paul; everything would be fine. Yet the truth stung Ian’s eyes in the form of despondent tears as he predicted nothing was truly going to be fine. Nevertheless, Ian clung to those words for as long as possible, and he always will.





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