The Journey Across Callio
WARNING: *Mentions* of LGBT situations & characters but no *explicit* scenes.
Chapter One: Leaving Home
It was happening again – a faint, undulating line weaving its way along the corner of the door window.
"Tyler!" his mother calls, breaking his thoughts. He turns around on the porch and sees his mother next to the parked family van. "Tell your father I packed them already," she orders. Annoyance drips from her voice and she crosses her arms as she waits for Tyler to take her side. He looks to his dad, who is busy pulling on a strap in an effort to secure their luggage to the roof. Tyler's delay causes his mother to press her foot – a warning of her waning impatience.
"Yeah, sure," he responds without much care.
She huffs and turns to her husband. "He's not even listening!" she cries to him.
His father, growing more agitated with his mother, calls out to him, "Just go back inside and grab your sweater." Happy to be excused, Tyler turns toward their small two-story home, but before he can pull the door open, his mother decides to chime in one more time.
"And grab the socks that I'm sure your father left behind."
He sighs as he drags his feet through the entryway into the cluttered home, and in the distance he can hear his parents arguing with one another.
'Sure, family vacation…why not?' he thinks with a bite of sarcasm. He takes his time climbing the stairs and heads into the doorway. He wasn't sure why they were taking a vacation so late into winter. He was going to miss school because of it, not that that entirely mattered, but he did not want to have to be stuck listening to his parents argue all while he still had homework to complete. He looks to the alarm clock by his bed. 'Speaking of school…' he only had a few minutes before one of his classmates would come over with notes that he had borrowed. 'Guess I gotta hurry.' He picks up his feet and grabs his jacket. Afterwards he goes into his parent's room to see the socks truly had been left on the bed, but so too was his mom's makeup bag. Not surprised in the slightest, he grabs the items.
Something catches his eye as he moves to leave the room. His parents have a floor length mirror on the left side of their room, and his reflection causes him to pause. He ruffles his dark hair as he looks himself over. Dressed in a plain shirt and jeans, he wonders if he looks fine. A little too thin, as always, but there is nothing he can do about that. He shrugs at his clothing and checks his teeth. He supposes they are fine as well, and after a moment of staring into his icy eyes, he hurries back down the stairs before his parents come looking for him.
Stepping onto the porch, he sees his classmate Jared jogging up the sidewalk. Casting a glance to his parents, who immediately began to calm down at the sight of someone familiar approaching. His mother grunted and came over to grab the things Tyler had retrieved. Quickly, she hid her makeup purse before his father would notice. Tyler doesn't bother watching them for long because his attention turns to Jared, who breathily climbs the stairs to his home.
"Hey, man. Thanks for letting me borrow these."
"Yeah, no problem. What did the teacher say?"
"Cover chapter 12 and 13. I'd do 14 to be safe." He wipes sweat from his dark brow. "Man, I hate not having my car anymore. Its not fair. I've gotten straight a's for the past two years."
"I thought they were going to give it back to you before Winter Break."
"They're too worried, what with that one kid."
"Didn't you hear? Another one sent to jail for trying to have his own band."
"What? No, I didn't hear about that."
"Jeremey Collins. I think he's two years older than us but he didn't get to graduate with the rest, got held back, and my parents are thinking that if I have my car then I might get into trouble like him. Seriously, though, do my parents even know me? I never cared about music. I just want to get into college and get my hospitality degree."
He crosses his arms in thought. Senior Jeremey with a bowl haircut. "Huh, yeah, I remember him."
"Yeah, yeah. Doesn't really matter though." Jared looks to van. "Eh, what are you guys doing?"
"Uh…yeah." He says, though Tyler knows the boy didn't remember at all. "Well, cool, I guess. I'm gonna go."
"See ya," Tyler calls after him, but the boy doesn't stop to say bye. He hurries on off the porch and across the driveway.
The Law claimed another one.
Tyler grits his teeth together. Third one this school year. Ever since they outlawed nearly all creativity and expression, everyone was encouraged to pursue 'meaningful' activities. Children were taught to concentrate in science and math or perhaps an athletic skill. Literacy is practically 100 percent, and the amount of college students had more than quadrupled in the past couple of years. The economy is thriving. The economy is thriving. New, helpful inventions are being made all the time. Everyone wants to have the latest and greatest technology, so working towards high-paying jobs was a must. However, all of these good things came at a price.
Printing for fiction had stopped. Music and art classes were taken out of the school curriculum. Artists were told that they could no longer sell their work, and musicians were made to halt any progress. They were allowed to play classics, for classics stimulated the brain. Famous movie stars had a stop playing fanciful rolls and instead switch to reenact events in history or some other "useful" thing. Things weren't always this way. When Tyler's parents were young, BTL (Before The Law) kids could do anything they wanted. They could start a band, go rollerblading, go to the arcade and pig out on candy. Now their heads were constantly stuffed with monotone information while their bodies munched on tasteless health foods. Everyone struggled to stay in shape and to stay under the radar. No one wanted to be picked up by the police for being foolish enough to do something outside the box. It just wasn't trendy to be unique anymore. It made sense to be realistic.
He sighs. It's just another reason why he never bothered to tell Jared, or any of his so-called friends. They wouldn't understand him.
Or maybe, on second thought, they did know that something was wrong with him. They simply couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was, though, they knew he enjoyed odd things as a child. None of the other kids really stayed to speak with him for very long. None of them really invited him to do anything, not that he really cared to do the things that they did. He lives as a loner, though not completely by choice. If he told people, he could be sent to jail or a mental health facility. After all, his own mother didn't believe him when he first told her, too. She chalked it up to stress from his advanced classes, but he knew it was deeper than that.
"Just hand me the map!" he hears his father yell.
"I told you it wasn't in the glove box."
"Maryann, I swear…" his father continues. Tyler quickly comes over to help break the tension.
"Is there anything else I can do?"
His mother, angrily staring at his father, shoves the map into Tyler's hand. "Here, hand your father the map." She grumbles and moves to get into the passenger seat. She slams the door shut behind her, which only makes his father more annoyed.
Yet before he says a word, Tyler hands the map over and asks a question to disrupt them. "We should stop at that little diner you guys like, right?"
His father looks to him, and, knowing his son is trying to break the tension, decides to swallow whatever he was about to say. He calmly looks over the map and gets inside the car.
His mom rolls her window down. "Goodbye home. Not un-happy to leave for a bit!" she says to their cluttered home. It draws Tyler's eye to the house. A feeling rises in the pit of his stomach. He had it earlier but had shaken it away. It was coming in full force now, this unsettling feeling.
Slowly, he climbs into the car. He puts his earbuds in when his parents begin their regular chat on where to stop to stretch their legs and eat. He doesn't care to listen. Instead, he watches silently as the slowly pull away from the curb and their house. As they turn out of view, something whispers to him that he would never see his home again. He closes his eyes tight and prays that for the first time in his life, he will be wrong.