|The Taylight Zone - The Nowhere Road Anthology
03 - Chia - Nothing
Taylor Hanson, at twenty, was a millionaire, but you’d never know by how he lived. He bought a small, slightly dumpy apartment and lived alone amidst his books and drawings.
He didn’t talk to the rest of his family much after Zac died.
He shut himself off from the world like one closes the windows and pulls the drapes, and so was left in the dark, alone with his delusions.
He stumbled out of bed and went into the kitchen, pouring himself a glass of water mechanically from the faucet.
"Good morning, Chia," he said softly, looking at the clay Chia on the kitchen table. He sat down and gently touched the small green plants surrounding the little pet. He sipped his water and looked intently at the little clay creature. "How have you been?" he asked.
The Chia remained silent.
"I guess you're not speaking to me today," he said sadly. "I know we haven't talked in a while, but we're still good friends, right? I'm sorry I didn't water these past few days, but I didn't feel like getting out of bed," he explained.
He poured the remaining water into the little hole atop Chia's head and smiled.
"There. I swear I'll water you tomorrow," he said, touching the tip of the Chia's nose with his fingertip.
The Chia blinked.
"It's about time. You're killing me, Taylor. I'm withering here! Not watering me days at a time, I thought you bought me for companionship! You never even talk to me anymore!" the Chia said.
It was true. Taylor had bought Chia for companionship. He recalled standing in the local K-Mart, selecting a box off the shelf, and purchasing it quickly.
When he'd arrived back home, he'd spread the seeds over the little clay body and promptly filled out the questionnaire included with the instructions. He'd filled out his name, address, and phone number, and marked "companionship" as the answer when the questionnaire asked, "What was your reason for buying this product?"
He'd mailed it that very afternoon. He'd naturally wanted to be helpful to the people who'd made Chia and the rest of his family.
Taylor bit his lip and looke at the Chia with the huge, blue eyes of a small child.
"Please forgive me," he said, laying his head down on the table so his eyes were direct with the Chia's. "How are you feeling, better? Would you like more water?" he asked.
The Chia nodded. "Just a bit, yes. But please, don't use the ice water in the refrigerator. It's so dreadfully cold. The tap water is better for me."
Taylor nodded sympathetically as he got up to go the sink. He filled the glass with about two inches of water and poured the liquid into Chia's head slowly. The Chia made a satisfied noise and smiled.
"Don't forget to take your pills, Taylor. It's Friday, you know," the Chia reminded him.
Taylor sat down at the kitchen table and said sullenly, "I hate those pills. They taste so gross, especially the little blues ones with the P on them."
The Chia looked at Taylor sternly. "Don't argue with me, Taylor! I know what's best for you, so take your pills."
Taylor grew meek. "Don't yell, Chia, please," he whimpered. Chia sighed. "I'll take them. You see? I'll let you watch." He reached over and grabbed his three vials.
Two blue ones every day. One white one, then the one with the red and yellow stripe on them, except for Friday. Then he took two blue ones, one white, and two of the striped ones.
He arranged his pills into a little happy face and smiled pensively. "Look, Chia, I made a happy face!" he said, proud of himself.
The Chia nodded. "You have such fantastic art appreciation!" the Chia praised him.
He took his pills dry, swallowing them slowly, and then looked at Chia. "There, I took them," he said, defeated.
The Chia nodded, and said, "Now, go away, Taylor, I'm sleepy."
Taylor stood up and stroked between the Chia's ears. "Goodnight, Chia," he said softly, turning out the light in the kitchen.
He went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. He looked like he always did. He undressed and turned on the water for a shower, letting the steam fill the bathroom. He drew a happy face in the steam on the mirror and climbed into the shower, letting the hot water pour over him.
He washed his hair with the baby shampoo sitting on the corner of the tub. He liked it because it didn't sting his when it got into his eyes, which it always did. His hair was so long now. He hadn't cut it in a while. He observed it needed a trim, but when he'd asked Chia to trim it, Chia had said no.
Chia never let him have any fun, he pouted to himself quietly. He didn't say it out loud because he didn't want Chia to hear. Even if Chia was mean sometimes, Chia was his only friend.
He rinsed his hair, reached out and grabbed a towel, wrapping it around his waist. He pulled the curtain back and stumbled a little. Zac was sitting on the bathroom counter.
"Zac!" he cried.
Zac smiled. "Hey, Tay!" he answered as Taylor stepped out of the tub and embraced his dead brother. "I missed you so much," Zac added.
"Can you wait outside a minute?" Taylor asked, smiling bashfully, the tones of a child lacing his soft voice. "Let me put my pants on, and then we can talk. I don't want you to see me naked."
Zac rolled his eyes. "I've seen you naked before, Tay," he said, running a finger deliciously down Taylor's tummy.
Taylor shivered and let his head roll back, eyes closed. Zac obliged him anyway and left the bathroom.
When Taylor was dressed he went into his bedroom and found Zac sprawled on the bed, eating his Cheetos.
"Those are mine!" he said possessively while Zac gave him a look. "But you can have some."
Zac scooted closer to Taylor and cuddled up beside him. Taylor closed his eyes and touched Zac's hair. Zac was just as Taylor remembered him.
"So, how've you been," Zac asked his older brother.
"Sad…but sometimes happy. I miss you everyday. It isn't any fun without you, Zac. No one to talk to or kiss or hold - I'm alone." Taylor thoughtfully munched on a Cheeto.
"I've been watching you from up there, and you seemed so sad, so I came back," Zac said.
"Don't ever leave me again," Taylor pleaded.
Zac shook his head. "I can't promise that, Tay. I don't know when I might have to go back there," he said, pointing towards the ceiling.
Taylor felt his heart cringe. He sat up and grabbed Zac's wrists. "Zac, no! Stay! Please! Please stay…for a little while!" His voice was hollow and desperate.
Zac smiled. "Of course, I'll stay for a little while," he said. He looked down at Taylor's wrists, noticing two angry, red scars. "What are those?" he asked.
Taylor dropped his hands and began wringing them nervously. "I felt sad with you, Zac…and Chia told me…it would make things better."
Zac shook his head and moved closer to Tay, putting his arms around him. "In heaven," he began, "you know, they say that hurting yourself like that doesn't help anything, Tay. It only leads you to hell." He nuzzled up to Taylor's jaw tenderly.
"To hell? I don't want to go to hell!" Taylor said, frenzied and scared by Zac's words. "I'm sorry, don't hate me," he pleaded with a dry sob, "Chia told me too! I didn't want to!" Taylor whimpered and curled himself into a little ball.
Zac laid down beside the Taylor-shaped ball and fed his brother a Cheeto. "Taylor, I don't hate you. I came to see you, didn't I?" Zac asked with a smile. Taylor let out a tiny smile and chewed his Cheeto. "I don't like Chia," Zac told him, stroking Taylor's cheek.
Taylor looked at him apologetically. "Do you love me, Zac?"
"Yes, Taylor, all my life," Zac answered with a laugh. "All my death, too! But in heaven they told me that what we did was wrong. We shouldn't have kissed or touched each other like that."
Taylor sighed. "But I love you." He reached out and stroked the inside length of Zac's thigh through his pants.
Zac put Taylor's hand on the bed and Taylor crossed his arms. Zac nodded. "I know, I love you too, but while I'm here we can't do that." He paused. "Chia was wrong about trying to kill yourself. Never do that, Tay." He fed Taylor another Cheeto.
"But Chia is my friend," Taylor said.
Zac shook his head. "Chia is mean to," Zac replied, laying his head down on the pill beside Taylor's.
"I know…" Taylor said, breathing a sigh.
He closed his eyes and held Zac close to him. He felt sleepy; it was his medication kicking in. He yawned and asked Zac if they had music in heaven. Zac smiled and kissed Taylor softly upon the lips, their tongues touching with all the love they shared when Zac was alive.
"Heaven is music, Tay."
Taylor woke up with a start. Zac was asleep beside him. Outside his window the sky was dark and the stars were strung high. Taylor noticed Zac looked a little see-through-ish, but he didn't mind. Zac was back! He'd come home! Taylor touched Zac's hair and found he became more tangible. Zac smiled in his sleep and mumbled something about loving one another. Taylor grinned.
He got up and went into the kitchen.
"It's about time!" Chia said hatefully.
"I got sleepy," Taylor explained.
"Who were you talking to, Taylor? Who's back there?" Chia asked, looking down the hallway toward Taylor's bedroom.
"No one, Chia," Taylor replied softly, "just Zac." He fished around in the cupboard for a can of devilled ham.
"Zac!? Taylor, you're lying to me! Never lie to me!"
Taylor felt himself shrinking down a bit. "Don't yell at me. Zac is my brother and friend and my lover and I love him," he murmured, putting two pieces of bread into the toaster.
"What was that?" the Chia asked.
Taylor looked at Chia. "I said don't yell at me," he said softly. "You may be my friend, but Zac is my brother." Taylor tapped his fingers as he waited for the bread to finish toasting.
"You love him and not me," Chia said.
Taylor shook his head and rushed over to the table. "No, Chia, I love you. I love you both!" He touched the tip of Chia's ear.
"You love him more!" Chia said.
The toaster popped up and Taylor walked over to it. He pulled the toast from the toaster and spread each piece with a layer of devilled ham. "No, Chia. It isn't like that. Not anymore," he said, taking a bit of his meal.
Zac broker their conversation by calling Taylor's name. Taylor put his toast on a plate and turned off the kitchen light.
"Don't walk away from me!" Chia cried angrily as Taylor went back down the hall. He closed his bedroom door and sat down on the bed. Zac looked at him. Taylor sniffled and began to cry.
"Chia hates me!" he sobbed.
Zac looked at Taylor and touched his hair. "Chia hates me, Tay, not you. Chia is jealous. And you're hair needs to be trimmed," Zac said, observing absently, as he tried to calm his brother's mentally unstable nerves.
Taylor nodded, finishing his breakfast. "Oh, I know," he said wistfully.
Zac sat up and climbed off the bed, darting through the high stacks of books piled in Taylor's room, and picked up a pair of scissors from the desk.
"Let me trim your hair," Zac suggested. "Maybe Chia will like better and you'll look beautiful. We'll match."
Taylor smiled, "Okay!" he said, clamoring off the bed.
"Let's go into the bathroom," Zac said, guiding Taylor through the hall and into the bathroom.
Taylor smiled happily as Zac trimmed and brushed hair.
Thanks, Zac," he said, hugging his younger brother, "it looks infinitely better now!"
Zac grinned. "You look beautiful, Tay," he murmured, kissing the pink shell of Taylor's ear. Taylor lifted Zac onto his lap so Zac was straddling him upon the bathroom counter.
"May I kiss you, Zac?"
Zac nodded faintly and Taylor filled his mouth with sloppy kisses, rolling their tongues together playfully and holding Zac's cool body close to his own. Zac had always reminded him of a lion. When Taylor looked at Zac, Zac's skin seemed to hold a certain golden luster, a sheen that Taylor's couldn't find anywhere else.
He was so thankful that Zac was home.
Taylor was so much happier with Zac around again. He even called his mother and father; to them he was all right. He hadn't spoken to them in months, and everyone was happy to her from him. Zac listened on the phone in the living room, but no one knew he was there.
Taylor read to Zac from Oliver Twist out loud and they watched cartoons each Saturday morning. They'd gone grocery shopping together, sang together, even bathed together once or twice, soaping each other up until they were slick then using the warm, wet wash cloth to bath one another. Then, they'd rinsed off the suds and glided their hands over on another's smooth, wet skin.
Taylor hadn't taken his pills in weeks, he hadn't needed them – he'd had Zac. Zac was his salvation, the joy in his world.
They'd returned Taylor's overdue library books and even cleaned his apartment.
Chia, of course, wouldn't speak to him, and this made Taylor feel guilty. Not that it mattered much, since he had Zac. At night they slept close together, but Taylor was afraid to touch Zac. It wasn't like before, and if in heaven they said it was wrong then he couldn't disobey God and all the angels.
Taylor lay in bed with Zac beside him.
"I'm going to have to leave soon," Zac said quietly.
Taylor bit his lip and began to cry. "Why, Zac? Please stay with me." He paused, and then whispered, "Heaven has enough angels. If they're missing just one it won't hurt anything."
Zac winced at Taylor's words. He hated leaving Taylor.
"I'll be so sad, Zac! I need you!"
"Taylor," Zac said desperately, laying a hand on his brother's shoulder.
Taylor would have told Zac not to touch him if he wasn't sure he'd ever see Zac again.
"I'm not leaving right this minute," Zac said, comforting Taylor.
Taylor turned around and curled up against Zac. "I can't even make love to you," he whispered.
Zac closed his eyes briefly. His brother's condition made him ache. He sighed. "We can, but only once, Taylor. Don't make this harder than it is." Zac lifted Taylor's tear-streaked, moon-white face to his own. "We can make love if you want," Zac said.
Taylor closed his eyes and touched Zac's cheek.
They undressed each other slowly, kissing and touching, laughing and talking. They filled one another deep and suckled the orgasmic trickles from one another's bodies. Finally, they were both too tired to move. Taylor lifted Zac onto his lap and Zac wrapped his legs around Taylor's waist, rocking against him - their bodies mimicking and re-enacting the tender rhythms from earlier that night.
"I don't ever want to leave you again," Taylor murmured to his baby brother with a smile. He put a hand on Zac's smooth, golden thigh. The fell asleep together in a sort of yin-yang position, curled around each other, their moans and cries fading into a sweet sleep.
The next morning, Taylor woke up and found Zac gone.
He sat up, looking for him. He searched everywhere – the bathtub, the refrigerator and the freezer, under the kitchen table, the closets. Zac was gone.
Taylor sat down naked at the kitchen table, head in his hands, sobbing heavily.
"He doesn't love you, Taylor," Chia said. "He'd have stayed with you if he loved you."
Taylor watered Chia but didn't answer, crying the whole time.
"It's Friday, Taylor," Chia continued. "You need to take your pills. You've been ignoring me, Taylor. Don't ignore me."
"I don't want to take them, I want Zac to come back! And he does so love. You don't know anything!" Taylor shrieked and threw the vial of pills on the floor.
"Do not argue with me!" Chia barked, its voice squealing at a high and obnoxious level. "Take your pills like Chia says," it added with a wicked, synthesized sweetness.
Taylor didn't move.
"Pick up your pills, you queer!" Chia roared. "Don't leave them on the floor like that. God, Taylor, you're so stupid."
Taylor sobbed a little bit and stooped to pick up his pills. He put a number of them randomly into his mouth and the others he placed back into their vials. He got up and took a drink of water and then stood at the sink.
"That's a good boy. Now let's hope they don't shock your system and kill you! Because if you die, you'll go to hell, Taylor!" Chia sneered, evil dwelling in its little clay eyes. "I heard those noises last night. I know what you did. I'm glad he left!"
Taylor whimpered. "Stop!" he screamed as he wept. "You're scaring me!" He wiped away at his tears.
"You're pathetic, Taylor!" Chia bellowed. "You're afraid of everything, you crazy fag!"
Taylor turned off the kitchen light and went down the hall, closing his bedroom door, and laying down on the bed. He felt sleepy. He let a few more tears fall down his damp cheeks and touched Zac's dry cum spot on the sheets.
"He does so love me," he choked.
He yawned and closed his eyes, drifting into an eternal sleep
The pills, just like Chia had suggested, did in fact shock is system, so badly that his heart stopped pumping.
Taylor shivered, blinking due to the intense light that burned his eyes.
He felt separated. Distant. He'd heard of this thing before, in books he'd read, about the tunnel and leaving your body and everything, and in this case the realization of mental sickness.
He heard some speak his name and he looked up, squinting.
"Taylor!" some cried gleefully.
It was Zac.