Welcome Noah, We Missed You

Chapter One

When I got home after being with you, around four, I knew nothing that day would wipe my smile away. To me, now, it sounds crazy how powerfully you’d affected my life, but you know, you had. So we separated once we were back at the train station, you said your mom was there to pick you up, and I took my bike back home. The area I lived in, that I would soon find out you lived in too, was a gated community with old architecture, and ancient estates. When I got home, my mom was waiting by the door her expression a mixture of emotions.

“Noah, where have you been?” she’d asked, distress in her voice. I pictured you in my head, Sawyer, and decided I wouldn’t tell my mom about you. You should know that you were the first girl to ever give me their number. Until then I’d never even seen the importance of me having a cell phone.

“I’ve just been riding around,” I answered taking off my coat, and hanging it up in the closet. My mom didn’t seem too convinced, but the fists she had gripping her waist loosened, and she instead crossed her arms.

“You know you can’t just go out like that for this long without calling, Noah.” It wasn’t a question, but it hadn’t really sounded like a statement either. Before you, before everything had crashed and burned I’d been able to leave the house for hours without a glance, but now my mother seemed hyperaware of every move I made. No matter how many times I’d told her she could have never helped me, she still believed it was somehow her fault.

“The family that moved in across the street invited us to dinner, so go get cleaned up, okay?” I might have groaned in annoyance to that but I can’t really remember and I also choose to believe that I didn’t because that would mean I resented your parents, your dad, for inviting us over, and I don’t. Things had changed in my house, knives were locked away, and my dad’s razors were hidden. I’d lost privacy as a privilege as well. Instead of a door I had this folding panel screen that could only be closed when I was changing, or doing something personal, like masturbating. Which was something they did not I did, which I didn’t until I met you, which in a contorted way is a compliment.

I hadn’t even bothered closing the door as I got ready for this dinner with your family that I was a bit annoyed about, not that I had anything better to do as an alternative. It was useless closing the door because my mom would stand outside it and listen to make sure I was moving around otherwise she’d pull it open and see me sitting at my computer and make up something to say. I hated seeing her with her face all distressed wondering if I was going to be hanging from my ceiling or something.

“Noah, you ready?” she had called up the stairs about ten minutes later and I knew then that my father would not be joining us at this dinner. He’d been working later now and though my mom had insisted that he was trying to ensure our financial stability I knew it was actually because he was avoiding me. I think he thought I was gay and that’s why I did what I did. So he avoids me and I don’t have the nerve to tell him I’m not gay.

“I like that sweater,” mom said when I came downstairs and grabbed my jacket off the hook. She brought the sweater so I imagine to some degree she must like it. When we crossed the street to your house I was surprised my mom didn’t grab my hand and pull me close to her side. Sometimes I thought she thought I was going to throw myself in front of a car, but she was wrong because trains kill, cars injure. “Mr. Lynn just lost his wife,” my mom had said, and I remember thinking that was very tragic until I found out you were his daughter, and then I thought it was outright cruel. My mom hadn’t said anymore and I guess the included message was not to bring up his wife, or anything close to it.

We walked up the pathway, it was damp from yesterday’s rain, and there was a fresh hole in the ground where the For Sale sign used to be. I wasn’t nervous, or anxious, I actually felt calm, and light but I had no clue I was about to walk into your house. My mom rang the doorbell, and a man opened the door with a warm smile, and my mom handed over a platter I hadn’t realized till then she was holding.

It was probably apple-pear galette, which was my mom’s specialty. The man smiled and thanked her, inviting us in. “You must be Noah,” he said and reached for my hand. I hadn’t worn the sweater for my mom but for me because it didn’t shift when I lifted my arm and shook my hand, and my scars stayed out of view.

“You have two sons, right?” my mom asked with her easygoing smile, and the man nodded his head. That was when I heard you enter the room. “And a daughter, Sawyer,” your father added. My ears grew hot, but you moved forward, coming up on the side of my mom and looked at us both, your eyes said you were not surprised to see me but how could you have known?