Peas in a Pod Pt. 1

Living in a small rural community never bothered Tahlmus much, but it wasn’t where he wanted to stay. He spent a lot of time wandering through his dad’s cornfields, and playing in the creek behind the house. It was usually by himself as he didn’t really have any friends, in or out of school.

Tahlmus was never bored though. His imagination kept him quite busy. There was also a two week period where his cousin Xai came to visit. The two were thick as thieves and always finding their way into trouble. Xai was from the city and after a week, the thrill of farm life wore off leaving her feeling very bored. It was at the start of the second week that she would sneak into Tahlmus’s room after his parent’s had gone to bed. She would wake him up and together they would quietly leave the house; going down to walk along the railroad track that ran behind the house.

Tahlmus would tell creative stories as they walked, with input from Xai. The stories were always crazy and fantasy filled. The two also took the time to discuss their fears and ambitions. It always upset Xai that her cousin didn’t have a very high opinion of himself. It irked her when he finally admitted to being bullied at school. Xai secretly swore if she ever met any of the kids that bullied her cousin, she would give them a taste of their own medicine.

The summer before their freshmen year of high school, their time together had started off as it always had. They did some work around the farm and helped with other errands. As tradition dictated, the first day of the second week, Xai snuck into Tahlmus’s room after his parents went to bed.

Tahlmus was already awake and smiling. He enjoyed the thrill that came with sneaking out. Getting off the bed, he was walking to the bedroom doorway when the house phone started ringing. Both froze as they heard Tahl’s dad answer the phone. Curious as to who would be calling so late, Tahlmus and Xai stealthily made it down the hall to listen in.

“Yes, officer. I… I can be there within the house.”

Tahlmus gripped Xai’s hand tightly after hearing the hurt and sadness in his dad’s voice. It had been intense, so intense that neither of them realized that Tahl’s dad was upon them until he spoke. “You two should come with me instead of sneaking out tonight.”

The voice was soft and sad. Neither of them said anything in response. Both were shocked he even knew about their late night adventures. They followed Tahl’s dad to the car where they rode in silence for almost forty-five minutes before the car pulled into the parking lot of an old building.

Dread filled Tahlmus as he followed his dad up the steps. A cop was at the door waiting for them. He took hold of Xai’s hand. She never showed her fear, but Tahlmus could feel it. He hoped holding her hand would help.

Once inside, the cop asked Xai and Tahlmus to wait in the small lobby while he led Tahl’s dad down a set of stairs. The two cousins sat together, nervous about what was going on. Xai started rocking back and forth, while Tahlmus tapped his foot.

Only five minutes passed before Tahlmus’s dad returned to the lobby area, but to the cousins it felt like hours. Tahlmus saw the tears on his dad’s face. His dad never cried. His dad knealt down in front of Xai, tears started to gather in the corner of her eyes. “I’m so sorry, Princess,” he said.

Everything after that had been a blue for Xai. Tahlmus did what he could to help, but after the funeral Xai locked herself in his old room, which was now hers. When Tahlmus found out his cousin would be living with them permanently, because of her parents passing, he moved all of his stuff into the smaller guest bedroom. He wanted to make sure Xai could have as much of her stuff as possible. He had even taken to slipping notes under her door. She never sent anything back, but he hoped it helped.

Finally a couple of days before school started Xai came out of her room. She didn’t talk, but she did partake in the family meals and Tahlmus showed her all the school supplies he’d picked out for her. He also showed her, her class schedule, comparing it to his. They had every single class together.

“Since our last name is the same, our lockers will be next to each other too,” Tahlmus stated softly. Xai smiled at him. At least she wouldn’t be starting a new school alone, and she knew her cousin had her back.

She went back to her room, shutting and locking the door. “Maybe when I’m feeling better I can beat up the witches that pick on him,” she thought as she lay on her bed looking at the ceiling. Xai decided to stay in her room the next two days.

On the first day of school, Tahl’s mom knocked on Xai’s door to wake her up. It was exactly how her mom used to wake her up. Xai blinked back the tears before crawling out of bed to go take a shower. She met Tahlmus in the hallway. He gave her a smile as he held a towel around his waist. She started to giggle as his hair was plastered to his head, water dripping off of him. He hadn’t even tried to dry off. “It’s nice to hear you giggle again,” he said softly still smiling.

Xai just shook her head smiling. He had done that on purpose. She knew he had. Xai got into the shower and let the warm water wash away her anxiety, as she thought back to Tahlmus. He had changed over the years. He had been shy, short and a little chubby. Now, while he was still a little on the short side, he had leaned out. His biceps were toned, he had the start of a six-pack, and he had a great personality. Xai couldn’t figure out why he was still getting bullied. “Once my emotions are in check, no one will hurt my cousin,” she said to her reflection in the mirror.

Continue reading, Peas in a Pod, Pt. 2

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