I couldn’t help but just sit and think things over as Adam returned to his seat and friendly small talk began. Sadie’s actually going to move to San Francisco? Never in my wildest dreams did I see that happening! I know I’ve always wanted her to, but I never thought she’d actually do it. I guess being alone in our small old town made it stop feeling like home. Afterall, if there’s anything I’ve learned over these past few months, it’s that family and home, they only mean as much as the people you surround yourself with.
“Still processing it all?” Lindsay couldn’t help but interrupt their chatter as she saw how quiet I’d grown. I went to say something, but all I could do was shrug my shoulders, inciting some laughter within the small group.
“You realize things are really different here, right?” I finally forced out, hoping not to be too off putting about the subject. “I had to really open my mind before I could enjoy this place.” I confessed with a sigh.
“I had to open your mind.” Dizzy corrected me with his usual smirk.
“I know.” Sadie spoke up, ignoring Dizzy’s words. “But I look around at all the older people back home, and none of them are happy.” She shrugged her shoulders. “So, I could turn into some old prude that lives in the same town her whole life, or I could come here and enjoy life while I’m still young.”
As I heard that, I immediately looked over to Adam but realized he was already staring down Lindsay. “Well if you want, I could help you settle in.” Lindsay offered, too close with Adam to turn down his unspoken request. “I can show you all the best shops, salons, food, bars,” Lindsay began to smile at the idea as she warmed up to it. “we can even get wine drunk in the middle of the day if you’d like.”
I couldn’t help but begin to laugh as I heard Lindsay’s offer. “What are you laughing at?” Adam challenged as his stare quickly landed on me.
“Sadie? Getting wine drunk in the middle of the day?” I asked, not needing to say anything more.
Dizzy flashed Adam a quick look, at his smirk, as Adam shook his head. “I remember this really shaky kid who didn’t even have his tie on right, he was scared to even talk to me.” Adam reminded me as I began to nod my head. “and now just a few months later and he’s sneaking out to the park to smoke a joint with his boyfriend.” He challenged as I felt Sadie’s gaze began to fall down hard on me.
“It was one time!” I exclaimed, not even daring to look over to Sadie.
“I haven’t heard about this.” Lindsay couldn’t help but laugh to herself. Her gaze shifted to Dizzy as they shared a smile.
“I just heard about it from Mason this week.” Adam shrugged his shoulders, but as he saw the anger on Sadie’s face, he quickly looked back at me. “You know Sadie’s smoked once too.”
A wide smile formed on my face as I felt the moment begin to even out. As I finally found the courage to look over to her, I saw that her anger had been redirected to Adam. “You just love to stir the pot, don’t you?” She asked as her face began to turn red.
“Not as much as you all love to smoke it!” Dizzy exclaimed as the two of us burst out into laughter.
“It was once when we were teenagers” Sadie grumbled as she continued to shoot Adam daggers. “and I only tried it because Sarah was going to.” Sadie couldn’t help but laugh as she saw the look on my face quickly turn to curiosity. “She ended up wimping out.” Adam nodded his head along with her words as my interest quickly dissipated.
“I’m just shocked she agreed to in the first place.” I shrugged my shoulders but quickly began to wonder what she would think of me smoking.
“She was trying to get Adam to quit.” Sadie spoke up once more. “Said if Adam’s going to smoke his life away then she will too.”
For a second Adam’s stare grew empty as he thought back to the moment. “Do you remember the look on her face when she saw I was smoking out of a soda can?” He asked as his smile returned at the thought of his older sister. “That was the moment I knew she was out.”
“But you weren’t?” Dizzy asked Sadie, hoping to keep the attention on their story rather than ours.
“Someone had to try to stop him.” She answered in a confident voice, but received only confused looks back. “We thought if he saw what we were like high, he would see how mindless it was making him.” As she spoke the confidence in her voice began to fade.
“How’d that go for you?” Lindsay couldn’t help but ask with a slight smile.
Sadie looked over to Adam as the smile began to fade from her face. “He just kept laughing at me all night.” She exhaled as he began to lightly giggle to himself. “He still thinks it’s funny.” She groaned.
“You were so hungry” His giggle began to turn into a laugh. “and do you remember what you were mad about?” He asked but got no answer. “Come on.” He encouraged but got nothing back. “You were mad,”
“Adam.” She interrupted him in a stern voice.
“That our, and I quote,” His smile turned to a smirk, and for a moment I saw a look similar to Dizzy’s in his eyes. “town has the ugliest men in the state.”Her face turned a light shade of red as she heard those words. “Then you said you wanted to go somewhere where a hot guy would treat you like more than his housewife.” Adam flashed her a confident look. “You were talking about leaving, even before I was.”
I quickly looked over to her, once more surprised by what I was hearing. “You weren’t the only one who wanted to leave.” She looked back to Adam as her stare grew serious. “You were just the only one brave enough to do it.”
“It wasn’t bravery,” He denied as he began to match the serious look on her face. “it was desperation.” She nodded at his words as her eyes began to drift towards the floor.
“So,” Lindsay spoke up as the mood in the room began to shift. “Now we’ve heard their story, what’s yours?” She asked, looking over to me and Dizzy.
I let out a groan as I began to stare at her. “Don’t look at me,” Dizzy shrugged as they turned to him. “it was Artie’s idea.” I felt him give me a friendly nudge, but refused to look back to him.
“We were just looking to bend a rule or two.” I finally began as Sadie looked over to me. “There really wasn’t much to it, Dizzy found a joint for us and we just smoked it in the park.” This time it was Dizzy’s turn to groan.
“Could you have made that sound any more boring?” Dizzy complained as he prepared to give Sadie a real look at his personality. “I wanted to have a quiet night in, with wine and a movie, but that was too boring for daredevil over here” Dizzy began grabbing the attention of the adults in the room.
“Dizzy.” I warned him, finally turning back and locking eyes.
“But considering Artie is just a clone of Adam, I knew he would be all on board for a joint instead.” He teased, cutting out the other parts of the story. “So, we went to steal one of Adam’s, but his booby traps almost killed us,” He teased as Adam began to stare him down. “Left this silly mark in my hair.” He pointed to the lightening like design buzzed into the side of his head, drawing a laugh from me. “So, we swung by my place and borrowed a joint from my Mom.”
“Then we brought it back to the park and found a nice spot under the tree.” His voice grew serious as he recalled the moment. “and that was that.” He abruptly ended the story but as our eyes connected once more, I could see hundreds of thoughts swirling around his mind.
“No, no,” Sadie spoke up before Adam or Lindsay could. “Adam told you guys what I was like on drugs, what were you like?” She asked, trying her hardest to force eye contact.
“On drugs?” Adam repeated in a laugh, but I could tell he was wondering the same thing.
“There’s really not much to talk about.” Dizzy shrugged his shoulders, in an attempt to play dumb. “It just burnt us both out.”
“Last week when I found out you said you guys talked about marriage” Adam smirked, once more jumping on the chance to start trouble.
“Marriage?” Lindsay repeated in an unamused tone, but I could tell the word was having a very different effect on Sadie.
“I was just teasing him.” Dizzy tried to dismiss, but for one of the only times I can remember, I saw him begin to blush.
As he tried to stop the shade of pink from spreading through his cheeks, I tried to stop the wide smile from forming on my face. “Mark it down on your calendar.” I finally spoke, recalling his words from that night. A small laugh escaped Dizzy as my smile broke through.
“What the hell did you guys talk about under that tree?” Adam teased. I could tell from the sound of his voice that he was enjoying how giddy the topic had made us both.
“Honestly?” Dizzy asked, this time in a more genuine voice. “We didn’t really talk that much at all.” His smile seemed to grow as our eyes stayed connected. “A little about God, then about my mom, but for the most part we just,” Dizzy bashfully grinned as he broke eye contact with me. “just didn’t need to talk.” He shrugged but suddenly looked back up at them.
“I had a lot going on at home when we did that, and I know Artie did too.” He hesitated for a moment. “But for an hour, we got to forget about all that.” He shook his head realizing how stupid that must sound to them. “It was just me and Artie, we didn’t need to talk.”
As I looked back over to them, I could see a variety of looks. Adam wore one similar to mine and when our eyes connected, all I could feel was how proud he was. As always Lindsay took our words with a grain of salt, but even then, I could tell she was moved by them. By the time I looked over to Sadie, I could see her deep within her own thoughts. She’s heard how close Dizzy and I are, but I think this is the first time she’s seen just how deep our love runs. We’ve been to hell and back together, and now that things are finally starting to calm down, it’s created a connection that she had to see to believe.
A click sound came from the front door as it was being unlocked. Lindsay quickly looked to Adam and raised her eyebrows. “Adam!” Mason enthusiastically called out as he pushed the door open. “We’ve gotta go to the tavern tonight, some metal bands are in town so they’re doing rock night.” As he looked around the room, I saw his excitement beginning to fade. “And you haven’t been texting me back, so I know you’ve been napping.” Mason’s voice grew quieter as he reached the end of his speech and realized Adam’s day was going very different than he had expected.
“Remember when I said a family friend from Texas was coming to visit?” Adam asked with a nervous grin.
“Not really.” Mason shook his head, trying to hide the surprise starting on his face. “I don’t suppose you like rock nights at crowded gay bars, do you?” I had to reach back and shove Dizzy as he exploded with laughter.
Sadie seemed uncomfortable at first, but as Dizzy continued to laugh, she couldn’t help but smile. “No, I don’t think that’d be for me.”
“Mason.” Adam groaned as he grew serious. Lindsay flashed Mason a disapproving look, but I could tell she thought the question was funny.
“Sorry.” Mason offered as he looked back over to Sadie.
Adam let out a deep breath and went to speak, but froze and took another moment to collect himself. After all we’ve been through, I swear this is the most nervous I’ve seen Adam. “Sadie,” He began in the most confident voice he could manage. “this is my boyfriend Mason.” He made the introduction as Sadie looked to Mason and forced a smile. “Mason, this is Sadie, she was my sister’s best friend and my friend, well, since I can remember.”
I could see Adam holding his breath as they took a good look at one another. “Your question about the gay bar was all I needed to hear to know you’re a good match for him.” Sadie teased, but I could tell even saying that was a big step for her.
Mason gave her a confused look. “Why’s that?” He asked, as Adam’s nerves began to surge once more.
“Because he can get wild sometimes.” Sadie shrugged, but Mason’s confusion quickly spread to her. “Does he not do that anymore?” She asked, now more surprised than confused.
“Depends what you mean by wild.” Mason answered, trying to figure out how much to share. “If you mean have a mixed drink or two, leave early to grab food and go home to smoke, then yeah, Adam might as well be a rock star.”
“That’s all?” Sadie began to smirk as she looked over to Adam. “The big bad Adam Price leaves parties early now a days?”
“We’re older now.” Adam tried to dismiss, but I could tell he was embarrassed by the question.
“Still plenty young.” Mason encouraged as his focus switched to Adam. “Who’s this big bad Adam Price I’m hearing about?”
“No one you want to meet.” Lindsay spoke up, reminding everyone that the change didn’t come out of nowhere.
As Mason looked over to find me and Dizzy unphased by their words, I saw the gears in his mind begin to turn. “I don’t think you ever told me just how wild you were.”Mason instigated as Lindsay scooted down the couch to give him a spot next to Adam.
Adam looked over to Sadie, hoping she could offer some kind of help. “He was more immature.” She spoke up, drawing a sigh from Adam. “You were.” Sadie doubled down on her words. “I mean we were teenagers and Adam already had a bit of a reputation around town, so adults were pretty hard on him.” She swayed her head as she tried to find the right words. “He just embraced, that he was the problem child, I’m sure you could draw your own conclusions from there.”
“I don’t know if I could,” Mason pressured Adam. “can you spare me a story, problem child?” It was clear how unsettled Adam was growing, and yet Mason was refusing to let up. A few weeks ago, Mason wouldn’t have even asked, but now, he’s way too close to Adam to pass this up.
“I vandalized a church.” Adam finally grumbled, getting the worst of his stories out of the way.
“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.” Mason exhaled, disappointed by Adam’s response. “But don’t bullshit me.”
“I really did!” Adam exclaimed as he locked eyes with Mason. “I was crossfaded, I broke in when they were closed and I smashed some of the decorations then turned all the crosses upside down.” He insisted but I could tell Mason wasn’t sure whether to believe him or not.
“And you spray painted a pentagram or two.” Dizzy tried his hardest to recall the story, but received a dissatisfied stare from Lindsay. “He did.” Dizzy grumbled as he looked over to Mason.
Mason’s face grew serious as he looked over to Sadie, who offered only a somber nod. He thought for a moment before turning back to Adam. “Holy shit dude!” Mason burst out into laughter. “That’s one of the craziest things I’ve ever heard!” He yelped as he continued to laugh.
“Ha ha.” Adam sarcastically laughed along.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Mason quickly tried to contain his laughter. “but you could’ve at least told me you were going to hell before we started to date.” He teased, once more getting a rise out of Dizzy.
As Adam started to get annoyed, I noticed Mason reach over and lightly lay a hand on his arm. “You were a kid.” Mason shrugged as he finally grew serious. “You can feel guilty about it forever, or you could look back and laugh.” He offered Adam a smile as their eyes connected. “I don’t care about the mistakes you made as a kid, I know who you are now and that’s all that matters to me.”
Adam nodded to his words as he finally began to relax. “But,” Mason began as he turned towards Sadie. “I would still love to hear some stories about Adam as a kid.”
“Of course, you would.” Adam complained, realizing he still wasn’t off the hook. Sadie nodded her head, but I could tell her focus was still on Adam’s story. The room grew quiet for a moment but as Adam glanced over to us, I noticed a look on Adam’s face that I was starting to get used to.
“We never really spoke about what happened with the church.” Adam confronted Sadie, but she refused to look up at him. “It wasn’t anything personal against you, or my sister but I know you guys took it that way, so I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you.” He confidently spoke, sharing something he had clearly reflected on over the past fifteen years.
I could tell everyone in the room was impressed by his words, but my focus stayed on how he was carrying myself. I’m not sure when it started, but at some point over the past few weeks Adam has changed. Sure, he still has moments where he’s ashamed of his past, but lately, he’s been trying his hardest to embrace it. To man up and accept his mistakes, instead of running from them.
“You shook our town.” Sadie finally spoke as she picked up her head. “No one had any idea what to make of it, most of us knew you were just angry, but some,” She shook her head. “they thought you were possessed.”
Adam took in a deep breath, but pushed through the fear that was beginning to take shape within him. “Did they give Sarah a hard time after I left?” He asked as he forced eye contact with Sadie.
“Nothing she couldn’t handle.” Sadie answered with confidence. “She was proud to be your sister,” A small smile returned to Sadie’s face. “she used to say your last gift to her was getting the church to leave her alone.”
I couldn’t help but pop up as I heard that.” What do you mean?” I joined the conversation. “We went to church every Sunday, if I was off of school or work, she’d even bring me during the week.”
Sadie nodded at my words. “But when she was pregnant with you, they’d constantly badger her about adoption.” Sadie began to explain. “At one point she agreed with it just to shut them up, but deep down, she knew she was keeping you.” Her smile began to grow. “So, she did what Adam would.”
I felt my mouth grow open as I instantly made a connection the others didn’t. “Her vision from God?” I asked, catching her smile.
“All a lie,” Sadie began to laugh. “and after what Adam did, they were just happy she still believed.”
“I don’t know what’s going on.” Dizzy grumbled, drawing nods from everyone else in the room.
“I was supposed to be placed for adoption,” I started as I tried my hardest to remember the story my Mom had told a hundred times. “but during my delivery my Mom had a vision,” I hesitated for a moment. “well she claimed she had a vision from God telling her to keep me.” I shrugged his shoulders.
“She did more than claim it.” Sadie began to laugh. “When the priest doubted her story, she accused him of doubting God’s will,” Sadie’s smile only seemed to grow as she studied me closely. “she shouted at him with such conviction that adoption was never mentioned again.”
“My parents believe it?” Adam asked, but Sadie simply shook her head no.
“They kicked her out for keeping him.” Sadie answered in a sigh, but hesitated as she saw the look on my face grow serious.
“What happened after that?” I pressured, mature enough to finally hear the truth.
“She stayed with me and my family for a couple months, until finally the community chipped in and helped her get your trailer.” Sadie smile slowly began to return to her face. “People were scared if they crossed another Price, they wouldn’t have a church to go to.”
This time it was Mason’s turn to laugh. “How bad did you guys terrorize this town?” He asked, excited to get his answer.
“Well I didn’t realize Sarah did anything.” Adam answered as he began to think. “But I, I caused plenty of trouble.” He admitted in a laugh. “I got suspended from school in fourth grade for telling everyone God is a woman.” Just like with some of his other stories, Adam couldn’t help but giggle at his own antics. “I used to change all of the pronouns in prayers to female ones, they hated me for it.”
“Why didn’t they toss you out earlier?” Mason asked, once more unafraid to ask Adam the hard questions.
“They liked my dad too much.” He shrugged off, but this time it was Sadie’s turn to sit up.
“Because you were the best player on the baseball team.” Sadie explained, giving us the real answer. “Once we reached middle school, so long as Adam Price was pitching two or three nights a week, he was always forgiven.” Sadie looked over to Adam, but could tell he wasn’t thrilled at what she shared. “You and Ezra were the reason our team could compete with the rest of the state, for our small town, that was a big deal.”
The second he heard that, Dizzy looked over to Adam. “That only made you hate them more, didn’t it?” Dizzy asked, but he didn’t need an answer to know he was right. “Fuck ‘em.” He offered Adam with a smile.
“Fuck ‘em” Adam repeated as he matched Dizzy’s smile.
“I don’t get it.” I sighed, unable to make the connection. I mean I know why Adam hates our hometown, but I would’ve thought baseball would help make that better. I mean he was the star pitcher on his team, that’s gotta count for something!
“They spent his whole childhood putting him down.” Dizzy tried to clarify. “Then he has something to offer and they want to put him on a pedestal?” He asked, hoping I would understand. “Fuck ‘em.” He reiterated.“They didn’t care about him, they only cared what he could give them.”
“Fuck ‘em.” I agreed, but instantly regretted my words as Sadie’s head quickly turned to me.
“Arthur.” She warned in a serious voice as she began to shoot me daggers.
For a moment I almost apologized, but as I looked around the room, I remembered that I wasn’t the same quiet kid from Texas, Sadie knows. “They’re all dicks.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Fuck ‘em.” Lindsay and Dizzy tried to stifle their laughter as they heard my words.
“Don’t push Sadie’s buttons.”Adam warned in a sigh. “She’s had a big day and she’s trying hard to keep an open mind,” He stared at me, but could tell his words weren’t fully sinking in. “at least respect some of those boundaries.”
I nodded my head, but noticed Dizzy struggling to hold back laughter. “You sure you want to move here?” Lindsay asked.
“Unfortunately.” Sadie reluctantly answered as she watched Dizzy trying to regain control over his laughter. “What’s wrong with him?”
“He thought of a joke.” Adam rolled his eyes. “Kid spends most of the day cracking himself up.”
“Reminds me of someone I know.” Sadie smiled as she looked back to Adam.
Mason looked around the room before finally letting his eyes land on Dizzy. “Alright, let’s hear it.” He instigated, realizing no one else would.
“Don’t encourage him.” Adam complained, this time it was Masons turn to receive an icy look.
“Hey Adam,” Dizzy began as a smirk filled his face. “I’m surprised you didn’t like your hometown more.” Adam stayed quiet, refusing to take the bait. “Who wouldn’t want to be gay and surrounded by dicks!” Dizzy exclaimed finally able to laugh openly, it didn’t take long until I broke and was laughing along with him.
Sadie’s face turned beat red as she looked back to Adam. “You deal with this every day?” She asked, trying her hardest to move past the joke. Adam begrudgingly nodded his head and let out another sigh.
“I thought it was pretty funny.” Mason shrugged his shoulders and got a nod from Lindsay.
“Not his best joke,” Lindsay spoke up. “but pretty solid.” She nodded. “Would’ve been better if he said it instead of laughing to himself like a maniac.”
“I didn’t want to offend him!” Dizzy shouted as his laughter finally began to die down.
“Then why’d you say it at all?” Adam challenged as their eyes locked.
“And rob Artie of all that laughter?” He asked as the smirk remained on his face.
“You always believe your own bullshit?” Lindsay asked, taking her chance to challenge him.
“If he doesn’t, Artie certainly does.” Sadie answered for him, getting all the adults in the room to laugh.
“Fitting in already.” Mason gave her a nod of approval through his laughter.
Sadie nodded her head as she looked us both over. “I think I could get used to this.” She admitted before turning to Lindsay. “And I think I’ll take you up on your offer after I move.”
“To see the shops or get wine drunk?” Lindsay asked with a smile.
“We’ll see where the day leads us.” Sadie shrugged, finally allowing herself to fully unwind.
As she heard that answer, Lindsay looked over to Adam and flashed him a smile. “I think we’re going to get along just fine.” She returned her gaze to Sadie. “Plus, now I finally have someone to vent to, Adam can be a real nightmare at work, he doesn’t accept help from anyone.”
“You’re still doing that?” Sadie asked as she glanced over to Adam before returning her gaze to Lindsay. “It used to be so obnoxious when we were young, plus the way he used to micromanage.” Sadie said causing Lindsay to almost jump out of her seat.
“You know, you could always vent to one of us.” Dizzy offered Lindsay as he tried to break up their conversation.
“Please,” Lindsay sarcastically replied as she rolled her eyes. “you boys worship the ground he walks on.” I looked back to Dizzy but he shrugged, knowing we were both beat.
As Mason noticed we were ready to give up, he began to laugh to himself. “Lindsay does too.” He instigated with a grin. “Why do you think she gets so mad at him?” Lindsay’s smile quickly disappeared from her face as she heard Mason’s words.
“Can we please stop talking about me like I’m not in the room?” Adam finally spoke up, but it was clear the conversation had snowballed out of his control.
“Maybe if you didn’t keep so many secrets we wouldn’t have to.” I shrugged as they all quickly agreed with me.
“I’ll stop keeping secrets.” Adam groaned as our eyes connected. “But if it helps, I’ll promise to stop as long as you guys promise to not have another one of these group therapy sessions.”
“This is what you think therapy is like?” Dizzy asked in a confused voice.
“Not helping.” Adam shut down and looked back to me. “Deal?” He asked.
“Sure, I agree to that deal.” I grinned, knowing the others would never follow.
“I’ll agree to stop the sessions if I get some stories from when you were little.” Mason bargained, causing Adam to let out another sigh.
Adam went to speak, but before he could Sadie started to tell a story from when they were young. Adam can huff and puff all he wants, but if he was really unhappy, he would’ve gone upstairs a long time ago! Besides, I can see how much he’s starting to enjoy this. We’re a busy house, but we never really have nights like this one. Nights where we’re all together arguing and laughing. Nights where we feel like a family.