--The guy next door--


“Wake up Sunshine... Wakeupwakeup waaakke uuuuuuup!” I pull myself out of a restful sleep staring right into two happy green eyes. I grunt rolling away from them.

“Oh come man! It’s a freaking beautiful day outside, get uuuup!!!” The voice wines in my ear. I pull my duvet over my head to drown out the incessant noise.

A body straddle me on top of the duvet. It’s jumping up and down shaking the bed. “LA-LA-LALA-LA!”  This goes on until I can’t possibly ignore it anymore and I throw the duvet off me.

“FINE! - I’m up! I’m up.” I yell exasperated. Green Eyes smiles happily and quickly slips of my bed taking a seat in his habitual chair over at the desk. He waits patiently while I retreat to the bathroom to wash and dress. I sigh realizing it’s Monday and I have classes, which means I get to wear a uniform today. I don’t like the uniform but at least I don’t have to agonize about what to wear. Though Green Eyes mostly helps me with that anyway.

I guess as uniforms go mine isn’t too bad. Light grey slacks, white shirt, burgundy sweater.  Green Eyes had been incensed at the burgundy sweater; he disliked the colour with venom. I’d been surprised my college even had a uniform at all as it’s not standard practice. But it’s a good school and I’m lucky to even attend so the uniform is but a minor inconvenience. Other than that there are no restrictions on hairstyles or jewelry or the like. So even though students couldn’t express themselves through dress they did so in just about any other way. Not me though.

I’m normal, very normal, simple haircut, average build and simple features. Nothing about me stands out but I can’t say it’s ever bothered me. It just never has. Not even Green Eyes ever comments on it. Though he seems to have an opinion on just about everything else.

Downstairs I find my aunt in the kitchen.

“Morning Prince.” She smiles cutting a sandwich. Don’t fret that’s not my name; she just likes to call me that.

“Morning aunty.” She likes aunty, don’t ask me why but I’ve learned to roll with it. Green Eyes skips into the kitchen behind me humming happily, he does that all the time. The melody  often varies but lately he’s preferred one has been Sant-Saëns Danse Macabre. I have to say it is one of my personal favourites too but maybe a little energetic in the early hours of the morning.

Aunt Milly and I discuss our day over breakfast. She’ll be out on a date tonight so I’ll be home alone. Alone with Green Eyes. I’m always alone with Green Eyes.

I take the bus to class. I’m extremely fortunate in having a very efficient bus connection from my house to campus. He takes the seat in front of me which is always... always unoccupied and chats eagerly while I pretend to read a book and can’t help but smile at his stories. He’s been in my life for about... seven years now, never repeats a story twice. It amazes me how he keeps finding new material to amuse me with. Where does he get it from?

At school classes are interesting, though how fascinating they may be it doesn’t prevent me from dozing off in my seat. Green Eyes pokes me in the back every time I threaten to drop off. He keep me focused I can tell you that.

Lunch at the free flow cafeteria. Green Eyes is telling me all about lactose intolerance. How we humans are all actually lactose intolerant and the fact we can drink cow milk at all these days is because of a gene mutation. Which just makes us a little less lactose intolerant than before. An evolutionary leap as you will, originating from the Nordic counties that spread alone with blond hair and blue eyes all over Europe and beyond.

He stops talking when I’m joined by Ennis a buddy of mine.

“Aidan good to see you!” Ennis starts chatting a mile a minute like he usually does. He’s really nice and we talk often but he isn’t really a close friend. Ennis is a social butterfly, as you would say. He knows a large amount of people and always seems to be smiling and laughing but I’ve often wondered if he’s close with anyone at all? If he had a special mate or a best friend? It doesn’t look like it but then again like I said, we’re not that close.

He asks me if I’d go drinking with him tonight. There a band playing at a local den he likes to frequent. Green Eyes encourages me to go and  I accept it would do me good to get out of the house and tonight seems like a good opportunity.

Two more classes to go and I’m done for the day, during a brief break between the two I stroll through the greens taking in some fresh air. Classrooms can get so stuffy don’t you think? Green Eyes is picking flowers; he knows the Latin name of every single one of them. Bellis Perennis, Taraxacum, Ranunculus... I swear he’s a talking dictionary.

“Aidan!” A girl with stringy auburn hair come up to me.

“Hey Moira.” She’s happy to see me and I know she gives me seductive looks every chance she gets. Moira’s nice enough and has a good personality but you know... she’s female. I’ve tried to explain it to her but she doesn’t seem to want hear it. Luckily I’m not her only interest she mostly has her eye on a few at a time. I just seem to be a recurring fascination.

“In between classes?” She asks. I nod and we chat a bit while walking back. Green Eyes tags along humming again; he’s the walking soundtrack to my life... in stereo.

Last class of the day was an exhausting one. We had a debate on last weeks subject and I really got into it. Green Eyes gave me some good pointers to work with and I have to say I enjoyed it. After class the group talks a while, jokes and laughs for a bit before dispersing. I’m walking to my bus stop happy. Today was a good day.

“Looking forward to tonight?” Green Eyes asks walking along beside me.

“Yes I am actually.” I reply.

“Who are you talking to?” A voice behind me asks.

I freeze. I turn and Becca’s behind me; I’ve noticed she eyes me oddly sometimes. Like she’s searching for something.

“Just talking to myself.” I smile.

“It didn’t sound like it.” She quips more curious than anything else. I just shrug and we proceed to the bus stop together.

I bet you’ve noticed by now that no one sees Green Eyes.

No one but me.

The day after my 14th birthday... that’s the day he first appeared. Waking up with a stranger sitting in my room had freaked the living shits out of me. I screamed the whole house down. For a very long time after that I thought I was crazy. Hallucinating... delusional... I was always ever the only one who saw him, heard him, felt his touch... heck I even smelled him!

I was  afraid to be labeled as crazy, but I had to seek help... one doctor though it might be a coping mechanism. Having lost my parents suddenly the year before. Or an imaginary friend to help me come to terms with being gay. Another doctor thought I might be schizophrenic. But that diagnoses didn’t seem to fit, I never displayed any of the other symptoms.

You see it wasn’t bad having Green Eyes around. It wasn’t bad at all. Having no one else see him was about the only bad thing about him.

I wasn’t depressed, I wasn’t moody and I slept very well at night. I never closed myself off from people and never had trouble forming friendships. I’m a happy person really; I just seem to have an imaginary friend. So I kind of gave up.

Green Eyes was always there for me. He talked me through hard times, he listens when I rant, he encourages me to do new things, see new places and meet new people. Go on dates... with boys...

What I never understood though were his stories. These are things I’ve never read about before, never had classes about or even actually new of their existence. But he’s taught me a hell of a lot. So if he’s a figment of my imagination how can that be?

He also ages along with me; he looked 14 when he first appeared now he looks 21 just like I do. We had pimple scares together.

A few years ago I got this idea he might be a coma patient. You know you read about these things in fiction literature and the idea kind of got stuck. The thing about Green Eyes is he doesn’t know his own name, he doesn’t know anything about himself. He possesses so much knowledge yet has a hole where his past should be. Then again if he’s imagined he wouldn’t have a past now would he? I never gave Greens Eyes a real name... like Steven or something. Maybe that would make him a little too real and I’d really be crazy.

I had a sketch artist to draw me a likeness of him. She nailed him pretty good. Now compared to me Green Eyes is quite good looking. Which is probably the reason why I never particularly minded having him around so much. At least not after a while... after I got used to him. Green eyed, pale slim build, brownish-blondish-reddish hair... I never can quite pinpoint it. This guy isn’t by any means a muscle stud but neither is he brittle boned. He’s dressed very similar to me but has a better sense of colour coordination than I do, go figure.

I roamed any hospital I could find, every coma ward there was. Sent the sketch around the country. Not a single match. His regional accent is just like mine so I discounted the possibility of searching in different countries. But then again if he was a figment of my imagination it’d stand to reason we’d have the same accent wouldn’t it?

I learned a lot during those investigative months, a lot about myself and Green Eyes was always there... cheering me on. Always there. Even in my dreams...

Not a coma patient then.

After that my mind really started reaching  and my imagination ran wild. Like maybe Green Eyes died and his spirit latched on to me... Maybe it’s one of my ancestor come to guide me. Maybe he was an angel... Though I doubted that... He could be a cheeky little bastard sometimes.

Again I gave up or maybe just paused the search. Green Eyes wasn’t a disruption to my life. He added colour and joy to it. If he hadn’t been a ghost, a spirit, invisible to anyone else or a figment of my imagination I’d have serious trouble not to fall in love with him, he’s my best friend after all...

The band that night was great and I had a good time. Green Eyes likes to dance and he’s really good too. Taught me ball dancing when I was sixteen. I can twirl around the floor like the best of them now.

This is my life really.

Green Eyes and I... as thick as thieves... always together...

That is how my life is like until one day my alarm clock wakes me up. Which is unusual... not unheard of just unusual. There is no one next to me on the bed when I open my eyes. I’m alone in the room. Again not unheard of just unusual...

I go through my day just like it’s any other day. Discuss my plans with Aunt Milly in the kitchen, another date tonight. She much really like this guy.  I catch my bus and read my book. Probably a first cause I’ve always used it as a prop. He’s not sitting in front of me as usual... its been a few hours now since I woke and he’s nowhere to be found.

Ok that is kind of unusual and quiet.

I actually doze off in class today and get an embarrassing reprimand. I feel unsettled... Where’s Green Eyes? He’s always around... I mean Always. I don’t see him for the rest of the day; I don’t hear his voice or his humming or his laugh. I have trouble falling asleep that night. He normally sings me to sleep.

The next day I wake up and again I’m alone. Just as the next and the next... and the next...

“Hey Aiden.”  Becca’s voice brings me out of my daze. She sits across of me at my table lunch in hand. “Are you alright? You look like you’ve just lost your best friend or something.”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I mumble and we eat our lunch in silence.

She lowers her voice concerned. “You don’t look fine Aidan. I know we’re not best of friends or anything. But you can always talk to me you know.”

I just nod and resume picking at my lunch until it’s time for my next class

She’s right I’m not fine.
I’m in mourning.
I miss him. I miss him something awful.
It’s been weeks. I feel like I’ve lost a part of myself.
If he’s a figment of my imagination he inherently is a part of me, so I can’t lose him right? I couldn’t have lost him, cause he’d be me.

How can I tell Becca I’m grieving the sudden loss of my imaginary friend? That it’s cut me as deep as if he was a living breathing person. I can’t. She’d think I’m crazy...

I still miss him though.
I miss him so much.

--Grove’s Psychiatric Hospital--

“I understand you haven’t seen the boy in some time now?”

“Yes Doctor.”

“Seems the new medication is working.”

“Yes Doctor.”

“If this change keeps up you might be able to go home soon.”

“...”

“Wouldn’t you like to go home soon?”

“I suppose so.”

“Yes well. You can go now Rowan it’s almost lunchtime and try and eat will you? Even if just a little.”

“Yes Dr. Butowski.” Rowan lifted himself from the chair and made his way to door.

“Oh.. One more thing Rowan.” Rowan’s hand rested on the doorknob. “Do you miss it? I understand you’ve had this psychosis for a long time. It will be an adjustment to normal life.”

Rowan turned his green eyes zeroing in on the fat man behind the desk. He didn’t answer. He just turned the doorknob and left the stuffy office.

--The guy next door--

Tonight aunt Milly’s date comes home for dinner. Dinner at home to meet the family. I’m the family. He’s coming to meet me.

The doorbell rings and I go to answer it. Best to get this over with, summon my ‘You want to date my aunty do you?’ - ‘Where are your credentials hm? Do you have a job? Does it pay well?' act. I can't say I don't get a kick out of that.

The guy at the door shakes my hand firmly and searches for Milly instantly. Yeah she’ll be all right...

“So you’re an orderly?” I ask during dinner. Best he gets a taste of her cooking now before he starts to thinks she can actually cook.

“Yeah, I work at a psychiatric hospital not too far from here.”

“There’s a loony bin near here?” Aunt Milly asks.

“Aunty!” I snap. She knows I hate that description, I spend a few months in one myself shortly after Green Eyes first appeared. Their pills never did anything but I suffered from their side effects all the same. Green Eyes never left, he actually helped me cope being in that god-awful place. He was kind and compassionate, talked to me like I was a human being.  So after a while I persuaded everyone I was fine. Green Eyes had disappeared. I could go home and I never made a ruckus about it again.

There was only aunt Milly left anyway. She cares for me but never asked about it although kept an eye out for abnormalities, hence the props.

“It’s a nice facility really. Once the patients get their right medication their easy to handle.”

... easy to handle... patients...

I bet this is normal talk for him but it’s kind of unsettling to me.

“It’s the families I feel sorry for.” He says finishing his salad. “Most of them stop visiting after a while. Too distressed they can’t really help them.”

“Isn’t that lonely for the... patients?” Aunt Milly asks frowning, she was there for me every weekend, she visited me every chance she got and aloud by the doctors.

“Yes. There is this one guy who hasn’t had a visitor in over three years poor kid. But his medication is finally working, so that’s a plus.”

“So he’s getting better now?” Aunt Milly asks interested.

“He stopped hallucinating but he seems lost now. It happens sometimes patients live with a condition for so long they don’t know what to do once things get better.”

“Sometimes what you know isn’t as scary as the unknown huh?” I muse picking at my own salad. I’m not a salad kind of guy.

“What else can you tell us?” Aunt Milly asks.

“I’m not actually aloud to discus this...” 

Then why are you?

He hesitates but he's enjoying Milly's interest too. “He called him ‘Sunshine’. It's the same delusion he's suffered since he was 14. No medication ever seemed to help. His family admitted him shortly after.”

My hands start to tremble and I hide them in my lap.

“That must be horrible.” Aunt Milly frowns.

“They’d sent him back every time he went home, claimed he was still broken and we needed to fix him.”

At first I had volunteered to go. I can’t imagine being forced to. Let alone being sent back again and again.

“They used those words?” I clear my throat to not croak out the words.

“Yes I read the file. He’s a good kid actually it just a shame he...”

... grew up in a psychiatric hospital...

“You said his stopped hallucinating, when did it stop?” I ask by this time having competently forgotten my food.

“About a month ago now?”

... “Harry?”

--Grove’s Psychiatric Hospital--

“Good morning Rowan.”

“Morning Harry.” Rowan doesn’t look up from his sketchpad; Harry doesn’t take it to heart. He’s worked here for a long time now.

“What you got there? A letter?” Harry picks up the discarded piece of paper  beside Rowan before sitting next to him on the bench.

“Yeah from my parents.”

“They excited you going home?” Harry smiles but Rowan doesn’t.

“Honestly?” The sketching stops.

“Of course.”

He plays with the pencil while answering. “They don’t want me back.”

“What? You’re doing so well! Dr. Butowski is giving you a glowing report.”

“But I’m still gay.” Rowan replies and resumes his work. They send him back every single time; he still liked boys... which meant he’s still delusional. They were fundamentalists... fundamentality against delusions.

Harry sits by him for a while. Keeping an eye on other patients strolling through the green.

“Rowan can I ask you something personal, something I shouldn’t really be asking you?”

Then why are you?

“Who’s gonna stop you?” Rowan smiles a rare smile.

“Sunshine, was he awful to you?”

“What? No!” Rowan exclaims looking mollified. “He was great! My best friend... He taught me how to play the piano you know.”

“You play piano?”

“Yes they used to have one in the rec room remember? Until Barry smashed it up last year.” Barry likes to smash stuff, especially when he pretends to take his med while flushing them down the toilet.

“So where you gonna go when they release you?” Dr. Burowski has been talking about release for some time now. Rowan wasn’t sure how to feel about that. Not anymore.

“I don’t know. Maybe they won’t release me.”

“Why wouldn’t they release you? I mean you’re a model patient.”

“As sad as it sounds this place is the only home I’ve had for a long time.” Rowan sighed as he stopped sketching and closing his pad.

“This isn’t a home Rowan, this is a hospital.”

“Yeah well...” Rowan sighs staring off into the distance. 

“I do have good news for you.”

“It’s pudding instead of that god-awful Jello today?” He ventures hopefully.

“Who doesn’t like Jello?”

“I do, Sunshine used to say ...”

“What?”

“Never mind. It doesn’t matter anyway. What’s this good news?” Harry doesn't need to know about Sunshine's Ode Against Jello.

“New volunteers starting in a few weeks."

Rowan rolled his eyes. “What’s so good about that?” 

“We’ve assigned one to you especially.”

“I don’t want to hang out with some who thinks I’m a nutcase.” he grunts

“He doesn’t think you’re a nutcase.”

Rowan sighs dramatically but he's smiling none the less. “Harry they all think I’m a nutcase. I live at a psychiatric hospital I’m surround by crazy 24/7.”

Harry leaves Rowan to his mussing and his sketches to help other patients around the garden. Rowan picks up his pencil and ... stares at his wrists...

He stares for a very long time... there’s no home to go to... he’s been cast aside and forgotten... and this time there is no soothing voice in his ear to tell him every thing will be alright....

--The guy next door--

It isn’t going to be him. This guy isn’t going to be Green Eyes ... I mean Green Eyes doesn’t really exist right... He was a figment of my imagination... always was. But why do I miss him so much? I haven’t seen him in two months now and the hurt isn’t going away.

It isn’t even lessening. Not by a long shot.
So if there's even the slightest chance, the smallest ray of hope.
I have to take it.
I have to.

--Grove’s Psychiatric Hospital--

The dreams have stopped. Rowan lay awake in his white bed surrounded by his white walls. Sketches covering every inch of them. He’d been encouraged to draw his dreams from early on, since then it became a habit.

He lay there looking at his sketching feeling... a void where Sunshine should be. The sketches mostly showed two guys doing every day things together.

Two young men riding the bus.
Two young men attending class in a large auditorium, one is almost falling asleep.
Two young men eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at several locations throughout the day.
Two young men hiking through the forest on sunny day. Two young men learning to waltz on garden patio one setting on the others toes. Two young men running around on a beach having fun...

One was Rowan and the other Sunshine.

Rowan studied the sketches noticing maybe for the first time, Sunshine always read a book on the bus. That he himself never ate when they had lunch or dinner together... Or the look of joy on Sunshine’s face when he looked at Rowan...

He wished he’d used coloured pencils for Sunshine’s portraits now... Black and white sketches don’t reflect the warmness of his caramel brown eyes. Or how the sun highlighted his sandy brown hair... or the warm glow of his sun kissed skin.

Sunshine was no more.

Now all Rowan had were monochrome sketches in remembrance...

Even the dreams had stopped... now there was only silence and empty sleep...

Rowan though about his parents rejection letter, the loss of Sunshine and being released to into a world that didn’t really want him...

Before he was even fully aware of it thick tears seeped into the cloth of his white pillow and although his bed was white and his room was white and even his sleeping kit was white. All Rowan could see was  a deep black hole and the darkness creeping up on him.

Laying there in his desolate room on this white bed Rowan felt utterly... utterly... alone.

A deep dark thought took ahold of him... Rowan bolted from his bed desperately seeking that thing his former roommate had stashed away... there was a way out... there always was that one last resort...

-- The guy next door --

I’m signed in and I’ve gone through my orientation already last week. I’m prepared... as much as I can be.  I’m nervously waiting to step out into the garden. Harry gave me a name after I convinced him to assign me to ‘the lonely boy’.

I have a name but no picture. So if it is Green Eyes I’ll know just by looking at him. ... How will I react? How will he react? Am I Sunshine? And if I am...

Harry’s to meet me here and introduce us. He said Rowan’s always in the garden. Apparently he’s quite the gardener, studied all the plants...

It’s a large place with a nice design and the sun is out. That’s good he likes it when the sun is out. Well Green Eyes always did. I scan the greenery; there are several ‘patients’ outside. Some just walking around, others planting flowers one even sitting on a bench sketching...

One sitting on a bench sketching....

Ohmyjohn... Ohmyjohn... Ohmyjohn... I can’t hyperventilate here... they’ll admit me!

Brownish-blondish-reddish hair, I never could quite pinpoint it.

I should wait for Harry. I can’t help but move forward. I walk over to the bench slowly. I hear the grass shift under my shoes. I subconsciously straighten my clothes; it's an outfit he’d picked out for me once, for a date. I cried on his shoulder afterwards when the guy turned out to be a douche.

I’m a few feet away from him and I can’t go any further. There is no doubting it. It’s him; I’ve seen him from the back many times. Dancing around in my room, humming those classics he loves so much. It’s really him. How on earth could it be him? Yes don’t worry I have a million and one questions bussing around in my mind. There is one though that’s louder than any other: ‘Look at me.’

I feel Harry’s hand clapping my shoulder.

“You made it!” I just nod my eyes never leaving the boy on the bench.

“Rowan!” Harry calls out to which the boy turns and I see two green eyes stare back. I feel myself tearing up. I’ve missed those eyes so much.

“You’re back?” his voice is very far away his shocked green eyes bore into me. He shakes himself and shifts his gaze to Harry clearing his throat.

“You’re back Harry?” He’s pretending I’m not here.

“Yeah and you’ve got a visitor today!”

“A visitor?” Rowan tries not to look at me but he can’t help it. I attempt to speak but I can’t seem to. “I don’t get visitors.”

Harry’s arm nudges me out of my trance. “Remember the volunteer I told you about?”

Again Rowans eyes widen, his mouth drops open. I clear my throat to demonstrate my realness. That this time I’m not in his mind.

“Hi Rowan. It’s nice to see you again.”

“Sun-“

“Aidan.” I cut in quickly. “Aidan Maguire remember?”

“You two know each other? Why didn’t you just tell me?” Harry deflates.

“We met a long time ago and kind of lost touch. I wasn’t sure this was the right Rowan, I never new his surname.”

“Is this true Rowan?”

“I - I er...”

“I used to call him Green Eyes.” 

Rowan gasps at my admission. “It is you!”

I walk up to him, Harry just shrugs and stroll off somewhere. Sliding beside him on the bench I take ahold of his hand where the sight of wrist bandages squeeze my heart.

“You’re real?” His voice breaks, I remember touching Green Eyes. He always felt real to me but his skin never felt as warm as Rowans does now.

“I am.” I keep ahold of his hand and try to speak. But all I can think so say is... “I missed you so much.”

“I don’t understand Su- Aidan.”

“Neither do I and trust me I’ve tried...” I look around I don’t really want any eavesdroppers on this particular conversation. “Come one I get to take you out of here for a few hours. Lets go somewhere we can talk.”

We sign out and I take him to a park nearby.  It’s a very large park with several private spots away from prying eyes and listening ears. I want to be alone with Green Eyes and for the first time alone with Rowan.

“Are you... Sunshine?”

“I’m Aidan but I think a part of me was your Sunshine. My Green Eyes used to call me that all the time.

“Green Eyes ...”

“Yeah.” I nod. Rowan sits beside me and looks as me for a very lengthy period of time. I mean really looks at me, he reaches deep down trying to pull at some thread of logic out of our jumbled reality.

“How did you...?” he waved his hand toward the general direction of Grove’s

“I... lied. Lied, lied and lied until they believed me. I didn’t talk to you for two months, you sulked the entire time.” I laughed.

“That never worked for me.”

“I was the lucky one, I had aunt Milly to look out for me.”

“They think I’m still sick...” he lowers his eyes to fingers. I don’t like that, I haven’t seen those eyes for fare to long. Don’t begrudge me any of the seconds I have now.

“The doctors?”

“No not the doctors. I’m actually due to be released soon. They're almost pushing me out the door. I’ve done all I can to prevent it.” He quickly covered his wrist bandages with the sleeve of his wooly pullover.

“Why would you want to stay?”

“S- Aidan you have an aunt Milly. I don’t, my parents they... don’t really want me back.”

“Why?”

“If you are Sunshine, surely you know.”

“I guess I do...Rowan?”

“I kind of like it when you say my name, my real name.  Sunshine would never say it.”

“Neither did Green Eyes... Can I ask you something?”

“I thought that’s what we're here for?” he cracks me a sly smile.

That’s my Green Eyes... “Was I good to you?”

He grabs my hand, gripping it very tightly... pleadingly. “The best. You were the best. I could never understand why it was so wrong that I saw you. All I ever heard was that normal people don’t have imaginary people talking to them all day every day. The doctors would always imply you were making me do bad things or that one day you’d turn on me... I didn’t know playing music was a bad thing.”

“You play?”

“You taught me.” Rowan smiled and it was beautiful. “Was I good to you?”

“You were my life Rowan. You were there through everything. You even made me get out of bed each morning, you’d sing a ‘wake up Sunshine’- song in my ear and jump on my bed.”

Rowan laughs loudly, god I’ve missed that laugh.

“That fits I guess.”

“What do you mean?”

“I had to drag Sunshine out bed every morning. It never made sense to me that if you were imaginary I had so sing you awake.... It... almost broke me when one day you were there for me to wake up.”

“Me too. I’ve never felt so miserable in my life.”

I’ve often wondered what would have happened if they’d kept me in the hospital at 14. I’ve often wondered if my life would have been very different. If I’d been able to go to school, have friends, lovers...

I don’t have to wonder anymore and I thank aunt Milly for saving me from that place everyday and keeping me safe since...

Rowan and Green Eyes are the same. They are exactly the same, expect Rowan has an actual name and a real history.

He practically leaps into my lap clinging to my neck, I think he just about read my mind cause I’ve wanted to hold him from the first second I saw him. We stay like this for a long while. A very long while. He’s skinnier than I remember. Much, much skinnier

“Please don’t leave again. Please.” He breathes in my ear.

“I’m not planning to.” I say as we pull apart. “But...Rowan...” I grasp a wrist in my hand and turn it palm side up. “You have to promise me the same thing. I can’t loose you again, not now...”

“That was a very bad day. I just felt so lost and alone and... forsaken... I regretted it the second I slit them. Yelled for help.” His green eyes urging me to believe him. “I’ll never do that again I promise. I can’t believe I actually did it in the first place. In all the years living at Grove’s it never even crossed my mind.”

“It did mine.” I confessed.

“What?”

“After you disappeared it did cross my mind. I was having a really hard time coping without you around. I didn’t have the nerve to do it but I’ll admit it did cross my mind...”

We sat there for untold minutes looking dawn at the entangled hands. Until Rowan straightened up and cleared his throat.

“Ok enough gloomy talk for now.” He said brightly patting my hand, “Lets walk around before we have to return. It’s such a nice day today. I’m starving by the way are we getting something to eat while we’re out?”

The patting of the hand, the words, the smile.... Things I’ve experienced so many times before. We should talk about why this happened, how it happened...

But not today... today I get to run around with Rowan and talk to him and touch him in public without worrying about anyone seeing.

--Grove’s Psychiatric Hospital--

“Who is that?” Dr. Butowski asks a stray passing nurse. He’d been en route to his office when the sound of laughter sidetracked him.

“That’s Aidan he started volunteering here a few weeks ago.” The nurse explained halting her work to next to the doctor. They watched the two men dig around in the vegetable patch in the garden.

“He spends all his time with Rowan?”

“Most of it, they do group activities too.  Apparently being around Aidan gives Rowan an appetite. He’s gained weight and he’s exercising a lot more as well.”

“That's good...” Actually Rowan had been doing very well, after the suicide scare Dr. Butowski hadn’t been too sure about his recovery. But a scare was a just label for what happened. It had scared Rowan immensely and Br. Butowski was fairly confidant Rowan wouldn’t try it again. The medication was really working, he just needed to adjust to normal life and this Aidan was helping him do just that. He was very pleased. “He does look familiar though...”

“Well he has been around for some time now.”

“Yes that must be it.” But Dr. Butowski knew that wasn’t it, he just didn’t know right then what it was.

-- The guys next door --

“This one has two bedrooms but the kitchen and bathroom leave a lot to be desired for.” Aunt Milly sniffed as she walked them through the rental.

“I don’t need a big bathroom but two bedrooms is a lot of space. What would I do with it?”  Rowan frowned, he actually liked this flat the living area was nice and spacious with big windows overlooking the waterfront.

Milly spun around. “Wasn’t this for the two of you? Share as flat mates? Or was I correct in secretly thinking you’ll be sharing a bedroom?” she hitched up her eyebrows smiling.

The two men stood there frowning at her. Of course they’ll be sharing a room. They’ve always shared a room. Sunshine always slept beside Rowan and Green Eyes always beside Aidan.

Aunt Milly watched their frowns... “Romantically?” she prompted.

Both boys displayed a mask of shock as they looked at each other.

“We’ve never though about that.” Rowan whispered.

“No we haven’t have we?” Aidan shook his head.

“ I’ll wait downstairs, just take your time and look around.” Aunt Milly quickly slipped out of the room. She had a hell of a time hiding her smile.

“Why haven’t we ever thought about that?” Rowan asked turned to fully face Aidan.

“I... I don’t know.” Aidan laughed taking a step forward. “I think I buried that possibility a long time ago, when I though you were...”

“... in our heads.” Rowan finished. It was true enough. Neither had ever done anything intimate with their respective delusion. It was hard enough carrying on a conversation, let alone adding the risk of getting caught kissing air.

Ever since finding each other in the flesh they touched each other all the time, hugs, hands, shoulder grabs but never... anything further. The mental blocks they’d erected so long ago still somehow in place.

It just took a simple nudge for them to crumble and crumble they did.

“Would... you want me?” Rowan gulped.

“Rowan...” Aidan gently took ahold of Rowan’s face. Gazing into those green eyes, those green eyes that mean the world to him. “I can say with absolute certainty I’ve never wanted anyone more than I do you. I think deep down we’ve always been in love with each other.” The moment their lips touched everything fell into place. Their souls healed the rupture they’d suffered. Even though they knew from the moment they’d found each other they’d never be apart again. This was the true way they were meant to be together.

Rowan sank to his knees and cried holding on the Aidan who wasn't going to let him go for a single second.  He wasn’t abandoned but cherished...  he wasn’t alone but together. Someone did care enough to love him.

And it had been Aidan all along.

--Grove’s Psychiatric Hospital--

Dr. Butowski had been on call all week. He was tired, so very tired and hungry but he’d take this one last call of the day. He greeted the nurses on staff at the medical hospital he'd been summoned to as per usual and visited called for patient. After the evaluation he was in desperate need for a decent cup of coffee and headed for the nurses station. Were they kept the good stuff...you can’t survive a nightshift on crappy coffee.

Though he’d been in this particular station many times before, this was the first time he paused and took a moment to look around.

“Jackie?”

“Yes doctor?”

“What’s this?” Dr. Butowski slowly pointed to an almost hidden sketch beneath several other papers on the cork board.

“What’s what doctor?” Jackie asks trying to see what the doctor was reaching for. Pushing the overlying papers out of the way he unpinned the wrinkled sketch.  “Oh that, that’s been here for ages. Maybe Myra will know, she was here before me.”

Dr. Butowski stared at the sketch in his hands he didn’t move until nurse Myra arrived.

“Oh my! I’d forgotten it was even there at all. Isn’t that funny? Seeing something everyday until you don’t even notice it anymore. Like it’s a part of the décor!” Myra was a jolly person and much loved by her patients.

“But who is it?” the good doctor asked even though he was well aware who he’d been staring at the last few minutes.

“Oh this lad brought it by a few years ago asking if there was anyone matching the discription in the hospital. He hung one in every department. Many took them down shorty after mind but I quite liked that face. It’s always nice to see a handsome young man at work when you’re having a rough day.” She smiled.

“Years ago?”

“Oh Yes.” she nodded.

“Do you remember the boy who brought it in?”

“Oh you’ve got me there ... I really can’t remember his first name.” She bit her lip trying to recall. “...Show me the money!” he exclaimed smiling brightly.

“Excuse me?”

“Show me the money! Maguire, last name. I’ll never forget it, I’ve always had a thing for Tom Cruise you know.”

Dr. Butowski was momentarly at a loss for words...

---

“I think that’s about the last of it.” Aidan announced zipping up Rowan’s large luggage.

“There wasn’t much to begin with. You can’t really keep a lot in a place like this.”

“Well our new home has all the place we need.”

Rowan glowed. Standing there in his soon to be ex-white room with the now barren walls devoid of all sketches, he glowed. Though they were both glad the day of his release had finally arrived Aidan took a second to appreciate the moment for Rowan. He very badly wanted to go over there and hold him tight but they’d refrained from showing any affection at Grove’s. Best not to rock the boat so very close to debarkation.  

“Is there anything else we need to do?”

“Butowski has my release forms. So that’s all really.” Rowan grinned swinging a laden backpack over his shoulder. “Lets go home.”

---

“I wish you the best of luck Rowan.” Dr Butowski shook Rowans hand after signing the last of the papers in his office. Aidan was there holding Rowans packed bags.

“Thank you Doctor. I bet you’re glad to see the last of me.”

“I’m just happy you are doing so well Rowan. That’s always been our goal.”

Dr. Butowski smiled handing him all his papers. Just as the two were about to leave to office with Rowans hand on the doorknob did the doctor ask his final question.

“You’re all signed out and packed up so there is no way for me to keep you here Rowan. So just out of curiosity... did you take the new medication? Or any medication at all?” Rowan turned to smile at the fat man behind the desk. He didn’t answer. He just twisted the doorknob and left the stuffy office with Aidan by his side.

Dr. Butowski watched them cross the yard from his office window. In his hand he held Rowan’s file, it contained all of his medical history, his family history and a record of everything he’s been through while at the hospital.

The file used to contain one sketch, now it contained two.

One of a young man once named Sunshine, the other of a hospital mystery boy. Dr. Butowski closed the file as he watched the two young men walk hand in hand off the hospital grounds and filled it under 'closed cases'.

--The guys next door--

“Wake up Sunshine... Wakeupwakeup waaakke uuuuuuup!”

I pull myself out of a restful sleep and staring right into two happy green eyes. I grunt.

“Oh come! It’s a freaking beautiful day outside, get up!!!” Rowan wines in my ear. I pull our duvet over my head to drown out the noise. He crawls deep under the covers and starts tickling me. I try my best to resist but end up yelling out in defeat.

“Baby please stop, stop!”

His hands cease their onslaught but his arms circle me. He quickly finds my lips and claims them like he does every morning. He loves to kiss and I love kissing him so this works out pretty well for us.

“Good morning Prince.” His voice is low and thick...

“Morning baby...” I snuggle deeper into his embrace. “Why don’t we stay in today? It’s Sunday after all.”

“Inside... all day?” Rowan pouts.

“Yeah right here, in this bed.”

“In bed?” he perks up.

“Yup just you and me and the bed. I’ll even open the window just how you like it.” So the world can hear...

He fakes thinking it over grinning while doing so. “I think I can work with that.”

That’s all I needed to hear.

There is a Greek myth that tells us humans used to be fierce creatures with four arms and four legs and two heads. There were three genders; male-male, female-female and male-female. These humans possessed great strength that rivaled that of the gods. So the almighty god Zeus spliced the humans with a thunder bolt, separating them. These split creatures led a life of utter misery. Now each human possessed a single gender and forever longed for their other half; the missing part of their soul. It is said that when the two would find each other again. There would be an unspoken understanding of one another, they’d be one again in every way and there would be no greater joy than that.... and for Rowan and Aidan there wasn’t.


 

Sonky

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