It all started so innocuously, with a song.
Several, actually, in a chain, like a conversation.
Newly approaching the House, everything unknown, a conversation took place between Brad and I that recalled things personal and hidden. Through the water and distortion of secrets buried inside, I held my hand up to a window, and so did he, and what we found in one another were animals of the same name locked in our hearts.
What people don't know about Brad is how volatile, and how shy. He might, over time, come to eat from your hand, but he will run away again once he has. What gets seen are the parts he offers for consumption just the same; the parts he is certain will mean you will eat from his hand. When he sent me Orestes, it was a wolf who did it, disguised as a dog. A boy I might one day name the Cruel Prince; the last avenger of his family.
It was with this song he told me who he was, and with the next I replied with my own identity. We were both anchored deep in a history of blood and violent unrepentance; chained to the walls of our legacy.
The expression in our eyes when we first touched was confused, and suspicious. No one can share the same experiences, no matter how congruous the events. Someone else always sees something different, has a different vantage point, is older, is a boy, is not emotionally connected to the same sinew. And so how could we feel this symmetry between us, and was it even real?
I asked him this question in the next song, full of the trepidation of memory.
And if we were, what would it matter?
And if we weren't, what would we lose?
Every wall of Gray House had become a dark womb of a single purpose, reaching in the dark warmth for something I thought might be my own reflection, and something I would never believe could be mine. The air was heavy with the unexplained magic between Brad and I, staring long at one another over a candlelit dinner we'd never had. I've never felt anything like it again. There was something pouring out of me at all times that felt like a tangible kinship, but what I couldn't anticipate or prepare for was the anger, the egotism, and the shame. Like we'd eaten every bite of the dinner laid out on the table, long before anyone else arrived. A decadence, maybe, or an indulgence; the way dogs fight over food thrown by noblemen.
The verses in Runner sealed our fate forever. When he told me he wanted to build a house inside me, we did just that, in the literal way that all things in Gray House are made.
And then we were twins.
He found a house in the garden inside me, and I found a house in the desert of his heart. It was a dangerous pagan ritual, I'm sure. It bound us together, I'm sure, so now I can't suffer a heartbreak without Brad feeling it and he can't scrape his knee without scarring me. We didn't think of the outcome or the consequences, and in a way, I'm sure that was what we were always meant to be doing. Never thinking about how we could hurt each other, or fall out of love. Just create with words and wishes that which had never before existed.
I could feel him in my heart, and he could feel me in his. Things don't begin with bombs exploding, or the complications of locked doors. Things begin simply, and as far as I know, they never end. But I can feel how far we've drifted since that winter, when I went home to Brad for the first time.
"I'm going to call it Denton," I told him, and he laughed.
"The home of happiness?" he asked, and I remembered the joke from Rocky Horror, the film from which Brad took his name.
"Oh," I laughed. "Yeah, I guess it is. I didn't remember that, I was making a joke about dens."
In the wastes of the desert, my house stood, a burnt shell of a house with open windows and missing doors. The inside was mostly bare, and covered in dust from the wind. The upstairs had a bare mattress and a view of the plains across which moved storms, flickering lightning late into the darkness. Animals lived in the chimney of the ruined fireplace.
"Don't you wanna like fix it up or something?" he asked me, and I shook my head, taken with the romance of abandonment.
Was it that? Was it always just that, the one simple thing, the tiny detail I'd overlooked? Did I think it was romantic, to live in a ruined castle? Did I think it made us romantic, to be a part of a lost people, or a forgotten culture, or speak a dead language? Did I torture us all the way to the conclusion of that fantasy?
Because at the end of that fantasy, there's loneliness, and alienation, and acculturation to some other strange thing which can sustain us. Or we die.
I slept on the bare mattress, and in time visited only when my heart was the same barren state, and maybe I tried to turn Brad into my savior, or my conscience.
Brad's house inside me was his childhood home, which did it's own reckoning in his heart. Was I supposed to do something no one ever did? Change something no one could? Was I supposed to sweep up the fragments of something broken there, or always... see him as a boy?
It's funny most of these questions never got answered, because back then, we just didn't know to ask them, and it never felt like it mattered, until it did.
In 2015, I burned down the house he built, to remake us from the ashes.
Actually, I don't know why I did it, other than to take back all I'd promised him when we built it. As Cruel Royalty, maybe the sacrifice had become necessary between us. Nowhere to go but here, right?
Today, I might hate all the people you've ever loved. I just might. I just might.
I might be thinking of choking on that hate so hard it hurts to swallow my way past. Hurts once I do, like a fire in my stomach that sets my teeth on the edge of themselves, bared like an animal.
I fucking hate them, Brad.
Brad, I burned your house down. It's now in cinders. If you know me, if you know that already, if you knew me ever, if you don't know me by now. The pile of boards and planks that once held your house has been decimated to a smolder. I hated it. Brad, I hated it. Brad, please help me, I'm going to die.
Just your house, and not you, Brad. Just your house, and everything I owned inside it. It felt good, because being feeling good and I don't care about thinks like keeping letters like Jack does. I'm in love with you, so I keep burning us down because I don't know how to be in the same room. I don't give a fuck about the things I've given you. I don't.
My letters are worthless. Burn them. Burn this one, I don't care. My shirt, your shirt. The places we've always felt safe. I slept in a crypt, so what does that tell you? We don't need it. It's worthless. It's all fucking garbage. You loaned me your scarf and I burned it, too. I'm sorry, I just don't care. It doesn't fucking matter to me.
Because you're never in them. In those things I grip and hold close and tell myself are you. They aren't you. You're not there, and it doesn't tell me shit about dick, so. All your fucking plaids, Leslie Modern, Edgar Red. Fuck you, Brad Majors. Fuck you. You've never been where I was promised you would hide.
It's enough to make any knife a friend of mine, a really good one.
I kept your lipstick. I don't know my name, but that. I don't want to die, Brad. I wrote it on your mirror.