Ethan stared out the window, shifting his body into a more comfortable position. Farms whizzed past his window. He hated the fact he was moving from the city but his father, Max, acquired a new job and that was that. Ethan didn't understand why he disliked it so much; he'd never been a big fan of change but nothing had ever bothered him the way this move did.
“Turn that frown upside down.” His sister Lucy whispered, poking him.
She showed him an upside-down face and giggled; it made him laugh. She may have been older but her humour was contagious.
“Quiet down you two.” Their dad snapped from the front seat.
“Sorry, dad.” Lucy frowned.
“Max they were just having a bit of fun, it isn't exactly a short trip.” Their mum scolded. He snorted but didn’t say anything.
Ethan studied his father in the rear-view mirror. He acted his age like a grumpy old man but his clean-shaven face was free of wrinkles. Lucy followed the family trait, as she looked closer to fourteen rather than seventeen. His mother was still sometimes asked for ID even at forty.
Ethan desperately wanted to look older. He was the baby of the family, despite being fifteen years of age. He looked a lot like his mother, Jean did in her youth. He inherited her blonde hair and green eyes. Lucy, however, took their father's dark hair and blue eyes. His mum interrupted his thoughts by rustling a bag of chips in his face. He thanked her, handed it to Lucy and went back to staring out the window.
Lightning flickered in the sky. Ethan thumbed his phone and considered checking Instagram as the “Welcome to Ravera’ sign flew past. The car jolted as it went over a speed bump and they started to pass shops and some houses.
Jean let out a little gasp as they pulled into the driveway. No one in the family apart from Max had seen the house, but he wasn’t lying when he said that it was much bigger than their last one. Lucy whipped out her phone and filled the car with the snapping sound of her camera.
Max saw his family's expressions and laughed, “ It’s all thanks to my promotion”
Max’s job was classified. None of them were allowed to know what he did. The house was a black brick fortress, clean white pillars stood on either side of the front steps. Ethan decided that they were made out of marble. Max pressed a button on a little remote he was holding and the gates swung inwards admitting them into the property.
“Damn,” Lucy said in disbelief.
“Eloquently put Lucy,” Ethan told her and she grinned at him.
Gardens stretched along both sides of the driveway and along the fence. Colour exploded in Ethan's eyes from all the flowers that were blooming; there were so many that he lost track. He had to admit that it was impressive; his mother would be spending a lot of time outside admiring it.
A lot of work had gone into creating this property. It would have taken months of planning and then even longer to construct it. Ethan felt a cold flash of anger; this property had been planned and it was not a spur of the moment decision to move as his father had told him.
“How long ago did you decide that you were going to move us here?” he demanded
Max scowled at his tone, “Two years ago when I was offered the position.”
Ethan threw his hands up in exasperation, “And you didn't tell us until last month?”
His father spun around to look at him, “Do not take that bloody tone with me.”
Ethan flinched and shrank back in his seat; Max parked the car in front of the steps, “I'll park it in the garage later.” He said to no one in particular.
The garage, which Ethan silently vowed to refer to as the car’s home, was the size of an average house and was in Ethan's opinion a huge waste of money. It could probably hold six cars and they owned three; two of which had not even arrived yet.
He shook his head at his parent's complete lack of care when it came to money; they insisted on flaunting their wealth. Even Lucy hadn't understood his reasoning. He didn't like his family insisting on appearing better than everyone just because they had money. The truth was he hated it.
He gazed at the house; his emotions weighing on his chest. Just looking at the house made him anxious. He could already picture the uncomfortable stares he would get at school if they found out he lived here.
His father roused him from his thoughts ordering him to grab his stuff.
“Yeah.” He mumbled absently, shaking his thoughts he scrambled out of the car and went to grab his belongings. Most of it wouldn’t arrive for another day.
Ethan grabbed his bags and shook his head in disbelief as his father opened the front door dramatically.
The walls were grey and the tiled floor was black. Putting a ladder on the second floor still wouldn’t be enough to reach the huge crystal chandelier that welcomed them inside. He ran his hand along the metallic gold banister of the spiral staircase. It wasn’t that high up, but he shuddered at the idea of falling.
He wandered down the hallway trying to ignore his father's booming voice as he bragged about the house.
“Isn't this place a beauty? Ten bedrooms—two kitchens! Four bathrooms, an indoor and outdoor pool. Did you see the spa?” His father dragged on.
“That is about six bedrooms, two bathrooms and a pool too many,” Ethan muttered in disapproval.
Ethan stopped in the wide hallway; it was very dark even though the curtains were drawn. He walked over to the first door; just a plain brown door and shook his head, it was too boring to be his door. He bounded over to the next one and admired the solid black layer of paint. He looked at the doorknob, which so clearly had been polished.
It was bright gold and the keyhole appeared jagged and vaguely reminded him of a lightning bolt. He scowled for a moment, his father would never have put this much attention into a door, let alone an entire house. His mother had lied to him and had clearly known about this house for a while. His suspicions were confirmed when he opened the door and saw the room.
The walls were black while the trimmings of his window and fan was a silvery chrome colour. He had his own bathroom, the only complaint he'd had about the last house because Lucy spent so much time in the one they'd shared.
The style of his room was also present there with black tiles and chrome taps. There was a large walk-in robe, which could hold everything he owned without any difficulty.
‘Excellent,’ Ethan thought looking around the space, ‘Now I can come out of the closet.’ He snorted at his feeble joke. He supposed it wasn’t really a joke. He was in the closet, mainly because of his father.
Unfortunately, Lucy too.
As much as he loved the idea of being out publicly, it wasn't an option. He had a feeling his mother would be happy as long as he was though. Until it was safe, he’d find himself lying, pretending to like girls to fit in with his football teammates. He'd never been in a relationship, unlike the boys who had bragged about it in the change rooms. Ethan examined the bathroom again. He studied his reflection, forcing himself to keep looking. He was slim and his jaw defined. He had a dark tan as he had spent a lot of time playing rugby and swimming. He was muscular, but the baggy clothes he wore hid his body. They made him weak, and perhaps he felt that way too. He couldn't look anymore and turned away with a shudder.
Whatever they thought, he had no issues with who he was and would have come out long ago if not for the dangers of his sister telling their father. He scowled darkly at the thought.
He gazed out and smiled at the view taking in the colourful field behind their block of land. Different patches of green erupted from the shades of brown and the flowers appeared to be glowing. There were groups of people scattered around the field, not bothered by the fact it was threatening to rain.
Ethan found himself watching two boys that were sitting together huddled under a tree. The shorter one pulled out a phone, and both boys looked at it for a moment. Then the taller one sprung to his feet, pulled the other up, kissed him for several moments before stroking his face and walking away.
Ethan tensed more out of surprise and stared at the floor waiting for the pang of longing and the flutters in his chest to subside. He sighed, silently wishing that he could find someone to share moments like that with. Ethan looked up from his thoughts and watched as the shorter boy stood there for a moment and watched until his friend was out of sight and then put his hood on and walked in the other direction through a side gate and vanished from Ethan's view.
His stomach rumbled and he bit his lip thoughtfully unsure of whether they had food yet. He headed downstairs and slid along the railing. He couldn’t help laughing as he gained speed and flew off the railing. He landed silently and slunk through the house in search of the kitchen.
His mum looked up from the cupboards as he poked his head into the doorway,
He stuck his tongue out, “Where's the food hidden?”
Jean put on a false look of shock, “You and your catlike senses didn't sniff it out yet?”
Ethan snorted, “I walked past it didn't I?”
She laughed, “Yep, those boxes sitting out in the hallway near the door have all the dry food in there. Your noodles should be out there somewhere.”
He sighed then walked back out and started to dig through the boxes.
Ten minutes later he let out a triumphant cheer and headed back into the kitchen. He paused looking around,
“Where's the kettle?”
Jean looked up in surprise then tapped her head softly, “I forgot, it's in the moving van.”
His face fell, “Surely you're joking.”
“Nope and don't call me Shirley.” He laughed at her joke and her eyes lit up with happiness.
He frowned at the cup of noodles in his hands and crushed it between his fingers, “Guess I'm eating them raw then.”
She winced, “Don't hurt your teeth doing that.”
He nodded and started munching them noisily. Deciding that it was unlikely that anyone would bother him, he kept exploring. Max had mentioned an indoor pool, which Ethan really wanted to test out so he headed towards the back of the house.
“Why are there so many rooms in this house?” He grumbled quietly. He stopped with a frown, once again he’d started talking to himself. It was happening more regularly and he couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling it gave him.
As he walked down a flight of stairs from the ground floor, he started thinking about his problems and he was not happy with the large list he soon compiled. He was weird, he knew that and everyone around him knew that his sense of humour was complicated and at times hugely inappropriate. He was socially awkward and problems seemed to follow him wherever he went. He scowled as the list grew longer, he paused and glared at the mirrored door in front of him. He knew where it led and he could feel the little sparks of anger flickering knowing his father had approved this door while being aware of his dislike of mirrors. He threw the door open and secretly hoped it would break which disappointingly it didn't and inside he found exactly what he'd been looking for.
Lights flickered on as he entered and then his jaw dropped, he forgot all about the door and stared in disbelief. The tiles on the floor were chequered black and gold, they gleamed in the light and screamed luxury. The pool appeared as though it was filled with blood due to the gorgeous red tiles that covered the bottom and sides of the pool.
He scowled knowing his mother and father would show this off to every guest they had including any potential friends he made, he silently vowed to never let any friends he made feel lessened by his parents. Then he noticed a screen embedded in the wall next to the pool and it lit up at his touch, this gave him control of the water's temperature and even the depth of the pool. He couldn't help himself and he laughed in delight and set the pool to warm and the screen beeped in acknowledgement estimating the water to have finished heating in two minutes.
Ethan stripped down to his underwear eagerly dropping his clothes in a pile at the side of the pool; For a moment he forgot and looked down at his body, the revulsion returned immediately reminding him why he never swam anymore. The screen beeped and he looked up letting the feeling fade, he slipped into the warming water and sighed contently. He estimated the pool to be around twelve metres long and he did fifteen laps before coming to a rest in the deep end of the pool where he floated gently just enjoying the sensation of the water surrounding him. He closed his eyes and thought back to the first race he had won, he was six and it had been the fifty-metre swimming event, his mum had come to watch but his dad had insisted that he was too busy with work. He remembered the disappointment he felt when he had told his dad he had won while bursting with excitement and his dad had just grunted and gone back to his work. Ethan kicked his legs slightly, feeling angry with himself for being upset. He would never be good enough for his father anyway just because he liked boys so there was no point getting upset about something as stupid as him not being proud about Ethan winning a stupid primary school swimming race.
”You couldn't wait to come in here could you?” Jean asked sounding amused
Ethan opened his eyes, pretended to smile then swam to the side, “It was way too good to pass up plus I wanted something to do.”
His mother smiled, “You should go to sleep soon.” she pointed out. When he did not say anything, she ruffled his hair. “I know but it's really nice in here.” He pleaded
She smiled again, “My sweet boy, it's getting late.”
He nodded in defeat and climbed out, letting the water drip from his body, and dried off with his clothes.
She frowned thoughtfully, “Do you think it is a good idea to keep working out? You have a lot of muscle and I don't want you to stunt your growth.”
He looked down at himself then raised an eyebrow, “I’m still not fit enough and I was one of the smallest guys on the footy team before we moved, I lost arm wrestles frequently. I’ve been the shortest kid I know my whole life,”
Jean bit her lip then shrugged, “Well, as long as you're happy.”
“I am.” He said hoping he sounded genuine.
Jean nodded then walked back to the door, waved once and then walked out; Ethan quickly changed the temperature of the pool back to cold and then hurried back to his room.
He pulled his pyjamas out of his various bags and then looked around for his pillow, he sighed remembering it was on the truck. He grabbed a few shirts and a jumper rolled them into a pile and dropped down onto the floor punching it into a comfortable shape. He grumpily thought about how nice it would be when his bed arrived and finally drifted off into a deep sleep.
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