The Touch – Volume 1: The Void

Eastwood High Academy had a special party at the end of every school year. The school would bring in different carnival rides, as well as having different bands perform during the two-day festival. It just so happened that one of the groups that was set to perform was the Varsity Choir, and Natalie and Greg had made certain that my mom and dad knew all of the details except for one major one. I was going to be singing a few solos, and I didn’t want my mother to fuss over me anymore than she already had been. The choir was usually the last group to perform, and it was the same this year. Mrs. Grant, the choir teacher, had made it a point to keep as much of the concert performance a secret as possible. Not even Mr. Thompson, the school’s principal, knew what Mrs. Grant had planned this year.

After my mother and I had returned from our short little shopping spree around the neighborhood, my father spent a few minutes teasing me that I was going to be a ‘shopper’ just like my mother. At first, I had started apologizing profusely, thinking I had failed some kind of test that my parents had set for me, but my mother and father quickly allayed my fears by actually praising the different knick-knacks I had helped my mother buy. Once my mother and father finished with the attention they were giving me, my sister Sarah grabbed my arm and pulled me upstairs to her room. She set me on a small stool in front of her dresser while she stood behind me and played with my hair a little bit.

“Hmm,” she said rather thoughtfully as she twisted my blonde hair in her fingers. “I wonder what I can do. . .”

Sarah made a few more comments before she noticed the look of worry in my eyes.

“Don’t be scared, Zyan.” Sarah told me with a wide smile. “I’ve been doing hair for two years, now. I would never let anyone leave this house with bad hair!”

I giggled at her comment, and spent the next hour listening to Sarah tell me more about our family. My mother fawned over me the moment Sarah was finished with my hair and presented her masterpiece to the rest of the family. Our mother of course wanted pictures of us, and I blushed wildly as she directed my siblings and I into different poses.

“Lauren,” my father said in a pleasant tone. “We’re never going to make it to the concert if you don’t let Zyan finish getting ready.”

My mother frowned but laughed at my father’s comment before she urged me to get upstairs and get dressed.

“Don’t mess up your hair, Zyan!” Sarah called out from behind me.

“I’ll go help him,” Kyan shouted back as he raced up the stairs behind me. Once we were safely in my room, Kyan lowered his voice so nobody would overhear us. “Trust me, you’re going to need my help to keep Sarah from getting on your case.”

I giggled lightly as I studied the shiny silver shirt that Sarah had laid out for me on my bed with a pair of black khakis.

“You can handle the undergarments yourself,” Sarah had said with a giggle before she was finished with my hair. “But with my help, you’re going to be the best looking one at the concert tonight.”

I smiled at the memory before I grabbed my clothes and began to pull them on. Kyan helped me with the skintight shirt before we decided that I looked good enough to meet Sarah’s standards.

I was extremely nervous as Kyan led me back downstairs. It was the first time I had been this dressed up, and it was beginning to make me feel like I was trying to be more than who I really am. Kyan stopped at the bottom of the stairs and turned around to offer me his hand as some sort of reassurance that everything was going to be okay. Sarah was rather pleased with how I looked, and only made a few small changes to my outfit and hair before she deemed that we were ready to go. Then, it was a nearly a thirty-minute car ride to Eastwood High Academy for my last concert with the Varsity Choir. Sarah and Kyan kept my mind occupied as they talked about the different things they wanted to do with me over the summer. The biggest was the Fourth of July Festival that was held at Crater Lake every year. Kyan and Sarah seemed excited by the prospect of me being able to go to the festival with them; the first time that they would ever feel like a complete family.

“If we can get Uncle Derek and Aunt Abby to bring Hayley and Denly, then we’ll really be a complete family.” Sarah told me excitedly.

“I’m certain that your aunt and uncle would be more than willing to come out for the holiday, guys.” Our mom said from the front seat. “We can make a week of it, if you guys want?”

Sarah and Kyan both looked at me as if the decision was entirely mine, and I felt my cheeks flush red.

“It’s up to you, baby brother.” Kyan said with a smile as he bumped his shoulder into mine.

“Why me?” I asked nervously. “Why can’t you decide?”

“Kyan and I decided that since this is your first summer with us, Zyan, that you get to pick what we do all summer.” Sarah explained with a grin.

“But you’ve both been suggesting stuff already,” I started to say, but Sarah cut me off.

“Exactly, Zyan.” My sister said pointedly. “This summer is completely about you, and us getting to learn what makes you happy.”

“What if I don’t know what makes me happy?” I said so softly that even Kyan barely heard me.

“Then, we’ll figure it out together, baby brother.” Kyan said as he put his arm across my shoulder. “That’s what family does.”

I smiled softly and leaned into Kyan’s side for a moment.

“Thanks, Kyan.”

I texted Chad when we pulled up in front of the school, and he was quick to run out the front doors with a huge smile on his face. As soon as I was out of the SUV, Chad pulled me into a tight hug.

“Zach… Er, I mean, Zyan!” Chad blushed profusely as he quickly corrected his mistake. “This is going to take some time to get used to.”

I giggled lightly at his comment.

“It’s taking me a little bit to get used to as well,” I told him with a grin.

“Hi, Mr. And Mrs. Montgomery.” Chad greeted my parents before he greeted my brother and sister. “Zyan and I have to get backstage. Natalie and Greg wanted me to tell you that they saved you some seats up front in the auditorium.”

I groaned inwardly as I thought about the fact that my family was going to be in the front row to see me mess up. Chad had gotten me excused from the dress rehearsal due to my sudden change in parental status, but the practice I missed mostly covered the songs that they had done from before I joined the group. My only job during those songs was to play the piano. A job that I had made Natalie swear to keep quiet. Only her and Greg knew what my true involvement in the show was going to be. Of course they would, they were the ones I tortured with my constant practicing as I walked through their house. Besides, I was certain my mother would have lavished even more attention on me if she knew I was singing a few solos.

Kyan grabbed my hand and pulled me back towards him as the others walked ahead.

“Are you going to be okay?” My brother asked me in concern. “You’re pale.”

“Just nervous,” I told him. “I’ll be okay. Music is the one thing that has kept me from going off the deep end the last two years, Kyan. As long as mom and dad don’t embarrass me, I think I’ll make it through today.”

“Good luck with that, Zyan.” Kyan chided me before he threw his arms around me and hugged me tightly.

I glanced over to see that my mom and dad were talking to Chad and showing him pictures on their cellphones. I groaned as Chad caught my eye and winked at me.

“You won’t even need to worry about using your phone to record the show, Mrs. Montgomery.” Chad informed my mother as he walked with her towards the front door. “Mrs. Grant hired a studio to come in and record the concert. I’m in charge of distributing the copies, so I’ll make sure you get one.”

“Thanks, Chad.” My father said as he reached over and patted Chad’s shoulder. “Lauren and I appreciate that.”

“Anything for the parents of my favorite singer,” Chad said with a grin before he quickly shot me a look that made my cheeks flush red.

“I think he likes you, baby brother.” Kyan teased me with a giggle. “I think dad approves, too.”

 

I froze in my tracks as my brother’s words began to sink in.

He knew about me. My father knew one of the darkest secrets I kept. I felt my heart jump in my chest as a knot began to form in my throat. I felt myself beginning to panic as Kyan walked ahead of me, not realizing that I had stopped. The one question that reared its ugliness inside my head was one that had always haunted me. When would the beatings begin? When would my family disown me?

I saw them walking into the front doors. They were all smiling as they laughed and joked around with each other. They seemed perfect without me. The monster had always told me I was worthless, and that thought continuously swam through my mind, whether I wanted it to or not. I was forever under the belief that nobody would ever want me.

Suddenly, my brother was standing in front of me with a worried frown on his face. He wiped a stray tear from my cheek before he pulled me into a tight hug. I felt a wave of peace wash over me as Kyan held me. The one simple gesture kept me from spiraling out of control and blacking out again. It was not something I wanted to deal with before I was supposed to sing in front of people.

“You’re not worthless,” Kyan told me. “You mean everything to me. I would be dead if it wasn’t for you, Zyan.”

He had told me this once before, and I only half believed him at the time. He had come close to killing himself because he thought he was alone in this world, and it was me appearing in his head that kept him from taking the pills. With all of the emotion that he put into the statement; I had no choice but to believe my brother.

“I love you, Kyan.” I said in a whisper. “Sorry.”

“Stop apologizing for something that isn’t your fault,” he told me softly. “Nobody blames you for anything.”

I nodded once before we both heard Chad clear his throat.

“Zyan?” Chad asked as he stood off to the side. “Mrs. Grant needs us in the Choir Room for warmups.”

“Okay,” I said as I fought to keep my emotions under control. I smiled at Kyan. “Wish me luck.”

“You’re a Montgomery, Zyan.” Kyan said with a grin. “You’re programmed to succeed when it comes to the Arts.” Kyan motioned towards the door. “Let’s go before you get in trouble.”

“I think I’d rather get in trouble…”

“Not when it’s mom giving you shit for keeping her from seeing one of her children perform in a concert,” Kyan warned me as he led me towards the school.

“You’re not getting away from me that easily, Zyan.” My mother said when I tried to squeeze past her, only to be caught and pulled into a tight hug. She kissed my cheek fondly before my mother finally released me. “I love you, Zyan.”

“I love you too, mom.” I said quietly.

My father reached out to ruffle my hair, but I quickly pulled back with a pained expression on my face. Sarah had already warned me not to mess up her masterpiece because she needed it to last an hour longer than the concert. Whenever I tried to get her to tell me what was going on, Sarah would only say, “You’ll see soon enough, Zyan.”

“Don’t you dare touch his hair!” Sarah snapped at our father and he instantly pulled his hand back with a chuckle. “I did not spend over an hour working on his look just for you to run your fingers through it, old man!”

At first, I was shocked by how my sister was talking to my father, but it surprised me even more to hear my father begin to apologize to Sarah. I heard my mom laugh as my sister continued to berate my dad.

“Good luck, baby boy.” My mother told me as Chad grabbed my hand and started pulling me towards the school. We were obviously running late.

“Thanks, mom.” I called out over my shoulder before Chad and I disappeared through the doors of the school.

Mrs. Grant greeted me at the door to the choir room and had me slip into the black robes that the group normally wore for performances. The idea was to keep me hidden from sight until it came time for my first solo. Only then would the robe be pulled away to introduce me to the audience. The other members of the group were going to be the ones pulling away the pieces of the robe while all I had to do was sit there and sing. We had even practiced switching out pianists without missing any of the notes so the changeovers would go smoothly.

Mrs. Grant had us warm up for nearly ten-minutes before she decided that we were ready to head the stage. Before she even let us leave the room, Mrs. Grant had the ten of us gather around the podium.

“Guys,” the older woman began once we were all ready. “I would just like to take a moment to say that this group is one of the best groups I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with over the past few years. Chad, Samantha, and Jasmine,” Mrs. Grant smiled as she identified the three students. “You are all moving on to high school next year. Bigger and better things await all of you, but never forget the friends you are leaving behind, and remember to show the same compassion when it’s their turn to be the new kids in school. Zyan?”

I turned my attention to the teacher when she said my new name.

“You haven’t been with us very long, young man.” Mrs. Grant said with a warm smile. “But it was long enough for you to reawaken the reason inside all of us as to why we even do this. You have touched each of us from the first moment we heard you singing just a few months ago. I only wish that we would have found you sooner, so that your time with us didn’t have to be so short.”

“What do you mean, Mrs. Grant?” Hunter asked with a curious look in his green eyes. “Why did you call Zach ‘Zyan’?”

I felt myself blush, but Chad put his arm across my shoulder as Mrs. Grant took a moment to answer the question.

“So, most of you don’t know this, but the boy we know as Zachary Brody is really Zyan Montgomery.” Mrs. Grant explained with a smile. “Zyan was kidnapped when he was a child, and only found his family Friday after everyone got out of school.”

“The news reports were all wrong,” Paul said with a snort. “They weren’t even close.”

“So, this is our last time singing with Zyan?” Samantha asked.

“Yes, I’m afraid it is.” Mrs. Grant said. I heard the sadness in her voice, and it made me glance at her to see a tear falling from the corner of her hazel eyes. “Though, I wish we had more time with him.”

“Well, then let’s make this the best performance the Varsity Choir has ever had!” Heather said with a wide smile.

We all cheered together at Heather’s statement before we hugged and followed Mrs. Grant to the auditorium. Chad put his arm around my shoulders as we walked side by side down the hallway to the backstage entrance. We could hear the audience chatting amongst themselves as they waited for the show to begin. I felt myself beginning to grow nervous as the lights in the auditorium went dark and Mrs. Grant stepped out onto the stage. While she took her time introducing the choir, the remainder of us went and found our spots so we would be ready.

The moment the lights went dark, I made my way to the piano. There was a dim glow coming from the platform that the instrument was positioned on, giving me plenty of light to find my way. I settled myself on the bench and watched as Chad fell into his position with the remainder of the choir behind him. Mrs. Grant motioned from the wings for me to begin, so I started playing the opening notes to “Have a Little Faith in Me” by John Hiatt. Chad smiled softly as the spotlight faded up on him and he began to sing.

‘When the road gets dark’

‘And you can no longer see’

‘Just let me throw a spark’

‘And have a little faith in me’

Heather stepped up next to Chad as they started to sing together.

‘And when the tears you cry’

‘Are all you can believe’

‘Just give these loving arms a try’

‘And have a little faith in me’

The remainder of the group began to sing the chorus as the lights faded up to a bright blue color.

‘Have a little faith in me’

‘Have a little faith in me’

‘Have a little faith in me’

‘Oh, have a little faith in me…’

As the chorus faded out, I switched the song to the next one on the set list. Before I even had the opening chords finished, Hunter was standing center stage with a grin on his face.

‘You know a dream is like a river’

‘Ever changing as it flows’

‘And a dreamer is just a vessel’

‘That must follow where it goes’

‘Trying to learn from what’s behind you’

‘And never knowing what’s in store’

‘Makes each day a constant battle just to stay between the shores’

I played along as the entire group sang the chorus together before we switched to the next song. Sheldon settled into his solo as we did a faster song that I can’t even really remember. My nerves were beginning to take hold of me. MY solo was only two songs away now, and it would be how our part of the concert ended.The high school groups were taking over after our set was finished.

Chad sat down next to me at the piano as we played our short duet that was being used between the last two songs. This was how we were going to accomplish the transition without messing up any of the actual songs. Chad and I got into our duet as we kept purposely pushing and bumping into each other like we were trying to mess each other up. The song was easy enough, but it was rather difficult to take a single piano piece and turn it into a piece for two dueling pianists on the same instrument. With the help of Mrs. Grant, Chad and I managed to do just that. Chad even stood up at one point, and ripped the robe away from my body, revealing the silver shirt that Sarah had dressed me in. I blushed slightly as he sat back down and bumped me off of the bench with a dramatic flair. Chad hit the climax of our song, and I fought to hit my assigned keys while moving around my friend. I heard the audience giggle lightly as we started slapping at each other and the piano kept playing. Chad quickly sat back down and took over the instrument again with a nervous smile that made the audience laugh delightfully. I fake pouted and stomped away from the instrument as Chad hit the opening notes to my song.

‘I thought love was only true in fairy tales’

‘Meant for someone else but not for me’

‘Love was out to get me’

‘That’s the way it seemed’

‘Disappointment haunted all of my dreams’

Hunter and Sheldon ran up to join me on both sides as we sang the next few lines together.

‘Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer’

‘Not a trace of doubt in my mind’

‘I’m in love’

‘I’m a believer, I couldn’t leave her if I tried’

Samantha, Jasmine, and Deedra sang the next verse together before everybody joined in for the remainder of the song. The audience cheered excitedly when we were finished, and even gave us a standing ovation as Mrs. Grant had us all bow in a long line. I blushed deeply as I saw my mother and father, Natalie and Greg, Kyan, Sarah, Gavin, Uncle Geoff, and Toby; all cheering for me from the front row. Then, the stage lights faded out and we were quickly ushered off of the stage.

My family was waiting to pounce me the moment Mrs. Grant released us from the Choir Room. Toby was the first to get to me though as he leapt into my arms. He hugged me tightly as he giggled happily in my ear.

“I finally got dibs!” He told me in an excited whisper before he kissed my cheek.

“I love you too, Toby.” I told the boy that had been my foster brother.

“Did you hear that Natalie and Greg are going to adopt me?” He asked as a wide grin spread across his face. It was like someone had given him the power to be a ray of sunshine, and he used it in full force against me. He was perfectly happy with the idea of having a new family. A family that would never leave him behind again. I hugged Toby tightly as he continued to giggle happily.

“I’m getting a mommy and daddy, Zyan!” Toby stated. His excitement only getting worse.

“I’m really happy for you, Toby.” I told the boy quietly. “I know that Natalie and Greg will always love you more than anything.”

“Thanks, Zyan.”

I hugged Toby one more time before I finally put him back on his own feet. My mom didn’t miss the chance, and quickly had me held tightly in her embrace, making me blush a deep red color as Kyan, Gavin, and Sarah laughed at us. My father was the last one to hug me, and he held me tightly against him as he spoke only loud enough for me to hear.

“All of that came out of your tiny self?” He asked in disbelief. I nodded silently and let me gaze fall to the floor. My father put his finger under my chin and made me look into his green eyes. He smiled at me. “You have nothing to be ashamed of, Zyan. That was the best thing that I’ve heard in a very long time.”

I looked at him dubiously, but he nodded and smiled at me.

“I don’t lie, Zyan.” He reassured me. “I am so proud of you, baby boy. “Don’t ever hide that beautiful talent from us. I don’t think I will ever get enough of your voice.”

“Really?”

“Really, little one.” He said with a chuckle. “You gave us all goose bumps. Not even Sarah can do that.”

“It’s true, little brother.” Sarah added. “You are now the official singer of our family group.”

My father laughed as I blushed and pulled me into another quick hug.

“I love you, dad.” I said softly.

“I love you too, Zyan.” He replied before he released me from the embrace. “Now, I believe that your sister has something planned for you before you go over to Greg and Natalie’s for the night.”

I looked at Sarah nervously.

“It’s a surprise, Zyan.” She said with a smile. “I’m not saying anything else about it.”

I frowned before she held her hand out to me.

“It’s not even far from here, Zyan.” Sarah said. “We won’t even be leaving the building.” My sister looked thoughtful then. “It really is strange that I never saw you here before.” Then, she froze, and her eyes went wide. “Oh, crap. That was you!”

“Have you lost your mind again, Sarah?” Kyan teased her. “I’m pretty sure they’re going to charge you this time for a replacement.”

“No,” Sarah refused to look away from me. “I’ve heard you sing before! I was here at the middle school, visiting one of my professors, and there was someone singing in the Choir Room. It was you. . . If only I would have looked. . .”

“What’s wrong, Sarah?” Our mother asked gently.

“I could have brought Zyan home two months earlier,” Sarah admitted. “I was running late, though. I only had time to stand outside of the crowded doorway and listen to him sing. I would have known it was my own little brother. . .”

“Stop berating yourself, Sarah.” Kyan growled fiercely. “Zyan doesn’t need to hear this.”

Sarah suddenly forced herself to smile, and she hugged me.

“At least you’re here now, Zyan.” She said. “That’s all that matters.”

I looked up at her curiously before she held out her hand.

“Come on,” she instructed. “Let’s go introduce you to my professor.”

I took Sarah’s hand as she led me down the hallway to a part of the building I had never been too. I knew Eastwood High Academy had an Orchestra Department, but I had never taken any kind of interest in it.

“Is this a trick of some kind?” I asked Sarah as she turned several different corners. She stopped outside of a set of double doors with a grin on her face.

“I would never play a trick on you, Zyan.” Sarah told me honestly. “This is just a surprise.”

Then, my sister pulled open the door and led me into a huge theatre. It was much bigger than the stage in the middle school, and I couldn’t help but stare in amazement at the stage that was set up for a large-scale orchestra concert. Chairs filled the stage in a semi-circular pattern, with two rows of percussion instruments along the back. A shiny black grand piano sat just to the left of the director’s podium, and it took everything I had not run to the stage so I could play on it. I gazed at the piano longingly the entire way to the stage. Sarah giggled, and I forced myself to look away with a blush.

“What if I told you that you could play it, baby brother?” Sarah whispered in my ear as we reached the stairs that led to the stage.

I turned to see if she was teasing me, but she just motioned towards the piano and smiled.

“Seriously?” I asked as my heart began to race within my chest. This time it wasn’t from nerves or a pending panic attack. This time my heart was beating with the excitement at the idea that I would get to play a piano on such a huge stage.

“Seriously, Zyan.” My sister said. “Professor Waterson gave me permission for you to play it when I talked to him earlier.”

“Why though?” I asked her.

“Because, I asked him nicely if I could, Zyan.” Sarah said with a roll of her eyes. “Now, play the damned thing, brother.” Sarah laughed happily. “Kyan would be all over the piano if I let him in here.”

“Kyan hasn’t played it?”

“Nope,” she replied with a shrug. “He normally sits over to the side and fiddles with his guitar quietly.” Then, Sarah pointed towards another set of chairs. “I play violin over there.”

I glanced back towards the piano and the empty bench as Sarah gave me another gentle push that set my feet in motion. I sat on the wooden bench and studied the piece of music that was sitting on the piano but decided on what I really wanted to play. I took one glance out over the auditorium and realized that with the stage lights on, I couldn’t see anything beyond the first couple rows of empty chairs. I thought I heard a giggle come from the back of the empty room but decided that I was hearing things. Instead, I settled myself at the center and began playing the opening notes to the song I wanted to sing. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Sarah grabbing an instrument from a nearby chair and saw her tuck the violin up under her chin. I closed my eyes and let myself drift away with the feelings of the music.

‘When I find myself in time of trouble’

‘Mother Mary comes to me’

‘Speaking words of wisdom, let it be’

‘And in my hour of darkness’

‘She is standing right in front of me’

‘Speaking words of wisdom, let it be’

I smiled as Sarah sat down in an empty chair next to me and continued to play her violin with me.

‘Let it be, let it be, let it be, oh let it be’

‘Whisper words of wisdom, let it be’

‘And when the broken-hearted people living in the world agree’

‘There will be an answer, let it be’

‘For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see’

‘There will be an answer, let it be’

Sarah continued to play along with me until the last line of the chorus when she let her instrument drift away into silence.

‘Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be’

‘Whisper words of wisdom, let it be’

I let the piano fall into silence as several tears ran down my cheeks. I jumped slightly when Sarah threw her arms around me.

“That was beautiful, Zyan!” Sarah nearly squealed with delight.

“You helped,” I said nervously.

Sarah giggled and kissed the top of my head.

“We really have to teach you how to take some credit, Zyan.” Sarah teased me. “All I did was harmonize with you. We are definitely going to have to do this more often! It’s a good thing we have a piano at the house.”

“We do?” I asked excitedly.

Sarah glanced down at me in surprise.

“Haven’t you explored your own house yet, baby brother?”

I blushed and looked away from Sarah in embarrassment. How was I supposed to tell her that it didn’t really feel like home yet? Sarah grabbed my chin and forced me to look at her.

“That house is yours as much as it is mine, baby brother.” My sister reassured me. “I’ll personally give you the full tour tomorrow afternoon when you get home.

I smiled and leaned into my sister.

“Thanks for bringing me here, Sarah.” I said softly.

“It was my pleasure,” Sarah responded happily.

“It was mine, as well,” a deep bass voice called out from the darkness of the auditorium. I jumped and turned towards the sound, but Sarah kept me firmly pinned to her side so I couldn’t run. I squinted my eyes and saw a heavy-set man with glasses walking down the center aisle towards the stage. The man smiled as he stopped just in front of the piano. “I didn’t mean to startle you. My name is Professor George Waterson. You must be Zyan Montgomery.”

I nodded, speechless.

“The way you play is truly inspiring, Zyan.” The man told me. “I must be honest; I didn’t really expect that when Mrs. Grant was talking about you. For that, I need to ask for your forgiveness, young Zyan.”

I blushed as the man smiled at me and bowed his head humbly. Sarah smiled and poked me in my side.

“He doesn’t do that for just anyone, baby brother.” She told me just loud enough for me to hear.

“It’s okay,” I said softly, making the bald-headed man smiled at me.

“Sarah?” The man turned his attention to my sister.

“Yes, Professor Waterson?”

“Make sure that you bring your brother with you to our rehearsal on Tuesday. We have that dueling piano piece that I think he would be perfect for.”

“Yes, sir.” Sarah acknowledged, quickly. “I’ll ask my mom and dad about it on the way home.”

“Oh, and, Sarah?” The man was about to turn away but stopped and narrowed his eyes at my sibling.

“Yes, sir?”

“Make sure that you take your brother on a tour of that house of yours,” the man said in a demanding tone.

Sarah giggled as she grabbed my shoulder.

“Of course, Professor Waterson.” Sarah called after the man as he turned to leave. Then, she poked me in my side. “Come on. Let’s get you back to Natalie and Greg. Mom and dad are going to go crazy when they hear this news.”

“Really?” I asked nervously as Sarah led me towards one of the side doors.

“Absolutely, Zyan.” MY sister confirmed. “Mom was dumbfounded during the concert. You should have saw her face, baby brother. Lucky for you that you were on stage, so she couldn’t smother you the way that she wanted to do.”

I blushed as Sarah laughed.

“I like the hugs and kisses, though.” I said sheepishly.

“You’ll be over that by the end of the summer, just so you know.” Sarah said with a bright laugh. “Kyan and I have already discussed all of this over with mom and dad.”

“What do you mean?” I asked quietly.

“Well,” Sarah hesitated before she answered me. “Your clone and I discussed how to keep your from thinking that we were getting jealous because mom and dad were going to be paying a lot of attention to you for a while.”

I frowned at my sister’s words. I hadn’t even considered how it was going to make my brother and sister feel with mom and dad giving me so much attention. Sarah immediately lifted me into her arms.

“The only thing that we’re going to be jealous of is not being able to spend our own time with you, baby brother.” Sarah explained. “Kyan and I both agree on this. For Kyan, you’re the other half of him that has been missing for ten years. For me, you’re the quiet little brother that I get to spoil and love on. You used to follow me everywhere when you were a toddler, Zyan.” Her eyes went distant for a moment. “Mom and dad have been waiting just as long, though. The way you just seemed to vanish into thin air; it devastated mom. She hasn’t been the same since. After dad found you in Greg’s office, dad told me he thought he was dreaming when he saw you. He didn’t believe that it was really you standing there in that room. He couldn’t even bring himself to move to catch you when you fainted in front of him.” Sarah giggled for a moment. “You should see the way he watches you now, though.”

Sarah carried me the rest of the way back to where everyone was waiting for us out front.

“Well?” My mother asked hesitantly as her eyes darted between Sarah and myself.

“Professor Waterson wants to see him at rehearsal on Tuesday,” Sarah said happily.

I blushed as my mother immediately took me from Sarah and hugged me tightly with a squeal of delight. She praised me continuously until my father begged for a chance to hug his musical protege. Then, Sarah pulled me away from my father so she could get a turn to hug me.

“Remember what I said, Zyan.” She whispered as she turned away from the others. “Mom and dad need as much time with you as you need with them. Kyan and I both understand, and we only want you to get better. Mom and dad are more than welcome to monopolize your time if they want to. Okay?”

I smiled and hugged my sister tightly.

“I love you, Sarah.” I whispered.

I heard her gasp and sniffle as she rubbed my back.

“Now, I see why mom and dad have a hard time letting you go, baby brother.” She said quietly. “All it took was three little words, and you’ve burrowed your precious way into my heart like you never even left. I love you too, Zyan. More than you could ever imagine.”

 

Songs that were referenced during this chapter. . .

(Have a Little Faith in Me – John Hiatt)

(The River – Garth Brooks)

(I’m a Believer – Monkees)

(Let it Be – Beatles)

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