Hello, beautiful people, it's Peytona! Happy Thanksgiving!! I am so grateful for all of you taking the time to read my blog posts. It means the world to me to have your support. I'm so full from eating. What did you do to celebrate Thanksgiving? Post in the comments! I was disappointed that the Redskins didn't win tonight's game, but that's okay. There's always next time.
Okay here's the next chapter of The Mutates. Enjoy!
...One Step Closer to Home...
TJ made it to my place the following night. Waiting for his arrival was a bit nerve racking since I hadn’t seen him in over three years. It was extremely helpful that Vinny and the kids were there. They helped me to breathe and stay sane. When the doorbell rang, I think I almost fainted.
“I’ll go answer the door,” Vinny offered, giving me a comforting pat on the shoulder.
“It’s gonna be okay,” Lola smiled at me. She held my hand and gave it a gentle squeeze.
“Thanks, princess,” I said to her, feeling better already. She blushed.
My heart skipped a beat when I heard my brother’s voice. I almost felt tears threatening to come from just the sound of it. I hadn’t heard it with my own ears for so long, but I instantly knew it. My brother. I found myself standing and then walking over to the door. His face came into view and he smiled. I started sobbing as I embraced him. My big brother.
“Long time, little brother,” his deep voice said as he hugged me back.
“Long time, TJ,” I sobbed. I pulled away to really look at him. He nearly looked the same: shaggy hair, mustache and beard, warm eyes even in the dark. My big brother.
“Are you gonna let me in or am I gonna have to sleep outside?” he chuckled, giving my shoulders one final squeeze.
“Yeah, yeah, come in,” I said, taking his bag from him and ushering him in.
“Thanks for opening the door, Vin. You look good,” TJ greeted, giving him a bro hug.
“Likewise, man. You haven’t aged a day,” Vinny replied.
“So are these the kids you’ve talked so emphatically about?” TJ asked, walking up to them.
“Yep, that’s them,” I said, placing his bag by the stairs.
“I’m Tyler,” Tyler greeted, extending a hand out to him.
“Pleased to meet you, Tyler,” TJ said, shaking his hand. “Nice grip ya got there.”
Ty chuckled saying, “Thanks.”
“I’m Lola,” Lola smiled shyly, waving.
“Oh, so you’re Lola,” he said, giving me a funny look. “I heard so much about you.” He took her hand in his and kissed it gingerly. “Thank you for saving my little brother. That was very brave of you.”
She blushed immensely. “Thank you,” she murmured.
“You must be Andy and you must be Samy, right? Pleasure to meet both of you,” TJ greeted, shaking Andy’s hand and kissing Samy’s.
“You seem like the exact opposite of Bran,” Samy remarked, looking at me and him. “You seem like you go out and wrestle bears while Bran looks like the next Tony Stark.”
That had us laughing. “Thank you for the compliment,” TJ grinned, bowing his head.
“So did Bran tell you about us?” Tyler asked.
“He did,” he answered, looking at them with an expression I was familiar with when it came to them: sympathy. “I’m so sorry.”
“Thank you,” he smiled. “We appreciate that you haven’t screamed or anything.” Another round of laughter came over us and after TJ got settled, we all watched a movie together. The kids seemed to really like him and just like Vinny had, TJ couldn’t help but liking them either. As I was making my brother’s bed, he said as much to me.
“They’re really great,” I agreed.
“I’m glad I came,” TJ said and I could hear in his voice that he meant more than just seeing the kids. “Bran,” he started.
“We have time, ya know,” I cut in, hoping we wouldn’t have to go there just yet. “I mean, you just got here.”
“I know,” he sighed, “but you know how much I hate when there’s an elephant in the room, especially one that’s been between us for three years.”
“Yeah,” I sighed, too, rubbing my face and sitting down on my bed. “Alright, let’s get it over with.”
He laughed at me. “Don’t be so tense, little brother.” I could feel some of that old anger boiling up at his nonchalance. I envied him that. He was always able to laugh off everything.
“What? It’s been three years since I saw you. How can you laugh about this?” I demanded.
“Because you called me,” he replied, becoming somber, “which is something I thought would never happen. You were so vehement about not ever wanting to see or hear from me. I really did think our relationship was over. I’m indebted to those kids more than they know.” He sat beside me. “I’m sorry. I know we apologized a lot the other night, but I really do mean it. I… I never really accepted their death, ya know?” He ran a hand through his hair. “It really broke me. I laughed it off and called us orphans to hide from the pain of it all. I drank a lot, too, which didn’t help any either. I’m sorry I put you through that.”
“I’m sorry for hating you,” I said, looking down at my hands. “I owe those kids, too. If they hadn’t come up when they did… I don’t think I’d be talking to you now. They helped me to see how wasteful it is to hate. They’re inspiring.”
“Yeah, they are. It makes me think that they were brought to you so we could repair our relationship,” he said. Then he chuckled, “God is funny that way.”
“Am I hearing that correctly?” I asked incredulously, leaning back to look at him. “Did you just mention God?”
He laughed, pushing me over. “Even someone like me and can be saved or so I’ve been told.”
“So you found God, huh?”
“I did actually. In the most random place you could possibly find Him. A public bathroom.”
I had to laugh at the image that came to mind. “Wow, okay, you have to tell me this story.”
“Well, I was actually about to leave the bathroom when this guy starts up a conversation with me. He asked me about my thoughts on the Bible and God. I told him, thinking that if he knew I didn’t believe in a higher power, he’d leave me alone. Nope. He actually pulled out his Bible and started sharing Scripture with me. I was stunned. I started laughing.”
“That sounds like you,” I smiled.
“I know right? Well, I stood there for who knows how long as he shared with me and then he invited me to his bible talk. I think I was so amazed by his boldness that I actually said yes. Little did I know that going would put me on a path that would change everything I knew. I went and… it was the most impactful thing I had ever gone to.” His eyes looked distant as he spoke. There was a certain light in his eyes. “I had never seen such a diverse group of people that just loved each other. They were so nice and attentive and… it blew me away. I couldn’t believe complete strangers could love each other like this. And they showed that love to me. I remember when I went home, all I could do was sit and think about what I just experienced. I thought, ‘Is this what God is?’ The guy that reached out to me, his name is Anthony, called me and asked if I’d like to study the Bible with him. I told him yes. And well…” he smiled warmly, “the rest is history. I got baptized a year ago and I haven’t turned back since.”
“Wow,” was all I could say. He seemed different. I could see it from the moment he came in.