Ian Drake. Silas hadn’t seen his brother in almost eight years, not since Ian had been evicted from their home for refusing to become a missionary for the church. It was the way many Mormon families worked, though not all were as strict as theirs had been. Ian had been Silas’ best friend up until Silas turned eight and suddenly Ian was gone without even leaving a note.
At first Silas hadn’t been told the truth. His parents had told the rest of the kids that Ian had decided to leave, but his older sister, Emma, had confided in him when he turned twelve. She was twenty at the time she told him, and had been the eldest after Ian had been disowned. They had two siblings between them, Spencer and Rebecca, but Silas had latched onto Emma after Ian had left, and when she thought he was old enough to be told the truth she had done so.
Emma had said that Ian decided to leave the church and their parents had done what they had called ‘tough love', making it clear that if he wasn’t going to be part of the church and live by church standards then he was going to have to leave. Ian had told them to go fuck themselves and had left the next day. Only Emma, who had been sixteen at the time that Ian left, had been told what had really happened to help soften the blow with the other children. She had done her best, but as time wore on she couldn’t take the fact that her parents never spoke about Ian or what happened.
Silas had been traumatized by the news, especially considering his own doubts that had been rolling around in his head. His confusion had been made much more complicated by Emma’s revelation, though she had told him more as a warning than for any other reason. She could see that he was beginning to change and think in ways that their parents would not approve of, and she had told him that if he wasn’t careful he might end up suffering the same fate as Ian had. The prospect of being tossed out on the street was one Silas hadn’t liked and his perspective had begun to change.
At twelve Silas became a boy scout, something that his parents approved of without question, and in a desperate need to prove himself to them he focused on his scouting more than anything else, putting it above even his social life. He completely lost himself to the program; learning how to survive in the wilderness was something that he excelled at, and the scouting program noticed. He was nominated to join The Order of the Arrow, the scouting elite, and they had pulled him aside one night at a weeklong summer camp and had allowed him to join their order. His parents had been proud of him then, and even prouder when he managed to finish his eagle at fourteen.
But there was something he had been unable to reconcile within himself. Scouting had taught him to be honest. He had been unable to deny his feelings for one of the other boys in his troop, and in the process of wanting to be true to himself he had ended up telling the boy of his feelings. While he had asked the boy to keep it a secret, his friend ended up telling the troop leader, which brought the matter to his parents’ attention.
His parents had been livid and asked him to deny his feelings, and in that moment he had been faced with a dilemma that he had hoped he would never have to endure. He knew that if he told his parents the truth then they would disown him and kick him out, just as they had with Ian. At the same time he knew that if he lied to himself and denied his feelings, then he would not be being honest. As his parents leaned into him, asking him to tell the truth, he had finally broken down in tears. He hated himself for it, but he lied to them and said that everything that had been said about him wasn’t true. He told them that he had never come on to the boy in his troop and it was all a lie.
His parents thanked him for being honest, though he had never felt sicker, and then they had left him alone. That night he had been so traumatized by what he had done that he knew he had to come clean. He wrote out a letter explaining everything, and then packed up his survival gear before leaving the house to make it easy on his parents.
Adelaide had shown up an hour later. She had started to break free of the yard when she saw him leaving. Like every dog seems to know the mood of the boy she loves, Adelaide had sensed that he wasn’t coming back and went to great lengths to catch up to him. She had stuck with him ever since, and though it was harder to take care of a second mouth to feed he had never regretted having her with him. She had been far more help to him than a hindrance, and it had certainly been less lonely than it would have been had she not been there.
The next year and a half had been spent either in the wilderness or working odd jobs to pay for basic necessities. No matter what, he always made sure to move on from an area after a few months at the most. People began to ask questions after he spent too long in their company because they tended to think that they were entitled to know things about him. He found that idea laughable, but it was also dangerous.
This was the first time since he left home that he knew someone in advance of his arrival. That it was his brother, Ian, was something Silas didn’t know how to deal with. Even though he had learned the true reason why Ian had left, he still held a great deal of resentment for the fact that Ian had never tried to contact him. That fact alone was reason enough for Silas to want to keep his distance from Ian.
But despite all that he still found himself looking over his shoulder as he continued toward the edge of town, half hoping that he would catch some sign of his brother still chasing him. When he left the diner Ian had come after him, but Silas was quicker and dressed in clothing that allowed him to move a lot faster than his brother’s slacks and dress shoes had allowed. Silas had finally managed to lose him several blocks later, but he kept his pace, ensuring that he put as much distance between himself and Ian as possible.
He only stopped when he ran out of breath, pulling up short in front of a house with a white picket fence that surrounded the yard. He placed his hand against the top of the fence and leaned into it, breathing heavily. He removed his beanie and ran his fingers through his hair as he looked back the way he had come. It was later in the day now, and people were starting to get up and move about. He had been forced to dodge around cars several times, and had almost run into the paperboy as he crossed in front of Silas on his bicycle.
From the look of it he only had a few more blocks to go before he reached the woods, and then he knew he’d be free. No one would be able to catch him once he made it there. He looked down to Adelaide who was watching him curiously, he laughed softly and reached down to scratch behind her ears. “Thanks for coming with me, girl,” Silas said as he stared into her eyes.
The sound of a door creaking open drew his attention to the house he was standing in front of. There was a black-haired girl watching him with cautious blue eyes as she stepped out and reached for the newspaper on her front porch. She was dressed in a pink bathrobe over a set of blue pajamas. She was about his age, and attractive as far as Silas could tell. He tried to avoid making her feel any more uncomfortable by looking away from her but she kept her eyes on him, and her lack of attention caused her to lose her balance. As she caught herself against the door, her slipper-covered foot shuffled against the newspaper and sent it rolling off the porch to land on her shoveled walk several feet away.
The girl giggled in embarrassment and then covered her mouth as Silas looked at her again. She stepped outside quickly and moved down the walk to grab the paper. Silas waved and started walking away, whistling to get Adelaide to follow him. He only made it a few steps before he heard a quiet voice say, “Um . . . hi.”
Silas turned back toward the girl and smiled at her using the same smile he had used on Jenny in the diner. The girl blushed and looked down as Silas replied, “Hey, my name is Drake. What’s yours?”
“Chelsea,” the girl answered with another giggle. “Are you new? Did you just move in?”
“My family is just here for the spring,” Silas replied casually. “It’s a cold morning, what are you doing outside?” He eyed the paper in her hands and then looked back up to her eyes.
“Talking to an attractive boy with a dog,” Chelsea answered with sudden confidence. She walked up to the fence and crouched down, reaching forward slowly with her hand. “Can I pet her?” She asked before she committed to the act. Silas nodded and she reached through the slats in the fence and let Adelaide get her scent before scratching the dog behind the ears.
“I hate to burst your bubble, but I’m afraid that this attractive boy doesn’t swing your way,” Silas answered honestly. Chelsea stiffened, her hand pausing briefly. Adelaide whimpered and Chelsea slowly returned to normal as she started scratching her again. When she straightened from her crouch she moved her hand to her chest, where she withdrew a necklace from underneath her pajamas. She clutched it in her fingers as she stared forward, not seeming to notice where she was.
“Sorry, did I say something wrong?” Silas asked, and Chelsea blinked before she smiled at him and shook her head.
“No, it’s just . . .” Chelsea began and then interrupted her words with a sigh. She met Silas’ eyes and showed him the crucifix that she was holding in her hand as she rolled her eyes. “This town has two kinds of people in it, those that belong to The Church of Light and Truth on the other side of town, and those that don’t. My family belongs to the church, though sometimes I wish we didn’t.”
“I have my fair share of experience with a church that doesn’t accept me,” Silas replied with a smirk. Chelsea seemed distracted again and Silas sighed and took a step back from the fence. “I should be going . . .”
“Hey, be careful while you’re here,” Chelsea said, interrupting him. “I wouldn’t be as vocal about being . . . um . . .” She paused uncertainly as if not sure what to call him.
“Gay?” Silas asked with a roll of his eyes. “You know you can say it right?”
“Yes, g-gay,” Chelsea replied with a nod. “I’m sorry, Drake. This is the first time I’ve ever talked about this with anyone that wasn’t yelling at me about how wrong it was. If it’s any consolation, I don’t believe what the pastor says. He’s a total…” She hesitated as if she wanted to say something harsher but instead she finished with, “Jerk.”
“Anyway, it was nice meeting you, Chelsea,” Silas said with a nod and a forced smile. “Come on Addy. Let’s go.”
He made it several feet down the sidewalk before Chelsea called out to him, “Drake!” He turned and she smiled and said, “It was nice to meet you too. I hope you and your family enjoy your stay for however long you’re here. If you’re interested we should go grab lunch sometime. Can I give you my number?”
Silas turned and patted his pockets and shook his head. “Sorry, I don’t have a phone.”
“Then how about you just meet me today at three-o-clock at the corner of Main and Third?” Chelsea said with a grin. Silas chuckled and held his hands up helplessly.
“Can’t be today, but I can do tomorrow. You’re not going to try to turn me straight, are you?’ Silas asked with a smirk.
“No, I know that does no good,” Chelsea replied with a sigh. “Too bad, really. I do think you're cute, but I also find you interesting, and that’s the reason I want to meet you. Is that something we could do?”
Silas nodded and turned around again. “Main and Third at three,” he called over his shoulder. “I’ll be there. Hope it’s worth the cost.”
“I’ll see you then!” Chelsea called back. Silas kept walking until he heard the front door to Chelsea’s house close, and then he turned to look back. She was gone, and Silas was left to ponder what had just happened. He didn’t know why he had agreed to meet her, and he wasn’t sure that he was going to keep the appointment either.
As important as honesty had once been to him its importance had dwindled over his time on the streets. Lying sometimes helped him survive, and that was his number one goal. But still, there was no reason not to meet with Chelsea, other than the possibility that he might run into Ian again. He didn’t know how Ian would react, however, and if his brother was still attempting to look for him. If local law enforcement were to become involved in any way, he’d have a serious problem on his hands.
Perhaps it was better not to go to lunch after all.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Silas finally made it into the woods by seven-forty in the morning, and he breathed a sigh of relief as the town began to disappear from sight behind the trees. He felt safe again, and knew that provided he kept a low profile he wouldn’t have much to worry about. Ian would eventually give up on looking for him, and then he could risk making his way back to the highway and find a trucker to take him away.
Until he was certain that the law wasn’t looking for him, however, he needed to have somewhere to sleep, and at least in that regard he had the advantage of experience. There was a dirt road that continued through the woods where the pavement ended, but Silas took the first trail that he came to that took him off of the road. The road would take him up to cabins and cottages that were likely as not occupied and he wanted to get away from people at all costs.
The trail was well used, likely by both hikers and bicyclists, and that was not what he wanted either, and as soon as he found a lesser used trail that branched off the first he took it. He continued this process, keeping his direction both north and west as well as he possibly could with the trails available until he found himself on a game trail that began to take him much deeper into the woods.
He hiked for nearly two hours, putting as much distance as he could between the town as he could while leaving enough daylight to prepare his campsite properly, but once he heard the gurgling of a small stream in the distance he knew he was getting close. He now had a water source, and where there was water there was also food; animals had to drink sometime, and rabbits were easy enough to snare for someone who knew what they were doing.
The stream came into sight, a foot or two deep at the most by his best estimation, and roughly ten feet in width where the trail intersected it. The water was running fairly quickly, a result of the snow melting in the spring temperatures, and Silas took the time to choose which stones he would use to cross on before he started across. Adelaide followed his movements exactly as he started across, making sure to keep his balance and take his time to avoid falling into the stream. The last thing he needed to do was add hypothermia to his list of dangers to watch out for.
When he reached the other side he began to look for a campsite, and found a sturdy tree with enough open ground beside it that he’d have room to construct a shelter leaning against it. He whistled and Adelaide’s ears perked up. “Okay, girl,” Silas said with a grin, “Get me some sticks.”
Adelaide dashed into the nearby brush, and Silas looked around for the first log to use in the construction of his lean-to. He saw one in the distance that with a little manipulation could work well and then dragged it over to the tree he was using as his base. He slid his backpack off and opened it, withdrawing a small hacksaw and a hatchet and then set to work on the log.
Over the next few minutes Adelaide returned dragging large branches in her mouth and adding them to a pile next to Silas. He thanked her for every single one, and she happily kept going until he asked her to stop. He picked up the log he had been working on and wedged it against the tree. He then set about leaning the branches that Adelaide had brought him up against the log creating angled walls and a cavity between them, leaving an entrance in the side facing the stream.
He paused to eat a protein bar, and tossed a dog biscuit to Adelaide who ate it up eagerly. He hadn’t realized how hungry he was until he had the food in his mouth, but he paced himself and ate it slowly anyway. The time he had spent with the band had been good to him and he had eaten quite regularly, though now he was paying the price of that temporary opulence. He would have to acclimate himself to eating less again, and until he did he’d be feeling hungry a lot more often.
“I’m almost done,” Silas said to Adelaide, and nodding toward the structure. “I think this one will be pretty good. Our blankets are still in pretty good condition, too.”
Adelaide looked at him in confusion and Silas chuckled before taking another bite of his protein bar, chewing it slowly. He dug into his bag again, withdrawing a plastic container that held two halves of a soda can and a bottle of rubbing alcohol. He opened the container and withdrew the can, sliding the top which had been indented at regular intervals, into the bottom and then setting it on a level place on the ground. He pulled a small pot from his backpack and walked toward the stream, filling the pot with water and then set it on a rock as he opened the bottle of rubbing alcohol and poured some into the soda can. He then withdrew a lighter from his pocket and produced a flame, then lit the alcohol within the soda can. The alcohol roared to life but was contained within the soda can, and he placed the pot on top of the can. Although the center flame was smothered, the flames continued to rise through the indentations to hit the sides of the pot, heating it and the water inside. He waited for the water to boil before he removed the pot from the heat and then smothered the entire makeshift stove with the plastic container that normally held it. The flame died instantly, and Silas went through the process of pouring the remaining alcohol back in the bottle and then dismantling the stove and putting it away as the water cooled.
“The water’s safe now,” Silas said to Adelaide and nodding to the pot. “Drink up.”
As Adelaide drank, Silas withdrew his own water bottle from his backpack and took a long drink. His bottle was almost empty, and his spare already was, which meant he’d be spending the rest of the day boiling water to replenish his supply. He cursed himself for not checking his water level before he put the stove away, but decided he’d worry about it later. For the moment he had a shelter to finish, and then he’d have to set some snares and hope that he caught something by the morning.
Adelaide looked up at him when she had finished her drink, sensing that something was going through his head, but he smiled at her and tried to force the anxiety away as he did every night. “We’re going to be fine, girl,” He said as he crouched in front of her and scratched her behind the ears. “Don’t worry about me. We’ll get through this, one way or another.”
She barked at him, and he laughed at the sound. Even though he knew that she didn’t understand the words he said, she had understood the emotion behind it. Somehow she always knew, and she was the first one to tell him that he was full of bullshit. It was true that they would survive, but whether or not they were going to be fine was a different matter altogether. He hadn’t been fine in a long time, and he wasn’t sure he ever would be again.
Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed chapter 2. What will come of the friendship between Silas and Chelsea? Keep reading and find out.
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Thanks for reading. Chapter 3 will bring some familiar faces and hopefully they'll be welcome.