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Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes

LXI: Yesteryears

Freshman year waxed long with changes, from Casey’s arrest, to Becks sudden conservative behavior, to Robbie and Tori Kel growing lukewarm and distant before finally drifting from one another over the holidays, to Casey’s two new half-siblings, to Aunt Laurel finding a man of worth (as she called him), to Brendon’s father being in and out of doctor’s appointments for heart checkups, to his mother’s increased volunteer work at the church.

His only constant, what he gravitated toward in the slow, dreary days between new school ebbing and flowing friendships, was art. He received a handheld device for Christmas with digital illustration apps already in place and though he never became proficient, he toyed around, detailing pachycephalosaurus feathers and giganotosaurus teeth.

The idea of becoming a tattoo artist cemented into his brain on January 7th after one particular comic where the tattoos rose to life off a man’s arm. The thought became a focus for the rest of the school year. He bought gel pens and watched streams of ink being done, then hid his obsession when his mom walked by because he didn’t want another lecture about how “desecrating your body is for the nonpious among us.”

Rumors abounded around the school that April, starting on Fool’s Day and picking up the ugly sort of steam that gossip accumulates. Brendon didn’t think much of it at first, for pronouns were used in place of proper names, lending an air of mystery to the whispered drama. And a Mr. Tallir wasn’t exactly on Brendon’s scan since the man was a senior teacher of American history and government.

But the comments grew lewder and less wary and Becky’s name began to spill around the edges, a couple boys using their hands to indicate larger breasts while their mouths spread cruel tales about an already-used-up part of her. Brendon sank against his locker and tried to not listen, but there’s something about trying to not listen that makes one’s ears that much more astute, picking up the sounds even a cat might notice.

When he saw Silvia next, the little girl thin with beautiful brown curls as she sat in her car seat legs aswinging, the car window open while Casey’s mother spoke in a clipped voice to Casey’s father, he couldn’t help the thought that she looked so much like the baby picture of Becks that still hung on the wall over Casey’s.

Like a bad secret, it festered and exploded that spring. Mr. Tallir lost his job. Social media fed deeply, vampiric in its lust. Casey’s mother moved an hour away, with Becky and Silvia in tow, consequently leaving Casey to choose every weekend between them and a Mustang GT.

The Mustang represented freedom, so it wasn’t a hard choice. A bad one, but not a hard one.


Next Chapter Coming Mar 31th!