34 | Meth & Envy

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HE FURROWED HIS FOREHEAD. "You really want to know?"

Ah, hell yeah. "If it's not too hard for you."

"They were gutted and mutilated in our farmhouse while my brother and I were at the movies," he said with a shudder, eyes glossy. "Apparently, our neighbors were high on meth and wanted money."

"Shit. That sucks."

"My brother and I got a huge inheritance and decided to live our best lives. We wanted our parents to be proud of us," he said, nodding. "To do that, I promised to be happy and be what I always wanted." He shook his head. "I know it sounds stupid — to want to be perfect and be like the people we see in the media. In real life, they're just everyday people, but I was six and didn't really know any better," he said. "But I lost weight and changed my personality and did things so that people would like me. I wasn't being my true self, but I had friends, money and beauty, so that's all that mattered, right?"

"Were you happy?"

"At first, but it sucks pretending to be someone else. It takes a toll on you after awhile," he said, staring at me. "I feel like I can never just be me. And I've been pretending for so many years now that I don't even know how to be me." He laughed. "This sounds stupid, doesn't it? How do you not know how to be yourself?"

"It's not stupid at all," I said, turning away. Damn. He was just like me. Hiding away, constantly being something that he really wasn't. We had different motives for doing it but the same end game.

And his parents were murdered, just like mine.

Was this why we had the matching chess pieces? Because we had similar backgrounds and hang ups? I did have to admit though that it did give me comfort to know what I wasn't the only one struggling with something like this. I wouldn't tell him that though. Not now.

"It feels stupid," he said, sniffling, eyes averted.

I snuggled closer to him, placing my head on his shoulder before grabbing his hand. My filthy fingers traced lines in the palm of his bloody hand. "It's not. My godfather used to tell me that people will do the strangest things to survive. Other people might not understand why we do those things, but we do and that's all that matters," I said, peering up at him.

He looked down at me, eyes never leaving my face. "I guess that's true," he said.

"Your parents were murdered, and you did what made sense to you because it helped you cope with their deaths, right?"

His bright blue eyes turned cloudy, tears forming in the corners. "Yeah," he stammered, voice soft like cotton candy.

"So don't beat yourself up about it, okay? You wanted to live your best life, right? It's not too late." It might be since we could die at any minute, but he didn't need to hear that right now.

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