Chapter 7: ...tell me are you a christian boy, and i said, Man, I am tonight!...

The day that followed brought me a headache. I moaned and dragged my flesh to the funeral home, some Advil fighting the pounding in my head. I closed my eyes and got myself ready for another arduous six hours of the wake. I took just enough Valium, that morning. It proved to make standing in front of the masses much easier. But was the evening droned on, and the line died down, the drugs were wearing off - and my heart wept. The realization dawned on me that this would be the last time I'd see his face.

I knelt down in front of his body and I sat for forty-five minutes praying my last goodbyes. I cried... the tears were stinging and these horrible gasping sounds were escaping my throat - they were the only sounds I could make. The room was crowded with fans, friends, and family - and no one bothered me. For this I was glad. Glad that people were letting me have my last conversation with Zac alone, in peace.

The room was beginning to empty, and I stood up, trying to soak in how his face looked before turning away. I turned my back and stepped away as quickly as I could without looking back, because if I looked back - I knew I wouldn't want to leave. I stepped out of the funeral home and sat on the steps, burying my face in my hands. The picnicking fans were still there, but it was cold today, they were wearing coats as fresh snow sprinkled the ground. The cold made my tears feel like ice, and my hands were soon numb from holding onto the post on the railing of the steps.

I didn't care anymore who saw me, or who was going to document this. I wrapped my arms across my chest, in an insecure manner. I was scared of who I was going to be without him. I was scared that I wasn't sure who I was with him... and that I still wasn't without him. Zac, always so sure of everything... he was the only one... He was the one who was guiding me to me, the only one who saw into me.

I was so occupied with my dreams and memories that I hadn't noticed my Dad taking digital videos of me, staring solemnly into nothing.

"Dad..." My voice cracked, "What are you doing?"

"I've been taping all day..."

"Why would you want to remember something like this..." I turned my face down away from the camera.

He didn't answer, but moved the camera from my face to the scene around us. He hesitated slightly and then he stepped inside and when he came back out he said, "...Because I want to remember how much Zac meant to everyone."

I turned my face towards him, he was leaning against the side of the home, next to the door with his arms crossed and his video camera in his hand still, off now. I stood up and joined him pulling a pack of Marlboro's out of my pocket and lighting up.

"You shouldn't smoke, Taylor." He said.

"You sound like Zac," I said, sucking in the nicotine, realizing that was something I would have said to Zac about Dad.

"Zac would have put it out by now."

I exhaled into the sky, "You're right, he was very good at wasting my cigarettes."

He smiled, "He was only looking out for you..."

"I know," I said, looking at the cigarette between my fingers, "And so are you."

There was a silence and I dropped my cigarette, putting it out with my toe. I glanced at him and walked out into the crowd, shaking hands and saying hellos one last time before I went to hide in the car.

I fell asleep in the back of the limo while I waited for everyone to show up, and I woke up to a banging on the window. I focused my eyes and saw Annissa there. I sat up and opened the door and let her in.

"Hey," I said, softly.

"Hey," She said and sat down. "I... I... I wanted to see you and your Dad said you were in the car, he thought... um, so I decided I would check for you. See what was up..." She rambled.

"I'm okay, are you alright?" I said, taking note of her apparent nervousness.

"I-I'm fine... I just had a fight with my Dad, that's all, I'm used to it," She mumbled, "I'm staying with Shannon tonight."

I didn't ask her why she came to me. I didn't think I was that much of a consolation - so hurt inside myself. But deep down, I think I understood that sometimes... you just need a shoulder.

We had barely known each other for three days and were already growing to be each other's backbones, holding the other up when we were both going to fall. This, to me, was confusing, but yet comforting. I had never opened my heart so someone so easily, and I wasn't afraid.

I didn't know at the time what she was going to mean to me, but I felt something that day as I hugged her, and she cried softly into my jacket. I held her and stroked her hair - knowing that just listening was the only consolation she needed. My words would have been unsoothing, anyway. Lies like, "It'll be okay."

The door opened and the driver stepped into his seat.

"Are we leaving soon?"

"Yes."

I looked behind me and saw my family walking toward the car, and Isaac was the first to open the door. Annissa wiped her eyes and stepped out of the open door, "See you tomorrow, Taylor."

"See you," I responded, with soft hope. Isaac crawled in and shut the door behind him, and everyone else began filing in from the other side.

"Tay, What's up with you and that girl?"

"Nothing," I said, "She's just someone to talk to..."

"How do you know you can trust her?" He questioned, doubting. Always doubting.

"Because..." I said, "Because, she trusts me."

"Be careful, Tay," He said.

I crossed my arms, "Jesus Christ, Isaac... I can't make a new friend without your god damn approval? Can I? I haven't had a real friend in years!"

He looked hurt. I knew what he was thinking, What about us? What WAS "us" anyway? Our stupid band. He turned away from me and mumbled into his hand, "Just... Be careful, Tay."

I stared out the window for the rest of the ride. Memories floating about in between the trees and in the windows of houses. I closed my eyes - I tried to ignore them as we pulled up to the driveway of our own house.

I staggered dizzily inside and the world around me was spinning. I walked into my bedroom and felt my knees becoming weak. I was dizzy with memories, and the heartache was too strong. I pulled off my jacket, and my tie. I pulled at the button-down tux shirt I was wearing. Sweaty and dizzy and achy. I turned and with a soft click I was standing in the bathroom, I knelt down beside the toilet and cried while I vomited, my body convulsing. I turned away from the bowl when I was done and curled up. It was all hitting me now. Zac couldn't comfort me now. I felt... so hollow.

As the emotions pulsed through me I had to lean over the toilet again, shrills of pain clenched my stomach tightly and pushed its contents to my throat. I had never felt an emotion that wrenched through me like this one. And I never wanted to feel it again.

Once I was sure I was through I stood and tried to more calmly unbutton my shirt. My body still shaking, but the pain was getting tired of me. I was tired, and my muscles felt weak. I dropped the shirt on the floor of the bedroom when I walked out and Isaac was lying on his bed, still dressed, curled up.

I looked over at Zac's empty, untouched bed. My hand was on my hip and I kept wondering why we still shared a room. My eyes traveled back to Isaac, and then my empty bed, where the covers were still tossed up from the morning. I had never noticed how roomy this room was, and how empty it felt when there was no noise in the vast expansion of the Hanson household. I wished I still had my bunk, where I could put up a curtain and hide when I didn't want to be bothered. Zac would yank down my blanket (or whatever had been the curtain that day) and shout at me. I kept telling him that one day I'd have my own room and I wouldn't have to deal with his disturbances when I was trying to read.

I yanked off my slacks and I buried myself under the covers of my own bed, trying to shake that last memory out of my mind. A small whimpering sound escaped my throat, and I tried to hold it in as more followed. The whimpers became cries, and I had to force myself to stop them from escalating to screams and other horrifying sounds. I heard Isaac whimpering and stuttering too. I sat up and tromped my feet as I dragged my body weight to his bed. I sat down beside him, and sang over his shoulder,

"Don't cry, I'll be with you, don't cry, I'm by your side, don't cry... I'm by your... side."

"Taylor, shut up." He said, "You're so stupid."

I frowned. I didn't respond. I wasn't really offended by his comment, but by his reaction - He had been so ... rude lately. Angry, unemotional at most times, and snappy. I punched his shoulder and returned to my side of the room, flopping down on my bed.

He sat up and spoke to my back, I didn't want to hear him, anymore. "You know what, fuck you! You're no help! You fucking take half a bottle of Valium every day... I heard you throwing up in there, Taylor. Don't you start fucking BINGEING on me! I'm not going to be stuck here dealing with THIS!"

"Dealing with WHAT?"

"YOU!" He said, pointedly, "You and your FUCKING games. And...and... whoever that goddamned GIRL is! Go fuck HER too."

I sat up and picked up an empty glass from my nightstand and hurled it in his direction and it shattered behind him. He glared at me, but didn't say anything. I turned away and we didn't speak for the rest of the night.

After my shower he was asleep and I felt safe to write in my journal with peace and quiet. The only entries I had written in the past few days were short, three lined, and illegible thoughts. I hadn't had the energy to write much more.

Tonight the lines were filling in, and pages going by quickly. A list of reasons why I hated myself. Why Zac was balance and harmony. Why we were nothing. Dirt. Nothing. Anymore.

I'm sick of being nothing.