I don't ever remember feeling as sad as I did that night I looked into Finn's window. I don't remember ever feeling that jealous of him, either.
I had tried to go to games with my dad, but they had never made any sense to me. I just have never seen the attraction of getting into tussles, throwing basketballs around, and just being boyish. He tried to talk to me about his opinions on players like he was doing just then, but I could never stay interested. Finn could, though, and not only that, but he could share his own.
I didn't know who I was kidding, really. My dad had the opportunity to be the father Finn never had. That was one thing, since it wasn't as if his real father did anything that was his fault to let him down just because he died, and it wasn't as if Finn had decided his father wasn't good enough. On the other hand, my dad was in that situation. It took him sixteen years of having to deal with me before he finally gave up and decided that Finn was the son he never had.
They had each other; they didn't need anyone else. But I was all alone.
I walked home as soon as possible before anyone noticed. When I finally got home and downstairs, I pulled out and old scrapbook from under my bed. There were some pictures of my dad in there, but mostly I filled it with all the pictures I could find of me and my mom. I only had eight years with her, but no matter what my dad says, she always understood me better. Also, she was the only one who cared about what I was interested in. She gave me advice every time I wanted to repaint my room, helped me out with my dancing routines, and had no problem listening to me go on and on about the latest celebrities. Not even my dad could feign interest in things like that, whether or not he claims to try. My mom just let me be who I was; she had no complaints. She didn't need to have "guy time" to enjoy my company.
Then again, I realized, neither did Mercedes.
I looked at the time. It was a quarter to twelve, so it wasn't necessarily that late. Still, I had to call her about three times before she finally picked up.
"Kurt?" she asked, exhausted. "What's going on?"
I panicked. I could tell I had woken her up, and I probably should have told her she could call back in the morning, but I kept talking anyway.
"Oh, nothing much," I said, trying to sound cheerful. "How was your day?"
"It was fine. I went to the mall with Tina. Look, I have to go to bed now, all right?" she snapped. "I'll talk to you in the morning." She hung up the phone abruptly.
I stared at the phone for a minute. I knew I shouldn't have annoyed her, but having her push me away was not going to cure my feelings. I called her back.
"Hello?" she grouched.
"What did you buy?" I asked. I was determined to have her talk to me, just for the sake of being distracted.
"Clothes, Kurt. We got clothes." She hung up again, and for some reason I impulsively called again. She didn't even say hello or ask who was calling, she just said, "And before you ask, we bought new green shirts for next week. Remember that number we're doing?"
"Oh, right. That one, yeah, I bought my outfit yesterday. I'm glad you chose that though, Mercedes. I really think the colors you chose fit with the dance and the mood of the song. Excellent choice."
"Thank you," Mercedes said, expressionless, knowing by that time that she probably wouldn't win the battle.
"Oh, totally," I said cheerfully. Then I went on about a couple of new styles I had seen in magazines, some cool and others not so much. I knew it wasn't what I wanted, though. What I really wanted was a typical Kurt-and-Mercedes conversation, with both of us laughing and enjoying ourselves, both of us just being ourselves and not please the other. But I knew deep down that I couldn't even have that at the moment. For the time being, I still had to be alone. I stopped talking.
"Kurt, are you still there?" Mercedes asked after a minute. "What were you saying about pleated skirts?"
"Nothing," I said. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to wake you."
Mercedes was silent for a moment. "Well, why did you then?"
"I couldn't sleep. I was bored," I lied.
"Are you sure?" Mercedes asked, and I cringed inside. Sometimes it was really uncomfortable to have a best friend who knew you too well.
"Well, I guess not," I said eventually. "But I did want to talk to you."
I shrugged, even though she couldn't see me. "What we usually talk about. Clothes, gossip, and celebrities. Stuff we're both interested in."
"Okay, and why do you feel the need to do this in the middle of the night?"
"Because there's no one else I can talk to about that," I admitted slowly.
"Oh?" Mercedes asked.
"Yeah," I went on. "And besides, there's no one home right now. Finn invited my dad over to his house. They're watching a basketball game right now."
Then, it clicked for Mercedes. "Oh, I get it," Mercedes said, her tone changing from tired and irritable to awake and more concerned. "Kurt, listen to me…"
"Oh, don't say it," I said, my voice cracking. "Don't tell me what he told me the other day, because it's not true. My father is never going to be as devoted and caring towards me as he is with Finn. Finn is the son he never had."
"You haven't been replaced, Kurt," Mercedes insisted. "Your dad may share some common interests with his new potential stepson, but Finn isn't the one he knew for sixteen years. Don't forget that."
"You're right; he did know me for sixteen years. And he spent—no, wasted—sixteen years of his life dragging himself to recitals and faking interest in whatever magazines I was reading. It was always such a burden. All he ever wanted was guy time; I may have faked interest in his sports games, but it was never the same as it was when he was with Finn just now. He must be so happy now. He's getting a perfect new wife and a perfect new stepson, and leaving his real son out in the cold."
Mercedes sighed. "Kurt, I swear to you that you'll get used to all of this. Just hang in there. You always have me to talk to, but your dad needs to know what's going on with you, too. I know you already talked to him once, but just try again, okay?"
"Sure, Mercedes," I said. "Goodnight." We hung up.
I looked at the clock; it was 12:30. I didn't really want to take Mercedes' final advice, but nonetheless I walked quietly upstairs just to see where he was. I found him in his room with the door open, talking to a picture of my mom.
"Man, Madison, I just can't believe how perfect my night was. I really like Finn, and although Kurt is my little boy, Finn is just so much fun to hang out with. We like all the same players and teams, and even when we were done watching the game we hung around for another half hour or so telling jokes. Finn has such an awesome sense of humor. Carole is very nice, even though I think about you and miss you every day. But if I do ever marry her, then Finn being my stepson will be a big bonus, too. For once in my life, I can finally have some guy time."
And, for the second time that night, I stood and watched my father from a distance, crying silently.