How a child could do something like this, I would never understand. Each picture, each hand-drawn image, depicted a person, dismembered and torn apart with gruesome expressions of utter fear and agony burned into their faces. Some were woman, their throats torn and fingers torn from their sockets, lacerations staining their clothes. Some were men, naked and limbless or with their eyes gouged out. All of them were violent, bloody scenes of the dead, those killed in the most terrifying and terrible of ways.
Zacky was crying, sobs wracking his tiny body. I tore my eyes from the heart-wrenching pictures on the walls to see he was staring at the ground, one of his hands clutching onto mine as though for dear life, the other wrapped around himself as he tried to hold himself together. I tried to pull my hand from his, but he refused to let it go, shaking his head and gasping out words I couldn't understand.
You promised you wouldn't hate him.
It was a simple fact. He had clearly asked me to swear that no matter what I wouldn't hate him, because I was sure he knew most people would. There were a lot of things I regret doing in my life, a lot of things I wish I could change. But there's one thing I pride myself on, and that's my word. Something I never go back on.
I pulled him close to me and wrapped my arms around him. He turned and began to cry into my neck, shivering, and whispering, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry Brian. I'm sorry I'm a messed up mental freak. I'm sorry... I'm s-so sorry..."
I stroked his hair gently, trying very hard not to look at the pictures, "Shh, you aren't a mental freak. You're different, and that's okay. Calm down Zacky. Let's go back downstairs, okay? Shh, it's okay..."
I released his body, but for a moment, he clung to me. I squeezed his hand reassuringly, trying to convince him I didn't hate him, before turning back towards the door and leading him out, back down the dark hallway, back down the long, winding staircase, and back onto the first floor landing.
Rather than taking me back to the play room, he pulled me down the other way, leading me to a large, spacious room with a fluffy looking couch in the middle and a plasma screen T.V across the room. Zacky pulled me over to the couch and pushed me onto it, sitting in my lap and snuggling against me. Wasn't this kid a bit old for this?
I rather awkwardly patted his head, "See, you're okay. It's alright. I promised I wouldn't hate you, and I don't."
"Th-thank you so much... I'm sorry Brian. I'm so sorry that I showed you..." I could feel his tears against my skin.
I really didn't know what to say to him. What are you supposed to tell a boy you just met who shows you his drawings of gory dead people then breaks down apologizing for being insane? I just rubbed his back gently, hoping he'd be okay. Other than the whole...pictures thing, he really did seem like a cool kid.
"Have you eaten dinner yet?" I whispered to him.
He mumbled a soft, "No," against my skin before looking up at me with those wide green eyes of his, "B-Brian? Will you make me Mac and Cheese?"
I smiled, "Can't you make your own Mac and Cheese, Zacky?"
"I can... but it would taste better if you made it, I think..."
I sighed softly, shifting his body off of mine and standing. Our hands had fallen apart when he'd nuzzled into me, but now he reached out tentatively to rejoin them. I didn't know why he wanted to hold my hand, but I linked our fingers anyway.
I glanced at him only to see his eyes nearly closed and a warm blush coloring his face. I blinked curiously, but I said nothing except asking him where the kitchen was.
Zacky's eyes fluttered open and he mumbled, "I can lead you..."
Keeping our fingers locked, he led me out of a different doorway than the one we'd entered through, this one going straight into the kitchen. The kitchen was also spacious, table that seated four directly across from us, an oven and stove to the right of the door and several maple wood cabinets and drawers leading to a sink on the left side.
Zacky pulled me to a large walk-in pantry (It looks like everything in this house is walk-in...) and showed me to several boxes of Mac and Cheese. He grabbed the ones shaped like SpongeBob characters and dragged me back out of the room again.
He placed the box next to the stove before diving into a cabinet next to it and returning with a pot.
"Here," he said, handing me the pot's handle, "Go fill this up with hot water. You know how to make Mac and Cheese, right?"
I stared at him blankly for a moment. How could such a normal kid draw the pictures I'd seen upstairs? More importantly, why did his mother let him hang them in his room? What if they had company over? I was sure that not every person to see those pictures would be as accepting as I was. More likely than not, he'd end up in an insane asylum.
"Uh, Brian? Hello? Earth to Brian. Anyone home?" Zacky shook the Mac and Cheese box in front of my face until I snapped back to attention, "Does that mean I have to make it"
I grabbed the box from him, unknotting our fingers so I could grab the pot in my other hand. He looked a bit saddened, but as I went over to the sink to fill up the pot, he trailed after me.
Once the pot was full of steaming water, I put it down on the burner and turned it up to high. I set a timer and opened the Mac and Cheese box for later before turning around to see an empty kitchen. Where the hell did the kid go?
"Uh, Zacky?" I called.
"I'll eat all your Mac and Cheese!" I called again.
A brief silence before, No! Please! I'm still here, I'm just drawing!"
I stiffened slightly, "Drawing what?"
"Oh, I see," I said, stirring the slightly bubbling water, "Am I dead?"
A short hiss met my words, and suddenly I turned around to see an angry little boy glaring at me, "Guess what? I don't just draw those pictures! Stop being a judgmental prick!"
I stared at him. Wasn't he a bit young to be using those kind of words? I repeated the question back to him.
"I...er, sorry. Please don't tell my mom..." he mumbled, staring down at his feet, "I just got mad cause I'm a good person! I mean, it's... please don't hate me..."
"I don't hate you. I promised I wouldn't and I don't. Calm down, I don't think you're a bad person. It was wrong of me to assume that's what you were drawing I guess." I sighed lightly, pouring the contents of the Mac and Cheese into the now-boiling water.
He giggled, like, an actual giggle, which made me laugh because of how girly it sounded. I already had several theories about this kid, but he seemed to get pissed easily and I didn't need him injuring me because of something I say.
Ha, and I told my mom a twelve-year-old couldn't overpower me. Then again, this kid isn't exactly your average twelve-year-old kid...
When I'd finished his Mac and Cheese, he squealed and took it from me, running to the dining room. From there he yelled, "Come on, I want you to sit by me!"
So I walked over to the four-seating dining room table, but rather than sitting across from Zacky, he placed his bowl on the table and dragged one of the chairs close to his and pointed to me and then the chair. I raised an eyebrow and complied, sitting next to him.
He put his hand on my wrist, then slid it down into mine. He sure seemed to have a complex for holding hands... Oh well, it didn't hurt either of us, so I let him wind our fingers. I gave his hand a gentle squeeze, earning another feminine giggle from him, before he started eating again.
"Zacky?" I asked, breaking the silence.
He turned to me, swallowing his Mac and Cheese before licking the cheese sauce from his lips, "What, Brian?"
"Why were you drawing a picture of me?"
He brought his free hand to his jawline and rubbed minutely, thinking, "Dunno. Cause you're very pretty, I think."
I felt a little warm at the compliment. But wasn't pretty a word used for woman? "You think I'm pretty?"
He nodded, dropping his hand from his jaw and scooping another mouthful of Mac and Cheese into his mouth. He chewed for a moment and swallowed,"I think you're the prettiest person I've ever seen."
"Oh... thank you Zacky..." I mumbled. I felt a bit awkward, I'd never had a little kid tell me I was pretty before. He was just a kid, though, not like he was attracted to me or anything...
"Welcome," he mumbled through another bite of Macaroni.
He was the strangest kid I'd ever met. But I think he's starting to grow on me...