"Children should be seen and not heard."
My parents were prideful that I followed that idiom. This letter perfect behavior one of the more popular anecdotes. 'our little Malachi was the only child allowed to attend the adult's only Christmas party.' - 'Did you hear? Our son sat all on his own reading quietly to himself, bothering no one.' - 'Can you believe it, he asked to take a nap and put himself into bed!'
God I hate them.
I worked out when it all went to shit. As soon as I was able to start forming real opinions their perfect little boy was all but vanished. To be honest I think they would have been happier just buying another Massoud, one-of-a-kind settee. I am fully confident that I was an accidental pregnancy, but they threw some spin on it. My mother has her obsession with the house and the items within it looking like a continual magazine foldout. It made the whole place feel like a sterile room designed to build microchips. She doesn't do hugs. They wrinkle the press on her clothing. Physical contact isn't entirely nil. I can remember having to hold her hand when we crossed the street or being given a light kiss on the cheek when I did something that made her effusive.
Dad was mostly shaped like a newspaper during his limited time in the domestic scene. To be quite honest, I think that his detachment had a lot to do with being deliberately prideful of his German heritage. He didn't, and doesn't mince words. yes means yes, no means no. It's as simple as that. Rules, organization and structure are his meat and bones. I'm not saying that he labeled every drawer in the house, that would be insane. He instructed my mother to do it. And forget it if you're late for anything. On time means fifteen minutes early. Five minutes after? Hope you're wearing comfortable shoes, the walk from Glenbrook North High School back to Highland Park is almost 10 miles.
I can recall that the largest piece of drama ever witnessed as a youth was when my parents made the decision to blacklist the Briarwood Country Club in favor of Northmoor. I mean, can you imagine? The nerve of my father. How they (the 1%ers) talked! Needless to say, when I started to fall off the track it was something of an unforgivable contravention of standard. Forget about the embarrassment that I tried (and succeeded) to keep from them when I discovered I was a mutant. Blowing that full ride to Cambridge, that one they'll never let go.
I found out I was different once I started mixing with girls and my sports interest added soccer to the recreational curriculum. It was tough at first, to balance out being on diving/swim team and make all of the practices for soccer, but I made it work. Back then I was determined to letter in both, make dad proud that I'd picked up his passion for 'football'. Looking back, I don't even know if he gave a shit. Academics was just about the only thing that got his pulse rate above sixty. For me it was Mia Landon. God I was crazy about her, and with a face like mine it wasn't terribly difficult to get traction.
The bad news is I have a way of wearing people out. A lot of it has to do with learned behavior. Independence and savoir-faire I have in spades, I just don't always listen to the voice of reason in my head. My parents didn't pay much attention to me unless I was being defiant or once the education system discovered I was gifted. Given the choice between exploitation or discipline, the masochist in me that needed to feel something, chose the discipline. It was about as close to putting cigarettes out on my arm to remind myself that I still had the ability.
This carried over to other relationships. If Mia and I got into a fight, it wasn't just any old fight, it was volcanic, dramatic. Things got broken. Make up sex was usually the way we tried to patch it up. I can remember the first time it happened. She'd fallen asleep against my shoulder. I was drifting off myself, but lightly tracing the curvature of her back. It was giving me a sense of contentment, that indescribable afterglow of intimacy. It made me drift off. When I woke, Mia was gone. No note, no explanation. It was so unlike her to get up in the middle of the night and go.
Thinking back, I remember brushing off the sheets and being perplexed at the indefinable debris that was in the bedding. She didn't pick up her phone or answer any of my texts that weekend. When I went over to her place and asked to see her, I got an earful of hostility from her sister and some bullshit that Mia was under the weather. I probably should have left it alone. Like an asshole, I didn't. Pushing past Mia's kid sister, I barged into the house and straight up into her room. I don't remember a lot of what we shouted at each other in the heat of the moment, but it was enough to earn a punch to the face from her dad along with getting tossed out of the house.
After that I didn't look for anything beyond disposable relationships. I earned a dubious reputation, and that attracted the sort of girls who didn't care that I was impossible to nail down, or the naive who wanted to fix me. I spent this time experimenting with my newly discovered mutation. At first it was just with the positive emotions like lust or curiosity; things I could use to exploit or attract the next target. But after a while I found that it worked wonders to diffuse an argument or make someone see me in an more positive way. I'd just put a hand out to make contact and simultaneously, rip the hate or anger out of someone. It was not without its costs, but it did wonders to fix my reputation with former adversaries.
I didn't factor in, the permanent pulls.
If I knew how to give it back, I would have. Losing the bonds that I had with my parents, even though they weren't bright and shiny, it was at least something. Apathy is a lot worse than enmity. Anyone who ever said that it was impossible to die from ennui is wrong. I tried to slip doses of love or interest into their food when I realised that the byproduct I pulled out of people had a practical application; but the effects were temporary and barmecidal. I spent the better part of a year trying to repair the damage I'd done, but in the end, it was just better for me to stop lying to myself. There was only so many times I could watch my mother struggle with emotions that were falsely implanted.
I moved out after the summer of my senior year. It was too painful to stay in their house after I deliberately set my academic career on fire. Things are strained now, and we more do the fabrication of family because my parents will carry out just about anything to keep the facade intact.. We have the obligatory dinners on holidays. Occasionally I stop over at the country club or the house to fill the role of social lubricant. Sometimes they need to deflect or dazzle a client or a member of one of my mother's philanthropic social groups. They don't need to know that half the time I'm using my powers on their friends or colleagues to make things go smoother.
I can admit that for a few years, I had hope for reconciliation. But I gave that up when I overheard a conversation I wasn't supposed to hear. It was between my grandmother and father. I didn't get all of the details of the best kept secret of my family, but I got enough to start asking question of the right parties. People who knew my parents for more than twenty years. Investigations revealed that I had a sibling. He was dead and buried two years before I came into the world. All trace of him had been wiped from the house where I might stumble onto it and ask questions. From what I gathered, he died in 2013, just before the war. As for specifics, I have yet to nail anything down.
I have a regular job, just to stay on the right side of law. I teach a variety of classes at my school, Historical European martial arts has been picking up speed, but my gym is fairly varied. We've got everything from Hot Yoga to Jeet Kun Do. Right now I'm subbing in to teach the mixed martial arts class because my regular instructor dislocated his shoulder, and I'm looking for a full time swim coach to take my life guarding class.
Off the books, I deal drugs. Not cocaine or anything like that. I jut peddle the transmogrified emotions that I draw from either established clients or unsuspecting people who are in need of a personality adjustment. Regrettably, about a year back I got myself pinched by a mutant control enforcement agent. I didn't have to do any time for the infraction, but I did have to go through the process of registration. In exchange for no jail time, I can and have been asked to provide product for Division when the need arises. I don't much like being used, but for now, its keeping my under the table income purely profit.