Martyr Pew had a temper which he often lost.
He was a relatively quiet boy with little interest in the opinions of other people. He had decided long ago that the people of his century had far less to say than those of centuries now past.
Learning to play the Wii Sports theme on the piano or mimicking a snake via hoverboard were both noble pursuits, but Martyr preferred to spend his time closed up in his head. He liked to read classic literature and study other art forms from around the world.
As Martyr woke up, he found his sheets devoted to his strangulation. His cover was half thrown off the bed, one of his socks was missing, and he was drooling over one classical art book whilst laying on two others.
Mid panic, he struggled out of bed and did his best to wipe his spit off the rented books. Shoving them into his backpack, he secured his headphones and his cap. It was a thick gray snowcap once knitted, and now thoroughly falling apart.
Martyr was a teenager closing in on seventeen. His father was white and his mother black which gifted him an equal mix of the two. He was short for a young man, but possessed a strong frame.
Kneeling on his metal-frame bed and pushing his head between the glass and the blind, Martyr peered out his window. The Philadelphia skyline outside was bleak against the slate-gray October clouds.
Beside his bed, Martyr had a small desk. A two-drawer filing cabinet and three cinderblocks worked together as the legs, and the top of the desk was a hefty piece of wood. Currently, his desk was a shamble of paint smears, wet brushes, and a crowd of stained towels.
He shoved the now dry canvas in his closet, scraped all the garbage into his bin, and collected the wet brushes into their mug. Careful to not get any more paint on his pajamas, he flipped the board over. The color stained side disappeared, leaving a conventional wooden top in its place.
Opening his wooden door slowly, so that it wouldn’t squeak, Martyr peaked his head out into the short hallway. The apartment was empty and quiet.
Carefully, he crept down the hall to the apartment’s tiny bathroom. The bathtub was an unfashionable peach color, and the cream curtain had once been white. Washing his brushes out in the tiny sink, Martyr tried to rub away the paint ingrained in his hands. The colors swirled around the bowl as if he was still dreaming.
It made him think of last night, and his anger rekindled.
If he was lucky, he could make it out of the apartment before his brother-in-law woke up. Then, he could at least stall the awkward avoidance of each other and the inevitable confrontation of their disagreement till tomorrow.
“M?” Someone pushed the door open and scared Martyr half to death.
The bathroom was so small, that the door smacked him upside the forehead as it opened.
“Holy—” He muttered, grasping his head.
“Oh…” His sister peaked her head into the room. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think you were standing there.”
“What? Did you want to find me on the toilet?”
She ignored his comment. “Ah, cleaning up the evidence.”
In turn, he ignored her.
Where Martyr was of a settled build with caramel skin and almond eyes, his sister was spindly with pale skin and bleach blonde hair. She wore a thin white night gown that hung on her broad shoulders, a thick blanket pulled over her arms. With her bleached hair in such a mess, she reminded her brother of a reincarnated Miss Havisham.
“Caesar left early this morning.” She informed Martyr. “He probably wanted to avoid you, as much as you wanted to avoid him.” Pushing her way into the tiny bathroom, the siblings commenced the waltz of small room negotiation.
“I’m not avoiding him.” Martyr responded.
“Lies.” His sister pulled her exceptionally large makeup bag out from under the exceptionally small sink. “You lost your temper last night.”
“No, I didn’t.” He shook his head. “I didn’t do anything wrong—”
“You didn’t slam any doors or shout, if that’s what you mean.” She smiled, leaning as close to the mirror as possible.
As she spoke, Martyr stepped into the shower, tossed his clothes over the curtain at her, and started the water. Even the whistle of low water pressure wasn’t enough to drown his sister’s voice out.
“If you had been older when I was your age, I could have shown you the proper way to lose your temper. I used to throw stuff and yell, threaten to pierce dad’s ears when he was sleeping—”
“Bummer I missed it.”
“I wish you would threaten to pierce Caesar’s ears. It would be so much less stressful.” His sister comments.
“Why would my being angry stress you out?” Martyr rolled his eyes. “And I’m not angry!” He added quickly.
His sister mused for a minute. “I remember the first time you were ever mad at me. You were three and I took you to the beach, and you absolutely hated it. You didn’t cry or scream though. You just scrunched up your face, crawled away from me, and pouted yourself to sleep.”
“Whatever.” Martyr reached out for a towel.
“You dissociate when you’re angry, and you’ve done it your whole life.” She said. “You did it last night.”
“I just don’t like people putting me in a box.” Martyr defended himself. “And the man you married acts like putting people in boxes is his life’s calling.”
“He’s a lawyer, M, they are paid to see everything in black and white, and you’re a nice mix.”
“He’s just tough on you because he wants you to be successful.”
“Yeah, so I move out and he loses his ball and chain as quickly as possible.”
“What? Do you think most father’s dream about sharing bathrooms with their adult son twenty years after graduation?”
“He.” Martyr pulled the curtain back, his towel wrapped around him. “Is not my father.” He answered. “I take kindly to people thinking your my mother or calling you my mom. That’s fine because you are awesome, and I love you. But, the Bob Marley you married is not my father.”
“You know I don’t like it when you call him that.” She chided.
“If I wanted him to be my guardian, I would have agreed to the adoption.”
“I just wish you would cut him some slack, M.” His sister sighed, leaning against the wall. She knocked the switch and the light flickered. “He married into this family knowing full-well what baggage we came with—”
“You’re saying I have to deal with his garbage because of my baggage?” He walked down the hall to his room and disappeared for a few silent minutes.
His sister wandered out into the hallway searching for what to say. Despite how Martyr thought of her, she was not a mother. And, she had never seen motherhood modeled very well. She had maintained another human for almost seventeen healthy years, and she deemed that a success. Nurturing, however, was a completely different story.
“I love your art, M. You know I do, but Caesar just wants you to be prepared for the day you have to provide for yourself. There is a reason they are called starving artists.”
He didn’t answer.
“If you think about it, where Caesar comes from a job in the Medical or Law field in America is their number one idea of happiness.” She shrugged. “He just wants you to be happy.”
Martyr opened his door, and looked at his sister seriously. “Happy in ten years, yeah. Why can’t I be happy now?”