The Colins
by alejandra

When he wakes up, he knows he's been asleep too long because his limbs are heavy and clumsy and don't want to move, and because he has a lot of hair.


He wakes up to monitors beeping and nurses rushing in and Amy crying and it's really weird.


Now he's Colin The Third, and there's no one for him, because even Ephram will remember Colin The Second.


Colin The Third remembers being Colin The First and Colin The Second. He remembers everything.


Colin The Third remembers Bright, sweaty and pushed up against him, remembers laughing and smiling and drinking, remembers putting his hand on Bright's cock in the car and saying, "Come on, Abbott, you've gotta know I'm not in this for your sister" ­ and he remembers skidding, glass breaking, his head hurting.


Colin In Between Second and Third dreamed while he was asleep. He knew he would wake up eventually, because he kept running and running and running, and he had to get to where he was going. He didn't do track, but he could still run. He sweated, it was hard, he pushed through the burn, all his muscles ached, his eyes teared when sweat dropped into them. He ran through his life, played out on all sides, like that Tom Petty video from when he was a kid, the one about rolling the joint. He'd seen it on VH1 a couple of times, kinda liked it. He ran through his whole life like his life was a Tom Petty video, and when he reached the end of it, he woke up.


Colin The Third decides it's okay to admit to liking Tom Petty, it's okay to admit to liking your best friend, and it's okay to admit to liking cock. Life's too short to spend it making out with girls.


Colin The Third has to decide whether his best friend is the best friend of Colin The First or the best friend of Colin The Second ­ if either of them want anything to do with him now.


Colin The Third pretends he didn't remember anything again, so Amy would go away, and he confesses it to the doctor who came in to shine lights in his eyes and hit his knees with a rubber mallet. The doctor smiles and says, "I'm going to call Andy Brown ­ he's going to want to see you."

Colin The Third says, "Don't tell Amy. Okay? Don't tell Amy," and he hears Colin The First in his voice, the hard, cold asshole jock, and he doesn't care.


Dr. Brown brings an envelope with him and Colin The Third clutches it tightly while Dr. Brown makes his examination. Colin's parents drove to Denver with Dr. Brown. His father is drinking again, smells like alcohol; his mother is red-eyed and fat. Laynie is wasted.

Situation normal.

Colin The Third wonders if Laynie had sex with girls at boarding school.

She doesn't feel like his sister, but she looks like it, and he has Colin The First's memories of being asked if they were twins.


There are problems with his right side. His eye doesn't open wide enough and his foot isn't working properly, but at least he can write again. Colin The Second didn't like having to write with his left hand. Or was it his right hand?

Things are blurring, starting to ­ memories are fading.

Is that appropriate?


Ephram comes to see him. He says, "Who are you?" like it's a question he always has to ask everyone.

Colin says, "I'm Colin The Third."

Ephram nods and says, "Wanna get a soda?" and they go to the cafeteria, and Ephram doesn't offer to take his arm or help him.


Bright is in the cafeteria. Bright says, "Are you ­ " and Colin sits heavily and Ephram brings him Sprite. Colin The Second liked Sprite. Colin The First liked Mountain Dew. Colin The Third sips the Sprite and decides what he really wants is a Cherry Coke with no ice to make it watery.

"I am totally gay," announces Colin The Third. "So don't be my friend right from the beginning. You can both leave now."

He stands up and teeters a little, and no one moves to catch him.


"I'm gay too," says Bright, and shrugs. "Sit down before you hurt yourself, dude."


"I knew it!" says Ephram, and takes a long drink of Colin's Spite. "No straight guy knows all the words to every Celine Dion song ever written."


"You know all the words to 'If You Asked Me To'," says Colin without thinking. He remembers; Ephram sings under his breath.


"It's something in the water," says Bright. "Too much fluoride."

"Fluoride doesn't make you gay," says Ephram. "It makes your teeth strong."

"We should start a club," says Bright. "A gay karaoke club."

"You are on crack, man," says Ephram. "Total crack." He leans closer to Colin. "Listen, can I tell you about my sister's new babysitter? She is such a bitch."

"She's a hot bitch," says Bright.

"She's mean," says Ephram. "Besides, you're gay."

"I would still hit that." Bright winks at Colin.

Colin feels like he's stepped into another dimension.


Amy comes to see him and Colin tells her he remembers everything, but some things are still blurry.

Amy says, "Were you really going to break up with me before the accident?" and Colin has to wonder who the fuck Amy thinks she is, because that's not a fair question.

"That's not a fair question," he says. "I'm not the same person now."

"Are you even the same person as before?" she snaps. "All summer I spent waiting for you! All summer!"

"I never asked you to wait!" he yells, and his voice is too hoarse so it sounds kind of croaky.

She leaves the room in tears.


Colin still dreams of running. He wonders what Colin The Fourth would be like. Colin The Third remembers how to add two plus two, and how to flirt, and how to play basketball.


Bright and Ephram take him home from the hospital. They tell him they volunteered, but Colin knows it's because his parents are shutting down.

He doesn't really care. It's not his job to take care of them. Colin The First sneaks into his head like that, easily.

He does care, but he doesn't have the energy to take care of them. They are the parents. They are supposed to be grownups. Colin The Second is indignant.

Colin The Third closes his eyes and pretends to not see the glances Bright and Ephram exchange.


As long as Colin The Third doesn't freak out, school is okay. He's back on the basketball team. His feet work; he only stumbles a little.


Amy ignores him. Colin The First wants to hit her. Colin The Second doesn't care. Colin The Third is conflicted. He wonders if Colin The First and Colin The Second were always there, like the angel and the devil, two extremes of personality. He wonders if maybe in the future he'll develop more ­ an angel, a devil, a math professor, a libertine. Colin The Eighth can be a libertine, just like Henry The Eighth.

Colin The Third likes weird symmetries.


Colin The Third doesn't like Colin The First's friends, and Colin The First's friends don't seem to care so much. Their lives went on; only Amy's life stayed the same.

And Colin's.


Ephram and Bright start kissing in corridors sometimes. Colin walks in on them one day when they're doing their homework. He had to go to the bathroom. He came back. They were kissing. It was weird.

He didn't mind. It was just weird.


Amy doesn't talk to any of them. Bright says the dinner table is like a battle ground.

Colin makes his own dinner and eats it in his room.

Laynie goes to parties. Like, professionally.


"Basketball scholarship, here I come!" hoots Bright after a game, and Colin high-fives him, and Ephram lays a smacking kiss on each of them and doesn't say anything about his piano or Juilliard ­ and Colin doesn't pry.

Colin The Second suddenly realizes that kissing was what was missing from his relationship with Ephram. Colin The First calls him a fag.

Colin The Third kind of liked it; Ephram's mouth was dry and Colin's lips taste like chocolate now.


Laynie took Amy to a party and Bright and Ephram made them leave, and all of the Colins are grateful for that, except Laynie threw a plate at his head and their father fell off the couch.


"Amy is totally self-exploding," says Bright.

"Amy is totally combusting," Ephram says.

"Pizza," says Colin The First, who doesn't care. Colin The Third agrees with him: pizza. Colin The Second wants a nap.


"I hate you," Amy says. They're standing in the hallway, and everyone is listening, and Amy is crying, and Colin is just standing there. His feet both work. He dreamed about running the night before, and Amy was just a hurdle in the road. She was only wearing pink panties, and she was pregnant.

Colin says, "Ames, let's not talk about this right now, okay?" and Amy gives a little shriek and spins around and stalks off.

Colin is dumbfounded by her passion, and Colin The First says, "Just let her go."

No, it's not Colin The First ­ it's Ephram, a hand around Colin The Third's waist.

Bright is on the other side.

"Dude, my sister is so stupid," he says, and they all walk off together, and their arms are burning through Colin's clothes.


"I kissed the babysitter," says Ephram flatly, and Colin looks up from calc homework.

"Way to go, E!" says Bright.

"I thoughtŠ" Colin frowns. Ephram and Bright and the babysitter? Unfair. Ephram and Bright and Colin.

"Yeah, well. She pushed me away anyway," says Ephram, and throws his pencil across the table. "At least I have a driver's license."

"Chicks," says Bright, and Colin rolls his eyes, "aren't worth it. Never. Don't stress about it, E."

Colin drops his eyes. Bright's hand is on Ephram's thigh under the table.


"Amy's dating some new guy," says Colin. "He works in the pharmacy. He's bad news. It's the drug guy. Tommy."

"How come you know this before me?" asks Bright.

"I saw them together."

"So he can come to Thanksgiving dinner, and so can you ­"

"And so can I," says Ephram, "because I am definitely not sticking around with my dad making kissy faces."

"It'll be a conglomeration of Amy's men," says Colin.

"Conglomeration?" asks Bright.

"Gathering," says Ephram.

"We'll beat the shit out of this kid," says Bright, and cracks his knuckles.


Colin dreams of running. He can't see what he's running for. Colin The Fifth might know; he's coming, eventually. Colin The Third suspects it's Bright and Ephram; Colin The First calls him a fag. Colin The Second calls him a silly girl; Colin The Third wants to walk down the street holding hands with his friends. Maybe he's running away from that.


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