You'd be really surprised at how close the idea of doing it is sometimes. Suicide, I mean. It's like this itchy tag in the back of a cheap T-shirt...constantly scratching you on the back of your neck...letting you know that it's there. Always there. But you try to tolerate its inconvenience for as long as you can until you simply can't take it anymore.
That's how it begins, at least. But it quickly grows from that poisonous seed...and the more you contemplate it...the more it begins to make more sense than the horror of the life that you're trying so hard to struggle through. You have to understand...it's a very dark place to be in. One where the light of the brightest of moments simply can't reach your heart anymore. Not even the guaranteed affections of someone as beautiful as Brody seem to be enough to save me from the feelings of worthlessness that I was feeling inside. I was trying so hard to get rid of them...but I just couldn't deny their existence. My emotions simply wouldn't let go of the pain and the suffering that had been firmly attached to them for my entire childhood. How can I possibly approach something as massive and as magnificent as 'true love' when so much self loathing and hatred is intricately woven into my very sense of self? My very understanding of logic and reality itself? My brain just doesn't work like that. It just...doesn't.
And I think that hurt more than anything.
Because...I'm TRYING, Brody! I really am! I'm willing to make an exhausting effort to believe in myself...just for another chance to enjoy the sensual delight of your boyish kiss on my lips. To have your fingers threaded through my hair, or your gentle touch on the inside of my thigh. But it's just...it's not easy for me, ok? Is there a way for him to understand that? Does he have any idea how hard I have to work to even have the audacity to look him directly in the eye?
Ok, I know that it's the abuse. I understand that I've been brainwashed to not see myself as anything better than total garbage, and that a lot of my paranoid thoughts of other people seeing me the same way is probably all in my head. I get it. But...it's not like having that knowledge is going to prevent these incredibly toxic emotions from taking me over from time to time. Because they do. They always do.
I'm not sure, exactly where this sudden turn in emotions had come from...but all through the rest of my next class, they seemed to haunt me to the point where I felt myself trembling in my own skin. What have I done? I just 'exposed' myself to my teacher, Mr. Raffe, without warning. Without any real thought as to what the consequences of doing such a thing might be...or how much damage it could do to the life I have been building for myself since I was barely old enough to even contemplate such a thing. A fragile life. One that could fall apart with a single comment or a phone call home to my parents.
I had to wrestle with the idea of me being stupid enough to do that. What did I have to gain by uncovering the horrors of a young life that I doubted anybody else could ever really understand or embrace anyway?
What if this was it? My last mistake. Handing in a written confession to a teacher who has nothing but contempt for me and is simply looking for more reasons to complain about how I'm not good enough to warrant his attention. I mean, let's be honest...the only reason that he engages with me at all is to bitch and moan and whine about how I'm not giving him what he wants to see. If it wasn't for his criticism, he probably wouldn't notice me at all. Just like he doesn't notice the rest of the students in my class. He seems to let them slide by with just about any type of quickly written trash they decide to toss on his desk...but me? He scrutinizes and goes through it with a critical eye that the other kids and my class NEVER have to deal with it. He makes an example out of me, each and every time.
And this is the guy that I chose to share my deepest, darkest, secret with for the first time?
I'm such an idiot...
By the time lunch rolled around, I noticed that Brody was sticking pretty close to my side as we walked down towards the cafeteria. I smiled at him, attempting to share some of the intense affection that I had for him before I became overwhelmed by it all. I swear, the love in my heart was causing the helpless organ to swell to the point of almost bursting wide open in my chest. Hehehe, only Brody was worthy enough of having me share it with him. I needed to keep him close by so he could help me carry the weight of such an unfathomable wealth of boyish infatuation before it caused me to buckle at the knees and collapse from the divine JOY of it all. I couldn't believe how utterly HAPPY he made me every second that he was in my presence. It was a level of 'wow' that I doubted I'd ever get used to. Hehehe, and who would want to? It made a genuine surprise put of every moment that I was alive. That's a feeling that money can't buy!
But...when Brody smiled back at me...
As cute as his smile is, and it's not like he can help being cute, anyway...there was a slightly different 'feel' to it this time around. Like...like he was worried about me, and doing his best to fake a grin for my sake instead of his own. I know a sincere 'Brody Smile' when I see one. And while this was a convincing knock off...I could tell that it wasn't the real thing.
"Hey..." I said, hoping to capture his attention and maybe see if he just had something else on his mind.
His smile broadened a little bit, but it still didn't feel like 'home'. Not the way it usually does. "It's pizza day. Heh..."
"Yeah. Right..." I smirked. But I could feel the distance between us growing more and more by the second. And that caused my paranoia to kick into high gear almost immediately. What did I say? What did I do wrong NOW??? Fuck, fuck, fuck!!! I screwed something up, didn't I? I did something to hurt him! Or...to disappoint him! Or...I don't know...
I fucked up! How do I fix this? How do I even find out what it is that I need to fix??? PLEASE don't hate me, Brody! We've come so far! I was just starting to heal again! Don't bail on me now! I don't think I could survive having you bail on me now!
"I'm sorry..." I said. I don't even know what I was apologizing for at that moment, but whatever it was that I did to make Brody even the slightest bit uncomfortable...I was sorry for it. Truly sorry!
"Sorry?" He asked. "Sorry for what?"
Stuck for an answer, I was like, "You seem...a little distracted, is all. I'm not boring you or anything, am I?" I said, hoping to avoid the main issue as much as possible for fear of being rejected.
"Boring me? What the...?" Brody gave me a weird look, and suddenly gave me a gentle push to get me out of the hectic flow of student traffic in the hallway so he could hold me still and talk for a moment. "Zack...what's going on with you today? You're worrying me."
You see? All Brody does is bring me overwhelming surges of euphoria and bliss...and what do I offer him in return? Worry. And pain. And pity. How can he not notice how much I SUCK for doing that??? HOW???
No, Zack. You're doing it again. You're letting that voice in your head get the best of you. Block it out. You're supposed to be a normal boy. Just like Brody is. Stop thinking so much about the...'abuse'. Get rid of it. Don't let it reach the surface. I can suppress for the few meaningless minutes that it takes us to get down to the cafeteria, right?
"Don't be worried, ok? I'm fine. Let's just go..." I said.
"You're not fine, Zack. What's going on with you right now? C'mon, dude...you can tell me. Do you want to go somewhere outside and talk about this? We don't have to go to the cafeteria..."
"Heh...and miss 'pizza day'? Blasphemy." I chuckled.
But Brody wasn't amused. "Stop it. Alright? Seriously." Hearing him say that while looking me in the eye, his gaze still as pretty and as captivating as it was the first day that I laid eyes upon him for the first time...I have to admit that it hurt. It really did. I was screwing everything up, and I didn't know how to stop myself from doing it. He's mad at me, isn't he? I didn't want to make him mad.
I was trying to keep my emotions under control, but my face began to wrinkle up from the strain of holding back a flurry of tears that I wasn't able to anticipate ahead of time. So with a shaky voice, I said, "I'm...I'm sorry, Brody...I just..."
"You don't HAVE to be sorry for anything! Dude...just talk to me. Ok?"
"I'm not trying to hurt you..."
"You're not hurting me, Zack." He said. "Honestly...you're not. I just want to make sure that you're ok. That's all." Brody took a hold of my hand and gave it a firm squeeze. And, maybe he looked over each one of his shoulders at first before he softly uttered the words, "I love you. Ok? You know that."
"I can't see why..." I replied, sadly.
"Hey...don't do that." He said, and put his fingers up to lift my chin. "Look at me. Ok? Really. Look at me." I almost felt ashamed to do so, but it's not like I could ever say no to him. "I'm right here with you, Zack. You hear me?"
"Brody...you don't have to..."
"I know. And nobody is making me say this. I'm saying this because I care about you. And because I couldn't be more proud than I am right now to be standing here with you. Alright?"
Was it shame that made me finally nod? Embarrassment? Maybe the pressure of just wanting him to feel good again? It was hard to say. But the more that inner voice tried to penetrate my every thought...the more I forced it back with the image of Brody and I sharing our very first kiss together. With all of the empty threats and fictitious bullshit that my father's voice battered me with almost every second of every day...Brody's kiss was the one thing that was actually real. The one part of my life that I could prove to be a reason to feel better than the scum my dad always made me out to be.
"I'm alright." I said quietly. "Promise."
He held eye contact with me to make sure that I wasn't just telling him what he wanted to hear...but then he gave my hand another squeeze and a little smirk. "Let's go get us some lame school pizza before Sam flips out and starts thinking we abandoned him on the most important day of the week. Cool?"
"Cool..." I said, smiling back at him. And we continued towards the cafeteria to grab a few trays and our super thin and soggy crusted octagonal shaped of personal pizza along with a few extras. I can't really explain it, but Sam was right about pizza day. There's just something about cheaply made school pizza that is yummy beyond all description. Hehehe! Don't think about it. Just devour it all in the half hour break they give you to fill your belly, and appreciate it for what it is. Always a bonus. What kid doesn't look forward to the scattered glory of high school pizza day, honestly?
When we got to the table, Adam and Sam were already chowing down on as much teen garbage disposal fodder as they possibly could. Even Adam was giving Sam a weird look as he tilted his head back and gobbled down his pizza like a hungry seal snapping at a fresh fish. Hehehe, it caused Brody and I to snicker at one another as we sat down.
"Mmmmm...sooooo good!" Sam said, only using his napkin to keep some of the extra sauce from dribbling down onto his shirt. I swear, that boy was only a year younger than the rest of us, but he could be a total 'cartoon' sometimes in terms of his behavior.
We were all eating, and even though Brody hadn't said anything about our conversation in the hallway...I think Adam could see that I was a bit stressed out about life in general, the same way that Brody could. I didn't notice it until his brow furrowed up slightly, and he asked, "Zack...you ok?"
I mean, was I that obvious? Jesus!
All of the pride that I once had in being able to maintain a mask of 'being ok' for so many years was rapidly evaporating into thin air. And that scared me. I felt so exposed. So vulnerable. I could feel my heart beating faster and my temperature rising as I realized that the people closest to me were no longer oblivious to the dark void of abusive emotions that I had dwelling within me. I used to be able to interact with them on a surface level...and that was my salvation. You know? It was my break from the pain and misery that I was forced to deal with whenever I went home every day. My daily vacation from being beaten and ridiculed and loathed to the point where I began to loathe myself just to give the hatred some kind of logical reasoning. My eternal search to find out what the fuck was WRONG with me to cause my father to be so disgusted with me on a daily basis. I mean...there had to be a reason, right?
So much time. So much energy. Trying to find reasons to hate myself as much as he does...so that I could somehow repair the imaginary malfunction within me that would cause people to constantly complain and demand so much more from me than they ever would of anybody else. More than I would ever ask of them. I just want to be loved. Or left alone. I want to enjoy pizza with Sam, and play video games with Adam, and kiss Brody deeply whenever I get to find his soft, lush, lips available to me. You know...like 'normal' people.
Imagine if I was 'good enough' to just relax and enjoy my life like they do. Just every once in a while.
That would be crazy...
"I'm ok." I said, realizing that I had probably paused for a lot longer than I had expected to before answering him.
"Is it just me...or does anybody else at this table detect just a hint of bullshit in that?" Adam, said. And Brody and Sam stopped everything that they were doing to focus on me as well. And there I was...back in the spotlight again. I can't say that I was pleased. "Spill it. What's going on with you?" Adam asked.
Breathe, Zack. This is a new level of life now. This is what you wanted, right? Gaining the ability to open up to your friends? Just give it a try. Let the mask down and just...try to trust them for once. They deserve my honesty. They've all earned it after everything they've done to openly show that they care about me. They're good friends. Angels. I should give something back to show them that I appreciate the effort...even if I'm broken beyond repair.
"I...handed in my final paper to Mr. Raffe today..." I said, keeping my eyes down.
Adam scoffed. "Are you still worried about what that stupid son of a bitch thinks about your writing? I TOLD you...just write what you want to write. What could possibly be your reward for constantly getting down on your knees and servicing him whenever he feels like enough of a fucking BITCH to whine about you not doing it every time he snaps his fingers?" Then, Adam turned towards Brody and said, "Sorry. That's not meant to be an anti-gay thing. I'm just saying..."
Brody didn't take any offense, but Adam apologized again, just in case. And Sam was still scarfing down pizza. And they were all talking at once until I finally got the guts to speak up and said, "I wrote about...my life. About what was going on. You know...at home."
Everybody stopped, and their eyes got wide as they stared at me in disbelief. "You...you did what now?" Adam asked.
"I did...I mean...I wrote it all down. Everything." It was becoming harder and harder to breathe, but I kept going, regardless. "The...abuse...the beatings...my dad cheating on my mom right in front of me...everything."
Sam actually stopped munching long enough to give me a look of shock. "Really? You wrote that all down? Like...all of it?"
I said, "Well, I mean, I changed a few things and made it seem like it was just a fictional 'story'. So he wouldn't get too suspicious about...whatever. But, yeah. I told it all. Every last detail."
I could feel Brody take a hold of my hand again under the table, and he looked at me with eyes that glistened with a mesmerizing gaze of unconditional support for me and my situation, but also with a certain level of admiration. Just for taking the baby step forward to admit that there was something wrong with me. Something that I was begging him to fix, if only he found the reward in making me whole again.
He really does love me...doesn't he?
What am I going to do with that knowledge?
I had to close my eyes to block out my father's brainwashing.
You're worthless. You will never be good enough. You don't work hard enough. You're a piece of shit. A pretty boy piece of shit who will never know love a day in your life. Mama's boy. Freak. Crybaby.
Shut up, shut up, shut up!!! He doesn't own you, Zack! Not anymore!
You're a soldier! Except, this time you're fighting for something that has real potential and value.
I have potential and value!
I've never felt like this before. It's a foreign sensation for me. But I like it. I LOVE it! And with Sam, Adam, and Brody, at my side...how can I dismiss the importance of this moment. It's a brief experience of self love that was born out of a seed that Brody planted in my heart that first day that we stood together under that tiny shelter...trying to catch sight of lightning strikes in the rain.
How crazy is it that I got my wish. Heh...I actually got my wish.
I'll be damned if I waste it now.
Forum timezone: GMT-6|
VF Version: 3.00b, ConfDB:
VoyForums(tm) is a Free Service from Voyager Info-Systems.
Copyright © 1998-2019 Voyager Info-Systems. All Rights Reserved.