Even when I was 'allowed' to sit up straight again, Sam held me tight around the waist, leaning his head on my shoulder. Heh...he was certainly playing the role of baby brother to a tee today. But I can't say that it didn't feel good to be so loved. I think that was the part that shocked me the most.
My biggest flaw...my deepest, darkest, secret...even worse than having to hid the fact that I was gay...was now exposed to all of them. My entire circle of friends, the only people that I had to fall back on in an emergency to help me hide and deny the pain...they knew about the abuse now. They knew how shitty my life was when they weren't around. And yet...instead of the ridicule and the ultimate shame that I expected to experience from give them a glimpse into what I go through on a day to day basis...all I got was love. More love than I ever could dreamed of. And as I hugged Sam close, hearing him whimper slightly like a little puppy at my side, I giggled and gave him a gentle kiss on the top of his light blond mop...a few stray tears running down my cheeks while Adam and Brody looked on tried to keep from getting a bit choked up themselves.
It's one of those times when you really do find out who your true friends are. And they didn't disappoint me. I hope I don't end up disappointing them either.
"Alright, you guys. I...I really need to get back home. I'll only be asking for trouble if I don't make myself visible soon." I said, and it seemed to break Brody's heart to know that I would even have to worry about such a thing. But he stood back as I pried Sam's little arms off of me so I could get back up on my feet. I made sure to grab my notebook, clutching it tightly to my chest. I can't explain why...but it seemed like it was the only key to my personal cage. I needed to keep it close. I needed to keep it safe.
Adam stepped forward to hug me around the neck, and he gave me a really tight squeeze. "Dammit, Zack...you be careful and take care of yourself, ok?" He said. "I'm right here across the alley if you need me."
"I know. And thanks, ok?" I replied with a sniffle.
Then I turned to give Sam another long hug, where he nearly squeezed me to death with an amount of strength that I didn't even know he had in those wiry little arms of his. "Don't get hurt, k?" He said, getting all sad and misty eyed as if I was going off to war or something. Who knows? Maybe I was. But my mom was home, so I'm sure he would try anything too severe tonight. Even if he might find a reason to make up for it tomorrow afternoon.
And then...there was Brody...
I never thought that I could fall totally head over heels in love with the same boy so many times in the same day, but every time his pretty eyes met mine. As much as we've shared with one another, as many times as we've been affectionate, even intimate, with one another...I can't deny that his every smile strikes me still with a certain level of surprise. Every time. I moved forward with my arms out, and Brody melted into my embrace as he hugged me close...whispering that he just wants me to be ok. We held that hug for as long as we could...and when we loosened our grip on one another, Brody gazed into my eyes with a heartwarming smirk on his face. And when he leaned in to kiss me, I made sure to meet him halfway.
His lips were soooooo soft. Perfect in every way. That lovely impact was enough to get my heart racing to the point where I could feel myself trembling in his arms. My god...what a rush.
It wasn't until we broke our sensual liplock and Brody playfully rubbed his nose against mine with a grin that we noticed the look of absolute SHOCK on Sam's face standing beside us! Hahaha! Oh yeah, I guess I forgot about that part.
Sam gasped, "Dude...what the...??? Holy shit!!!"
I laughed out loud, and I just ruffled his hair a bit. "I've gotta go, but...I'll let Adam and Brody, ummm...'explain' all that."
"But...b-b-but...wait...what the heck did I miss? Awww! You guys never tell me anything!" Sam said, but I just said my goodbyes and left the room to go back downstairs and leave, saying goodbye to Adam's mom on my way out.
The air just seemed to smell a little bit sweeter as I walked through Adam's back yard to get to the gate. Then, across the alley past the garbage cans...then to the back stairs...and up, up, up, I went. Hoping to sneak back in just as quietly as I snuk out in the first place. I just...I wanted to believe in myself worth. It's been so long that I had almost forgotten what it was like to truly love myself for who I am. I've spent years chasing my own value like a mule with a carrot being dangled in front of him...where it was always just out of reach. Where I just kept thinking...if only I could run faster. If only I could push harder. But I could never catch it. I could never get any closer to it. Instead, I just kept chasing the unreachable goal until...I became more accustomed to the chase itself, and the goal ceased to be anything that I could ever hope to achieve.
It's just my thoughts going round and round in circles...nonstop.
But now? Now I have Brody. I have Sam. I have Adam. And even though I'm scared to destroy our family and everything that I've ever known since both...if I can find the courage to speak up, I'm pretty sure that I can have my mom too. How awesome would that be?
When I opened the back door and walked in, my father decided to walk into the kitchen and provoke me into doing something that he could use as an excuse to punish me again. Anything. A dirty look, a random lie, a roll of my eyes...any sense of defiance at all would probably catch a harsh slap across the face or a pinch or a shove. But...you know what? I just didn't feel the need to fuel his bullshit tonight. I refused to give him a reason to terrorize me any further. And that felt really really good! It was like my heart was finally learning how to be bulletproof when it came to his constant assault on me and my emotions. He wants to steal every moment of joy that I could possibly ever experience with his slick little tricks and snide remarks. But he wasn't going to break me down today. I have LOVE in my life now! And it's something that he's never going to accept or understand. Something that he'll never ever get from me...because he truly doesn't deserve it. As angry and as helpless as I felt before going over to Adam's house...now I just feel sorry for him. Is that weird, or what?
He gave me a nasty look as I walked past him, but I didn't give him the attention that he was looking for. I completely deflated his ego by walking right past him without saying a single word. My mom was in the house with us now...and he wasn't going to beat me down with her standing there as a witness. She was my safety blanket. My salvation from the suffering he put me through. And even though he might make me pay dearly for it tomorrow after school...tonight I was going to rejoice in the brief feeling of safety that my mothers presence brought to me. I needed that.
The funny thing is...I don't think that anything could have angered him more than having me simply not acknowledge him. Even after going 'missing' for the past forty five minutes or so while I was at Adam's house...getting my confidence and sense of self worth recharged by the people who really loved me. Who were willing to stand up for me...stand BY me...and give me a shoulder to cry on if I needed it. It made me stand a little bit taller than usual. And I didn't drop my head and 'sneak' my way past him like I used to. Instead...I simply took the brief detour towards the side to get around him, and I walked right to my bedroom to shut the door behind me. I wasn't about to give him the satisfaction of triggering a response from me. Not tonight.
I guess he'll just have to deal with his own issues of anger and self hatred for now. It simply doesn't have anything to do with me anymore.
As I walked into my room, I had the urge to lay back on my bed and just relax for a while...but I was still gripping my notebook close to my chest. My words...clustered together in a visibly disturbed stream of consciousness that finally gave my inner screams a voice. The story that I always wanted to tell. That piece of me that just...was too scared to break through the mask of normality and express itself because it never felt good enough to speak its mind.
Have things changed? Am I...getting better?
As I put the notebook down on my desk, I took a good, long, look at it...and the pen next to it. The inspiration was like a burning fire within me...desperate to get out and spread its truth on the pages in ways that frightened me. I was just...I was scared of what I might say. I was scared of discovering who I really was if I indulged in a moment of self reflection and suddenly realized that I didn't like what I saw. I mean...what if my father was right about me? What if I'm just some worthless 'pretty boy' who screws everything up and isn't deserving of love or acceptance of any kind? If I really dug deep...and that was the answer that I found within the deepest parts of myself...could I live with that? Or would it be too much for me to handle? It's a tough question to answer. Because I think that I would rather die than to EVER admit that my father was right about me. I don't think that I could bear that.
And yet...the notebook and pen continued to call out to me.
I've been silent for so long. And maybe nobody is ever going to read this...or ever know the significance of how hard I had to struggle and punish myself to recall these memories and write any of this down at all...but I wanted to get it out of my system. I wanted to bleed the poison out of me and finally say that I used my creative outlet for something worthwhile. I'm so sick of writing about Summer vacations and current events for Mr. Raffe in my English class. This was my heart. The most vulnerable parts of my life. And I feel like this was going to weaken and infect me from the inside forever if I didn't at least TRY to say something for once! Just once.
So...I gave in to my spontaneous feelings...and I sat down at my desk, taking my pen in hand, and I opened my notebook to continue my painful story right where I left off.
Again...the words came to me without any resistance at all. It was such a relief, lifting this ban, this hurtful restriction, off of my shoulders...and finally saying all the words that I wanted to say. I felt the pages of my notebook moving around as my deepest emotional conflicts caused me to press down harder on the paper, almost tearing it from the harsh impressions from the pen tip. it got to the point where the pen couldn't keep up with the gratuitous spilling of emotional torment that was spewing out of me, and I had to turn on my laptop and start typing the rest of it out so I could keep up with the frantic activity of my brain...trying to express, explain, and in some cases excuse, everything that I've been through in this house with my father's abuse for the past few years. The beatings, the insults, the humiliation, the SHAME...of never being seen as anything more than a piece of shit. Mud to be scraped off of the bottom of someone else's shoe in disgust. I finally found the courage to type it all out in a word processor...and I think it was probably the most honest thing that I had ever written. Like...ever.
By the time I was done, I had tears streaming down both sides of my face. I was sniffling and blowing my nose, my heart beating hard as it attempted to keep the sadness inside from causing it to completely collapse in on itself from the pressure. I, legitimately, felt exhausted when I was finished. Emotionally drained to the point where I felt drowsy and faint from the release of finally...FINALLY...telling my story, and freeing myself from the previously unbreakable hold that it had on me. It was a mentally orgasmic release of epic proportions...and when I finished typing out the second half, I went back to my notebook to type the first half too. Just to make sure that I could save the story as a whole.
I didn't realize how much I was holding back until I had to translate everything into words. I wrote about being pushed and shoved against walls...about having a hot IRON thrown at my head...about being kicked out in the pouring rain in my sock feet...about having my Playstation trashed and thrown in the garbage...about being choked, and punched, and kicked, and dragged across the sharp staples in the carpet. For the first time in my life...I told it all. That laptop screen became the exquisite canvas that I had been craving to decorate with my deepest pain and most well guarded secrets for most of my adolescent life. I never knew how liberating it would be to finally let go of my father's dark influence over me. Never tell. Never defend yourself. Never find anything worthy about who you are...because it'll always be a lie. I mean...when that's all you know, growing up...how can you possibly convince yourself to think any differently?
I'm trash. I'm filth. Who would ever go out of their way to find something to love about a scumbag piece of shit like me? Right?
He showed me that I was worth more than the turbulent circumstances surrounding me. ME! He made me feel...like my stupid life was worth fighting for. How did he pull that off? Except for my mom...nobody's ever really done that for me before. Not like he has. I mean, Adam is awesome, so is Sam....and I love my mom with all my heart, I really do. But I just sort of expected them to care about me. It's almost like it was their 'job' to give a shit, you know? But Brody's different. His love for me is so pure, so genuine...that it really is had to accept the idea that I would be worthy of this beautiful boy's affections. I try...I just....UGH....
It's like...WHY? Why me? It feels like some kind of joke, you know? And I keep waiting for a punchline that never comes. He just...'loves' me, I guess.
It hurts me to say that. It sounds weird. Worse...it sounds fake. And there's a huge part of me that wants to beat Brody to the punch, and brace myself for the moment when he tells me that it was all some kind of stupid prank. A part of me that wants to break free from the delusion and protect what little bit of functional heart that I have left in this fucked up life of mine. But, he just...he refuses to let me go. He won't allow me to get back to my normal life where I can expect what's coming my way and navigate my way around it in a way that would keep me from going totally insane or becoming suicidal to the point where I simply can't fight it anymore.
And I don't know if that makes his presence in my life more of a blessing or a curse. Because I've never been here before.
I feel so lost...
I looked at what I had typed out on that page. I didn't realize how much I had been crying until I went to the bathroom and looked at my reflection in the mirror. My cheeks puffy, my eyes bloodshot and red...with even more tears sliding down my cheeks. I ran the water in the sink and got my washcloth to clean myself up a bit...blowing my nose on a few squares of toilet paper as I attempted to get a hold on myself. What have I done? Seriously....what the fuck have I DONE???
I closed my eyes and just tried to breathe for a minute or twl before leaving the bathroom and going back to my bedroom. I looked at the clock by my bedside, and it was too late for me to start work on my writing assignment for Mr. Raffe tonight. There was no way that I'd be able to finish it in time. I mean...it's not like he wasn't going to absolutely fucking HATE it, anyway. No matter what I wrote for his class assignment...he'd just nitpick and find something wrong with it so he could slap me with a bullshit, backhanded comment anyway. Fuckin' hater!
But...as I looked at the manuscript that I had just written...much longer than I thought it would be...a mess of emotional 'vomit' where I just spilled all of my long restricted emotions...I began to wonder if I could just print it out and turn this in as my next project.
There was no way that I was going to be able to come up with something else for an idea to fulfill my homework obligation for this jackass of a teacher. I mean...it's just 'fiction' right? It's not like he's going to know the difference, either way. So why not just...turn it in and give a shot? He hates everything I do. Might as well stop working extra hard to impress him and just get a decent grade in his class so I can get the hell out of there and move on to bigger and better things next year.
I stared at that document on my laptop for a long time tonight. I really did.
And then...when I got tired of sitting still...
I hit the 'print' button. Because...why not, at this point? Right?