There was a knock at the door...my mother. I didn’t realize that she had come home. I’d been so caught up in my thoughts of Chris and Luke, that everything around me faded and disappeared. But the sound of her voice brought me back to reality. I wished she had just left me alone, so I could be peacefully miserable with my thoughts. “Brandon, are you in here?”
I thought about being quiet, hoping that she would think I was gone and wouldn’t bother me. But even still, she would’ve opened the door and come into my room anyway. There was really no escaping her. “Yeah,” I said. “Come in.”
My mother walked in. She stood by the doorway as though she didn’t want to come next to me, as though there was something wrong with me. Maybe there was something wrong with me. “You don’t look too good,” she told me.
“I don’t feel too good,” I answered.
“Well, I would ask if you want to talk about it, but knowing you, you wouldn’t tell me anyway.”
A part of me was offended by her statement. Yet she was right. It was rare for me to ever confide in her about anything. “You wouldn’t understand,” I said.
“I can probably understand more than you think I can,” she responded. My mother took a step toward my bed. My sheets still had Luke’s strong body scent on it; I’m surprised she wasn’t able to smell it when she first walked in. ‘Tell me something,” she said. “Anything. I want to know what’s going on with you.”
“Do you really?” I asked cynically. I could tell that she was genuinely trying to make an effort to talk to me, but I felt really awkward, like a stranger was in my room.
“I know what’s upsetting you,” my mother told me. She sat at the edge of my bed. My heart fluttered. “It’s that boy,” she said.
I wanted to say ‘Which one?’ I didn’t say anything. I stayed quiet and waited for her to continue.
“What happened?” She asked.
I stared out my bedroom window, into the darkness. I remembered lying in bed, naked, with Chris by my side under the covers, looking out the window, into nights full of passion and possibility. Yet when I looked out the window now, all I saw was a cold black night, full of disappointment. “What do you mean what happened?”
“Between you and that boy...what’s his name again?”
“Chris. We got into a fight a while ago.”
“A lot of stupid things,” I said. I tried not to remember all the hurtful things Chris had told me in the park that night when he broke up with me, but I couldn’t. His words kept repeating themselves in my mind over and over again. My head pounded.
For a while, my mother was silent, and then she asked, more of a statement than a question, “You really care about this boy, don’t you?”
I stared at the ground. “I don’t know how I feel anymore...”
“I think you do,” My mother said, “I just think you’re afraid to admit to yourself how you really feel about him.”
“What do you care anyway?” I said, a bit too bitterly. “It wasn’t like you liked him in the first place. I thought you would be glad I’m not seeing him.”
My mother looked out the window with me. “Not if it means you’re this unhappy,” she said to me. “I can tell that he meant a lot to you. I can tell that he still means a lot to you. Rather you want to admit it or not.”
I really didn’t want to talk about Chris, especially with my mother. However I knew that at some point I would have to address it. I couldn’t keep it locked up inside my mind forever without sinking more and more into depression. “It would be easier if I could hate him,” I told her. “I just wish that I hated him. Even better, I wish I didn’t feel anything for him.
But I can’t hate Chris. The more I try, the harder it gets...I just wish things were simple in my life for once. I don’t know why every goddamn thing has to be so fuc--I don’t know why everything has to be hard all the time. I don’t see why I can’t just like someone and he like me, and there would be no problems.”
“Because then you would be bored,” my mother told me. “Even if you met the most perfect person in the world, who had everything you ever thought you wanted in someone, you would still find something about him that you didn’t like.”
When she said that, I immediately thought of Jason Coleman. I thought of how beautiful, intelligent, and how he had such a good personality. He was my ideal and I had the chance to pursue something with him, but I chose Chris over him. I chose someone I was undeniably, uncontrollably attracted to, but had almost none of the personality characteristics I looked for in guys.
And now I was sitting on my sweat-smelling bed, alone, with my mother doing her best to try and console me. I felt so stupid. I felt so alone. I kept wondering if this was really my life, or was it all just a big fuckin’ joke that the universe was playing on me. I was tired of everything and everyone. “I just want things to be simple for once,” I said aloud, not knowing I had done so.
“Nothing is easy,” my mother said. “Especially when it comes to loving someone.”
I winced when she said the word ‘love’. I wished she hadn’t said it. I wished I didn’t love Chris. I wished we had never done anything to begin with. Because then I wouldn’t have to be alone right now, feeling the way I felt.
“Why don’t you try talking to him?” My mother suggested. “Why don’t you call him?
“I called him, but he didn’t pick up his phone,” I said. “And right now, I don’t really care if I talk to him again or not.”
“Yes, you do,” my mother said. “You’re just upset right now. But you won’t be angry with him forever.”
I thought about that word, ‘forever’. That was the word that had broken Chris and I apart. I hated that word more than I hated the word, ‘love’.
“I don’t know...” I said. “I really don’t wanna think about this any more right now. I think I just rather go to bed now.”
My mother was silent for a few moments and then she stood and walked toward my bedroom door. “Good night,” she said. “I love you.”
I wanted to say it back, but those words didn’t feel right coming out of my mouth. “Me too,” I said. She closed the door. Taking off all my clothes, I climbed into the bed and turned off the lamp beside my bed, leaving the room in total darkness. I don’t know why I decided to go to bed with no clothes on, because I felt cold and the sheets felt hard and stale. As much as I fought against it, I wanted Chris to be here, right beside me.
We hadn’t touched each other in such a long time (or at least if felt like a long time) that I forgot what it felt like to have his body rubbing against mine; I missed how my skin tingled whenever he touched me; I missed his warm breath on the back of my neck; I missed how he used to whisper things into my ear, sending chills down my spine; I missed him fucking me, how it felt to have his big dick inside of me; how Chris would start off slow, and then progressively get faster and harder, ripping me apart; I missed the way he would groan and cry out when he came inside of my ass. I missed the way he would kiss me afterwards.
I missed everything about him, the good parts as well as the bad. I wanted Chris back with me. I wanted him here. But he wasn’t here. Wherever he was, whatever he was doing, he wasn’t here with me.
* * *
Billy Anderson and Jason Coleman were definitely together. They made it more than obvious. In English class, they sat next to each other, laughing with each other, whispering to each other. As I watched them, I felt a lot of things: On one side I felt glad that Jason had found someone he seemed to be interested in, but at the same time I felt a bit jealous that I wasn’t able to have what Billy and Jason had, with Chris. It was the second day in a row that Chris had not shown up for school. Yesterday I figured that he didn’t come to school because I thought that he didn’t want to see me. Perhaps he hadn’t come to school again for the same reason, but maybe not. Maybe it was something different.
Luke sat three seats ahead of me. Occasionally, he turned around to look at me. He didn’t smile or give me any bad looks, but it was obvious to me that he was still upset that I hadn’t gone as far as he wanted to last night. He was such a beautiful boy and not just his looks. His personality was cool too. And as usual, I had rejected someone who had actual interest in me, over someone who probably didn’t give a fuck about me unless he was looking to fuck.
Luke was right in front of me. Chris wasn’t. Luke was nice to me. Chris wasn’t. Luke seemed like the kind of guy that would be really good to me - I didn’t know if I could say the same thing about Chris. Why was I attracted to someone who brought me such misery instead of someone who respected me? Why did I have such a love affair with pain instead of happiness? I looked over at Billy and Jason, and as I watched them smiling and talking to each other, oblivious to everyone else’s stares or opinions, I felt a little bit of hope that maybe I could have something like that one day. Not a lot of hope - just a little.
After class, I caught up with Luke as he was going to his locker. “Hey, Luke. Can I talk to you for a second?”
Luke turned around. He looked at me as though he had completely forgotten who I was. The recognition came slowly. “Hey,” he muttered. “What do you want?” He didn’t say it in a cruel or annoyed way, but I definitely got the impression that I wasn’t someone he really wanted to be talking to.
I tried smiling but it didn’t work, so I just said, “I just wanted to talk to you...about what happened about last night.” I tried to talk low enough so that the people around us couldn’t hear. “Are you still mad at me?”
“I wasn’t mad at you at all,” Luke said sternly. He opened his locker and jammed his textbook inside.
My heart skipped. I started to feel a bit of reassurance. “Good, `cause I thought you didn’t like me anymore or something.”
Luke glanced at me from the corner of his eye as he shut his locker door and cleared the combination lock. “It’s not like I hate you or somethin’, Brandon.”
“What are you doing after school?” I asked.
“We got detention, remember?”
“I mean afterwards.”
“I don’t know,” Luke said. “Haven’t decided yet.”
“Do you wanna do something?” I asked, nervous to hear his response.
Luke looked at me for a few seconds and smiled. He had such an incredibly perfect smile. “No,” he said.
At first I thought I heard him wrong. I was so expecting him to say yes. “Huh?”
“No,” he repeated, but this time the smile wasn’t there.
“I don’t get it,” I told him. “I thought -”
“That just `cause I like you I would follow you around like a dumb little dog.” Luke shook his head. “I like you, Brandon. But you don’t really like me. Well, not enough for me anyway. I don’t really see the point of you pretendin’ you like me when you don’t. I know who you really like, and it’s not me.” Luke smiled again, not a smile of ridicule, but an actual friendly smile, “I’ll see you later, Brandon.”
He walked off. Embarrassed isn’t a strong enough word to describe how I felt at that moment. I thought about what he had said, which was basically that I had been using him - which I had been doing. Luke was right in saying that I had taken advantage of his liking me without really liking him in return. I didn’t feel embarrassed because Luke had turned me down - because I deserved from the way I had treated him, but because of the way I had treated him, as though he were just someone I could use and throw away when I didn’t need him anymore. Slowly I walked off in the other direction.
* * *
“What the fuck is wrong with you?”
I looked up and saw Eve towered over me, smoking a cigarette. She looked gorgeous in a pair of tight, low-cut indigo-colored jeans that made it clear that she wasn’t wearing underwear, and a black tube-top that emphasized her lean stomach and nice abs. Eve had better abs than most boys I’d seen. Of course she was out of dress code, but I don’t think any of the faculty had the balls to tell her. She sat down in the grass beside me. She smelled like strawberries. “You look like you’re fuckin’ favorite puppy died or somethin’.”
I laughed even though I didn’t want to. “I’m okay,” I said.
“Don’t give me that fake bullshit. Just tell me what’s wrong with you.”
“I don’t really like talking about my problems to other people,” I told her.
“And I don’t really like hearing other people’s problems,” Eve said. “But tell me before I put this cigarette in your eye.”
“It’s just been a whole lot of shit going on that I’ve had to deal with.”
“I know it has to deal with that dude you’re messin’ with, Chris Green. You two haven’t fucked and made up yet?”
“He hasn’t been to school in the past couple of days. I haven’t been able to talk to him.”
“Do you know where he lives?” Eve asked.
“Yeah, his friend Billy told me last night. I thought about going over there last night. But it was too late -”
“What the fuck do you mean it was too late?” Eve demanded. “If you really fuckin’ like somebody it doesn’t matter what time it is, if it was fuckin’ three o’clock in the mornin’ you would go over there.” When Eve said that, I was reminded of when Chris showed up to my house at three o’ clock and took me to the football field to have sex. Of any of the times that we had been together, that would be the night that always remembered and valued over all the others. She was right. The real reason why I had gone over to Chris’ house wasn’t because it was too late, but because I was afraid to see him.
“Let’s go,” Eve said, interrupting my thoughts.
“Where?” I asked.
“Hollywood,” Eve said sarcastically, “where the fuck do you think? Chris’ house. See if the asshole is there.”
“We can’t go there. I have to be in my physics class in like five minutes.”
“Fuck class. You’re tryin’ to fix a broken relationship. Who gives a fuck about physics?”
“Why do you care so much?” I questioned.
“I don’t,” Eve said. “Just gives me a reason not to be here.”
I smiled again. “What if he’s not there?”
“What if he is?”
“What if he doesn’t wanna see me?”
“What if he does? Stop tryin’ to find fuckin’ excuses not to do the damn thing and just do it.” Eve stood and brushed grass off her ass. “Get up and let’s go.”
I wanted to say, “No, I can’t.” But I figured Eve would come up with a clever response to refute why there was no real reason why I couldn’t go to Chris’ house. A part of me was still scared to see Chris, but at the same time I still wanted to see him. I stood up slowly and began to follow Eve to her fire-colored car. “I can’ believe I’m doin’ this shit.” I opened the car door and climbed inside. I had never skipped a class in all twelve years I had been in school. But it was an important reason to skip.
Eve turned on the ignition, and I nearly jolted out of my seat when the radio blared to life, pumping loud-ass music that I knew would be able to be heard throughout the whole campus. Eve swerved out of the student parking lot and out the gates. I made sure I put on my seat belt. I turned down the volume a little.
“Where does he live?” Eve asked.
“Mosswood Avenue,” I told her. Eve accelerated the speed, paying no attention to the frequent speed bumps. I hit my head on the ceiling of the car a few times. Eve just laughed. After she stopped laughing, she asked, “What are you gonna say to him?”
I hadn’t thought about that at all. “I don’t know.”
“Well, you only got fifteen minutes to figure out.”
“I don’t even know if I really want to see him right now.”
“Too late now,” Eve said. “Besides, you gotta face him at some point anyway. You can try and pretend like it doesn’t bother you, but eventually it eats away at your ass like fuckin’ emotional termites until you feel like you’re fuckin’ goin’ to fall apart. Believe me, I know.”
* * *
We arrived at Chris’ house exactly fifteen minutes later as Eve said he would. His house was a lot smaller than mine, and a lot more run-down looking. But just every house on Chris’ block looked rundown, as though monsters lived inside of those houses instead of people. Even though it was daylight and nobody was around, I still felt a bit scared about getting out of the car.
“Go ahead,” Eve said.
I wanted to ask, “Can’t you come with me,” but that would’ve sounded stupid. I just looked at the house for a long time. I didn’t see Chris’ truck parked in the driveway or parked along the street. For some reason I didn’t take that as a major sign that he wasn’t home. Cautiously, I got out of the door and walked up to Chris’ porch. I could hear my heart beating. Once I got to his door, I thought about turning around and heading right back toward Eve’s car. But I didn’t. I rang the bell and tried to look casual.
A minute passed and Chris didn’t come to the door. I figured that maybe he was sleep and hadn’t heard me ringing the doorbell, so I rang it again. Again, I waited - patiently. He still didn’t come to the door. He wasn’t home. His truck wasn’t anywhere to be seen and nobody came to the door. Chris wasn’t there. I had missed class to come see him and he wasn’t even home. Behind me, I heard Eve honk her horn and yell out the window, “Is he there?”
Disappointed, I turned around to go back to the car - when the door opened. I was a little startled because I wasn’t expecting anyone to answer. The man who answered the door wasn’t Chris, but looked a lot like him if Chris were about twenty-five years older. The man looked cold and emotionless, as though he had lost his soul years ago.
He must’ve been good-looking when he was younger, like Chris was now, but there was so much anger and pain etched into his face that it was difficult to see the parts of the man that were once attractive. It was obvious to me that I was looking at Chris’ father. He stared at me with such hateful eyes, as though I had personally done something horrible to him. I wish I had gone back to Eve’s car sooner, because now I felt frozen. I couldn’t move.
“Who are you?” Chris’ father demanded.
I could barely talk. “...I know Chris. He’s a friend...I know Chris...”
The hatred in the man’s eyes intensified when I said Chris’ name.
“Is he home?” I asked, more than a bit frightened to hear his response.
Mr. Green just stared at me with his penetrating dark eyes. I looked at him and hoped that Chris wouldn’t look like his father when he got to be his age. I hoped Chris didn’t look so perpetually enraged and hollow. “No,” Mr. Green said sharply. “He’s not here.” He was about to slam the door in my face, but I stopped him by asking:
“Do you know where he went?”
“No, I don’t know where he went,” Mr. Green said just as sternly. I was expecting him to finish the sentence with “And I don’t give a fuck either.”
I took a step back. “Well, if he comes back, can you tell him that Brandon came by?”
Mr. Green looked at me as if I were the stupidest person that ever existed. “That boy won’t be comin’ back here. Not to my house.” He said it so emphatically and with so much spirit, that there was no doubt that he was absolutely serious. “If you got anything to say to him, I suggest you find him wherever he might be.” Mr. Green slammed the door shut, leaving me out on the porch, intimidated and bewildered. I stood there on the porch for about another minute before I turned and went back to the car.
“Who was that man?” Eve asked as I closed the car door.
“What did he say?”
I didn’t say anything. The only thing I could think was: No wonder why Chris is the way he is.
To be continued...