A small child gripping his mother's hand as she smiles at the life she created
love is like a tarp
when you first find yourself beneath its protection
the shade keeps you from burning
but the longer you stay the more you realize how it isn't all it's cracked up to be
the sun moves, and the UV bites at your skin
rain falls, and the thin material does nothing to protect you
love isn't someting permanent,
or even something solid
it's a cheap piece of polyethelyne
with no real protection from the outsie world
learning to walk in the rain
The first thing I did when he told me was look up his disorder on google. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, what did it mean.. All I knew about it was from how the media portrayed it. It was this abstract sort of thing to me, mental breakdowns, and obsessive hand scrubbing. It was spotless rooms and traced out lines holding school supplies on the desk. I didn't understand how to process this information, having been in his messy room, watching him sort through endless unorganized papers in his backpack.
Google search brought up a sea of confusing questions, such as "Can you cure OCD" and "What does OCD stand for" and "When do you grow out of OCD?"
None of these were anything that would help me. I knew I needed to dig deeper into the studies and find more reliable information on this mental illness the boy I was infatuated with had.
I dug through pages of the internet, intent on finding a definitve answer to whatexactly
was wrong with him. I turned up endless amounts of articles that never quite explained the whole story. I never realized how differently OCD manifested itself in people, with obsessive only, pure compulsion, acute irrational fears manifesting themselves in strange behaviors, the endless loops of thought only sated when completing an arbitrary task again and again.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Caused by a lack of serotonin production in the brain, treated with Prozac, Zoloft, other unpronounceable names. Genetic disorder, often passed down through generations. And Nate had it, suffered from it. Suddenly, so many little details about him came into focus.
The way he got irritated when I would change the volume of the music when he was driving, even if he asked me to turn it up, his controlling behavior I'd heard people complaining about pertaining to the bake sale; he'd wanted everything to be even, no odd amount of brownies, none of the prices ending 1,3,5,7,9, the rows of tables exactly six inches apart.
The way he was so picky about eating. I'd thought he was just uncomfortable in front of me, and maybe that was a part of it, but the way he spread things out on his plate reminded my of little siblings, barely more than toddlers. If even a single fry was touhing the ketchup on his plate, Ari would have a melt down, not unlike the way Nate reacted when someone knocked into the table, disrupting his organization.
I finally understood that Nate was so much more than that cute guy I'd been eyeing in English class, the one who always let out a hefty breath when we were assigned to read one chapter and not two. He was more than the secretary of the sophomore class, the one who insisted we have four dances this year, not three. He was more than the kid who petitioned the lunch ladies to include four slices of pizza on Fridays instead of three.
Although this idea that he was mentally ill explained such a wide array of questions I never even realized I had, it still didn't take from the fact that he was still just some fifteen year old kid with a whole messy life ahead of him. Nate wasn't really any different from how I was down at the core of his being, he just had some shit that was fucked up in his head.
I wanted to chastise myself for thinking something as cruel as that against a kid who simply could not helpt it, but the magnitiude of his illness was lost on me in that moment. I was faced with a torrent of confessions and memoirs from across the world of people who could not leave their bed for fear of catching a deadly disease, a woman who wore skintight shoes and clothing that allowed no room for anything hidden to keep herself from shoplifting.
All I really knew about Nate was that this was a guy who rarely said an unkind word. He was the kind of kid to return a twenty dollar bill to the lost and found. He fostered any kitten mewling out by his window until he was certain they were healthy enough to find a home. He was willing to tutor anyone for free, even if it was the same guy who called him a fag in the hallway earlier that day. He was nicer than most of the people I knew, kinder, but he wasn't dumb. That was a common misconception surrounding him.
"Oh did you see how Nate flipped out over the math test?"
"Yeah what a fucking idiot."
Before I'd heard this and didn't really care, he was a face disconnected from a name, no justification for me to step in, but now, now it meant something to me. This was my Nate, the guy who I knew was trying his best to keep it together, but the stress often seeped through the cracks.
It was too soon for me to realize it yet, but this unwavering feeling of protection was the first seedling of love I would ever feel for this boy. Something about him had burrowed its way into the deepest part of me, and refused to get loose. I cared about him in a way I never knew was possible. It wasn't like with Nadia, where I would jump in front of a train her to keep her safe, or with my siblings, where I wanted to hide them from the world forever. No, this was an all-encompassing drive to hold on to him and never let go. It was this connection I would feel for long after we eventually moved on, this longing inside of me to hold him, let him hold me when the times were tough. He was the first boy I ever loved, and the fact that he was just as broken and human as the rest of us, made me all the more willing to take care of him.
A slight glare reflected off of her glasses frames, and I winced. Glancing down at her ratty converse, I knew that this wasn’t going to be a fun project.
“Look, Elle,” Her voice dripped with a sardonic viscosity, slowly sliding into my ear canals. “I know neither of us like this, but if you don’t do your part, or work at all, we are going to have some serious problems.” She rolled her eyes and shoved a lock of garnet hair away from her eyes.
“Don’t be bitchy about it, Nina.” I mocked, ersatz voice full of apathy.
“Don’t use that word.” She snapped in a patronizingly pretentious tone.
“I’ll keep that in mind. Let’s get started here.” I placed myself gently into my mother’s armchair, as Nina just flopped down, irritating the pillow arrangement.
I began to read the instructions for the project, the do’s and don’ts, the how’s and why’s, the where’s and when’s. Nina tapped her feet along to an invisible beat, knocking a pink plastic mechanical pencil against her teeth methodically.
“Great.” She announced condescendingly when I’d completed my reading of the directions. “Fantastic. Let me do the art, and you just gather the information.”
“Fine.” I sighed delicately, and melted a little into the cushions. I’d thought that without the shadows of Britney and Madison, it would be easier to be seen, but Nina seemed to have the presence of a giant, looming overhead and manipulating every move. I knew I’d let her push me around, but I wished I knew how to fight back.
I reluctantly picked up an encyclopaedia and idly flipped through the pages.
Nina produced a twenty-four pack of coloured pencils out of thin air and coloured as I gave suggestions from the thickly worded text of the titanic tome.
After an hour of tedious page scanning, I began to doodle in the margins of my reference paper, abstract images with no correlation.
“Whoa.” Nina’s breath was audible from across the room, inciting me to glance up. When I couldn’t place her location, my eyes darted about in an attempt to pinpoint her position.
I found her beside me, eyes bug-out wide taking in my pictures.
“What?” I snapped impatiently, finding myself uncomfortably agitated about the nature of her opinion.
“No, nothing like that, Elle, I just, I, wow.” Her lack of words only made her more intimidating.
“I…” Trailing off, I found her gaze meeting mine, and I was close enough to see her chest rise and fall with the rhythm of her respiration.
Suddenly I found myself at a loss for words as well, and panic over took me. Heart swelling, breathing rapid, I didn’t understand what was going on until she was already kissing me.
I could taste vanilla milkshakes, with a hint of mint toothpaste. I could taste the raw fear in her heart, and the thrill of anticipation. I could taste the fresh buoyant feeling of rightness, and of discovery.
Under water under water under water, I felt alive drowning, until she pulled her head away in embarrassment.
“I, I’m sorry Elle, I didn’t mean to—“
I cut her off with a kiss. I swear I could taste the end of unfinished sentences and new beginnings.
#gay #Lesbian #flashfiction #ya
The Tale Of Oliver Corentine
I would start from the beginning, but then there would have to be one.
Most people would want me to start the story when Oliver died, but that doesn’t feel right. For me, the story began with the beginning of my junior year.
It was the first day of school, and Oliver couldn’t care less.
“Where oh where has my little dog gone, where oh where can he be?” He sang, arms wheeling through the air like stray windsocks.
“Home, home on the range!” Melissa continued with a flourish of her hands, fingers dancing in the early autumn sky.
“Where the antelope—“ I started, but was cut off rather abruptly.
“No James!” Oliver grabbed me by the shoulder. “You have to pick a new song.”
I glanced at Melissa for backup, but she just shrugged. I was a little irked, because if it weren’t for her, we wouldn’t have even been walking with him to begin with.
She had met him at an improv group, and they bonded instantaneously. I knew I didn’t have a right to be jealous, but all the attention she gave him filled me with invidious resentment.
“Fine. When I was first saw your face, I lost all my taste, that black low cut dress, you were a mess.”
Oliver rolled his eyes good naturedly, and laughed his electric laugh. If I had to pick one word to describe Oliver Corentine, it would be electric. He had this seemingly magnetic field surrounding him at all times, and let off an unimaginably reactible charge. He was nearly impossible to predict, but the one thing I knew for a fact about him, was that he was as dangerous as a wet cat.
“Ugh, you’re so emo, James.” Melissa giggled, and I allowed her a slight smile. However, had she been anyone else, I would have been less than amused.
We trampled up the leaf-strewn sidewalk and onto the large tarmac square of our school’s infamous parking lot. Let’s just say there have been more than a few public indecency arrests here.
“Look at Dina O’Hara this year!” Oliver muttered un-covertly into Melissa’s ear, and incidentally mine as well. “Which do you think are faker: her boobs or that knock-off Chanel handbag?”
Melissa took it upon herself to snicker again at Oliver’s half-hearted attempts at humour. “Boobs.”
“James, you?” I paused for a moment, attempting to discern deception.
“Uh, I don’t know.” I sputtered after detecting none, and turned Crayola Cranberry, glancing back down at my scuffed up Chuck Taylor’s.
“I think it’s the handbag.” Then he puffed his chest and gave Melissa, and incidentally me as well, a meaningful look. “But I’m going to go find out.”
And then he nearly skipped over to where Dina was leaning against the hood of her car, attempting to attract any male’s glance from the nearest ten-mile radius.
Oliver gesculated at her ridiculously low cut shirt for a second, and then started talking rapid-fire to her.
“He is just so—“ She looked around at the sky, trying to find the right word. “Oliver.”
Anyone who hadn’t met Oliver before would have been confused, but I knew what she meant. He was charged and electric, one of those people who you could tell just by looking at them that they were going to make a difference, that they mattered.
Flash-forward a couple of weeks, and you find that he did just that.
While Melissa, Dina and I hunched around the linoleum table, Oliver stood perched atop it, orating the latest segment in the school’s newspaper.
“And so, our school has announced that its annual production of Romeo and Juliet is to be altered slightly due to a minor—no that’s not right.” Oliver clears his throat and continues on with a determined, Oliver, smirk on his face. “A major rebellion held by the Drama club at Oakdale High. The play will feature Romeo and Julius!” Oliver slammed the paper down on the table. “We did it guys! We have successfully gay-ified theatre!”
Everyone else at the table, all verified thespians, clapped at the verdict. I shrugged, and smiled along.
“Come on, James! Tell me this isn’t exciting news!” He clapped me on the shoulder, and then slipped back down to a hyper-human level.
“This is exciting news.” I monotoned.
“Good boy.” He ruffled my hair like I was a dog, which wasn’t so far from the truth. Pretty much everyone to ever meet him was almost immediately his bitch.
I made a big show of rolling my eyes at the girls, but on the inside, his affection didn’t bother me in the slightest.
What did bother me only appeared later on. It must have been about seven or eight weeks before opening night.
I was pacing around backstage attempting to figure out how to get a green light purple without melting anything or starting a fire, when I heard a grotesque noise emanating from the bathroom, or what the resident theatre nerds have sobriqueted: Little Shakespeare’s room, for absurdly unfunny reasons.
I quietly pushed the door open, figuring that whoever was in there was having a remarkably common nervous breakdown. I’d handled them before, as I was quite good at letting actors monologue their tragic life stories at me.
Instead, I found none other than Oliver Corentine puking his guts out.
“Um, Oliver? You okay?” I cautiously approached him, and he spun around so fast I was impressed at his lack of whiplash.
“What are you doing here James?” His green eyes were wide as the Brandberg Massif, and he looked more alert than I’d ever seen him, which was saying something.
“I heard a noise and I was checking to see if everything was okay.” I knelt down carefully on the floor next to him. “Are you okay? You can trust me Oliver.”
He choked back a sob, wiping his mouth off with the heel of his hand.
Then he did something extremely unexpected. He spastically wrapped his arms around my shoulders and started to snivel softly, his wet tears staining my black hoodie.
“I’m bulimic James.” He pulled his head back, noticeably keeping his hands placed protectively on my shoulders, protecting whom, I’m still not sure. “I’ve never told anyone.”
He stared at me with his huge green eyes, and I melted.
“Oliver! Why didn’t you tell me?” My hands were getting uncomfortable at my sides, so I clasped them together in my lap.
“I was scared, Jamie.” He blanched a little. “You won’t kill me if I call you that, right?”
“Of course not.” I creased my eyebrows together in a frown. “Have you told anyone else?”
He glanced at the ground then fished around in his pocket for a second. I nearly startled back at the thought of what it could be, but it was only some Wrigley’s Double Mint.
He pulled two out and peeled off the silver. When he offered the box to me I shook my head and he sighed. “No one. Not a single person knows about it.”
“Not even Melissa?” I wondered.
“I was scared to tell her because she believes only popular cheerleader type girls have eating disorders, and well—“
I cut him off by pressing my index finger to his lips. The gutsiness of the move surprised both of us.
Then I immediately pulled away, and turned Rose Art Ruby.
He gripped my shoulders just a smidgeon tighter and then dropped his voice to a whisper: “I like you, James.”
I was about to reply with god knows what, when the bathroom door flew open, and Bobby Watterson sailed in. Immediately I pulled away and stood up. Bobby didn’t even notice me as he whooshed over to Oliver’s spot on the floor.
I slipped over to the stall Oliver had vacated, and flushed the toilet before Bobby could question the contents.
Oliver shot me a look of gratitude, and I hurried out of the room, pondering what he had said when he told me he liked me.
It was a long time before we ended up alone together again, Oliver Corentine and I, and by that time, all the lighting had been solved, and our posse had gained another member.
“So what do you think of Surly Sue?” Oliver joked as we slipped out of the changing room and across the stage.
“She’s interesting.” I was getting nervous jitters I couldn’t place, and quite frankly, being in the auditorium on a Saturday was strange enough.
“That’s all?” He knocked me in the shoulder, and I shrugged.
“So she’s butch. I don’t see why I should care.”
“She’s not just butch, she’s also like the most pissed off person EVER!” He punctuated his statement a small leap off the stage, a broad grin on his face as he sailed down into the house below.
I sat down and slid carefully off the edge. Jumping wasn’t worth the fall to me.
I landed with more pressure than intended on my ankle despite the precaution, and winced as I hobbled over to balance on one of the seats.
“You okay?” His eyes were liked algae scuffed ponds, wide, wet, and mysterious. I felt myself turn Herlitz Halaya.
“I’m fine.” I shifted weight back onto my foot, and grimaced again.
“You should sit down.” He pulled the seat into a sitting position, and I sat down timorously. He lounged on the armrest.
“I’m fine you know.” All of this attention was disconcerting.
“I know. I'm just making sure you’re one hundred percent okay.” He smiled at me, showing me his anti-flash tinted teeth.
Then he leaned down a little farther, putting a hand on my shoulder.
I turned Sharpie Scarlet, but didn’t flinch.
He stood up brusquely.
“You are gay, right James?” I nodded carefully, spilling my biggest secret. “Good.”
The smile that had masked his face only stretched wider as he set himself on my lap. I swallowed nervously. I’d never been so close to a boy before.
He threw his legs up over the armrest and slung an arm around my neck. I swallowed again and tried to control my breathing.
My heart rate wasn’t the only thing that was up.
His other hand strayed downwards, startling me backwards, but he only looped his index finger idly in my belt loop.
“You’re pretty cute you know.” His Oliver green eyes stared me down. “You’d be even cuter if you cut off some hair here.” He took the hand from behind my neck and twisted a finger through one of my blonde curls. “Put on some eyeliner here.” He traced a finger around my eye. “And got some more flattering clothes.”
He started to pull my jacket off, and a hailstorm raged in my stomach.
“Lean forward, Jamie.” He commanded, so I obliged, because it was Oliver asking.
He slipped my hunter green army jacket off, and hung it carefully on the back of the chair next to me.
I was extremely aware of the long cuts slipping down my left arm.
He touched one tenderly, as if it were still an open wound.
“What happened?” He looked concerned; really concerned as if he cared about me, not just the amount of blood I lost.
“I’m depressed, Oliver.” It was easier to just put it out there instead of lie like I normally would.
“Oh, Jamie.” He leaned his head down in a feat I would have deemed impossible had I not seen it with my own eyes, and gently placed his lips against the scar.
I shivered despite the heat seeping through my body.
Oliver shifted again, one leg on either side of my hips.
My face seared to an even brighter Paper Mate Pink.
He leaned in and kissed me.
I momentarily forgot how to breathe.
I kissed him back hungrily.
He put his hands on my hips.
I put mine around his neck.
He opened his mouth.
I opened mine.
It was fantastic.
Of course good things can’t last forever. Soon enough he pulled away, and soon enough I skittered off, afraid to believe I had just made-out with a boy.
But it wasn’t the kissing that scared me the most, no, it was the connection we had. I knew we had something, whether I liked it or not.
It was about time I came out to Melissa anyway.
Oliver and I took to meeting at strange hours in illicit places to continue what we had started.
It became a regular thing, lining my calendar right along with rehearsals and dentist appointments.
Whenever we were in public though, we pretended like nothing was going on. It was simply far too strange to fully comprehend.
Our odd encounters were fantastic every time, and he opened up an entire world to me. I knew I was ridiculously lucky. There wasn’t a person out there who wouldn’t love to be going out with Oliver. He radiated pure awesomeness, in the traditional sense.
As the play grew nearer, rehearsals became more and more frequent, and my meetings with Oliver grew more and more sporadic.
What we had was not love, per se, it was more of a period of experimentation. But over the course of weeks that we spent together, sharing fervent glances, I began to enjoy his company more and more, if only for that fact that it was his.
However, it was more than just hook-ups to both of us. He cared about me, though it manifested itself far less frequently while we were in the company of others.
Melissa definitely noticed something, but being the good friend she is, confronted me about none of it.
If I loved anyone, it was Melissa, although it was only platonically. Yet Oliver told me I couldn’t tell her about us for reasons I only understand now.
Going out with Oliver had a strange affect on me as well. I found myself speaking up more than I used to. This became inherently clear when Oliver dragged us to the Moonlight Bowling Alley.
Melissa, Dina, Sue, and Oliver decided that we had to go somewhere to celebrate our victory in one of the many rehearsals. In this case it happened to be the perfect spotlight angle that lit Oliver up like an angel, and Melissa wasn’t shy about telling him that.
“You look amazing Oliver!” She gushed, and Dina nodded in agreement.
“It’s all in the light.” Sue grunted, and I shrugged non committaly.
“What do you think, James?” Oliver prodded, his eyes glowing at me.
“It’s a mix of both?” I tried, and he laughed his electric laugh.
“Let the games begin!”
Oliver started organizing us into teams, but Melissa and Dina quickly began arguing.
“I want Surly Sue on my team!”
“You have James!”
“James can’t bowl for shit!”
“So why do you think I can bowl any better?” Sue interrupted.
“Because you’re…” Dina trailed off.
“Because I’m gay?” She raised her eyebrows past the ozone layer.
“Well…” Melissa looked uncomfortable.
“Yes. Duh.” Oliver made a face. “Why else? Surly Sue is gay so she’s good at sports. Duh.”
Dina and Melissa cringed, but said nothing.
“Don’t go around perpetuating stereotypes. It isn’t good for anyone.” He had no idea what perpetuating meant.
“Yeah.” Everyone turned to look at me because I barely ever said a word. “Well, Oliver’s right. Don’t go surmising stereotypes.”
“He said perpetuating.” Melissa pointed out.
“And I said surmising.” And with that I shut up and bowled.
I thought the most about it when we were backstage before the first dress rehearsal, and he was vibrating. I was comforting him, something no one noticed because I was constantly reassuring the thespians of their worthiness and ability to succeed.
“Are you okay?” I was rubbing small circles near the bottom of his back, picturing what it looked like in my minds eye.
“I feel weird.” He looked defocused, his eyes fluttering about, hands shaking ominously.
I immediately chastised myself for the impure thoughts I’d had, and gripped him tighter.
His Julius costume had the most awful frill around his neck, and from the way he was itching at it, I knew he wanted it off.
“Oliver, why don't you change?” I offered, and helped him onto his feet.
Our entire encounter was strange because of what had happened last night, and while I wasn’t complaining in the least, it was still strange to see him like this.
As he shuffled to the changing room, he muttered to me, far quieter than he had so many weeks prior when he was commenting on Dina O’Hara’s boobs, “Are you doing okay? It hurts a lot the first time.”
I blushed Expo Eggplant.
“Uhhh.” I glanced around. “Later, okay?”
I dragged him into the changing room and tugged at the zipper on his collar.
“I can manage, Jamie.” Oliver shoved my hand away and with shaky grip commenced his undressing.
“Which one’s yours?” I scour the benches for a backpack that could belong to him.
“Black one with the pink, blue, and purple pin.” I nodded.
I found it quickly and realised his pin was for bisexual pride. I wasn’t shocked, as Oliver flirted with everyone, but it still came as sort of a surprise.
I’d never thought too hard about his sexuality. I guess I just thought he was being courteous.
I shook the thought from my mind and hurried back over to where he stood. He gave me a shy grin, but reluctantly grabbed the pack from me.
I handed him a curt nod, and slipped out the door to backstage.
“Where’s Oliver, James?” Bobby’s foot tapped the ground, beating an impatient rhythm. His small, dim eyes looked me up and down.
“He’s feeling sick.” I didn’t like to lie very often, but I wasn’t about to spill Oliver’s closest guarded secret to anyone, especially not the infamous Bobby Watterson.
“So?” It was clear to everyone except Bobby himself that he had the largest unrequited crush in the history of Oakdale High.
“So what? He’s not feeling well so he’s going home!” I spat as Oliver trudged out the door, his moony eyes surveying the scene wildly.
“James?” Melissa came running towards me, arms outstretched. “James, I have to tell you something important.”
“What?” I snapped impatiently.
“Uh, never mind, Jamie—“
“Don’t call me that.” My head was aching and all I wanted to do was go home, or perhaps make out with Oliver. I was sick of secrets, sick of lies, sick of all the drama that Drama had brought upon.
I stormed past an astonished Melissa, an angry Bobby, and a very, very confused, Oliver.
He started after me, but I didn’t give him a chance to catch up. I blatantly ignored all of the confused Capulets’ glares as I strode across the full stage and leapt off the stage into the abyss below.
I was outside in under a minute, heading efficiently towards my car, a depilated Honda civic.
I clicked the car unlocked. Or at least I attempted to.
I shoved the key into the manual lock and twisted. The door swung open. I threw my bag inside and reached to unlock the driver’s side.
A startling tap to the shoulder caused me to jump.
“Jamie?” Oliver’s eyes were gaping holes of black, their usual phthalo swallowed up by dilation.
“I don’t want to talk about it, Oliver.”
“So we don’t have to.” He traced erratic lines down my arm, and I let out a deep breath.
“Okay,” was all I could manage at that point.
I stuck my hand in and unlocked the back door of the car.
Oliver opened it and sat down comfortably, as if the car were his.
I followed him in, and relinquished the world.
Time doesn’t pass conventionally when you’re lying horizontal in a Honda civic on a Thursday afternoon, the guy you’re sort of dating lying on top of you, his mouth pressed to yours, your shirt balled in his fist, your hands crawling every which way, holding each other in a way some people would consider sin.
It’s exactly what we both needed right then, him to distract himself from his spasming body, me to distract myself from my spasming mind.
He slipped my shirt off over my head, and I did the same to his.
He radiated heat that bounced off my body and filled the air with an aura of lust and desire.
I yanked him upwards, and his hands grappled for support.
Then I heard a knock at the window and froze.
Four faces stared back at mine; each one looking more betrayed then the others.
“James?” Melissa gasped at the same time as Bobby Watterson, Dina O’Hara, and Surly Sue asked: “Oliver?”
I looked at him. He glanced at the floor. I felt the knife of betrayal slip into my gut, not once twice, but five times, each by the hands of the people around me.
“Open the door!” Melissa pounded on the window, and then tried to force the handle outwards. It shot open with a potency that sent everyone tumbling somewhere, which for me happened to be the asphalt.
Tears streamed down Melissa’s face, and I felt some struggling to push their way out too. I didn’t let them. I wouldn’t cry. I couldn’t cry.
Oliver stood up from the ground next to me, and brushed himself off.
He didn’t apologize. He was above it. I wasn’t.
“I’m so, so, so sorry Melissa! I’m an idiot! I’m telling you, it’s not what it looks like!”
“Shut up! Just shut up James!” Her shoulders started to heave and I had to fight the impulse to protect her.
“Yeah James.” I turned to face him, wondering how he could say something like that and expect to get away with it.
“You were just as much a part of this, Oliver!” I set my jaw as menacingly as I could muster.
“Was not. You begged me to.” And for the first time I saw his nasty side. I’d heard plenty of stories, Oliver backstabbing his way to the top, but I never bought it. A guy like him didn’t have a mean bone in his body. But seeing the leering sneer on his face then, I understood.
This was a boy capable of sabotage, and I was his main victim.
“You, you…” But I said no more. I wasn’t one to waste my words so freely, and I also wasn’t one to fight a losing battle.
“YOU LYING MAN-WHORE!” Melissa shrieked suddenly, then with a click of her heel spun around mercilessly leaving me needlessly confused.
“It’s true, you know.” Oliver whispered to me after everyone had followed a pissed Melissa across the parking lot. “You were only ever a pastime. I have a real girlfriend. And it’s her.”
Then he too deserted me, and for the first time in my life, I was completely alone.
He died two weeks later, the night before the show. He was in the shower when it happened.
His weak heart failed him, sending his body spasming, not unlike it had before, into a deadly heart attack.
They found his corpse not too long after. They called an ambulance, but it was too late.
He was dead.
Oliver Corentine, an unstoppable force of nature, died.
People in the beginning couldn’t understand why a seemingly healthy teenage boy would suffer a heart attack, but I knew. I knew it had been coming for a long time. Bulimia is hell on your body, and I knew Oliver hadn’t had long to live.
But that isn’t to say I was ready when it happened. It still ached like an open wound.
Sure he had strung me along, lied, and manipulated me, but at the end of the day, I still cared about him. Care about him.
I left an anonymous tip about the cause of his death, and soon enough, the story had passed through school.
The worst part of it all to me was the fact that the show went on. They said Oliver would have wanted it that way, but I knew better. He loved the spotlight, and wouldn’t have wanted an understudy to have it instead of him.
His funeral was packed. Almost everyone at school showed up, from pimply freshman, to burly seniors.
I was invisible.
I slipped my hand into my pocket and fumbled with the small pin I had taken from him. Maybe stealing from a dead boy is wrong, but no one else was going to want it, were they?
During the wake, while others cried or snivelled, clutched each other or themselves, I strode purposefully towards his casket and looked inside.
He smelled of disinfectant and tears.
I pulled the pin out of my pocket and clicked the needle free.
I pricked the tip of my index finger until a blossom on crimson expanded around it.
I then placed my hand against his unbeating heart, staining the cloth dark red.
A tear soon followed.
“Your secret killed you. I’m not going to make the same mistake.”
I walked away to the back and found Melissa.
“I’m sorry.” She stared at me with her dull grey eyes.
“Me too. We only went out once you know.” She glances at the floor. “I’m sorry.”
“You shouldn’t apologize, Mel. It wasn’t you—“
“I was in love with him!” People turned and stared, some in disgust, others in recognition.
She wasn’t alone with that. Everyone was in love with Oliver Corentine.
The funeral was slow, the speeches dull, mostly from his family about what a wonderful boy he had been, and what a shame it was that he died so young.
I wasn’t having any of it.
After the eleventeenth cousin finished their speech, I strode dutifully to the podium.
“My name is James and I knew Oliver pretty well.” People didn’t really notice me. Not yet anyway. “I was also sleeping with him.”
That got their attention.
“Oliver and I had a complicated relationship, but he was a complicated person. I only knew him for a few months, but he changed my life, not all the ways good.
“Oliver Corentine was a force of nature, to the point where one might even call him a freak of nature.” That got me some startled laughs. “He left an impression on everyone he ever met, and he always had infinite amounts of energy, not all of which was used for good.
“Oliver was a manipulative little bastard, and that may not be what you want to hear right now, but it’s true. He strung everyone along in his web of lies, flirting with anything that moved. He rose his way to the top ruthlessly, destroying anyone in his path.
“But that’s not to say he was all bad. He also had a severe eating disorder. Bulimia. For those of you who don’t know, bulimia is basically where you can eat as much food as you’d like, you just puke it all back up when you’re done. But it’s not a perfect method. It happens to be the reason we’re all congregated here today.
“Oliver died because the puking pretty much stopped his heart from working. He essentially killed himself, if indirectly. He was a fool, but you don’t have to be too.”
“Come on!” Bobby Watterson stood up, his tie crooked, funeral brownie in his angry fist. “We all know you’re just bitter cause he dumped you for your best friend!”
“But aren’t you just proving my point?” I gripped the podium. “He’s a manipulator. Was a manipulator.”
“He is a great guy!”
“Was, Bobby, was! He’s dead now and he isn’t coming back.
Oliver’s mom was in tears.
I wished I could cry for him.
I wish I could cry for him.
But I can’t.
It’s been a year since he died, and I still can’t cry for him.
Sometimes when I fall asleep, I see his eyes flashing in front of me, those huge, green, Oliver, soulful eyes, brighter than the moon, and more distant than the stars.
Oliver was a strange boy. The world revolved around him, so when he died, we were all launched out of orbit. It threw a lot of people off, but it was grounding for me. I finally felt like my life was my own to live.
And that’s the tale of Oliver Corentine. He was a whole lot of things, not all of them good, but the one that sticks out to me the most is an example.
I’m not saying he deserved to die, I’m just saying he didn’t deserve to live, either.
#gay #eatingdisorder #bulimia #theatre #theater #death #maincharacterdeath #queer #love #ya
Driving down the long windy road in the dead of night, my thoughts race through my mind like a stampede in the African wilderness. Uncontrolled, unintellectual, and downright crazy has taken over my normally well-organized head.
An arm around my shoulder means my semi-drunk boyfriend has decided that he is sober enough to drive one handed. I nuzzle my head against his shoulder, not bothering an attempt at sleep. Moving vehicles never quite did it for me, and even so, my wild thoughts have trampled most of my tiredness to the ground.
“How much longer, dork?” he yawns, blinking rapidly. I pinch his arm. That startles him and he flips his head in my direction. “Whadju do that for, fuckhead?”
I smile sheepishly. “You looked tired.”
“Tired of you.” he mutters, eyes back on the road.
“Hahaha. You’re quite the comedian, you know that?” I reply caustically.
“Shut the fuck up. I’m concentrating, asshole.” his hand is off my shoulder and has resumed its perch on the steering wheel, glowing melaninlessly in the selenatic light.
I wonder where all the blood went, because it sure isn’t his brain.
“Three hours and forty-three, no forty-eight minutes left.” I answer his previous from the nav system.
He groans. “How does it take longer? We’re moving closer, aren’t we?” I shrug. When Holden gets worked up about something, nothing you say or do is going to make any difference. “I mean, it literally makes no sense. The time should always drop. Except if there’s traffic or something. If there’s traffic it makes sense, but we are the only fucking people on this road! Next time we get invited to a party at a Marne’s—“ I shush him.
“Not the only people.”
A hitchhiker stands all alone on the side of the road, thumb jutting out, staring hopefully into our windshield.
What do you mean?” Holden asks, confused by my cryptic manner.
The hitchhiker steps into the middle of the street.
“Watch out!” I shriek. Holden swerves off the street. I can’t focus on anything other than the rapidness of my breath, and the contraction of my lungs as I struggle for air.
The car flips. We land sideways in a ditch. My heart is pounding. I can feel the blood sloshing around near my encephalon.
“Holden! Holden! Are you all right! Holden! Answer me! Please, dear god!” I yell frantically. He can’t be dead. I don’t allow it.
“Dean.” He says in a gravely voice. “Dean, my legs.” I start to gasp frantically, lungs be damned. He’s alive!
Seemingly out of nowhere, the whole world tilts and the car has all four feet on the ground. I take in my surroundings. My nose is bleeding from an airbag explosion, but other than that I’m fine.
I can’t say the same for Holden. I had my legs tucked up on the seat when we crashed, but he was driving. The hood has crushed his legs, his right arm is bent like a Gumby toy, and his temple is dripping a steady stream of crimson blood.
I hear a tapping on the window and squint through the shattered glass.
“Are you all right?” The figure asks.
“Help us! Please! He’s stuck!” I call through the window.
The man grabs the handle, and attempts to wrench the door open. Holden lets out a whimper. I try to move my hand from where it is pinned to my side, and pat his good arm lightly.
“We’ll be all right, baby, just hang in there.”
The hitchhiker wrenches the door open, and I breathe a sigh of relief. I remove my hand from Holden’s arm and unbuckle myself. I slide out of the car and onto the hard-packed dirt of the ditch beside the road. The hand that helps me up is rough and calloused that belongs to a wiry man in his early thirties. He has his unruly black hair swept back in a red bandanna. His gaunt face stares me down, and I squeeze my eyes shut, grateful for the momentary lapse of reality.
“Thanks.” I breathe, still trying to comprehend what happened.
“No problem, kid. Is your brother all right? It’s too bad about your car. Normally people just stop, though.” I’m so flustered I don’t even bother to correct his mistake.
“His legs are smashed, his arm’s all twisted, and he’s bleeding a lot. I think he needs some serious help.” I’m so worried right now; I think I’m going to cry.
“Okay.” the hitchhiker says, even though it is so not okay.
“Be a man, Dean.” I mutter to myself. “You’re an adult now. Pull it together.”
If the hitchhiker heard anything, he ignores it. He yanks on the door, trying to force it open.
“Stuck.” He reports back to me. I inwardly roll my eyes.
“We should call 911. He needs help.” My eyes itch, and my chin trembles violently.
“We do not call the authorities. No.” His finality scares me a little.
Why? I don’t ask. Maybe he had a bad experience.
“Help me, would you?” He continues to pummel the door to no avail.
I gravitate towards the car. I’m scared. We’re hours away from the nearest town. Holden might not make it. We’ve been dating for two and a half years, and I’m not ready to lose him just yet.
“Got it.” I rush over to Holden.
“Are you okay?” I ask him, trying not to shake him too hard.
“Do I look okay, asshat? I’m dying!” Even wounded, my Holden has all the charm of a hermit witch.
“Jesus. I’m scared all right!” I’ve given in to the sweet release of melancholy. Tears begin to stream down my face in rapid succession “We’re stuck in the middle of nowhere, and you’re dying!”
“Dean, don’t fucking cry! I am not dying! I just feel like someone ran me over with a tractor and fed me to stray cats!” He called me Dean. This is the third time in the past five minutes. He never calls me Dean. It’s always dork or baby or fuckhead or asshole or something like that. Holden doesn’t really believe in calling people by their given names.
“I’m not trying to! Do you think I want to cry?”
Drops of bloody tears fall onto my shirt as I choke back messy sobs.
“I don’t think we should move him. If he broke his back, it might paralyze him.” The hitchhiker breaks in. I almost forgot he was there.
“Paralyzed?” Holden exclaims. “Call the fucking hospital or something! I need to be able to play lacrosse for my scholarship! If I get booted off the team cause I’m hurt, I could get kicked out of school!”
“No!” The hitchhiker yells. “No way! I don’t care. No police.”
“Are you a criminal or something? What’s your problem? You caused him to crash, and when he gets hurt, you refuse to call for help. Why? He’s in pain!” I’m verging on hysteria.
“A criminal? Do I look like I would break the law?” He does look awfully suspicious, once I think about it. His eyes are red and bloodshot, his clothes are in tatters, and he’s got an air of irascibility about him. Then Holden decides he wants to be an idiot.
“Hitchhiking is illegal in Nevada.” He coughs, bringing up some blood. The hitchhiker turns to face him.
“Enough!” I command. “I’m calling 911. If you want, we can say that you were riding with us, but we are calling the authorities and nothing you do or say is going to stop me.”
“Atta boy.” Holden mutters with a smile.
“Fine.” The hitchhiker mumbles. “Do it. Get a man in trouble. I could get arrested, but that’s fine.”
“I’m glad you’re okay with it.” I say, ignoring the sarcasm. “That makes me feel so much better.”
I pull my phone out of my pocket. The screen is shattered. I press the home button. Nothing.
“Holden, give me your phone.”
“On it, boss.” He answers with a smirk.
“Shut up.” I say sweetly. The blue glow of the LCD lights the dusky sky with mystique. I hit the call button, and type in 911. Just as I’m about to hit enter, I discover the lack of signal.
“What?” Holden cries. “Isn’t it supposed to go through anyway?”
“How?” The hitchhiker spits. “On magic waves? I told you it was a bad idea.”
I toss him a dirty look. We need to get Holden to a hospital as quick as possible.
“We need to try and get there. I doubt the car still works, but we need to try. Hey, could you tell us your name so that I know what to call you?”
“Oh yeah. Um… Greg.” I nod sceptically.
“Okay. I’m Dean, and this is my boyfriend, Holden.”
His face reveals his complete disgust.
“You’re a fag?” He spits. His revulsion leaves a sick feeling burrowing in the corner of my stomach.
“I prefer the term gay.” Holden says, barely audible. I’m getting worried. “But yeah. It’s the twenty first century pal. If you got a problem, you can get the fuck out of here—“
He starts to choke. I rush over to him, and rub his shoulder. The choking becomes less worrisome, and more cough-like, until it stops completely.
“You’re going to be all right, baby, okay. Don’t give up now.” I give him a light kiss, and he winces.
Greg makes a face. I ignore him.
“We need to get you out of here. I want to see if we can get the car to work.”
“Good luck with that.” Greg says with remarkable disdain. I ignore him again, but he really is starting to get on my nerves.
“Just put it into neutral.” Holden stammers, trying to hold back a cough.
“Genius.” I mumble. “Move so I can reach the gear.”
He leans a bit so I can get my hand into the car. I just barely miss it.
“Try going through the other side, asshat.” Holden looks at me like I’m the most vacuous person he knows.
“Well I’m sorry.” I snipe at him, unaware that answer was so blatants. Then Holden’s usual demeanour takes a complete about-face.
“Look, baby, I’m sorry okay? I’m just scared.” I gape at him. “Don’t look so surprised! Just because I’m so handsome doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings.” Greg snorts, and Holden turns to him. “I’d flip you off if my arm didn’t hurt so much.”
I walk around the back of the car, resisting the urge to run my hand across the trunk as if it were a horse. I reach into the maw of the vehicle, and manoeuvre around until I have a good grip on the gear stick. I pull, praying that this’ll work.
It does. As I let out a deep sigh of relief, the car slips forwards slightly, causing me to jolt.
“You did it!” Holden yells, coughing up some more blood.
“I did it.” I parrot, strangely not all that excited about my plan. “Now we have to walk the car all the way back to Reno.”
“Walk!? What do you mean, walk?” Greg sputters. I give him a look.
“You want to teleport? Be my guest.”
Greg grumbles something about not meaning it like that.
“We could hitchhike, you know.” He offers.
Before I can say anything, Holden cuts in. “That would take too long. How many cars did you see, anyway?”
Greg looks defeated. “Fine. But this is going to take forever.”
“This is our only option, and if you don’t like it, you can leave, but there’s no guarantee I won’t run you over.” I dare, resentment dripping off every word.
I get out of the car and close the door, more out of habit then safety. I walk around the back, and lean up against the truck. I look at Greg. He nods, and I shove.
The car lurches forward. I stumble, not expecting it to move so far.
Holden moans from the drivers seat. I grip the back of the crumpled heap of metal and start pushing again. The mangled car rolls relatively smoothly across the bottom of the ditch, but when it comes time to push it up the side, the dead weight refuses to go.
“Push harder!” Greg snaps, as I pant to get enough air into my system.
I’m sweating and wish I could just pull my shirt off, but we need to get the car up the side of the miniature valley. I remember a long ago poem that I read when I was younger. I think I must have been a sophomore or a freshperson, or something. It was that iconic Robert Frost poem. I start muttering some of it to myself.
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
Greg gives me a look that could burn through steel.
“What the fuck are you talking about?” I make a face.
“Poetry.” I say, not wanting to tell him, just wanting to keep it to myself. He doesn’t look like the type that appreciates the fine art of writing.
“Whatever. We need to get the car out of the ditch.”
“I know that.”
“So get it out of the ditch!”
“Well, Greg, maybe you shouldn’t yell at me then.”
“Well, sorry. Maybe I’m just regretting helping you.”
“I give up. How ’bout I try pulling from the top of the car.”
“That might work, I guess.”
I walk around the front of the car and get my hands around the bumper.
“One, two, three, Uhhh!” I pull the car, and we get the top two wheels on the road. “And again.”
I grunt as my arm muscles strain to yank the car up. My face flushes with blood, and I pull with all my strength. Greg shoves with his shoulder, and together, we have enough force to get the car back all the way on the road. I collapse on the ground, cursing myself for not working out when Holden asked me if I wanted to.
“Get up.” I pull myself skywards, using the car as a support. Bad idea.
It shifts slightly backwards, giving me a scare. “You’re an idiot.” Greg says, annoyed. I ignore him for the third time in what feels like five minutes. He’s extremely annoying, and I wish that he didn’t exist. I know it’s cruel, but if he hadn’t been standing in the middle of the road, we wouldn’t be here right now. I am never letting Holden drive intoxicated ever again.
“How are you?” I ask quietly, not wanting to disturb him if he’s sleeping. He groans, and turns his head. I take a hand and gently move his lightly stubbled cheek facing the direction it was before, not wanting to damage any spinal cords.
“I’m hurting.” I smile despite myself.
“Of course you are.” Greg cuts in rudely. “You crashed your car into a ditch.”
I suck a deep breath in through my nostrils, and hold it in for as long as I can. Holden knows me well enough to detect my defence mechanism.
“Just breathe, baby. Just breathe.” I let out a long sigh, colour rushing back into my bluish cheeks. And then I breathe again. We are going to make it. We have this. We can do it.
“We got this.” I mutter. “Only we have miles to go before we sleep.”
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep.” Holden breathes.
“But I have promises to keep.”
“And miles to go before I sleep.”
“And miles to go before I sleep.”
And with that, I stare up at the star blanketed sky, and sigh, knowing that we have this. If Robert Frost could walk many miles through the woods in the middle of winter, we could walk many miles through the desert in the middle of the summer. We had this.
“And miles to go before we sleep.”