"Hi Mom!" Joshua said animatedly into the phone.
His mother, Trisha, was one of the few people in his family he got along
with. He called her every weekend to find out what was going on in the
lives of his kin, and to get the latest on who his sisters were dating.
He relied on his mother for advice, but when it came to telling her everything,
he knew how big a mouth she had. He knew what he shouldn't tell her, cause
she could never keep a secret.
"Hey sweetie, hold on a sec will ya?" The sounds of crashing and gurgling in the background suggested that Bailey was awake and trashing Trisha's house.
"Hi hun. Sorry bout that. This little devil is getting to be quite a pain in my ass. How are you doing?"
"I'm doing ok. I can't talk long; I got a job interview for later today. Finally..."
"That's great! Where?"
"Eh, just this little restaurant on the strip. Nothing fancy, but I gotta get some bills paid. How are you doing?"
"I'm ok. About how much money do you need for the bills?"
"No, I'm fine mom, don't worry about it." If there was one thing Josh's mother was good for, it was giving her entire savings away if there was someone in need.
"Well, I'm still gonna send you something," Josh could hear the smirk in her voice, "How's the lovely Leslie doing? Have you two tied the knot yet?"
"Eww! Please mom, don't mention that. She's fine. Everything is fine. I think."
"What about the other thing..."
"What other thing?"
"You know what other thing!"
"No I don't." Josh didn't want to give in, he knew his mother needed to say it, just once. "After all these years, you still can't say it? Didn't your psychologist say you needed to learn to externalize you feelings...? Or some such bull shit?"
"Something like that. And you know I can't say it. But is it better?"
"Yeah, mom, I haven't cut in over two months. I think I'm doing very well. Dr. Hunt would be pleased. But then, probably not, I wouldn't have to come as often. He wouldn't be making as much money," he smiled inwardly.
"Good! Honey, I'm really proud of you. Keep it up, and eventually you can stop. Hopefully. Nothing at all is new here, just the usual. Your father is trying to get rich... Again." Josh heard a crash in the background, "Shit! Honey, I gotta go. I'll give you a call next weekend. Take it easy."
"Bye mom. Good luck with Bailey!"
Josh's mother had never been able to say what Josh did to himself. One day, after coming home from work, she found Josh asleep on the couch. His pants leg was high on his leg, and she noticed red scratches. Large, long red scratches. As she looked closer, she noticed that both of his legs were very cut up. She immediately phoned a friend of hers, who knew of the best psychologists in the state. Even after all the sessions, she couldn't deal with the fact that her son cut himself to relieve the pain in his life. And she thought he was perfect.
And on the outside, it appeared as if he was. He had a nice apartment, lots of friends, a comfortable life, and a supportive family. But if you look just a little deeper, you see exactly what's there. Nothing but shit. His entire life was a lie. No one knew the truth within him, except maybe Leslie, his best friend. And after what happened the night before, he wasn't sure that he knew himself very well either.
He had gone out with Leslie to an N'sync concert, and afterwards gone clubbing with them. He's not even sure how that happened. Leslie must have offered to sleep with one of them, it was just too odd. The biggest pop band in... Well anywhere... Asked Leslie and I if we wanted to go clubbing. And I was half asleep anyway. It was probably just a strange dream. But then, something odd happened. He found himself being hit on by another man. And liking it. And he was fully ready to leave when Leslie had stopped him.
For some reason, her argument worked. All he needed was validation. He had always thought that being attracted to men was wrong. And he wasn't really attracted to Lance anyway, but he figured it couldn't hurt to be with someone. If you can't be with the one you love, love the one your with, you know?
None of his previous relationships had worked out. They had either lasted all of two weeks, or were based on a foundation that had no way of staying together. He knew what he was getting himself into, and thus he didn't allow himself to become emotionally attached. He knew that some people were meant to be together. He truly believed he wasn't meant to be with anyone. He thought of himself as lucky, because he didn't have to let anyone in. If he didn't let anyone in, no one could walk out on him. There was safety in keeping people at arm's length. And if they dared to cross a line, and try to become closer, they were bound to be dumped.
And this is why he cut. Nothing else in his life was real, nothing else was tangible. The pain he experienced when he cut himself was real. He could say that he was sure of what he was feeling. The pain wasn't even bad; it helped to release all of his demons and anxieties. And he loved it.
The only reason he hadn't cut in over a month was that he was too busy. He needed money for college, so he kept trying to get a job. Not that it ever worked. He finally got a solid interview, but he was sure he wouldn't be able to get it. He had hardly any money in the bank, and was living off bread and water... Almost literally. `What the hell,' he thought. `It's not like I have anything else to do, its just another interview.'
As he drove to the restaurant, he began to wonder if he would ever be happy. Life never seemed to give him a break. He wasn't really feeling sorry for himself, but he was just tired of trying and getting no results. He walked into the restaurant with his head bent low, a sense of defeat lingering over him. Stopping at the cashier to ask where the manager's office was, he had a feeling someone's eyes were on him. Ignoring it, he headed in the direction of where the office was.
Sitting down on the bench outside the restaurant,
he knew he didn't get the job. And this being his last chance, he had to
admit defeat. "What the fuck is wrong with me?" he said, to no one in particular.
After what seemed like an eternity of introspection, he stood up, and walked
to his car. When he put the key in the door, someone tapped him on the
shoulder. He jumped and turned around, and was almost nose to nose with
one of the waiters in the restaurant.
"Your attitude." the waiter said, sounding smug.
"Excuse me?" Josh was confused.
"You asked what was wrong with you. It's your attitude. If you walk into a place not believing you're gonna accomplish anything, you won't. Whatever you put into something, you get out of it. Before you say anything about how corny and cliché that sounded, think about it. But not too long, I'm on my break."
"Uh... Yeah, thanks for the advice. I gotta go now." All Josh needed right now was someone spouting half hearted philosophical dribble. He almost appreciated it.
"Don't go, you look hungry. I'm on a break, wanna grab a bite?"
"What do you mean, I look hungry?"
"Well look at you. You're too thin. You need to eat." A compliment. Josh was hooked.
"That wasn't a..."
"So, you're gonna take me to lunch then. What's your name again?" Josh cut him off. Food he could deal with. A discussion about how thin he was, that's another thing.
"It's Bryce... Lunch it is I guess."
*A few drinks later*
"Well, I've always believed in love. I just
know that I'm not one of the people who'll experience it. And I don't think
it's a bad thing. I'll be a fifty-year-old, in a nice car, cruising the
strip. It's not that bad. I mean, who needs love? Not me! I can get by
just fine without it."
"Always the optimistic one, eh Josh? Life isn't worth living without the possibility of love. Wouldn't you like to be curled up in someone's arms, feeling safe and secure, and knowing how much that person loves you? That's what I want in life."
"I want a big house, a nice job, a few close friends, and lots and lots of money. If I fall in love, it'll just screw everything up. I don't need love. I've gotten this far without it."
"Someone will come along one day and change your mind about that. I hope maybe that person could be me." Bryce mumbled the last part, almost inaudibly.
"You think you could? I highly doubt it. No offense. But if you want a challenge, I'm up for it." Josh was drunk. Obviously. Somewhere in his mind, he knew how stupid he sounded. And how much he didn't need someone in his life. But he was too drunk to care. "When is lunch getting here anyways? It's been over an hour!"
"It's been ten minutes," Bryce giggled. He hadn't seen anyone who could hold their liquor as poorly as Josh could before. Just about as he said that, the waitress brought their food out.
"Finally," Josh slurred, and the waitress cast a worried glance towards him.
"You're not driving home, are ya?" she asked, a hint of a Southern drawl to her voice. Josh looked up at her and shook his head. He knew better than to drink and drive. He'd just get a cab... Or walk home. It wasn't far. Just twenty miles or so...
Josh and Bryce ate their lunch in quiet contemplation of one another, neither knowing just how to proceed. Bryce was convinced that Josh was drunk, and that nothing he said could be taken completely seriously. And Josh was convinced that Bryce was simply humoring him, and trying to make him feel better since he obviously didn't get the job. At the end of the meal, Josh excused himself to use the bathroom, and Bryce wondered if he should try to pursue anything with Josh.
`He is kinda cute,' Bryce thought, `His eyes are intoxicating, and his hair is perfect. Too perfect. He's definitely gay. Or at least bi. And he seems interested. Somewhat. Well, maybe I'll just give him my phone number. As a friendly jester. Sure, he'll buy that. I've just completely thrown myself at his feet. I'm practically screaming TAKE ME HOME!' Even his inner voice was sarcastic.
"Hi," Josh said, standing over the table. "Look, I'm sobering up kinda quick, I really didn't drink that much. I should be heading home. Thanks for lunch, I appreciate it." Josh wanted to leave. He figured it was better than staying. He couldn't get attached to anyone. Not now. He could barely support himself financially, and he needed that squared away before he could continue with someone else.
"Ok. Are you sure you can make it home?" Bryce asked as Josh nodded. "Ok, well... Here." Bryce grabbed a pen from his pocket and scribbled his number on the back of a napkin. "Call me sometime. We could go out."
"Sure," Josh tried not to sound exasperated. "It was nice meeting you." And with that, and a pat on the shoulder, he was gone. Quickly getting into his car, he drove home. `A new record,' he thought, `Two people hitting on you in under 48 hours. And both male. Am I gay? I can't be. My parents didn't raise me this way. Jesus, I sound like a fucking bigot. And a hypocrite for that matter. Maybe I should call Bryce. What could it hurt? Maybe he could talk the manager into giving me a waiter's job. I mean, how could I fuck up an interview for waiting tables? I must be some kind of pathetic freak.'
Putting his key in the lock, he noticed lights on in the kitchen. `Odd, I don't remember leaving those on.' Then, he heard crashing, followed by someone muttering some rather creative expletives. "Hello?" he yelled into the house.
"Oh shit! You're home already! I was gonna cook," Leslie. Trying to cook again... This could be painful.
Deciding against walking into the kitchen, he instead walked into his bedroom and hit the light. A familiar red light blinked on his answering machine, and he absentmindedly clicked the button to listen to the messages.
"Hello Mr. Hoff! Congratulations, you've won..."
These are the days
Never before and never since
The whole world will be as warm as this
And as you feel it
You'll know it's true
Are blessed and lucky
Are touched by something
That'll grow and bloom
These are the days
That you'll remember
So, how was it? Should I continue? Let me know, my E-Mail adress is Fricklor@aol.com. Thanks!