Most of this is actually fiction, but some parts are, well, sort of autobiographical. The names of the characters, though, have been changed so as to protect their privacy. As with most stories, however, the author retains all rights to this story. Without the permission of the author, no reproductions or links to other sites are allowed.

This story deals with male homosexual love. If you are not of legal age (18 or 21, it depends actually where), or if you live/are in a place where material such as this is illegal, or if you are simply offended by homosexuality and/or homosexual themes, please leave.

This story, though, has not had and will have no sex scenes in it. ^_^

Again, if you have time, please read my other story "Similar Differences." I don't know if I should end it where it ended but I'm seriously thinking of adding to it.

Alone 6

How is it possible to go from bad to worse? Like a riptide tearing you away from shore and then finding yourself floating in a school of barracuda, dancing around you with hungry eyes in a whirlwind of glittering gray scales.

And you have no choice but to resign yourself to your fate.

With everything happening between me and Ry, I needed some time by myself. The quiet-space scene didn't really work with me. After all, being holed up in the deathly stillness of my apartment for the past three years, silence didn't give me rest anymore.

So I went out. I wanted to surround myself with people I didn't know - people who I didn't have to deal with. And, from afar, I'd look at their own problems - or at least, imagine what their problems could be like - and lay them out like cards next to mine.

Well, you know what they say: Misery loves (even imaginary) company.

Since parks were warm and humid, even at the advent of November, I opted to go to the mall. Armed with three scoops in a (huge) cup of Baskin and Robins', and a tiny pink spoon, I sat in a corner of the food court, feeling like a thief who stole a bit of everyone else's conversations. (Even imagined conversations. I couldn't eavesdrop on the whole food court.)

There was a pregnant lady who already had five kids running around - and couldn't control them.

There was a man who had lost his job and couldn't find another one.

Of course, I fabricated a lot of them. It was all going well, until he arrived.

When I saw Vince enter the food court, I stood up, then sat back down, then stood up again only to plop back down on my seat. I didn't know whether I should've waved and screamed from where I sat. It wouldn't have looked very flattering though, considering I was pigging out on a large triple sundae special.

As I finally made up my mind, I was already about to stand, a slim tall girl came up from behind him. And hooked his arm around hers.

They were smiling at each other.

And, like flowers in a bouquet, it was as if they told the world, "Look at us."

What made it worse was that they did look good together. Really happy. Shining like jewelry for sale.

My favorite memory with Vince.

We had a retreat then. Since I'd be away for three days, from Friday to Sunday, I couldn't possibly have taken my car to school, so my mom dropped me off and was supposed to pick me up afterwards.

She was late.

I sat, alone, at the steps leading up to the main gate, the only open gate that day, of my high school. No one was around, it was Sunday after all. My friends have long gone, except for a few who were God knows where.

"Hey, Chris!" I turned to see Phil, Mike and Vince, dressed and ready for a friendly ball game. Phil and Mike were two of Vince's closest friends - they were always together on outings to the mall or wherever. "Still waiting?"

"Yeah." I smiled back, weakly. I was still waiting.

"Wanna join us?" Seriously, I didn't know what they were thinking. All of them stood at least four inches taller than me. And, to tell the truth, I hated basketball, while Vince lived for the game.

"No, thanks. She might come anytime now, anyway." The covered courts were quite a walk from the gate where I sat. "Only the three of you playing?"

"Nope. The others are waiting at the courts already."

By 'others,' I was guessing their other friends. They formed a little group, a posse if you will. But they didn't really call it that.

"Oh, okay. Have fun!" I waved as I stood to take a drink from the nearby water fountain.

They were about to leave, when suddenly Vince said, "Uh... you guys go ahead."

My heart skipped a beat when he said it. Before I knew it, he was at my side.

"You sure?" Phil asked.


Being good-natured, Phil and Mike started teasing us. "Vince and Chris." "Cute couple." That sort of stuff. There was no malice in it at all. It was all actually quite funny. It made me go red.

Especially when Vince just put his arm around my shoulder and pressed me against his side.

When they left, I turned to him and asked, "Are you sure you want to wait here? I mean, it's boring."

"I'm sure." He said quietly, while looking down at me.

Then we took our places and sat on the steps. I don't know exactly for how long. We just sat there, in silence. The sun was bearing down brightly on the street. It seemed to make everything glow, as if everything had a golden aura.

Once in a while, he'd stand to take a sip from the fountain. But then he'd come back and sit with me on the steps. He wasn't really directly beside me, just maybe a step or two away.

And he wouldn't look at me.

Sometimes, he'd bite the joint on his right thumb. Sometimes, he'd be looking around. He seemed troubled, as if there was something he wanted to tell me.

Honestly? No, I really didn't know why he waited with me. And I didn't want to deprive him of leisure time with his friends. I'd tell him softly, "It's okay. I bet they're waiting for you." The third time I said that, he replied, "Don't you want me here?"

Though it made me a bit uneasy, I did want him there, a few paces away from me.

It's nice being quiet together with someone. Though I didn't know what to do, I really appreciated it. It was much better than waiting all alone.

When my mom finally came, I took my bags and, trying to balance everything - I have a problem with over-packing - I walked to the car, constantly looking back at him as he himself, stood and walked away. He waved back once, but he didn't smile.

When I got back to my apartment, I phoned Tara. At first she said that I was delusional, but when I got to the details, telling her I was sure of what I saw she said just said, "Don't worry. Once she gets pregnant, she'll blow up like a whale."

At least whoever-she-was could get pregnant. How could I compete with that?

I was quiet for a while. A pretty long while.

"Chris? Chris, has anything he said confirmed, well, anything?"

I knew what she meant. I just wanted to be sure. "What?"

"Chris. Did Vince say anything about you two?"

"He said he loved me." And he did. Just a few months before.

"No. I mean, did Vince tell you exactly what you are to him - and what he is to you?"

That's when I knew. My little dream world crumbled down in front of my eyes.

I wasn't really in the mood to talk. To anyone. I guess I got edgier the next few days. When Ry and I met up later, he wouldn't be able to talk with me at all.

Eventually his patience ran dry. He pulled me into a tight embrace and whispered, "Please just come. You promised. It would mean a lot to me."

The stands were not really that full. Judo isn't exactly the most popular sport here so Ry and I were able to talk on the bleachers before everything started.

It was early in the morning on a Saturday.

In the middle was a ring of red, yellow and blue mats, although I would hardly call them mats at all. They were thin and fairly hard. According to the officials, mats like that were much better than the soft ones. The soft ones usually tend to bring more injury.

Tara had ridden with me. The three of us were talking casually on the bleachers. Thankfully, I was feeling much better. I found that keeping myself busy gave me less time to think and worry about something that was beyond my control.

The early battles were fierce. Our school won all the light weight divisions and tied for some of the middle weight. Ironically, Ry was in the heavy division.

I was looking at the opposite team, and most of them were, though not as tall as he was - to put it euphemistically - stocky and stout.

"That isn't fair. You look like a stick compared to those monsters."

"That's not the only thing. Since they're shorter than me, they can throw me much easier."

Tara and I didn't really understand the connection between height and throwing. The looks on our faces must've shown it because Ry tried to explain. Apparently, it has something to do with a higher center of gravity, etc. etc. etc. Hm... that's physics. I didn't like physics much.

But Ry looked happy that we were there. He didn't like inviting his mother to tournaments like that one, so he'd usually only be with his teammates. Besides, if Mrs. Corwen were there, she'd faint at the sights she'd see in the ring.

It wasn't long before it was Ry's turn. His opponent was a really freaky-looking one. He only stood about two inches taller than me and I didn't know if he was porky or beefy. Perhaps somewhere in between.

It must've been a strategic move by the opposing coach to pit them together. There are only three belts in Judo, I think, each representing a certain degree of experience and capability. The first few years you wear white, eventually you get to wear brown. The highest-ranked judoists have the black belt. And even though Ry was a brown belter, the shortness-advantage of his white-belt opponent gave him the unfair genetic edge. (I never thought shortness could ever be an advantage.)

After hajime (I didn't know the exact translation, "Start!" or "begin!" Anyway, that's when they'd start grappling), Ry tried to bend his knees a little to sort of make himself smaller. He was doing pretty well, actually, being able to stave off throw attempts and even tried to get his opponent to give up in a submission move.

Then it happened. It was so quick that I didn't even see it coming. In a bout of frustration, his opponent grabbed him and threw him, clumsily but with a lot of power. He wasn't supported well and his head made first contact with the mat.

Everyone was stunned. That was a clear violation - and the match was awarded to Ry.

But he just lay there. He wasn't moving.

I didn't know how much time had passed, between the dead, dull thud of contact, to the blinding ambulance lights, to the hospital room, to the doctor talking in medical jargon explaining to us what had happened.

Ry was in a coma.

All I got from the doctor's litany was that he suffered a moderate to severe contusion which possibly lead to hemorrhage or something. I didn't even know that that was possible.

I didn't hear anything in the room, just drone of the air conditioner and the sighs coming from Ry's mom. Tara and I were there. Oddly enough, though it was almost 2 in the afternoon, we didn't feel the slightest bit hungry.

All three of us were watching him, perhaps hoping that he'd suddenly open his eyes, jump up and say, "Just kidding!" with the biggest smile on his face. He wasn't the type to do that, though.

I didn't know what he was going through. I've never been comatose. But I knew that whatever it was, he was alone. More alone now than he'd ever been. Possibly more alone than I've ever been.

And a thought scared me: What if he never came back?

"Chris, Tara. It's okay. Go home and get some rest." Mrs. Corwen whispered.

We nodded. Though I wanted to stay, I knew she wanted to be alone with him for a while. "Mrs. Corwen, I'll be over tonight. So that you wouldn't, well, keep on checking on him during your shift."

"Thank you." She smiled. She was tired. I knew it. Her face was drawn and she didn't have her bright sun-shiny smile on.

In the car, I let out a deep, long sigh. I hadn't realized that I was very tired, almost exhausted, myself.

"Chris, you don't have to pretend you're okay, you know." Tara said. She added, slowly, "I know how close you and Ry have gotten, and..."

I guess the added stress just piled up, one over the other and before I knew it, I cut her short.

"I'm not pretending anything." I didn't mean to shout at her, but that's how it came out.

"Oh come on, Chris! You can't get by just by yourself!"

"I've been doing it for the past months, why can't I now?"

Tara just shook her head. Words had dried up after that. Yes, I was exhausted.

After I'd dropped her off at her place, I drove in a possibly catatonic state. I didn't know if I was conscious, but my body just steered the wheel, and stepped on the pedals as if I were on autopilot.

In my apartment, I just curled up in bed and started crying.