There was no physical comfort in being wrapped up in my own bed sheets. No emotional comfort in hiding. If anything, it kept the tears coming in short bursts that lasted for five to ten minutes at a time, while I did my best to stifle them with my pillow.
My body remained sore and bruised hours after the beating I had taken. To be honest, it had gotten worse. Giant dark purple blotches had appeared on my skin, with small yellow circles in the middle. Some of the bruises seemed to cover the entire side of my wiry abdomen, and my arms, legs, and shoulders, ached with a pain that made me not want to move at all. I knew I had bruises on my back, and some on my stomach. I could feel them throb in pain every time I took a breath. My legs had a few lumps on them as well. But it was my face that worried me the most. My eye was literally half closed. Puffy and black. I could feel it without even touching it. Just having my face wrinkle up to cry was enough to cause more pain. I had a bump on the top of my forehead, and my bottom lip had swelled to the point that it burned with a heated agony of its own. I kept running my tongue across the surface of it involuntarily, as though the tongue itself had developed its own curiosity about the fact that the once thin lips had been battered so badly. Even though a slight pinch of pain, followed by the tangy taste of blood, would occur every time my tongue touched it, I found myself continuously digging into the wound. Who knows why?
My mom, thankfully didn't come home until the middle of the night that day, and as usual...she was so exhausted that by the time she sat down on the couch to take her shoes off, she was beginning to drift off to sleep. Having her check on me would certainly be a big theatrical production. I've never been able to do so much as lose a BABY TOOTH without her worrying about her little boy. Seeing me in THIS condition was going to give her a full blown heart attack. Something I knew I was going to have to deal with sooner than later, I'm sure. It's not like I'm going to be able to hide around corners for the next few weeks while this level of damage heals.
I hardly slept at all that night. It was bad enough that the miserable bruises on my side almost caused me to scream out loud every time I rolled over or laid on my pillow the wrong way, but my head was swimming with a spiritually deafening variety of thoughts and fears about what was going to happen the next time I stepped foot in that school. Johnson was very 'clear' about what would happen if I opened my big mouth to anybody about what him and his goons did to me. Say one word...and not only do I get it ten times worse...but they hurt Tanner too. I can't even imagine my lovely Tanner having to lay in bed with this kind of pain. I can't imagine him being shamed, and beaten, and just...humiliated like this I won't do it. I won't put him in danger. But I CAN'T just give them an open invitation to treat me like this. Not even once. Because if they get the idea that it's ok to hurt me and they can get away with it...then it'll never stop. They'll be kicking my ass and shoving my heads into toilets every chance they get.
I just....I felt so lost.
Chris hates me. Mitch hates me. Johnson hates me. Half the school hates me, and the other half think I'm too low on their social radar to even recognize as 'human'. I mean...what the hell am I supposed to do? Even Joel stopped talking to me. I'm just...out of ideas at this point.
All I wanted was love.
The next morning, I woke up to see the sun pouring in through my bedroom window, and covered my head to shield myself from the horror of the reality I was sure to face if I stepped one foot out of that bed. I just laid there for fifteen or twenty minutes, praying that nothing would happen to drag me out of that safe little shell of mine. And that I could just remain wrapped in my blankets' embrace for the rest of the day.
I wasn't so lucky.
"Derrick? Come on, honey, you should be up and moving around by now. You know I've gotta work early today. If you miss your bus, I won't be able to drive you to school." My mom said, walking into my room and opening my shades so even more of that threatening sunshine could invade my sanctuary. I covered my head up even more, worried that she might take an actual 'look' at me and be thrown into a panic. "Derrick...please baby, don't play the tired old man today. Ok? I barely had enough sleep to be your coach this morning."
"I'm not going to school today, ok?" I said softly from under the blankets.
"What are you talking about? Of course you're going to school today. Get out of that bed and get in the shower, you've got just enough time to get your stuff together. Let's go."
"Mom....I mean it, ok? I....I don't feel well."
My mom sighed. Frustrated with the fact that I was giving her a struggle when she was so not in the mood for it. "What's wrong with you? Huh?" I didn't answer. I just kept my head covered. "I thought we already had this discussion, Derrick. No more cutting classes. Isn't that what you told me? You promised."
"Mom....please?" I said, a tremble in my voice, as hiding the truth from her began to tear me up inside. The shame forced this intense pressure up into my lungs, and I felt tears begin to well up in my eyes as I curled up into a tight ball in the bed. "Please don't make me go. I don't feel good, ok? Just go to work."
I heard a slight pause, as she realized that something was seriously wrong here. This wasn't just me being lazy and wanting to sleep for another couple of minutes. This was an actual problem. And I could practically 'feel' her concern growing in the air around me. "Derrick? What's wrong?"
"Nothing." I said, the tears beginning to fall as I wrapped myself up even tighter.
"Baby....what is it?"
"NOTHING! Can you please just leave me alone? Please?" I sniffled a bit, and I felt her sit down on the bed next to me. She put a hand on my shoulder, and I shrugged away from her. But that only made her more determined to look me in the face and get an answer.
"Derrick, talk to me." She began to pull at the covers, and I fought to keep my face hidden. "Derrick?" She said, getting even more worried as I refused to come out of my protective wrappings. She pulled some more, and I couldn't speak, for fear that she would hear me crying. I just pulled back even harder, and when she pulled the blankets off of my face, I buried it in the pillow. Not that it did much good. The giant bruises on my side, back and shoulders were now more than visible...and she gasped out loud in horror. "Omigod...baby? Omigod...." She said, and as the blankets were pulled lower, and she saw the huge purple blotch on my side, she sounded as if she were about to cry herself. "OMIGOD! Baby, what happened to you??? Derrick???"
"Mom...please don't do this now. Ok? PLEASE just...go to work and let me stay home today?"
"Who DID this to you???" She said, lightly running her fingers over my damaged flesh. And when I finally looked up at her from the pillow, she saw my eye, and my lip, and her panic escalated to the point where she covered her mouth to keep from screaming. "Ohhh honey...omigod....my baby!" She instantly reached out her arms and pulled me into her embrace, tears in her eyes as though it was HER fault or something for 'allowing' this to happen. I have to admit...once I let my own tears come, feeling her loving arms rocking me back and forth slowly as she kissed the top of my head...I did feel a bit more comfortable than before. If for no other reason than I had gotten this particular revelation knocked of of my checklist of things to be worried about in the days to come. Only a mother's arms could a body THIS bruised and battered, and not touch a single sore spot.
I wish that I could have just kept my mouth shut and enjoyed the hug for a while longer before she went to work. But again...I wasn't that lucky.
"I have to call Tina and tell her to work my shift today. I'll be right back, and we can talk, ok?"
"Noooo..." I moaned, holding her still with both arms.
"No? What do you mean, no? Derrick this is SERIOUS!"
"Mom, you can't take off from work! Money is stretched thin enough as it is."
"I don't give a damn about BILLS right now..." She said, as if appalled that I would even bring it up at a time like this.
"You can't fix this. Ok? You can't. Just...go."
"I'm not going anywhere until you tell me what happened!"
"Don't you DARE treat this like a skinned knee, Derrick! Omigod, LOOK at you!" She said. "Who did this? Who put their hands on you?"
"I just got into a fight, ok? It was just...it was a fight. I'm fine."
"This is *NOT* fine! Not by a long shot!" She said, now standing up from the bed. "Where were your teachers??? Huh??? Where was security??? What the fuck kind of SAVAGES are walking the halls where they would do something like this to a 14 year old boy???" Her voice got louder and angrier by the second. "I'm calling the principal right now, and you and me are going to get to the bottom of this!!! They can't get away with.."
"Mom! No! You...you CAN'T do that, ok? You CAN'T..."
"Are you CRAZY?" She asked me, wiping her eyes. "Derrick...you better start telling me what the hell is going on, and I mean RIGHT now!"
But I only sunk deeper into my blankets again, covering myself up to my neck, and hoping that she would calm down a little if she wasn't looking directly at the new 'designs' recently added to my frame. "Can't you just let me stay home? Just this once? Please? I don't want to go to school today. I don't wanna go, ok?" I sobbed.
"I need answers, Derrick."
"Just go. You're gonna be late."
Stressed beyond belief, my Mom began to pace, and with watery eyes, she attempted to catch her breath. "Give me SOMETHING, Derrick! I'm NOT going to just go to work and FORGET about this!" I didn't know what to tell her. And as she began to cry, I felt my head slowly dipping further under the covers again. "TALK TO ME, DAMMIT!!!" She demanded.
"I told you...it was a fight. Ok? That's all it was." It was the truth, wasn't it? I mean...that's all it was. A fight. What else did she want from me?
"A fight with WHO???"
"Some boys from school..."
"BOYS??? More than one? They JUMPED you???"
"Mom, please don't make a big deal out of this now. Just go to work and let me...'heal' for a while."
"No. No, Derrick, this is unacceptable! I'm going up to that school today and I'm giving them a piece of my mind..."
"DON'T!!!" I said louder than before. "Mom, if you do that you're gonna make things MUCH MUCH worse, ok, you've GOTTA believe me!"
The look on her face changed, and she sat down beside me again, kissing my cheek. "Oh my God...did they threaten you? Is that it?"
She began to go on and on, kissing me over and over again until I had to almost struggle to get free. "Mom, STOP IT!!!" I pushed her away, the shame of letting her see me like this, letting her 'baby' me when I had already lost so much of my self respect to this situation...it really began to drill a hole in my heart. And I didn't want her...'dealing' with this. It's too close to me and Tanner. Too close to me and Chris. Too close to exposing EVERYTHING! I just wanted her to go away. As much as her arms brought me comfort, I'd rather suffer alone than be forced to explain what happened.
She looked soooo hurt. And she pulled away from me as I curled up into a tight little ball and submerged myself in the covers again. "Honey...." She started, but tried her hardest to understand. "What do you want me to do?" She sniffled.
"Just go to work, and let me rest, ok? That's all I want." My mom was swallowing a LOT of hysteria at the moment...but she was attempting to collect herself.
"Do you..." She started to cry again, and held it in as best as she could "...Do you need to...see a doctor?" She couldn't believe that she was saying those words to her only son. She was emotionally torn apart, seeing her baby boy lying there like that. I couldn't have burrowed any deeper into the bed if I tried.
"No. It's just bruises. It...it looks worse than it is." I lied.
There was an extra long silence between us, and my mom wrestled with so much guilt that it hurt me to be in the presence of it. Then, at long last, she said, "I'm going to call Mrs. Munch over and tell her to keep an eye on you today."
"Don't do that, Mom. I don't want to have to go through this with her too.."
"This isn't up for discussion..."
"Mom....I'm ok. Please believe me, I just want to be left alone. PLEASE..." I pleaded, my voice almost cracking from the strain of holding back my emotions.
She hated it. She hated everything about it. But she let down some of her defenses, and she sat down next to me, gently petting my hair with her hand as tears ran down her face. "I know..." She sniffled. "I know...that you're trying to be strong. Even when you were a baby, you were more stubborn than I could handle. But...honey, nobody expects you to take on the whole world by yourself. You're all I've got. Do you understand that? You are my life, Derrick. I'm doing everything I can to keep us afloat here, but...damn the world if it means losing you. Ok?" She said, kissing the top of my head as I tried my hardest not to cry where she could hear me. "Oh baby, please tell me you hear me." She said.
"I know..." I said softly.
"I...I wish your father was here to help me understand this. Whatever it is that you're going through...I wish I knew how to help you. But you've got to help me, Derrick. You've got to tell me what's going on." I laid there in silence, and she got the hint that I wasn't going to say much more on the topic. She kissed me again, and with a trembling voice, she said, "I'm trying, baby. I'm trying sooooo hard." I didn't want to hurt her. I didn't want to worry her over something so stupid. But I don't have a way to ease her turbulent mind without exposing a secret that was sure to make things even more chaotic than they already were. So I did the only thing I could do. I curled up into tighter ball, kept my face hidden in the covers, and I waited for her to get up and leave. "I'm going to call you on my lunch break. Just to see if you're ok. And you call Mrs. Munch if you need ANYTHING, you hear me?" I gave some sort of grunted signal to say 'yes', and with a bit more hesitation, my mom forced herself to leave my room.
There were a few times when she dedicated herself to just letting me be..the 'man of the house', or whatever. But this was one occasion where I'm sure she wasn't going to just give in and let me handle it. I thought about running after her to make her PROMISE not to call the school...but at that moment...if it meant leaving my bed sheets and blankets, I didn't want to pursue it. She made me some bacon and egg sandwiches, and put it down beside the bed for me with a tall glass of cold milk. "I've got an eleven hour shift today, so I should be home around 8:30, ok?" I nodded from under the covers, waiting for her to go before allowing my head to resurface. My mom fidgeted for a minute, and then sniffled a bit again before saying, "I'll see you soon, honey. Ok? Just...you just rest and..." Her voice got caught, and she had to go before she started crying again. "Be good."
I waited until I heard the front door close before rolling over and pulling the blankets down from my face. I practically devoured the two sandwiches instantly. Nice to know that Johnson's beating didn't do anything to spoil my appetite. I swear, a pair of sandwiches in bed never tasted so good.
I stayed in bed for the next half hour. Not really doing much of anything except for staring at the ceiling and trying to move as little as possible so as to not trigger any more painful twitches. And I had to find the will to stop sucking on my busted lip, as I'm sure that I was gonna make it worse, or 'rip it back open' or something. But, as much as I wanted to stay right where I was for the rest of the day...nature decided to call and force me out of bed anyway.
Getting up was a horrible experience. I had gotten so stiff, and no matter which side of the bed I rolled to...there was a bruise waiting to pinch me and make me yelp out in agony. I didn't realize how bad left knee and my back was until I had to actually walk to the bathroom and relieve myself. And then...I went to the sink to wash my face and hands....
Looking at my reflection....I just...
I had almost forgotten how bad it was.
I stared for a few seconds, and then had to turn away from the image. No wonder my mom panicked. Jesus.
I washed my face carefully, especially when it came to my black eye. And when I brushed my teeth...I thought for a minute that one of my TEETH was loose! But after careful examination, it was just a bit sore. Thank God! I can't afford to lose any teeth. That would just plain suck!
The house was quiet, and while I almost wanted to crawl back into my bed and just 'moan' myself back to sleep...I decided to go into the living room instead. But I took my blanket with me. Just in case that ratty old sofa ends up being more comfortable than my waking state of mind can handle And from there on out, it almost started to feel like a 'day off'. I mean...once the threat of having to show my face to anybody was removed, I didn't feel like such a pity troll. I went to the shelf and got some DVDs that I hadn't seen for a long time, made some popcorn in a big bowl with some extra melted butter, and just kicked my feet up for a while. I don't know what was so comforting about watching "Fight Club" that day, considering what happened yesterday...but damn if it didn't make me feel good. I swear...one of these days, I'm gonna catch Johnson when he's away from his gang of brainless thugs, and I'm gonna smash his pretty face in! Maybe give HIM a few days off from school! Asshole!
My mom called MORE than just on her lunch break. She stressed about me all day. Every time she got a chance to get away from her customers at the diner, she was on the phone again...making sure I was 'ok'. Telling me to take some Aleve tablets if I was in any pain. Telling me to drink plenty of water. Asking me if I wanted anything special for dinner in case she had to go by the store. Ugh! By the fifth phone call, I had to literally tell her to stop before she drove me completely nuts. I don't know what I'm gonna do about this just yet, but I'll figure something out. I don't need her 'helping' me to stress over everything.
I think it was about 3:30 in the afternoon, and I was about ten to fifteen minutes into watching "Holes". Seeing a young Shia LaBeouf half naked with nothing but a pair of almost see through briefs on used to be so hot to me. But now that I look at his frizzy curls and big bright eyes....he reminds me too much of Mitch. Another boy who deserves to be dunked in the toilet. Much more than ME, anyway. Of course, it doesn't mean that I didn't watch the scene in super slo-mo, though. And then...the doorbell rang.
I thought about ignoring it, since nobody was supposed to be home anyway, but I closed up my bathrobe and got up to answer it anyway. And as soon as I did...I saw Tanner standing in the doorway. It was an unexpected burst of beauty that seemed to flood my heart with love the second I laid eyes on him. HIS reaction, however, was a LOT different.
"Oh God!!! Oh...oh God! It's true!" He gasped, putting his hands over his mouth and almost backing up far enough to fall down the front steps. For a while there, I had almost forgotten that I looked like a monster.
"Tanner...dude, it's ok..."
"They hurt you! They HURT you!!!" He started to breathe heavy, and he almost took it worse than my MOM did.
I had to grab him and pull him inside the house before he caused anymore commotion. "Dude, seriously...it just...'looks' really bad. But I'm ok. I promise."
Tanner hugged me around the neck, and he gave me a few sweet kisses on my cheeks, cuddling me like someone had just returned his long lost puppy. "Omigod, Derrick...why? Why did they do this?"
"Heh...do I really look THAT bad?" I joked, not that it helped any.
"I heard some boys at school talking. They said Johnson's been going around, bragging about how he took care of the 'gutter slug' and taught him a lesson...and then your name came up...and I didn't see you in school, so I thought you might be hurt....and..."
"Shhh...don't worry about it. Johnson got his laugh, I took a few hits...it's over." The truth is...I didn't believe a word of what I was saying. The more I tried to escape the suffering, the more other people rushed in to bring it right back to the surface. And all the energy I had to keep from collapsing under the weight of the situation...I had to use it to keep everybody else calm. It was more draining than just keeping it to myself. I looked Tanner in the eye, caressing his soft warm cheeks in both hands, and let my fingers brush his silken locks back towards his ears. His pure, bright hazel eyes stared into mine, frantically looking for an answer...and I leaned in to kiss his angelically sweet lips. If there was ever a cure for what ails me, it was the beauty of my boyfriend's kiss. Even though it hurt my busted lip a little bit, bearing the pain was a small price to pay for the joy of having his soft lips embrace mine. But after about a half minute of kissing...Tanner pulled away.
"What are we going to do about it?" He asked, his lips now tightening up with anger.
"'Do' about it? We're not going to 'do' anything. I'm gonna wait until some of the bruises go away, and then I'm gonna go back to school."
"No. You and me are going to Principal Payton's office tomorrow, and we're going to get him suspended!" He said.
"And after that, we're going to the POLICE and filing ASSAULT charges! I mean LOOK at you, Derrick! This isn't just a bloody nose from a high school bully! They totally ATTACKED you!"
"Tanner, you're not listening to me! We CAN'T tell, ok??? If we tell, Johnson's gonna bring the fury of God down on me!" I told him. "He'll wait for me after school and pound me into the cement with a vengeance..."
"Then we'll get someone to PROTECT you from him! Derrick, you can't be SERIOUS about just letting them get away with this!" Tanner pleaded.
"I'm...Tanner look...it's just..." How do I say it? How do I look into those eyes and tell him that he'd be in danger too? All because of me. "...It's complicated, ok?"
"There's nothing complicated about this, Derrick. We KNOW who did it, and he has to suffer the consequences for it."
"People like Johnson do suffer consequences. They just laugh it off and keep going." I said, stepping away from Tanner. "Do you really think a three day suspension is going to magically get him and his crew to 'behave'? They don't give a shit about me, and they don't give a shit about Principal Payton either. Don't you get it? They RUN that place! I don't stand a chance."
"Run that place? What are you TALKING about? That's ridiculous." Tanner said, coming closer to hug me again. "Derrick, if you want me to go to the office with you, I will. We'll do it together. I'll be there for you no matter what, you hear me? I'm not gonna let them hurt you. There's gotta be someone that I can talk to. Somebody that we can get to listen and do something about..."
"Look, I really don't want to talk about this, ok?" I said, interrupting him before he went any further. The truth is...the idea of taking steps to 'deal' with this was beginning to cause a mini panic attack of my own. I could feel the fear building up in my chest all over again. That helpless feeling getting stronger by the second. I just wanted to ESCAPE that feeling. I wanted to get away from it. Ever since Johnson first approached me in that hallway...ever since he beat me down and shoved my head in the toilet...ever since I ran out of school and caught the bus home...I've been trying to escape that...that feeling. I don't want to acknowledge it. I don't want to THINK about it! I just...I just want to start blocking it out like it never happened. I was WEAK, and I was HELPLESS, and I was ASHAMED! And all I want to do is NOT be any of those things! I want it to stop! Please make it STOP!
"I'm trying to help you..."
"I don't need any help. Just forget about it. The weekend's coming up...and I'll get some rest..."
"Derrick...don't shut me out." Tanner said, a hint of desperation in his voice. "Please?"
I felt the emotion rising up again...and attempted to swallow it back down as much as I could. I turned to Tanner, and begged him to let it go. "I know you want to help. I know that. But...you have no idea what it was like...having to fall to my knees and let them beat me the way they did. You don't know what its like to be so...defeated. It hurts! Ok? I said it. It HURTS! I'm humiliated. I feel totally worthless for letting them bully me, and every time I think about it I wanna curl up into a little ball and die." I said, causing Tanner to sniffle slightly as he tried to look at the scars on my face without feeling the pain himself. "I just...I don't wanna feel like that, right now. Ok? I know that we have to do something about this, and I know you want to be there for me, but..I just want to pretend that I have some self respect left right now. I just want to watch TV, and eat popcorn, and...forget about how much everything hurts. Can you understand that?" Tanner wiped his eyes, and reluctantly nodded his head. "Good. Because I don't know if I have the heart to be strong for the both of us right now." I said, lowering my head a bit as I tried to make that sick feeling in my stomach go back into hiding again.
But Tanner kissed me gently on the lips and said, "Then maybe it's my turn to be strong enough for the both of us." He hugged me tight, and I winced from a sharp pain in my side, but I held my breath and kept from squirming too much. I wasn't ready for him to let me go just yet. He held me for a few moments, and then he asked me, quite innocently, "What are you doing?"
"What do you mean?" Tanner let go of me, and he was looking at the TV screen. I had paused the movie to answer the door, and sure enough, there was young Shia LaBeouf, locked in a freeze frame, in his tightie whitie underwear...with the DVD zoomed in on his package as close as I could get it "OH! Jesus!" I hit the stop button and started giggling a bit as a strong blush flooded into my cheeks. Tanner raised an eyebrow, and a crooked little smirk crossed those sweet lips of his. "I was just...it's "Holes". I mean..." He didn't say a word. He just crossed his arms. "It's a DISNEY movie, for crying out loud."
"Not the way YOU were watching it, it isn't." He said.
"Well that's the way they FILMED it. I didn't ask them to force any teenage boys to strip for the camera."
"Riiiiiiight..." He smiled, then he reached for the remote and started the movie again. Then he rewinded it a bit. "Besides...the ass shot is better." He grinned. I gave him a surprised look. "I got this movie at home too. If you ask me, it was the best 'hole' in the whole movie."
And that comment alone let me know that he was at least going to 'try' to keep the worries to a minimum for the time being. Even if I could see the growing concern in his eyes, it helped to not have to talk about it. The last thing I wanted was to feel like a freak in front of my favorite boy. For now...it was better to fake being ok.
I told Tanner that my mom wouldn't be home until eight o'clock, and that it would make me feel better if he stayed for a while. Something he was eager to do. He kicked off his shoes, and snuggled up next to me on the couch to watch the rest of the movie with me. The warmth of his body next to mine...it could be soooo soothing. I loved his scent. I loved the tenderness of his touch too. Especially when his delicate hands would run up and down my bare chest, and then rest on my stomach. Occasionally, Tanner would feel a lump, or notice a quick intake of air from me when he touched a sore spot...and his loving touch would retreat from that area immediately. He whispered 'sorry' the first time or two, but after that, he didn't say anything. But even in his silence, I know that it was literally killing him to see me in pain. And something about that, increased my love for him by degrees that only the human heart could measure. So between kisses and cuddles...we just tried to find some comfortable balance between what was said and unsaid in that room. And I loved every second of it.
Tanner was resting his head on my shoulder, the both of us holding hands under the blanket, when he said, "You know who he looks like?"
"Mitch?" I smiled.
"Omigod, that's exactly it."
"Yeah, I thought the same thing earlier. Kinda ruins the cute factor for me now."
Tanner scoffed. "Whatever. You'd do him in a second if you could."
"No, silly! What are you thinking? Hehehe!" Tanner's hands rubbed soft circles across my skin, and even though I was a little to wounded to really do anything, I felt some rather arousing tingles down below. I started to harden, wondering just how much pain I could bear for the pleasure of a quickie...but Tanner stopped just as things were heating up. "Do you mind if I get something to drink?" He asked me.
Ah well, maybe it's for the best. Just my luck, my mom will come home early. "Go ahead. I think there's some Mountain Dew left in the fridge. If Joel didn't drink it all, that is."
"Cool? You want anything?" He said, kissing me on the lips with a smile.
"Nah, I'm ok."
Tanner got up, and I felt the cold disconnection from his body the second he departed from my embrace. His sock feet padded towards the kitchen, and I heard the doorbell ring again. I wasn't sure what the hell was going on, but the LAST thing I wanted was another visitor. Especially now that Tanner and I were feeling 'comfortable'.
I got up and went to the door, opening it up to see yet another familiar face standing there. "Chris?" I could hardly believe that his name came out of my mouth. I could hardly believe that he was here.
He took one look at me and his eyes widened with shock. He couldn't speak at first, but then quickly looked down at his feet...trying to hide his surprise. "I...I heard about what happened." He said. He peeked up at me again, but couldn't bear to look at me for more than a few seconds at a time before directing his eyes elsewhere.
I didn't know if I should be...angry at him...or if I should thank him for calling off the 'heat' on me and Tanner at school...or if I should slam the door shut in his face for practically trying to 'rape' me this past weekend. But from the way he was fidgeting in front of me...I figured that his visit was a bit more on the harmless side. "What are you doing here?" I asked.
"Derrick..." He was literally squirming now, and then he said, "..I just wanted to let you know that I didn't have ANYTHING to do with this. Ok? I would NEVER hurt you! I mean...if I thought for one second that Johnson was going to do this...I just..."
"I know you didn't do this, Chris. It's not your fault."
"It IS my fault. This whole thing got out of hand, and I'm sorry. I just wanted you to know that...above all things...despite what happened...I still love..." He cut his sentence off instantly. And I saw his eyes looking over my shoulder as he caught sight of Tanner coming out of my kitchen to see who I was talking to. Tanner's face changed, and he sorta slinked back out of sight. And I saw Chris practically 'shrink' right in front of me. The pain on his face was unavoidable. He couldn't have hidden it from me if he tried. It was like his heart breaking all over again, his injury torn open by the sight of us together in a house alone. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have come." He stuttered.
"No. It's ok."
"I've gotta go anyway..."
"No you don't." I said, and I tried to just...I don't know...let him know that I still cared about him too. "Do you...do you wanna come in?" It just sorta came out of my mouth. I don't know why, but something in me wanted to patch things up.
"You...you want me to come in?" He asked.
"Yeah. We're just watching a movie. I mean...if you want to."
There was a conflict brewing in Chris' eyes. Does he leave and spare himself the heartache? Or does he spend time with the one boy he swears that he could ever love? He looked over my shoulder to see Tanner again, and then he thought about it for a moment.
Finally, he said..."Well...maybe just for a little bit."