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Earth, As it is in Heaven
By:  Roman Genesis

Chapter 14
Halfway To Nowhere

      I tried to keep the tears from my eyes as I stared out at my teammates as they approached.  The seemed larger than life out here on the field.  They were giants and my life was now in their hands.  Anthony stopped in front of me and glared down, his face a twisted vision of evil.  "On the field I might not have a problem with you, but off the field..."  His eyes were burning with rage.  I was so scared.  "I don't want to see you," he said.  "I don't want anything to do with you."

     I closed my eyes and pushed through the boys, the ones I had once called my best friends in the whole world.  I had to get away.  They hated me now and wanted nothing more than to see me tied to a fence somewhere bleeding from massive head injuries.  I ran into someone and fell to the ground.  I looked up and saw Vanessa looming over me, the whole school behind her.  "I'll die before I lose you to some freshmen fag," she said.  All the children standing behind her were staring at me in disgust.  This sick freak of nature had no idea where to turn.  The eyes were burning me.

     "Please," I muttered.  "Help me."

     "I'm not going to help you," Vanessa screamed.  "I hate everything about you.  You are weak and pathetic.  You're dirty and impure."  She stood a little taller, no longer even bringing her eyes to look at me.  "You disgust me."

     I tried to turn away from her, but I ran straight into a wall of children.  I was trapped!  None of them moved.  They just stared at me.  I had no way to escape!  I turned back to Vanessa.  "Please," I screamed.  "I'm sorry.  I'm sorry."  I collapsed to the floor and curled up in a ball.

     "Look what you've done to me," I heard someone screaming.  It sounded like Sebastian.  I looked up and realized I was in Sebastian's house.  Eric was standing over me with a swollen, black eye.  "You selfish bastard.  Are you happy now?"

     "I'm sorry, Eric," I said.  "We didn't know."  I was crying uncontrollably now.  I was sick of the voices.  I was sick of running.  I could feel the hate of the entire world bearing down upon me.  I thought I was going to be sick.

     Eric walked past me and went straight into his brother's room and I looked up to see Sebastian being thrown out into the hallway with me.  His body was limp.  He had become completely submissive.  Eric came out and kicked him as hard as he could in the stomach.  Sebastian curled up tighter, but didn't so much as let out a yelp.  "Stop it," I cried.  I tried to get up, but I realized that my own body had become numb and immobile.

     "I hate you," Eric screamed as he kicked his brother again.  I couldn't watch anymore.  I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to block the image out of my mind.

     "This can't be happening," I muttered.  Suddenly, I felt someone come down beside me and I looked up and realized it was Sebastian.  "Sebastian," I whispered.  "I was so scared."  His face was blank, betraying no emotion.  He said nothing and finally I asked, "What's wrong?"

     "We were wrong," he said calmly.  "We were wrong to go through with this.  Eric was right.  We were selfish and stupid.  I'm sorry Trevor."  I began shaking my head, unable to grasp what he was saying.  I had endured all of this pain and all of this humiliation for Sebastian.  There was no other reason.  Everything I had done, I did for him.

     "No," I whispered.  Sebastian stood up and I realized that Eric was nowhere to be seen.  Now that I thought about it, I wasn't entirely sure I was speaking to Sebastian.  It might have been Eric talking to me.  Or maybe it was both...

     "Look what you've done to me," the boy said.  I continued to shake my head.  This couldn't be happening.  I couldn't handle it anymore.  My heart had stopped beating and my breaths came is short, sporadic bursts.  "I hope you're proud of yourself," he continued.  "Because no one else in this world is."

     I sprang up in my bed and looked around my room, half expecting the incarnation of Sebastian and Eric to be standing somewhere in the shadows.  My sheets were soaked with sweat and the room must have been a hundred degrees.  I got up and went over to the window to see that there was still a thin layer of snow on everything.  I tried to block out the images from my dream, but they had been so vivid and realistic this time.  My nightmares were becoming worse each night.  Maybe my mother was right.  Maybe I did need professional help.

     I put my robe on and went downstairs and found my father eating breakfast at the table.  He looked up at me when I came in, but he instantly looked back down at the paper and said nothing to me.  It was turning into a trend now.  I guess my parents had decided never to talk to my again unless it was something important.  I went over and got some cereal and sat down at the table with my father.

     I couldn't even look at him anymore.  He wasn't my father.  He was a stranger in my house.  I stared down at my cereal for a while, but finally looked up and saw that his eyes weren't scanning the page.  They were just staring down blankly.  I guess I should have seen it coming when he suddenly said, "Trevor, I talked to Reverend Stickler yesterday."

     I put my spoon down and clasped my hands together, putting them down in front of me gently.  He was still staring at the same spot on the paper in front of him.  It didn't appear he was going to continue with the conversation.  "And," I said.

     "I don't want you to see that Sebastian boy anymore."  I sat there expressionless as what he said tried to sink in.  My parents hadn't put a restriction on my in years and now my father, who hadn't talked to me in two days, was telling me I couldn't see Sebastian anymore.

     "What?" was all I could say.

     "I'm sorry Trevor, but Reverend Stickler said that a person chooses a gay lifestyle.  If you're going to..."

     I couldn't listen to him anymore.  I got up and put my bowl in the sink and went straight for the stairs.  I didn't want to know what the ignorant Priest thought about homosexuality and I certainly didn't want to hear anymore about me not being able to see Sebastian.  There was no way I was going to listen to him.  It was as simple as that.

     I slammed the door to my room and sat down on my bed.  Just when you think things can't get any worse, life throws you something like this.  I put my head in my hands and tried to clear my mind.  Suddenly, I could hear all of the voices from my dream at once and I found myself losing control again.  I began to sob and I sat down on the floor and leaned against my bed.  I had done a lot of crying in the past few days and I was amazed that I still had the energy to cry more.  It was hard to be strong when every single person in the world was trying to knock you down.

     After a while I looked up at the clock and realized Shannon would be here to pick me soon.  It worked out well since Vanessa sure wasn't going to be driving me anywhere.  I went out and waited for her in the freezing cold.  My dad hadn't said anything else to be before I had left, so I assumed he was once again crawling back into his shell.  It was the same place he had been for the past few days.  As far as I was concerned, good riddance to my parents.  Better them ignoring me that getting all over my case.

     Shannon pulled up and I jumped in the back seat.  "Hey Trevor," Sebastian said as he turned around to look at me.

     "Hi," I said.  I guess he realized I was in one of my quiet moods, so he started talking to Shannon and they ended up throwing their pointless banter back and forth for the rest of the trip.  I was happy to hear them though, because their banter seemed to ease my mind.  Something about it took me back to happier days when it was just me, Sebastian, and Shannon.

     We got to the school and walked in and people were instantly staring and whispering.  It was the same thing that had been going on for the past few days.  I was starting to get used to it.  It appeared that Sebastian and Shannon weren't getting used to it though, because their banter had turned into dead silence as we walked down the hallway.  It didn't matter to me though because my thoughts were a thousand miles away from this place.  I had much more important things to think about.  Like the game tonight!

     The locker room was strangely quite this evening.  There was none of the pregame hype that I always looked forward to.  The coach came in and said a few words to us before handing it over to me.  I walked out in front of the team and looked at them.  "We had a hard game last weak, but it's important that we keep our eyes on the goal.  We are going to the State Championship."

     Half of the boys weren't paying attention to me and half of those boys weren't even bothering to hide it.  "Let's go out there and play some ball."  No one moved and I looked around the room.  It was hard to imagine that these were the same guys I had played with for more than a year now.

     "I know you all are upset with me and maybe some of you are even angry with me," I said. The boys who had been ignoring me suddenly looked over at me.  I waited for a moment and I soon had everyone's attention.  "We've all been trying to act like nothing has changed, but I guess you all feel that things really have changed and you need to talk about it.  It's true, everything you thought you knew about me may have been a lie, but don't think for one moment that my passion and determination on the field was one of them.  I may be attracted to boys and not girls, but that doesn't mean I don't want to go out there and run circles around that other team and show them how to really play football."  Some of the guys were nodding their heads, but I could tell that they weren't all convinced.

     "We're a generation of warriors," I said, "and if we can't get over something like this, maybe we don't deserve to win.  I don't care what it is you stand up for, but pick something because we're going out there and we're going to run that other team into the ground!"  Someone hollered and soon most of the boys were.  I don't know how I had done it, but I had lifted the spirits of these guys, and even more amazingly, I had touched something deep inside myself and revived some part of me that I thought had died.  It was my will to survive!

     We headed out for the field and felt the roar of the crowd before we actually saw them.  The whole town was here, and if they hadn't been lucky enough to find a spot on the bleachers, then they were packed into the areas just beyond the field goals.  I tried to imagine that Sebastian was out there watching me somewhere, but then I knew I was just fooling myself.  We continued to our side of the field and something caught my eye and I looked back.  I thought it had been my imagination, but it wasn't.

     Down in the area past the field goal was a huge banner that read "God hates gays!"  I couldn't believe my eyes.  I strained to see who was holding it and my heart skipped a beat when I realized it was the Reverend Stickler, the same man my father had gone to see about me.  Mike came up beside me and yelled over the crowd noise, "Don't let it get to you."  I nodded back and walked off to the side of the field.

     I was going to do a lot more than ignore it though, I was going to do everything in my power to prove him wrong.  We played our hearts out and by the second half we could see the fear in the other team's eyes.  We won by a landslide and crowd loved every minute of it.  When I look back at the game, I see how that really was my make or break point.  I hadn't realized it then, but if I had lost the game, the whole team would have blamed me and basically, my days as the captain of the team would have been numbered.

     I had brought them through though and they knew it.  My teammates were being much more humble to me after the game and some of them went so far as to pat me on the back.  I guess they suddenly realized that I was still one of the guys.  Others though, like Nathan, still held a deep seated hate for me and basically ignored me the rest of the night.  I didn't mind though.  I figured there would always be people like that.

     Mike and I walked out of the locker room later that night and headed off through the parking lot which was mostly empty now except for a few people who were still standing around by their cars trying to find someone to discuss the game with.  "I guess I'll see you tomorrow," I said to Mike.

     "Aren't you going home?"

     "No," I said.  I still had something I had to take care of.  Mike said good-bye and kept on going, but I turned around and headed off down the other street.  The wind was really starting to pick up as I finally made my way up toward the local Catholic Church.  I went inside and found that it was completely empty, but the light to the confessional was on so I went over and got in.

     "Forgive me father for I have sinned," I said.  "It has been more than a year since my last confession."

     "Why so long?" A voice said through the screen.  I knew instantly that it was Reverend Stickler.

     I turned and looked at him through the screen.  He seemed to be waiting for an answer.  "Why did you do it?" I finally said.

     "Excuse me?"

     "It's me, Trevor McClain," I said loudly.  His posture perked up and he looked at me through the screen.

     "What are you doing here?" He said, and got up and opened the door to the confessional booth.  I jumped out of mine and got in front of him before he could get away.

     "I saw you at the game father," I said, letting the bitterness drip from my words.  I was so mad at him.  I had practically grown up with this man and now he was carrying signs to my football games that read 'God hates gays!'  I was far more than betrayal.  It was sickening.

     "Trevor, you have to understand why I had to do it."  I couldn't wait to hear this.

     "You were the last person on earth that I thought would ever be seen carrying a sign that said, 'God hates.'  How could you do this to me?"  I was quickly losing my cool.  Nothing could have been worse than the insult he had cast upon me.

     "Trevor, you're one of the most popular people in this town," he said, going over to one of the pews and leaning on it.  He stared up at the statue of the crucified savior, seeking some sort of rational for his behavior no doubt.

     "What does that have to do with anything?  I trusted you..."

     He turned around and looked me directly in the eye for the first time.  "What would happen if you started convincing these people that it was acceptable or even fashionable to engage in this kind of behavior.  I had to do it Trevor.  I'm sorry."  I couldn't believe I was hearing this kind of ignorance.

     "It's not a behavior," I said a little louder than I should have.  "Do you really think sexuality is something a person chooses?  Do you really think there aren't kids out there who wake up everyday wishing they could be just like everyone else?"

     Revered Stickler began shaking his head, ignoring my words.  "I can't have it in this town Trevor, especially from someone like you.  You need to repent for your evil actions..."

     "I haven't done anything wrong," I shouted, cutting him off.  I was absolutely furious by this point.  It was taking every ounce of control I had to not do something stupid.  "There's nothing worse than a man of god preaching hate," I said.  "I don't want you coming to anymore of my games," I said slowly so the words would sink in.

     "You can't stop me Trevor.  Someone has to stand up for what's right..."

     I took a step toward him and he visibly tensed and stopped talking.  "If you come to one more of my games with a sign like the one you had today.... If you so much as give one sermon about me... I swear to god you'll live to regret it."  I stared directly at him and I think he was finally listening to me.  "Do you understand me?"

     He stared at me in shock and slowly began nodding his head.  I'm sure if I didn't have as much pull in this town as I did, he wouldn't have listened to me.  I guess he got my message though, because I never heard anymore about Reverend Stickler and his plans to "straighten out" this renegade youth.  I still get sick though when I think about him.  Just knowing that there is so much ignorance out there using the church as a shield is enough to make a person sick.  I was lucky to silence him in this town before he did some real damage though.  Who knows what he might have started.

     I stopped at Sebastian's house on the way home and his brother answered the door.  I hadn't seen him since the incident in the hallway and it looked like his eye was healing nicely.  "Is Sebastian here?"

     "No," Eric said.  "He's over at Shannon's house."  We stood there and stared at each other for a moment and then I began to back away.

     "Thanks," I said.  I turned around and headed down the path when Eric called to me.  I turned around to see that he was still standing in the doorway.

     "You did good in the game tonight," he said.  I stared at him and nodded and then disappeared into the chilly, dying night.