By Martin Clement
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Lessons To Forgiveness
"Are you fucking crazy?"
"Are you just going to forgive him like that? After all you've been through?"
So that's the way this first morning after Mike's apologies was going... Jeez, this pep talk wasn't going so well after all. Of course, I couldn't just forgive and forget like that. I would be a liar if I were to go to Mike and tell him everything was forgiven and forgotten. It would be just a bunch of lies... and I was not a liar. Sure, I remember some little lies I told when I was a kid. Jeez, I even remember lying to myself, how could I never lie? You can't tell your mother that her dress is horrible! That would be pretty rude, don't you think?
I remember telling my father that I really didn't know what happened to his favourite collection Chinese porcelain tea pot. Yeah right! It was my favourite too and each time I could hold it in my hands, it was a colour fest for my eyes. So when I tripped on my feet and it fell to the ground, I did what a kid would do, afraid to see the disappointment in my father's eyes. I couldn't see it. I could never disappoint my father. I was his pride and joy. I would have done anything and tell any lie for my father not to change his way of seeing me. These were just kiddie lies. Nothing very harmful. Yeah, sure, I know my father adored his Chinese tea pot collection. But it was just material. No. What seemed to be really hurtful were not lies. No... It was the truth. The truth of being myself. The truth of knowing my deepest and most hurtful secret. I know today that the contrary of the truth is not lie when you don't say a word. The contrary of truth is secret. And everybody has a right to have secrets. We don't tell everything to our friends or to our family. Not even our best friend, if we happen to have one. It makes me laugh when I hear of friends thinking they have a right to know every secret you keep from them. Secrets are secrets and if you want to tell anybody about it, it is your own right to do so. It is the same if you don't want to tell them. It doesn't make these secrets lies. But I told lies like every kids. If only I could have kept that secret of mine just the way it was... a secret. But as the secret was not a secret anymore, I couldn't take it back, cause taking it back would have meant lying. And I didn't want to lie to anybody. I just wanted people to mind their own business and let me live...
Jeez, was I thinking that morning, sitting on that bench of the elementary school...? I couldn't tell Mike he was forgotten. I couldn't try and base a friendship on lies. That has never been the way we kept our friendship for one another when we were still friends. Well... that's what I thought.
Mike sure had lied to me and everybody. Oh! He told the truth about me kissing him! That was the truth and I never denied it. I kissed him. Even if today I was still sorry about it. Not sorry about the kiss in itself, mind you. But sorry about everything that happened since I kissed him. But Mike lied to everybody, telling them he didn't kiss me back, telling everybody he wanted nothing to do with me when he was just afraid for his safety. Yesterday he lied to Matthew instead of telling him he had no right to ask. Even if he had told him, "Just what kind of question is that?", he wouldn't have been lying. But Matthew was so stupid and stubborn about his way of thinking that he would have thought it was a confession. For him, being gay meant being lonely and having no friends but gay friends. And being gay also meant you were always trying to get into every male's pants. I know Mike was just a kid when he betrayed me after all, but could I just up and forgive him in spite of innocence of childhood? No. I couldn't do that. Well, I could if I were not still that angry... But I was. Actually, for five years, I've been furious. No. Hateful. Vengeful. Mike lied to me. Betrayed me. Pushed me away. Punched me in the face. Swept away a childhood of friendship in spite of saving his own self. My feelings have been hurt. So hurt I sometimes thought about taking away my life. Yeah, it's been that bad.
I sure wanted to forgive him. But wanting was just not enough. When I thought about him telling me he loved me, I was sure he told me the truth this time. Well, I thought it was kind of weird, since I thought that when you loved someone, you would die trying to protect them! And since this discussion happened the day before, I didn't stop thinking. I had this dilemma that wouldn't leave me alone. You know, they say love is a very close neighbour of hate. Well, let me tell you that I realized that very morning that it was very true. They were very close neighbours in my head at the moment. What to choose? Hate or love? Well let me tell you that in spite of what some people might think, I was not about to make that terrible choice. I wasn't even sure I wanted Mike into my life. I wanted him to hug me but at the same time, I wanted to spit in his face. I wanted to cry on his shoulder and I also wanted to hurt him. I wanted him to stay with me every day for the rest of our lives but I also wanted to forget our friendship had ever existed. I couldn't make that decision. Everything was going so fast... I had to take a step at a time... But for that, I had to find some peace in my mind. And that was not going to happen soon. We would never be able to go back in time and make things that happened not exist anymore.
There are no course of Forgiveness 101 taught in high school. No lesson showing us the way. There are no lesson to healing either. If they ever existed, I would have found a way to register.
Thirteen years old is a very decisive period of a boy's life, since it is about at that age that he gets into puberty. All these changes inside and out of his body telling him he's slowly but surely becoming a man have a lot of effects on his way to see the world. Well, it was not different for me. At this age, I started to read anything, and I really mean anything that would help me knowing who I was, since nobody would help me at home. I read book after book speaking from adolescence to adultness, from heterosexuality to homosexuality, from religious to scientific approaches, from love to hate, but never could find anything speaking about healing. Oh! There were these mushy books with pink roses on the covers speaking about positive thoughts and all that shit, but jeez, I didn't need to sleep, I fucking needed to heal!
Then there were the shrinks... Actually, it was not my idea to see Dr Kelly. It was my mom's. As it was almost two years that we were not communicating anymore, since the only words I would tell her were very short sentences just to answer a question she asked, never smiling to her, never instigating a conversation, never ever staying in a room next to her if it was not needed, well, I guess you know what I mean. And my father... well, since he never even talked to me after disowning me as his son, nor he ever looked my way, I never told him another word. And even at sixteen, there was never a word between us. Not a single word.
It's weird how in less than two years, suggestions become commands. Remember when I told you my father was always suggesting instead of commanding? Well when it came to me seeing Dr Kelly, the issue never applied. "You'll go, that's all!" was my mother's order. And to make sure I'd go, she'd half dragged me down to her office. Well, she guessed right, because I surely would have never gone by myself! What a deal it was... She made me go to the shrink's office every Thursday after school. And like a kindergarten child, she made the principal call me in his office so I couldn't go away. That was when I realized that school is a dictatorship and you strictly have no rights. Well, no rights against this kind of kidnapping, anyway. So, every Thursday after school for almost a year, she made me see Dr Kelly, to no avail.
I guess she would have made me go until my majority if she could have done it, but since she would have needed a court injunction to oblige me to see a professional after my fourteenth birthday, she had to let me stop the consultations not to have to face me, in the name of a social worker and the district attorney, in court. There are laws in Canada protecting citizens. There is one protecting teenagers over fourteen against that kind of abuse. There is also a law protecting teenagers over sixteen saying that if the kid is working and can find a way of living by himself, they are automatically emancipated. They also have the right to quit school if they want. But, that's another story.
Back to the shrink. It strictly served nothing for me to go, since I never opened my mouth in her office. Being silent was another one of my rights and nobody would have made me talk against my own decision. Oh but did she try! She tried everything she could. She tried to be nice, talking to me like I were a two years old kid... talking to me as if I were an adult... she even tried the crying game. All the time, I counted the noisy tics made by the arm of the clock counting the seconds, eyes closed, clammed inside of my head. I used the time to think about how much I hated my parents for making me go and see this shrink when all they had to do for me to heal was apologise and tell me they didn't mean to be cruel to me, two years before. But at this time, they could do nothing. I hated them because the apologies never came. Even my mother's behaviour of forgetting so fast what she had done that night of September 2002 was an indicator of the way she thought. She thought she could go on without ever having to excuse herself to her own child. Jeez, did she think a kid was so worthless he didn't deserve an apology? That was not the way I thought.
You know, as they say, you choose your friends but you don't choose your family. But you sure have the right to choose between loving them or not. And you also have the right not to see them for the rest of your life as soon as you've left their house. Yes, I know it is rude to say that. But it is also very true. And I planned on doing exactly that.
Looking back to these events, I'm not sure today that my choice not to talk to the psychiatrist was the best I ever made. Maybe Dr. Kelly could have helped me. Maybe not. I don't have anything against shrinks. But I still think that forcing a kid to do anything is just rude. Anything also means seeing a doctor. Remember my father's way of thinking? Well, it was mine when I was thirteen and it still is the same.
I didn't see Michael Walsh entering the elementary school yard as I was trying to prevent another headache, my face buried in my hands. I just lifted my head up and there he was, maybe ten feet in front of me, hands in his green Roots letterman jacket's pockets. I just sat there a couple of minutes, not saying a word. It was only six thirty at my watch.
"We're having a special training in half an hour." he said tentatively. " I just happened to pass by the the school and saw you there. Just wanted to say hi and let you know that I was serious yesterday when I said I would try to make up for what I did to you." Then, there was an awkward silence. I hadn't said a word yet. But I didn't know what to say. I couldn't pretend it was okay with me because I didn't know if it would be. I couldn't tell him to leave me the fuck alone since I didn't know it it were what I wanted him to do. I couldn't tell him I didn't care... because the only thing I was really sure of was that I cared. "Okay... hum... see you, Lucas, I guess..." he said and turned around, head hanging low, starting back to where his car was parked on the side of the street.
"Wait." I mumbled. It came almost as a whisper. It was so feeble I wasn't even sure it came from me. But it did. We were both alone together in the school yard. I thought he hadn't heard my lonely word but realized he had when I saw him stop walking. He didn't turn around this time. He just stopped walking. He didn't even say a word. "Just..." I started. "Just give me some time... okay?" I whispered.
Mike just nodded, slightly turning his head in my direction, just enough for me to see a small part of the left side of his face.
"Yeah... okay Lucas..." he murmured.
"I will try, okay? It's just... it's not easy for me. I just have to get a grip on things. I need to. You understand?" I asked, standing from the bench.
"Yeah... I understand."
"I don't want to get hurt again."
"You've hurt me pretty bad."
"I know, Lucas..."
"Just give me some time and I'll see if I can have it in my heart to forgive you. But we have a long road in front of us. I want to recover, Michael. I am tired of hating everybody. I am tired of hurting. I am tired of dying inside every time I think about what happened five years ago. I want to find myself. I want to live again. I want to be able to forgive you and forget about everything. But I can't do it in one day. I don't how long it will take me to do it, or if I will ever be able to do it, but I will try."
At that, Michael's shoulders started trembling and I knew that he was quietly sobbing. He stayed there a couple of minutes more before he started walking again, got in his car and left.
So I had made my choice, there on the elementary school's playground, in the chilly end of September's morning, to try my best to forgive the past. It would be hard work. But I didn't have the choice but move on with the past so I could live my life as free of grieves as I could. The process would be long. But the only thing I wanted was for it to work. I would have to do the same with everybody I cared.
Don't get me wrong! I would not let anybody step on my feet. And talking with my parents wouldn't be right now. I needed to think about it before I did anything. I wouldn't let them think they won. They made me suffer for five years, I would set my own rules. But not right now. Now I had to get to school and try keeping myself safe. So I just put my mask on, my eyes growing cold, my face empty of emotion, and lit up a cigarette before starting towards St. Johns' High.
To be continued...
I really don't know where my head was when I finalized chapter 2. So many errors on it. Might have been the hurry I was to give you the chapter or the fact that I wrote it in the middle of the night, I don't know. So, I hope I didn't make so many mistakes in this one. Again, thanks everybody for your comments and keep on e-mailing me to let me know how you like the story so far.
You can send me any constructive comment, I'm pretty open and I'll try to answer all the messages. Don't give me flames cause you know, I don't give a shit about them. If you didn't like to read a gay story, well, what the hell were you doing here? Sorry for people who wanted a good wank because there won't be any explicit sex. Why? Because I don't feel like writing about it right now. And if you were offended by the fact my principal characters are gay, why don't you go back to your churches and trust in everything they say and leave me alone? For the others, welcome to my story and see you soon!