By Martin Clement
Unless otherwise noted, this story is Copyright 2006 by Martin Clement for Clement & Boule Associes. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, published, distributed, displayed, performed, copied or stored for public or private use in any information retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any mechanical, photographic or electronic process, including electronically or digitally on the Internet or World Wide Web, or over any network, or local area network, without written permission of the author.
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The Green Stains
For the last five years, I'd seen every single sunrise while sitting on the bench in the elementary school's playground. I had never missed one of them. Even on week-ends. Even during summer time, Christmas day or a snowfall. I was always there to see my raging star, making sure I still hated it the way I used to do that night five years ago. And it had always been the same... until that first one morning I didn't go to the bench but stayed there on the front porch of the house, my hand comfortable in Mike's. Weird...
When at six forty-five, the front door of the house opened, we both jumped and let go of each other hand. It was my father... I hadn't seen him yet and I knew it was him, since he left home at that time sharp every morning since I started going to school. Even if I hadn't been home any morning for the last five years, I still remembered my father's timing. Accountant for a big law firm since before I was born, he had always been a very punctual employee, which lent him to several promotions all through the years. I was not really surprised he would leave the house at this exact time. But as I was not thinking about him at this time, silently communicating with Mike, knowing he was there, right behind me, got me a little bit nervous. I didn't look at him. I couldn't. For a couple of minutes, he stayed there, behind us, as if he wanted to say something. Quite unusual for my father. But a lot of the things that happened for the last two days had been quite strange to me. My father finally passed us and walked to his car in the driveway, but didn't get in yet, looking confused.
Mike looked at my father, stood and put a hand on my shoulder.
"I have to go. Will you be okay?" Mike asked me.
My father showed up and Mike abruptly had to leave? He was leaving me with him? Couldn't he wait until my father finally left? How kind of him! No, it was not okay, as he said it! I wouldn't be okay left alone with him. Wasn't he supposed to stand up for me?
"Yeah... I'll be okay." I said as I stood also. "I need some sleep, I guess. Well... since I'm not going to school today..."
"Bummer... I have to go, though. I hope I won't fall asleep in any class." he said, chuckling uncomfortably.
"Okay..." I sighed. "Have a good day." I mumbled.
"Yeah... you too."
And just like that, he left me there, with my father only a couple of feet in front of me. I realized that some things were not fitting right. Only a couple of minutes after Mike had gone, he left in his car. Where he was going, I didn't know, but school only started at eight twenty. Okay, Mike played football, and it could have happened that he had an early practice, but two days in a row? I didn't think so! Jeez! If I didn't have to go to school today, as my mother said it, maybe Mr. Howell had really suspended me, which meant his threat to suspend Mike from football should have been real also. Where was Mike going? And since when my so punctual and so neat father didn't leave in a hurry and wore jeans?
He was still there, fumbling with his keys, looking at the ground when I stood from the porch and entered the house. I heard his door shut and his engine start as I reached the stairs. When I got to my bedroom, I didn't bother to undress and fell asleep on top of the covers.
I woke up with the sound of a light knock on my door. It was two o'clock on my alarm.
"Are you awake?" came my mother's voice, softly.
"Yeah... now I am..." I said tiredly.
"Can I come in?" she asked.
"What do you want?" I asked her, annoyed.
"Just to talk for a bit..." she trailed.
Why did she think I wanted to talk to her? I didn't want to talk to her, did I? I thought I had been clear the night before. Well... had I been clear? I wasn't so sure after all. So I left my bed and put on my robe before walking to the door and open it. That's when I got a shock. There, on my doorstep, my mother just looked like that... my mother. Even with her timid expression and all the nervousness she was showing, she stood there, two mugs in her hands, waiting patiently for me to invite her in.
"I thought you might like to have some coffee..." she simply said. I looked at her for about five minutes, well, it might have only been five seconds, just looking at her. Images from the past were finding their way through my head. I remembered when she bandaged my knee when I was five after I fell off my bicycle... I remembered her laugh when I told her about the trout we bought at the grocery after me and my father had gone fishing but got nothing. I remembered how me and her had discussed about lies after I told her I was the one who broke the tea pot. I remembered her constant smile while watching me and Mike play in the sand box. I remembered her trying not to cry, seeing me leave with Mike that first morning of kindergarten. I remembered the love in her eyes every Christmas evenings, giving me presents I knew came from the heart. Yeah... I remembered.
"Come in." I said, stepping away from the door and sitting on my bed. My mother gave me my mug and sat at my desk.
There was something about my mother blowing on her coffee that used to make me melt when I was a kid. She was always holding her cup with both hands and slowly blowing on the dark liquid in it, as if she was trying to stay warm. I was doing the same since I started drinking coffee two years before. It made me feel cozy to do so. There in my room, I was finding my mother again. She was holding her cup with both of her hands and staring at the coffee when she spoke.
"I really am sorry, Lucas." she said. I opened my mouth to say something but closed it when I realized nothing would come out. "You made me think last night and I know why you are so angry at us."
"Please, Lucas... let me say it." She took a deep breath. "It's all about that night five years ago. I know... I shouldn't have reacted that way. I still remember you looking so small, there, under the tree house. I know you just needed me to take you in my arms and tell you everything would be alright. But I didn't. I thought you would have forgotten about it by now. Who am I kidding? Maybe I thought you would have forgotten this night had even existed if I could... but I never forgot it. It kept on haunting me day after day while seeing you go away from me."
"I only wanted you to..."
"Apologize... Yes, I know."
"But you never did!" I snapped, standing up.
"I was shocked."
"And you think I was not?"
"It's not what I said."
"Well it seems you only thought about you!"
"I know, Lucas. I've been selfish."
"Mother, I was eleven years old, jeez!"
She had started sobbing quietly at this point.
"I have been selfish, Lucas. I made a mistake. I made a fucking mistake! You know, the first week that followed, I came here in the morning finding your bed already made and you gone... Every time, I was scared to death you would have ran away. I would go to work every day hoping I wouldn't receive a call from your school telling me you were missing."
"I was hurt, mother."
"I know. I was too. I couldn't sleep at night. I had a big depression for months after the event. But I guess it was too long, since after I came back from my depression, even if I wanted to make up to you, you wouldn't want to let me in again... That's why I decided to have you see Dr. Kelly."
"To make me." I corrected her. "Because that's what you did!"
"Yes... another mistake from me. I know you were angry at me for making you go. And I know now that it must have been awful to you. Lucas, I'm sorry. I really am. For everything I did. I missed five years of your life, Lucas. You've grown up. You're a man, now. I know someday you will leave the house. I just don't want you to disappear and never come back. I don't want you to hate me. I don't want you to hate your father either."
"I have no father."
"Oh my God! You know, he didn't mean it, Lucas."
"Oh yes, he meant every single word of it!" I snapped. "Every single word... I loved him. I was worshipping him. I just wanted to be as him. I thought everything was my fault. I even wanted to commit suicide because I thought I was not worth the air I breathed! Because my father didn't love me anymore. He always talked about me as if I were dead, mother! As if I were fucking dead! He never told me a word after that night!"
"Your father loves you..."
"Fucking great way of showing it, don't you think?"
"But he does..."
"I think we should stop this conversation."
"I'll go take a shower. I need to move. I'm working at four."
"I know. But Lucas..."
"What?" I asked, heading for the hall.
"Can you give me a chance? A second chance?"
"I'll see." I said flatly before leaving her to go to the bathroom.
As I reached for the handle, I heard the toilet flush. And then, the door opened on my father. When he saw me standing there, he paused in the doorway. An instant, his eyes searched mine, as if he were trying to reach me, just as the night before at the bookstore. I took a step away, letting him know I was just waiting for him to leave so I could enter the room. When he passed by me, that's when I saw them. There were green stains all over his jeans. Just weird... My father left for work in the morning wearing jeans and came back with green paint stains on it. I closed the door.
The whole week-end went quite fast, as usual, since I worked every days. Saturday night, Mike and I went to watch a movie at the mall. After the movie, we went to drink a coffee somewhere. We didn't talk about our night on my front porch, nor anything about the past. We were trying to live now. At first, we were a bit nervous. But as it became clear that me and Mike still had some things in common, we became more and more comfortable around each other. I could finally appreciate the shine that seemed to enlighten his eyes and the dimples in his cheeks when he was laughing. He was sometimes touching my hand or my shoulder, the way he used to when we were kids. I could see the man he had become was adorable. And quite a gentleman, I might say. He invited me to his house for a last coffee, but I declined the invitation. I was not ready to face his parents yet.
My mother repeated her visit in my room Saturday and Sunday morning and we talked some more, remembering some of our past, trying to make up for all these years of silence. Trying to get to know each other. Again... I leaned from her that I hadn't been suspended from school and that she said I didn't have to go to school Friday only because of all the stress I had, caused by the locker event. She said Mr. Howell couldn't have suspended me since Mike had told everything while calling his father that morning, and Mr. Walsh had convinced her and my father that I hadn't done anything.
I didn't go to the bench in the elementary school's playground over the week-end. I didn't go on Monday either, as Mike had asked me if I wanted him to drive me to school, and I had accepted. I was still awake by four, though, since waking early for five years is not something you get rid of in one week-end. Talking with my mother the way we did that week-end, I felt almost home in the house. So I made some coffee and went to see the sun rising on the front porch of the house, remembering how comfy it felt on Friday morning, holding Mike's hand in mine. I smiled at the night becoming day, the sun seeming to smile back to me and colouring the sky just for me.
That Monday, my father was back at his navy blue suit and one of his English ties. But as Friday, he seemed thoughtful when he passed me by. He again stopped in front of his car, fumbling with his keys, until I went back inside and he left.
It was so weird sitting there in Mike's car, going to school. There was music coming from the radio, and laughing from both of us. I felt alive... It was almost as if I were doing it for years. I felt this was the way it should have been all these years. Having a friend to laugh with, listening to some lame country music because Mike's radio was only AM, teasing each other, just making what friends do.
Even entering the school hall was not the same that morning, because I was not alone. Mike was walking right beside me. I think people were starting to show signs of heart attacks looking at me with the smile about to split my face. I was in heaven that morning and I thought nothing could destroy that perfect day. I went my way to the row of lockers and Mike left me to go to his. When I entered the row, I thought I had gone to the wrong one. But as I looked at the numbers on the first lockers, I realized I was in the right one. But where was the faggy locker? It wasn't there anymore. No more pink paint, no more horrible word of insult on it... just a green, a fresh painted green locker... green as every other locker in the row, no scratch, nothing more than a real, plain, locker. I tried the lock to be sure it was still mine. It worked. Inside, brand new school books, brand new folders. I fumbled with them a bit, trying to know what had happened. It seemed that someone had printed their own notes and put them in these folders. When I reached for the mathematics book, a single paper note fell to my feet. There were two calligraphies on it. One, that looked as the one on the copied notes, followed by Mike's signature, and the other one, well... It was my father's...
That's when I remembered the green stains on his jeans...
To be continued...
So this was Chapter 7 of Hate. Thanks to all the people who sent me comments so far. There are still five chapters coming. I hope you will come back to read them. I hope to be able to send you Chapter 8 before the end of the week-end. Keep on sending me constructive comments, I really appreciate them and help me improve my English writing, and also it keeps me on wanting to continue writing this story.
I receive a lot of Spam in my e-mail, so when you send me your message, just make sure to write the word "Hate" in the subject line. That way, we can be sure I won't throw it away with all the advertisings of "Viagra" and other junks like that.