Even after a long night of sleep, my body was still twisted and aching from the severe beating I had taken a full two days before. It felt as though my ribs were bruised and broken, a burning sensation shooting through me every time I took a breath that exceeded normal lung capacity, which seemed to be every two minutes. Dried tears from when I went to sleep still stained my face, their salty streaks forming a painful decoration to display the horror of my life as a teenager in an abusive home. Nothing changes, except for the places where it hurts.
Coming home the other day from spending those magical moments with Brody in the rain, I met an angry father at the door coming home. I should have known what to expect, but he always had excellent ways of surprising me. At least I know he wasn't bored. The beating lasted for longer than I had the ability to cry, his belt strikes alternating with hard shoves and slaps that hit me from all angles. I so long for the day when my body wold become numb to such an assault. I should be used to it by now. I laid down on my side for at least an hour on that bedroom floor, pulling the covers off of the bed to cover me as my wounds blazed and stung me to the point of muscle spasms. My face scowled up on its own, and I struggled to lay on a side of me that wasn't in agony. Extremely hard to find one, believe me, so I simply took the least painful spot and relaxed on that for a while. That night, I must have rolled over on a sore spot while I was asleep, because it woke me up out of a deep sleep and a dream. I clutched my side gently, worried that I'd hurt myself even worse, and looked over at the clock. It was maybe an hour and fifteen minutes before I had to get up for school, but there was no way that I was going to go back to sleep now. And even if I could, by the time that happened I'd only have the fifteen minutes left until my alarm went off. What would be the point.
I sat up slowly in bed, and swung my feet around to stand up. I yawned and carefully stretched my arms over my head. Then sat down on the floor and opened up my backpack for a notebook or something to draw or write in. Just something to pass the time, and get some of my feelings out. But the first thing I found when I opened it, was a printed sheet of pornography from some catalog. Hehehe, that HAD to be Sam's doing! He was notorious for sneaking porn into my stuff when I wasn't looking. The little perverted bandit has struck again....flawlessly as usual. I smiled to myself, crumpled it up and put it at the bottom of my trash can where my mom and dad couldn't find it. Then I got out my notebook and just turned to a blank page, my mind searching for a place to start. It was then that my memories cried out to me...begging me to tell the story of what had happened that afternoon. Of what happened MANY afternoons. Of how my father had beaten me until his arms were too weak to inflict the kind of damage he was hoping for with every strike. How his teeth were gritted together in anger as his heavy handed blows knocked the wind out of me time and time again. I thought about it, and felt a knot in my stomach, trying to get me to say something. ANYTHING. My fingers gripped the pen tightly, almost forcing me to begin the tale of a boy crying out for help. But I refused. I REFUSED! It was a category in which I had no interest of ever making any more concrete than it already was. Writing about it made it true. It made it REAL. And as sick as it sounds, I knew that I could survive every level of torture that he could bring to me if only I could tell myself that this wasn't my life. That this just wasn't happening. But...talking about it, writing about it, thinking about it...those things brought it all back in vivid colors that my heart and mind would no longer be able to ignore. If this divine punishment were to actually become a solid part of my perception, then I'd have to give in. I'd see the odds of me surviving this tragedy and know that my chances are slim. So why even bother, after that? I wouldn't be able to cover my pain with a smile anymore, or exist in a somewhat normal state of mind. My friends would know, my teachers, people on the street...they'd know...and they'd stare...and they'd see me as the freak that they had to pamper and cuddle like some baby. I am NOT a baby! I can TAKE it! I've lived through it for this long, I can live through it a bit longer. I can be strong.....I...I know I can. My so called 'strength' is all I've got left. It's the only thing keeping me from hanging myself in the basement. I refuse to let my father bully me into becoming a sissy. I refuse to let him win by giving him the satisfaction of knowing that I can't handle the pain, that I need help, that he had the power to reduce me to tears like some girl with a lost babydoll. Fuck that! I'm TRONGER than he is damnit! He doesn't see that now, but he will. They ALL will! I'm going to keep fighting, even if only from the inside. Even when I get exhausted from the tears, I'm going to fight...and I'm going to keep standing for as long as I can. Until he either kills me, or I kill myself. Either way...
...it's for the rest of my life.
I was going to have to go to school that Tuesday morning a little sore, the muscles on the right side still aching a bt when I turned too fast or moved a certain way. But as long as I didn't aggravate it by poking at it, it would be fine. I ate a quick breakfast of instant oatmeal, and grabbed my bag to head over to Adam's house that morning. However...Brody didn't show up that morning. I thought for sure that he'd come to walk with us again.
"Alright, we gotta jet. Last game, Sam." Adam said, challenging Sam to one last match of the versus game on 'Goldeneye'. Sam was playing as James Bond, but even though they stayed pretty even in terms of the score, Adam was now two ahead, and he didn't like to lose. Adam always had a way of calling 'last game' when he was two ahead. That way, no matter who won the next match, he'd still be up by at least one. The bastard had everything worked out. Still...that wasn't the biggest of worries on my mind.
"Where's Brody? Isn't he supposed to come with us?" I asked.
Everybody just kinda shrugged their shoulders. And Adam said, "I don't know. I guess he had something else to do today."
"Maybe he's sick." Sam added. "It was raining pretty hard the other day. I've had a sore throat ever since."
"Yeah...maybe..." I mumbled, but my mind began to wander. Thinking back on what happened on Saturday, I guess I DID kinda blow him off. I didn't mean to, I just...I was getting lost in something that was fake. I was setting myself up to be taken for an idiot, and the LAST thing I needed on top of everything else, was to have my heart broken.
"YEAHHH! MY kill, MY game! 21 to 18 bitch!" Adam shouted, bringing my thoughts to a screeching halt. "I do believe that you owe me a cd, my friend!"
"No FAIR! You're just saying that because we have to go to school!" Sam protested. I told him not to bet his Red Hot Chili Peppers cd. But did he listen? Nooooo...
"You LOST! Hello? What's not fair about that?"
"I know what you're doing, and it sucks. Can you guys back me up here?" Sam was looking for help, but he was shit out of luck. A deal's a deal. "You guys suck too!"
"I'll give you until the weekend, buddy boy. Let you get another few good listens out of it before you hand it over." Adam was a champion when it came to gloating. He was a natural.
"Fuck you." Sam pouted, his lips puckered out and his brow looking cute even when it was wrinkled up and molded into a frown.
"C'mon...we're outta here."
I spoke up one last time, hoping that I wasn't being too obvious, "Are you SURE that Brody didn't say anything about not coming to join us? I mean...maybe he's still coming. Maybe he got delayed or something."
"Delayed? Delayed how? Traffic? He's on FOOT, dingus! He's not coming today. Let's just go." Adam said, turning off the game and grabbing his backpack.
"Yeah, yeah you're probably right." I stood up, and began praying from that moment forward that Brody didn't think I was being a jerk the last time I saw him. Because I wasn't. I'm just....scared.
We walked to school together like we always did, but something was missing this time. A certain dynamic to our little group had been snatched away, at least for me. And I missed Brody something awful. He made these walks to school one of the brightest parts of my day. The sky seemed so dreary, so gray, without the sparkle of his eyes to lighten the scenery up a bit for me. Everyone around me was talking and playing and having fun like they always did. But my mind was a hostage to my thoughts, refusing to absorb much of anything until I knew for sure that Brody didn't hate me. 'Hate me'...I can't believe that I had just put that and Brody's name in the same sentence. Nice going, Zack. How could you totally fuck up something so beautiful??? Because you're a grade A loser, that's why! All Brody wanted to do was talk to me a little bit, and what do I do? I fuck up EVERYTHING by being STUPID!!! Dad's right...I am worthless. Totally worthless.
We got to school, and for the first time, I dreaded seeing Brody. Even in the hallways, I was scared of running into him, and having him snu me in front of everybody. That would be the final nail in the coffin, proving to me that he just didn't care anymore. I bruised and battered my own soul for most of the day, going from 'the biggest dumbass on the planet' to 'not worth the dirt I walked on' to 'too ugly to ever be loved by anybody'. My dad trained me well when it came to insults. Nobody was better at punishing me than I was. The few moments before class, expecting Brody to walk through that door, I had almost sent myself off running in a fit of tears. I was completely broken by the time Brody actually entered the room.
"Hey, Zack." He said, but at this point, I didn't know if I was worth speaking back to him. My confidence was so easily shattered, my love so easily wounded.
"Hi..." I whispered, and I kept my eyes down to my desk until class started.
The next forty minutes was torture, with Brody hating me and me hating myself...I was outnumbered two to one. If only I could spit in my own face, if only I could hate myself ENOUGH to justify what I did this weekend. I spent the entire class bleeding from some of the sickest and most vulgar insults that I could have thrown at myself, and by the end it was hard for me to even breathe. I deserve to be beaten every day. I'm such a disgusting piece of shit...I don't know why I'm still living at all.
"So what are you guys up to this week?" Brody asked, the bell only minutes away from ringing. My emotions had been running on empty for so long today, that I didn't expect him to talk to me.
"Huh?" My eyes were watering up, and I was fighting back painful tears from what I had been doing to myself all day. "What guys?"
"YOU guys! Hellooo? Hehehe, hopefully you haven't forgotten about me already." He smiled, but that smile soon faded. He could see it in my eyes, those heartfelt tears, standing at the gate, ready to break. "Dude...are you ok?"
Just having him ask was enough to make the first tear fall. Shit...I'm still in class! Gotta be strong, gotta be strong! "Yeah...yeah I'm fine. My eyes are just a bit...runny. Alergies." I swiftly wiped my eyes, hoping that they'd stop.
"That doesn't look like any allergy I've seen."
"No really...I'm fine. Promise, ok?" He wasn't believing a word of it, but in a friendly gesture, he reached into his bag and pulled out a little packet of kleenex tissues.
"Here. It might help...your allergies." Why was he being nice to me? WHY? I didn't deserve this, and I KNEW it! Fuck him for making me so confused!
After the bell rang, everyone jumped up to leave. Everyone except for Brody, who loitered behind a bit to gather his books and make sure that I was ok. "You didn't have to wait around, you know?" I said still trying to keep my distance from him. Rejection hurts, and it comes from being stupid enough to let yourself get wrapped up in a fantasy that you can't possibly hope to be a part of. Stupid, like me.
"Maybe I wanted to make out with the teacher. Once YOU left, that is." He said, hoping to get a reaction out of me.
Considering that our teacher was old enough to be President LINCOLN'S mother...I couldn't help bu to find that funny. I giggled a little, against my will, mind you, and that made Brody's face light up. "Shut up..." I said.
"Come on, let's get out of here." And he walked me out into the hallway. "So what's wrong with you today, anyway? I miss seeing you smile."
There it was again...that mixture of anger and confusion that kept asking me why he would be so cruel as to make me think that he might like me. I wanted to shut it all down. I wanted my mind to get rid of the illusion and just not have to deal with having Brody poke at my soul with a pointed stick everytime I looked into his eyes. "Today's not a good day to smile. That's all." I replied, and started walking to my next class. But Brody followed me.
"Another lame excuse, I take it?" He said.
"Yeah. Another lame excuse." I kept walking, and he stayed right at my side the whole time. I didn't say anything else, hoping that the uncomfortable silence would get him to leave me alone, or at least stay at arm's length where I could deal with him better. But he just stayed silent with me until I got to class. "Are you following me, now?" I asked.
"Yes. Sucks, doesn't it?" Brody grinned.
"Is your class around here somewhere?"
"Hehehe, nope! Other side of the whole damn school actually."
I didn't know how to answer. "So...aren't...aren't you going to be late?"
"Yeah, probably. So what? What are they going to do? Cook me in a giant pot and eat me alive in front of the Student Council? They can wait." Then his eyes softened a bit. "Besides...I want to make sure that you're ok. I know tears when I see them." He didn't really push the issue, he just let it stand that he knew something was wrong...and that he was there.
I stood there, still speechless for a second or two, before simply saying, "I'm sorry, ok? I'm so so sorry."
"Sorry for what?" He asked, confused.
"You know...for the other day. In the rain?"
"Ohhh..." I could see him thinking back to that afternoon, and felt ashamed all over again. "Dude, don't be sorry. You just...don't sweat it, ok? Besides, it was probably pretty weird for you. I should be the one apologizing."
"No...no it wasn't weird at all." I assured him. My heart still holding onto the love I was developing for Brody at an alarming rate, and my mind trying to put the brakes on that train of thought before it went over the foreboding cliff ahead, covered in a thick layer of fog. Still, even though I couldn't see it, or how deep it was...I knew the cliff was there. And I knew that the pain from throwing myself off of it would be the one fall that would break me at last.
"Yes, yes it was. But..." Brody was trying to word his feelings carefully, but almost seemed to not know how. For some reason, that scared the hell out of me. "...I wanna get to know you, Zack. I mean that."
"Why?" I asked, and that seemed to make him nervous. So I padded the statement with, "Not that there's anything wrong with that! I just...I mean...why ME?"
"I don't know. I guess that's part of what I'm trying to find out. If you'll let me." Brody's eyes had this look of mellowed out desperation, as though he were holding back and pushing himself forward at the same time. Then, after a slight pause where I tried to think of something to say, Brody raised his hand to the side of my head. His fingertips lifted my hair slightly, and then lingered tenderly on the fading bump that remained from having my head rammed into the wall earlier this past weekend. "It looks like your bruise is getting better." He said in a quiet, caring, voice.
His fingers lightly traced a smooth circle around the bruise, and I couldn't help but feel weak in the knees from his touch. Maybe it was in the way he did it...so slowly, almost sensually. His pleasure gliding over my pain. My eyes closed automatically, in slow motion, letting the world fade to black as I concentrated on the beautiful touch of the boy I wished I could open myself up to. I knew that this short timeless moment must look so freaky to anyone who might have been walking past us at that moment, but my eyes refused to open. My emotions refused to answer the call to being embarassed or paranoid. He felt so good...touching me. Feeling me. Filling me back up with enough hope to make anything seem possible. My erection was hardening fast, and I felt it pushing against the fabric of my jeans...reaching out towards the object of its affections. It was then that I had to slow down before I got myself into trouble. I opened my eyes and stepped back a little. It might have only been a few seconds to everyone else, but to me, I felt as though I had just spent an entire week in Brody's arms.
"I...I have to go..." I could hear my voice shaking, trembling with mixed emotions and confusion about what to do next. I got my breathing under control and said, almost in a whisper, "I'll see you soon. Ok? Promise."
"Yeah." I think he had a breathless moment himself there for a minute. Then he popped up and said, "Say...we were all thinking about catching a movie tomorrow night. Tuesdays we can get in for free because a friend of mine has a cousin that can let us in the side door. You...you wanna go?"
For you, Brody...I'd do anything. "Sure. I'd love to go. After school?" I asked.
"You bet. How about this? I'll give you my number, and this time, if you get a chance, then gimme a ring later on tonight." Brody took out a scrap of paper, and wrote his name and number on it for me. Geez, even his handwriting was cute! He handed it to me, and I treated it like gold.
"Thanks. And don't worry, I'll be there." I said bashfully.
"Great. I'll see you then, k?"
"Um...K." I answered, and Brody walked away, looking over his shoulder to flash me a smile before getting to far away for me to see the light in his eyes. I went into my classroom, and waited for the inevitable crash and burn to take me over. I should have expected it. Even the bird with the strongest wings can't stay in the air forever. Once Brody was out of my sight, it became easy to complete deny the experience ever happened. It became easy for my father's voice to creep back into my thoughts, spitting in my face, making sure that I didn't forget for even ONE second, that I had a lot of work to do before being good enough to accept friendship or love from someone like Brody. He was perfect, you see? Don't you get it? He's so beautiful. So incredible. And he cares about me. He remembered that I had a bruise, he wants me to feel better, he wants to know things about me, he pays attention to my tears. Why? How am I supposed to respond to something like that? I've gotten so used to having to work my ass off to the point of exhaustion just to keep from being HATED, to keep from being such a disappointment to everybody. I'm so used to being called pathetic and stupid and ugly, and having to push myself to the max to prove them wrong. You man to tell me that after all that struggling and misery, I'm going to suddenly run into this gorgeous boy who is sweet and cool and intelligent, and decides that he's just going to GIVE me his love? I don't think so. It's NOT that easy, and I'm not going to trick myself into falling for somebody who is eventually going to end up kicking me in the stomach with a rejection that I'm not ready to handle right now. Still...as I sit there in my class, thinking about him, daydreaming about him, and looking at the few scribbled words and numbers that he wrote on the piece of paper...I couldn't help but feel an affection for him anyway. And I found myself drawing a small heart around his name, and sighing outloud. Arm's length, Zack. Arm's length. If you get wrapped up in this boy, I'll fucking kill you myself! You hear me? You've got plenty of bruises on the outside, we don't need more on the inside. Because the ones on the inside don't heal.
I made sure to have my stuff ready by my last class for the day, and got ready for the speedy run home once the bell rang. It was like being in a horse race...the second that 'end of school' bell chimed, I was off and running to get home before my dad had even more of a reason to be upset. But this time, something happened. I passed Brody in the hall, and I know he saw me...and he knew that I saw him. But when he called out to me, the fear inside of me of being late took control, and I just...kept running. I ran right past him as though I hadn't seen him. And when he called my name out, I ran like I didn't even hear him. His voice seemed to echo off of the lockers lining the hallway, and it hurt to leave him behind. It hurt to run from him like that. But I guess it was just a physical representation of what I was doing to him emotionally anyway. So why not?
"Zack? Where you going? Wait up!" The words played through my mind over and over again as I cut through the park on my way home. Dammit...that was such a fucked up thing to do to Brody. Just leaving him there without even saying anything. He's gotta think that I'm such a joke. I kept running, kept trucking through the streets and got home with a few minutes to spare. Thank God.
I stopped to catch my breath a little bit before going up the back stairs to our apartment. And that's when I looked over in the trash cans next to the parking area...and I saw a small light grey box pushing the lid open slightly. It struck me as odd at first, but as I got closer, I recognized what it was. My Playstation...my dad must have been in one of his meanstreaks and tossed it in the garbage. What the hell? I wasn't even here to DO anything to provoke this! He's already making my life a living hell, the LEAST he can do is be fair about it. I huffed outloud, knowing damn well that was all the frustration that I'd be able to let come to the surface. If he saw me making even a minor attempt to get angry with him, he'd beat me to the floor for sure. So I lifted the lid of the garbage, and saw that he took the time to even empty out some of last night's spaghetti over he top of it to make sure that it was extra dirty. Sadly, I fished around for some newspapers to wipe the crud off of it, and I dug deep to make sure that I could find my controllers too. I got all the evidence that I needed when I saw, what looked like, a twelve pack's worth of beer bottles tied up in a small bag in the trash. Just like the bag he put in the little garbage can next to his bed. He was drinking. Great. Just great. Well THIS should be an interesting afternoon.
As I cleaned my Playstation off enough to sneak it into my bag, I kept my mind occuppied with the hope that he had been drinking enough to make him go straight to sleep. Maybe he'd be passed out somewhere, and he wouldn't take any of that leftover rage out on me when I got upstairs. Somehow, I don't think that throwing my game system out was enough to calm him down. I thought about just running off...about maybe not going upstairs until I knew for sure that it was safe. But what happens if he wakes up and I'm not there? What if he's awake now, and I come home late? I'll be whipped without mercy. Fuck...this isn't fair. It just isn't fair. I marched up the stairs, knowing that I was going to have to see him sooner or later, and tried to sneak in without him seeing me. You never know, I just might get lucky.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Came a voice from behind me as I closed the back door quietly. He's awake...wonderful.
Answer him. Don't be stupid Zack. You're home on time, you have homework...you did nothing wrong. So if you play it safe, you can get by with a push and maybe a slap or two and and get back to the safety of your room. Just DON'T do anything to tick him off. "Nothing, sir."
"No...I'm going to do my homework." I mumbled, and began to walk back to my bedroom. But he held out a hand and pressed it against my chest to stop me.
"No, no, no...what are doing?" I can smell the beer on his breath. He must have just emptied the last can within the last few minutes.
"What do you...what do you mean?" I asked, keeping my eyes lower than his for safety's sake.
"You know what the fuck I mean, jerk off. Don't play games with me." He said, the anger already welling up in his throat. It's starting again. Dammit Zack, you're fucking it all up! Stop it! Just walk past him before you make things worse!
"I have to do my homework..." Was the only thing that I could come up with to say. I tried to slide past his fury, but he kept stopping me.
"Did you take that piece of shit out of the trash? Huh?" He said, looking me in the eyes. He grabbed me by the shoulders and constricted his fingers around my arms. "DID YOU???"
"No..." I winced from the pain of him squeezing my arms so tightly, no doubt turning the skin red with the tightness of his grip.
"NO...." I yelled back. "Owwww....Owww" The pain was getting worse, but so was the intensity of his stare. He already knew that I was lying.
"No, huh? No??? Ok then..." He snatched my backpack off of my arm, and dumped all of my books, my papers, and everything else out on the floor. Including Brody's number...the one with the heart on it. Thank God that he was too busy focusing on the Playstation console that fell out onto the kitchen tile than anything else...or he would have lynched me right there and then. "What the fuck is THIS then? HUH???"
"Daddy...please...don't throw my Playstation away. Please? I'll be good, ok? I'll be REALLY REALLY good! I promise!"
"I'll clean the whole house, I swear! Just don't throw it away..."
"SHUT UP!!!" He kicked it across the kitchen floor and it slammed hard against the cabinets under the sink. I wanted to run over and pick it up before he did more damage to it, but I knew better than to move. I had to stand still until I was 'dismissed', and then I could come back and get it later before he threw it out again. "So you weren't doing ANYTHING, right?"
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry." I began my ritual mantra, always quick to apologize, always conceding defeat, always knowing that it was my fault that this would happen every day after school. I felt the fear inside of me bring tears to my eyes, and held my breath to keep them from dropping down my cheeks. He lived to see the visible reflection of the pain in my heart. That would only do more to inspire his rage to burn even hotter than it already was.
"You're sorry, you're sorry, you're sorry...right. But you LIED!" He said, and I knew that I had crossed the line. I fucked up BIG TIME!!! Dammit! Why couldn't I get this right? Why couldn't I make him stop? "Am I right? You LIED...didn't you?"
"Dad...I..." But it was much too late for that. I guess holding back the tears was pointless at this point. I might as well let them run freely now.
The first smack was hard enough to make my teeth rattle, it caused my whole face to feel hot and my head ached from the impact. He stood there...waiting. Hoping that I would do something, anything, to provoke the next blow. If I cried, if I stared at him, if I hit back, if I tried to cover up, if I tried to walk away...anything. The tears were automatic, and began to slide generously from my eyes. I began to wonder if it would be dangerous to even speak, to possibly beg for him to leave me alone. Maybe if he thought he had broken me down to the lowest level possible emotionally, then he wouldn't have to make it physical. Maybe he'd let me go to my room without another strike. Please...please...let me go to my room without another strike.
He suddenly grabbed me by the throat, choking me, and pushed me towards my room. So hard to breathe, so hard to believe. His fingers tightened with a fury as I was half dragged to my bedroom floor, and thrown down on it. He put his foot on me to hold me still while he slammed the bedroom door shut, with his weight crushing the breath right out of me, and the inevitable torture began...for yet another day. I could have asked God for help, but he never answered my cries before...why would he start now. I was alone. Totally alone. Fighting against a creature that wouldn't let me fight back. And even if I could, I'd lose, and he'd kill me for sure. I remember my arms covering up my head, I remember leaving my hands clasped tightly behind my head while punches were being delivered to my side. I remember crying out as he pulled my arms down to hit me accross the face. I remember being choked for trying to move away from him. No amount of frustration, no amount of tears, could ever express the fear inside of me. The pain that I was going through. Day...after day...after day. To be beaten to the point where it doesn't even register in my mind as 'wrong' anymore. This won't last...I swear...this won't last. He can't break me. Do you hear me, God? He can't break me! I don't care what you do to me or who you sent down to this Earth to do it...I won't...I won't be broken.
I remember that he stopped hitting me shortly after he mashed my face with his hand and my nose began to bleed. He allowed me to drop to the floor, only to wash his hands and then come back with a dampened washcloth. "Your nose is bleeding." He said, and threw me the cloth, almost as if with sympathy. Then he walked out, and shut the door in my face.
I sat up, and held the cloth to my nose to stop the bleeding. When I mopped my upper lip a bit, and then took the cloth away, I saw a huge red blotch in the center of it. More blood than I was expecting. I think it was more the fear of seeing that much blood than the actual pain that caused me to start crying quietly to myself again. I sat with my back against the dresser, and held my head back. I was hoping that my sobbing would stop, because it hurt my sides to cry. I held it in. I swallowed a giant gulp of air, and held it in. I bottled up the emotions as tightly as possible, and hid them away where I could live my life without showing them to anyone. Ever.
I just had to believe that it would be over someday. If I can just get through this part...these few years of misery, then it'll be better. After that, everything will be gold. I'll be happy, Mom will be happy, and Dad will see that I'm not worthless. He won't beat me anymore if I stop being worthless. If I was somebody cool, and popular, and rich...then he wouldn't hate me so much. And if he doesn't hate me...then he won't...
...he won't hurt me the way he does. He won't...beat me anymore. He won't yell at me anymore. He won't...slowly murder me the way he is now.
I'll live to see that day. I know I will. I know I will.
An hour had passed. I know because my father had enough time to teach me a lesson and still catch a sitcom on tv. Two of them. I was laying on my floor in complete silence and could hear his tv playing in the bedroom. Did you know, that when your body hurts all over, you can actually lay still and hear your heart beating? It's pulse goes all the way through you, and you can feel it. You don't even have to move. It's actually kinda peaceful, the rhythmic pounding of the one organ that he couldn't touch with his fists. It let me know that I was still alive. So very much alive.
I kept the washcloth in my right hand, occassionally lifting it back up to my nose again as blood would sometimes drip down the side of my face again. I could taste it in the back of my throat, the disgusting bitterness of blood, it's like battery acid. It was warm, so I wouldn't even know it was bleeding until the slow stream dribbled over the softness of my cheek. But I kept up with it, and eventually it went away. In quiet moments like this, I really had time to think. Peace and quiet. I was too scared to make any noise anyway, so I guess you could say that it was a harshly enforced moment of solitude. But I thought about Brody's fingers on my forehead earlier that day, and it sent me soaring into the air where none of my other problems could touch me anymore. Again, I closed my eyes. Just as I had in the hallway when he did it. And I could swear that I felt Brody's fingers still tracing those smooth circles around my bruise. I could still feel the gentle gust of his breath as it landed playfully on my skin. I could still feel the texture of his fingerprints as they tenderly moved over my flesh and lifted my hair out of the way. To me, it was possibly the most erotic moment of my life. And it felt soooo good to relive that moment over and over again in my mind...even if it was spent there on my bedroom floor in pain.
I heard my father open up the back door with the rattle of a plastic bag following him. No doubt he was taking care of my Playstation once and for all. Not that it would work right anyway after the way he treated it. I don't think 'asshole father' is covered in the warranty. Shit...an ENTIRE Chicago winter of shoveling snow for the neighbors, and a whole stash of Christmas money, JUST to buy that fucking Playstation game system! And he just throws it away because he's pissed at me. I don't know WHAT I did to deserve that, but I'll bet it was something ridiculously STUPID! I can't believe that I let myself slip so much. Why can't I just...do something RIGHT for a change? I hate myself SO much right now!!! I LOVED that fucking game console! I guess if I sell all of my games, I can start saving up for another one. It won't be too bad. I'll find a way.
SHIT!!! The phone number!!!! All of my stuff was still scattered all over the kitchen floor, and if my dad saw that scrap of paper with a heart drawn around a BOY'S name...I don't know *WHAT* he'll do to me!!! He was out taking the trash to the can, I only had a few seconds to run in there and get it. It hurt a LOT to try to get up off of that floor. My muscles seemed to be having crash collisions as they twisted up to help me rise to my feet. A severe knot in my right leg reminded me of my dad kicking me as hard as he could in that area, and I had to half limp my way to the kitchen. There I saw my school bag and all of my books littering the floor, and I hurried to gather it all up before my Dad came back. I snatched up everything that I could, but didn't find the phone number. Where was the phone number??? I fell to my hands and knees, shuffling through papers and books and other junk until I could find it, bu there was no site of it. Oh PLEASE tell me that he didn't find it!!! PLEASE!!!!! PLEASE!!!!
Then...YES!!!!!! I saw it over by the kitchen table, and scurried over to grab it and shove it into my pocket. It was at that particular time that I heard my dad's footsteps coming back up the stairs, and was paralyzed. Shit! I collected all of the papers and stuff that I could, and haphazardly ran back to my room with both of my arms full...dropping a good deal of it along the way. And I shut my door JUST as I heard him coming back inside the house. Whew...thank God. I was out of breath, dizzy with the terror of being caught, but when I heard his footsteps stomp their way through the kitchen and passed my room, I could breathe a little easier. It was already clear that calling Brody tonight would be an impossibility. If I left my room, I'd get it even worse. ESPECIALLY if I did it to use the phone. I think he hated for me to use the phone. Underminded his 'control' somehow. But I was hoping that he'd understand. PRAYING that he'd understand. Because I really DID want to call him. I can't imagine what he would sound like on the phone. He sounds so cute in real life. Hehehe! I can only imagine what he would sound like in a situation where I could just close my eyes and dream of his smile. I'd probably be unable to even speak to him..but if we didn't do anything else than share a silence together...that would be awesome. If only...
I went to sleep later on that night, lifting myself off of the floor and into the comfortable softness of my matress. I knew that I was going to the movies with Brody no matter what, and I wasn't even going to ask for 'permission'. Fuck him...I was going. And what's more...I was going without a single scratch or mark on me. JUST in case he decided to smack me around before I left the house. I was going straight from school. I'm tired of letting Brody down and saying I'm sorry. It's not cool. Not after all he's done to brighten up these dark moments of mine. I promised I'd be there...and I will be.
As I lay staring up at the ceiling that night, I thought about what about what kind of trouble I might be asking for by not coming home. But I didn't care. He beat me today for no reason at all...I'll be damned if I run home to get the same. He'd find a reason to be disgusted with me anyway, and it's obvious that I can't do anything right, so I might as well do it all wrong. I could deal with it. His punishments. When it came to an unbelievable amount of pain...he may have prevented me from being human...but he made me a soldier. And with every beating, he made me tougher than ever. Stronger. I could handle him. At this point...I could handle anything.
Surprisingly enough, I woke up the next morning with only a minor ache in my side from where my dad kicked me the night before. Sweet! The sun was shining, my body wasn't TOO brutally battered up, and I still had Brody to look forward to. It's a good day. I smiled as I rose out of my bed, and hobbled my way into the bathroom for a shower. The whole time, I thought about how cute Brody looked when he asked me to join him and the guys at the movies tonight. As the water from the shower nozzle ran ove my face and across my lips, I imagined myself kissing him in the back row of the theater. Making out with him. And the way my heart fluttered, you would have thought he was in that shower with me. I can't wait...tonight is gonna be great. "Ow!" I said outloud...a particularly tender part of my side clenching up as my washcloth ran over it. I let the warm water run over it a bit, and when I looked down...I saw a flash of a dark spot on my ribs. I twisted my head around, trying to see it, and there it was...plain as day. A HUGE bruise, dark black and blue, and painful to the point of tears when I touched it. Dammit...how am I supposed to hide this in gym class for the next week and a half? That's going to take a string of excuses mixed in with various occurrences of me ditching class to keep the teachers from asking any uncomfortable questions. Sigh...I'll find some way to just keep my clothes on. But something tells me that if Sam jumps on my back tonight...I'm gonna cry like a newborn baby!
Coming out of the shower, I made myself a small bowl of oatmeal, and took it back to my room. I knew if I came into contact with my dad at ALL that day, he'd probably intimidate me into not going to the movies. Without even saying a word, I'll bet. Just from the shadow he cast over me by being in the same room. I swear...an average sized man never looked so huge to me, so threatening, as the oppressive son of a bitch that contributed to giving birth to me did. But...if I avoid him this morning, I can go to school without him on my mind, and I can get enough courage to totally ditch his tyranny and go out with my friends. And for that...I knew I'd have to leave a bit early.
I got out of the house about 20 minutes before the time that we usually meet at Adam's house, and knew that I had some time to kill. Besides, I didn't want to be stuck in Adam's bedroom while the temptation of sneaking peeks at him in the shower ran through my mind. So I walked down to the corner store and figured I'd get in a game of Galaga or two before heading back. Whatever it took to pass the time. ut when I got there, I noticed a familiar looking bike leaning against the window outside. Sure enough, as I opened the door, I saw Brody inside buying what looked like the breakfast of champions...a cherry pie, two sticks of beef jerky, and a packge of string cheese.
"You know, that's gonna play havoc with your breath dude!" I said, walking inside. Brody met me with one of the warmest smiles ever created.
"Hehehe, well unless you're planning to kiss me anytime soon, you shouldn't worry about it." I love the way he said that word...'kiss'. Say it again. Just one more time, for me. "So what are you doing here? Aren't you going over to Adam's?"
"Yeah...but I had some time to kill before running over there. So I figured I'd get in a game or two."
"Or...you could spend it with me, and talk for a while." He grinned, almost as if it were more an order than a suggestion. "You're not the best person in the world when it comes to a phone, you know?"
Arrrgh! The phone call. STUPID Zack! STUPID!!! "I'm...I'm sorry. Brody, I..." I sarted, the shame already covering my whole body with ice, reminding me just how truly ridiculous it looked for me to even want to spend time with someone this cool.
But he stopped me. "Don't sweat it. Just come and walk with me. I've got some time to kill too. And I'd rather do it with you. So let's go."
A pinch of doubt remained inside of me...but he was here, and he was asking me to spend time with him...alone. No matter what kind of undercover hatred I cold be harboring against myself, no matter what kind of pain I was keeping hidden away from the world...he always knew how to take me away from it. He was my escape from the pain. God, how I loved him. I mean...this was getting bad.
We left the store together, and he walked his bike alongside me as we traveled back to Adam's, slowly. And he told me that I had BETTER not try to sneak out on the movie, or he was gonna chase me down with hound dogs off the leash. So...it looks like it's a date. And as long as I don't mess it up, I might just have a good time.