Warning: This story doesn't contain any sex. It's the story of gay teens. None of the characters are based on real people, nor are they meant to resemble any living or dead people.
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This Is Seth
Sam and Paul came up to me while I was eating.
"What was going on with you last week?"
"Guess with everything going on with the team, I just haven't been in a good mood. Sorry if I've been a pain."
"Nah!" Sam said to me, as Paul opened his mouth to speak.
"You weren't a pain. Siblings know when their brothers or sisters are upset by something. We thought you might want some space, so we tried not to bug you too much."
Sam started up again.
"Besides, you had your big wrestling match to focus on, so we let you stay focused on your meet."
"In the end, all that garbage worked out. I didn't get axed from the team, and we did pretty well at the meet, so I'm good."
Paul and Sam left my room and went their separate ways. As I've said before, I'm lucky to have my siblings. It's also great that it's Saturday and I have nothing, absolutely nothing, going on today.
I finished breakfast and got the dishes in the dishwasher. It was time to head out and go for a bike ride. Just as I was ready to walk out the door the door, Ryan walked up to me waving a DVD case in the air.
"Seth, want to watch mouse with me?"
It wasn't what I intended to do, but oh well.
"Come on, let's watch mouse."
Ryan and I went into the living room and I put the movie into the player. Ryan loves Disney movies. He likes them even more when he can get someone to watch them with him. Spending time with Ryan is one of my weapons for helping me relax.
I've always found that spending time with my younger siblings really relaxes me. It's always been this way. The day can be super sucky, but in just a few minutes with one of my siblings, whatever is bugging me simply melts away.
Mom walked up to me as I was putting the movie away for Ryan.
"Seth would you mow the grass, please?"
"No problem, Mom."
It'll get me out into the sun for a couple hours.
I walked outside, and the sun was just glaring. That always makes the chore just a little harder. I don't mind doing my chores, but mowing the lawn is not one of my favorites. But it's also very relaxing at the same time though. Something hit me all of a sudden; there is a chill in the air. An hour later and the grass was all cut. I decided that maybe I should get a shower before I forgot.
Devin comes into my room.
"Hey Devin, what's going on, buddy?
"Not much; just some absolute craziness."
Devin looked like he was filled with anxiety from his head to his toes. I could see the wear on his body from the stress. His hair, which is usually parted and styled, is now in complete disarray. He even has a couple zits on his normally clean face.
"Devin, you look a mess."
"Yeah, woke up to some really bad news and just haven't pulled out of it yet."
I've had days like that, where it seems that the bad news is never going to end.
Devin suddenly got a serious look on his face.
"Any backlash from the team?"
"Things are slowly getting better."
"There doesn't seem to be much of a chance of things returning to normal. I bet you're tired of the garbage."
"Oh I am, and then some."
He's got something that he's holding back from me. Maybe, it's just something that he forgot to mention.
I wonder what is killing him. He can't tell me that nothing is wrong.
"Devin, spill it. What's eating at you?"
"One of my cousins committed suicide this morning in his dorm room. Guess it's just been festering in me a bit."
"Devin, I'm sorry man."
I didn't want to pry too much because I'm afraid of upsetting my friend. Then Devin speaks.
"Would you be willing to come with me to his university to attend a vigil in his honor?"
"Umm... sure! What time?"
"I'm not really sure. Mom's driving and we have to be up there by 7:00 pm, and, since we have to be up early for some kind of family get-together, we won't be able to stay past nine."
"Works for me."
It doesn't sound like much fun, but if he needs me there, then so be it. I don't know why, but this news is really bugging me. I'm hurting and I'm not entirely sure why I'm hurting. In a few hours it will be time for the vigil, so a short nap is definitely in order. When I get up from my nap, it will be time to head up to the university.
Devin's family and I drive to Lakeview, Indiana. Our goal, the university that Devin's cousin attended. As we exited the car, Devin's parents told everyone to stick together. In front of us was a huge crowd of people. The crowd impressed me. There has to be around a hundred and fifty people in attendance. As I look around, I see representatives from every age group. As our group nears the crowd, a college-age guy hands each of us a candle, followed by another guy who lights them for us. We gathered around the steps.
"I want to welcome everyone who has come out tonight. Tonight we are paying respect to Mike Wilson. I hope as we gather together that we remember all the other suicide victims, their families, and their friends. I'm not sure where they're at, but Mike's family is here tonight. On behalf of everyone here, I just want to tell them how sorry we are for their lose. The rest of the night is yours to mingle, to remember, and more importantly to stand together against this threat."
I have never seen anything like this before in my life. The words of the speaker, though not poetic, made sense to me. In a sense, everyone here is family, one way or another, at least for this evening. I noticed there were a lot of people wearing yellow bracelets. I asked about it.
"What's up with the yellow bracelets, Devin?"
"The people wearing them are from Mike's GSA club."
Oddly enough, the thing that stood out the most to me was this feeling of peace.
I felt this solace, this peace, all around me. It was amazing to see such a diverse group of people gathered to strengthen one another. Each flame flickered in the darkening landscape, as if a star had descended to Earth. The peace that surrounded the crowd seemed to penetrate into the heart of all those in attendance. Still, sadness is heavy in the air. But strangers, offering shoulders to cry on for anyone who might need it, touch me. The tranquility felt here wasn't wasted on me. Still, I can't explain the feeling of lose for Mike, and I don't even know the guy. It's actually making me sad, and kind of afraid.
It's the type of fear that hangs over me; it's making me wonder if I am strong enough to face the future. I'm worried about what will happen if suicide ever comes across my mind's stage. Maybe, with the support that I have, it's dark voice won't come to haunt me. I want to live to see my first boyfriend, my siblings making me an uncle, and everything in between. These emotions aren't something that I was planning on experiencing, and yet here I am. This fear might seem silly to some, but they're real to me. I wish I didn't have to go through this, but for Devin, it's worth it. All too soon, it was time to go home. We kicked back and relaxed on the way to my house. The time at the vigil taught me how wonderful people can be. It showed me just how large the GLBT community is and how caring they are.
"Devin, thanks for inviting me to the vigil."
"No problem, I should be thanking you."
"For just being there."
"Well, I need to go. Bye."
The sidewalk seemed to go on forever tonight.
The entire way up the sidewalk to our front porch, I found myself looking up at the stars. In fact, I stopped and sat on the steps and just looked up into the night sky. Maybe I was hoping for a confirmation that Mike was at peace. The blackness of space seems to swallow my troubled heart. Tonight though, the stars merely cushion me. I'm feeling very fragile.
I get up and walk into the house. There is a note for me on the table from my mom.
"I made plate for you and put it in the fridge. Just heat it in the microwave. Hope you like the fried shrimp!"
My mom is the greatest. She even had the microwave settings written down for me. Did she know that I would come home feeling a bit frazzled? I don't know, but it just feels right. What I know right now is that I'm hungry. Pushing start on the microwave, after using Mom's settings, instantly signaled my stomach to start rumbling. When the cooking time ended, I gave my food a second or two to cool down and then dug right into the pile of friend shrimp. I could feel my emotions fading away while I ate. For fifteen minutes, I was content. With my meal gone, I went upstairs to my room and discovered that someone was already sleeping in my bed.
Ryan must have left his bed and come into my room to lie down. He's sprawled out on the top of my bed, so there is no way that he's going to stay asleep if I get on the bed. Scooping him up, I carried him to his own room. Ryan woke up and smiled at me.
"I love you!"
"I love you too, Ryan."
I'm never going to get tired of hearing that. He has no idea how much I love him. If I'm going to be honest here, then I can't say that because he knows that I love him. Once I got him into his bed, my baby brother fell right back to sleep. I walked back to my room and that mix of emotions suddenly poured itself right back into me. I'm tired, so it's time to lie down to sleep.
The minute that I laid down on my bed my phone rang. Normally, once I'm in bed I refuse to answer the phone, but after looking at the number, I realize it's Paige and I answer the phone.
"Hey, what's up?"
"Scottie called me. Guess where he was tonight?"
She should know that I'm not good at guessing. Wish she would just come out and tell me, already.
"Paige, I have no clue; just tell me."
"Okay, he was at the vigil."
"Are you serious?"
"Yeah, I'm totally serious."
"Why was he there?"
I wanted to ask, "Was he there to bash someone?" The words just wouldn't leave my mouth though.
"He didn't say, but he did mention that he saw you."
"It doesn't make a whole lot of sense... unless?"
"Well, would Devin have planned this so that Scottie and I would face each other?"
"Come on Seth, Devin isn't going to play games like that. He wanted you to be there for support."
"If you say so."
"Why do you think he was there?"
"Maybe he knew Mike."
"I kind of don't think so; come on, he doesn't want to be around me, and I'm gay. It just doesn't add up."
"Hey Seth, it's late. I'm going to bed."
Ending the call, I put my phone on my desk and went to lie down for the night.
I'm lying in bed with my head on the pillow, but I can't sleep. My brain is just jumbled. Can't sleep, I need to put this restless energy into something. Grabbing my pencil and some paper, I let it come out via a drawing. I guess I'm lucky that I can sort of draw, which allows me to get stuff out into the open. It's like my writing, which I cherish too. My writing is perhaps my favorite way to unwind, but I'm not in the mood to write. After spending two hours drawing, it's time to try to sleep.
Sometime around twelve thirty, I remember falling asleep; and at some point, I started dreaming. In the dream, I'm standing in a clearing of a vast forest. The bright sun hangs above me as a blanket appears beneath my feet. Suddenly, to my surprise, a young man appears in front of me holding a wrapped present. The gift is wrapped in gold paper. The sunlight hitting the paper is blinding my eyes. He hands the present to me. The paper dissolves before my eyes. Opening the box, I am shocked to find nothing in it; however, I'm instantly bathed in peace. He stares at me. It was at that moment, that I recognized him as a Devin's cousin, Mike Wilson. He looks sad.
"Don't despair; you're stronger than you think. Here, you need this more than I do."
He tossed me a piece of that golden paper and it soared to my hands. The paper began to burn in my hands, but there was no heat, no pain. When the paper burnt up, all that was left was a small pile golden ash. A ring rose from the ashes and lay in my hand.
"What is this ring for?"
He put his right hand on top of the ring and my hand.
"Just tell Devin; just tell him."
He faded away, as did the sun and the blue sky. I was left alone in my bedroom. When I woke up, I took my shower and surprised Mom and Dad by attending church. I surprised myself too.
After I got home, the events of my dream came back to me. I knew what I had to do. Devin needs to hear about this crazy dream. I picked up my phone and called Devin.
"Hey, what's new Devin?"
"Got to tell you about this crazy dream that I had last night."
For the next few minutes, Devin heard all about the dream. I'm not sure why I told him about it, to be honest.
"Wait, he gave you a ring? Was it a wedding band, by any chance?"
"Yeah it was. Is that important?"
"That ring is missing; nobody in the family knows where it is."
"To be honest, I think it ended up in my pocket. He never said anything about the ring."
He seems as lost as me on this whole dream thing.
"Wait a minute; you said that he vanished after telling you to talk to me?"
"And you ended up in your room after that?"
"Yeah, what about it?"
"The ring is in his bedroom and I know what he was trying to tell you."
How in the world does he know what is going on in my dream?
"I think you're going to meet someone."
"Get real Devin! It's not going to happen."
"We'll just have to see."
"Do you want to go to the funeral?"
"I know, it'll be weird, but maybe something will happen that will make the dream become clearer."
"Okay, I'll go."
"Cool, it's at four, right after school on Monday."
"Gotcha, talk to you later."
Why did I agree to go to this funeral?
I have no clue why Devin asked me to go, but whatever. I know that I'm going, even if I don't want to go. It's not as if Devin won't have people there to comfort him. Attending this funeral could be something that I need too. Wow... that sounded crazy. Well, it's time for bed so I can do well at school tomorrow.
I spent the day dreading the funeral, but I'm not about to skip out on my friend. I came home, showered, and then waited on Devin's folks to arrive. I wish I knew what was so bad that Mike thought he couldn't escape from it. My heart really does go out to him and his family. Why is this bugging me? It's like he won't leave me alone.
Devin's parents arrived at three thirty and as soon as I got into the car, we headed to the funeral home. I was expecting another trip out to Lakeview, but the funeral parlor was actually local. We went inside and took our seats along with several other members of Devin's family. Towards the end of the program, a woman got up and read something that Mike had written prior to his death.
"You are hearing this after the fact, so please listen to my words. I was being bulled, not at home, but at school, and at work, and even though it normally would not have affected my life, I was feeling alone in the world, even though friends surrounded me. I was always glad when we had our meetings for the GSA because that was my escape. There were nights, that I wanted to just escape and run, but I felt as if I had to finish my degree here. You have no idea how empty inside, I feel right now. Please do not forget to say hello to someone who appears to need it. Don't shun someone because they're different. Devin, I wish your friend all the best; much love to everyone hearing this. Love, Mike."
'What friend of Devin's was he talking about?' I wondered. Devin leaned in and said, "He just wished you all the best." I had so many questions for Devin. They'll have to wait for some other day, though. It looks like this is almost the end of the service. I folded my arms, bowed my head, and listened to the final prayer.
Ever so slowly, I approached the coffin, and as I inched closer and closer, I found my emotions welling up inside of me. Standing there looking at him, I found myself speaking to him without moving my lips.
'I'm glad that you're not hurting. So in the dream, why are you so sad? I wish I could have known you. Thanks for the wishing me well. Peace, Mike.'
Suddenly, I felt tears forming. One watery drop descended to the floor. When it hit the floor, I became aware of something or someone standing over me. I again felt peace.
That single teardrop cleared the sadness that I felt earlier in the day. I wasn't sure what was going on in my head, but apparently, I found some solace. I couldn't have thought that the shedding of one tear could have cleared up the sadness that I was feeling. Still feeling a little blue, but at least I'm better than I was. The graveside service went well and it went faster than the funeral service. Devin's family drove me home and then they went to the family luncheon. How do I feel about Mike being bullied and committing suicide?
Walking into the house, Mom grabbed me; maybe she saw the sadness on my face.
"Seth, are you okay?"
"Yes and no, I guess."
My response doesn't really answer her question. She might have to pry it out of me. I'm not really in a talkative mood.
"Now you can do better than that."
Mom knows that I'm holding back. This woman is no one's fool. It seems like we, her kids, can never keep anything from her; eventually, she always finds out.
"I... I found out why Devin's cousin killed himself."
A look of concern washed over her face. Suicide is not something she likes to hear about. She won't admit to it, but it must be one of her fears for me.
"He killed himself over bullying at work and at school. I don't understand why he didn't just leave that job and file a lawsuit, or why he didn't say something to somebody at the university about the bullying."
"It's hard to say, son. We shouldn't try to judge him."
"I'm... not, Mom. This... this could have been... me."
I started to cry. Mom just grabbed me and held me while I cried. As Mom was holding me, I became aware of another pair of hands holding me.
I realized that I could be bullied, or have my life turned upside down. I always assumed my faith would keep me strong, but today I'm not feeling it. Still, I have to remember what a good friend told me, "I'm stronger than this."
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah... I... think I'm okay."
She released me from her embrace and I went up to my room. I've come to the conclusion that I can't control others, and that only my actions and my thoughts are mine to control.
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