The next morning, I woke up to the annoying buzz of my alarm clock. I hit the snooze button for another few minutes of sleep, but it kept ringing. I hit it again, but it kept buzzing. I sleepily felt all around to see if I was hitting the wrong button, but it just wouldn't shut up! I began banging on it with my fist angrily, and finally got up to shut the damn thing off! ARRRRGH!!! As soon as I sat up all the way, it stopped. I just sat there and stared at it for a few seconds in disbelief...NOW you wanna stop??? I've gotta get a new fucking clock. I pushed it off the table and on to the floor, frustrated as hell. Well, I'm up now, and too aggravated to go back to sleep. So I started my daily routine of hitting the shower before school. Still fat, still ugly, still stupid...sigh...whatever. Hehehe, some big change, Gavin. Well THAT feel good sensation was short lived, wasn't it? I'm hopeless.
While in the shower, I quietly let the warm water run over my face, soothing me, calming me. I felt the droplets beating gently at my eyelids, then sliding gently over my lips. As the heat soaked into my body, my thoughts went to Joshua. I could actually hear myself sigh at the mere thought of him. I pretended that the warm running water against my lips was his tender kiss. I imagined him caressing my cheeks in his hands and pulling me forward to tongue kiss me sooo slowly. His smooth pink tongue twisting itself around mine. So painfully beautiful to look at, that I had to close my eyes to keep my heart from bursting. It hurt to love him this way. It was so real in my mind...it was as if I could feel his arms embracing me. As though I could feel his heartbeat beating in perfect harmony with mine. I felt my erection grow painfully stiff, and my hand traveled shamefully downwards. Knowing that I would have to give in, that I would have to relieve myself and admit to loving him completely, if only for a few minutes. I wanted to give myself over to the emotion, and become enraptured in the fantasy that is Joshua Roth...but I dreaded the awful return to reality that was sure to follow. The smooth strokes were well lubricated by the warm water gliding down the length of my shaft, even with a tighter grip, and every touch was a relief in itself. No devious sexual acts, no furious attack of lust...the things that turned me on the most were the gentle loving moments and sweet kisses from his lips. The feel of his bare skin against me, running my fingers through the golden silk of his hair...those tender subtleties and timeless affections that sex can't touch. That's what I loved about him, that's what made me want him so desperately. After the first few strokes, I was compelled to wallow in that fantasy, and taste that forbidden fruit in ways that only the sexually charged teenage mind could create. Oh the feel of his wet skin sliding next to me in the shower, the taste of his tongue in my mouth was beyond divine. The motion of his hips as they gyrated in small erotic circles, pressing into me. The slight clench in his once soft ass cheeks as I gripped and massaged them with breathless passion. He was so delicate, so gentle, I had to fight every urge to clutch him as tightly as my muscles would allow. To crush him against me and never let go. I wanted him and I to be one, to occupy the same space, so that my love for Josh could finally be transmitted to him in its full force. So that he could at last understand how deep my feelings went, and how much I would be willing to sacrifice if only he were to feel a fraction of that love in return.
I was speeding up in my strokes, and my mental picture switched from sensual to sexual. I tasted him, taking him all the way into my mouth and pleasuring him with my heart and soul. I sucked my tongue, trying to somehow duplicate the feeling of his hard length as it slowly slid in and out of my lips. I sucked hard, feeling myself getting closer to my climax. God I love you Josh, please don't ever leave my fantasies. I couldn't bare to live without you close to my heart. Mmmm...ohh....uhhh...I want you. I need you. I began to rise up onto my tiptoes as the feeling of a powerful orgasm increased inside of me. I was breathing hard, tightly gripping my 6 inches and sliding my hand back and forth at the speed of light. My knees went weak, my head began to spin, and I imagined Josh feeling the same way. I wanted him to cum with me. I wanted him to feel what I was feeling and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I would give him infinite love anytime he wanted it. Without question, without regret. Oh...God....ahhh! I sprung my eyes open just in time to see my member throbbing and pulsing frantically, forcing my fluids out in long white streams and spraying the shower curtain with my seed. I kept pumping away, holding my breath to keep from crying out, and the streams were endless, my knees almost buckling with every shot. I didn't think I'd ever stop. My tip became so sensitive that I could feel it in my stomach, and it continued to pulse and spasm all on its own even after I had let it go. I worked hard to catch my breath and come back down to Earth. I waited a few minutes, feeling the warm water on my back, comforting me and keeping me safe. Then I straightened up with a pleasureable sigh, and used the showerhead to wash the 'evidence' of my activities down the drain.
I stood there in that shower, still breathing hard, still shivering from an explosive climax, and it felt as if the water were suddenly turning cold. My life came back into focus, my self image came back to reality, and my heavy breathing began automatically transforming itself into small painful sobs. I wanted to hold it back, I did, but a severe realization hit me all at once, and my emotions let go. It was all fake. ALL of it! It was just a damn lie! A fairy tale that I tell myself at bedtime so I can sleep at night! And when I wake up...I'll still be alone. The tears began to pour out of me faster than the shower could wash them away, and I slid down to the floor of the tub, covering my face with my hands...and I cried. It was the only way to get rid of enough pain to face another day. I must have been in there too long, because my mom knocked at the door and told me I was going to be late. "Um....OK. I'll be out in a minute." I shouted back, trying to hide the trembling in my voice. The last thing I needed was for my parents to know how utterly depressing my life is. I just wanted to keep it all in, all tucked away where nobody could ever find it. Hoping that one day, after filling my mental attic with enough garbage...I wouldn't be able to find it either. If only I could go back, to when it didn't matter. To when I felt invinceable. Now I just hurt all the time, and they won't let me change. I try, GOD do I try, but they just won't let me change! They labeled me as the outcast, and they won't stand for me to be anything else BUT that. I'm trapped here forever. A prisoner of this misery and constant suffering. No friends, no love, no fun, nothing. Just me alone with my pain. I've got to STOP this! Come on Gavin...stop it! I'm a good person. I'm a good person. Keep saying it. Believe it. I'm...I'm a good person. I'm...so....alone. So very alone.
"Gavin? Honey? You've got to leave in about ten minutes. Come down and get yourself some breakfast." My mom was persistent, and I knew that I was going to have to come out of the shower eventually.
I swallowed hard, cramming the pain down into the pit of my stomach again and holding it there while it tried to force its way back up to the top like a huge balloon held under water. "O-o-ok mom...just a minute." I stood up, wiped my eyes free of my remaining tears, and turned the water off. That warm water, that comfortable feeling of acceptance, the representation of Josh's kiss...gone. Washed down the drain along with my dreams of every being happy. When I opened the shower curtain, the cold air rushed in, and reality took its place at my side again.
I ate breakfast the same way I always did. Went out and caught the bus the same way I always did. Sat in the same seat, thought the same thoughts. Saw the same scenery pass me by at the same speed as it always had. Nothing changed around me, so who was I to try to change myself? This isn't a magical world of possibilities. This is life. My life.
I made it through the mind numbing repetition of my classes through the first half of the day, and then went to sit on the front steps to eat my lunch. It was the ideal place for me to sit. Nobody sat around me, displaying how happy they were to lead such a charmed life. By sitting on the steps, I got to watch the other kids pass me to go into school, and pass me to get out of school...but whichever way they were going...they were always just 'passing through'. That way I didn't have to look at them, I didn't have to listen to their conversations. I didn't have to hear them laughing, or feel them purposely ignoring me. As long as they kept moving, I could relax, and pretend that they were nothing more than 'scenery'. A still background that passed me by much like the scenery out of that lonely bus window. That's how they saw me, I'm sure. It sounds anti-social, but hey, at least I have some peace and quiet.
The second I thought about being alone, I saw a pair of feet stop right next to me on the steps. Then he sat down next to me with a can of soda as though I had invited him. He popped the top of it loudly and just started drinking as I looked over to witness this raid on my privacy. It was HIM! It was the blond boy that I had seen in the hall the day before. He leaned back on his elbows, and quietly continued to sip away at his beverage, not saying a single word. I didn't know what to do. I just kinda sat there, pretending that I didn't even notice him. I tried to just go back to eating my lunch, but he was 'invading my space' as it was. Just having him there made me take notice of my every thought and movement. It made me insecure and uncomfortable, and something inside of me just wanted him to go away. Was I curious? Of course I was. But I didn't have the slightest idea of how to begin a conversation with him, and I certainly didn't know how to politely tell him to leave me alone. So I just forced my eyes down to the ground in front of me, and kept on eating. Neither one of us said a single word, but unlike me, he didn't seem at all restless about it. It's kind of like being the only person in a movie theater, and then having somebody walk in and sit in the seat right next to you and fight over the armrest, even though every other seat in the place is empty. It's just not normal. He kept drinking, and then started tapping his foot gently against the step. It wasn't really loud, but it was enough to make me even more irritable. I thought about maybe getting up and just going somewhere else to eat. This kid was weird, and I really didn't have time for bullshit today. It was probably some kind of prank or something anyway. Somebody probably bet him a dollar that he wouldn't come over and eat lunch with me. Whatever it was, I had had enough. We sat there, not more than two feet apart on the school steps, and neither one of us said a word. I peeked at him out of the corner of my eye. He wasn't even looking back at me, but the second I caught a glimpse of him, a little grin appeared on his face. I looked back down at the ground right away and we went back to complete silence. Another five long minutes went by, every wordless second of it frustrating me to no end. Well??? If he's going to fucking sit next to me, he could at least SAY something! Just then, he brushed some of his golden blond locks out of his eyes...and belched. Then he smiled and went right back to drinking. OK! Enough is enough! I'm out of here! I stood up, grabbed my stuff, and just walked away. I don't have to put up wth this. All I want is to be left alone and the assholes in this school can't even do THAT! Fine, whatever. Let him sit there, I'm going to eat in the library. What a freak.
Later that afternoon, I went to my English class and took my usual seat in the far corner across from the 'apple of my eye'. And he was just as beautiful as he was the day before, if not more. The way his clothes just fit him, the way their colors would enhance his every feature. I'd sacrifice ever seeing him naked, just so I wouldn't deprive him of those colors. He was an absolute prince. You know...sometimes...I look at those empty seats on either side of Josh...and I think about what would happen if I could just take one. If one day, I just came in, and sat down right next to him. Would he think I was weird? I mean, that blond kid came and sat right next to me earlier at lunch, and frankly it really freaked me out. But I wondered what would happen if I did it right here in this classroom. I had been thinking about that possibility for a few days now. Maybe I could talk to him...maybe...even get to 'know' him a little bit.
"Gavin...how about you?" The teacher asked. SHIT! Caught daydreaming instead of paying attention.
"Uh....huh?" Awww, great! Now I look stupid! And in front of Josh! Arrrgh!
"To, too, and two...can you tell us the difference between the three?" She repeated.
"Um...yeah. 'Two' is referring to a number, 'too' is another way of saying 'also' in a sentence, and 'to' is just...um...to." I mumbled shyly.
"Exactly. Thank you Gavin." Job well done, I suppose. I looked over at Josh, hoping that maybe a part of him would be impressed. Sigh...he wasn't even looking. What am I thinking? It's not like I figured out the cure for cancer, I just answered one of the simplest English questions of the semester. I doubt he even noticed. It never stopped me from staring though. That wonderous hair of his just tickled the sides of his face so softly, so hypnotically. It moved with the slightest turn of his head, he was gorgeous. God, I bet he smells great. I'm going to talk to him one day, I swear I am. It might be at out twenty five year high school reunion...but I WILL talk to him eventually. I know I will. Once I get enough courage to stop trembling the way I do when I even think about him.
I looked back at the blackboard to take a few notes, but something caught my eye from out of the window next to me. From the third floor, our classroom looked out on the track and soccer fields outside...and standing out there, way off in the distance, was the same blond weirdo. He must have been extremely far away, but I could see him plain as day, wearing a gym uniform like everyone else on the field, and yet still sticking out of the crowd like nobody else. Even though there was no way to see his eyes from that far out, I could tell that he was looking directly at me. I could 'feel' it. He was standing perfectly still, entirely focused on me, and just when I thought things couldn't get anymore freaky...I saw him lean against a tree, smile, and wave. JESUS! He can SEE me!!! There's no WAY! That would be impossible from that far out! Just then, the bell rang and everyone jumped up to start filing out for their next class. It startled me a bit, and I knocked my textbook over onto the floor at my feet. I bent down to grab it, it only took a second, and returned my gaze to the window. But the blond stranger was already gone. As though he had vanished. The gym classes had already begun running back to the locker rooms, so I guess he got lost in the herd of 'school color' clad cattle. But it left me with an eerie feeling. What the hell? Is he stalking me now???
Normally I would have followed Josh to his next class as always, but for some reason, I was worried about running into 'you know who' again. So I escaped by taking a different route this time around. I think I might have shaken him off of my trail...at least I thought I had. I didn't know any different until I went home that day. I got on the bus, walking over to sit in my usual seat up near the front, and he was SITTING there already! I froze in my tracks, and just stood there...unable to figure out what the heck was going on. He had a backpack of books in the seat next to him, and when I stopped in front of him, he looked me right in the eye and moved them into his lap as if to offer me a seat. His eyes were so clear, so out of the ordinary, that it was more frightening than beautiful. I felt a nervous jitter run up my spine, and instead of sitting next to him, I found a different seat further back. The bus closed its doors and started the journey home, but even though I tried not to look, I could feel that boy staring at me. I nervously looked up, and sure enough, he was half turned in his seat, looking back at me. I turned my eyes back down to my feet. Just...turn around, I thought to myself. Turn around. Leave me alone. Please...just leave me alone. I looked back up to see him finally facing the other way. Thank God. I rode the bus the rest of the way home, and was happy to get off, hoping that he wouldn't follow me. He didn't. As I stepped off the bus and threw my bag over my shoulder, I glancd back through the bus window to see him staring at me again. When I stared back at him, I saw one of the most evil, mischievous grins ever created spread across his face. A wicked smile that looked as though it belonged to the devil himself, and he looked right back at me through the bus window. A shameless eye contact that he held until the bus pulled away and was out of sight. I felt uneasy, invaded. But all I could do was head home, my thoughts consumed by the enigma of this boy...whoever he was. My life wasn't by any means 'everyday', but I wasn't used to anything quite this bizzare.
"Knock knock..." Came a voice from the other side of my bedroom door that night after dinner. It was Fath, probably coming to do a sisterly check on me.
"What's up kiddo? You've been so quiet tonight. Right after dinner you locked yourself up in here and I haven't heard a peep out of you since."
"Peep." I said sarcastically, but she gave me a look that told me that I wasn't being 'fair'. So I sighed and continued, "I'm fine, really. Nothing..."
"...Nothing spectacular...yeah I know. That's what you always say." She said, sitting on my bed.
"Did you expect something more action-packed?" I asked.
"Well...you could try to entertain me with a few details every now and then, you know. You haven't said a single word about how you're liking or disliking high school life so far."
She wanted some interesting details, fine. "Well, first of all, I have a space alien for a math teacher."
"Oh really?" She smiled, playing along.
"Yeah. She devoured a student in front of the whole class because he got a 'D' on our first pop quiz. So then I wrestled her to the ground, and had to break her neck before she went on a wild feeding frenzy in the second floor computer lab."
"Ahhh...well, good for you. But I'm sure that murdering your math teacher would have some kind of punishment attached to it."
"You BET it did. Two whole days of detention." I worked up a fake smile, and Faith figured out the game was over.
"You know...it hasn't even been three weeks yet. And freshman are scared little toddlers most of the time anyway. They'll warm up to you eventually if you let them. Give it a chance." She said.
"I am giving it a chance, Faith. Ok? It's just not...it's not working. Whatever, forget it, it's not important." I felt that ice cold wind wrap its icy claws around me again, and I tried to work up enough burning hot frustration to keep it from freezing me completely. "It doesn't bother me anyway..."
"I'm fine. Honestly. Look at me, I'm cool." I gave her a shit eating grin, and turned back to my homework on my desk, hoping that she'd get the message.
"Sigh...ok. Well, I'm glad to hear that you're...having a good time then." She was giving up for the night. Faith always wanted to be there, but she could always tell when I wasn't in the mood. Sometimes, I just needed to pout it out alone for a while.
She walked over and hugged me from behind. "Ok. G'night Gavin." She whispred, and shut my bedroom door on her way out. I swear, homework is hard enough to figure out when you don't have tears welling up in your eyes.
The phone rang in my room. Probably one of Faith's many many friends begging her to go out and do something cool. That was the LAST thing I needed at the moment. I tried to concentrate on my homework, but the phone just kept ringing. HELLOOOO! Isn't somebody going to get the fucking phone?!?!?! When the phone rang for the seventh or eighth time, I shot up out of my chair and ran to the receiver next to my bed. I was angry, I was feeling down, I had work to do, and I didn't feel like talking to anybody! NOBODY! I snatched up the phone, and shouted, "HELLO?" I tried to hold the anger in as much as I could, but I'm sure the person on the other end could hear it in my tone. There was a silence. "HELLO???" I said again. No answer. SHIT!!! I slammed the phone down, and unplugged it from the wall. If they're not going to answer the phone, then neither am I. I went back to my homework, finished up about a half hour later, and went straight to bed. Fuck the world and everyone in it! I don't need friends, I don't need family...I don't need anybody. I'm better off the way I am.
The next morning, I went right back into the same monotonous routine. Out of bed, disgusted look at the mirror, shower, breakfast, bus ride, scenery, school. If nothing else, my life was consistent. I didn't want a repeat of yesterday, so I went out to the far end of the football field, and sat down on the grass over by the fence. I leaned back, and just relaxed a little bit, enjoying the opportunity to surround myself in silence. I reached into my bag, and pulled out my sketchbook to do a little doodling before lunch time was over, it was the best time to start up some new ideas. I took a few bites of my sandwich and scribbled away, my hands guiding the pencil easily over the textured paper of my private 'gallery'. What am I going to draw today? Who knows? Maybe I'll just scribble a bit more and see what kind of shape it takes. Improvisation was my specialty in this matter, easily able to let my emotions 'feel out' whatever pencil strokes that I needed to make in order to capture my mood at the moment. Sometimes, I even surprised myself. If I keep practicing, maybe I'll get better at it. Maybe even good enough to show somebody instead of keeping it hidden away in this ratty old book of mine.
Then I heard it...the silence-shattering sound of a soda can opening up behind me! I looked over my shoulder, and leaning right there on the other side of the chain link fence behind me...was the same blond haired weirdo freak who had been following me for the last few days! How the hell did he GET here? What the HELL does he want with me? That was IT! No more playing the nice guy. "Can I help you with something?" I asked him rudely.
"I don't know. Does it look like I need help?" He replied, and took another sip of his soda.
"May I ask why the hell you've been following me the past few days?"
"Following you? Geez, a few chance encounters and the kid thinks he's a superstar." He had such a cocky, brat like attitude. Like he could easily look down on anyone and everyone else on Earth because he was better than all of them. Jerk.
"I DID come out here to be alone, you know?"
"Why would you want to do that?"
"Why would you want to be alone? It doesn't take any real skill to be alone." He said, his eyes not even looking in my direction. "Interaction is the spice of life, afterall."
"You know what? You're about two seconds from..." But he interrupted me before I could finish my threat.
"So what are you drawing? Looks cool."
I slammed my sketchbook shut, and took it up into my arms. "THAT'S none of your business!"
"Well, well, well...aren't WE touchy today?" He said, and then he took another nonchalant sip of his soda.
I didn't know whether to be outraged or just plain confused. Whoever this kid was, he had a strange vibe about him that made me feel weird every second that he was around. And I wanted to just get away from him. "I'm NOT being touchy!!! I just don't appreciate being followed around by somebody I don't know!"
"Whatever you say." He never changed the pitch of his voice...making the whole situation even MORE annoying to me! "Would it make you feel better if I asked you to join me? You wouldn't have to put forth any of that 'scary' effort into making the first move."
"What do you want from me?"
"Have a seat." I didn't sit down at first, but then he turned around, and I saw the look in his eyes. Those eyes did something to me, and forced me to listen. Just the shine they held in their gaze, it was so strangely inviting. Besides, curiosity was getting the best of me, and I wanted to find out what this was all about. So, reluctantly, I gave in and sat down on my side of the fence. "First things first...what's your name kid?"
"How are ya, Gavin? The name's Gideon." He stuck as many fingers as he could through the fence for me to shake, and then he continued. "So...you claim to want to be alone. May I ask why?"
"I just do, ok?" I answered.
"Alone is no good. Sure, privacy and solitude has its place in everybody's life. But you can't learn anything 'alone'. You can't grow or experience anything new when you're 'alone'..."
"And your point is?"
"My point is...you looked like you needed a friend." He took another hearty sip of his soda, and mt ears perked up a bit. Do you know what the funny thing is? All this time I have been struggling for a friend, and hoping that one would simply fall from the heavens and come to me out of the blue. And now that it's happening...it seems too good to be true. It didn't make sense. Something was wrong with this whole scenario. He didn't even know me. And something about this 'too good to be true' occurrence made me reject it.
"Sorry...I don't think so."
"It's weird, huh? Me approaching you and just asking your name. I understand. I was once where you are. You keep praying for the pot of gold, and then you find it, and doubt its value. It's normal." He said.
"I don't mean to be rude, but this is a bit too strange for me, ok? I'm sure that you're nice and all..."
"Did you know that we control our dreams 100% from beginning to end?" He said for no reason whatsoever and cutting me off in mid sentence. As though he were trying to change the subject before I could make an excuse to leave.
"....What the hell are you talking about?" I asked.
"Our dreams. When we go to sleep every single night, we dream. And no matter how incredibly weird those dreams are, no matter how fucked up the images in our minds, we control every aspect of it. From the people involved, to the actions that take place, to the location, all the way down to the number of petals on a single flower in the background. We imagine it, and make it real. So real, that our heartbeats actually speed up in real life while running in our dreams. Isn't that fascinating?"
"Ok....you lost me." I said, starting to gather my stuff to get away from this basket case.
"Imagine if real life was exactly the same way. If we could just think it. Concentrate on it hard enough to make it real. We could be anything, anyone, anywhere, we wanted to be. Like magic. If we could do that...life would be a very different experience indeed, don't ya think?" He continued.
"Whatever. I've got to run." I started to leave, but after taking another sip of his drink, he stopped me with this single sentence.
"I have the power to make it real, you know?"
Maybe it was in my mind, but I could have sworn that an electric impulse ran throughout my entire body when he said that, and suddenly...he had my attention. "What?"
"Whether you are willing to believe me or not is up to you. You could easily walk away from this conversation, declare me a freak of society, and I won't bother you again. It's as simple as that." He turned around again to look me right in the eye. "OR...you could open your mind, listen to whatever silly ramblings I have to toss at ya, and possibly change your life forever. ALL of it, not just the easy parts."
"Oh, I see...I listen to you, and you change my life. Right?"
"What are you? You doing a project for your 'motivational speaker' class or something? Are you gonna ask me to join a cult? Maybe you want me to take some drugs? First dose is free, but the second and third ones will cost me? Exactly what are you selling here?" I asked.
"I'm not selling you anything. I'm giving you the chance to be the person you want to be, nothing more. And all I ask in return...is that you enjoy the gifts that I give you. No other payment is neccessary."
I stood back from him a step or two, grinning doubtfully at the idea of this young 16 year old boy offering me the key to a whole new life. Yeah right! If it was THAT easy, I would have figured it out myself by now. "You're kidding right?" I asked. But he wasn't kidding. In fact, as he took another sip from the can, he looked dead serious.
"Let me ask you something, Gavin...honestly...are you happy right now?" He asked.
"Yeah. I'm fine."
"Well, that's all nice and dandy, but I didn't ask if you were 'fine'. I asked if you were happy."
"Sure. I'm happy, why?"
"Are you REALLY? Because if you are, then this is all just a waste of my time, and I'll be on my way. Your decision." I didn't answer at first, but after a few seconds he asked again, "Are you happy, Gavin?" I nodded slowly, a bit confused by what he wanted to hear from me. That was the only answer I had to give him. So Gideon shrugged his shoulders, and grabbed his backpack to leave. He started to walk away, and I reached out to stop him.
"WAIT! WAIT! That's it? You're just going to walk away?" I asked.
"Listen kid, you don't have to be honest with the other kids in this school, you don't have to be honest with your family, and you sure as hell don't have to be honest with me. But you DO have to be honest with yourself at the end of every single day! Everytime you get a few quiet moments 'alone' out here by the fence or on those high school steps. Everytime you cry yourself to sleep, wishing you had something more. Everytime you sit back and whine and complain about how everybody else has it better than you do. When all is said and done, no matter how many emotional barricades you put up to protect yourself from the people trying to help you, the truth will still be there...even when you close your eyes. At the end of the day, when you lower the mask you wear so easily in the 'public eye', the only question left is ARE - YOU - HAPPY? I can't help you with the answer to that question unless you're willing to talk to me."
"So you want me to tell you that I hate my life? Is THAT it?"
"I want you to tell me the TRUTH, Gavin. Look deep down inside yourself, beyond all the bullshit and the illusions and the pride...and I want you to tell me, face to face, that you are every bit as happy as you WANT to be. As you CAN be. Tell me that there is nothing more that you want out of this life, no more achievements that you are looking to reach. Tell me that you are able to rest easy every single night without a single regret and without a TRACE of sadness. Do that, just once...and I'll go away. I'll vanish into thin air, and I promise you that you'll never see me again. BUT...if you're NOT happy...if you want more from your daily experience, if you want to expand on who you are as a person in this world, and are willing to be completely honest with me...then we can talk. Just you and me." His eyes stared right through me as he spoke, but something behind that shiny glare showed me someone who actually...cared. "Make no mistake, Gavin...I CAN help you. But you're going to have to pledge an allegiance to the truth. You're going to have to take a leap of faith, open yourself up completely, and put your trust in me. If you don't, then all of my efforts will be just as fake and misleading as the information you give me. It'll just be another worthless lie wrapped up in a nice pretty package. And it won't do you any good. Understand?"
"Be honest about WHAT? Dude, you don't even KNOW me!"
"We can argue, or we can talk. Like I said, the decision is yours. It won't matter to me either way. I've already found my answers. But something tells me that you're not exactly who you want to be, and it's time for a change. A time for you to wake up smiling in the morning. You're not happy, Gavin. It shows in your eyes. The eyes are the windows of the soul, and what I see inside is a beautiful spirit held hostage by its own fear. But it doesn't have to be that way. Not for you. Not for any of us. Let me help you. Let me bring you into a world so free, so easily attained, that you will kick yourself for not seeing it sooner. All this I can do, and more." He held out his hand for me to shake it. "What do you say? Friends?" That mischievous grin appeared agan on his slightly parted lips, and his blue eyes almost seemed to glow with the anticipation of me possibly accepting his offer.
"You're not...like...going to sell me heroine or something are you? Because I'm not really into that shit." I said, looking at Gideon with caution.
"Hahaha! No no, nothing like that. I swear. All you have to do is listen, learn, think, and grow. That's it."
"That's it. It won't cost you a penny. It won't cost you blood, sweat, or tears, and it won't involve any mind altering substances of any kind. All you have to do...is give me is your eternal soul." He saw the look on my face and laughed. "It's a JOKE dude! Jesus, lighten up a bit will ya?"
"You're telling me...that if I listen to you...I'm going to be happy? Do I have this all right?"
"With an open mind, and some true effort on your part...you can be one of the happiest people on Earth without a single consequence and without harming another human being. No more bullshit. Will it be easy? No, it won't. Will you get it simply by sticking with it for a few weeks and then letting it go? No, it's all or nothing. Will you achieve it by holding back from me or not telling the complete truth. No, all you will achieve is living a different lie from the one you're living now. But...with something as simple as patience and will power...you can have all of those things that you long for so painfully. Everything that the other kids have, and so much more." He extended his hand again, and saw me looking down at it, still hesitating. "I can make it happen, Gavin. I can give you anything that you want or need. All of your dreams, all of your ambitions. Friends, popularity, brains, true love...all of it. All you have to do...is ask." I looked down at Gideon's hand again, almost afraid to take it. I knew that this was going way beyond bizzare at this point and becoming downright insane! But something inside of me wanted to take it. A part of me only heard the words that promised a better life for me. A chance at happiness. A chance to finally rise above the dismal and murky swamp that I had lowered myself into so long ago. He saw my reluctance, and continued with, "I know this seems out of the ordinary. And that's fine. If you want to wait, that's cool. You can do this when you're fourteen, or you can do it when you're forty. No matter how old you are, from the womb to the tomb, you can always make a change. It's just a matter of making the decision to do it. Now...if you want to take this leap of faith right now, then take my hand. If you want to procrastinate another minute, another day, or another ten years...that's fine by me. But I'm giving you the opportunity to start right now. Today. Without further hesitation. This is your chance to start really living, from this day forward. All you've got to do is want it bad enough."
He stood there, a small childish smirk on his face, his hand still stretched out, firm, confident...and I believed him. God help me, I believed him. I allowed my hand to shakily leave my side, and start to move towards his. "That's it..." He said. "...you take the leap, and I will catch you. The fall down to the bottom is not as deep as you think."
And then I did it. Touching his hand, and feeling an electric bolt of energy flow up my arm and rush to cover my whole body. It was hot, almost burning my palms as he stared into my eyes and into my mind. As though that initial touch had joined me with my other half, meeting myself in one hundred different dimensions all at once. By the time I let go of his hand, the change had already begun. I could feel it.
"Good. Meet me here at 2:00 tomorrow, and we'll begin." He said with a smile.
I nodded speechlessly at first, but then I thought about it. That was when my English class started. A day without Joshua Roth and my life would be OVER! "Um...wait....actually, can't we meet at like 3:00 instead? I mean...it would be much more..."
"Ditch." He said.
"Your class. Whatever it is...ditch it. Trust me. I'll see you tomorrow. And I want you to bring the following objects with you. A blank notebook, brand new and unused. A red pen. A blue pen. And your favorite 3 drawings out of your sketchbook. Understood?" What the hell was this kid ON?
"Is there an actual REASON for all this shit?"
"There's a reason for 'everything', my friend. Just bring the stuff with you tomorrow, and I'll see you right here at this fence at 2 o'clock. Got it? I'll start with some simple questions, I expect simple answers. More importantly, I expect honest answers. The more you help me, the more I help you. I'll see you then." And with that, he threw his bag over his shoulder and left. I was stuck, looking at him as he strolled back to the school calmly without ever looking back. I hadn't really agreed to anything, but he already KNEW that I would be there. He had left a big enough cliffhanger in my day to make me come back for more. What can I say, he sold me.
Then, just before he was too far away for me to hear him, he finally turned back to look at me and shouted, "Funny, isn't it? The dream thing? Think about it." And then he kept walking. I wasn't sure what he was talking about, but if nothing else, he gave me something to stay confused about for the next twenty four hours.
That night, I repeatedly played our conversation back in my mind, over and over again. I was hoping to find some kind of loophole, some tiny piece of bullshit that would allow me to realize that this whole thing was a hoax or a scam so that I could just forget about it and go back to living the way I always had been. My life may not have been perfect, but it was somewhat predictable. And there's a strange comfort in knowing that I don't have to worry about huge surprises and let downs. Disappointments and failures. Sometimes I just wanted to lay back and float. Float in my thoughts, in my artwork, in the knowledge that I know what to do everyday because it had already been 'rehearsed' by the routine that I had perfected the day before. That's what allowed me to walk through my day with my eyes closed and know that my feet were always going to touch solid ground. But the weird thing was, this 'Gideon' character had given me something else to look forward to. I can't explain it, but having the simple goal of trying to figure him out was enough to make me feel...'good' inside. It was like reading a book, and half way through it, you just can't wait to reach the end. Sometimes losing hours of sleep because you just can't put it down. Everytime you try to, you find somethng that makes you want to read further. You find a reason to keep going, because the mystery of what will happen next makes it worth your while. And even though you start to get saddened as the book comes to a close, and you finally realize that it's over, you can't help but close the book and reflect on all of the things you just read. Smiling as you revel in the many memories that the story has given you. Maybe life was pretty much the same way. Maybe Gideon was making my 'story' a bit more interesting by being written into the plot. Giving me more to reflect on when the story is inevitably at its end. And for lack of any other big adventures in my life, he seemed like an interesting possibility to persue. Something to explore from every angle. Just by giving me the mission to do so...he had already solved a piece of the problem haunting me...boredom.