So I got out of the shower and started to get ready for school. I slipped on a pair of clean briefs and grabbed my silver chain with a red star on it. It was my favourite accessory and I never went anywhere without it. I strolled around the small apartment gathering my things for school. My phone began to ring which gave me a fright because I wasnt expecting anyone to call. I looked at the phone and it was him! I hesitated and debated on wheither to press ignore before I finally just decided to answer.
'What?' I groaned.
'Is that how you answer your phone all the time?' Christian asked jokingly.
'What do you want?' I replied ignoring his question.
'Sheesh ok, enough with the pleasantries. I just wanted to know if you could meet with me this morning?'.
'Why?' I asked worryingly.
'I want to talk. Can you?'.
I hesitated for a moment and there was an eery silence. His voice sounded calm and a little apologetic, but I wasnt sure.
'Now. Or some time this morning. Fuck school, we'™ll skip' he said.
'I don'™t know' I hesitated.
'Please. I really want to talk. I'™m...I'™m worried about you'.
That shocked me, and I thought I heard a slight choke in his throat.
'Where?' i asked.
'Do you really have to ask?' he said, again jokingly.
'No, not there'.
'Why not? It'™s our spot' he exclaimed.
'WAS!' I seemed to yell back.
The phone went silent again for a longer moment this time and I thought I had lost connection until he spoke back up.
'Just...please meet me there' he seemed to beg.
'Ok. Say in 10 minutes?' i asked.
'Perfect. Thank you'.
'For what?' i asked, confused.
'Just thank you. Ok, see yyou in a little bit ok?'.
And with that he hung up. I still wasnt sure about it but something told me it was going to be ok. I got dressed and grabbed my wallet, iPhone and keys and set off. As I exited the building, thoughts crossed through my mind about how I would ever leave. If I could ever tell Julian that I wanted out of our arrangement.
He was a gentle man, and very caring. Unless he was drunk, he never did anything to make me afraid. He looked after me financially and I was greatful. But I longed for more. I longed for a physical and emotional connection with someone, and I just didnt have that for Julian. I did try my darndest though, but with all attempts to no avail.
Before I knew it, I was standing in front of the very old Milford Manor ruins. We called it that because its so old and delapidated that we never ever entered inside. No one has lived here since the early 60's apparently and we often speculated that it may be haunted, but no real proof stoof ground. I made my way down the side of the house towards the ample backyard. The grass was thigh high to me, which is exactly how high I remember it being. Of course I havent been here in almost 2 years.
I couldnt help but smile as I made my way through the jungle of grass, rusted playground equiptment and various other items that all help a memory of wo within my heart. Then I came to the old oak tree. She was the most beautiful of tree'™s ive ever laid my eyes upon. She was tall, large and solid. She was like a safe-haven for me many nights comtemplating about coming out to me parents. She was my rock for many years. This tree was my rock.
I walked up to her and lifted my right hand to pet her as if she were a horse. I stroked her side and and smiled to myself as memories came flooding back. I was lost in a trance as I leaned in to give the beautiful tree a kiss. Before I knew it a stray tear had fallen from my eye which caught me off guard. Wiping the tear away from my cheek, I saw something moving in the corner of my eye.
'Hi' he spoke.
'Shit, I did'™nt see you there' i said as I held my hand over my heart in panic.
'Shit, my bad. I did'™ny mean to scare you' he said as he got up off the ground where he sat and made his way over towards me.
'You dont scare me!' I shot back defencively.
'No, I mean im sorry for frightening you just now'.
'Its ok' I lied.
He came close to me like was going to reach out for a hug and I panicked. I leant again the tree and slip down her on my back until I came to sit on the grass. He stood where I had stood just a few seconds ago and did the same thing to the tree. He stroked her side as if she were a horse and leant in to give her a kiss. He then came over by me and slid down the tree til he came to sit on the grass next to me.
'Thanks for coming' he said as he pulled his legs up towards his chest and draped his arms over his knees with a long piece of grass fiddling in his hands.
'What did you want to talk about?' i asked.
I had completely forgotten that he totally busted me trying to snort coke yesterday in the school bathroom! Im such an idiot! I went silent and felt my face turn red. I leant back into the tree and splayed my legs out fully and crossed them over each other.
'How long have you been using?' he asked looking dead-pin into my eyes.
'It was my first atempt yesterday before you came in' I said not looking at him at all.
'Where'™d you get it from?'
'Does it matter?'.
'No, I suppose not'.
'You suppose right then' I said, this time for the first time looking at him.
'HAH! Are you kidding me? Youre a joke' I spat out.
I stood up to leave and he grabbed my arm like he had done yesterday.
'Wait. Please dont go. Im not done talking' he pleaded.
I looked down at him and his eyes seemed to start to water. What the fuck has gotten into him lately?
'Why after all this time do you want to talk to me again? Do you pity me because you caught me? i asked.
'Dylan, its not like that. I just...I saw you yesterday in the bathroom and you looked so...' he trailed off.
'So what? Pathetic? Weak? What?' i said angrily, this time shaking his hand off of my arm.
'Lost' he let out.
What? He saw how lost I was at that moment. He saw how lost my soul felt, and has felt for so long. I looked at him and saw a tear fall down his cheek. It was so not like him to show a sign of weakness like that. He was so strong but seeing me yesterday at my lowest point had made him to weak. I had no idea what the hell was going on.
I spun around and sat back down. I felt awkward and I didnt know what to do, so I did nothing. I lifted my hand to pat him on the shoulder but chickened out and dropped my hand back down to my lap.
'Why are you crying?' i asked stupidly.
'I feel responsible' he said not even bothering to wipe the tear away.
'We havent spoke 1 word to each other in 2 years. Why would you feel responsible?'
'Thats exactly why I feel responsible. We were such good friends before. I never thought Id ever see something like that again. I saw you there in the bathroom yesterday and I saw...it felt like you werent there. And when you looked at me, your eyes looked...i saw Corey in your eyes' he said choking up a little bit.
Shit! Another thing I had totally forgotten about. When he was 11 his older brother Corey, who was 17 at the time, was an addict and died from a cocaine overdose.
'It was my first time trying it yeserday, but I didnt even get to because you came in. In a way, im glad you did. I didnt really want to do it'.
'Then whyd you buy it?'
'It was my birthday present for myself. An escape'.
He looked at me and I looked at him.
'Happy birthday for yesterday' he said softly.
'Not so happy' i said dropping my head down to the ground, 'But alas, happy birthday for yesterday to you too'.
It was silent for a moment. He was deep in thought and I tried to read his mind. His body was still and calm, yet his face was pained and sad and expressive and moody.
'I went to your house yesterday after you didnt meet me' he said turning to look at me.
'No you didnt' I said shaking my head.
'No, I suppose I didnt. Dude I had no idea'.
'I didnt expect you to'.
'Where are you staying?'
'With a friend'.
'Your mom told me you live with your cousin, I guess she was trying to cover something up. What happened?'
'Well, Fletcher kicked me out when I told him that I kissed a boy. Amanda did nothing and sat on the couch looking down at the ground doing nothing. Archer was away at college at the time it happened, but hasnt come to look for me, though thats no surprise, and now I live with a 44 year old man who takes care of me as long as I let him fuck me every night. Let me see if I left anything out. Hmm, oh yeah, I came out to my best friend who I thought would always be there for me, then I kissed him on the cheek and he,,,' I explained in an arrogant fashion before I felt suffocated and pinned up against the tree.
I didnt know what was happening to me. I felt a hard heavy body against mind and I was breathless so I thought he was strangling me. All of a sudden I heard light sobs and realised what was going on. He was hugging me. He held me so tight that I couldnt breathe, but it was just a hug. I could feel the front of my shirt getting wet from his tears and again I felt awkward.
'Christian! Christian I cant...' but before I could finish he was off of me.
'Im so sorry Dylan, I had no idea what youve been through these last few years. I feel so guilty. Im so so sorry Dylan, will you ever forgive me?' he begged.
I was taken aback. I didnt blame him for what happened and I didnt know why he blamed himself. Sure I disliked him, or atleast the him I didnt know. But the him I did know disappeared 2 years ago but was here again today.
'Christian I dont blame you, you did nothing to cause this. It was all my stupid fault for kissing you. I deserved that punch you gave me to my face. And I dont blame you for getting your friends to kick my faggot ass the next day either. I deserved it'.
My mind wandered as I expressed my inner hate at what I caused myself...
'Happy birthday!' Christian beemed excitement as he handed me a small red rectangle box.
'Happy birthday too!' I returned and gave him a slightly larger blue box, 'Open it'.
He opened the box and took out the gift I had given him. Yet another calm before yet another storm. It was a silver frame with a black and white picture of the two of us in front the the huge oak tree we always came to to relax and to get away from whatever it is that we wanted to get away from. The same tree that we sat uder now, and the same tree that we sat under 2 years ago on our 16th birthdays exchanging our gifts. I had taken the photograph myself with my camera. I loved photography and it allowed me to express various things I would usually be able to express.
He saw the picture and grinned from ear to ear as he reached out to give me a hug. I elt safe in that moment and let my guard down. I decided it was time to tell him.
'I...I want to tell you something' i said.
'Yeah? What is it buddy?' he said looking at me tentitively.
'Im gay' I let be known to him what I had known about myself since I was 7.
He paused for a moment and looked at me. I guessed he was unsure of what I had told him.
'Youre gay? Like you like boys?' he stuttered.
He nodded my head in agreement but kept it down looking at the ground. I felt a tear come to my eye and felt stupid for telling him. Then he grabbed my chin and lifted my face up to look at him. Before he could say anything, a ruch oof emotion came over me and I acted without warning, without willing, and without thinking. I pulled up to him and give him a peck on the cheek as to say thank you.
'What the fuck!' he screamed at me in shock, 'I aint no faggot!'.
BAM! His clenched fist found the side of my face and I shoved into the tree who had been witness to the rise and fall of my friendship, of my childhood and my life as I knew it up until that point. My eyes welled up and I saw him fleeing the scene. I got up off the tree and gathered my things, including my unopened birthday gift he had given me and ran home in tears.
I slept the night at some older guys house after he paid for my sexual favours and went to school unwashed and in the clothes I had worn the day before. Around lunchtime I was behind the library crying when I heard a group of guyings coming my way.
'Theres the faggot there' one of the guys said.
'Think its ok to go around kissing boys do you faggot?' another boy asked.
Before I had time to think, I felt the unpleasant feeling of a foot being kicked into my stomach. That was followed by 3 other feet being kicked into my stomach, stomped into my ribs and into my back. I then felt several punches into my stomach and head as I tried desperately to shield by head and face.
'Here Christian, take a swing' i heard one guy call out and I looked up into the eyes of a stranger. He looked so familiar to me, yet he was someone I never believed would exist.
After the ass-whooping I received, I lay helpless for a good 50 minutes or so before staggering my way out of the school and no where in particular.
That night I found myself again in the most undesireable part of town and again was being asked for sexual favours from various cars. One car occupied an older gentleman with black and grey hair. He looked sweet enough, so I got into his car.
'Hey, im Julian' he said, extending his arm.
'Whos Julian?' I heard a voice ask.
It was Christians voice.
'Your phones ringing, its Julian' he said.
I snapped out of my bad memory and realised that my phone had fallen out of my pocket. It lay on the grass ringing, brightly displaying JULIAN across the screen. I feigned embarressment and pressed ignore before slipping it back into my pocket.
'Whos Julian?' he asked again.
'The guy I live with' I answered.
'Oh. He your...your boyfriend?'
'No, he takes care of me' I said as if that made sense to him.
'What do you mean he takes care of you?' he said confused.
'I service him sexually and he takes care of me' I said matter-of-factly.
I brought my eyeline up to Christian and he returned my gaze. He looked shocked at something, and a little disgusted.
'Like...a hooker?' he questioned.
'Not exactly. I cook and clean for him too. But mainly he just uses me as a toy, but I dont mind. Im safe with him'.
'Oh that reassuring' he said as sarcastically as he could.
'Look, you dont have to like it, but im surviving. You dont get to judge me' I said defensively.
'Dylan im not judging you. I just dont like it' he said before looking down at the ground, 'Do you love him?'.
'For taking care of me, yes I do'.
'But youre not in love with him?' he asked.
'No' i answered shaking my head.
It was silent again and the wind picked up and I could hear it gushing through the backyard we sat in. The grass swayed and the branches in the tree above us shook fiercely. Then I felt something I never thought id feel. He reached out and touched my knee. He squeezed it for a while and then looked up at me.
'Im sorry for that day, you know, punching you' he said as he let yet another tear fall gracefully from his eye without wiping it away.
'Its ok, I told you I...' I began to say before being cut off.
'Dont say you deserved it, because you didnt! No one deserves that, least of all from their best friend'.
His words struck me as genuine and I nodded in agreement. I didnt blame him but he made sense. No one deserves to be treated like that, and least of all by their friends.
'And im sorry for letting those guys beat you while I watched. I had no idea what was going through my mind at that point. It was low, and I...' he started to cry, 'Im so sorry Dylan, its not what friends do'.
I sat there again and just nodded. I agreed with everything he said. I felt compasion coming from him as he wept, and a strange feeling in my heart stung me. It felt like my heart was heeling. Hearing those words come out of his mother felt so good that it hurt. I was begnning to forgive him, although I didnt really blame him in the first place. My heart spoke to my mind and my mind spoke to my arm as I felt it lifting on its own and patting my former best friend on the shoulder, before squeezing it gently and running down his back.
He looked at me and stopped crying. I looked at him waiting for him to look at me. He looked at me and I smiled. He smiled back and wiped his eyes.
'I come here twice a week and just sit here balling my eyes out' he said to me.
'Wow, she should start charging by the hour' I said as I patted our beautiful tree.
Christian laughed and stood up and hugged her.
'If only she could talk' he said before glancing at me with a cheeky look, 'When was the last time you came here?' he asked.
'Not since that day' I said as I reached up and grabbed ahold of the chain around my neck.
His eyes followed my hands up to the chain and when he saw it his fae lit up and a small smile crept over his face, but a tear fell down out of each eye.
'Will you come back to my house? I want to show you something' he asked reaching out for my hand.
I got up with his help and thought for a moment. I pulled my phone out of my pocket and saw that the time was 2 am. I figured that was enough time to do the shopping and get home, though I didnt want to go home to a drunken Julian. I decided to go with Christian to see what he wanted me to see.
'Ok' i agreed.
'Good. By the way, mom will be happy to see you again, she always talks about you'.
We headed off through the jungle of grass and whatever else as I turned back to blow a kiss to our tree. She really was beautiful. I wish to scatter my ashes here when I pass. My favourite place on earth.