It's been three days since I last talked to Kyle. The days we were together went by so fast but felt like a lot longer had past, like when you're a week or two from school and summer, although two or three months went by in what seemed like one month. Speaking of which, school starts tomorrow. I wasn't looking forward to it. I saw Kyle at the music store once with Scott, the day after the fight. He was with friends, we exchanged a glance, but that was it. I was worried about school, about how others would treat him. Mostly I was worried whether or not I'd get to embrace his warm and comforting body again, or if I would ever taste his lips on my tongue, locked in passion with mine.
This sudden lack of Kyle hit me like a basketball at my face, and left me weak and brittle. Everyone noticed the change immediately, my parents, my friends, and Scott, but he was the only one who knew why. He tried to cheer me up, tried to pull me out of it, but failed. I could tell he was worried I might try something again, that I might try to kill myself. I haven't thought of it since that morning before I met Kyle, but the thoughts crept back now. I thought about everyone wondering why, about how Kyle might join me from grief, or might sneer at my grave and spread word about me being gay. These kind of cryptic and morbid thoughts always creep into your head at night, right before you go to sleep. How much I wished I could sleep that night, the night before school, and just never wake up. How I wished I didn't have to face the next day, the day I would have to watch as the person I cared for more than my own life be hurt or laughed at, and not be able to do anything about it, to know that my help and love wasn't wanted. It was a worse feeling than I could get from the backlash at my own sexual orientation being known.
I woke the next morning for school early. I got ready mechanically, falling back into the school norm so easily it depressed me more. I was entering school the same way I left it, closeted, fake, and still alone. This was not looking to be another great year.
The school parking lot was filled with cars covered in wet early morning dew, and it smelled cold. Everywhere kids were talking, some laughing, some still trying to wake up. The nicotine group behind a large truck smoking, the preps all huddling around a particularly popular sporty Camaro, and Scott was talking to a few friends we hadn't seen all summer. I parked my Mustang and headed over to join them. I must've have a pretty noticeable scowl on my face, they all lost their smiles when I approached.
"What crawled up your ass this morning, Jack?" One of them asked.
"Nothing, just school, I haven't been up this early since... well, since school." I said, trying to smile a little. It worked, they all lightened up.
"Yeah, man, this sucks. Glad this is our last year, at least." Scott said.
After about three minutes more of mindless chat and catching up, we all walked into school. Lockers were opening for the first time, freshmen were all hustling and stressing to find their locker, and these halls of youth were once again bustling with excitement. I hadn't seen Kyle yet, but he was a sophomore, and they all had lockers on the second floor, so I probably wouldn't see him. I arrived at my locker and opened it, a big empty space. The bland walls and tan color felt like home, myself being empty inside. Maybe I was sulking a bit much, but I really felt bad, and scared.
The first few periods went by fast, the usual first day rule reading, class acquaintance. Nothing special or different. Some noticed my newfound quietness, but said nothing. Scott walked up to me after fourth period on his way to lunch.
"Hey, what are you doing? People are all talking about you, they all think you're sick or something, and they're all asking about you. Jack, you can't go from class clown to class dump like this, it's too real, too risky. You've faked it before, why not now?" He said. I looked up at him with disgust.
"I can't now, I never knew what I was really missing before, it was so easy to ignore it. Now, though, I know what's wrong, and I know it can be fixed, but I can't fix it. I can't fix it!" I almost yelled, was loud enough to catch the eye of a few people walking passed, anyway.
"Whoa, calm down, no need to give them something else to talk about, hey, let's just go to lunch." He said, and we headed towards the cafeteria.
I didn't get lunch, I didn't feel like eating. I sat with Scott and some friends, one of those being Ray, the one that was with Scott the night I saw the movie with Kyle. He was his usual cocky self.
"Hey, Jack, what's the matter, man, not getting enough of something?" He said, attracting unwanted attention to me.
"Just tired, that's all." I said, hoping he would give it up.
"Yeah, ok, it just seems like you're gonna put a knife to your wrists or something, you look like your mother died." He wasn't leaving it alone.
"Nope, mom's fine, thanks." I said.
"Oh, yeah, I know, she was great last night." Damn, I knew he set me up for that one, if I hadn't been so closed in I would've caught it.
"Fuck off, Ray, not today." I said, giving him a deadening look.
"Sorry, Jesus, don't cut my head off, save the energy for yourself." Others had stopped laughing, they all knew Ray was being a dick.
"Ray, shut it or I will for you." Scott said, which actually would shut Ray up. I didn't like Scott bailing me out of situations with Ray, but today I didn't mind. There was a loud clang from somewhere nearby that ended the silence that had engulfed the table from Scott's threat.
I looked over, and my heart dropped. I saw two kids laughing and walking away, one of them said "fag" in a bad tone, and of course, there standing was Kyle, a tray of food spilled at his feet. He looked in utter surprise, then looked up directly at me. It wasn't a look of helplessness, just a look. Emotionless. He broke it and walked to a table where I saw a few of his friends I had seen at the music shop earlier. There it was, probably only a glimpse into what Kyle had been put through today, and I shivered all of a sudden at the thought of that happening to me. All the fear I had before the fight came back, and just as I was thinking all this my fears were confirmed by one at my own table.
I wasn't sure who said it, maybe Ray, but it didn't matter, it seemed to be the opinion of the whole table. It was my opinion, at least as far as they all knew. No one contradicted it, no one said anything. I wasn't contributing to the cause at all, I said nothing, I did nothing, I wasn't at fault, yet I believed otherwise, I was otherwise. I wanted to stand up, I wanted to strangle whoever said it, I wanted to be known, to have my thoughts known. Freaking homophobic asshole. I didn't say it though, and I felt terrible, desperate. I once heard that neutrality automatically helps the oppressor, and hurts the oppressed. I felt that, I knew that while I said nothing to hurt Kyle, just me simply standing by instead of standing up hurt him more than even those who hit his tray or called him names. The pit of my stomach churned at this realization, even though I wasn't hungry. I felt sick, looked at Scott, who understood, and we left.
The rest of the school day went by like the first half, boring and comatose. I never saw Kyle again, but I didn't expect to, either. I wasn't really looking, now I was lost in my own fear and scrutiny of self I didn't care to see others that I knew it would hurt only to see. The final bell rang, I left school, and decided to go on a country drive and smoke a cigarette, and once again pathetically wallow in my own pity. Great time to be alive
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