continued from last month
It has been almost two months since Jake Pearson died.
I haven't really felt a lot since then, I haven't thought much about anything. My life has been a stand still, bland and numb. I haven't been able to think. The last two months at times seemed to drag incredibly, but now it seems only yesterday I held Kyle close to me as Jake fell alone into the raging waters of the dam.
Kyle hasn't been too well either. While I've kept up in school, had some of the best grades ever actually, he's drawn into himself. He does poorly at school, and doesn't talk much. Even his friends -- the ones that stayed with him after he was outed -- have noticed a big change in him. Nobody's really said much, though, because he sort of has a right too. After all, his first love is dead, and not only was he there to see it, but he was one of the major reasons it happened. The clincher, you might say.
I don't personally blame Kyle for Jake's death, that would be insane and uncaring. Some do, however, like Jake's parents. They have been extremely tough to bear throughout all this, even though I understand their hurt, I believe they are acting vengeful for nothing.
As for myself on the matter.... I partially blame me. I was the reason Kyle and Jake weren't together, and Jake destroyed himself over it. It was his fault, his choice, and other factors weighed down on him, but Kyle and I now share a burden worse than any sort of problem we faced before. As for us... we've suffered. I've thrown myself into my school work and my job, while Kyle has just thrown himself into himself. He never wants to do anything anymore, he just wants to sit at home and watch TV or listen to music. I really do worry about him. It makes me sad just to see him now, not ecstatic or happy or horny or any of that, just sad. He looks like he's lived a hundred years, and simply finds no more joy in life.
The police questioned us, after the medics tended to us of course. Neither of us had anything major wrong with us, just scrapes and cuts from the barb wire. Jake's body was found a few days later, downstream. The funeral was held back in his hometown, and Scott drove Kyle and I there. Megan came along, too, she had known Kyle for a long time, and her and Scott were near inseparable anyway.
At the funeral there were so many kids I was surprised. Jake had said that all his friends had abandoned him, yet there were at least twenty in attendance. Either Jake had lied, or, more likely, these kids had realized only after Jake's death that his sexuality never really mattered, he was still their friend.
I think a lot of people at school are starting to wonder about me. Sometimes, when Kyle gets really down during school, I can be seen in the office with him, hugging him, or I could be seen on the steps of the school during lunch talking with him. I've so far ignored or wrote off the few questions I've gotten, those mostly coming from Ray, a guy who'd love to put me down for any reason.
I'm sure I sound somewhat bitter, but I've had to deal with so much since the incident. Jake's parents, the police, Scott not being around as much, the girls at work and I fighting sometimes because of my aggravated mood and quick temper. Then, of course, there's Kyle. It's been weeks since I even kissed him. He's so self-absorbed and quiet my heart weeps for him. I haven't even seen him smile since Jake's death.
Then, one night at work, it all started to look up.
I was on break when someone walked in, someone I hadn't seen in a long while. I immediately recognized him and motioned him over, he was a lot cleaner since the last time I saw him, a lot better looking.
"Hey." I said, smiling.
"Hey!" He said. It was the guy I saw maybe three months ago, the one who had been late in the coffee shop, the sad looking one who told me all about how he found his perfect match, and lost them. How his other half was missing, how he couldn't live without them. He was the reason I pushed to get back with Kyle, to get back my other half. God, that seems so long ago, like in another world. I thought this guy was going to kill himself, but here he stood, alive and bright.
"Didn't expect to see you back here." I said, hinting around at what I was really surprised at.
"What? Oh, yeah, I get it. Well, all that's changed. I got better, I guess." He said, in one very quick breath.
"So, what happened, then?" I asked, smiling. It was nice to feel good about something, if only for a moment, and that's what this did for me.
"I found someone else! I know I said I never would, but really, I've come to believe there are many soul mates for each soul, and I figured I had love to give anyway, so I just picked myself up and went straight out in search of another!" He removed his hands from their awkward gesturing all over the table so Jessica could put down the plate on which the coffee cup was sitting. She put mine down and locked eyes with me, which meant, unless she was smiling, she had something with me, and next chance I get I'd better fix it.
"So, let me get this straight," I said, picking up my cup and taking a sip, and daring a look over at Jessica, yeah, she was still pissed off. "You completely threw away the advice you gave me, you completely forgot the one person you said validated your life, and you're 'ok'?"
"Yeah!" He said, very all of a sudden and bursting. He seemed very nervous, but not in a scared or uneasy way.
"I don't believe that, you have to still have some feelings for this person, you can't really just forget like that, can you?" I looked at my watch, this was getting annoying.
"Uh-hu! It's easy! I did it, you just have to find another. The one I've found has been real good to me, much better than the one before! There's hope for everyone, man, really." He took a sip of coffee.
"Yeah, well, I could use some hope right now." I said, distant and looking off.
"Well, you know, I can help you with that, my friend." He said, and then he pulled his jacket open, and produced a medicine bottle.
"Whoa, hold on. What exactly does this 'new person' do for you, man?" I said, straightening and putting my hands up.
"It's like bliss, man. Just for a little while, yeah, but it's prefect. You forget everything troubling, or else it means nothing to you. I was going to kill myself, but these pills saved me! I'm telling you, they may be artificial happiness, but man, artificial never felt so good!" He opened the bottle and popped one out, "Here, try one, free, on the house, on me, whatever, just take it. If you like it, and I know you will, well, I'll be in here tomorrow maybe, and you can buy some off me."
I took the pill from him and set it on the table. He got up, nodded his head at the girls two or three times, and quickly exited the cafe. I looked after him, then down at the little white pill sitting on the table. It looked so mysterious, so odd. If one pill could end all my troubles, this looked like it. I thought about everything, about Kyle going down hill, about work heading down, about my 'friends' at school, about Scott, and about myself. I didn't see too much wrong with just trying one, and I was starving for what it promised: happiness.
"Don't even think about it." Lindsey said, hands on her hips and staring me down from behind the counter.
"What in the hell was that guys problem? Jack, what'd he give you?" Jessica asked, apparently forgetting her current problem with me.
I simple answered "He gave me happiness." I picked up the pill.
"Jack, did he say what it was, I mean, c'mon, that could be anything, hell, rat poison! You don't know the side effects even if it is a real illegal drug!" Lindsey said, getting frantic.
"Or it could be Tylenol. Only one way to find out." I popped the pill in the air, and opened my mouth to catch it.
I saw a swift hand over where I threw the pill. Jessica, she had come out from behind the counter when Lindsey had been talking, and had just grabbed the pill. "No way, Jose, sorry. It's not gonna happen, you're just not the pill-popping type, Jack, never have been. So fess up, where's all this bull-shit coming from?" She asked.
"Yeah, Jack, really what's wrong." Lindsey said, coming over.
I sat back and looked at them, both concerned, Jessica a little angry, but only because she cared. I thought about what I had almost just done, and closed my eyes, they were burning. A tear slipped out and I hunched over.
"Jack, it's alright, c'mon," said Lindsey.
"Really, Jack, you can talk to us," said Jessica.
"Does this have something to do with that friend of yours who died a couple of months ago?" Lindsey asked.
"He wasn't my friend, well, not really. And yeah, it has a lot to do with that."
I proceeded to tell them everything, from beginning to end, about Kyle, Scott, Vanessa, Jamie, the two in the bathroom, Megan, Ryan and Ray, and finally about Jake. It took in all around two hours, Jessica had locked the doors and shut all the blinds, claiming a temporary absence. I knew it could cost all of us our jobs, but at that point it didn't matter.
When I finished, when I reached the point where I threw up the pill, I breathed a sigh of relief.
"Well, I told you so." Lindsey said, looking at Jessica.
"Yeah, right, I first told you he was, I knew from the beginning." Jessica said.
"I don't think so, I believe you are in error, girl." Lindsey said.
"OK, ok, it doesn't really matter, now does it?" I said.
We all started laughing.
"So, what are you gonna do now?" Asked Jessica.
"What do you mean, what can I do?" I said.
"It sounds to me like you've got a problem with your man, like you better fix him or he'll fix you both," said Jessica.
"Yeah, Jack, you've gotta talk to Kyle, try to heal him, or start him on the process, at least. He doesn't sound healthy," said Lindsey.
"Tell me about it," I said, "He doesn't look, act, or feel healthy, either. I'm really scared for him."
"I'd watch him real close, so he doesn't try to imitate Jake." Jessica said. Immediately my eyes watered, I looked away.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean, he won't, it's ok, Jack, it'll be fine." She started.
"No, no, it won't," I tried to choke out, "It's impossible for me to ignore it anymore, he's heading down that same path and I'm watching him do it, I know that's where he's gonna end up, I just know it." I said.
"Well, you'll just have to stop it." Lindsey said.
"Yeah, I only wish I knew how to bring him out of his depression, and I can't know that until I know whether he feels guilty or feels the loss. I just don't know how to cheer him up!" I said, frustrated.
"I might have an idea... " Lindsey said, tapping the table and smiling at me. I smiled back.
continue to Chapter 27