Alex looked out the window with a slight sigh. The rain made a soft hypnotic rattle against the glass and the sky was a dark gray. The rain was coming down in sheets and he could only see the faint outline of a few trees in his backyard. The dim light that surrounded his small desk lamp flickered in protest to the lightning. Suddenly the thunder made a deafening crash and Alex jumped slightly.
This is just the day to suit my mood, he thought to himself.
Without a moment to ponder longer on the idea that rushed into his head, Alex turned around, and locked the door. He cautiously opened the window and crawled out into the small ledge created by the roof covering his back porch. The roof was slate, which made it hard for Alex to get a good grip with his feet, but after a few moments of trying, he finally managed to get a good footing so he could stand out in the ledge.
His breathing slowed down and he sat quietly looking out into the giant field that was his backyard. He remembered as a child, when he used to run carefree through that field. Playing hide and seek, and laying down on the soft grass looking up at the incredibly blue sky. He remembered how he and his friends used to camp out there under the stars and stare at the endless sky.
A small smile crossed his lips as he slid down to the lattice running up the side of his house near the roof. He carefully placed his foot in one diamond, and kept moving downward until he was in a comfortable enough position to climb down. With little effort, he made his way down to the ground and took a deep breath. The rain was pouring hard now, and he was completely soaked through. He looked down at his shoes steadily sinking into the soft mud. He quickly took them off along with his socks and stepped into the mud. He reveled in the strange feeling as the mud slid in between his toes and he looked up. The endless sea of grass was beckoning him once again. Just as it had beckoned him as a child, he always came back to the field when he needed solitude, when he needed to think.
The smell of the fresh rain instilled itself upon his nostrils, and the raw beauty of his surroundings mesmerized him. He sat down quietly and looked about him. His breath came out in short puffs of white mist and he decided to lay back. He closed his eyes against the rain and breathed deeply, enjoying the moment. His mind was plagued with too many thoughts. Where are you going to college? How do you know you can even get into the colleges you want to go to? What is your future going to be...Alex shuddered and with a slight whimper tried to turn his thoughts. His brow furrowed and he unconsciously swept the black hair that fell in wet strands on his face. What am I going to do? Why is this happening to me? I feel so alone.... These last thought bombarded his head as he drifted off to a fitful sleep full of nightmares and frightful visions...
When Alex awoke, he was feeling stiff and uncomfortable. His clothes were dry, but stiff from the rain. The sun was out and as he stood up he shielded his eyes while they adjusted. He made a last ditch effort to clean himself off before he headed back to the house. His parents were probably worried sick about him, and had the police out looking. After all, this isn't the first time he had gone off to be alone. He had often pondered running away. It would be so easy to just...but no, he knew he could never run away. His parents would find him in the end, and then there would be hell to pay. Most likely resulting in bruises. No, that was not the route to travel. But what could he do? How could he live a life that was nothing more than a facade? He stumbled up the steps to his house and opened the door unknowingly holding his breath.
As he waited for his eyes to adjust again, he could make out the dim outline of two figures. One of them was sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper, and the other was at the stove, possibly boiling water. The figures became more defined as the seconds ticked interminably by. His father cleared his throat and put the newspaper down gently. He spoke with retrained anger in his voice, "I trust you had a good night? It would make us both feel so much better that at least you had a great time while we sat here and worried about you all night..." Alex gave a slight shrug,
"It was okay I guess." his father was trying to put him on a guilt trip again. Alex stopped being affected by these when he was younger. They had tried to use them so often on him, that eventually he just stopped caring. In fact, there was little that Alex cared about anymore. Those things that he did care about, he rarely let anyone see.
With a quick flashback to childhood, he remembered when he took the first steps to what he was today. Alex had always been a bit different. Perhaps it was because he never looked just like all of the other children he was surrounded by. Perhaps it was that he was precocious for his age, and the other children never understood him fully when he spoke. In any case, Alex was never "normal" and he was reminded of that almost every day of his life from second grade on. He was never the stereotypical "guy" to start with; he never really liked sports and he was never really into action figures. Alex would much rather read than do any of that. Throughout life, as years passed Alex by, he would always be labeled as something. From second grade to about fifth grade Alex was a "weirdo". But as with all kids, as they grow up, so does their vocabularies. After fifth grade, the insults became more creative. Alex was now a "fag" a "gaywad" and many more that he really didn't wish to remember.
It was within those years of his life that Alex became an introvert. He rarely talked to others, and the few that he did, it was forced conversation. At some point in his life, he began to become apathetic. He learned to shrug off the insults and remain completely stoic when people spoke about him. Or at least this was how he appeared. On the inside, Alex was full of emotion he could barely define. It raged within him, ready to burst. Anger, sadness, pain, hurt...locked deep within him, he had nowhere to go but within himself, the very place he was trying to escape.
Alex was pulled out of his dark thoughts by his father slamming his hand on the table, "Are you listening to me?! God dammit I'm your father and you'll hear what I have to say whether you like it or not! You ungrateful son of a --! You're just like the other ones! I used to think that you would be different..." his voice trailed off as if realizing what he was saying.
Great dad, it's wonderful to know that you have so much faith in me. It's great how you categorize my siblings as "them" and automatically assume that since they couldn't be what you never were, that they're failures. How can you be so judgmental...you were never in their shoes, because you could never be them. Your experiences may have been the same, but you can never know how they feel. How I feel.
"Dammit Alex! Listen to us!" It was his mother this time. "We're only trying to help you. So you don't make the mistake that we made as children"
Perhaps you're right mom, but you can't place me in a bubble for the rest of my life. I'm not going to learn through your experiences. I cannot, nor will I ever be you. I need to learn through my own life experiences, not through yours or Dad's or anyone else's...why can't you see that?
Alex looked at them both with a calm look on his face. With a cool tone he spoke, "If you're both quite done chewing me out, I'm going out."
Without a backward glance he left the house and hopped in his car. He wasn't sure where he was going to drive, but he knew that he needed to get somewhere, anywhere that wasn't his house. Kiki...he knew as suddenly as the thought came into his head that he needed to see Kiki. The only best friend he had ever known, the only one who would love him for him, and not because of his achievements. He sped down the highway filled with this sudden need to talk to her. After what seemed an eternity, he arrived at her house and banged on her door.
Kiki came to the door with her robe on and gave Alex a sleepy look. "Wha....whassa matta..?" Her expression began to become more alert as she saw the urgency in Alex's face. "What? What happened Alex? Is everything ok?"
"Kiki, we need to talk, can we go somewhere private? Like in your room?"
"Sure, but why...?"
"I'll explain it all in a sec...let's go."
Alex closed the door behind him and looked at Kiki. She sat there with an utter look of confusion on her face. He could hold it back no longer. Years and years of torment had finally taken its toll on Alex. His eyes filled with tears of anguish and he leaned on Kiki for the first time in years crying. She patted his back rocking slowly murmuring words of assurance that everything would be all right. That everything would work out for the best. This is what Alex needed right now. The unconditional love of a best friend. Someone who would not judge him, or call him stupid. Someone who could just sit there and provide support, when he most desperately needed it.
"Oh, Kiki..." Alex said through tears.
"I've tried so hard to deny it, but I always knew...I always knew..." he trailed off.
"What Alex? You always knew what?" Her voice was getting worried now.
Alex pulled back and looked her straight in the eye. "Kiki, I'm gay...I understand if you hate me and you never want to talk to me again..."
There. It was said. There was no going back from here. He had let out the secret he had kept hidden for so long. The secret that he had trusted only himself with. Kiki sat looking back at Alex with a dumbfounded look on her face.
"A-Alex, I'm not sure what to say...of course I don't hate you! You are and always will be my best friend. Don't ever forget that. I will always be here to help you when you need it."
"But I don't want to burden you with my problems..." he started to protest
"Nonsense. I love you and I'll do anything I can to help you when you need it.
"Promise you'll come to me if you ever need help?"
"Okay Kiki, I promise."
"Good. Now Alex...as much as it may hurt to think about it...what will your parents say?"
"I honestly don't know, I fear what my father may do to me..." Alex shivered at the thought of his father. He was well muscled and very intolerant. Alex wasn't sure just what might happen if he ever found out.
"But you do know that you're going to have to tell them eventually right?"
"Y-yes I know...I..I just don't think I have the courage..."
"I understand, tell them only when you're ready to tell them ok?"
"I love you Kiki..."
"I love you too Alex...now let's get ready for school"
The coming weeks for Alex were light-hearted and he smiled more often in those two weeks than he ever had. He looked as if he had the weight of the world lifted from his shoulders, and indeed, to him it may as well been the weight of the world. But it was gone now, someone he trusted knew, and everything would be better from now on. So he thought.
He came home with his now usual smile on his face, only to stop cold in the kitchen. His mother was crying in a corner, his father was flexing his wrist, and there sat Kiki, her eyes red with tears. Kiki looked up and opened her mouth to emit a voice raw with tears.
"Alex I'm sorry! I thought it best to tell them! I knew that you said you would, but I thought that they should know! I'm sorry...I'm sorry...." Her voice droned to a murmur and finally stopped.
"It's okay Kiki, I know that you only did what you thought was best. I forgive you and we'll talk later ok?"
"Kiki, go home now, we need to speak to Alex in private." His father's tone was ominous and Kiki got up to immediately obey.
Once Kiki was gone, his father rounded on Alex. "What the hell is this?! I raise you, buy you everything you needed, gave you a good education, and this is how you repay me?! You're some kind of...of gay!?!?"
"Dad I-" Alex never finished the sentence. The backhand he received took him completely by surprise and he saw stars for a moment. Those next five minutes of his life were to be his most painful. Mentally and physically. His father had begun the beating with a backhand, until it escalated into kicks and punches. When his father was finished, his mother stared at him blankly and his father sneered down at him.
"You're no longer any son of mine. Get what things you have upstairs and leave."
Alex whimpered and brought himself to his feet. One eyes was swollen shut and he limped up the stairs cradling one arm and droplets of blood trailed behind him. He opened his room and looked around. There were all of his memories, contained in one tiny cubicle. He looked out to the field he had always loved and nodded half to himself. He grabbed something quickly, and wrote a hasty note before leaving the house that had imprisoned him for so long. He walked out to the field with a determination borne of desperation. He stood erect in the middle of the field and looked up at the bright sun. It was no longer warm and comforting. The sun was harsh and cruel, beating down upon him with a celestial fury. He pulled out his back pocket a small knife. It had been a gift from his father one Christmas day. Fitting how he should die by the blade of someone he hated and loved so dearly. With a last look around, he slashed at his wrists cutting deeply to the bone. He fell to the ground after a few moments, the loss of blood and the beating making him weak. Darkness fell upon him quickly and soon there was nothing but oblivion. Sweet nothingness.
The last thought he clung to desperately hit him as he took his last breath. Alex was free now. He was free to roam the stars, the endless skies, and travel to places he could only have dreamed of. And not his father, his mother, or anyone else could stop him. When Kiki found Alex the next day, he laid eyes wide staring at the sky, his hand clenched around a bloodstained note. The note read:
I know that I promised you that we would speak later, but it just wasn't meant to be. Know that I love you Kiki. You were my only friend in this life, and you will live on after my death. Always. Do you remember years ago when we camped out in this field Kiki? Do you remember what I said? Well I did it. I'm free Kiki...free...."
The memory hit Kiki and she suddenly understood. She closed Alex's eyes and she cried silently for the friend she had loved, for the friend who had to die...to live.
"Where do you think they all come from Kiki?"
"The stars. Where do you think they come from? Who do you think they are?
"I dunno Alex. But they sure are pretty aren't they?"
"Yes...yes they are. Ya know what Kiki?"
"I'm going to be one of those stars someday."
"Alex you're so silly!"
"Just you wait and see, I'm going to be one of those stars."
"...Nothing. I love you Alex."
"I love you too Kiki..."
"We'll always be friends won't we Alex?"
"Forever Kiki, until I die..."
© 2000 Copyright held by the author.