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I’m cold. It’s dark. I’m alone. Left here to rot on this unforgiving, disgusting floor, in an alleyway just a few blocks from my house. I almost made it. And as I lay here, trying not to completely drown in the pool of my own blood, half unconscious and half wishing I would just die already, I couldn’t help but wonder. Where did I go wrong? I thought back to what seemed like a lifetime ago, but in reality was only this morning.
It was cold and windy just like any other morning. The clouds hung overhead, dark and heavy with sadness. For their friend the sun had given up their friendly battle for good and retired itself behind the thick wall of gray. There was a sharp chill in the air today instead of its usual calmness. I’m sure it was the weathers way of bragging over their team’s victory.
I could have just asked my brother, Heath, for a ride. I should have just asked my brother, Heath, for a ride, but I loved walking in this kind of weather. It’s refreshing. It makes me feel so alive and alert. Even though I should have known not to walk alone in this part of town. Don’t get me wrong; I loved our house and our neighbors. We were a tight nit community, but mostly because it was the most effective way of keeping safe.
I only walked a few blocks before I began to notice the toughest guys in town eyeing me like lions who have just spotted a herd’s weakest member. Their every movement all of a sudden became more precise as they began to approach me. Anger, in the margin of their faces. Their hands balled tightly into fists at their sides, wearing their usual apparel: dark hoodies and jeans six sizes to big. I knew whom they were all to well, Jessie, Angel, and Tony, the neighborhood “thugs” and recent dropouts. If you ask me they’re just more washed-up societal rejects. And by the looks on their faces, they were looking for trouble.
I wasn’t really in the mood for getting beat up, so I cut sideways and proceeded to run at full speed down one of the many back streets that have saved my life a countless number of times. They tried to chase after me, but stopped once they realized there was no possible way they were going to catch up to me. I have always been unbelievably fast. I use to hate it because all the other kids use to think I was cheating when we would race out on the playgrounds at recess. Now I am so grateful that I am.
Once there was a safe few blocks between the three stooges and myself, I stopped to catch my breath. I huffed, “that was close” while wiping the sweat from my forehead, and then continued to walk. I was almost to school. I went to the nicer of the two in town, but that wasn’t really saying much. Our paint was still peeled, pride still low, and grades just barely keeping us out of the high risk list.
Still, Heath thought it would be safer. He has always been like a father to me. Our mother died when I was just a baby. Sometimes I’d wished I were older when she died so I could have at least known here long enough to be sad when someone brings it up. Our father kicked me out of the house when I was 14 after walking into my bedroom without knocking. Lets just say he finally found out about my not-so-secret secret. Heath was 19 at the time and gladly took me in. He’s the best older brother anyone could as for- fun, caring, loyal, but sometimes he can be just a little to protective. However I wouldn’t change him for the world.
I got to school with just enough time to take my seat and pull out my stuff before the bell rang. I was one of the top students and always managed to maintain straight A’s. Just one more way I differed from all the other jar-headed jocks that dominated the halls. Although being a diamond in the rut in this case did have its advantages. All the teachers adored me. Which can come in handy when I need a place to hide or just some peace and quite for a change. I think I spend more time with teachers than I do with people my own age. Sad yes, but what can you do.
School went by almost to quickly, and I was dreading to go to my afternoon shift at the bookstore. It was just a few blocks over and a pretty easy, well-paying job, but it was also mind numbingly tedious. It’s mostly empty and always very quite. The only people that go there are the community college kids studying while sipping on over priced espresso drinks and your occasional teacher typing away like their life depended on it.
The only good part about working there is that Sam Tyler and I share the same shift. He is just about the only guy who will even talk to me. It use to make me wonder, but then one day I turned a corner at school and caught him making out with one of the cheerleaders. I don’t know why it surprised me so much. A guy like him could easily get a cheerleader, could easily get any girl he wanted to. I’m sure he could be the most popular guy in school if only he wasn’t so shy. He was what you’d call “classically handsome”, with his golden-blond hair, deep blue eyes with specks of gray, and a smile that could make angels fall. He was one in a million.
It was a slow day. I spent most of the time sitting behind the counter daydreaming about what it would be like if Sam and I were together. I dreamt of the perfect date- a romantic picnic on the beach. His muscles were wet and glistening in the glow of a warm summer’s day. We looked into each other’s eyes, I smiled, he smiled back at me with a smile I can’t even describe in words, and I just melted. He leaned in closer and I leaned in closer… closer, closer, cl-“STEAVE!”
Macy’s high-pitched voice shouting at me from the open doors shattered both the image of my delicious fantasy and the silence in the room. Suddenly she realized what she’d done and made that cute little oopsie face with her hands covering her mouth that she always does. Macy was my best and only friend, and I was her’s. I loved that girl to death. She was like a sister to me- a loud, silly sister. No matter what we always had each other’s back.
“I was just across the street and wanted to know if you wanted me to wait for you so we could walk home together.” The way she worded things made it seem like I couldn’t handle myself, but her voice was so filled with such care and her eyes with love, it was impossible to be mad at her. I looked at the clock to see Sam getting ready to punch-out.
“Nah I want some kind of alone time right now- to think and stuff.” My words stumbling out my mouth.
“Well ok then”, she looked over at Sam and then turn backed to flash me a smile. “Have fun.” She walked out laughing at her own little joke.
I graved my jacket, punched out, and started to walk home. It was dark and the streets were barren. I took the back roads since they were quicker. After a few minutes of walking I stopped, getting a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.
All of a sudden, I began to hear footsteps and snickering echoing from both sides of the alleyway. Before I was even able to comprehend what was going on, Jessie and Angel slammed into me. I fell to the ground and looked up to see Jessie, Angel, and Tony looking down at me with menacing grins.
“Hey gay lord.”
“Yah fag, let’s play”
I tried to ignore their pitiful efforts to mock me and darted my eyes in a desperate attempt to find an escape. Despite my composure I was extremely scared and nervous. I tried crawling to my feet, but one of them grabbed my shirt and pushed me back down.
“What’s wrong faggot? I know it’s not because you got a problem playing with boys.” I think it was Angel who said it. His voice was full of disgust and even a hint of anger. I looked up at him, my eyes surely pleading. He pulled me up violently by my hair and whispered heavily in my ear, “you know what punk, I’m getting real sick of having to look at your pretty-boy face everyday”.
“You know what Angel, I couldn’t agree more.” I couldn’t recognize who said that, but the sound that came afterwards was all to clear- the click of a switchblade being flipped open. “I got a way we could change that.”
In a mere second I was inflamed by fear, and I was almost certain I was going to piss myself. I started to freak out in random, violet body spasms, using all of my power to try to escape his grasp, but he was too strong. Though I was able to muster up an eruption of laughter. I’m screwed, I thought to myself.
I closed my eyes, took in a deep breath to center myself, and then opened them just in time to see Jessie placing the blade against my cheek. I’m going to die, I’m going to die, they’re going to kill me, the thoughts echoed through my skull. “Ahhhh! Help! Someone help me! Please help me! Help please!” I was at the verge of tears when I felt a sharp pain pulse from my lower abdomen. At first I thought they had stabbed me, and I was waiting to be taken in by the light. Then when I realized there was no blood, I thought that it must have just been a fist. A wave of pain and relief washed over me. But only for a sec, because a second blow to the face had me quivering on my knees.
I spit up blood, my head was ringing, and my whole face was numb. “Please…” I tried to plead with them; my voice was so fragile and faint. “Please, I’ve never done anything to you. Why are you doing this?”
“You’re wrong!” Tony yelled. “You’re all wrong! What you are is wrong! It’s unnatural. You’re a freak, and you just walk around flaunting it.” His words burned. I know he’s just some future prisoner, loser, but they burned just like it burned the day my own father said those same words. They hurt more then any physical pain the three of them could have possibly caused. So I just sat there, defeated.
“Get up!” They continued to yell, spit, and punch me. Then when I was completely down, they began kicking in my ribs. “Get up faggot! We’re not done with you.” I just laid there, all my energy being used on trying to stay conscious, so even if I wanted to I just couldn’t find the strength to get up. When I didn’t move, Tony dragged me up and held me while Angel and Jessie used me as a punching bag. I reached the point where I couldn’t hold on any longer. All of a sudden everything started fading out and started going black…
There’s a ringing pain in my head, and I feel disoriented. It was hard to make out my thoughts. I close my eyes and thought to myself, well this is it- I’m dead. At least the pain has stopped. Everything starts to fade out again, when I hear “Oh Steve!” It was from a familiar voice, full of worry and care.
In just a whisper, what might be my last words, “Sam…?"
Ahhh, bright light, where am I? I try to get up but I’m still to weak- to sore.
“He’s awake!” Heath jumps up out of a chair in the corner with excitement and… is that a tear I spy. “Oh thank God!”
“He’s up?!” Macy’s relieved voice enters the room with her following at its heels.
“Hey there sleepy head.”
Sam? What’s going on here?
Heath grabbed hold of me tightly in one of those hardy man embraces you see on TV after the underdog wins their big game, and even though it shot pain throughout my entire body, I never wanted him to stop. After a few seconds I felt Macy wiggle her way in to. “I was so worried about you buddy.” His voice cracked at the end as if about to cry. Then he pulled back, looked into my eyes, and told me, “you should be thankful.” Heath grabs Sam by his shoulder and pills him over. “If it wasn’t for this guy, I don’t even want to think about what would have happened to you.” Sam flashed me a warm and inviting smile; Heath and Macy darted their eyes from me to him.
Macy gave a little giggle and nudged Heath before saying, “I’m uhhh going to get some jello”, and headed for the door, but before she walked out she waved to Heath to join her. He looked between us one more time and walked out, following right behind her.
“Haha subtle...” He turned from the doorway to me. “So how you feeling.”
“Really sore, but I’ll live- thanks to you.” Oh god! There’s that smile again, and is that a blush I detect? “But honestly, I have no idea what I would have done without you, or where I would be right now if it wasn’t for you.” I felt a smile slither to my face, it hurt a little, but I quickly healed with joy.
“I’m just glad your ok.” At this point, he’s basically hovering over the bed, his smile growing and my heart beginning to race-literally. My heart rate shot up and with it the monitor, so in an effort to avoid embarrassment I took a deep breathe and it went back down. A split second to late I’m afraid, because he noticed and the mood was killed. Sam let out a sigh of amusement.
But then, Sam and I locked yes, and the space between us slowly began to diminished I felt my body get red hot as our lips finally met. The entire room faded away and I imaged us outside as fireworks of various colors exploded from the night sky behind us. Passion sparked between us. The kiss lasted about four seconds but felt like an eternity of happiness and took away every last ounce of pain.
He pulled back and I watched his eyes sparkle. “I’m really glad you’re okay.”
I was still in aw, so I just watched silently as he walked through the door, his footsteps echoing through the hospital halls.