The minutes seemed to 'click click click' by at a snail's pace. Prolonging the excruciating agony of anticipation in my heart. My time spent within the walls of the school was only a momentary escape. A fleeting dream that was sure to dissipate once the final bell rang for the day, and I was forced to go home again.
Heh....'home'. The place where my father was waiting for me. Waiting to give me the punishment that I deserved for trying to find a loophole in his strict orders. His whole agenda was designed around me being miserable...and now that I had spoiled his sinister plans...he was sure to make me pay for it in ways that I never thought possible. I brought it on myself. I know that now. But it was for Brody. All of it. There will never come a time when his kiss isn't worth it. A moment of pain for a virtual eternity worth of unrestricted joy? I could handle that. I just had to learn to disconnect.
Does this mean that I was becoming exactly what my father told me I would be? A slacker? A selfish, worthless, piece of shit, user who can't think of anything other than his own pleasure? Is that who I am now? Someone who would risk his own safety, his mother's safety, his whole family structure and the serenity of his home life...all just for the love and affection of ONE cute boy?
Who knows? There was a time when I could have avoided this feeling inside. A time when I would have been more careful. But somehow...Brody makes it soooo easy to be led astray. I don't know...I just want to get home and get it over with. I won't fight back. My dad will satisfy his hatred, run out of steam, and then he'll leave me alone. How long could he actually be pissed at me, anyway? A week? Two weeks? That's not so bad. If I take a good beating today, he'll get bored with me by the time the weekend rolls around. As long as I don't do anything else to enrage him again. Just gotta be good between now and then. Maybe I'll be able to see Adam on Sunday. My mom will be staying home, probably cooking a nice Sunday dinner...he won't be able to stop me without explaining why. Right? Yeah...I'll hang out with Adam on Sunday. It'll at least keep him off of my back for a while.
I noticed that my knuckles were aching halfway through my next period class. I looked down and saw them red and slightly swollen from punching my locker so hard. I might have actually dented the door from my outburst. I didn't really mean to do it that hard, I was just...angry. It just jumps out at the worst possible moment sometimes. I think I hold too much in. It wouldn't be that bad if I didn't hold so much in. I never should have stopped writing in my notebooks. They helped a lot. Why does it intimidate me so much to put it down on paper? What am I afraid of? I try, but...just trying to get my thoughts together is almost enough to make me sick to my stomach. I've seen my pen hand actually 'shaking' as I tried putting my emotions into words. And then, like a little sissy, I close the book and end up not writing anything at all. The feeling stays inside. Under intense pressure. Waiting. Holding power over me. Murdering me from the inside like a nest of hungry parasites.
Someday I'll be able to do it. Someday. I'm just not strong enough yet.
The thunder from the storm outside was almost distracting during my next few classes. I wish I could say that I was daydreaming, but I really wasn't. Not that I was aware of. I think my mind had just kinda gone blank. It had shut itself off, remain just alert enough to notice if I had spontaneously caught FIRE or something ridiculous like that. I think it was the hypnotic nature of the rain. All that turbulence and chaos outside...and here I was behind the glass...'safe'. Protected from it. I found serious comfort in that. Being able to see the danger from a distance. It's a feeling I wasn't used to.
When lunch rolled around, Sam and Adam came to drag me down to the cafeteria with them, just to make sure that I didn't go anywhere and try to ditch them. Then...my breath got caught in my throat as I felt Brody's arms slide gently over my shoulders from behind. To everyone else, I'm sure that it seemed innocent enough. But to me...it was the most sexually stimulating feeling that I had had since Brody's first smile of the morning. "I hear it Salisbury steak day. You guys bring snacks or what?" He said, and I froze, blushing bright red as I fought the urge to turn my head and kiss him lightly on the cheek.
Sam said, "I like their Salisbury steak."
Adam scoffed, "Sam would eat anything smothered in gravy. It could be a dead squirrel for all you know." Then Adam sorta looked at me, and continued talking to Brody...but there was a slight change in the way he looked at us. He was almost confused by what looked a little bit more abnormal than what he was used to. "I...I uh...got a few extra packs of chips and money for the soda machine, but that's about it." He looked at me again, and wrinkled his forehead as he saw Brody still draped over my shoulders. I tried REALLY hard to stop blushing, and swallowed my visible affection with a gulp of saliva. "I'll just have to make up for it when I get home and...uh...raid the fridge..." Finally Adam stopped and just said, "Ok, what are you two doing? Hehehe!"
Brody grinned, "What?" I remained silent though. I knew what he meant, and I hated to do it, but I slowly shrugged myself out of his friendly embrace.
"Queer, much? You guys are weird." Adam giggled, and he patted Sam on the back as he started walking away from the lockers.
The feeling of guilt and shame struck me like the snap of a low branch...right between the eyes. But before I could fully begin to self destruct, Brody gave me a warm smile and blew him off. "C'mon, you hungry? They've gotta have something down there worthy of human consumption." It made me nervous to know that he could have such control over my emotional state. Much better than I do, that's for sure. "Let me guess? You like Salisbury squirrel too?"
"Heh...I'm not really a fan, but I don't mind choking some down every once in a while, just to fill my belly."
"Choking some down, huh?" He said, raising an eyebrow.
"What? I think that's fine. You choking stuff down. Filling your belly. That's hot."
I laughed at his subtle, but highly flirtatious, tone...and then walked beside him down the hall just a few steps behind the others. You had to marvel at his beauty when you saw him up close. It almost hurt to look at him sometimes. Is that strange? Every moment spent with him was a gift. It made me so weak in the stomach that I'm surprised I was even able to walk straight.
Adam was somehow able to get around the nasty lunch meal by creating his own tray buffet, full of desserts and a array of knick knacks that wouldn't be filling at all if he hadn't grabbed two or three of each. Hehehe, he might as well have had a handful of candy bars. Sam and I got a regular lunch without much fuss, and I noticed Brody kept looking at me and smiling. He seemed....almost 'fascinated' by me all of a sudden. He didn't say anything, just...smiled. Giving me a blink or two that seemed just a bit slower than a normal blink. It's hard to explain, but I could, like...FEEL it, you know? Right in the center of my heart. It made me tingle all over to have him look at me like that. Like...tiny little fireworks all over the surface of my skin.
I attempted to straighten myself up and act like I wasn't turning back flips in the back of my mind, but the harder I tried to control myself, the deeper my blush got. And Brody seemed to like that, because it made his smile even more radiant than it was before. Oh God....he's soooo CUTE! I'm seriously freaking out right now!
I paid for my food with my lunch card and we all went out to the table together. Brody made sure to sit next to me. He always does these days. I vaguely remember Sam talking about something funny he saw on TV last night, and Adam sorta talking about commenting on a brand new video game that he was gonna save up for...but my heart was pounding so hard in my ears that I could hardly hear a word that came out of their mouths. I couldn't even eat, really. I could honestly feel my body shivering as though the temperature had dropped to absolute zero since I sat down. I kept my eye down, but every now and then I'd take a peek at Brody, turning my head only slightly. Each and every time, those big blue green orbs would look right back at me, high lighted by the rose colored sweetness of his kissable lips...and that inner panic would overwhelm me to the point where I had to fight to keep from running away from the table.
Can Adam see me acting weird? Can Sam? I have to stop. I have to get some control. They're gonna know that I'm not talking if I don't talk. So...so TALK! Talk, Zack! TALK!!!
"S-S-So...I was thinking about it, and...like, I might be able to hang out this weekend. I mean...like, on Sunday or something. If you guys still wanna do something?" I said bashfully. It helped me deal with the jitters a little bit to actually focus my attention elsewhere. A little bit, but not much.
"Well, I'll be damned." Adam teased. "What brought that on? Did President Obama cancel on you?"
I grinned. "I'm not THAT bad."
"Yeah, you kinda are, dude.But hey, I'm not knocking you for it. It'll be good to see you outside of school for a change." Adam was opening treats one by one, and then he said, "You know, they're opening up that new skater section in the park over by the rec center this weekend. You wanna go? Just to see what's going on and who's there?"
Sam seemed excited about it. Not that he could skateboard worth a lick, but I'm sure he'll be there with his little camera getting video of other boys doing what he wish he could. I thought it might be fun and was getting ready to answer, but found myself looking at Brody instead. He looked back, and there was a moment of hesitation as we tried to silently synchronize our answers. Then Brody answered, "Sounds like a plan to me." He searched my eyes to see if I was thinking the same thing, and a little smirk crossed my lips.
"Yeah. Ok. Sure." I said, those nervous wiggles getting stronger as I held eye contact with Brody for a moment longer.
His gaze softened slightly. It almost felt like we were gonna kiss right there at the table, and I forced myself to look away. "They've got...uhhh...that little submarine sandwich place right around the corner from the rec center, right?" I said.
"Oh yeaaahhh...their subs are AWESOME!" Sam grinned.
"You sure you wouldn't just want to catch a live pigeon or something and slap some mustard on its back?" Adam said with a roll of his eyes. "I'm sure you'd have no trouble eating that."
"Why don't you eat my ASS, Adam!" Sam grinned. How he expected to get away with saying that and not get another slug in the arm for it, I'll never know. "Fuck! Adam...come on!" Sam attempted to fight back with a punch of his own, but it didn't look like it did much damage at all. When Adam raised his fist a second time, Sam flinched and quickly retreated by loudly scooting his chair further down the table and out of range.
But through it all, Brody and I just kept looking at each other. We couldn't help it. The contact went from a quick glance to two or three seconds. Almost as if we were about to make some wacky excuse to sneak off somewhere and start making out like crazy. The 'pull' between him and me had gotten sooooo unbelievably strong since this weekend. I was soooo not prepared for this kind of addiction. This was KILLING me here!
Then Adam said something that sorta got under my skin. Instantly.
"Brody...dude, don't look now...but I think Hanna Prescott is totally checking you out right now." WHAT??? Brody turned his head, but Adam quickly whispered, "No no no, don't LOOK! Wait...hold on a second. I'll see if she looks again." Brody gave him a bit of a weird look, and so did I, but with Adam and Sam on the other side of the table...they could easily see the attractive young girl sitting over at the end of a nearby table.
A few moments passed, and then I saw Sam's eyes light up. "Whoah! Dude! She totally looked! She's looking at you!"
Adam scooted over and yanked Sam's chair closer so he could get him to calm down. "Shhhh! What the...? SHUT UP! You're gonna ruin it!" Adam turned back to Brody and said, "Man, she's seriously looking over here. I mean...for real. Do you know her or something?"
Brody said, "No. I never even heard the name before."
"You don't have any classes with her or anything?"
"Hehehe, well she seems pretty damn interested to just be looking at you from across the room." Adam grinned proudly. Body tried to casually look over his shoulder to see who they were talking about...and something about that suddenly took my recently inflated heart...and caused it to instantly collapse in on itself like a dying star. The reality crash was so sudden that I nearly lost my breath completely. "Dude! You should go talk to her! Go!"
The pain got worse. Rushing through me like a shockwave rapidly spreading outward from the core of a nuclear detonation. I could feel it washing over me so fast. So terribly fast. The very threat of the whole situation was enough to literally destroy every last morsel of hope and self respect that I had been building over the last fifteen to twenty minutes with someone that I wished could be the boy of my dreams. That silenced voice in my head suddenly began to get louder. Telling me that I was no match. Not even for a girl. Not for anybody. I'm not good enough. I'm not good looking enough. Everyone's better than me. Everyone's smarter than me. I'd be a jerk to hold him here. I'd be holding him back from what he really wanted. I'm...I'm nothing. Nothing at all.
I felt my eyes almost beginning to mist up with the beginning of tears. It was such an overreaction. Could I really be this sensitive? I was trying to think rationally about it all...trying to keep my composure. But as the risk of being hurt in a way that I couldn't possibly handle at that moment...my only thoughts were surrounded around finding a polite way to excuse myself from the table and running away before they saw me break down. Stupid! STUPID! I let myself fall for such a ridiculous LIE! What did I do? Why did I let my guard down? I KNEW he'd hurt me! I KNEW he would!
Adam persisted, "GO!!! Brody, she's hot! If you don't talk to her, I'm gonna go over there and talk to her for you! Hehehe! Don't be a chicken!"
Brody blushed slightly and said, "dude, she's not looking at me. You're just making that up."
"NO! I'm NOT! Omigod...SAM, am I making this up?"
Sam chimed in, "No way. She really is staring at you. I think she likes you."
"She doesn't even know me." Brody grinned, his face getting even redder than before.
My life was over. I....I had gone too far. I don't think I can make it without him at this point. I invested too much in this being...'perfect'. It's over. It's all over now. I felt myself breaking down as my breathing got heavier. I felt a touch of anger flare up inside of me for Adam pursuing this, and I said, "Maybe he doesn't wanna talk to her, Adam. Did you ever think of that? Leave him alone."
"Leave him ALONE??? Zack...just....stay out of this. Hehehe! Brody, are you gonna go over there, or am I gonna have to do it for you? Tell me right now. We've got five minutes left until the lunch bell rings. I'll totally ask her to come and sit with us."
The panic got worse. My mind began to spin. The threat was real. If only I could have reached across that table and choked the living SHIT out of Adam, I would have!
Brody shook his head timidly and told him, "Don't. Ok. I'm not gonna talk to her. I just...she can look if she wants to. I don't care."
Adam was dumbfounded. "How can you not CARE? This is Hanna 'freaking' Prescott we're talking about. Her boobs alone are worth a month's worth of wet dreams! You could at LEAST see if she wants to go out or something. C'mon!" I felt betrayed by my best friend. Betrayed by my...'boyfriend', if I can convince myself to even call him that. Betrayed by God, and fate, and life in general. I needed to go. I have to leave. I felt like my chest was being smashed between two brick walls, closing in more and more, waiting for me to explode and give in to their unrelenting pressure. "Brody...you KNOW you wanna talk to her. I know, and you know. We ALL know."
Brody shrugged his shoulders. "Nah, not really."
"Why NOT? Give me one good reason."
"I dunno...." He replied, shyly. Then......Brody said, "...Maybe I kinda...already have somebody. So....yeah."
The comment...that ONE single comment...spoken in Brody's sweet angelic voice...
It was like a shining sword...easily cutting through the thorny brush that had been rapidly growing up around me, entangling my arms, legs, and heart, to the point where their sharpened points nearly caused me to bleed myself out completely. I wasn't even sure that I had heard him right at first. I thought that perhaps the pain had been severe enough to cause aural hallucinations in both ears.
I sniffled for a second, but was desperately hoping that nobody at the table heard it. I took a gentle glance at Brody, who with a very sweet blush, leaned over to bump my shoulder with his own.
Adam gasped, and Sam joined him only a second afterwards, nearly choking on his food. Adam said, "WHAT??? What the hell??? Dude! Are you telling us you've got a girlfriend already???"
Brody said, "I'm not telling you anything, actually. But I can definitely say that I will be plenty happy without Hanna Prescott. And I'll leave it at that. Hehehe!"
At this point, I found myself hyperventilating and unable to think straight. It was as though my brain couldn't process the information it was being given at all. I felt a heavy swoon coming on, and practically had to hold on to the side of the lunch table to keep from falling over.
Nothing became real to me until I felt Brody's foot lightly touch my leg under the table. Just a light rub on the side of my ankle, but it was enough to make me hard as a iron down below. I took a deep breath and held it, feeling the strain in my groin as the delicate contact continued. I heard Brody chuckle a little bit. I'm sure he was fully aware of what he was doing to me. I nearly lost my MIND!
"How the hell did you get a girlfriend already? I've been here for a year and a half, and I can't get a girlfriend." Adam marveled.
Sam laughed and said, "Virgin!"
Adam raised his fist, and Sam quickly scooted away from him again. "Who are YOU calling a virgin, ya VIRGIN???"
I don't know how their argument continued, or how it ended. Feeling Brody's touch was all that matter. Our eyes met again, and we smiled at each other. For those few minutes...Brody made me feel like...life could be better. It could be like this all the time.
It was a concept I never considered possible.
When lunch was over, Adam made sure to grill Brody more on his mystery sweetheart. He even accused me of knowing who it was, since we seemed to be exchanging secretive grins and all. But Brody didn't give them any more clues about it. I can't believe he chose me. It was such an unprecedented ego moment. Wow. I mean, like...WOW! I wish I could stop this freefall long enough to be realistic about this. I wish I could slow this emotion down long enough to rationalize and find ways to...'protect' myself from the pain that was sure to follow. But I couldn't. My heart wouldn't let me. It was terrifying to be so in love. I didn't know what to do with this feeling. It just...it overpowers EVERYTHING! It made me feel so helpless inside.
Please don't hurt me, Brody. Please?
As we left the cafeteria, Brody's hand touched mine a few times. We weren't holding hands or anything...but he made sure to touch the back of his knuckles against my own. Almost as if he were trying to privately tell me that he wanted to. I was falling to pieces here. How was he being so calm about this? Isn't his body going wild and spiraling out of control the way mine was?
"Well, I've gotta run. I'll catch you guys later?" Brody said to us all, but he only looked at me. Just me.
We said our goodbyes, and I tried to keep from tearing up as I watched him walk away. I didn't want the moment to end. It made me feel good. So few things actually make me feel good anymore.
"Later, Zack." Sam said, and Adam gave me a friendly shove as they left to go to class. I felt frozen in that position. Still staring at the hallway long after Brody had rounded the corner.
Life can be better. So much better.
The feeling was great....but it didn't last.
Lunch came in the middle of the day. There was only a few classes left before they sent us all home. And there was nothing but fury waiting for me at home.
I looked at the back of my hand where Brody touched me. I got the insane urge to kiss it for some reason. Can't explain why. If I thought I could kiss my ankle too, I probably would have. I'm so goofy. Stupid.
The clock kept ticking. Time kept racing forward. And as the afternoon sunlight began to dim, the storm outside seemed even darker than before. My safety behind that thin sheet of plexiglass wouldn't protect me for much longer. Soon, I'd be forced out into the storm. To survive it the best way I knew how. By bearing the rain and keeping the faith that it would eventually be over.
The final bell rang.
As usual, I didn't bother talking to much of anybody. The last few minutes of my school day were spent with me trembling in my seat, barely able to breath. I couldn't even swallow. I took one last look out of the window...and after a few seconds, I saw a lightning bolt streak across the sky. A rather spectacular one, with branches that seemed to crawl through the clouds above. It caught me by surprise, and my mind was instantly drawn back to that day when Brody and I were looking for lightning bolts in the sky. His sleek body...his clothes clinging to him from the rain...his softened locks wet and shiny...the sensual sound of his voice. I thought back to that moment, and I made a wish.
I could have wished for an escape. I could have wished for something that would keep my father from beating me senseless today. But it seemed selfish. Senseless. No. I used my wish for Brody. Everything else would be gold...as long as I have Brody.
The rain drenched me the second I stepped out of the front door of the school. The water was cold, but it wasn't freezing. It was the kind of downpour that you don't waste time trying to outrun or avoid. You were getting wet if you liked it or not. The wind was blowing the rain down at an angle. So even if I had an umbrella, it wouldn't have done much good to keep me dry. I looked up and let the water wash over my face. Then, with a deep breath, I started to walk home. No point in hurrying. It would be bad either way. Every step took me closer. Every second pushed me forward. By the time my house was in sight, I was in tears.
My father was on the back porch under the roof. He saw me stop in the distance, and our eyes met. Then he walked back inside. He was anxious. I could tell. But I didn't wait. If I stood there and hesitated for too long, he'd make it worse. He'd want me to hurry up now. Just go, Zack. Just...go.
I reached the back steps, and held onto the rail as I marched upstairs slowly. I did it with my eyes closed. Trying to numb myself. Trying to keep from trembling. There was a sick feeling churning in my stomach, and I kept swallowing to fight back the nausea. Blindly my feet felt out each and every step, and finally, I opened the back door. Afraid to step more than a foot inside.
My father walked into the kitchen and gave me a stern look. I froze. I didn't dare to breathe or even blink. I just stood there, my bottom lip quivering from the cold. "Well are you going to shut the door?" He said. Still scared, I softly mumbled an apology and shut the back door behind me. "Don't wet up the floor, dumbass! Go change into some dry clothes. What the hell is wrong with you?" He barked. And when I didn't move right away, he shouted, "NOW!!! GO!!!" I jumped into action and quickly lowered my head and rushed past him. He pushed me against the wall as I passed him, but I just bounced off of it and kept moving. Was he making me wait? Was he going to let me slide today? I never knew what to expect with him. Maybe if I just change and don't make any noise...he won't hurt me today. If I can just stay out of his sight...become invisible...he'll leave me alone.
My hands were still shaking as I peeled off my wet clothes. They felt so heavy. I was happy to get them off. I pulled my socks off and stripped down to my boxers, which were also soaking wet. I grabbed a white t-shirt, some sweatpants, and a pair of socks, and went into the bathroom to hang up my clothes on the shower rod. I toweled off and got dressed without any underwear on. Warm, dry, clothes never felt so good. I was drying my hair when I heard my father call my name from out in the hallway. I didn't dare make him call me twice.
"Yeah?" I said, opening the door a crack.
The trembling began again. "I was just...drying off...so..."
"Zack? Come here." He said again. So I slowly slid through the door and stood in front of him. He was silent for a second or two. I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw his hand move, but he just put it on my shoulder and pulled me a step or two closer to him. "Look at me." He said. I raised my eyes slowly, and he calmly said, "You know...yesterday you and your mother were having a nice little chat without me. You know I don't like it when you keep secrets from me, don't you?"
"I didn't say anything...." I said, lowering my head again.
"I didn't...I didn't say anything..."
"Stop mumbling, Zack. He, look at me when I'm talking to you. Up here." I raised my eyes again. The look on his face was a bit more intense than before. "What were you talking about?"
My voice was shaky. Desperate. "I told you...nothing. She just asked me if something was wrong."
"Why would she ask you if something was wrong? Huh? What's wrong with you? You've got a problem, is that it?" He said. I lowered my eyes again, but this time he roughly grabbed me by the chin and forced my eyes back up to his face. "LOOK at me! What's wrong with you? Huh? What were you talking about yesterday?"
"Nothing..." I sobbed. And suddenly I felt a harsh punch hit me in the center of my stomach. The impact of it caused all of the air in my lungs to rush out of me in a single breath. My whole body went limp, and I fell to my knees, coughing and gasping for breath.
"Get up! Get the fuck UP!" He pulled me back up to my feet. "Look at me! Zack! LOOK at me!" I was practically doubled over in pain, but forced my head up anyway to look him in the eye again. "Are you lying to me?" I couldn't speak. I shook my head, more tears streaming from my eyes. "What did you tell her? Huh?" I could only shake my head again. I was almost able to catch my breath when he said, "Look at me when I'm talking to you." And the second I was vulnerable, he punched me in the stomach again. Dropping me back to my knees. This time it felt even worse than before, and a long string of drool left my mouth as I sobbed helplessly on the floor. "Do you have any idea what I'm going to do to you if I find out that you're running your fucking mouth? Huh?" He pulled me up by my shirt, stretching the collar until it ripped a little at the seam. "You son of a bitch! That's what you're gonna do now? Go run to 'Mommy' every time you've got a problem? Huh? Little faggot!" He slapped the side of my head a few times, and suddenly, almost instinctively, I raised my arm to protect myself.
That nearly dove him into a rage.
He hit me extra hard, holding onto my shirt as the strikes got harder. My ears began to ring, and as a stinging slap blazed across my cheek...my body reacted all on its own. I kept both of my hands up as he tried to find a way around them, and suddenly, I angrily pushed the son of a bitch back against the wall! It was a really hard shove, and I shouted, "LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!"
I don't know where it came from. There was this burning fireball of hatred inside of me, and it just exploded beyond my ability to control it. I shocked myself, and as soon as I realized what I had done, it was too late to run away from him. I turned around but he grabbed me and flung me hard up against the wall.
"That's it! There we go! You're a man now, huh?" He yelled. I felt my throat burning as I cried out and fell to the floor, hoping to just turtle up and take the brunt of the blows on my backside. "You're a fucking man no??? HUH!!!! Come here! Fucking...COME HERE!!!" I felt myself being dragged by my ankle, breathless from crying so hard. I reached out and held on to the side of the bathroom doorframe. But he only yanked harder. I was too scared to let go, too scared to hold on. My stomach muscles felt as though they were being stretched to the point of bursting, and when my fingers gave way, he dragged me across the carpet.
The corners of the carpet were held down by a series of sharp staples in the corners, and as he pulled me, I felt the metallic points rake mercilessly across the skin of my stomach! I cried out in pain, and instantly used both hands to hold on to the wound. It felt as though I had been ripped open. I had never felt anything so disgustingly painful.
"Big man now! That's what you are! You think you're a tough guy??? Huh! Mama's boy is a tough guy now???" He said, still dragging me across the floor. I blindly felt the carpet turn into tile beneath me as he pulled me kicking and screaming through the kitchen. I heard the back door open, and opened my eyes just in time to see his hand reaching for my throat. He practically picked me up off of my feet, and with a hefty toss, I was thrown out of the house. My head slammed against the side of the screen door as I felt to the porch with a thud. "Ok, big guy! You wanna be a fucking man...go BE one!" I heard the door slam shut, and felt the ice cold rain poor over me as the wind blew it over the railing of the porch.
I curled up into a tight ball, still holding the raised red marks on my wet skin from the staples in the carpet, the burn of it so excruciating that it gave me a headache to bear it. I cried for a minute or two, but felt the rain soaking me all over again. So I mustered up some strength, and with a few sniffles, I weakly stood back up. I kept one hand on the scratch. I couldn't let it go. It hurt sooooo much. I limped over to the door, and found it locked. I turned the knob a few times, but it wouldn't open. I was terrified to knock. I just stood there for a moment. Thinking. Blinking. Attempting to contain my tears. But as the cold spray of rain seemed to get even colder, I lightly tapped my knuckles against the window in the door.
No answer. It took me another full minute and a half before I got the courage to do it again. He had beaten me. He had nearly ripped me in half. And now I was forced to beg him to let me back in the house. Possibly for more abuse. The humiliation of it was almost as painful as the scratch on my left side.
I knocked a little harder the third time, and I saw my father's face appear in the window. "Get the fuck out of here! Don't let me see your face!"
"Let me in..." I sobbed. "Please? I'll be good..."
"What did I just say???"
"Why are you doing this? I didn't tell her anything." I cried even louder, and I saw him walking away from the door. I pounded on the door with my fist, and rang the doorbell three times. "Dad, PLEASE!!! Let me in! It's raining, please let me in!"
He charged back to the door in anger. "If I have to fucking come out there, it's your ASS!!! You hear me???"
"Get the fuck outta here! I don't know what I'm gonna do to you if I have to look at you!"
"GO! Get off the fucking porch!"
"Can I come in and get my shoes and jacket?"
"You're a real piece of work, you know that?" He scoffed, and then walked away again. I pounded on the door with everything I had, still ringing the bell, afraid that he'd leave me to DIE out there! And when he got fed up, he told me that if I stirred up any trouble or got the neighbors asking any questions he's 'drown me like the rat that I am'. He told me to knock it off...and to get the fuck out of his sight.
So what other choice did I have? I stopped banging on the door. I stopped ringing the bell. I wiped my nose on the back of my hand...and I just stood there like an idiot. Like the little mama's boy. Like the 'rat that I am'. He didn't want to look at me, he didn't even allow me to stand under the porch. I was just standing in the rain...just in my sock feet and a t-shirt. Freezing my ass off. Stupid. Why did I push him? Why did I have to DO that???
I was lost. Completely lost. I lifted my shirt slowly, and saw three long red scratch marks on my side. Bleeding in small little dots, but mostly it didn't break the skin too badly. I touched it with a finger, and it burned to the point where I hissed and winced in pain. I lowered my shirt back down and lightly used my hand to cover it again.
My socks were soaked through until the very skin on my feet felt loose and soggy. I couldn't tell my mom. I couldn't go to the neighbors. Adam's house was close by, but there was no way he'd let me in his house like this without asking a long list of questions I couldn't answer. Going to Sam's would pretty much bring about the same result. is parents aren't too keen with him hanging out with us in the first place.
I didn't even have a house key. Just three quarters in my pocket from when I was doing the laundry last.
Confused about what to do...I just started walking. The rain pressing down on me every step of the way. Unavoidable puddles of water and mud, making my socks even heavier than before. I sniffled and sneezed and shivered until I was almost sick from the motion of it. And after a block or two, I noticed some people driving by in cars, giving me strange looks, but not slowing down. I was worthless. Alone, soaking wet, and worthless.
I found myself at the corner store, and stood underneath the awning outside. It would at least provide me some shelter for the next few minutes before the store owner told me to leave. I crossed my arms and attempted to block out the aching sensation of the cold rainwater being slammed up against me. My skin was numb, my teeth chattering. And I looked over to the right of me to see a payphone on the side of the store.
the thought went through my mind.
I tried to dismiss it...but the cold wouldn't let me.
And as a particularly frigid wind whipped around me...I slowly made my way over to the phone, put 50 cents in...and I dialed Brody's number.
"Hello?" He answered. I was trying to stop shaking long enough to speak. But once I managed to do that, I was almost too ashamed to say anything at all. "Hello?" He said again. I had to force myself to speak. If he hung up, I didn't have enough money for another call. I'd be trapped out here.
"Brody?" I said softly. The moment his name crossed my quivering lips, I suddenly began to cry. I had to hold my breath to keep him from hearing me.
"Zack??? What's going on? What's the matter?"
"Umm...nothing. I'm...I'm ok...." I lied. The tears were endless, but I pushed myself to keep talking. "Brody...I know you'll prolly say no, but....I mean...I will TOTALLY understand if you say....if you say no, but..."
"Zack, are you ok? Where are you?"
"I'm...by my house. But I think...I kinda locked myself out. Do you think that maybe....I can come over for a little while? Just until my mom gets home?" Another lie. Another worthless lie from a pathetic piece of shit. And I have the audacity to think that I'm worthy of Brody's heart. Fucking stupid. I'm not good enough. NEVER good enough for anything. Ever.
"Of COURSE you can come over! It's raining like crazy outside right now!"
"O-O-Ok....I'll be over in....about a half hour, ok?" I said.
"A half HOUR? What, are you gonna WALK over here?"
"Yeah. It won't be too long, ok?"
"Fuck that. I'm gonna grab my bike and come get you, ok?"
"No. Brody...don't get wet because of me. I'll be there soon. I promise."
"That's ridiculous. Where are you?" He insisted. I didn't answer, but just feeling his concern through the phone...it made the tears even worse. "Zack? Come on dude, let me come get you. Don't be silly!"
How could I say no to him? He could have anything he wanted from me. Anything. "Ummmm...Ok...I'm...I'm at the corner store by my house. You remember? By Adam's place?"
"Gotchya." He said quickly. "I'll be there in, like, ten minutes! Don't go anywhere."
"Um...ok. Thanks, Brody..." But he hung up before I could even finish. He was on his way. And I was gonna need every minute that I could get...to make sure the mask was back in place where it should be.