Hehehe, that's what Brody said to me. Like....out loud. Like...to my face.
'I think we'd be good together'....
I kept playing it in my head over and over again. Wondering if I missed something. If I misinterpreted his intentions somewhere along the way. But I couldn't find a single flaw in his delivery of that one line. That single sentence.
'I think we'd be good together'....
God, there it goes again! That 'love' sensation. Hehehe...it kind of tickles inside. You know? Thinking about him saying that to me. To ME...and nobody else. I was so floored by the idea that I didn't know what to do with myself. Was this even real? Please, let this be real!
Brody just asked me...if we could be...
Hehehe, oh God! I'm almost giggling just< I>thinking it to myself! He asked me...if he and I could be together. Like...together together! And maybe that sounds minor to some people, but for me? This was an< I>unprecedented event! I was loved by the single most amazing person that I have ever known. Loved< I>beyond my many flaws. Loved beyond my faults and my insecurities and my attempts to keep him at arms length. Loved...even when most people would have gotten annoyed and angry and stopped wanting to be around me at all. It's a total departure from everything I've ever experienced before. I have no idea what to do with this feeling. It's pretty scary when I stop and think about it.
I just...I feel so out of my comfort zone right now. I know I should just sit back and enjoy it, but I can't help but to wonder...why me? Why now, after all this time, did I suddenly get such an amazing gift in my life?
When you grow up the way I did...emotions just don't work the same way as they do for everybody else. They don't always have a sense of 'stability' when it comes to truly feeling much of anything. All of your joy, your love, your anger, your hurt...it's magnified a billion times over. It becomes so intense sometimes that it swings out of control at a moment's notice and you don't know if you're going to be able to handle it at all. I try. Lord knows that I've had enough practice. But...sometimes, an emotion catches you off guard...and it can be more painful, more damaging, than anything you've ever been prepared for. It wipes you out completely.
It was a fear of that loss of control, that sudden sucker punch to the heart, that kept my defenses up for so long when it came to the idea of Brody giving a damn about a worthless nobody like me. There were many times when I was convinced that I wasn't worth it. But he said it. He really came right out and told me that he wanted to try...being a couple. With me. Me, above all others. He loves ME.
What a world. Right?
I was sitting in my next period class, and I swear that my whole body went numb whenever I thought of his smile. It was sudden. It was strange. And I should have expected all this from the events that had been leading up to this one special moment, but...still, it just couldn't sink in all the way. Something inside of me just couldn't accept it, no matter how hard I tried.
And believe me...I was REALLY trying!
I wanted it to be 'ok'. I wanted to believe that after sooooo long, after so many years in pain, looking for some kind of escape, that the boy of my dreams would suddenly just 'pop up' out of nowhere and actually tell me that he loved me. Actually loved me. For no reason other than he found a light in me that I never even knew was there until he brought it out of me. For me...loving somebody is easy. I've got enough love to give the whole world if they needed it. But having somebody love me back with the same intensity was the Holy Grail of my existence. I wasn't ready for it. Not in the least.
I wanted to put on my blindfold, fall backward...and trust that Brody's pure expression of love and affection would catch me.
But I couldn't. My brain just wasn't wired that way, I guess. It's been a long time since I've had to use my natural instincts for anything other than keeping secrets and ensuring my very 'survival' at home. This is unexplored territory for me. And despite the seductive allure of the ultimate treasure ahead of me...
...I couldn't shake the feeling that it was more a deluson than a possibility. I wish I could enjoy this as much as I should be enjoying this. I'm trying, Brody. For you, sweetie...I'm really trying to believe that something like this could be real. It may take me some time...but eventually my screwed up brain will finally let me know, once and for all...that 'we'll be good together'.
One day, it'll feel normal. I promise.
I kept smiling during all of my classes. Nearly giggling out loud to myself from the silly notion of me being...in a 'relationship'. Hehehe! That's just crazy! I mean, isn't it? I have a boyfriend! Right now...somewhere in this very building...is a super CUTE guy who considers himself my boyfriend!
Like...I could walk up to any random person in the hall and say, "Hey, this is Brody. He's my< I>boyfriend." Hehehe, you know?
"Yes. Table for two, please. For me and my boyfriend, Brody."
"What? You want my hot naked body? Psh! Sorry, dude! You're too late! I've got a boyfriend now! His name is Brody! Have you met him?"
Wow...I swear, I could do this all day. It's fun.
As I sat in my English class, probably grinning from ear to ear and staring off into space, thoughts of Brody's smile kept all of the bad things far far away from me. All of them. He protected me. He's the only one who could ever accomplish that. The only boy alive that could make life such a dazzling experience, day in and day out.
It was a purely unintentional look around the room that got me to notice that Mr. Raffe was giving me a stern look from the front of the room. It probably bugged him something awful to see me sitting over here 'happy' for a change. The class was silently working on a short writing exercise, and I had only taken a few moments to daydream about the love of my life, center of my world. But judging from his expression, I was sure that he'd be picking on me again the moment he called for 'pens down' so he could check our work.
And there was a time when that would have worried and agitated me to no end. There was a time when I would have quickly straightened up my act and tried to force myself back to work. Just for his benefit. Just to shove myself back into his tiny work box and not make any waves. But not today.
Today...I had a boyfriend! Hehehe!
As long as I had someone who truly loved me, someone who wasn't ashamed to tell me so every time he got the chance...I was bulletproof. I could handle anything life had to throw at me. So Mr. Raffe was going to have to work pretty damn hard to get my temper activated today. I was too happy to really care.
When I looked down at my notebook, and my ink pen hit that paper...the words flowed forth as naturally and effortlessly as the waters of a babbling brook. Brody had broken down the walls I set up to keep my 'happy' mask in place for the people around me, and my insecurities hadn't found a way to build it back up just yet. Not to any strength, at least. I was sure that life wouldn't be all giggles and gumdrops for long...but for now? For now, I was going to bask in every last minute of illuminated bliss that this liberating sensation could provide me. Because...well....you know...
Me and Brody...
...We're good together. Hehehe! Sorry. Too much?
Mr. Raffe handed back some of our work from yesterday as we turned in our current projects. I didn't even have to turn it over to know what to expect. More garbage. More unfair comparisons. More complaints. Can't I just write my stories in my own way? I know the lesson plan and the strict guidelines set by the shadowed masters of creative fiction, but...sometimes I just want to have fun, you know? I want to relax, and focus, and let my personal expression flow naturally without me trying to put up all of these maze-like walls of literary mechanics for my imagination to struggle trying to get through. I just want to pour my whole heart into something that I love. This is what I do. Even more than that...this is who I am.
It's like...'deal with it', you know?
You would think that Mr. Raffe, as a supposedly 'creative' person himself, would respect something like that on some level. But he didn't. Not one bit.
Still...like I said, I didn't really get upset. I just...figured I'd keep doing my thing until he was forced to recognize it for what it was. 'My own thing'.
Something was changing in me. Something that let me know that everything isn't always my fault. Everything isn't always because I'm not good enough, or didn't work hard enough, or because I was the one that screwed up somewhere along the line. If I have Brody's love as any kind of example...then I'm perfect JUST the way I am. And no amount of heartless punishment from Mr. Raffe and his fucked up treatment can ever take that away from me. Everybody may not love or appreciate me for who I am...but that doesn't mean it's because I'm not worth it. It just means that we're not on the same page. And I'm ok with that. As long as my page is just as important as all the others...we don't have to be the same. How boring would life be if we were?
When the bell rang to end the class, I noticed Mr. Raffe looking for me in the crowd of dispersing students. Maybe it was my mind playing tricks on me, but I could almost see a certain smug look on his face when our eyes connected. A satisfied smirk that made him seem proud for doing what he could to hurt me with his recent remarks.
But I didn't hold my head down this time. And I didn't look away. Instead, I gave him a big grin. "See you tomorrow, Mr. Raffe." I said, and it was like all the joy was instantly drained right out of his face. Hehehe, and that made me walk just a little bit taller as I left that classroom today. His assault didn't have the power to penetrate. His criticism didn't bring me down. In fact...it just came off as sad, knowing that he had nothing better to do than target me and try to stop me from feeling good about myself. All this time, I was letting someone else control me without having my best interests at heart. And I let him. Well, no more of that. No more.
Bulletproof. I think I'm going to like this.
I think that I was able to keep myself well balanced throughout the rest of my day, dreamy glances and all...until school ended.
I think I've gotten so used to grabbing my stuff and running home right after school every day, that seeing Brody waiting by my locker at the end of the day always threw me off track. When I asked him how the heck he was able to do that whenever he felt like it, he replied, "My last period class is, like...right down the hall. There's no way that you could beat me here without ditching."
Wow, how I loved to see that boy smile. "Well, that definitely qualifies as cheating." I said, hiding my blush behind my open locker door. "So what's up?"
"I was just feeling a little friendly today, that's all. I thought I might walk you home."
I was able to keep myself from gasping loud enough for him to hear me, but I think he saw the look on my face anyway. I said, "Wait...you want to walk me home?"
"Well...walk home with you, yeah. I mean, that's alright, isn't it?"
NO! No, that's not alright! My...my dad...my house...
"Um, no. Dude, seriously, that's ok. You don't have to walk me home. I'll be fine."
"Hehehe, I know that I don't HAVE to walk you home. I just...I..." Brody looked around for a second or two as the halls were filling up with more students, and lowered his voice to smile and say, "...I just missed you. I was thinking about you, and I thought we could spend some time together."
You see? It's not cool for him to be able to do this to me so easily! Now I'm so giddy and ready to burst that I can barely stand on my own two feet. I was weak in the knees, dizzy in the head, to the point where I found myself using my locker for support to keep me from sliding down into a heap of infatuated 'goo' right there on the floor.
I said, "That...would be awesome, Brody. It's just..." Did I even have an excuse? No. No I did not. "...I should really be going. I've gotta get home."
"Cool. Well, I'm ready to go if you are." He grinned.
"No. I mean...I should go...but you still don't have to walk with me."
"I know. But I'm gonna walk with you anyway. So there." He giggled. Awww, why didn't he understand?
"No, you look..." He said, pointing his finger at me, "Day after day, I watch you run out of here like your sneakers were on fire, and you never tell anybody why. Maybe Sam and Adam let you get away with that, but I happen to like being around you to the point of obsession. And there's nothing that you can do to stop me from following you home on a public street short of breaking my legs...which I'm pretty sure is illegal." He gave me a poke in the side, saying, "SO...you can either let me walk with you, side by side, like a normal person...or you can have me trail behind you like some kind of perverted creeper without us talking at all. It's up to you."
Considering the fact that I didn't really have the opportunity to actually 'run' home and even less time to argue about it, I just grunted and told him, "Alright fine. Just...we've gotta go now, ok?"
"The only thing keeping us here is your overly enthusiastic reaction to the idea of spending time with me." He teased.
"I'm sorry. Hehehe, I just...I usually walk alone after school."
"Old tradition, gone. New tradition begins. Let's go." He closed my locker for me and even put the lock back on it for me. I don't know why I thought that was so cute, but....hehehe...everything my boyfriend does is cute. Everything.
Normally, my pace would have been a LOT faster when trying to get home before my father found some reason to be angry with me for taking so long. But even though I knew the danger and felt the jitters inside...I never hurried Brody to move faster than his casual speed. Never once. I know that I was nervous, but...he was so beautiful. So sweet. It was hard to look at him and not want to spend forever just walking by his side.
"So...did you think any more about...you know...?" He asked. "What we talked about?"
"Hehehe...yes..." I blushed. "Pretty much every second of the day."
"And you're not gonna change your mind on me, are you?" He said, and...feeling overwhelmed with emotion, I shook my head in silence. "Ok. Cool. Very cool."
I heard him sigh, and I melted all over again. I said, "You certainly know how to make life, exciting."
"Hehehe, do I? Well, good." He smiled at me, but I turned away. I was already stumbling over my own two feet as it was. "You know, you're so adorable, Zack. It's good to see you not so...'sad' all the time."
I started to feel bad about disappointing him, but I made sure to correct myself before my stupid thoughts got the best of me. "I guess I'm only happy when you're around. Hehehe!" Did I just say that? Omigod, I think I did. Does that count as flirting? Yeah...I'm flirting. Hehehe, with my BOYFRIEND! This is SO unreal!
I wish I could kiss him without anybody seeing us!
He said, "Well, as flattering as that may be, I'm going to make it my mission to see you happy all the time. I like making you smile."
I giggled bashfully, "What are you talking about? I smile all the time."
"No...you pretend to smile all the time." He said. "You forget, I've seen the real thing now. I can easily tell the difference."
Blushing even harder than before, I said, "I'm sorry if I seem like a downer sometimes. I don't mean to. I just...have 'stuff' going on."
"Stuff like what?"
"Trust me...you don't want to know." I told him, hoping to find a way to change the subject.
He persisted. "No, really. I want to know. Let me in on the big secret."
"It's more like a long series of problems than a secret."
"Problems are cool too. Maybe I can help."
"You can't." I said.
"C'mon, Zack...seriously. Talk to me. I really want to know." He seemed sincere enough, but I've been tricked by people's so-called sincerity enough times to know not to trust my own judgement on stuff like that. "I already know that your middle name is Aiden. Hehehe, so how much worse could it be? Tell me."
"Noooo...can't we just...be happy for a while?"
"Because...people don't want to hear about problems. They say they do, and that's...that's really sweet of them. But, once you start talking about your problems and your pain and your helplessness...they just want to run in the other direction. They start to hate talking to you at all, and they end up avoiding you altogether." God, just thinking about it already began to break my heart in half. "Brody...please promise me that you'll never just...'avoid' me, ok? I'll shut up. I promise. I won't talk about anything bad or problematic or any of that stuff. Only GOOD stuff, ok?"
"Zack, you don't have to..."
"Please, just promise me." I said. "I get lonely sometimes...nothing would hurt me more than to have you bail on me when I really needed a friend. Ok?"
He gave me a strange look. I was messing things up again, wasn't I? I'm being stupid again. That's when Brody said, "I'm not gonna bail on you, dude. I swear. I'm here for the long haul. Promise."
"Cool..." I sighed with a big smile. "Thanks."
We walked in silence for a minute, and then Brody gave me a crooked smirk. He said, "You know what my mom told me about a dozen times?"
"She said, 'never fall in love with a damaged person'." He was smiling, but I felt my heart deflate when I heard the words. My whole mood began to darken in an instant. "You see...love? Love is like the cure-all. It heals, like...everything. And once a damaged person isn't so damaged anymore...well, what the hell would they need me for? It's adios, have a nice life. My mom has dated enough losers for me to think there might be some truth to that."
"Oh...." I was quiet about it, but I could already feeling every last bit of energy leaving my body. hank God I was only a block and a half away from home. I'd never make it without crying in the street if it wasn't so close.
"No, no...Zack, I don't think you get it." He said, putting a hand on my shoulder. "I don't think you're damaged at all. I think you believe you are for some reason...but all I see is 'awesome'. Everything about you is just perfect like it is. I just wish I could get you to understand that." I felt tears welling up in my eyes and fought them back, trying to turn back towards the house and walk faster, but Brody stopped me again. "Zack...whatever it is that you think is so awful about you...whatever you thnk it is that's gonna run me off or cause me to love you any less than I do right now...it's all in your head. If you want to talk about happy stuff, that's fine. But if you have a problem or just want to clear out the cobwebs in your head...I'm here to help with that too."
No. This didn't feel right. I'm feeling...uneasy talking about this. "Thanks, Brody. Really, k? I've got to get going though. So...I'll see you tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow? Hehehe, dude, you still live almost two blocks away. I can just walk with you the rest of the way if you..."
"No!" I said, my nerves now causing my hands to tremble. "I mean, this has been...you're the best, Brody. You're incredible, and I'm sure that you've got stuff to do, but hey...this was great!"
Looking me in the eye, he said, "Your smile is getting more and more fake by the second." Oh no! What did I do? Did I hurt him? I swear that I'm not trying to hurt you, baby! "What's going on, Zack? Why don't you want me to follow you home?"
"I told you...you don't want to know." I could feel the emotions bubbling over, and I just wanted to get home. I just...I needed some space. Just...some breathing room. It's getting hard to breathe. This isn't right. This isn't safe. I'm already late.
"Is there something wrong?" He asked.
"Is there something bad about me following you home? What's wrong at home?"
"NOTHING!!!" I shouted, and had to breathe deep to keep myself under control. "Why are you doing this? Just leave it alone. I don't need an escort, I'll be fine all by myself."
"Fine all by yourself? Zack, what is this? I don't get this at all..."
"I know you don't. I know, and that's why I need you to walk away. Ok? I'm sorry...and I love you, but...I'll just see you tomorrow, ok? I'll see you tomorrow and we can start all over again. But for right now, I've gotta go. I've just...I've gotta go..." My voice was shaky, my tears were beginning to drip from my eyes now, my breathing was short and labored...I was losing it. My balance was completely thrown off. The mask doesn't work on him. Why doesn't it work?
"What's happening?" Brody asked. "If there's something wrong you can...omigod, Zack, you're shaking! What's the matter???"
"I told you...I'm ok." I did all that I could to hide the pain in my voice, but it all came spilling out of me at once. I almost told him. I could feel the words gathering in my mind like the brewing clouds of a dark storm. I had to get away. I have to get AWAY!!! "Please, Brody...please just walk away. I need you to walk away now. Please..."
"Zack, if you need help, I'm right here! Dude, I'll go GET help if you need more..."
"I don't need help. I need you to leave me alone..."
"I can be there for you. I can be strong for you if you need me to be..."
"NO!!!" I snapped! "You don't have to be strong for me! *I* have to be the strong one! I always have to be the strong one! ME!" I wailed. "Because I'm all alone. Ok? I have to take care of things myself...because I'm alone. It's all I know, Brody. Everybody else has friends and family and people to lean on, but...not me. I have to be strong for myself. Just me."
I could tell that Brody was extremely confused by my sudden switch in behavior, and it was so humiliating to have him see me like this, but I needed him to know. I needed him to understand.
I reached out with trembling hands to grab onto Brody's shoulders, and I tried to hold the sniffles back as I looked him in the eye. "Listen...I know that this seems really odd to you, and I know that you don't really get it...but...I'm not really sure what I'm doing right now, and it's tearing me apart." I said, a flood of tears now falling from my tired eyes. "It's got nothing to do with you, alright? You're...you're everything that I've ever dreamed a boyfriend would be. And MORE! I just...I feel like I'm finally beginning to realize just how much time I wasted hiding behind this...this STUPID mask! I poured so much energy in trying to be normal like everybody else. In pretending that I was happy and that everything in my life was alright and problem free. I had to. I feel things very deeply and I can't 'function' if I'm not at least faking it. And I'm ALWAYS faking it, Brody. Always." I know that I looked ridiculous. Ugly. Sounding like some kind of raving lunatic. But I couldn't hold it back. Not this time. I was falling apart and I didn't know how to stop. "I wear this clown mask all day long and I ignore everything else because I've worked SO hard to create a life that has some level of comfort in it...as long as I don't screw it up with tears and problems. I'm just afraid that if I start letting the pain unravel now...it won't stop until it destroys everything I have. I'll lose it all. Every last bit of emotional stability that I have left will be shattered and I'll be left here all alone. With NOTHING. It'll kill me if that happens, Brody. I don't think I could handle that."
"Zack...you're scaring me..."
"Oh no! PLEASE don't be scared of me. Please, Brody?"
"Dude, why don't we go somewhere and talk for a while. We can..."
"Because I CAN'T!!!" I said, raising my voice again, and sobbing more as I felt so wrong for talking to him that way. I just...I held onto his shoulders, gripping them as if they were all the support that I had left in this world. "Listen...I know that I go around acting like everything is ok. But....everything is NOT ok! Sometimes...I don't want to pretend. Sometimes, I feel like I want to BREAK THE FUCK OPEN and fucking BLEED until there isn't enough left of me worth saving! Sometimes, I just...I want to vanish from the world and let everybody move on and conveniently forget that I was ever even here to burden them in the first place!" Why couldn't I leave him? Why can't I just stop talking? You said that I wasn't damaged, Brody, but I AM damaged! I'm probably the most damaged person that you'll ever meet in your life. And there was a time when I accepted that because I was certain that I'd never be rid of this defect in my life. I thought I would die with SO much hatred and regret in my heart that no one would bother to miss me once I was dead and gone for good." I said, and despite feeling extremely choked up at the moment, my burning throat opened up to let me continue. "But...then you came along...and everything got crazy. Suddenly...I felt like 'happiness' was something that I had access to. I finally got to know what it felt like to be loved by somebody special. I got to actually 'feel' something real, and not some screwed up, artificial, imitation of joy...but actual emotion. Without the mask. I've never been so in love..."
"Zack, I really think we should go somewhere..."
Time was of the essence, and I needed every last second that I could squeeze out of this moment to share my heart with Brody like I never have before. I won't let him take this from me. He needs to hear this. "Brody...you have to understand...I never knew how cold, how utterly ALONE I was in this world...until you became a part of my life. And I was SCARED, ok? I was scared of falling into some sort of a trap, where I expose my heart to someone and they RIP it out of my chest and stomp all over it. But you didn't do that. You've been nothing but nice to me from the very beginning. You care about me. And I don't exactly have any experience with someone loving me the way you do, so I get confused sometimes. I don't know what I'm thinking, I don't know what I'm saying...it hurts to be around you, it hurts a million times worse to be apart from you...you're all I think about. You're all I have, Brody. You're the only thing that made my life seem like it had an actual future in front of it. Something to look forward to besides trying to 'survive' from one spontaneous moment to the next...trying to keep the voices in my head from devouring me alive. Trying to keep up the 'show' so people wouldn't notice the horrible damage inside and could possibly find something of value in me that I could never find in myself. You...you found some way to take the pain away. And I'm SO grateful, Brody. So grateful." I said. "I don't think I can ever go back to the way I was living before you came along. That life is dead. Dead and buried. And despite my deepest fears and it's constant attempts to destroy me from within...that life didn't take me along with it. I'm still here. I'm still standing. And you're still standing here with me...just like you promised you would."
At this point, Brody's bottom lip began to quiver, and his eyes began to tear up as well. He just didn't understand why I was telling him all of this. He wanted to help, but he didn't know how. And as two tears rolled down his cheeks, I pulled him close and hugged him firmly around the neck. Hopefully hiding my ugly face over his shoulder, and masking the total weakness that I had eating away at me from the inside like a cancer.
"You're the most important thing in my life, Brody." I cried. "I know that I get weird sometimes, and I know that I have my secrets...but if you can just...if you can just hold on for a little bit longer...you can have all of me. Everything I have, and everything I am. Because I believe in you. And I know you'll never let me fall, no matter what."
"Jesus, Zack...I wish you would tell me what's going on. I wish you would tell me what you want me to do." He sniffled.
"I want you to know that you're the only good thing in my life. That you make me believe in magic and fireworks and dreams coming true." I said. "And...if anything were to ever happen to me..."
Brody immediately broke our embrace and leaned back to look me in the eye. "Happen to you? Happen to you, like what?"
"Happen to you, like WHAT???" He demanded.
"LISTEN..." I said, tears flowing freely. Just wait for me, Brody. Just a few more endless moments, PLEASE! "...If anything were to ever happen to me, I wanted to say thank you. Ok? Thank you for allowing me to see what life could be like...if things were different. Thank you for making me believe in miracles again." I smiled, and used my thumbs to wipe a few stray tears off of Brody's cheeks. "Thank you...for being the only boy in the world who could trick me into believing that even a life as full of tragedy and pain as mine is...could actually have a happy ending." I leaned forward, right there in the middle of the street, and I gave Brody a linger kiss on the lips. "Thank you...for being my happy ending."
With that, I stepped back, and I hoisted my backpack up on my shoulder to go home. "Zack...?"
"Please, Brody...go home. Ok? The best thing that you could do for me right now would be to just walk away." I said. "I love you, k? Forever."
"Love you too, Zack." He whimpered softly. "Forever."
I know that he considered following me anyway. I know that I left him in a daze, not knowing WHAT to do to help me. But like I said...I'm all alone. 'Alone' is all I've ever known. It's the only way for me to survive. Depending on Brody for help would be a weakness, and I don't have room for weaknesses. Not when it comes to my father. He can see them. And he'll use them to destroy me if he sees them.
I wanted to believe that I could keep letting things go on the way they have been in that house for oh so long. That I could accept the abuse, the insults, the embarrassment. But I can't, can I? Not anymore. Why? Because Brody loves me. As long as Brody loves me...I KNOW that I'm worth something. I feel it, through and through. And that feeling comes into direct conflict with everything my father has ever told me about myself. This Hell that I've been exposed to...it's not a 'way of life'. It's an assault on my very spirit. It's the 'damage' in me that Brody was talking about. And it simply can't go on anymore. I have to do something. Even if he KILLS me for it...at least I'll die knowing that Brody's love gave me the courage to make it stop. Either way, it was the most perfect boyfriend on Earth that brought me peace. That's what boys like Brody do. They 'heal' all that's wrong with you with a single smile. He's amazing. And...you know...
...We'd be good together...
So...as I walked up towards my back porch...knowing that my father was inside...
I used the front of my shirt to clean my face and wipe away any stray tears, took a few deep breaths...head up...shoulders back...
Mask in place...
Nothing's wrong. Everything is ok. Breathe. I'm ok.