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This story deals with many areas of teenage mental health which go deep into the reality of depression; thoughts and attempts at suicide and death. These topics are a reality of growing up for some gay teens. I draw from my experiences to explain this difficult time of life but accept these topics are not for everyone so I just want to add this note to let folks know before you start this book. Many thanks, James

For Everything You Are - 17. For The World is Cruel But You Have Touched My Soul

Contains upsetting scenes.


Ethen lay there, wearing a shocked look. "What?" asked Jake, frowning?

"You just said the L word; it just shocked me, that's all."

"Was it wrong because I do, you know, love you, I mean."

"Aww, no Jake, of course, it's not wrong, it's just… no one has ever told me they love me before. Actually, that's wrong. I mean my family obviously, but…."

"Yeah, I get it, Ethen," Jake chuckled. "When I spoke to my mum about how I feel, she said there is never a right time to tell someone but just to say it when it feels right. She said that's when you mean it when it's not forced. So I guess me saying it this morning was a bit like that."

"You're the sweetest guy I have ever known; you know that?"

"Well, I try my best," Jake blushed.

It was the morning after the party, and apart from Jake, everyone was in a bouncy good mood, with Cody, Luke and Ethen, having a pillow fight in Ethen's room while Jake just laid there nursing a sore head.

"So, I gather the noise I heard last night meant you two had a good time?" Ethen teased. Cody looked at Luke, causing him to turn red and burst out laughing."

"Let's just say it was a special night," Cody offered, "And that's all I'm saying."

"What did I miss," Jake groaned from the bed.

"Luke blew his mind," Ethen said, "And probably something else."

"Well, thank god for that. He's been like a cat on heat for weeks," added Jake. Cody shot him a dirty look before throwing a pillow at him, not impressed.

"Hey, how about we all go out today into the desert and play some baseball?" Said Ethen excitedly.

"I've never played in my life but would love to go out. I feel like since I been here, I haven't done anything physical," Cody piped in. All three of them turned and looked at Jake, who promptly pulled the covers over his head.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

"Mum, we're back," said Jake, as he and Cody came through the front door. Jenny was in the kitchen folding some laundry.

"I wondered when you two would show your faces. So, how was the big night out." Jake looked at Cody nervously, wondering if his loose-tongued friend was gonna rat on him.

"We had a great night, especially me. I met someone." Replied Cody, obviously more excited about his night with Luke than Jake's drunken escapades.

"Really? Oh, sweetheart, that's lovely, so is it anyone we know or someone who came to the party."

"It's Luke, Jenny."

"Oh, Trent Underwood's younger son, right? He seems like a nice lad."

"Yeah, he is. I got to know him quite well at the party and…."

"Yeah and afterwards," Jake cut in, sniggering. Jenny frowned at him.

"Jake, don't make fun. I think it's very nice that Cody has made a friend. So what are you two boys up to today? I'm cleaning the house, so I don't want you under my feet."

"Ethen is taking us out in his Jeep later, we were gonna play baseball, but Jake suggested we look for gold," Cody laughed, punching Jake on the shoulder.

"Look, you hear about this all the time in these sort of places, sometimes it's just growing out of the rocks."

"You've been watching too many westerns, Jake," commented Cody, walking out of the kitchen.

Jenny continued to fold the laundry as Jake got a large glass of water, downing it in one go. Then, he pulled a bunch of odd socks out of the basket and started to make up pairs.

"Have you done your sugar levels since you've been up, honey?"

"Nope, I'm going to grab a shower soon; I'll do it then. I did have some cereal at Ethen's before leaving, so they should be fine."

"Well, just make sure to check, don't assume, Jake, you know what can happen."

"Yeah, I know, don't worry."

"So, how are things with you and Ethen? Everything going okay?"

"Yeah good, I sort of took him by surprise this morning, though."

"Oh, how so?"

"The L word slipped out,"

"Oh, so you think he's the one?"

"Who knows, a lot can happen. I do often wonder what will happen if we ever do leave here, though. But, I mean, dad did say it wouldn't be forever, didn't he."

"Well, just as you said, Jake, a lot can happen, and we'll cross that bridge when we get there."

"What about Cody? Anymore calls from his dad lately?"

"Only one, recently, but like your father told him, if Cody doesn't want to speak to him or is not ready, we can't force him. Having his parent's reject him has taken him a long time to get over. I'm sure when the time is right, they will speak, but for now, I find it better not to pester him about it."

"Yeah, I guess you're right. Well, look, I've done you a favour here with these socks, but I'm all out of enthusiasm, so I'm going to go take my shower."

"You cheeky bugger, go, and check your sugar," Jenny lightly slapped his head, grinning.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Jake came down the stairs, the knocking on the door telling him Ethen had arrived.

"Ready?" Ethen asked, looking down at Jake's bare feet. "You have such cute feet. I just wanna kiss them."

"Really, well, that's not my thing, so you can get that out of your head." Said Jake, Ethen feigning a sad look.

"Spoilsport, so, is blondie ready or what?"

"Cody, are you ready," Jake hollered.

"Coming, just a minute," came a response. Jake pulled on his sneakers and stood waiting.

Cody came trotting down the stairs and joined Jake and Ethen outside the door. Jake pulled it closed, and they went and fetched Luke from his house. Knocking. Ed answered and invited them in.

"Hey, guys, good to see you, sorry you had to head out last night, Jake... and Jake, you naughty boy, tut-tut," Ed said, wagging his finger at him. Jake just shrugged.

"What time did it all die down, sorry we had to leave, but with my boyfriend the drunk here, we didn't have much choice."

"Ethen it was a huge success," Ed beamed, " and no sweat, no one has mentioned anything, apart from Holly and Kim, but they were more interested as to where Cody had gone, I think someone needs to tell them you know, and I don't wanna be responsible for breaking two young girls' hearts."

"Well, it's not my fault I'm hot," Said Cody, teasing.

"So, you are taking these three rockers out, Ethen? You wanna come in, my little shit of a brother is up there making himself beautiful, and he might be a while."

"Yeah, why not? Thanks, Ed."

The three of them went in, stepping past Ed, who closed the door and took them through to the lounge.

"Wow, you did a good job tidying, looks like the party never happened." Said Cody.

"Yeah, Benny helped me before he left this morning. Do you guys want a drink or something? I got Coke left if that's okay?"

Ethen and Cody accepted, with Jake opting for more water, his hangover still niggling at him. The boys went and sat down in the lounge and chatted for a while, waiting for Luke. Ed filled them in on who ended up with whom and what time everyone left. Ed revealed he got some 'good head' in the bathroom from a girl he knew from school, much to the amusement from Jake and Cody, while Ethen offered his congratulations.

Luke could be heard coming down the stairs and appeared as usual in his trademark tight jeans and T-shirt, a shiny fake jewel-encrusted belt separating the two.

"Wearing the camp whore look, as usual, bro," Ed remarked to Luke, who stuck his tongue out.

"Let's go, guys; he's just jealous. I can pull this look off, and he can't."

"Yeah, like I'd want to."

"I think you look nice," Cody added softly, causing the rest of them to look at him. "What? I'm just saying"

"There, see, at least someone appreciates the effort I put in. Now, can we go already?" They all nodded, getting up. Ed saw them out, and they headed back up to Ethen's and got in his car.

"I put the baseball stuff in the trunk just in case we wanna play, but I know Jake wants to go hunting for gold. Of course, we won't find any, but it's a good excuse to show you all an awesome place I know. You can get a great view of the valley. There's a plateau about twenty miles west. We'll have to climb it, but it's worth it when you get to the top."

They all piled into Ethen's Toyota, and he pulled out of his driveway onto the dirt track. They passed a curious Holly and Kim, on the way, looking at them, as they gawped back, mainly at Cody.

"Jeez, I wish those two would get over it," Cody hissed from the back.

"Don't worry, I'm not Jealous," Luke remarked, "I know I'm more your type."

"Yeah, well, perhaps you could tell them that, Luke," Cody added.

"So, this place, Ethen, how do you know about it?" Jake asked.

"When I was little, my mom and dad used to take me there to fly kites. Because it's on higher ground, the wind is usually better, so it was always a good place to go, plus of course, the views."

"We should take a kite one day then; that would be cool," Cody said. "I haven't flown a kite since I was about seven. Hey, you remember that massive Union Jack one that Adam Collins had one year, Jake?"

"God, oh yeah, he had that thing fly so high it was almost in space."

"Yeah, and I remember when the wind was strong, it felt like you were gonna take off with it," Cody said, remembering. The two of them laughed at the memory and then became serious as a deer ran into the road, causing Ethen to brake sharply.

There was a screech as the car wheels locked up, the smell of burning rubber coming into the car. They were all snapped back when the car came to a halt, each of them breathing heavily, trying to compose themselves.

"Fuck me," Ethen blurted before moving off again.

"Jeez, that was close. We nearly hit that thing." Cody said, rubbing his neck.

"One of the hazards of living in a place like this," Luke added.

Ethen continued along the winding tarmac road until reaching an intersection, both ways revealing dirt track roads. He turned left and put the vehicle into four-wheel drive.

"Hold on, guys, round the next bend, things get bumpy." Ethen took it easy as they began to climb a slight hill, the ground disappearing on the right, forming into a sheer drop the further they drove. Jake and Cody, both on the right-hand side of the car, swallowed hard as the thought of what would happen if they went off here plagued their minds.

"Wonder how many dead bodies are down there?" Cody remarked, peering over the edge.

"A truck went over once, killed a father and his son, it was in the news about three years ago, but things like that are rare unless you're an idiot about it when you drive through here."

"Thanks for telling us that Ethen, I feel so much better," Ethen smirked before his face turned to normal, concentrating on the road ahead. They carried on for another ten minutes, and then Ethen took a sharp left, out beyond some thick vegetation, before the wonder of what they were travelling to reveal itself.

"Wow," said Jake astonished, "That is one massive piece of rock."

"Actually, it's not a rock, Jake, it's called a shelf, and it runs for a few miles, pushed up millions of years ago as the earth's crust moved."

"What did you do, swallow a geography book?" Luke chuckled.

"Yeah, whatever, come, guys, I know a good way up," Ethen said, getting out of his car, pulling on a pair of sunglasses.

The other three boys got out and followed Ethen, dodging rocks and the odd cactus as they made their way to the cliff face.

"Hmm, looks kinda steep, Ethen," Jake remarked, looking up."

"It is, but there is a way up. I know a place where you get some good footing. Just remember not to look down."

They reached the rock face, and all took a breather before Ethen smiled and began to climb. He placed his sneaker on a piece of rock sticking out and hauled himself up before moving on to the next footing. He looked down at the others who were just standing there looking, each looking a little worried.

"Are you coming?" he called. Cody shrugged and started to follow Ethen, with Jake and Luke in tow. "Remember, don't look down, or you'll freak out."

"Just shut up and stop saying don't look down," Jake retorted, getting more nervous by the second.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

Ethen was about halfway up when he stopped to rest. The journey up was tiring, but they were all looking forward to the view from the top. Ethen, having made a little more progress than the rest of them, was over to the right a little, above them. Jake noticed he was flapping his arm about as he, too, had stopped to rest.

"You okay?" he called to him.

"Yeah, this stupid wasp thing won't leave me alone."

"Stop waving your hand about, and it will go away," Luke called up to him.

"Yeah, but it's….AHGH, shit, it just fucking stung…"

That was all they heard, as the obvious pain of the sting had caused Ethen to judder, losing his footing. Jake watched in slow motion as his boyfriend fell back off the cliff, in free fall.

"ETHEN!!" Jake screamed, watching as Ethen hit the floor violently onto his back. "Ethen… Ethen, are you okay?"

Silence!

"Fuck, fuck, fuck….guys, we got to get down there," Luke said, starting to panic. "Ethen, say something, pal." He called, but there was no response. They all scrambled to get back down as fast as they could, Jake now starting to freak out, crying and shaking, adrenaline rushing through his veins.

"He's not answering us. Oh, fucking hell, what do we do." Jake stammered out, a mess.

"It's gonna be okay, Jake, just concentrate on getting down safely. My cell is in the car; we'll call for help." Luke said, trying to calm him down.

They reached the bottom, and Jake ran over to Ethen, diving to the floor next to him. A pool of blood had appeared under his head, with blood also coming from his left ear.

"Luke, go call someone, call nine one one," Jake screamed, frantic. Luke ran over to the car and did as he was asked, but he didn't know where they were. He hung up, having a better idea, and called Ethen's dad. He frantically shouted down the phone, trying to explain where they were and what had happened.

He came running over to Jake and Cody and explained that Colin would get an air ambulance over to them, as he knew the place they were at. Jake was trying to get Ethen to speak, but it was not happening. His eyes were closed, and Cody asked Jake if he was breathing.

"What do I do, Cody," he cried, struggling to contain himself.

"Check his pulse, put your finger on his neck, do…do you feel anything?" Jake did as he was instructed and tried to feel for a pulse.

"Fuck, I can't feel anything. Am I doing it right?"

"I don't know. What about breathing? Is he breathing?" Cody pushed Jake out of the way and put his cheek against Ethen's lips, waiting to feel for a breath. But he couldn't feel anything. "I can't feel….I don't think he's breathing."

Jake got up and screamed out a raw howl, his voice distorting. "Fuck, Cody, don't say that…please don't say that."

"Where is the blood coming from? We need to stop that, right?" Luke offered, feeling pretty useless.

"Yeah, but we shouldn't move him. I saw on TV that if his back is broken, we might do damage to his spine or something. They all started shouting things to each other, all of them getting more stressed until they fell silent, the sound of helicopter blades getting nearer.

Jake got up and started waving his arms about as the chopper flew overhead. It seemed like it had spotted them as it swung around and began to descend onto a clearing. A strong wind picked up as the helicopter landed nearby. Colin came out first, and Luke noticed it was a military chopper. Two army medics came rushing out of the copter with a stretcher and ran over to Ethen.

They instructed the boys to wait in Ethen's car out of the way while they worked. Colin stayed with the medics, his hand over his mouth as he watched them examine him. Finally, the medics got Ethen onto a backboard and lifted him onto the stretcher.

At some point, the medics must have given Colin a piece of bad news as Jake watched him shake his head, sad. Colin quickly walked over to the boys as the doctors prepared to lift Ethen and take him to the waiting chopper.

"How is he? Will he be okay?"

"I don't know Jake; they need to get him on board before they can do any work. They say he has a very weak pulse. Look, can any of you drive because I need to go with him?"

"I can, Luke," Luke offered.

"Okay, good, I'm sorry, Jake, but you need to go with Luke and Cody. There is no room for you, and I need to be with him right now." Jake nodded and wiped away more fresh tears from his face.

"Please let me know as soon as you know anything."

"I will, Jake, and the rest of you."

"Sir, we have to go. It's imperative we get your son to the infirmary." called one of the medics, sounding urgent.

"I have to go, drive safely." Colin ran back to the helicopter and jumped on board. Moments later, it was lifting off, disappearing out of sight.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Luke was driving back to their houses, Jake having hysterical moments in the car. Cody was doing his best to calm him down, but he was inconsolable.

"I…I told him I loved him for the first time."

"Yeah, and he loves you, Jake, we all know that," Cody said, holding him in the back of the car. Tears were running down Luke's face as he drove. He had known Ethen the longest, and he had been where Jake is now, besotted.

"I'm sure it's gonna be okay, guys," Cody remarked, trying to comfort them both.

"Yeah, but did you see all that blood…I mean, that's not normal, is it," Jake reasoned, flinching.

"Just don't think about that part, Jake, "Luke said.

The familiar old shack appeared on the roadside, and Luke turned right into their road, coming to a halt in Ethen's driveway. Luke got out and waited for Jake and Cody to follow before closing the door.

"I'm gonna run home and let Ed know what's happened." He said

"Yeah, I'll take Jake home; thanks for getting us back Luke, good driving."

"Yeah, but it should have been Ethen driving us back," he replied dejectedly.

They went their separate ways, and both arrived at their respective houses, with Jake running in and spotting Jenny and Alan in the lounge, bursting into tears.

"What on earth has happened?" Jenny asked as Jake grabbed her for a hug.

"It's Ethen, he fell." Jake cried.

"Fell… fell from what?" Alan cut in.

"We went to a rock face, somewhere Ethen knew, we were climbing to get to the top, and he got stung by some kind of bug, it made him fall," Cody said, filling them in.

"Oh my god, is he going to be okay?"

"Mum, it looks bad. There was…blood. It was coming from his head and ear."

"Jesus, does his father know?" Jenny asked.

"Yeah, Luke called him, we think, he came in a chopper, and I think it came from the base."

"An army helicopter? Asked Alan.

"Yeah," replied Cody.

Jake was still crying into Jenny's shoulder when his cell started to vibrate in his pocket. He pulled away, trying as quickly as he could to pull the phone out. It was a number that was not saved in his address book, but he guessed it was Ethen's dad.

"Colin… hello, is he okay? Please tell me he's going to be okay?" Jake cried down the phone. Then, for a few seconds, there was silence. Jake thought maybe the signal was bad until the voice spoke.

"Jake… Ethen passed away a few minutes ago. I'm really sorry. I, um…I really need to go now; I'll… I'll call later." The line went dead, Jake holding the phone to his ear, refusing to take it away.

"Jake?" Jenny said impatiently, looking at him. Jake's mouth was open. "Jake…well?"

"He didn't make it….Ethen is….dead," he said softly, void of emotion for the first time.

"Oh….oh my dear lord," Alan choked.

"Oh…Jake, oh my god," Jenny muttered out, stunned. Cody just remained silent, as silent as Jake had become.

"I better call Luke and tell him," Cody said, barely audible. Jake took on a haunted look, almost as if he could have been sleepwalking. He slowly left the room, broken, and headed for his room. Jenny followed, but as she reached his door, he closed it on her; she decided not to open it again, at least for the time being.

She wandered back downstairs and into the lounge to a solemn-looking Alan and Cody as they quietly spoke about the incident.

"I hate to say this, but…I can't see him coming through this," Jenny declared to Alan.

"I just can't believe it, Ethen, dead? It's just not real." Alan said, shaking his head.

"I'm gonna go and make sure he's okay," Cody said, running a hand through his hair. He left, making his way upstairs, knocking on Jake's door. Jake didn't respond, but Cody expected as much. He softly opened it and stood looking at Jake. He was standing by his bed, a book in his hand.

"Ethen lent me this," Jake said monotone.

"Yeah?"

"There's a line I remember reading, but I can't find it." Cody went over and sat on the edge of Jake's bed.

"Is it a nice line?"

"Perfect," he responded, emotionless.

"Do you remember what it was?"

"Every word, I just wanted to see it again." Jake closed the book, softly placing it down on his bed.

"What was the book about," asked Cody, attempting to distract him somehow. Finally, Jake sat down on the edge of the bed, slowly turning his head to meet Cody's eyes.

"It's a just a gay fantasy novel. Cretus, this mythical guy, had just lost his lover in battle with some other monster, and he's being comforted by this spirit guide thing. Cretus looks down at his dead lover's body and says… for the world is cruel, but you have touched my soul."

Cody put his arm around him, seeing that a tear was running down his face, knowing how relevant that line in the book felt to Jake.

"You knew a great guy. That's what you have to think about… you had the pleasure of being with someone like him."

"Yeah? Then why am I being robbed of that?"

"I don't have an answer for you, Jake."

They both sat quietly together, the only sound being the odd sniff from Jake. For him, the whole world now seemed silent, like a star had just used up the last of its fuel and quietly extinguished itself.

Ethen was no longer here.

I hated posting this chapter. If i'd written this today this chapter would have been binned. But, you can't change something you have already written. And, even though I did write it, it still gets to me every time I read it. My thinking in 2013 was much different to now. BUT, with this novel and the way it's been written, it did lead to a sequel which I have dusted off and getting ready to post once this installment has concluded.

James

©Copyright 2021 James Matthews; Mark Baker; All Rights Reserved.')
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This story is a 2020 re-release and re-edit. Some parts have been changed and the 2013 story has been kindly re-formatted to third person with substantial input from my good friend Mark Baker.

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