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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 - 3. Parental Blind Corners

Cody was still by the pillbox, the sun now dipping below the horizon, scattering long shadows across the open fields. He'd been there for hours. The stillness, peaceful and empty, gave way to loneliness and regret, chilling him as much as the icy breeze that cut into him. It was apparent – Jake had long since gone.

"Forgive me mate," he uttered, kicking a small stone into the brush, watching it bounce a few times. It was an act he felt was not so unlike what he had done to Jake. He pushed off the shelter, feeling a downwind bite into his bones as he began the lonely walk home.

The journey back was slow and intense, the day's events consuming him. He thought about how their friendship could survive such a blow as the choice of words he'd used rang in his mind like aggressive bells of clarity. Cody began to think about how intense their friendship really was. They were like brothers, and of course they had had their ups and downs but never faced a crisis such as this. Thinking about being apart to him was like thinking about the day after the world ended. It just didn't compute in his mind. So deep in thought was he, his mouth had dropped open and the icy crosswinds traveling across the open space was now just a background annoyance.

Leaving the quiet country road, he made his way back into the town and found comfort when he saw a car pass by – He was no longer alone!




Back at Jake's house, Jenny looked up at the ceiling. "He's been in that bathroom for hours; do you think he's fallen asleep in the bath?" Jenny spoke as her husband was cleaning his shoes.

"Yeah, possibly, but he's still got that water running. I can hear it! Doesn't he know we are on a meter?" Alan tutted and placed his shoe on the floor, glancing at his wife.

She looked worried, and it was understandable to him. She and Jake had always had a slightly closer relationship, and she doted over him, being an only child and all. But, she also worried in general….a lot!

"Honey, you have that look!" Alan said, again glancing to Jenny, trying to mirror the look.

"I just don't like the thought of him falling asleep in that bath, Alan. "I'm going to go up there," she said, responding more to herself than anything Alan had said.

"I'm surprised the bloody thing hasn't overflowed yet," Alan just muttered to himself as she left the room.

"Jake…Jake, Sweetie", Jenny tapped on the door as she softly spoke. No answer. She could hear the swishing of the taps and the gurgling of the water making its way down the plughole, but that's all. "Jake?" she called a little louder, along with a knock on the door. No answer.

"Alan, could you come up here please?" she called down from the top of the stairs. Alan appeared moments later, still with his hand inside the other shoe. "He's not answering me in there. You see if you can get him to talk." Jenny was mildly upset at this point. Her son ignoring her when it was clear that he was upset was not usually the way things went. She was used to the familiar, 'leave me alone, I hate you!' teenage temper tantrum Jake had started to show over the last few months. That would have been better. Shouting would have been better.

But nothing!

"Jake, can you open the door please, son? Your mother wants to talk to you." No answer! "Jake, please do not ignore us. Turn off the water and open the door!" Again, silence.

Jenny was starting to get worried now, biting her thumbnail as she waited for a response to come from the other side of the door. But there was none. No movement, no change in the flow of the water, no crying, no shouting. Nothing! "Alan?"

"Yes, I'm trying, Jen," he snapped, this time banging loudly on the door. "Damn it, Jake, open this door now!" the frustration now showing in his voice, not only because his son was ignoring him, but because Jenny was now pacing up and down the hall landing.

"Break it down," she said, almost like she was quickly answering a question she knew on a TV quiz show.

"What? Don't do think that's a bit extreme, Jen?"

"Something is wrong, Alan. Break it down! I can feel it; something's wrong," she repeated, almost feverish.

Alan sighed and thought about the best way to do this with the least damage to the door. Not having quite got to the same level of worry his wife had, he calmly made his way downstairs and out to the shed, bringing back a crowbar and club hammer. He wedged the crowbar in between the door and the frame and made one sharp hit with the club. The door was loose but still held in its lock.

"Do it again…again," she said, grabbing his arm with both her hands, the worry now evident in her motions. Alan repeated the action, and after hearing a splitting sound, the door broke free from the frame splintering it in the process. The running water now clear in their ears, Jenny motioned Alan to move into the bathroom with her.

"NOOOO!" she howled in a high pitched whine.




Cody put his key in the door and walked through to the kitchen, where his mother was peeling some potatoes.

"Where have you been? I was wondering whether to hold off dinner or not?"

"Sorry, mum, just out, that's all," came his dejected reply.

"I tried to call you, but it didn't even ring. Is your phone okay... battery dead or something?"

Cody had deliberately switched the phone off but went with the latter question, deciding that it was easier than trying to explain why he had turned the phone off.

"Yes, I guess the battery was dead. Where's Dad?" Cody said, thinking it wise to change the subject.

"He's working late tonight, Cody. So, out with Jake, were you?" his mother swung the conversation back again. Cody clenched his eyes shut, facing away from his mother.

"Yeah, we were hanging out down the old pillbox," he said, walking out of the kitchen, hoping his mother would not ask any more questions about their day.

"You two still hang out by that dirty old thing? You do know the farmers' pee in there, and god knows what else. Go wash your hands. Dinner will be a while, and I don't want your mucky paws over everything," she called while chopping the potatoes, not realising that Cody had already disappeared upstairs to his room.

Cody slumped down on his bed and started to remove his coat. As he sat there, he kept thinking about how he had kissed Jake, debating whether he was to blame for his friend's freakish behaviour. Maybe it was just the move, after all, he thought, immediately trying to convince himself he had not been the cause. But, even if it was the move, the kiss didn't help, was the reasoning he settled on. Finally, he let out a long sigh, kicked off his trainers, and lay down on his bed, staring at the ceiling. He lay there for a while, then heard light footsteps coming up the stairs.

"Penny for your thoughts," said his mother, appearing in his doorway. Cody lifted his head and glanced over at the door to meet her gaze.

"What?...oh, right, yeah. It's nothing," his head dropping back down again.

Hazel gave him her smirking 'Yeah, who are you kidding,' look over her glasses. "C'mon, what is it? You went out okay and came back looking like you lost a pound and found a penny."

"Jake's going to America to live. I found out today it was for real," he replied in a monotone voice.

"Oh," said Hazel, feeling a twinge of guilt, as Jake's dad had already discussed the move and the likelihood of going with Cody's dad before Jake or Cody had known anything about it.

Hazel took a few steps forward and sat down on Cody's bed, placing her hand on his leg. "You know, your father discussed this with me, and…."

"You never thought to tell me," Cody cut her off. Hazel let out a sigh as if to ask him to let her finish.

"We thought about it, Cody, but we thought it best for Alan and Jenny to tell Jake when they felt the time was right, and I knew how upset you would be. So we just thought it would be better… you know, hearing it from Jake himself once he knew."

Cody was angry but saw the reasoning behind what his mother was telling him. The feeling of betrayal that had started to build when she was babbling left him when looking at his mother. He could see she genuinely thought it was the right thing to do.

"It's okay, Mum. I'm just upset, that's all."

"I know, honey, and I wish there were something I could do to make it better. I know how close you and Jake are, but Alan needs this job. Jake's rightful place is with his parents," she said as if trying to close off a possible question Cody might have in the coming weeks. "Look, I know it seems like you are losing your friend, but you can still e-mail and Skype each other, or whatever it is you do these days."

"It's not the same, mum," he huffed, folding his arms and exhaling sharply. "He's the only real true friend I have, and what will I do when he's gone? Plus, it's more complicated than that!" Cody flinched as he mentally kicked himself for blurting out that last bit. 'It's more complicated than that! What the hell did that mean,' he thought?

"Complicated, honey?" Hazel looked at him with a quizzing look.

"Yeah, he…he needs me!" 'Shut up, Cody,' he thought as he spilt another cryptic statement to his mother. She just looked at him thoughtfully, considering how much of a good friend her son was to his friend.

"I'm going to go check on dinner, honey; it's just you and me tonight. Maybe when Jake has to go, you'll start bringing home a nice girl to joins us occasionally" She winked, leaving Cody lying on his bed. Then, horrified at his mother's departing comment, He pulled his hands to his head, ran them downwards over his face, and blew through his closed lips, puffing them out as he did. "This is so fucked up!"




"Alan, call 999!" Alan just stood there frozen, staring at his son. "Alan!" Jenny screamed again.

"Uh…right, um," Alan ran downstairs and picked up the cordless.

"Oh no…no, no", Jenny wept as she got down on the bathroom floor with her lifeless son. He was propped up against the bath with his eyes closed. Jenny took hold of Jake's shoulders and gently shook him, and then tapped him on the cheek. "Jake, honey, c'mon, speak to me, please darling, wake up," she softly pleaded with him through her ever-increasing tears. There was no response.

"999 Emergency Services, which service, please?" came the operator over the line.

"Uh…um, ambulance, and hurry!"

"Patching through now, sir, one moment."

"Please hurry!" Alan said desperately.

The operator dialled into the ambulance control room and spoke, "ACR, we have been called by 0474 182147, location 36 Sandon Road." There was a brief silence before the operator spoke again. "Sir, we are connected to the ambulance control room now. What is the nature of your emergency, please?"

"It's my son; he's….he's unconscious; we can't wake him up."

"Okay, sir, please listen carefully. I am going to assist you while the ambulance is en route to your location."

"Thank you…please help him, please help my son," Alan said, his voice trembling and cracking.

Alan ran back up the stairs into the bathroom with the phone firmly in his ear as the operator spoke once more.

"Sir, can you place your fingers on your son's neck just below his jaw and tell me if you feel a pulse?" Alan did as he was asked but was becoming frantic because the ambulance was taking so long. The reality was it had only just been dispatched, but in Alan's mind, time had just stopped!

"Yes, I can feel a pulse, but it's very light and fast."

"Okay, that's good; now, is your son breathing?"

Alan pushed his face against Jake's lips, desperately hoping he would feel the rush of air against his skin. "Uh…yes, I can feel breathing, but it's not much… please…where is the damn ambulance?" he screamed at the phone in desperation.

"Sir, the ambulance is en route to you; I know this is very difficult, but the more information we get, the better the chance your son will be okay."

Alan began to weep as he looked at Jake. His lifeless body told him the whole story. He was to blame. He was forcing his son to change his life. He was the cause, the problem, the reason. His son had decided to take his own life because his father was selfish. 'But I wasn't selfish,' he thought. He was doing what was right for the family. Why did Jake not see that? Why did Jake not come and talk to him and explain his feelings, fears, and emotions? Why did he not speak more about it, at least to his mother? Why this, why now? Had he talked to Cody? Would Cody have seen this coming? Questions! Questions! Questions! Answers? None!

"Sir, can you please tell me, is your son under the influence of any alcohol or drugs at present?" the operator snapped Alan from his thoughts.

"Uh, no, we found him in the bathroom, he's diabetic… he's not opening his eyes; he's….please, what should we do?" Alan refused to answer the actual question directly. His son did not do drugs and certainly didn't drink, as far as he knew. 'Why would she ask such a thing,' he angrily thought, as if asking it about his son was a most irrational question?

"Okay, sir, is it safe to move your son? Is there anything obstructing him, or could anything have broken any bones in his body?"

"Uh, no, I don't think so; he is just sitting up against our bath."

"Okay, sir, please gently move your son so he is lying on his side and his head is tilted back. Please also make sure you can see his tongue."

"Yes, right, okay, one sec." Alan placed the phone down and signalled Jenny to help him. They gently manoeuvred Jake into the requested position, and Alan grabbed the phone again to his ear.

"Jenny, go downstairs and wait for the ambulance; you need to let them in."

"I'm not leaving him, Alan."

"Jenny, please! I need to do what they say, and I can't do both; I'm with him now, go." Jenny let out a loud sob but moved from the bathroom down the stairs and ran out into the driveway.

"Sir, are you there?" came the operator again.

"Yes, yes, I'm here. Okay, I have done as you asked."

"Good! Can you see if there is anything around your son that might help us learn what has caused him to become unconscious?" Alan looked around the bathroom and immediately picked up the bottle lying next to Jake, the contents empty. He wondered if he had always known the bottle was there but subconsciously wanted to deny his son would have actually taken them to end his short life.

"Pills," Alan blurted out, staring at the empty bottle. "Pills….uh, sleeping pills."

"Okay, sir, that's good; you are doing very well. Now, can you tell me how many pills your son may have taken and what type they are?"

"Uh...um, they are Temazepam, and no, I don't know how many. Um…I have them prescribed every now and again for my irregular hours. I'm not sure how many were left, damn it! Um, let me think; I got them a couple of weeks ago…uh, maybe twenty or thirty, I…I just don't know. I'm just guessing. Oh, god, Jake, please wake up."

Jenny could hear the faint sound of sirens getting closer. She went to the edge of the driveway and saw the ambulance turning into her street. As it came tearing down the road, she ran to meet it, waving her arms, sobbing. "Please… please help my Jake," she screamed as it pulled up. Two male paramedics exited the vehicle -- one with a large medical bag slung over his shoulder spoke first.

"Which way, madam?"

"He's in our bathroom…please, this way". Jenny guided them through the house and upstairs to the bathroom, where Alan was still connected to the operator.

"Sir, you can hang up now. I can see on my screen that the paramedics are with you."

"Yes, they are, thank you." Alan dropped the phone, not bothering to check if he had clicked the button to turn it off, and put his hand to his mouth, watching the paramedics on the floor by Jake.

"What's his name?" one of the paramedics asked Jenny.

"Jake, his name is Jake; he's only 16; oh god, please don't let him die."

"Jake, can you hear me?" the other paramedic asked loudly and firmly while shining a torch into one of Jake's eyes.

"They are fully dilated," he said, turning to his co-worker.

"Fully what?" Alan asked, not knowing if it was good or bad but trying to get a read on the paramedics' faces.

"Sir, your son's life is in danger; we need to get him to the hospital now."

"Oh god," Jenny cried as Alan pulled his wife into his chest.

"Jenny, you go with Jake. I'll follow in the car."

One of the paramedics went down to the ambulance and pulled out a stretcher on wheels, while the other gathered Jake up in his arms and carried him downstairs. He set Jake down on the stretcher, placing him on his back and pulling the straps tight as Jake was wheeled outside and into the ambulance. Jenny followed behind, and the paramedic slammed the door behind them both, causing Alan to flinch as he looked on.

As the ambulance made its way to the hospital, blue lights flashing, Jenny sat and held her son's hand tightly. The paramedic in the back was working on Jake, putting a needle in his arm, connecting up a drip line, listening to his heart, and taking various readings. He was working fast but methodically, and Jenny was desperate to ask what he was doing, but the only words that came out of her mouth were…

"Is my son going to die?"

The paramedic paused, looking at Jenny. He could see the desperate look on her face. The face of a mother whose child is in mortal danger, and only a face a mother could pull, that says – I will die before my children, and for my children, because that's the way it's supposed to work.

The paramedic formed a very slight smile, "Not if I have anything to do with it!" and he went back to work on Jake.

Jenny forced a smile out to show she was grateful to the man, and her concentration switched back to her son as she squeezed his hand tighter.

Alan was about to pull off his driveway when he realised he needed to call work and then became angry with himself for even thinking that it was necessary at a time like this. He knew that he would need to tell work what had happened at some stage, and it might jeopardise his new job if Jake was too ill to leave the hospital. But, of course, that's if he was even going to come out of the hospital. None of that mattered now, though, he thought. "Fuck the job, fuck everything; Jake is the priority now and has always been."

He sped through the narrow streets onto the dual carriageway, going through 2 red lights... He didn't care. "So what I get a fine, so what, so fucking what? My son is dying, fuck the fine, fuck the authorities!" he screamed to himself, banging his fist on the steering wheel. He was looking for someone to get angry with, someone to take the pain away for a moment. Why he chose the traffic authorities, he didn't know. But they would do because everyone hates them, 'yeah, everyone,' he thought irrationally.

The ambulance arrived at the Accident and Emergency Centre and stopped sharply at the double doors. Three doctors and a nurse came rushing out.

"Okay, we have a male, 16 years old, name is Jake Stevens, suspected benzodiazepine overdose, possibly twenty to thirty tablets ingested in the last three to four hours, non-responsive to stimuli," the paramedic reeled off to the doctor, as Jake was being wheeled from the ambulance and into the hospital.

He was being taken down a long corridor into a sub room. The Doctors smashed the bed through the double doors and brought it to a stop. Jenny was right behind the bed and hospital staff when one of the nurses took hold of her arm and stopped her from going in.

"I'm sorry; you need to wait out here. The doctors are doing everything they can, but you cannot go in there right now." She let out a smile to Jenny to offer comfort, but naturally, she was none too pleased about not being with her son. "Can I get you something, water perhaps?"

"Uh…um, no thank you, I'll just wait for my husband," she stammered, her mouth dry from fear, but not wanting to do anything but think about her son, not even to go through the motions of drinking a cup of water.

"Will you follow me, please," asked the nurse, indicating a small room off the main corridor. "It will be quiet in here, and you can wait for your husband. Jenny moved towards the small room and slowly walked past the nurse, holding the door open for her.

"He's a good boy, you know," Jenny said to the nurse as she sat down on one of the dozen or so seats.

"I'm sure he is," said the nurse, smiling professionally. "I'm sure the doctors are doing everything they can, and he will be okay," she offered, without having a clue if that was true. But, it was what nurses had to do, what they were trained to do. Keep the relatives calm and hopeful.

"He's…he's not a drug taker, not Jake. He's had some problems lately to deal with but never taken drugs," Jenny stammered, looking almost embarrassed that the nurse might think they were one of those families.

"Ma'am, no one is here to judge you or your son, so please don't worry. People come through these doors for many different reasons, and we are not here to judge any of them… we're here to help, and we will help your son, regardless of why he is here. Look at it this way; If life were perfect, there would be no need for places like this".

Jenny nodded her agreement, and the nurse smiled back before moving to leave the room.

"Wait, um, does my husband know I am in here? I mean, will he know where to come?"

"Don't worry, mam, I will make sure he finds you." With that, she left, and the door softly closed, leaving Jenny alone with her thoughts.

Alan had now parked the car and headed towards the pedestrian entrance to the Accident and Emergency building. He approached the desk, and the woman behind looked up at him.

"May I help you, sir?"

"Uh, yes, my son, he was brought in here; his name is Jake".

"Jake?" She replied. "And his surname please?" looking back down at her computer.

"Stevens, Jake Stevens."

"Hmm, ah yes, I have located him. He's not long been in. Take a seat, sir, and I will get someone to come and see you."

Alan went over and sat in the busy waiting room. Every so often, a Doctor or Nurse would come and call out a name and take that person through a door. He never seemed to see the person called come back out, though, and wondered if that was odd.

Ten minutes had now passed when a young female nurse came through the door and approached Alan.

"Alan Stevens?" she said, smiling.

"Yes, that's me." Alan bolted up.

"Follow me, please, sir."

The woman led Alan through the same door and down a corridor to another open plan room. This time, it was filled, not with patients or visitors, but mainly doctors and nurses. The room had many different corridors leading off in all different directions, and it looked like some central hub, making getting from A to B more efficient.

"Your wife is waiting for you in in-room D7, sir. If you would like to follow me, I will take you to her".

"Is my son okay?" he asked as they walked.

"I'm sorry, sir, I don't have that information. I just help people get to where they need to be. I'm sure the doctors will let you know soon how your son is doing."

They arrived at a door that clearly stated D7, and the nurse opened it. Jenny, seeing Alan, ran over and threw her arms around him, showing signs of noticeable relief at the sight of her husband. The nurse just smiled and left, closing the door behind her.

"Do you know what's going on?" Alan started, cupping his wife's head in his hand.

"No," she shook her head. "No one has come and told me anything yet. I'm worried, Alan".

"Hey," he said, comforting her. "No news is good news, right?" he stated with confidence in his voice, although he didn't feel it.

"Alan, how have we ended up here?" she asked, sobbing into his chest. All Alan could do was comfort his wife. He had no idea what to tell her that would be useful at this time. He had his theories about why they were standing in the middle of a quiet hospital room, but not one that appeared rational under the circumstances. They were just moving country, not moving planets.

"There has to be something else to this," Alan suddenly spoke. Jenny looked up at him with a confused expression on her face.

"Something else?"

"Yeah, I just don't get why he would do this over a move to another country; it's just so out of character for Jake." Alan shook his head as he spoke, going over 16 years of Jake's life events and flashes of personality traits in his head. "I mean, he has always been so…so normal."

"Normal?" Jenny asked.

"Yeah, I mean stable." Alan changed the wording to help her understand what he meant.

As they held each other in the middle of the warm room, gently rocking as one, a doctor knocked on the door and slowly entered. His face was serious but not telling. Something Alan and Jenny first looked for when he entered.

"Please, take a seat," the doctor motioned with his hand to the seats while holding a white clipboard in the other, the contents of which were surely about Jake. Alan and Jenny sat down nervously, never letting their gaze drop from the doctor.

"My name is Doctor Burns, and I have been in charge of looking after your son since he came to us. Mr and Mrs Stevens, upon investigation, your son had swallowed thirty-three Sleeping tablets. We have given him a charcoal-based liquid and had hoped to induce vomiting, but because of his unconscious state, we have pumped his stomach of the contents." Doctor Burns gave Jenny and Alan a few moments to digest the information before continuing.

"But…he's going to be okay, right?" Jenny asked.

"Mrs Stevens, we are in the process of running some tests to establish the effect the partly digested pills had on his body. Age is on his side; however, I must warn you that benzodiazepine toxicity, if left to work its way through the body, can cause damage to the kidneys and liver, causing multiple organ failure and, ultimately, death. However, I am reasonably confident that we were able to remove all of the pills from his stomach before they were completely absorbed."

"Doctor, I need to know; please answer my question. Is my son going to be okay?"

"I was getting round to answering that bit, Mrs Stevens. I just wanted to make sure you knew the facts first. As a Toxicologist, it is my opinion that, given the quick actions of you and your husband and the fact your son is young, I am happy to say that your son will live. However, I must point out that we are not out of the woods until we get the test results for his organ functions. The next 24 hours will be critical."

"Oh, thank you, doctor. Thank you for all you have done, and please thank your team from us." Jenny turned to her husband and hugged him in a moment of utter relief.

"We are making preparations to move him from the emergency room to a children's ward. If you like, I can have one of my nurses come down and take you to him."

"Yes, please, thank you, doctor," Alan replied as his wife sobbed gently in his chest. The two of them sat there in silence while the doctor left the room. Alan felt wave after wave of guilt and regret, while Jenney was just pleased her son was still alive, both of them dealing with their emotions in silence as the clock ticked by another half an hour.

It was Sunday night at around 10 pm, and usually, the family would be getting ready for the week ahead around this time. Jenny would be ironing Alan and Jake's shirts for them for the morning. Alan would usually go through his day's schedule, and Jake would always be in his bedroom, rushing through homework he should have done over the weekend. But not tonight, as tonight would be a very different evening for the Stevens family. A night they hoped they would never have to go through again.




Cody was sitting on his bed, building another Lego model he had purchased from his pocket money in the week. He reminisced about how Jake would tease him about his models, saying it was a hobby for babies. He sat there pulling a slight grin at that thought but was then snapped out of it with the realisation Jake had not yet phoned him. Jake always called on Sunday night to confirm they would meet at the school gates in the morning. He became sad, thinking his friend didn't want to know him anymore and that the hanging out together they did would be consigned to the past now, after all that had happened.

He got up and walked to the window, knocking his model off the bed, watching it break into pieces. "Just like our friendship," he muttered as he looked down at the broken battleship. Then, staring out through the glass, he again began to have regrets about what he had said to Jake. 'Why was I so cold?' he thought. 'Why didn't I just accept the time we had left and go with the flow?' The fact he was confused about his own identity didn't help matters, and he leant the palms of his hands against the window frame and sighed.

As he leaned in, he could see his breath was making mist appear on the window from the cold outside. The action reminded him of when he and Jake used to draw funny pictures in the condensation. He remembered how close they used to stand at the window together, brushing shoulders and elbows as they stood there. It made him think of how much he enjoyed that contact, although, before today, he was never able to put his finger on why. Was it just because he was close to his best friend, or was it more than that? Did he really have feelings for Jake, or was it just a kiss, a phase, a compromise. "A compromise?" he said aloud. What, so just because Jake fancied him, he felt a duty to at least mimic those feelings? "Stupid thought", he muttered again, shaking his head.

Cody went back and picked up the broken model and set it down on his dresser. Then, with his shower and brushing of teeth already out of the way, he went downstairs to say good night to his parents.

Craig Dukes was in the lounge looking through a car magazine when Hazel came from the kitchen with 2 cups of tea in her hand. At the same time, Cody appeared at the entrance to the lounge.

"What do you think of this one?" asked Craig, flipping the magazine page outwards to show his wife, at the same time, noticing Cody standing there. "Hi, Code," his father said, not waiting for a response from Hazel about the car.

"Hey Dad, Mum."

"I haven't seen you much over the weekend, and I'm sorry about that, Cody. Perhaps next Saturday we could go bait digging together?"

Cody's dad was a keen sea fisherman and worked long hours. This concoction ultimately let him down in the parental area, which he was acutely aware of and felt somewhat guilty about.

"Yeah, Dad, that… sounds cool," Cody replied unenthusiastically, still under the burden of his afternoon with Jake.

"It's a date then," replied his father, returning to his magazine

"Anyway, Mum, Dad, I'm off to bed now, oh and Mum, are you okay to run me in tomorrow?

"When has it never not been okay, honey?" she chuckled, thinking it strange that Cody even needed to ask.

"Thanks….it's just… Okay, good night". Cody headed back upstairs, not waiting for a response from his parents.

"What's up with him?" Craig asked, glancing at his wife.

"Well, Craig, if you were here a bit more, instead of doing so much overtime and fishing trips, you might know," she said back to him but immediately regretted saying it. "I'm sorry, Craig, I didn't mean to say that; it's just, I always seem to be the one to go through the difficult times with Cody. I'm already the bad person for not telling him about Jake moving away. It would just help if you were able to get involved with him a bit more."

"Sorry, honey, I wasn't aware he knew about Jake yet."

"He didn't; apparently, he and Jake met up today, and Jake told him."

"Ouch!" Craig said, pulling a face and exposing his teeth.

"Yeah, ouch indeed, and I was the one that had to sit and try and explain why you had not told him after talking to Alan on the phone the other day."

"He knows about that?"

"I don't know for certain, but he's been acting a little weird ever since you made that call, and you were hardly keeping your side of the conversation quiet if I recall. Like I said, if you were around a bit more, you might see some of this stuff."

"I know, honey, and I'm sorry. The only reason I do all this overtime is so you and Cody can have the life you want. Like this new car, for instance." Craig held the magazine up again, and Hazel glanced over at the page.

"I don't need a new car. I like the one I have," She stated bluntly. Craig just shrugged and went back to flicking through the pages.

Cody laid awake for what seemed like hours when he heard his parents coming up to bed. He switched his lamp off and closed his eyes, hoping that the darkness would help ease him into sleep and away from the thoughts that were now invading his mind almost minute by minute. He knew one thing was for sure; he needed to clear the air with Jake. How the conversation was going to go, he didn't know. But, he promised himself that he would be more open with Jake about his feelings and hope between the two of them; they could work through their different emotions before Jake had to leave the country. He hoped that the conversation would answer a little more about his own identity, or rather, its confusion. Did he like boys, did he just like Jake or was it really…just a kiss? However, this was all depending on whether they even had a friendship anymore.

As the clock ticked past 1 am, Cody drifted off to sleep.




At the hospital, Jenny was still sitting next to her son's bed, watching him as he slept. He had not woken up since being brought to the ward, but the doctors had told her that was quite normal while the effects of what he had taken were being flushed out of his body. The room was silent apart from the noises the various pieces of equipment were making at the side of each bed. Jenny looked around and could see the room contained six beds, all containing children of various ages. She wondered if they were all in for the same thing, but that thought left her mind when she spotted a little girl in the bed opposite. She was about seven years old, and Jenny quickly realised that there was something seriously wrong in the world if a little girl of that age was trying to commit suicide, let alone knew how to. No, she thought, they must be all in here for different reasons. Looking back at her son, she wished HE was in here for a different reason, like having his tonsils out or some minor procedure. Not because he felt so low, he decided to end his life. 'A human life!' She thought. 'How can people so young have the guts to give up so much living to end it all early? Surely, things can never be that bad?'

Jenny was dragged from her thoughts by a nurse who came round to the side of Jake's bed and picked up a clipboard. She smiled at Jenny as she took some readings from Jake's equipment and noted them down on the board carefully, being quiet so as not to wake the other children in the ward.

"Your son is a very handsome boy," the nurse whispered as she quietly placed the board back in its holder.

"He takes after his father," she replied, giving the nurse a smirk. She was right, though; Jake was a very handsome teenager who, in a few years, would be sweeping girls off their feet all over Nevada. Jenny brushed a few stray hairs from Jake's forehead.

Morning came slowly, evidenced by the sharp sunlight that had begun to pierce the windows of the ward. The room was still quiet, though, as Jenny slowly opened her eyes, realising that she must have fallen asleep in the chair next to her son's bed. Alan had left about midnight to get some sleep at home. Jenny told him that there was no use both of them being there and that she would let him know if there was any news on Jake's condition. Alan was grateful to her for suggesting that. Even though it was a serious situation, Jake looked to be out of the worst of it, and Alan really needed to get into work that morning, if only to let his bosses know what had happened. If he actually got any work done, it would be a bonus.

It was about 8 am when the nurse appeared at Jake's bed again to take some more readings. Jenny noticed it was a different nurse now, though, concluding that the previous one's shift must have ended some time ago.

"Do you know when the doctor will be here?" She asked the nurse, who was writing something down on Jake's board.

"The ward doctor normally does his rounds around nine o'clock, ma'am. But Dr Burns will be here about eight-thirty to see you and Jake, as I'm told." Jenny wondered why Jake would have another doctor but then remembered that he specialised in toxicity and became sad that her son needed a specialist because of what he had done.

Jenny knew that she would need to phone Jake's school, so she told the nurse she was leaving to call them. She made her way out of the ward and into a waiting room. Pulling out her cell phone, she wondered if she should tell the truth about what had happened. It was likely that it would come out to one of Jake's friends when he got back to school, so she decided that honesty was the best policy and dialled the number.

After three rings, a lady came on the line. "Hello. Breitling High School; you are through to reception, Margaret speaking, how can I help?"

"Yes, this is Jenny Stevens here. I am calling you regarding my son, Jake" Jenny went on to tell the school what had happened and that he would not be in school for the next few days. "Oh, and one more thing, Margaret…."


"There is a boy at school. I would be grateful if you could take to one side and explain what has happened. I plan to call his mother later, as we are friends, but I'm aware he will wonder what's happened to Jake when he doesn't come to school today. His name is Co…."

"Cody Dukes, by any chance?" the lady at the school cut in, chuckling. Yes, everyone at the school is well aware of Jake and Cody's close friendship' they are never apart. Jenny found herself laughing for the first time in a while at the comment.

"Well, yes, thank you. If you could get the message to Cody, I would be very grateful."

"No problem at all, Mrs Stevens, and thank you for letting us know." Jenny pressed the end call button, looked down at her phone, and shook her head, grinning. "Just like twin brothers!" she muttered to herself, walking out of the room, heading back to Jake.




"Alan, come in," said Trevor Smith. Trevor was Alan's boss and also the one that had been giving Alan some 'gentle encouragement' about taking the job in America.

"Trevor, before you go any further, my son is in hospital, and it's quite serious. I'm not here to tell you that I'm pulling out of the move, but I may need a few days off," Alan blurted out, causing Trevor's jaw to open slightly.

"Jake? But, my god, Alan, I'm sorry. Will he be okay? Please tell me he'll be okay?"

"Yes, I think so. We are currently waiting for more news, but the doctors think he will make a good recovery."

"God, Alan, what happened?" Trevor asked. 'Here we go,' Alan thought. Now he had to try and explain why his son had decided to take an overdose. What kind of father did that make him look?' A damn useless one,' he thought.

"Well, Trevor, he um…uh, he kind of took a drug overdose and had to be rushed to hospital." Alan had to look away from Trevor when he said it. He didn't want to see Trevor judging him, silently calling him a bad father under his breath, running a fucked up family with a fucked up son to boot. "But it's not what you think!" he uttered again quickly. Alan sighed. "What I mean is, Trevor, it's not heroin, crack, or anything fucked up like that. It was sleeping pills, and I think it was a cry for help."

"A cry for help, Alan? I've seen you and Jenny with Jake at various gatherings, and Jake never…I mean, why would he do that? What's so bad in his life?"

"Well, we told him about the move, but there is more to it than that, Trev. I just haven't worked out what it is yet. I spoke to Jenny about this, and she is now in the same mind as me. So there has got to be something else going on with him he's not telling us. Maybe the move triggered it, but I am pretty damn sure it's something else, as well."

"Well, Alan, my door is always open. Pack up your things and go see your family. Take as long as you need. Oh, and uh, tell Jenny I'm thinking of her and Jake. Oh and will you do me a favour and let me know how he is please?"

"Thanks, of course I will, Trev, I'll see ya." Alan left his boss's office, wondering why the strange concern from him, and returned to his own to gather his documents and coat. He wanted to see Stephanie to say goodbye but had not seen her since he came in. Realising that she might well be in London today for a meeting, he locked his office door and made his way back down the corridor.

"Alan?" Trevor shouted from his office, causing Alan to stop.

"Yeah, Trev?"

"Take care, okay, everything will work out fine." Alan let a false smile show on his face and nodded.

"Thanks, Trev."




"Take out your textbooks and turn to page 74. Today we will discuss Ramesses the second," the teacher hollered from the front of the class. 'Great,' Cody thought as he pulled out his book from his bag. Cody hated history as it was and had absolutely no interest in Egyptian history whatsoever. Still puzzled as to why he had not seen Jake at school today, he fanned the book to the relevant page and turned his attention to the teacher. He became lost in his thoughts as the teacher began speaking about the great Pharaoh. He knew that Jake might not want to talk to him at the moment, but how he managed to avoid him altogether, he didn't know.

As the teacher was writing on the whiteboard, another lady came into the room, whispered in the teacher's ear, and left again. Finally, the teacher turned back to face the class and fixed her eyes on Cody.

"Cody, would you get your things and wait outside the classroom, please?" Cody looked up from his textbook, wondering what was going on. Finally, after a second or so of looking around the classroom at his fellow students, he got up and left the room. He heard the door click as his teacher came out and closed the door behind her. The corridor was deadly silent, as all students were now in their classes, leaving the two of them out there alone.

"Cody, I have been asked to tell you that you are to go and see Councillor Thompson in room six on the third floor."

"Do you know why, Miss?" Cody asked, a worried look on his face. He knew he had not done anything wrong as far as he was concerned, but in a way, it made it an even more worrying request.

"No, I was not told, Cody. If you want to talk about it, you can come and see me later. I have homework planned for today, so I will arrange for someone to get it to you if you do not return by the end of class. Now, you better get going."

Cody nodded and made his way to the third floor, and approached the door. The door had a large poster stuck to it that said in capital letters, EXAM IN PROGRESS, DO NOT DISTURB. "An Exam?" Cody looked puzzled.

He knocked on the door and heard a deep male voice behind ask him to come in. Cody timidly opened the door and stepped inside.

"Please, Cody, come inside. Close the door, and take a seat."

"Am I taking an exam, Mr Thompson?" Cody asked in a sheepish voice.

"Um, no, Cody, you are not taking an exam. You are here because there is some news I need to pass on to you that I felt needed to be done in private." The colour in Cody's face was starting to disappear as his head ran an inventory of all the possible things Thompson would tell him. Only bad things get done in private, he thought, his foot now bouncing up and down on the floor.

"Cody, I need to inform you that Jake Stevens is currently in hospital after a suspected drug overdose." Mr Thompson came straight to the point.

Shock, fear, adrenaline pumping, eyes wide, panic. Cody felt his palms become sweaty, and the room's background started to move off into the distance. The room began to turn a shade of grey. 'I'm gonna pass out, I'm actually gonna pass out,' Cody thought, as he stared, fixed to Mr Thompson's eyes, like a piece of prey just about to be eaten by its hunter. Words, there were no words…they weren't coming out. Cody tried to speak but instead let out a choked…

"Drugs. Jake doesn't do drugs." His mouth dry, he tried to clear his throat. "Jake doesn't do drugs," he said again, but this time more clearly.

"Cody, your friend, is going to be okay from what I have heard, so please try and relax. Would you like some water?" Mr Thompson gestured to the carafe of water on the table and then poured Jake a cup without waiting for a response. "Cody, it appears after meeting up with you yesterday, Jake came home and locked himself in his bathroom and took a substantial amount of sleeping pills."

"What….uh, why? Why would he do that?" Cody stuttered out.

"Well, I was rather hoping you could tell me."

"What, are they saying this is my fault; that I caused this?" Cody suddenly sat up straight, becoming defensive at the question.

"Cody… Cody, calm down; this is not an interrogation. You are in this room because you are Jake's best friend, and Jake's mother felt it was vital that you know what's happened. No one is blaming or accusing you of anything. I am just asking because you two are very close, and any information you might have would help us understand why Jake might be in such a bad place right now. There is nothing sinister here, I assure you, and my intentions are purely of an enquiry nature."

Cody thought about everything that happened that day -- the conversations, the choice of words, the argument, the pain of it all, the hurt.

"No," Cody just said.

"No what, Cody?"

"As in, no, I can't think why Jake would do something like this. He seemed fine when he went home." Cody knew he was outright lying but wanted to talk to Jake before things got too complicated and questions started being asked. If it was ever revealed why he and Jake had left each other on such bad terms, then Cody knew his life was about to get very complicated. "I would like to go and see him, Mr Thompson; I need to see he's okay,"

"Well, that would be up to his parents, but as School Counsellor, I can see that this has come as a great shock to you, so I am therefore granting you one week of school leave to help you adjust to the news. Should you wish to visit Jake in hospital some of that time, you have my blessing. I'm sure he will be very pleased to see you."

"I wouldn't count on it," Jake muttered inaudibly. "So what do I do now, Mr Thompson?"

"I will grant exit permission from the school, but first, I will call your parents to come and pick you up. I would rather you didn't walk in your current mindset. However, I understand that your parents may be at work, so I will let you know their decision if and when I get through. In the meantime, why don't you go and sit in the reception with the ladies, and I will come to find you when I'm done?"

Cody Left the room and made his way down to the ground floor and into reception. The ladies who worked there knew Cody well and smiled as he walked in.

"Mr Dukes, how are you, and what brings you here today?" said one of the ladies warmly. The lady who took the call from Mrs Stevens came over and whispered into her ear, and the smile faded as she listened.

"It's Jake; he's in….he's not well," Cody said, sitting down on one of the seats in the room.

"Yes, I have just been told. How terrible. Well, you make yourself comfortable, young man, and yell if you need anything."

Cody sat there, staring at the wall, lost in a sudden wave of depression, knowing he was the cause or at least part of the cause that led to Jake being in hospital. A lone tear ran down his face as the emotions running through his mind became intrusive. Why was he not there for his best friend when he needed him, he kept chewing over in his mind? He continued thinking about how lonely it must have been for Jake to be sitting in that bathroom after swallowing all those pills, waiting for the end. How desperate, how sad, how…., not Jake, he thought.

It wasn't long before Mr Thompson came back to let Cody know how he was getting out of the school.

"Cody, I have not been able to get hold of your parents, so I called your emergency contact, which is Alan Stevens."

"Jake's dad?" Cody said, surprised he would be on the list.

"Yes, he's not long left work and said he will swing by and pick you up on his way to the hospital."

Jake became visibly nervous at this point. What if Alan started asking similar questions to what the Councillor had? What was he going to tell him? The day was not going well.




As Alan pulled into the school grounds, he could see Cody sitting on a bench not far from the entrance. He honked his horn, and Cody's eyes immediately looked up at the waiting car. He walked over, trying not to look at Alan as he did. He didn't want to see the look on Alan's face if he could help it. His friend's father was probably devastated, and Cody, feeling the guilt he did, thought Alan adding to it would be too much.

"You okay?" Alan said as Cody, now seated in the front, shut the door.

"A bit numb, I guess."

"You and me both, kid." Alan managed a smile while ruffling Cody's hair.

The drive to the hospital was quiet and solemn. It was not an uncomfortable silence, but each of them decided it was best to leave the other in their thoughts. As they pulled into the hospital grounds, Cody was the first to finally speak.

"How bad is he?"

"Well, he hasn't woken up yet, as far as I know. The doctors say that's quite normal as his body recovers, though," Alan replied as he massaged his temples. He parked the car, turned off the engine, but didn't get out. Instead, he sat there for a moment before turning to Cody. "Is there something I should know about, Cody?" Alan asked flatly. Cody felt a wave of adrenaline rush through his body as the words pierced his mind. Was this going to be the moment that Jake's dad asked him if there was more to their friendship than just that? Cody dreaded the question.

"Something you should know about?" Cody repeated to grant himself more time while Alan had to respond.

"Yeah, I mean, anything you can think of as to why Jake would do this?" Cody relaxed a little, figuring out this was an open question.

"Well, he's pretty upset about the move, Alan, but other than that, I can't think of anything." Cody had lied again. He was beginning to wonder if he was making the right choice doing this. Maybe if his parents knew the truth, they would be able to reach out and help. But Cody decided to stay quiet on the matter, choosing to go with his original plan again and speak to Jake.

As Alan and Cody made their way to Jake's ward, they met Jenny outside in the main corridor, getting a tea from the vending machine.

"Oh, thank god, you're both here. Alan, he's awake…Jake's awake!" Jenny exclaimed excitedly and then turned to Cody, her excitement leaving her, being replaced with a serious look. "Cody, I need to speak with you."

©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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1 hour ago, heifel35 said:

I feel the need to point out the mix-up with their names. It confused me a bit. 

I hope Jennie makes Cody tell her the truth about what happened between the boys. 

Yeah, that's been spotted and fixed. Apologies.

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Suicide, the most selfish act of them all, while I understand the emotions are strong and running wild, Jake should have realized he isn't an island, and sought out someone to talk to, a parent or other friend. What did he think...that no one would miss him? I'm angry because in a moment of weakness, Jake could only selfishly think of himself! 

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Should Cody feel guilty?  Hell yes!  He was unnecessarily cruel.  Is he responsible for the attempted suicide, no.  Are Jake's parents responsible, of course not.  Could they all have done a better job of communicating and support, absolutely!  The problem with 16 year olds is that they are so hormonal and self absorbed that they see everything as the best thing ever or the end of the world.  As their brains and bodies develop and they have more life experiences, they even out and adapt to change.  I would not live through that age again for anything!

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2 hours ago, drsawzall said:

Suicide, the most selfish act of them all, while I understand the emotions are strong and running wild, Jake should have realized he isn't an island, and sought out someone to talk to, a parent or other friend. What did he think...that no one would miss him? I'm angry because in a moment of weakness, Jake could only selfishly think of himself! 

You are ascribing rational thought to a 16 year old - showing a genuine lack of understanding of an adolescent mind!  From other comments you have made, this surprises me greatly!   It is the rare adolescent who is fully open with parents especially if they are not open with themselves!  Jake couldn't admit his feelings to anyone but Cody and felt totally rejected.  This is not condoning his actions, but sets the framework for his irrational response.  Perhaps now he will be open with his parents and Cody can be more open too!

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What a brilliantly written chapter!  There are so many levels  posed here for future development:  the parents, the children, the school.  As a retired school counselor myself, I would have had a different approach to meeting Cody, but we are dealing with a different style:  his concern is apparent and shown, however direct he is initially. 

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