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    Zuri
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Subconscious Mind - 7. Chapter 7: Puzzle completed, but still shambles

CN transphobia, deadnaming, homophobia

 

This is the last chapter. I thought a lot about the most fitting end and this is it. I don't know if you expected it, so just check it out :)

“I don’t … understand. Why?” he grasped.

“Your video. You were very clear in it. Didn’t you get enough attention? Do you want eternal gratefulness for every little shit you do? I’m tired of this! We are done.” Then, she took off.

“What just happened?” he mumbled and headed to his own class. During the periods he couldn’t concentrate. After school, Chase fastened his steps to get to Gareth.

“Thanks for keeping me out of that,” he said while breathing heavily. “That was brave.”

“There was no need to include you in the story. That was not the point of it. And I respect that you want to keep it a secret. Even though, I don’t like it.”

“That won’t change any time soon. But you are probably already used to it.”

“Kinda. I can’t change it anyway. If love can’t change that …”

Gareth could feel how the mood changed from one moment to the other, and he suspected, that Chase felt offended.

“It’s not that love is not enough. Let’s talk about that somewhere more private later. I really don't want anyone to smell a rat.”

“So I don’t get to walk you home today,” Gareth joked.

“Let’s not push our luck.”

 

So Gareth went home alone. Like it had become a ritual already, the phone rang. That detective again, Gareth thought. He was wrong.

“Howzit, Gareth? This is Phoibe speaking. Phoibe Cohen. I hope, you’re doin' fine. It’s a pleasure to talk to you.”

“Um, hey”

“You probably don’t know me. I’m volunteering at SpeakOut. We advocate for gay, lesbian, bi, trans—you name it. We also have periodic speaker events at schools. We saw the video, you’ve posted and would like to ask you if you might speak at such an event.”

“Er, I’m not sure. You all are probably way more skilled in speaking. I … don’t know if I’m good enough to speak in front of a crowd.”

“Don’t hide your light under a bushel, Gareth! I’ve seen you. I know, you can do that. We’re not looking for tremendously polished speakers with doctor’s degrees but for people with stories, people with experiences, people with emotions—people like you. And if you still feel uncomfortable with that, we offer free training to all of our speakers.”

Gareth was flattered, but he was still unsure if that was what he wanted. Without a doubt, he liked treading the boards, but every time he did that, he played a role, knew the text, the moves, everything was perfectly rehearsed and well-matched. When he recorded that video, he surely had put a lot of thought into whether he should do it or not, but when he finally started recording, the words just came out of his mouth as if they had waited there for a very long time. So he knew that he wanted to speak about homophobia and hate crimes; he just didn’t know when, where, and how, let alone to whom. And here it was: The very opportunity to do exactly that. A twist of fortune if you will. But maybe it was too early and too big. Maybe he wasn’t ready for this. Maybe after college.

“I didn’t catch that if you mentioned it in the beginning,” he said. “But where are you based?”

“Boston, Massachusetts.”

“Lower 48, east coast,” he mumbled more to himself. “That’s pretty far. I don’t think I could do that right now.”

“That’s okay,” Phoibe replied. “You don’t have to decide now. And even if you finally decide against it, you can still get back to my offer later. So don’t feel pressured.”

“Okay. I’ll think about it,” he agreed. “But don’t expect too much.”

“I won’t. I want you to make a decision, you’re okay with—not just to make me happy.”

 

The next day was Saturday, so Gareth slept in and was woken up by the phone which announced a new message. It was Chase.

“'Sup? Since it’s the first warm day of the year, do you fancy a hike? We’re having a lil fam jam here with BBQ and all. Wanna grab some meat with us and then start?”

“Sure, sound’s good,” he texted back.”

When he arrived at Chase's parents' house, it was already around 70 degrees. He ate a sausage and a spare rib and then, they headed off.

“I thought, we could do the winners trail,” Chase announced when they were sitting in the car, a Renault pickup truck. Winners trail was a hiking trail at Chugach National Park and not too far from Anchorage. They could lower their windows on the highway and enjoy the breeze on the way there.

All of a sudden, the radio station played “Mask Off” by Future and they both started to sing along. Not only liked Gareth singing along to his favorite songs, he felt that this did much bonding between him and his secret boyfriend. He just enjoyed the moment and hope for it to never end.

But of course, it ended when the song ended, and shortly after that, they arrived at the gravel parking lot.

They first came to a hand-operated gondola-lift and then, they went up and down through wooded hilly terrain until they came to a wooden bridge next to a waterfall. But instead of crossing it, Chase went down a narrow path to the rapid stream, and they sat down on the waist-high rocks. The river was quite loud and the place was a little enclosed, so it felt like they really had a moment in private. He would have loved to take Chase’s hand, but Chase would have pulled it away immediately. “Let’s not push our luck,” he remembered the words from yesterday. Gareth didn’t like holding hands while walking but while sitting, it felt intense, like an exchange of energy.

“Nice place to chill,” Chase commented while leaning back and squinting in the bright sun with his sunglasses. “You know,” he continued. “I like being back together with you.”

“Me too”

“What a nice day …”

Gareth felt that Chase neither wanted to talk about this place nor the weather.

“So you’re friends with this tranny—Corey, right?”

“Was—and it’s not—”

“I’m glad, you ended this disgusting—”

“The what!?” Gareth was shell-shocked. “It’s Stella. SHE is trans and this is NOT disgusting. The friendship is over for a totally different reason.”

“So you’re defending that person?”

“Chase, you’re gay. Would you want that somebody talks about you the way you talk about her?”

“That’s something else entirely. And yes, also homosexuality is abnormal. If I could, I would be straight. That’s why I’m hiding it.”

“It’s not, Chase. It’s not different and it is normal. I wished, you could see this.” Suddenly Gareth’s eyes filled with tears and when Chase wanted to put a hand on his shoulder, Gareth stood up and walked back to the car. On their way, Chase first tried to catch up with him, but Gareth ignored his attempts to stop him, so Chase let him be. He probably also didn’t want to be seen with Gareth crying so that others might draw conclusions.

 

 
 

When Chase arrived at the parking lot, he first couldn’t spot Gareth by the car. Then, he saw him standing a bit apart from it looking at the entrance. So he walked over and stopped right next to him. Gareth didn’t even bother to turn his face. So he joined him watching the road.

“Let’s go!” he said to Gareth.

“I’m not coming,” Gareth told him. “I texted Dylan to swoop me.”

“Oh … okay.” Chase wanted to say something and opened his mouth, but he didn’t know what. Some moments passed. Eventually, he turned around and walked back to his car.

 

The next morning, his mother woke him up.

“Gareth, the detective called again. They think, they solved the case. They say you stepped in to help a poor boy who was beaten up because he behaves like a girl. I think, there’s something wrong with these people, but beating someone up for being sick …”

Gareth stopped listening to her. Memories flashed in front of his mind’s eye. Fists. Blood. Name-calling. Pain. Then, it struck him.

“Stella!”

“What?”

Her name is Stella,” he corrected her while still processing his long-lost memories.

“Whatever,” she replied. “There are more important things. I have to go to the office with your father.”

“But it’s Sunday.”

“I know. But we lost our best customer.” When Gareth didn’t react, she went on to explain: “He called your father racist. Because of a harmless joke. Can you believe that? When we founded this business, nobody would have taken umbrage at things like that.”

Secretly, he thought, "Serves them right!"

 

When he heard the door closing, he got up. During the day, his decision evolved, and he knew, the next few days until he finished high school would be his last in Anchorage.

 

Within the next few days, his parents were more in the office than at home. One night they didn’t even sleep and stayed at the office. When Gareth and his classmates got their graduation diploma, his parents barely noticed it. And Gareth was grateful that he didn’t have to see the ones that made him believe, he was straight, more than necessary. He knew they wanted him to go to Columbia Southern University in Fairbanks, and they considered it out of question. But he had other plans and didn't want them to ruin them again.

 

The next day he took a suitcase, put everything in there which had any meaning to him and wasn’t too big to carry. When that was finished, he wrote his parents a letter and left it kitchen table. He told them, that he headed to Boston and that he needed time on his own. He left a box in his room with things, they should send him. After that, he left the house without looking back while listening to "Smalltown Boy" by Bronksi Beat.

 

I once hiked the winner's trail during my time in Anchorage and I can warmly recommend it: https://www.alaska.org/detail/winner-creek-trail

If you want to know more about SpeakOUT Boston, check out the fantastic work, they do: https://www.speakoutboston.org/

I'm currently working on an epilogue to finish two more storylines—so stay tuned!

 

Copyright © 2020 Zuri; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

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Chapter Comments

Wow, I’m very disappointed in Chase and Stella continues to confuse me. I mean if Gareth got seriously injured while protecting her why did she get so mad at him as if he was the devil himself when he didn’t stop her from being assaulted/bullied or why’d she get angry at him seemingly thinking him outing himself on video was just attention seeking? Logically I’d assume she doesn’t know, possibly due to her own injured state, that he was injured protecting her though I still can’t comprehend her intense anger towards him. I can definitely understand why he left home and I’m seriously wondering why he’d ever want to return.

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Stella thinks, that he poses as the victim while in fact she was the victim. I'm not sure how much she remembers, and maybe she ran away before she could witness what happened to Gareth. That's why she thinks, what he does is trans erasure—she's obviously wrong, but Gareth didn't try to talk to her when he left town.

When I was plotting the last chapter, I really thought about giving Chase and Gareth a happy ending, but it just didn't make sense to me. There were no possibility for me to write it in a way that wouldn't sound far-fetched. The problem with Chase as a character was, that he confirmed that he'd never come out—not even for Gareth, who he loves (or at least he claims to love Gareth).

@NimirRaj Did he say, he wants to return?

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A brilliant but unexpected ending to the story and we still don't know all the details of the 'accident'. I think there are still a few loose ends but that also means there are opportunities to continue into other stories. Nicely written and thank you for all of your hard work.

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Zuri

Posted (edited)

27 minutes ago, Mancunian said:

A brilliant but unexpected ending to the story and we still don't know all the details of the 'accident'.

@MancunianHonestly: I'm known for unexpected endings. In one other story in the German story community, I mentioned in an earlier comment, my readers hated me for my ending even though I tried to explain it similar to how I tried to explain it here. Some readers just want a happy ending no matter what. But I like authenticity better :)

27 minutes ago, Mancunian said:

I think there are still a few loose ends

I have the strong belief, that not every question has to answered as long as the important ones are. The rest can be left to the reader's imagination.

I tried to give some more answers in the epilogue – feel free to check that out.

27 minutes ago, Mancunian said:

that also means there are opportunities to continue into other stories.

Flat out: I'm not planning a sequel to this story, however I like to have multiple independent stories set in the same world/universe, so there could be characters that make a short appearance in other stories 😉

27 minutes ago, Mancunian said:

Nicely written and thank you for all of your hard work.

And thank you for all your nice comments and reading till the end. It's much appreciated 😊

Edited by Zuri
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37 minutes ago, Mancunian said:

I think there are still a few loose ends

@Mancunian tried to give some more answers in the epilogue – feel free to check that out.

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