A year passes and Ryan has managed to keep his blade out of his life. That is until his father returns from rehab during Ryan's senior year. Will Ryan go back to his old ways despite Brendon's effo...
“What about my dad?” I asked him, kissing his neck. My fingers were knotted in his hair as his hands slipped up my shirt. We were on the couch participating in… obvious activities.
It has been almost a month since Brendon secretly moved in, but we were still doing pretty well; my dad hasn’t been suspicious. Then again, I’ve barely seen him in the past few weeks. He’s either at work, the bar, or locked in his room with a bottle of whiskey watching CSI reruns.
“What time is he supposed to get home?” Brendon asked.
“I don’t know. Whenever,” I answered quickly, wanting to do less talking and more kissing. I guess you could say this was our favorite hobby next to eating and playing music. I pressed my mouth to his as his tongue slid passed my lips. I stopped suddenly, however, when the familiar scratching of the key in the front door reached my ears. Sitting up with my legs on either side of Brendon, I put my hand over his mouth and the other on his quickly rising and falling chest. Realizing it was my dad, I whispered, “Or now. Go!” I jumped off of Brendon as he hurried to my bedroom.
My dad stumbled inside as I composed myself. His usual disheveled self made an appearance and stepped into the living room. He was still in his suit that he wears to work, but his blue striped tie was loosened, his collar undone, and his hair, the same color as mine, ruffled. “Hey, dad,” I greeted hesitantly, straightening out my shirt.
“Shut up,” he spat. “You know what I heard today?”
“No, what?” I asked, acting innocent. He was staggering closer to me and I could smell the whiskey on his breath from four feet away.
Dear God, this is your chance to redeem yourself. Don’t let me fall. Don’t let him hurt me. Not again.
“One of my buddies told me that he saw you walking home from school. Holding hands with a guy,” he said, continuing to close the space between us. His “buddies” consisted of the select few that hadn’t left him when he became a heavy drinker, so needless to say all of his friends were alcoholics as well. I had met them on more than one occasion. Sometimes my dad invited them over for poker. I always tried to stay in my room, but if I was caught in sight at any time during their visit, I was immediately put to work, bringing them more drinks and snacks having smoke and gay slurs blown in my face. I don’t know what ever made them think I was gay. Maybe they had just heard it enough from my dad that they decided it was true.
“I don’t know what he’s been smoking, but that—” I was cut short by a hand snapping across my face. Recovering from the blow, I touched my fingers to my burning cheek. I fought the tears as my eyes began to burn.
“Don’t lie to me, Ryan! I always knew you were a fag,” he told me, pushing me forcefully to the floor. I hit my arm hard against the coffee table on the way down and tried to suppress a whimper.
“So what if I am?” I asked strongly glaring back into my father’s wasted eyes, cradling my arm.
“I also overheard from your little friend, Spencer, that he’s been staying here,” he said, ignoring the question.
“That’s impossible,” I breathed, staggering to my feet. He must have overheard us talking last week when he was over doing homework. Brendon had to get out of here. “Why would he be staying here anyway?”
“You tell me, he’s your boyfriend!” he said, hitting me across the face again. I saw Brendon out of the corner of my eye peering through my bedroom door. He looked scared to death.
I tried to let him know I was alright, but my dad noticed my frequent glances and said, “He’s here isn’t he?”
“No,” I answered, not daring to sneak another look at Brendon. I reprimanded myself for doing so in the first place. My dad may be drunk, but he doesn’t miss much even in his highly intoxicated state.
“Yes, he is. Where is that son of a bitch?” he yelled, another smacking sound as he hit me again.
“No one’s here but you and me, dad, why don’t you just go lay down. It’s late,” I tried to reason. I was running out of options. If he didn’t give in soon, I’d be on the floor in a matter of seconds.
“You’re lying,” he accused.
“No, I’m not, dad, really. Go to bed,” I told him, attempting to keep my cool despite my racing heart. One of us had to and it probably wasn’t going to be the guy with twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system.
I stared into his eyes trying to decipher his thoughts about his next move, but he moved so fast he caught me off guard. His arm sprang up and he clenched his fingers around my throat, shoving me into the wall. “Stop lying to me! Where. Is. HE?” he screamed.
Tears slipped past my lashes as my composure crumbled. “No one’s here. I swear to God!” I croaked, his fingers crushing my windpipe. “Get the fuck off of me!” I told him breathlessly, desperately shoving him away. I felt the pressure release and I fell to my knees, gasping for air. He clenched his hands around my collar and dragged me back to my feet.
“If I find him, you’re both done,” he threatened, his face centimeters from mine, alcohol still tainting his breath, making me gag. He released his grasp on me and I braced myself against the wall. I watched as he stomped out of the house.
Once he had slammed the door behind him, I let my composure fail again as I slid down the wall and held my knees to my chin, violent sobs erupting from my chest. I heard Brendon rush down the hallway and to my side. Throwing his arms around me he said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
Pulling away, he held my shoulders at arms length. Gazing into my eyes he said, “You can’t make me do that ever again. I can’t just sit there and watch him hurt you. I don’t care if he knows I’m here, I want you safe.”
We sat there for a few moments, until Brendon made me get up before my dad came back. He lay next to me in bed as I cried myself to sleep.
I woke up fairly early for school. Brendon was still sleeping, but I decided to get ready. Shuffling into the bathroom, I brushed my teeth. My dad had already gone to work, so I was in the clear for now. I had forgotten to grab my clothes, so I tiptoed back into my bedroom and rustled around in the dark until I found a pair of jeans and shirt, glancing over at a very peaceful, sleeping Brendon, hoping I didn’t wake him with my ruckus. I left the door open as I stripped in the bathroom. As I took off my shirt, I took in the sight. My arm was now the home of a nasty yellow and green bruise. I figured it was nothing I couldn’t cover up. That is until my eyes reached my neck. My mind flashed back the horrifying events of last night and I had to remind myself to breathe. I recalled my dad’s fingers digging into my neck, cutting off my oxygen. I laid a gentle touch to my throat, tracing over the skinny bruises. I was so lost in my jarring reflection and paralyzing thoughts that I hadn’t noticed Brendon dressed in an old gray tee and burgundy plaid flannel pants in the doorway, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“Oh, hey,” I whispered, switching my gaze to see his reflection in the mirror. As he approached me, I tried to cover my neck nonchalantly and turned to him. He took my hands in his and pulled them away from my throat. I heard his breath hitch when he saw them.
“Ry, I—” he started to say, looking up into my eyes.
“How am I supposed to hide them,” I asked helplessly. There was no way I could show up to school with bruises around my neck. Signs that you’ve been strangled are not usually socially acceptable. Mr. Faust would see them, though, and no doubt give me a talking to. He also showed promise to call Social Services. As much as I wanted to get away from my dad, I had nowhere to go and, now that Brendon lived with me, he didn’t either.
He stepped back and held me from behind, his arms slipping around my waist. He leaned his head on my shoulder and I looked at our reflection in the mirror. Brendon’s glasses were a little askew and his hair was sticking up every which way. He looked about seven years old. I couldn’t bear to look at my reflection. Brendon’s was perfect while mine was scarred and bruised.
He turned his head and kissed me on my cheek. “We’ll think of something, babe,” he said quietly, nuzzling his nose in the crook of my neck.
I finished getting dressed and Brendon took the bathroom. I scurried around my bedroom trying to find things that would cover up the bruises without it being too obvious. I settled on a scarf that I dug out of the back of my closet. My aunt had bought it for me last Christmas. It wasn’t terrible looking. She was my favorite aunt because she actually understood what I liked and didn’t try to change my style by replacing my band t-shirts with pastel button downs. The scarf was black with charcoal stripes and thin enough so I didn’t roast in the Las Vegas sunshine. I tried it on and fashioned it with a grimace as the fabric tugged on my bruised skin.
When Brendon came out of the bathroom, he looked at me and paused. A smile spread across his face and he started to laugh.
“What?” I asked, throwing my arms in the air.
“Because that’s not gay at all,” Brendon teased.
“What do you mean?” I flipped the end of the scarf over my shoulder and said, “It’s fabulous,” then burst out laughing.
“And this is why I love you,” Brendon said, holding out his hand for me to take.
“Let’s just get this over with,” I said, dragging him out the door to endure the school day. Ever since Brendon got involved and punched Trent in the nose, he and his group haven’t been bothering me lately. The occasional gay slur or threatening glare was much easier to handle than a meaty fist in the stomach.
Brendon had baseball tryouts that afternoon and I promised I would stay so I brought a book with me. As much as I love watching Brendon, watching him do drills for two hours for three days in a row gets boring after awhile.
He made the team, though. Varsity no less. He did the next year as well. I came to all of his games. He’d always look at me in the stands and give me a half grin as he walked up to bat. Did I mention how great he looked in his uniform? No? God, he’s gorgeous in it.
Once in late March of my senior year, I was at one of Brendon’s games and I could have sworn I saw his mom in her car watching the game. I don’t know how she knew he was there, but it was nice to see. He misses them. Even though they were complete jerks, I know Brendon still loves them.
This past year, our relationship became stronger than ever and so did the band. We have a few demos up online and have hundreds of views and comments already. We still didn’t have a bassist, but we’re making do with what we had, which was a pretty kickass trio if you ask me.
Brendon has helped me a lot as well. I haven’t touched a blade since last year and my dad seems to have been better. Still drinking, but not as violent around me. He’s been back in rehab for a few months now so it’s just been Brendon and me. Spencer’s mom comes over all the time, though, so she inevitably knows about Brendon’s situation. She didn’t have much to say in the matter except that she hopes we are responsible with how we spend our time alone now that we lived together.
Despite my lack of physical self-harm, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t want to cut. My hidden razors continue to taunt me from their hiding places, but I keep up a smile and my strong façade so as to not disappoint Brendon. That was the last thing I wanted. I love him too much to see him hurt again because of me, but there’s only so much that he can do.
I felt myself slipping and I knew I couldn’t stop it. I don’t know why, but I could feel the darkness closing in again. It certainly didn’t help when my dad came home unexpectedly one Saturday morning while Brendon was at practice.
“They let you out?” I asked, looking up from my book. I was rereading Fight Club, but I really can’t talk about it.
“After so long they let you come home on the weekends,” he explained, rummaging through the cabinets. Lie. But that’s what my life has become, right? Why upset the balance?
“If you’re looking for your stash, I threw it out,” I told him from the couch, returning my gaze to the page.
“What?!” he exclaimed.
“Considering that’s the reason why you were in rehab, I didn’t think it would be good for it be in the house,” I said, almost not surprised by his reaction. Folding over the top corner of the page, I closed my book and got to my feet.
“Oh, come on, Ryan. It’s not like I have to give it up completely. You love your dad, don’t you?” he tried to reason, almost sounding pathetic. My dad had that way about him, though. He was able to talk his way in and out of things to make things go in his favor and make you look like the bad guy. It took me years to realize that I wasn’t the one making him angry, it was the alcohol. I used to blame myself for him hurting me. That if I hadn’t said a certain thing or asked him if I could spend the night at Spencer’s, he wouldn’t have gotten upset. He guilt-tripped me many a time and I fell for it every time. But not anymore; I was smarter now.
“Uh, yeah you do. That’s the whole point of rehab,” I explained, confused.
“You didn’t really throw it all out, did you?” he asked desperately, a look of panic striking his face.
“It’s gone. All of it,” I said, crossing my arms. “It’s about time you stopped being drunk off your ass all the time.”
“Hey, don’t you use that tone of voice with me,” he commanded, raising a firm index finger to my face.
“Oh, shut up you know it’s true,” I brushed him off. It was all I could do to keep my composure and control my inevitable shaking voice. I was used to beatings, but it never got less scary.
“Listen here, Ryan,” he said, grabbing my arm roughly. I could smell the familiar stench of alcohol on his breath.
“You’ve been drinking! How the hell do you even get alcohol in rehab!” I shouted.
“Oh, grow up. I’ve been out of rehab for a week and was staying with a friend.”
“Yeah, I can see that’s doing you a whole lot of good,” I snapped, rolling my eyes.
“And I can see you still have that smartass attitude of yours,” he said, still grasping my arm.
“Whatever. Just let me go,” I said, trying to shake him off.
“Not until you tell me where the booze is,” he argued, squeezing tighter.
“I told you. It’s gone! There is no more alcohol in this house!”
His face burned a deep red and he started breathing hard. Releasing my arm, he stomped down the hallway and to his room. He came back after a few moments angrier than ever.
“You went in my room!” he said shoving me against the wall, his forearm crushing my shoulders into the wall.
“You think I didn’t know about your other secret stashes?” I taunted. I saw him literally shaking with fury before he wound up and struck.
And he didn’t stop with that. I had bruises for weeks. I told Brendon when he came home and he apologized for not being there, but I didn’t hear him. His words were lost in the whirlwind of emotions that my existence had become in just a few short hours. I sat in my room for the rest of the day, staring at my walls, my knees drawn to my chest. Brendon had gone to Spencer’s house to do homework. He insisted on staying with me, but I convinced him I was fine. Even though I wasn’t. At all.
It gets to a point, when you just snap. Everything just builds and builds and builds and you can’t even think straight. Everything is a blur, temptations swirling about your thoughts with only one solution: self destruction.
I snapped. Locking myself in my bathroom, I chose my weapon.
Cutting my legs was nowhere near as satisfying as the blade tearing through my forearms, but it helped. A lot, to be honest. I wear jeans all the time anyway, so it would be easy to hide.
I’m going to regret this, but I pushed that to the back of my mind. As I dragged my old friend across my thighs, I cried; half guilt half relief.
I could breathe.
Watching the blood bubble to the surface then drip down my leg sent adrenaline rushing through my veins. I cringed at the sting of the edge. My pain tolerance wasn’t what it once was. I can fix that, said a voice deep inside.
When I finished, my legs were a bloody mess, but I dabbed them with an old towel, stashed it under my bed, wrapped the cuts in gauze and went on my way. The energy that had been there was gone in a matter of minutes and I found myself in bed, shaking and in shock. I grew numb again, the only thought going through my mind: Cut again.
What have I done?