Gerard and I walked home together that first day, talking about anything that we happened to think about and it turns out we have a lot in common. I can't shake this weird feeling; I'm not sure exactly what it is, but I'm pretty sure it's because for the first time in years, for the first time since my life collapsed around me, I think I have a friend. A real life proper friend who likes the same stuff as me, and although he doesn't know about all my issues, I feel like he understands me.
I'm meeting Gerard after my appointment today as usual and I'm actually really looking forward to it. We don't know much about each other's secrets, in fact we rarely talk about therapy, it's just nice to be able to have a laugh or an easy light hearted conversation without being studied or judged or having the other person look at you funny as if they're expecting you to spontaneously combust or something similar. That's another thing that's turned into quite a stressful situation since people found out: interacting with other people.
You see if you're a 'normal' person and you're hanging out with a friend or whatever, they might ask you if you're okay and if you say yes they'll probably leave it, you'll probably carry on the conversation and forget all about it.
But for me it's different; just being in the same room as my mom for more than five minutes and I start to see that concerned look creep into her eyes. I sense that she's about to ask me if I'm okay. And yeah, I know it's because she loves me and she's worried about me, but what she doesn't seem to understand is that I don't want to talk about it. As much a possible all I want to do is talk about normal stuff and try to pretend that I'm not so messed up. As soon as I sense that she's thinking about asking me if I'm okay, I find myself desperately trying to keep talking; change the subject and generally just blab on about anything and nothing, just to make sure there isn't a moment of silence that lasts too long. Long enough for her to ask me. Because one thing I'm super sick of right now is lying. I've been lying to everyone for as long as I can remember and I just can't bring myself to do it anymore.
Once, before people found out, before I had to move schools, before the downward spiral of my already partly broken life took a dive, me and the guys at school were playing truth or dare. I chose truth when it came to my turn... I've always been a pussy when it comes to dares.
"What's the biggest lie you've ever told, Frankie?"
[/I was shocked, caught unawares... but I managed to say something witty and jokey out loud, I don't remember exactly what, but the one thing going round and round in my head spoke the real truth, the honest answer.
It starts to rain as I approach the park; not proper rain, but the kind of fine misty rain that doesn't soak you, just makes everything feel damp. It's miserable.
When I get closer to our meeting place I see that Gerard isn't there. He must just be late.. but his appointment is always before mine, so how can he be late?
I sit down and try to be patient, swinging back and forth gently on the squeaky swings, but I've never been very good with patience and I certainly have less willpower than is considered normal. So after half an hour passes I sigh, defeated. Taking one last look around I pick up my bag and head home, feeling a confusing mixture of hurt and worry.
On the one hand, what if Gerard was just ill or something so he couldn't come... but then why wouldn't he tell me he wasn't coming? Or what if something happened to him on the way from school? Jersey is a dangerous place; when darkness starts to fall parents call their children inside and people lock their doors, peering out of patterned curtains every so often to check their cars are still there. When the sun sets and the day is over, the city shifts. The night dwellers come out- drug dealers, gangs, street walkers, angry youths and the occasional serial murderer.
So for the first time in weeks I walk home alone and now I really feel the fear in the air. Usually Gerard and are talking, and I'm so caught up in the conversation that I barely notice the route we walk. Is it sad that I miss him this much and he's only been gone for a day?
When I get home I go straight to my room, collapsing onto my bed. I lie for a while, just staring at the ceiling, thinking. Every so often a thread of worry weaves its way into my mind but I stop it. I need to think positive. If Gerard doesn't turn up to the park after school to tomorrow I'll go to his house and find out what's happening; he's probably fine but I just need to check.
I barely sleep that night, it's one of those nights where it's impossible to stay still, impossible to relax. After hours of darkness the sun begins to rise and I decide its probably an acceptable time to get up.
That day school is what seems to be an endless stretch of time, filled with nothing but shit. I wait and wait but the hours to so slowly, it's like time has slowed down. I'm so tempted to just leave, fuck the school and its bullshit rules... But because I'm not a rebel and I don't especially want to have to deal with the consequences of skipping school - since I'm trying to make a good impression here, where no one knows my past - I wait until eventually the final bell sounds to sprint from the classroom and toward the park.
I'm so relieved my heart feels like it almost stops when I see Gerard sat on the swings as usual. I run over, wrenching open the gate on my way in and flinging myself down next to him. He doesn't say anything and I'm confused; have I done something wrong? Until I look properly and I notice his face is pale and his eyes are red and puffy, with grey bags underneath them. He looks awful - tired and as if he's been crying all night and all day.
"Gerard?" I ask tentatively, "What's wrong? What happened?"
He is still for a second, completely silent and unmoving.
I place a hand on his shoulder, desperate to comfort him but not sure how to. "Gerard you can tell me, where have you been?"
He continues to stare at the floor for a minute before fresh tears begin to fall and he looks up at me. I sigh, and a jolt of pain shoots through me. He's breaking - I know, i've been there, I know the pain he's going through right now.
Fuck everything, I think to myself, he's my friend and he needs me. I hug him tightly and he turns into me, obviously glad for the comfort, sobbing into my shoulder.
"It's okay Gerard, I'm here. I'm not gonna leave you"
After a few minutes of crying he calms down and we sit next to each other on the swings, each of us staring numbly ahead. I don't speak, he seems to want the quiet, and even if I wanted to speak, I'm not quite sure what I'd say. I'm used to being on the other end of someone asking me if I'm okay. It's not that I don't care, I just honestly don't know where to start.
"My parents kicked me out." He sighs eventually.
What? Anger courses through me; how could someone do that to their own son?
"Why? What happened, why would they do that?" I ask, trying not to come across as being as angry as I really am.
A fresh single tear rolls down his cheek, "They said they can't handle me. Apparently they don't think I'm getting any better.."
"What happened, Gerard? ... why are you in therapy?"
He looks shocked, surprised that I've just asked him that, but he answers me anyway. I feel guilty when I get a sudden urge to smile; he trusts me.
"I used to have a brother. Mikey. He was the best, we were so close, best friends since we were really little. Then a couple of years ago," his voice breaks and he pauses, "a couple of years ago he died. And I couldn't handle it, I was in a dark place and I did some bad things..."
His voice drops off at the end into little more than a whisper
and I can tell its extremely hard for him to talk about this.
"Oh Gerard, Jesus Christ... I'm, god, I'm so sorry" I splutter eventually, not quite able to get the right words out of my mouth, not quite sure what I'm trying to say in the first place.
"I know, Frank, it's fine, you don't have to say anything," he says softly, "look I just.. I can't talk about it properly, I just.. I kinda had a meltdown after he died, I couldn't handle it and I went a bit crazy I guess. I did some stuff that my parents have never forgiven me for... I guess to them I'm just the son who's too fucked up to care about, I'm the one who doesn't deserve to be cared about."
He trails off and I can't help but feel completely torn apart by his story. He lost his brother and his now he's lost his parents. They've given up on him. I'm not going to give up on him though, I know he deserves to be saved.
"I care about you, Gerard," I look into his eyes, "I care about you so much, I don't care what you've done. Look you're my best friend okay, you're staying at mine tonight, and until you get sorted out with your parents. My mom won't mind, it's not as if I'm always having friends round or anything."
The look on Gerard's face after I say this is sincere; a true expression of gratitude and most of all, hope.
"Thank you, Frank. I don't know what I'd do without you sometimes."
Thankyou so much for reading and as usual rates and reviews make me happy c: