The Journey of Jacob and Kyle
by Andrew Davis
Chapter 19: What goes up, must come down
Time line: Tuesday
William gazed deep into Jacobs’ eyes, a boy he had come to deeply adore and admire, he could see his own reflection staring back within them. It emanated from a boy that was glassy-eyed as if they had turned into a mirror, and at a moment’s notice would break down into a fervent welling of tears. William could clearly see how much Jacob was trying, as desperately as he could, to remain strong-willed. But, in the end, and within his own deepest desires of want and need, William could feel his own heart breaking into a million shards of glass. “I can’t stand that you’re being forced to move away, my sweet, Jacob Earl Matthews, I need you to stay. This isn’t fair. They can’t just make you leave me like this. I need you to stay here … to stay with me.” William sobbed and pleaded ever more fervently, as the tears strolled more aggressively down his cheeks, all the while tightening his grip more firmly over Jacob’s hand. “I need you more than anything I have ever needed, or ever wanted in my life. Please just say something. Say anything, say anything at all!”
Jacob took a pause and stared deeply into Williams’ eyes. “Baby, I can’t stay any longer than I already have and you know the reasons why,” Jacob replied as he held back his own tears with his free hand, all the while cupping his other hand over Williams’ cheek. “You know this wasn’t meant to be; a military family’s life is one of constant moving, but I can promise you this; I will never… never forget you, William. Especially after all of the good times we’ve spent together these past few months. I will forever hold you in my heart. But again, as I’ve told you before, my father insists that we’re needed in Germany, and I’m sorry, I wish I could have stayed longer. And I’m sure you already know, I’ve gone through leaving friends behind before, far more times than I’m willing to admit. So, in many ways, I’ve become accustomed to this. But, with you; it’s … it’s just different, and let me tell you. This is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. I’m sorry that I’m breaking your heart, really, I am. But just so you know, mine’s breaking too, I just wish I could stay longer … You know that!”
“It’s time to go, Jacob! Please hurry up and say your goodbyes. We have a flight to catch that leaves at seven o’clock sharp.”
“I’ll be down in a minute!” Jacob barked back to his mother from the doorway of his bedroom. “It’s okay, William, you’ll move on one day, and you will find the person that’s perfect for you. I have this feeling deep within me that you will, you’ll find the happiness you deserve and want. And as a token of my appreciation for allowing me into your life,” Jacob leaned forward and kissed William one last time before being forced to walk out of his life forever, to a car that felt like a hearse.
It was the end, both of them knew this; they were being forced, like a bad hand in poker in their lives, this left them without a place to turn or any sense of recourse. William knew he needed to allow, Jacob, his one-true-love a way to leave. Ultimately, he wanted to allow Jacob to have some sense of dignity and a chance to walk away with his head held high; and thus, William removed his hand from Jacob’s and gave him one last peck on the cheek.
“Goodbye, Jacob. I will always, always, love you.”
Bill was awakened suddenly from his vivid dream, by the sound of crashing pots and pans. His mind didn’t hold onto the fast pace of it all as he deliberated why his brain had reminded him of this. After all, he had buried these thoughts and feelings long ago, and even though this memory caused him pain, it also brought a sense of great pride and happiness. He could remember it as if it were only yesterday. However, as that may have been, this left him feeling deeply unsettled and unnerved.
The smell of freshly brewed coffee soon filled his nostrils with the slightest hint of bacon as he forced himself to stand up. He realized that while he was still groggy with sleep, he must have fallen asleep on the couch the night prior, and concluded in thought, that they all must have slept together, as a family, nestled under one roof. That thought brought him immense joy. It was in the sense that, Jacob Earl Matthews, was always right, he had found happiness in his own way, with or without him.
‘Shit, how long was I asleep for?’ Bill contemplated further as his eyes darted around the living room. Soon his gaze reached the front facing window and took notice of the blinds, they were still firmly shuttered and had a long sunray seeping through one of the broken vinyl panels. This made him squint as he desperately tried to allow his eyes to become accustomed. But, as soon as his vision became more acclimated to the lighting, he gathered himself for a minute and stretched his body. Finally, with the scent of bacon and coffee calling his name, he walked into the kitchen and found what the cause of all the noise was, although he had a sleek suspicion.
As soon as Bill entered into the kitchen, he found Jacob working fervently over the stove, turning eggs, and Matthew fiddling with a pan of bacon, flipping each slice ever so gently in an attempt to make each one cook evenly. “Good morning my little men of the house. I must say I’m absolutely astounded to see that not one, but that both of you are awake at this early dawn of the morning.” Bill laughed. “And might I add, without your alarm clocks to get those lazy asses out of bed.” Bill looked to Jacob, a scoff had formed over his face. Jacob was a characteristic example of this, and would lay around in bed for the lengthiest of times, allowing the sunlight to fly by before him; which was on a very consistent basis, and made him consistently late for school.
“Yeah, the sunlight coming through the blinds woke me, Daddy. I needed to jab Jacob, really hard in the ribs to even wake him from his peaceful sleep. But we quickly decided that we wanted to make you this wonderful breakfast, and I thought it would be nice to do that for you after everything you told us last night. Mind you, it didn’t take much convincing Jacob either, and we really, really wanted to show you just how thankful we were that you shared that story with us. So, I made the bacon and coffee, and Jacob made the eggs and toast. I hope you enjoy what we’ve made for breakfast, and guess what; it’s almost ready. We’ve been trying very, very hard to make it how you like it. Which is why I’m doing the bacon. I know how you like it.” Matthew couldn’t help himself as he beamed a smile towards his father; he was overjoyed with pride. In some ways, he felt proud and gracious for being able to honor his father in such a way, a way only he knew how; through a man’s stomach.
Bill took a breath of fresh air, looked to the boys and smiled. “Well, that was very thoughtful of you, I sure do like being treated for once.” Bill smiled once more in the midst of a laugh. He felt like this was a proud father moment that only a father could know and understand, especially with their kind gesture of love and gratitude. “So, might I ask. Did we all sleep on the couch last night? I’m still a bit disoriented, and I’m still trying to remember what all happened after we arrived home.”
“Yeah, we did. I guess we were just really tired. But that’s okay, it was different, and lumpy to an extent.” Jacob laughed, with Matthew following in the same cackle. “And now we’re here almost ready to dig into a feast. I’ve also made our lunches for school, that way you won’t need to worry about doing them for us.”
“And what did you make for your lunches? I hope it’s not all junk food and sugar. You need to eat something healthy.”
“Well, there were a few slices of pizza left, so I put two slices for the both of us with a yogurt cup and some apple juice. How’s that for healthy.” Jacob quickly exclaimed.
“That sounds pretty good —” Bill stopped midsentence when the sound of the phone rang and he quickly answered. “Hello, Bill speaking.”
“Hello honey, it’s Sarah. Do you have a moment to talk?”
Bills’ arm hairs instantly stood on end as he looked towards the boys and with a swift subtle gesture from his hand, he motioned he would be right back. He couldn’t fathom why she would be calling. The only options within his mind were to argue with him again. This in itself caused him to be put on full alert as he raced to get upstairs to his bedroom, all the while his hand covering the mouthpiece to the cordless phone.
Bill sat down on his bed and anticipated the worse. “What’s the meaning of this call?” Bill demanded, feeling as a flood of new insults was about to come his way and destroy his rather delightful morning. “I have no desire to argue with you today. I have already heard all of what you have to say and I wish to hear no more it!”
“I’m not here to argue with you, Bill. I’m only calling to ask if it would be okay if I came over this afternoon. Maybe while the kids are still at school? Or, possibly when they’re out of school so that we all can have a family meeting and have a discussion? It doesn’t matter, well actually, that’s a lie; it matters to me, I just want to have your approval prior to me showing up at the door.”
“I think it would be best if we spoke first. But … if you’re coming to put our children down again, then I have nothing else to say to you, and I would be kind to suggest not to even bother coming if that’s your intention. However, if you want to apologize to them then that would be the best thing you have ever done, and if you can do it with the boys present, and you are finally able to show them that you’re not bat-shit crazy. Then that would be fine.”
“Would around four o’clock be okay to stop by the house then?” Sarah questioned, ignoring the fact that her husband had just dared to call her bat-shit crazy, but that didn’t matter right now. She needed to speak with the boys.
“It is, but I swear to God. If you somehow try to hurt my kids again, that will be the end of us. I mean it, Sarah, there will be no coming back from this if you do. But first, you really need to look at yourself and understand the emotional damage you’ve caused them. Jacob just isn’t his normal old self, and Matthew is mostly his usual happy demeanor, but that is all you’ll be getting out of me today.”
“Your kids? They’re my kids too, or did you forget that.” Sarah stopped herself and Bill heard an audible sigh exit from her mouth. “Never mind, you’re right. No, really, you’re absolutely correct with that statement, and I’m sure that’s something you have never heard me say during our marriage. I really fucked things up Bill, and now I feel like I’m not even their mother, but rather, I’m just some old witch that’s trying to hurt them. But, if I may ask, how are they doing? It deeply pains me not knowing what’s been going on while I’ve been away.”
“For that kind of information, you’re going to need to ask the boys’ yourself. A lot of things have transpired over these last few days, but I honestly don’t feel it’s my place to tell you. That’s their business. So, if the boys are willing to share some of those things with you this afternoon, then I’m sure they will. But I would highly doubt it and I can bet you on that, maybe it won’t happen today, or tomorrow, or ever. It might take time for them to even speak to you, so I’d be ready for that. So, my only advice for you is to bring your best today, because you’re sure as hell are going to need it. And Goddamnit you better be fucking sincere for once in your life, and boy do I mean it!”
Sarah clearly understood why Bill was acting in this manner, why he was being so direct and stern with her. She would have been on this very same playing field of the guard for her boys prior to this whole coming out thing. But, as she felt as of right now; Bill had been right all along about her mindset being set on destruction, and that of despair, it was not one of an exceptional parental figure; it was one of a deep set of principles and prejudice. She had responded unfairly, but could she somehow regain the trust of her husband and of her two sons? That had yet to be seen.
“Well, then I guess I’ll see you around four o’clock. And just so you know I won’t be telling the boys’ you’re coming, and that’s just in case you somehow chicken out. I can’t stand for them to be disappointed or angered that you’re not coming. This is all on you, Sarah. I hope you’re ready for this. Bye.”
Bill got up from his bed and returned downstairs. He found the table already set with a pair of eggs over easy, six pieces of bacon, and his coffee the way he liked it resting on the kitchen table. “Sorry, we’re hungry and we couldn’t wait any longer,” Matthew announced through the chewing of toast.
“Why did you need to go upstairs? Who was it?” Jacob questioned.
“Business call. Didn’t want to bore you. Now let me have a taste of this wonderful breakfast you two have made.”
“Kyle? Baby, are you awake?” Michelle beckoned, with a gentle knock on his door.
“Yeah, I’m awake. Do you have a minute to talk?” he replied back, his voice audibly rasping from the nervousness he was feeling as he laid nestled comfortably under his covers.
“Of course, honey. What’s going on?”
“I need to tell you something. It’s why, Jacob, ran out last night. But I think you deserve to know what really happened.”
“Can I come into your room? Are you decent?” Michelle questioned from the other side of his door.
“Yes, please come in, I’m wearing my Batman pajamas.”
Michelle opened the door, turned to the light switch and flicked it on before walking to sit beside her son on the bed. “What’s the matter, baby? And why does it look like you’ve been crying for hours on end?” Michelle inquired while placing her hand on his leg, giving it a motherly rub. “Are you okay? Your face is extremely red right now.”
“I’m just trying to think things through and it’s affecting me a lot.”
“Okay.” Michelle hesitated, as she looked her son in the eye. “Well, whatever it is. I will do my best to help you with processing whatever you’re going through. Well, that’s if you really want my help. Just try to open up and tell, Mommy. What could possibly be so wrong?”
Kyle looked deep into his mothers’ eyes, only to look away from her to wipe a stray tear from running down his face. “EVERYTHING MOM! It’s just like everything is going wrong, I feel like I’m somehow falling apart, that everything I’ve worked for all these years just might end. To add to all of that, Jacob, well he’s mad at me, he even told me to leave him alone last night. But I can understand why. It really is all my fault. I caused for all of it to happen.”
“How could this be all your fault?” She inquired further.
Kyle looked deep into his mothers’ eyes once more. “There’s something I really need to share with you. I think you deserve to know, just like Jacob found out.” Kyle reached to the side of his bed and retrieved his journal from the floor. “This is what he found. But I need you to really understand something, what I wrote and how I felt, those are all different now. So, if you could please turn to the last page of my journal, you will see what I mean.”
Michelle looked to her son, saw the desperation in his plea, and noticed just how bloodshot his eyes were, and the look of despair within them. She looked once more at her son and proceeded with his instructions. She opened the last page, read every word, looked up from time to time and looked back to her son.
“Oh my gosh, Kyle, I didn’t know you were feeling this way. I suppose it’s my fault too. I never really talked to you about everything that happened with your father and I. However, I’m very happy that you didn’t do what you wrote about. That makes me really happy.” She smiled, and rubbed Kyle’s leg more aggressively than before, comforting him as he continued on with his story.
“I almost did. Dads’ old necktie that he left behind is right over there in my closet, hanging off the hanger rod. I made it into a noose.” Kyle pointed to his ajar closet door, feeling an immense sense of shame for what he had managed to manufacture. He felt a sense of grief hit him when he spoke these words, the thoughts of how things in his reality, had turned out very differently than he had expected, how he would’ve never have found his dear Jacob, and meeting Matthew and their adventures. He felt haunted by this, and it deeply affected him, more deeply at that moment.
“But you didn’t go through with it and your still here with me. I’m deeply thankful for that.” Michelle was trying to stay strong to show her son that no matter what, she could be the rock in his life, but inside this was tearing her apart, to think that her son was suicidal profoundly affected her deepest emotional wellbeing. “I love you, Kyle, I know you’re a strong-willed young man, you’re my man of the house after all.” Michelle had to stop, she was at a loss of words, unable to control the tears now steaking fervently down her cheeks.
After many minutes of silence, and rubbing Kyle’s leg, she finally continued on. “I mean, you’ve always helped without question. You’ve sacrificed so much for me and us as a family and I’m thankful that you’re my son. I’m thankful that you came into my life Kyle, please never forget that. You could never do anything to disappoint me. But I feel I really need to ask you this right now, do you think, maybe, you need to see a counselor? Would that help to speak with a professional to maybe help you deal with the issues that you’re facing, or have been facing?”
“I honestly don’t know, Mom, but maybe it could help in some sort of way. I just don’t know to be honest. But, I’d be willing to try and see how and where it goes. So, are you sure you’re not mad at me?”
“No, why would I be? We all struggle with things in our lives and it’s okay to admit that you’re having a hard time dealing with them. It doesn’t make you weak for asking for help. I’m proud of you for sharing this with me, I know it must have been hard, but you stood and acted like a man and told me regardless. I’m extremely proud of you that you have entrusted me with this information, it shows that we have a very strong relationship as mother and son. I just hope you know, you can come to me with anything, and that I will always be here to help you.” Michelle then hugged Kyle in an embrace only a mother could give, all the while rubbing his back with her nails to bring comfort to his soul.
“I love you Mom, thank you for being so understanding. So, what do you think I should do about, Jacob, now that he read all of those things? And just so you know, Amanda knows all of this too. I wanted to go after him last night, but she wouldn’t let me. She told me to give him the space he needed. Mind you, I think she was right. But it really worried me to just let him leave like that.”
“She was right, he needed some space to sort things out, just like you’re doing right now. We all process things in our own ways. Some like to talk to others, some just like to be left alone. We’re all different souls and we need to do things in our own way; it’s how we learn to cope with all life’s situations. But might I suggest that you maybe try to talk to him today? And if he’s not ready, don’t push him to do so. Okay?”
“I’ll try, thanks for being a good mother, but it’s getting late, I should probably start getting ready for school. Can you make something for breakfast before I have to leave?”
“You bet I will, my little munchkin. So, I’ll see you in a few minutes?”
“Jacob, Matthew! Are you two actually getting ready for school? Or are you just fooling around. It’s almost time for you guys to leave.”
“I’m brushing my teeth, Dad. Can you give us a freaking second?” Jacob joked. “We’ll be down in a few minutes. Matthew’s kind of taking a dump right now, if you really wanted to know. We just need to get dressed and for Matthew to wash his face.”
“YES, TOO MUCH INFORMATION!” Bill laughed and returned to eating his last piece of toast and slices of bacon.
Jacob had finished brushing his teeth and entered into his room to find a change of clothes to wear for the day. The first shirt he found was a shirt that said ‘I’m not paid enough to be nice to you’ it seemed fitting for his current mood, he really didn’t want to play nice today; he just wanted to be left alone in order to think further on everything that had transpired.
Matthew then suddenly peaked his head into Jacob’s room and saw the shirt he was holding in his hands. “Are you seriously going to wear that?” Matthew questioned, ripping the shirt out of his brother’s hand and throwing it to the floor. “I mean, I know you probably mad at Kyle, but I love Kyle. He’s a good second brother and I don’t think he would like it if he saw you wearing that. Maybe if it was another day, but I don’t think today is the right one to be wearing that.”
Jacob exhaled a breath of air, slumped his shoulders. “You’re probably right. So, what shirt should I wear then?”
Matthew walked over to Jacobs dresser and pulled out the anti-bullying shirt Jacob had received from Amanda, for free as she had mentioned several times. “This is what you need to wear. It’s important, and I think you know this too.” Jacob smiled. It forced him to remember how Amanda had come to his aid and this helped him recognize, without any shadow of a doubt, that she had always been in their mutual corner; he had forgotten all of this after everything that had occurred yesterday. He too could finally see what Kyle was getting on about and how she truly was like a knight of old. “Of course. You’re right on the spot with this one, buddy. I’m definitely going to wear this today and I will wear it proudly, just for you and what we stand for.”
It was then that, Jacob, couldn’t recall if he had placed this shirt in the hamper because, in all reality, he didn’t want all that starch crap over his body and making him itch. But, he felt it was worth the risk. After all, it meant he could wear whatever clothing he desired for the week, along with the proudly pink shirt. Even a hat could be worn in class without repercussion of breaking any of the school’s uniform policy. “So, what hat shall I wear today, Matty?”
“Would you possibly be willing to wear one of mine?”
“I suppose I could, but which hat did you have in mind for me today little brother?”
“The one I bought three weeks ago, it says Love on the cap. I think it’s exactly what you need Jacky, you need to send a message with it this week especially. And yes, I know I’m young and that I might not understand what quote-unquote ‘love’ is like you do. But I really hope you’ll wear it for me.”
“What do you think it means?” Jacob inquired, wanting to know what his brother felt, or knew of the word love and what it meant to him.
“It means it doesn’t matter who you love, just that you love them. And I love Kyle, he’s like a second brother to me. I’d hate, no, I’d loathe if you broke up. I want him in our lives, just like Daddy, and Mommy.”
Jacob took a step back from his brother and placed his hand over his heart. Matthew did, in fact, know the subject of the matter, he knew what it all had meant. That no matter what, love was love, and he deeply desired with all of his might that his mother would’ve come to this realization prior to the fallout that had transpired. But, with all of these series of unfortunate events, that wasn’t far in their distant past, all that he desired now was to look to the future, in a forward motion with or without his mother’s presence. Nevertheless, while Jacob was still deep in thought, he concluded, it could always have been worse; their very own father could’ve hurt them too, but that never happened, not even once, and this made him feel a great sense of gratitude and joy. “First off, you’re absolutely right, Matthew. Thank you, but where in the hell did you learn the word loathe, that seems like a grown-up word to me. Are you somehow growing up before my very eyes? And yes, I’d love to wear your favorite hat today. I just hope that it’ll fit my fat head.”
“It will, I promise, and thank you.” Matthew quickly added.
“Thank you for what?”
“Listening to me for once and giving me the chance to express myself, and allowing me to speak my mind without you shutting me down.”
“I never shut you down. Do I?” This made Jacob question himself, had he ever done this? Or was this just some smoke up his ass.
“Sometimes you do. You ignore my feelings and tell me what to do. I don’t like that. It makes me feel stupid sometimes.”
“Give me one example. So that I can personally understand and explain if I have to.”
“When we were at that nudist camp.”
“Oh yes. Of course, I was trying to protect you, as your big brother.”
“I know. I understand that now. But you made me feel like I was stupid. Like I wasn’t smart enough to make my own choices, good or bad. But I do understand why you did that now, really I do.”
“Well, I’m sorry if I made you feel that way. Maybe, next time if you could let me know when it’s happening then I can understand what and when I’m doing that. Love you baby brother.”
“I love you too. Again … thanks for actually listening to me.” Matthew grabbed Jacob and hugged him with all the strength he could muster; it felt amazing that Jacob was actually paying him the attention, and the respect that he deserved. Matthew then concluded, this is what it meant to be a brother, or so Matthew felt.
“Are you two ready yet? I don’t want you guys being late.”
“Yeah, we’re coming,” Jacob announced, all the while trying to break free from Matthews’ grip from over him. Once Matthew had finally let go, he finished getting dressed and placed the anti-bullying pink shirt over his chest, before heading downstairs with his brother in tow to find their father.
They soon found Bill in the living room, sitting on the couch watching the weather. “We’re ready now. Do you still want to drive us to school?” Matthew inquired. “I’m fine with walking, but if you want to drive us that would be nice.”
“Well it’s calling for rain right now, so I’ll drive you. But it looks like it will clear up around three o’clock. So, you two can walk home if you like. Or, would you prefer me to pick you up?”
“I’m fine with walking home, Dad. Just don’t let us get wet on the way to school.” Jacob laughed, punching his father in the shoulder.
“Hey now. Violence!” Bill joined in the laughter.
“Violence? How about I wrestle you to the ground and pummel you? Kyle taught me some things, some maneuvers, and I’ll make you beg for mercy!”
“If you think you can take on your old man. I’d say, bring it on!”
Matthew didn’t wait, nor did Jacob as they both jumped onto Bill back and gave their best effort to bring their father to the floor. “You’re going to need to try harder than that.” Bill laughed as Matthew grappled him from behind, and Jacob grabbed him by the legs.
“MOM!? I can’t find my hair ties. Did you take any of them?” Amanda beckoned from the bathroom.
“What? No honey, I didn’t. But you can use some of mine. And why are you so frantic this morning? This isn’t your normal self.”
“I had. I mean, my friends. Well, we all had a rough time last night and I think we should say a prayer for them. I mean. It’s difficult. It’s. Shit.”
“Don’t be using that kind of language in this house. We don’t do that here.”
“I know, I’m sorry. I’m just. I’m just really stressed out right now and I want to help my friends and I can’t. I don’t know what to say or do. I … shit.”
“What did I just say?”
“Sorry. I … Mom. I’ve made friends with two boys at school. They’re gay and I’ve been trying to help them and they got bullied this week and then Kyle almost killed himself and that’s why I left that one night. God spoke to me and I don’t know how or why. But I found his house and I left him something, and I realized all of that yesterday, and how it all makes sense and how God is using me.”
“Slow down honey. Do you want us to pray right now, will that help at all? How about you lead, and I will come in agreement with you. How does that sound?”
“I don’t know if I can. I’m sorry. I know I’m frantic, as you say. I’m just worried for them, I love them, they’re my friends and Jacob has been so off these last few days and I …”
“Father hear our prayer.”
“Yes, hear our prayer. God, I’m sorry. I know I’m not perfect and I’m trying, I just hope and pray that you will be a guiding light for Jacob and Kyle. And I know shit happens. But I know your plan is greater and I think, I know, that you have a purpose for them. I pray that you let their lights shine unto the world that you will use them, that you will lead them, and that you bring them peace.”
“Amen. Do you feel any better? Did that help?”
“A little, I mean, sort of. I know. I’m trying.”
“Your prayer was good. You did well, you spoke from the heart. I’m proud of you, but if you could please stop swearing.”
“Now take one of my hair ties and let’s get you off to school. Okay?”
“Okay thanks, Mom, I’m sorry. I know I’m off, I’m just worried.”
“Its okay sweetheart. I love you, now let’s head out.”
After dropping Matthew off at school, Bill drove to Naples High and proceeded to drop Jacob off. But Jacob sat in the car looking towards him. “What’s the matter Jacob?” his father questioned.
“I’m sorry, it’s just that I can see Amanda and Kyle. They’re over there by the flagpole talking to each other. I don’t feel like I’m ready to talk to either of them. Can we please just sit here and wait until they’ve gone inside?”
“Are you really trying to avoid the two most important people in your life?” Bill inquired, knowing what the answer would be, even still.
“As of right now, yes. I can’t stand the thought of speaking to either of them right now. I just can’t. I need space to think about what I need to do and should do. I just need some time to figure it out. Does that make sense?”
“Of course, it makes complete sense. But only for a few minutes. I still need to get to work and be back in time to see you boys at home.”
“Thanks, Dad. I know that I’m avoiding it, I know that I am, but I need this right now. I’ve been such a jerk towards them and all that kind of shitty stuff. And I can’t get my mind off of it. I just couldn’t control myself and I think it’s time I turn over a new me.”
“You mean to turn over a new leaf? Change how you react to things? I think that’s important. You need to learn how to deal with the things that cause you to be triggered, my son. And you know what? I know you have it in you. Today is a new day and you can change for the better. This is your chance to be better than you ever were. You can’t let mom’s words affect you any longer, you need to be the better version of you and you know what? I know you can do this. You got this more than you know. I believe in you, more so than you do in your own self. Be better, be bigger, be stronger. I love you, Jacob. So, let’s see what you can do.”
“Wow, that was good. Thanks, Dad, I really needed to hear that.” Jacob felt invigorated and had finally gained enough courage to get out of the car. With this adrenaline now coursing through his veins, he entered his school without any further outside influences. He was quick to reach his locker, number 69. But he wouldn’t be alone for much longer as Amanda was quick to confront him; she was laying in wait in front of his locker.
“Jacob, I know. I know you’re probably not ready. But I want to say this before going to class. Kyle loves you and he’s hurting too. I hope that you can just open your eyes, get out of that slumber of hatred you’ve been in, and see we’re not your enemy and know that we love and care about you.” Amanda reached for Jacobs’ arm. “Please just understand that no matter what. That I love you, Kyle loves you and we always will. Always. Always. ALWAYS! Stand beside you. You have a friend till the end.”
“You’re right, I should’ve seen this before. But if you could do me a favor and relay a message? If you can tell Kyle that if he wants to talk, he can come over to my house after school. I know it’ll be important for him, and I know he deserves the chance to speak to me about what I read and with what happened last night. We all deserve the chance to learn and understand one another and to talk it through. I owe him that at the very least.”
Amanda smiled and wrapped her arms around Jacob in her emotional state of excitement. This wasn’t her plan of things to pass, but at the moment, she thanked God for it as this was something she had been praying for in her head, and not necessarily in a vocal tone in her mother’s presence. She knew this was something extraordinary. She liked that Jacob wasn’t backing down as he allowed his heart to do the talking, rather than his anger and the fact he was actually being genuine. This was a huge moment in Jacob’s life, he was starting to realize his triggers and how to deal with them.
Jacob pulled back from the hug and looked at Amanda with a new fondness and admiration. “Thank you for being such a good friend. And sorry about running out last night —”
“No, it’s okay. I understand,” Amanda interrupted before realizing he was wearing the shirt, she had given him. “Oh, you wore the shirt I gave you. Wow. That’s awesome and that hat you’re wearing, that’s so cute. I love it. I love you. You look great! Anyway, I need to calm down, I’m just so happy right now. But what I was going to say was that I wasn’t really sure what I’d do when I saw you today. I didn’t know if I should give you space. But after Kyle and I were talking, I thought I’d be the middle person, you know, intervene for the both of you. I know you two love each other and I just want to help you find that in yourself again.”
“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do either, and I saw you and Kyle talking and I stayed in my Dad’s car because I didn’t want to face this. But he gave me a little pep talk and it helped me have the courage to talk to you right now. But speaking of Kyle, where is he?”
“He’s already in Mr. Henson’s classroom, he’s trying to give you some space for the moment, but I’ll relay the message if you don’t get the chance to.”
“That might be best. I still need to try and figure things out.”
“Anyway, I should go, I suspect the bell is going to ring at any second. Plus, you still need to put your things away in your locker and grab your school books.” Amanda gave a kiss to Jacobs’ cheek and went on her way down the hall.
‘I love that girl, but I don’t get her at all. She’s weird. Like why did she kiss me in the first place? Erg, girls, such emotional beasts, she really reminds me of Lisa, who was always crying or chasing after the boys in grade four,’ Jacob thought, looking into the palms of his hands, only to be brought back to reality with the sound of the morning bell.
Jacob grabbed for his books and swiftly entered Mr. Henson’s classroom. He found Kyle sitting in the back, not in his normal seating plan, and found Thomas’ seat to be void of the boy he once assaulted. “Sorry, if I’m late Mr. Henson, I had a rough start to my day.”
“No, you’re just on time, please take your seat.”
Jacob nodded and walked to his assigned seat. Kyle didn’t look at him, he just gave his eyes to the front of the class, as if he didn’t exist. Jacob noticed this lack of acknowledgment and figured it was the whole giving him space type of deal. Neither of them existed to each other right now, they both needed time to think, to figure, and to find a place in their own minds.
“Good morning students and welcome to a lovely Tuesday morning. As a reminder tomorrow will be a professional development day (P.D. Day), so please don’t bother showing up and being the only student here,” Mr. Matthews, the principal, laughed over the intercom. “Also, as a secondary reminder, we’re having an assembly on Friday for our anti-bully week, I hope to see many of you and your fellow students speaking about this issue and hear all of your wonderful stories on how you’ve helped one another this week. I also expect this afternoon that I’ll see many of you wearing the shirts that we’ve been selling. If you haven’t got one yet, please feel free to pick one up during lunch period for only ten dollars. That’s right, only ten dollars, what a steal! Now that’s all the announcements for today. I hope you have a fun filled day of learning. Mr. Matthew’s out!”
“Well, that was rather eccentric of Mr. Matthew’s this fine morning. But I suppose he’s excited about all the cool things happening this week. Now as for attendance.” Mr. Henson looked around the class as he checked everyone off the list, but noticed that Thomas was missing, and Kyle was away from his assigned seat. “Kyle, why are you sitting back there today?”
“Ahem, uh, I just needed to see some new surroundings, you know, like the back of other people’s heads for once.”
“I see. Well, I’ll allow it for today. Now can we all start by opening to page number 1337? Today we’re going to be discussing —”
The fire alarm went off, stopping Mr. Henson from saying another word. “There’s not supposed to be a fire drill today, is there? Never mind, if everyone could please get into a single file, and make their way to the classroom door, please don’t get separated, follow me and stay close. This could be the real deal.”
Everyone got up, went to stand behind Mr. Henson, and after he took a quick headcount, they walked out into the halls. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, no signs of smoke, or smell could be found, but Jacob felt something was amiss. “This way class, towards the gym.”
Every classroom from the east wing was now in the hallway and heading towards the gyms secondary exit. But along the way, he felt a sense of uneasiness and before he had realized it, he was slowing his steps, and falling further behind his classmates. But before he ever managed to make it to the exit with his fellow students, he felt a tug on his arm and was forcefully pulled into the boys change room.
“Hey, Jacob, it’s me, Thomas, I set the fire alarm off, I need your help.”
“What kind of help?”
“I don’t know. I need to get away from my dad. I need a safe place.”
“Why what happened?”
“He beat the shit out of me when you guys left yesterday. I think he wants to kill me. He wrapped his belt around my neck and tied me to the radiator. He let me leave today so there wouldn’t be any suspicion of me being absent, I need help to get away. Please help me, Jacob! I have nowhere else to turn. You have no idea who my dad is; he’s the leader of the hell’s angels in this town. He will find me if I go to the authorities. I need a place to hide.”
“Jesus Christ, are you fucking being serious right now?”
Thomas moved his shirt away from his neck, showing the redness around it. “What does this tell you?”
“Oh my God!” Jacob’s face turned to one that was in shock; eyes bulging from their sockets, his skin now pale as a ghost, and most of all, a tremor of fear. He wanted to touch Thomas, but he knew this would cause him immense pain, so he touched with his eyes. “How could he do that to you? I need to tell —”
“Never mind, I was going to say Kyle, but we’re kind of having some issues right now, we had a fight, a tiff, a misunderstanding, I don’t know how to explain it really. But it’s not his fault, it’s mine. But I’m going to talk to him after school. So, do you think you need to hide for the entire day? I mean, I can bring you to my house after school and see what my Dad can do to help. I think you should maybe stay with us for a few days, don’t worry my dad won’t mind. But do you think your dad could find you at my house? Would we all be safe? Hmm. I guess that means you can’t come to school if he’s going to be looking for you. Or, do you think you can stay at home to make it appear nothing is wrong? Fuck I don’t know what to do Thomas. What should we do?”
“I don’t know either. I mean I could always come to your place this afternoon, as long as he didn’t see me coming there. But I don’t know. I’m sure he would find me either way. I don’t want to put you or Kyle in danger, but I need help.”
“I’ll help you, but will you come with me, and trust me to talk to Mr. Matthews? I have a plan.”
“I don’t know, Jacob, he might call the cops and then it might get worse.”
“Trust me. I’ve got a plan.”
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