The Outcasts

by Cole Parker

16

"He was there when I woke up. It was late afternoon. I found I had no energy to get up. I was awake, but all the words from last night just kept ringing in my head. Uncle Rhys was checking on me, I realized, because not long after I'd woken up he stuck his head in the room, saw my eyes open, and came to sit on the bed.

"He asked me how I was feeling and I told him not so good. He said he was really sorry things were so hard for me, but I'd have a new life at boarding school, and maybe it was best this way, that I needed to find my own friends and get on with my life. He said he'd spent the morning doing some research on schools and had found one in Berkshire that looked very good. He said he'd called them and they had room for me, and that I could begin the new term with them. It would be only two weeks till the term started, and I could live with him till then.

"That's what we did. We packed up all my things and moved them to his flat. I didn't even unpack most of them, just left most of everything in the trunks and had them sent on here. Those two weeks with Uncle Rhys, we didn't do anything else in bed. I slept in the spare room. I didn't seem to have any interest at all in sex any longer. I think the words I heard from my mum, about how bad I was, about how Uncle Rhys had ruined me for sex for the rest of my life, how I was now queer, I think it was all stuck in my mind with everything else she said.

"I decided she was right about most of it. I wasn't worth much. I'd not been worth enough to keep my dad with me, I'd alienated my mum, and even though Uncle Rhys kept saying nice things to me, he had wanted me shipped off to boarding school as soon as he'd been told he could take me. That made me realize I wasn't even tempting enough as a sex partner to interest him.

"I was in a funk, and didn't have much use for myself. When I got here the boys were all friendly and eager to get to know me, but I was in no state to respond to them. I made a little effort, at first, but as time went on, it was easier just to shut myself away. And I did that, until I saw Liam. I still have no idea why seeing him affected me. But it did, and you know the rest."

It was late by now. The Headmaster had had his wife bring in a simple meal of soup and toast while Will was talking, but he hadn't been interested. Now that he was done, he could feel some hunger and picked up his spoon. The Headmaster told him he'd have the soup warmed up, and called his wife.

When the soup was brought back, and Will was eating it, the Headmaster spoke to him. "Will, you've told me everything. I'm not shocked. I've heard much worse. But we need to clear some things up. Most boys, when they've been through the sort of thing you have, feel all the bad things they've survived were their own fault. You feel the same thing. I can tell you you weren't to blame, but my saying that won't help you much. What will help will be when you start believing it. You can help with that if you tell yourself, whenever you can think to do so, that it wasn't your fault. That you're just a child, a young boy, and what occurred was completely out of your control. You were feeling the need of adult comfort when you went to your Uncle's bed. When you seduced him, if you could call it that, you had just had your emotions played with fiercely, and you were not yourself. Even then, he should not have done what he did. Even if you encouraged him, even if you wanted him to do it, he shouldn't have. The way you feel now, that you're to blame for everything, has much to do with his giving in to his urges. He was the adult. It was his responsibility to stop what was happening.

"Another thing that boys feel is that because they enjoyed what happened, they're bad. Again, that isn't so. Sex feels good. You shouldn't feel guilt because you enjoyed it. You need to learn when and with whom it is appropriate to have sex, you have to learn what is love and what is lust, but Will, you're fourteen. You're not supposed to understand those things yet. Love is complicated. Sex is complicated. It's most appropriate you learn about it with people your own age. The problem comes when adults get involved with children. It throws everything out of proportion.

"You did nothing wrong, Will. Some of your judgements might have not been the best, but you've been beating yourself up over this ever since it happened. You've been beating yourself up that you're not lovable because of your parents' actions. You've been beating yourself up over what your mother said to you. And none of it is due to you or true about you.

"You won't believe this just because I'm telling you. You have to learn it for yourself. You have to learn that you're lovable. That you're a good and kind and wonderful boy. You don't believe this. One reason you've been pushing other boys away is because you're sure, when they learn who you really are, they'll see what a terrible person you are and will then turn away from you. To forestall that day, you don't let them get close.

"But Will, I know there's one boy here who loves you. You know it, too. I don't know whether it's sexual love or friendship love, but either way, he loves you and cares about you and is hurting because you're hurting. You've let him get close to you, not all the way inside, where you think all the bad things are, but you've cracked open the door for him. He hasn't turned away from you. He wants to get inside. He wants to help you get rid of the pain.

"You opened the door all the way for me to see in, Will, and I'm not disgusted. I see that you're not the monster you think you are, but only a sad boy trying to do the best he can, fighting his own impressions of himself. One of the things boys who've been through what you've been through do is lose all sense of self-esteem. You've done that. You told me you don't like yourself much, that you're worthless. That's what happens. And it cripples you. You have to accept the fact that you're a good worthwhile person. That is going to take some time, but if you take little steps, every day, if you keep telling yourself you're a good kid, if you keep letting other boys get to know you and watch how they act around you, you'll see they value you too. Give them a chance, Will. And most of all, give yourself a chance.

"What we're going to do, you and I, is we're going to have tea together three times a week. At first, it'll just be you and me. Eventually, if you want to, you can invite Liam to join us. I like Liam. He's good for you, just as you're good for him. But before that, just you and I are going to have tea, and we're going to talk. Because I'm a teacher, and you're a boy, I'm going to give you a project, a project for each meeting. It will be to tell me something good you've done since the last time we met. It can be something big, or little, or lots of things, but you're to remember something good you've done, and tell me. And maybe, just maybe, after you start to realize how many good things you've done, how many people you make happy or how many scraps of litter you've picked up or how you helped another boy when he needed a hand, or whatever else you've done,it'll come to you that perhaps you're not this worthless boy, that in fact you're helping make life better all around you, and you couldn't be doing that if you were worthless. And when you start thinking that way, you going to be on your way to healing yourself."

The Headmaster spoke further, and Will listened, and when he left, it was with a renewed spirit.

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