A Matter of Perspective
by Elias Scott
Just when I think life is like a box of chocolates, I find the box filled with shit balls. The hall monitor caught me using my phone in the restroom between first and second period. I wanted to write Frank a quick note since we were taking the bus to the football ball game right after school.
Sometimes I'm stupid. Frank had warned me, but I didn't listen. The hall monitor took my phone, walked me to the main office, and had me sit outside the principal's office. My heart is beating so hard I though my chest was going to explode right there in the office. Damn I'm stupid.
The secretary said, "We called your mom. She's on her way."
Shit, that was the last thing I needed. My mom shook her head at me when she walked into the office. "What's the matter with you? You don't need your phone at school."
"I forgot I had it."
She didn't look convinced.
The principal motioned for us to come into his office. "Mrs. Waters, Will is one of our best students, but the rules apply to him just like everyone else. We've taken his phone and we're giving it to you. He handed her the phone.
She gave me an angry look, and asked, "Why would you need your phone at school? Anyone you'd talk to or text is here."
I sure wasn't going to tell her I was using it to text Frank.
The principal stood. "He's not going to be suspended. You can decide what you're going to do."
My mom held the phone and shook it at me while she scolded me in the hallway. "We'll discuss what we're going to do when you get home."
A helpless feeling followed me around the whole day. I couldn't concentrate. I was afraid my parents were going to take my phone and I couldn't text Frank. I sure couldn't use the computer at home.
I hardly said anything at lunch. Gary put his arm around my neck and shook me. "What the fuck's the matter Will? You look like someone died."
"I got caught with my phone and they gave it to my mom." I was afraid Gary or Jason would mention Frank, but they didn't say anything.
"Don't worry. It'll be fine," Jason said.
"I don't think so. They'll probably take it away."
"It's not like you brought a gun. Be cool. You look sadder than you did the last two years."
I didn't think that was possible, but as scared at I was, I'm sure I did. I couldn't even go home because I had to take the team bus to our away football game at Riordon High.
My mind is filled with questions. What if my phone's unlocked? The monitor took it while I was writing a text. How am I going to contact Frank? What if they take my phone away? What if they want to know who I was texting? Will they give me the third degree when I get home? Will they be waiting up for me? What's going to happen if I can't talk to Frank? I'm in a panic and then I heard a voice way back in my head. Don't forget, you're the Brave Prince." The answer came back, No, you're a cowardly lion. I hate to say, but I was every bit a cowardly lion.
Fortunately, the team has to be quiet when we're on the bus before a game, so I could just sit and sulk and think and drive myself crazy. I thought of the boy sitting in the rain and Frank saying, "Life is a matter of perspective." I'd posted the poem If on my wall and the first two lines stumbled into my head.
"If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you."
I just needed to keep my head. My parents were probably going to be losing theirs and blaming everything on me, that's for damn sure.
Gary was sitting next to me on the bus. "You still look like you lost your best friend."
I tried to smile when I said, "I did."
"So your phone is your best friend. What about Max, me, and Jason?"
"You too, but I'd be lost without my phone. And you know why."
He nodded. "Yeah, the old guy."
It didn't sound too great when he put it that way.
"Yeah, we talk a lot."
Gary pissed me off because he acted like it was no big deal. "You need to learn to function on your own some time. Take off the training wheels so to speak."
I wanted to tell him to go fuck himself, but managed to casually say, "Yeah, I guess so."
"You got us now. We have your back."
Easy for him to say. They don't talk to me for two years and now they act like nothing happened and that they don't give a shit if I'm gay or not, but all the time I'm scared. "What if my parents get access to my emails?"
I wanted to talk to Jennifer, but we couldn't talk until the next day. I was so happy to have someone to talk to, I kinda opened up to Gary.
"It was all innocent, but like the old guy said, 'It's a matter of perspective.'"
Gary smiled. "The old guy is right. Our perspective was all fucked up the last two years. We were such cowards."
I wanted to agree with him, but just looked out the window into the dark woods.
I turned to Gary. "I wish I could tell you his name, but I promised him I'd never tell anyone because just he said, "It's a matter of perspective. Others may not see that we're just friends. Do you think it's odd that I was talking to this old guy?"
"A little. But I understand why you did. Who else could you talk to? You sure couldn't talk to the fucking pastor who slapped you up the side of the head even after you told him you were not gay. Your parents and friends treated you like shit and thanks to the old guy, now you're going to college instead of the Army. You didn't have much choice. You were lucky you found this guy and not some pervert."
"You're right. The old guy. God I hate calling him the old guy because he's done so much for me, but I have to keep my promise. Anyway he told me about how these people practiced shooting basketball free throws in their head while another group actually shot them. And you know what, the groups scored the same in the end. On the way home I'm going to run some scenarios through my head and picture how I should react. Will you help me?"
"Are you serious? This really happened?"
"Yep. You might want to keep that in mind in football. You can practice in your head."
He smiled, put his arm around my neck, pulled me into him, and scrubbed the top of my head with his knuckles. "Of course I'll help you. And you know what, I'm going to start preparing for the game in my head right now, so let me think." He laid his head back on the seat and closed his eyes.
I did the same and pictured myself walking into the house after we got back from the game. My parents were sitting at the dining room table and my phone was sitting on it like a bomb ready to go off. Unfortunately, I was still too wound up to do more than that. The energy was sucked out of me, and we still had a football game.
I was so busy during the game that the worry only hit me every now and then. I waited while the guys showered and did my best to make it look like I had no interest in their naked bodies. That was hard in many respects.
We kicked ass as usual and on the way back, Gary was true to his word.
I could tell you all the scenarios we went through, but why do that when I can just tell you what actually happened. And yes, I was pretty well prepared because of the time Gary and I spent going over the whole thing. I'd like to say practice makes perfect, but as anyone knows, things never happen like we expect. And that sure has been true in my case. Ha!
We didn't get in until around 1:00 AM and by time I got home it was almost 2:00. The front porch light was on, but the house was dark. I thought that was a good sign. The kitchen was my first stop and as I expected, my phone was sitting in the middle of the table with a note. "William, we'll talk about this in the morning. Get a good night's sleep." It was signed Mom and Dad, but it was my mom's handwriting.
The quiet house wouldn't normally bother me, but the silence scared me. My room looked normal when I turned on the light. Max glanced at me and then laid his head down. Damn dog. You'd think he could have done his best to comfort me. For some reason I suddenly had the feeling my parents had been there. I can't quite explain it. I opened my closet door and things had been moved around. My journal wasn't in its hiding place. Shit, this was one scenario Gary and I hadn't discussed. (Of course I never told him about my journal).
Suddenly, I was in a frenzy. Max lifted his head and showed signs of concern as he let out a concerned kind of a hum. I looked everywhere just in case I'd put it somewhere else, but I finally had to accept that my parents had it. They probably spent the evening reading it and knew everything. I laid on top of the bed in my clothes and stared at the ceiling. I couldn't sleep and finally decided to be the Brave Prince and go to their room and confront them. There wasn't any way they'd be asleep so I headed down the hall to confront them. What the hell, I had nothing to lose. They'd know about my lie and be pissed and duped and everything would go back to the way it was. The fact they weren't up waiting for me, made me think it already had. My college was gone and my life was going to turn to shit again. It already had.
Their room is at the front of the house and mine at the back. There is a small bedroom between their room and mine. I hadn't heard any talking when I came in, but I could hear whispering coming through their door as I got close. They usually slept with their door open, so this was even a worse sign. I wanted to put an end to all this shit and thanks to Frank was prepared to confront them. After all, like he said, "Think of what you've done as friendly payback."
I was sure my parents wouldn't think of it that way, but the summer had ended so much better than I'd expected. The time with my grandparents was the best. Everyone acted like I was a boy they could be proud of and yes, I WAS GOING TO COLLEGE!!! Now I was going to be the gay son and the gay grandson again. But after running through things with Gary, I finally realized that I just didn't give a shit anymore. I'd come a long way from the time I thought about killing myself and now life seemed too precious and the possibilities too wonderful to worry about whether I was gay or if they accepted me or not. I knew I could make it. After all, "Life is a matter of perspective."
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