Mason in the Center, Part 3
by Joe L
It's been just a few weeks since I was shipped away. It seems like forever. It seems like my relationship with Tyler was only inside of my mind. Sometimes, I have to convince myself that it was real.
Mom hurriedly packed a bag for me the day she took me to my new school. She accidentally packed one of Tyler's tank tops. It's all I have of him. It's usually where I turn when I want to convince myself that it was real. I wear it to bed every night. Sometimes I even kiss it when I'm really missing him. I remember exactly what he looked like wearing it. He looked perfect. I wonder if he has anything of mine that he holds onto like this.
I'm not used to fending for myself. I have school all day… like double school. That is, I have double the work that I used to have. Plus, I have to feed myself and do my own laundry. Laundry isn't as much fun as when I was washing a bunch of sweaty, cum-soaked clothes and sheets, and food isn't any good, either. It's not like the food we get at the academy is gross. They have a good selection of stuff most of the time. The food is actually a lot better than what Mom fixed at home. I'm just never hungry, and sometimes the food seems like it has no taste. It feels like such an effort to chew and swallow. I used to always be hungry. The sex made both Tyler and me ravenous.
I was pretty angry at first. I wasn't punching the walls or anything. I just kept it inside. I didn't want anyone here to find out why I was sent to this school. Carson didn't tell anyone why he was leaving and Zack immediately left because he didn't want to be at this school without Carson. Apparently, Zack has some enemies at this school and they wouldn't fuck with him while Carson was here. I'm glad Zack is back in a public school. Maybe he can find a boyfriend… a real one.
I haven't cried, not even once. I miss Tyler more than I could ever imagine. I guess I never thought that we would be apart. I miss everything about him, and I think about him constantly. Still, I won't cry. It just seems that if I cry, I've fully lost and Mom has fully won. I have to hold it together. I have to be strong for Tyler. I don't want to screw things up on my end. I don't want Mom to take Tyler and move to Oregon. I know he'll be miserable there. At least at home, he has some friends, and maybe they can get him through this.
I'm exhausted, but I don't want to sleep. Sometimes, I'm so tired that I can barely keep my eyes open. Then, I get into bed and I can't sleep. I just lie there thinking about Tyler. I've tossed and turned all night several nights, thinking about him, not getting a minute of sleep. This would be so much easier if I could just fall asleep when I need to. I feel like I'm going to pass out, but I know my eyes will spring open if I get into bed. I'm going to run a couple of laps around the school just in case. Maybe, then I can… sleep….
"Where am I?" I look up and see Carson staring at his phone and then feverishly texting someone. "Hello?"
"YOU… are in the hospital," he says with sarcastic annoyance.
"But not a regular hospital… you are in a very special hospital."
"Just tell me what the fuck is going on," I say, trying to adjust my eyes to the light. I look around the room. I've never seen a hospital room like this.
"YOU… are in a hospital for fucking NUTJOBS!" he says, turning his attention back to his phone.
"Why?" I try to sit up in my bed but my head begins to throb. "What the fuck happened?"
"You don't remember?" Carson rolls his eyes and puts his phone in his pocket… finally.
"No, did I… have a mental breakdown or something? I seriously don't remember."
"You passed out. You passed out in your English class. You fell out of your desk and hit your head on the dude's desk next to you. You cut yourself pretty bad. You have eight stitches."
"Don't worry, it's inside your hairline. Your pretty face won't have a scar on it."
"I don't remember any of that. When did it happen?"
"Why did I pass out? I've never fainted in my life."
"Your doctor said it was a combination of things. Your blood sugar was really low, so he thinks you haven't been eating. You were also dehydrated and he said you looked like you haven't slept in a week."
"So, I have to ask. Did you try to kill yourself?" he groans.
"No. NO! I would never do that. Of course, I wouldn't do that… to Tyler."
"Mom thinks you've gone on a hunger strike."
"Really?" I laugh.
"Yeah, she's ready to move to Oregon with Tyler."
"Don't let her! I'm not on a hunger strike. Usually if you're on a hunger strike, you TELL the person you're striking against what you're doing."
"That's what I told Mom. So what the fuck happened? The food here isn't that bad."
"I know… I just forgot to eat and drink… sometimes."
"I know… it's stupid. Food just stopped tasting good… it just stopped tasting like anything. It became such a chore… such an effort to eat something. I promise, it won't happen again. I'll make sure I eat three meals a day."
"Needless to say, Tyler will not find out about this. Mom and Dad sent me so it wouldn't raise any suspicion."
"How is Tyler?" I ask, perking up when I hear his name.
"He's great. He sucked my dick all night last night!"
"Shut up!" I hurl a glass of water at him, but he easily dodges it.
"Umm… he's better."
"Better than what?"
"Better than how he was when you first left."
"Well… let's just say… he threatened Mom with violence and she threatened him with Juvey. I stepped in and calmed things down."
"Shit. Is the old Tyler back?"
"Not really… he pretty much just cries all the time."
"Yeah. I don't see what he sees in you. You're not that great."
"Yuh-huh," I protest. Carson jumps on my hospital bed and thumps me through the bandage on my head. A sharp pain jolts through my skull and down my body. Shit, I really must have gashed my head in a serious way. I really have to start taking better care of myself.
"So, you and I have to have the talk. I've already had it with Tyler, now it's your turn."
"If you want to teach me stuff about sex, you're too late."
"Don't make me smack your head again. I'll open up your cut next time."
"What is it?" I sigh.
"Are you thinking about doing something stupid… like contacting Tyler or trying to leave school?"
"No… I mean, I want to see Tyler, but I have no idea how to pull that off. Mom deleted his email account and she said she'll check his new one, but I don't even know what it is. Neither one of us has a phone. Mom changed the land line, and I'm only allowed to call her cell phone if I want to talk to anyone in the family. So, I have no idea how to contact him except asking you to give him messages for me."
"You can't contact him. You have to think about Dad now."
"Because if Mom moves to Oregon with Tyler… their marriage will be over."
"They have a good marriage… I mean, pretty good. Why would Mom leave him?"
"She kind of blames him for the whole… you and Tyler thing."
"She thinks he didn't pay enough attention to you guys or give you any affection. That's why you guys got fucked up in the head and started fucking."
"Shut up," I roll my eyes.
"But Dad told me something else. He told me that she blames him because he has a gay brother and a lesbian aunt. Mom doesn't have any gay people on her side of the family, so she thinks you guys got it from Dad's side."
"What do you mean HER SIDE? She doesn't have a SIDE. She has ONE SISTER that has no children, and both of her parents have no brothers and sisters! She's just lashing out."
"Yeah, she's in the blaming stage of… whatever this process is. She LOVES to blame stuff on people."
"Yeah, she does."
"But if she leaves with Tyler, that's on YOU."
"No, that's on HER. It's her decision to break up the family."
"But you have the power to keep that from happening. You have to think about Dad now. You and Tyler had… a nice run, but your actions… your disgusting actions… affect other people. If Mom left Dad, he would lose it. He's just not the kind of person who can be alone. He needs Mom just as much as you think you need Tyler. You've got to just stay here and try to do your best. Maybe the situation will change in the future, but right now, Mom is pretty volatile. She's looking for any excuse to pack up and leave with Tyler."
"Okay, I won't do anything. I'll keep my end of it. Did Tyler agree, too?"
"Yeah, I told him I'd kill you if he tried anything." He stands up to leave.
"Ummm please… PLEASE tell him that I love him," I say as he heads through the door. He's looking at his phone again. He doesn't look up and leaves in silence.
"So this is our third meeting, Mason. We've got to make some progress or I'll have to tell your mother that you're not opening up to me."
"You can't!" I jerk up to look at Mr. Shaw, the school counselor. I thought I was doing a good job at deflecting him, but I guess he knows those kinds of games. Mr. Shaw must be fresh out of grad school, and he looks even younger. Shit, he looks like he's Carson's age… and he's cute… in a save-the-world kind of way. When I first met him, the thought of telling him about my relationship with Tyler brought back all those old feelings of shame. I hate those feelings. It felt so much better without shame.
"C'mon, dude!" Mr. Shaw leans back in his chair. "I've had this job for a month now, and I spent all that time getting my Masters in Psychology learning all kinds of funky mental shit so I can listen to a bunch of geeky homesick freshman whine."
"Step one: Talk to your patient like a contemporary to disarm him."
"Would you rather that I be more professional?" he says in an upper-class British accent.
"I don't give a shit."
"There's gotta be something to talk about this time. I mean, you stopped eating and drinking. Teenage dudes just don't do that! I have to admit… when I heard what happened, I was excited! I was actually going to get to counsel someone! I knew something deep was going on with you, the first time you walked in here. Now, you just gotta tell me and let me help you!"
"I just was really busy and forgot to eat. I promise I won't do it again. Please just let me take care of myself, and don't tell my mom that I'm not getting counseled."
"I'm sorry Mason, but if you leave without talking to me today, I'll have no choice."
"It's just something I can't talk about. It's still very fresh and painful… and it's embarrassing."
"Mason, I promise it will help to let it out." Mr. Shaw straightens up in his chair slightly, probably thinking that he's making progress. Shit, I guess I have to tell him something. Maybe it will help to tell someone. It's not like he can tell anyone.
"Okay," I sigh heavily. "I'm… uhh… I'm gay, and I have… I had a boyfriend. We became very close and we fell deeply in love. My mom caught us… in bed together one day after school, and she freaked. My older brother used to go to school here, so she sent me here and brought him home."
"That's… it?" he looks disappointed and slightly confused.
"Yeah, that's it."
"Well, what does your mother want me to do?"
"You must have some kind of idea."
"I guess she doesn't like having a gay son," I shrug.
"Wait… does she want me to COUNSEL THE GAY out of you?" He stands up, quickly getting angry. "I am going to call her up RIGHT NOW and tell her that's NOT what I do! It's 2010 for fuck's sake! Homosexuality is like… it's NOTHING these days. I am going to tell her off RIGHT NOW!" He picks up the phone and looks up her phone number in my file.
"Wait," I sigh.
"Mason, you've got to tell me the truth if you want me to help," he says in his normal tone. Shit, he knew I was lying… or not telling the whole truth.
"Okay," I groan loudly and fixate on a paperclip on the floor. "The guy… my boyfriend… was my brother." I mutter, choking on my words.
"My brother," I raise my voice slightly.
"Step-brother?" he asks.
"Haaalf-brother?" he draws it out, clinging onto hope. I shake my head, looking up for the first time. I see a few beads of sweat form on his forehead. "Oh. Oh wow. Does that really… well, I guess it does happen… I guess it DID happen… I uhh… I guess they can't teach you everything in grad school!" he laughs nervously.
"You wanted to know," I mutter, staring at the floor.
"Well, yes, I suppose I did," he laughs again. "Look, Mason… uhh… thank you for telling me. I'm sure that… I'm sure that wasn't easy."
"Am I supposed to say 'You're welcome'?"
"No, no. I think… I think that's enough for today. I'm going to have to… I'll have to do some research before we meet again."
"You're NOT going to tell anyone!" I gulp.
"No, I assure you that everything you tell me is completely confidential. It's just that… sometimes psychologists must reach out to their colleagues for assistance in order to best serve their patients."
"I can't believe this."
"I promise you… one person... a former professor of mine…. I know she will be able to provide some insight. I will not use any names, and she does not even live in this state. It will be fine, Mason."
"All right," I stand up and head for the door.
"I'm sorry," he says finally before I'm able to completely slink away.
"I'm sorry for my reaction, but I'm really sorry that you're going through this. It's gotta be a lot for a teenager to deal with. I see now why you stopped eating."
"We'll talk about it next week," I say, turning around and finally making my way out the door.
I knock on Mr. Shaw's door. It's been three weeks since my last appointment; he has canceled my previous two. He didn't give me much of a reason, not that I needed one to get out of therapy. I guess if I were him, I wouldn't want to talk to me either. This was the last chance for an appointment before winter break. I have been really dreading this, but for some reason, I don't feel too bad now. He fucking wanted to know. Now he knows… and now he has to counsel me. I'm actually kind of eager to hear what he's come up with. It will be kinda funny to see him squirm.
"Come on in," I hear his muffled voice through the door, and I enter. I peer inside and notice that his desk chair is empty. I quickly look around and notice him in the corner of the room, bending over to pick up a couple of papers. He forces out a groan and straightens up. "Hey Mason. Good to see you," he smiles and squeezes me on the shoulder as he passes me on the way to his desk. This was all choreographed. He wanted to make casual contact with me to show me that he's not physically repulsed by me and by what I told him.
"Hi," I sigh, settling in the patient's chair.
"I apologize for having to cancel our last two appointments," he says slowly, shuffling papers around his desk to avoid eye contact. "It's been… a very hectic time."
"You don't have to apologize," I say. He looks up at me with surprise, and then realizes that I actually was happy to get out of it… what an idiot.
"How have you been? Have you been eating?"
"Yes, three meals a day," I say, hoping he won't press the issue. I actually have eaten three meals a day… once or twice since I've been out of the hospital. "It's still hard for me to eat, but I'm in a good routine now. I concentrate on the big things and stop to take some time to make sure I don't forget the little things."
"It's funny that eating is a little thing to a guy your age," he smirks.
"Yeah, well…." I sigh, looking around the room. "So have you figured out how to fix me?"
"Yeah, you were going to talk to your colleague about my abnormal condition."
"Don't be combative, Mason. You know I'm here to help, not to fix. I just want to talk about this. I want you to feel better. I want you to WANT to feel better. I know you're a bright kid, and I know you have a bright future ahead of you. You've gone through something very traumatic, and you need to work through it or it will continue to damage you throughout your life."
"Is that what your professor told you to say?"
Mr. Shaw takes in a deep breath through his nose. I've actually gotten to him a little. I've never seen him show annoyance before.
"Mason, are you going to talk to me?" He composes himself. "I know something is going on with your mother. She contacts me to make sure you are coming to therapy, and you sure seem to be scared of the outcome if I tell her that you haven't."
"She's blackmailing me."
"If I try to contact my brother, if I don't go to therapy, or if I fuck up at school, she's going to take my brother and move in with her sister in Oregon. That basically means that she's going to leave my Dad. I promised my other brother that I would do my part to keep the family together. I'm doing all of this for my Dad."
"That doesn't seem fair."
"She's a… she's a terrible person."
"I know you think that now, but–"
"She's a terrible person."
"Riiiight. Okay, what is your brother's name… the one that you had a… relationship with?"
"Tyler." I feel a pang of pain as his name passes my lips.
"What was your relationship with Tyler like before you became romantically involved?"
"I dunno, normal brother stuff."
"Did you get along?"
"Not really well. We didn't have a lot in common, and we fought sometimes. Tyler used to be… kind of a jerk. He was repressed, and no one showed him any love."
"Did you ever desire him?"
"No… I mean, Tyler is… sexy as fuck… and I thought about guys all the time. I mean… I noticed him. I noticed how hot he was, but I didn't think about him in that way."
"How did it start?"
"My other brother… the one that used to go here… made Tyler, my little brother and me play spin-the-bottle to try to win a ticket to a UFC fight."
"What?" he laughs. "Sorry, I was wondering how something like this could have possibly started. I never imagined that would be your answer."
"I'm glad you think it's funny."
"Not funny… surprising." He clears his throat. "So you kissed Tyler playing spin-the-bottle and you both professed your love to each other?"
"No, no. I didn't even know what was happening. I was just focusing on winning those tickets. Then on our third or fourth round, I felt a spark. I opened my eyes and I saw a look in his eye like he was into it. We finished the game. I let him win the tickets, and I probably would've never said anything if he pretended nothing happened. "
"What did happen?"
"The next time we were alone… Tyler told me that he was gay, that he liked the kiss, that he thought I liked the kiss, and that he thought I was cute. I told him I was gay, and that I liked the kiss, too. Then, he asked me to be his boyfriend." I'm surprised how easily this is coming out. Maybe telling the story to Zack has made it easier to tell Mr. Shaw.
"Did you think of rejecting him?"
"Yeah, I was kind of surprised he asked it in that way. But, like I said, Tyler is smokin' hot, and I was horny all the time… so I decided to say yes, thinking we'd just have a good time getting each other off. I thought it would be like practice… almost like masturbation. I had no idea what would happen."
"When did you fall in love?"
"I dunno. Looking back, I think it was our first kiss… once we were alone that same night. Neither of us had ever kissed anyone before, but that first kiss was so perfect. Then, the way he smiled at me afterwards... I had never seen him that happy in his whole life." I begin to feel a tingle in my dick as the memories flood back. "I realized that I was just as happy, too. It didn't seem scary at all then. I didn't know what was going on, but it was exhilarating. The next day, we messed around, and the next night, he told me that he loved me. I said I loved him too, and it just got more intense from there."
"How did you feel about the fact that you were in an incestuous relationship?"
"Well, for a while, I guess I was ashamed. I hated the shame because I knew there wasn't an ounce of it inside Tyler about us… but I could handle it because the love and the sex completely overwhelmed ay negative feelings I ever had. Then, my older brother found out, and he told a gay friend of his about it. The friend… thought it was cool… actually he thought it was hot. I was so shocked that he wasn't grossed out. I guess that validated us in my mind, and I stopped feeling ashamed. I'm still not ashamed."
"So I've told you everything. I mean… I'm sure that you don't want the sexual details."
"You are correct about that."
"So I don't really see the point of continuing to talk about it. I guess I can continue to come to counseling and talk about other stuff, but there's really nothing more to say about my relationship with Tyler. I can't be with him right now, but I love him. I love him as much as I could ever love a person. Our relationship… it's absolutely perfect. It's the best thing in my life. Tyler feels the same way I do. The second I'm in the same room with him again, I'll run to him, embrace him and kiss him and there's nothing that any therapist or doctor could do to keep me from doing that."
"I don't doubt that," he says calmly.
"Then, what are we doing here?"
"I think we have a lot of work to do. I think our goal here is… that you will never put yourself in the position where you are in the same room as Tyler."
"Hey, shit stain," Carson says, busting into my dorm room. My roommate, Ben, jerks his up head in surprise, but I do my best to ignore him and stare at my computer screen. However, I hear a chirp from Carson's phone, and I know my ignoring him will have no effect. I can't wait to talk to him. I haven't seen him since he visited me in the hospital, and he's my only hope for news on Tyler.
Carson is here to deliver my Christmas present… and my boarding pass for my flight. I'm not allowed to come home and celebrate Christmas with the family. I'm being shipped off to my grandma's house in Ohio for winter break. It's going to be miserable. It's not like I hate my grandma. I've only met her three times in my life, but I don't think we have much in common. My grandpa died before I was born, and she's just milled around for the good part of twenty years. I wish I could just stay at school over winter break. At least the school has Wi-Fi.
I sigh and wait in silence for Carson to pay attention to me. It could be a while. He can stare at his phone, standing in the same position for an hour. However, I know if I seem too anxious, he'll never give me the info that he knows I want. Eventually, I feel a swipe at the back of my head.
"Hey," I say and yawn, finally looking up at him.
"Hey, here's your present." He tosses a box at me, glancing back at his phone.
"I don't want it. I throw it back at him."
"Okaaaay…. That's what Mom said you'd do."
"Give it here." I snatch it back. "Do you know where she bought it? I can return it and pick something out myself."
"She got it at DICK'S. Isn't that perfect for you?" he laughs as I open it. It's a big, bulky, gray Adidas hoodie sweatshirt that I can get lost in.
"Shit. This is exactly what I would've picked out for myself. I guess I'll keep it."
"She knew you would," he laughs again, and I throw the sweatshirt in his face.
"So, how are things… at home?" I say, trying to steer the conversation.
"Do you really want to have that conversation in front of… Jim?" Carson nods in the direction of Ben, but doesn't look up at him.
"It's Ben," Ben calls out, playing right into Carson's hand.
"Yeah, sorry Jenn," Carson still doesn't look at him. "Let's go to the cafeteria."
"Nah, let's go outside. I don't think I've been outside since before finals." I bite through the plastic wire on the tags of my new sweatshirt, throw it over my head and pull my arms up inside. It's really nice. We walk down the halls and outside in silence, as we seem to be constantly within earshot of some passing kid. We finally make it out to the deserted basketball courts. We can talk here and have enough notice if anyone approaches.
"So?" I prod him.
"So, are you getting a lot of… hot, boarding school dick?"
"Shut up," I try to punch him, but he blocks it and smacks me in the same motion.
"So things aren't exactly like Zack told you, huh?"
"It's not like I've been out looking for any. How is Zack?"
"He's cool. He says to tell you that he's sorry everything went down the way he did, and that he won't go after Tyler out of respect to you."
"That's nice of him."
"You really should go looking for some dick, though. It's out there for the taking…. It really is. You just have to put your name out there and know where to look."
"I don't WANT any."
"That's too bad. I was hoping I'd have some hot stories to tell Tyler. I like to tease him about all the hot cock you're getting at school… that you constantly have one cock in your mouth and one up your ass…."
"What does he say?" I shove him.
"He's pretty cool. The old Tyler would just come at me in a retarded rage with fists flying. It was always easier to dodge his fists than his snot and tears, which would go in all directions. Now, he'll actually nail me with a witty comeback every once in a while."
"Cool," I smile. "How is he?"
"Pretty good. I don't see him much. I don't spend many nights at home these days," he smiles and leans back against the pole on the basketball hoop and starts to laugh. "I've got these two chicks that have absolutely no fucking idea–"
"Back to TYLER," I sigh.
"Yeah, he just keeps busy. He comes home from school, sits at his desk and just does homework until he has to go to work. I don't know how exciting being a busboy can be, but he seems to love it. He works, like, four nights a week. He wants to work more, but Mom won't let him."
"Maybe I need to be busier," I say, out loud to myself. "Does he cry a lot?"
"Not as much these days. Do you?"
"I haven't cried once."
"Of course not."
"How are Mom and Dad? And the rest of 'em?"
"Everyone's okay. Everyone's getting on with their lives." Carson dribbles an imaginary basketball and takes a fallback jump shot.
"Look, Carson," I take a deep breath. I don't know how this will go, but I have to take a shot. I have to. "Is there ANY way… ANYTHING you can think of… ANY way I can see Tyler?"
"Dude." He looks at me with disappointment.
"Here's what I'm thinking. Some night, since you're always out, you can drive out here, pick me up and take me to Tyler's restaurant."
"It's not like I'm gonna have sex with him. I just want to see him, and tell him that I love him, and put my arms around him… just for a minute or two. I swear… it will really keep us going for a long time… just to be able to connect once in a while."
"What does your therapist say?"
"He doesn't think we should see each other. What do you expect? Do you think a therapist would tell me that I should be having sex with my brother?'
"Don't you think you should be listening to him?"
"No. I go. I see him. That's all I have to do." I grunt. "So you're still on Mom's side."
"DUDE! There are no SIDES! There's only one reality." He groans and points to a nearby bench, and we plod over and sit down. "Look, you had several months. You guys got to have a lot of sex at an age where it feels really, REALLY good. But now, that's over…. Mace, you're a smart guy… so I hear. Don't you think… that THIS is what's best for everyone?"
"What are you talking about?"
"First off, don't you think you're getting more out of this school than I ever did?"
"I could get into a good college going to public school."
"Okay whatever…." He sighs and groans deeply. "MASON. Don't you AGREE… that it's better for Tyler to hate MOM than it would be for Tyler to hate… YOU?" He stares right into my eyes and stuns me. I never would have imagined Carson would've thought about things so deeply.
"You think… I would BREAK UP with Tyler?"
"C'mon dude! You can't sit there, look me in the eyes and seriously tell me that the boy that once thought that Obama was elected president of the black people and McCain was elected president of the white people… is YOUR soulmate?"
"Yes! I… I guess you really have no idea what we mean to each other. I thought you knew… I thought you and Zack both knew how close we were… how much we loved each other. I wouldn't have left him. I would never leave him! I know I could never be as close to anyone as I was to Tyler. I know I could never love anyone like I love Tyler. Anyway, that was a LONG time ago when he was just a kid. He never paid attention to the news, but he saw Obama and McCain from time to time talking about president stuff, so I think that's a reasonable conclusion someone might draw at his age."
"I can't believe this!" Carson smacks his forehead. "YOU were the one that busted his balls the MOST about that one!"
"I was such a little shit back then." I shake my head. "I always had to let everyone know how smart I was."
"You know what? FUCK YOU! I don't fucking need this! I don't fucking need YOU! You always act like you control everything! You have FUCK to do with this! You don't understand SHIT and you sit there all smug and lecture me? Just get the fuck OUT OF HERE!"
"Tell Grandma I said Merry Christmas and thanks for the ten dollars," he says nonchalantly as he stands up and refocuses on his phone. He calmly heads towards the parking lot, and I watch him intently as he strolls away. He doesn't look back at me.
He seems… satisfied. He seems like he's accomplished his goal. Maybe he said all that so he wouldn't have to be the intermediary between Tyler and me anymore. I bet Tyler has been pressuring him to arrange a rendezvous, too. Now, he doesn't have to worry about that. He got me to burn the bridge. He was in control, and he made the decision for Tyler and for all of us.
As he disappears around a corner of a building, I feel a pang of regret. Carson will graduate in about six months, and he'll be gone. He'll be a long way from all of us. I'm pretty sure that I'll never see Carson again in my life.
I cried yesterday. I cried for the first time since I've been at boarding school.
I was completely exhausted. I started volunteering or interning (or whatever you call it when you work for free) at our school's IT department. I'm learning a lot. It's the only way I could learn anything about computers and the real world at this school. Every class they offer in computers is way too elementary for me. I originally started doing it because Carson told me that Tyler works a lot so he won't sit around and cry.
It's not like I sit around crying, but sometimes I do sit around thinking about Tyler. I think about how close we were and how Mom is keeping us apart. I get enraged and end up throwing books and screaming. Then, I get pissed at myself for acting like a stereotypical teenager throwing a fit.
Now that I've changed around my schedule, I spend a few hours in IT after classes are over. I always stay until the office closes. Sometimes, there's a crucial problem, and they stay late… so I stay late, too. I'm actually to the point where I can help out. I'm not just in the way, and I they rely on me. It's nice to feel needed again.
Tonight, we stayed past seven. We were rewiring an all new set of projectors to the computers in an entire building of classrooms. I got back to my room, stuffed some food down, and went to work on my homework. I worked for over four hours until I couldn't think anymore. I hit the pillow, expecting to fall right asleep. That's when it hit me. I had gone the entire day without thinking about Tyler once. That's when the tears started to flow.
What's worse is that I forgot about Tyler's and my anniversary. Last Thursday was the one year anniversary of the spin-the-bottle game… and the first kiss… and I didn't even realize it, all day. When we were together, I used to think about what I would do for our first anniversary and our first Valentine's Day… and our first Flag Day.
What has my life become now? I don't want to not think about Tyler. In fact, I want to think about him a lot. The pain isn't as sharp as it was last fall. I want to keep all of my memories. I want them to be swirling around in my brain. I don't want them to be fuzzy. I want to remember everything we've ever said or done to each other. I want to be able to bring up any memory at any time. I want to remember things that make me smile. I want to remember things that make my heart beat faster. I want to remember things that make me bite my lip and grab my dick.
That's it. From now on, I'm going to set aside time every day just to think about Tyler. I hope he's doing the same.
Mom is visiting today.
I was able to work out a deal to stay on campus over the summer instead of spending the summer with Grandma in Ohio. Normally, they only let upperclassmen stay for research projects, but I was able to get an official, paying job with IT. I get minimum wage, and I get to stay in the dorm.
Mom comes once a month to check on me and to take me out to my favorite restaurant, P.F. Chang's. I've been civil to her for a while now. I figured out that I can't get anywhere with Mom when I act like a dick. Plus, it's kind of nice to see someone from the family from time to time. Dad still won't come to see me. I don't ever get any details about Tyler, but it's always a relief to hear that "he's fine."
I hear Mom's knock on the door… loud, demanding… controlling.
"Come in," I say, half-heartedly.
"You ready?" she asks, clutching her purse.
"Good to see you, too," I mutter, not looking up from my computer.
"Come on. I have to get home and do three loads of laundry before I go to bed."
"Just sec," I say, slowly reaching for my shoes.
"How's therapy?" she asks. I think she likes to rub it in my face that she still makes me go.
"Fine," I sigh, slowly tying my shoes. "Mr. Shaw does a great job of shaming me and pretending we're homies at the same time."
"Shame is good," she says, flatly. "How's work?"
"Good! Sometimes, they send me out on jobs by myself. We're kinda burning through our dinner conversation here–"
I just happen to look up from my shoes quickly and glimpse Mom staring down at me. It only lasts for a second, but I clearly see the truth.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" I ask, straightening up.
"Like what?" she turns to a mirror and fluffs her hair.
"Like you're totally disgusted by me… like you detest me."
"Don't be ridiculous," she says, looking back in the mirror and re-fluffing her hair.
"Look at me," I say, and she ignores me, continuing to stare in the mirror. "MOM!"
"WHAT?" she yells back with guilt all over her face. I've got her now.
"You hate me?" I ask, making my voice quiver.
"Of course I don't hate you," she sighs. "It's just…. You and Tyler aren't the only ones in therapy, you know! This whole thing has… really wounded me to the core. I have things I'm trying to work out, too."
"Are you working on the fact that you hate your son?"
"I don't hate you, Mason. I don't understand you, but I don't hate you. I… do still blame you for all of this. I blame you for letting things with Tyler go too far. I blame you for all of the lies. I blame you for fracturing the family. I do have… a lot of negative feelings, but I am working through them."
"Can I come home?"
"What?" she laughs, incredulously.
"You and I need to work on our relationship."
"If you came home, I doubt that's what you'd be working on."
She didn't mean to, but she admitted that Tyler and I would be back together if I went home. I guess that means that Tyler still wants me. Yes!
"I didn't mean for this to happen, but it did. It happened, and it's done. We've gone too far with each other, and we need to be together. No amount of therapy will change that."
"We'll see about that," she sighs.
"It's not fair. It's not fair for me to have to be here and it's not fair for me to have to be around people who… who feel so negatively about me."
"What are you saying?"
"Mom, can I come home?"
"Okay, I want you to go. I want you to go right now, and the next time I see you, I want you to have Tyler with you, and I want you two to be here to bring me home."
"You're right," she sighs, moving towards the door. "You shouldn't have to be around someone who feels the way I do about you." She opens my door, steps out into the hall and turns to me. "Goodbye, Mason."
I instantly get the same feeling as I did when I told Carson to leave, and he walked away. Could it be that I'll never see Mom again, too? I can tell she's never coming back to this school, and I don't see how I can ever go home again.
Is my relationship with Tyler really fracturing the family? Is it worth it? Am I going to end up alone?
Shit! I'm such a fucking idiot! I should've waited to do this whole thing after P.F. Chang's!
"So how was your winter break?" Mr. Shaw asks, tapping his pencil on his desk.
"Oh, it was a fucking blast."
"Well, I promised my mom that I wouldn't tell my grandma about why I was sent away to school and why I wasn't allowed to come home for Christmas. I kept my word last year, but this year, I didn't feel like I owed my mom anything… so I told her."
"How did she react?" He makes a face, letting me know that he doesn't approve of me telling the truth to other people.
"Well… she turned really red and said something like, 'Well, I understand now why your mother didn't want me to know.' Then she got up and went to the kitchen. After that, she never made eye contact with me for the rest of my time there… and she sure didn't seem sad to see me leave this time."
"Do you expect people to react in a positive way when you tell them about your relationship with Tyler?"
"Then, why did you really tell her?"
"I dunno… I guess I wanted to know how a normal person would react. I mean, I was surprised when Zack reacted the way he did, but he's gay. Also, I felt bad for Grandma because she was being forced to have me around and no one would tell her why."
"Do you think it benefited your grandma to know the truth?"
"No," I sigh. "I guess it was selfish. I wanted my Grandma not to want me at her place for Christmas… and I wanted to get back at my mom somehow… by maybe making her relationship with her mother a little strained."
"I'm surprised that someone your age can see their actions as selfish."
"I'm a remarkable person."
"Yes, well…." Mr. Shaw laughs nervously. "So, have you seen Cameron since you've been back to school?"
"Yeah," I groan. "You were right about him. I think he does like me."
"YES!" Mr. Shaw claps his hands enthusiastically as if he really accomplished something. "What happened? What did he do?"
"We have the same second and third period classes, and we always walk to third period together. He put his arm around my shoulder and kept it there for the entire walk… and he told me that he missed me over winter break. Dudes don't tell other dudes that they miss each other, do they?"
"Not unless they like each other!" I've never seen Mr. Shaw so excited. "What did you say back to him?"
"I kinda changed the subject."
"Why are you fighting this? You've told me on several occasions that you thought Cam was cute."
"Yeah, he's cute… but he's like… my only friend at this school. I think other guys are jealous of me working at IT and making money."
"You don't have any other friends because you don't put yourself out there. They don't care about your job except if you lord it over them and act like you're better than everyone else."
"Do you think I act like that?"
"I don't know how you act around other people, but you mention your job at least once every session with me."
"I guess I should shut up about it."
"So, back to Cam. What's holding you back?"
"I like Cam… a lot. I just don't want to lose him as a friend. I've never known anyone in my life that I have more in common with. If I lose him as a friend, I would be totally alone."
"What do you talk about?"
"I dunno… video games, computers, school, guys we hate, teachers we hate… just normal teenage stuff."
"He does know that you're gay, right?"
"I think so…. We've never actually talked about it, but we've been best friends for over a year now, and we've never once had a single conversation about girls. I'm sure he has to know."
"So why are you so sure that it won't work out with Cam romantically?"
"I just… know it won't. I think he's cute, but when I think of kissing Cam… or doing other stuff… it just… does nothing for me."
"Maybe you should find out for sure."
"Maybe," I sigh.
"So how do you feel about Tyler now?"
"How do you feel about your relationship after being apart for over a year?"
"We never talk about Tyler."
"I wanted to focus on you and not Tyler, but I think it's an important question to ask at this point."
"I miss him a lot… not just the sex. Even though I didn't think so at the time, I took the love for granted… the feeling that stayed with me all day long, wherever I went… that I was loved. I feel the emptiness now. I wonder what his therapy is like. I wonder how his therapist is reacting to our relationship. I wonder if he is being told that our relationship was wrong and sick and that he's wrong and sick. I wonder what he thinks about me… if he's embarrassed of what we used to do. I wonder what his life is like now. I wonder if he still has a girlfriend… or if he has a boyfriend."
"How do you feel about your relationship, though?"
"I used to think I would run into his arms if I saw him, but I don't know what I'd do now. I'm older and he's older. The other day, I was looking at my school ID card. My picture was taken right after I was sent to this school, and now… I look so different. Sometimes I stare at myself in the mirror. I don't think I look like the guy that Tyler fell in love with. I look sad, pale, defeated–"
"You look like a normal teenage dude," Mr. Shaw laughs.
"Maybe, but it's strange. Sometimes, I feel like… Mom's plan is working. Keeping us apart is doing exactly what she's hoping it will."
"What's with you?" Cam asks, poking me in the arm.
"I dunno," I sigh.
"You don't know how hard I had to work to be able to stay at school with you this summer. I had to lie to my folks… about where I'm staying, who I'm staying with, about where I'm working… about us. Ever since I told you the good news, you've been acting like you don't even want me around."
"I do want you around."
"You don't act like it."
"I do," I grab his arm and look him in the eyes.
"How long have I been your boyfriend?" he asks.
"Three months, thirteen days and about seventeen hours. Could you even have gotten the amount of months right?"
"Yeah, three months."
"How long ago was our first kiss?"
"We've kissed?" I ask with a playful smile, trying to dodge his question.
"One month, twenty-four days, eight hours, forty-two minutes, eighteen seconds."
"Shut up," I roll my eyes.
"It was really special to me. It was my first kiss."
"It was special to me, too."
"Why do you think it took two guys that were boyfriends that long to kiss?"
"Are we having the relationship talk… right now?"
"It's long overdue."
"I don't know. Why did it take us so long to kiss? Cuz we're awkward nerds?"
"Maybe… that was part of it. I didn't kiss you at first because I wanted you to want to kiss me."
I want to jump out the window and run far, far away. I hate this relationship shit. It's so annoying. I never had to deal with this kind of stuff with Tyler. We never had the problem of not wanting to kiss each other, I guess.
"I was just afraid I wouldn't be very good at it." I say, after thinking about it for a while.
"There's no way to get better besides… just doing it."
"Yeah, I guess."
"So why do you think we haven't done anything else?"
"What are you talking about?"
"You know. Any other couple our age would've gone all the way… MANY times already. All we've had in almost four months is a handful of bad kisses."
"Are you saying I'm a bad kisser?" I suddenly take offense. I'm a fucking awesome kisser! I know it for a fact. Cam is a lousy-ass kisser.
"I dunno… you might be a good kisser… if you were ever into it. Every time we kiss, it's like… you want to be somewhere else… like you're waiting for it to end."
I don't have the energy to come up with a reasonable explanation. Instead, I just sigh and stare at the floor.
"Oh my God! We're breaking up, aren't we?" he whimpers, and I finally look up at him. His eyes have welled up with tears.
"No, no… I don't want to break up."
"Everything about us… everything about our relationship since the start has been wrong. It's been off, somehow. I haven't admitted it to myself because I finally landed the guy I always wanted… the kind of guy I always pictured myself with. I thought it would take some time. It's never going to be right, is it?"
"It's me. It isn't you."
"Oh fuck off! Don't give me that cliché break-up bullshit! What the fuck is going on?"
"It really IS me," I say, knowing that I need to tell him the truth… well, most of the truth. "Look, there's a lot I haven't told you."
"Go ahead then."
"Did you ever think about why I'm here… and why I can't leave?"
"I didn't really think about it. I guess I just believed you when you said you didn't want to go home… that you didn't get along with your family."
"The reason I'm here… is because I had a boyfriend at home… a very serious boyfriend."
"Yeah, we fell in love… and we had a lot of sex."
"Why didn't you tell me any of this?"
"I don't like to talk about it. My mom caught us one day, and she thought I was too young to be having sex, so she swapped my brother out of this school and put me here. I'm not allowed to go home because my mom is afraid that I'll go back to my boyfriend."
"Why is she so much against it? There's something you're not telling me."
"No, that's it."
"Is he a lot older than you?"
"No, my mom isn't crazy about the whole gay thing anyway… and I was just fifteen at the time, so she freaked out."
"Are you still in love with him?"
"Do you still see him?"
"No, not since I came to this school…. His parents… are just as committed to keeping us apart."
"So, why did you say you'd be my boyfriend if you knew the entire time that you were still in love with your ex and you weren't into me?"
"I HAD to! I had no other choice because I really, really like you! You're my best friend, and I didn't want to lose you. I knew that if I rejected you, we'd be finished, so I decided to try it out with you just so we could still hang. You're right though; it isn't working… and I'm sorry."
"I'm sorry, too. I'm sorry you had to go through this."
"Cam, can we go back to being friends? You have to know that you completely changed once I said I'd be your boyfriend. I really dig best-bud-Cam… and I don't really care much for boyfriend-Cam." I laugh, but Cam's not having it.
"I love you, Mason. I can't help it, and I wish I don't, but I do. It's just too painful to be around you as a friend again. I'll still have those feelings and I'll know that you don't have them for me. I'm sorry, I'm just not strong enough." He stands up to leave.
"Please! Neither of us have anyone at this school besides each other! There's no reason for us to both be alone and miserable."
"There's one reason." Cam opens the door and steps into the hall. "Mason, promise me something. I'm sure we'll see each other around… probably a lot. Please, PLEASE, don't smile at me. It will break me."
As the silence of the room hits me, I've never felt more alone. I keep losing people. I feel like I'm going to be alone for the rest of my life.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]