Time May Change Me
by William King
From Bad to Worse
I tried Matty's phone easily five times, but always got the voicemail. I spent the day moping around trying to figure out what might have happened between Matty and his parents, what he had told them. It obviously involved me, that was certain, otherwise why would they not let me see him? I wished I'd got Edmund's number, but I never thought about it.
When the door bell went sometime after lunch, I paid it no attention. I heard Michael go down to answer it, but I just stayed in my bedroom feeling lost. It was a surprise when there was a knock on the door, I just thought it's Michael wanting something or other and I wasn't in the mood.
"Go away!" I told him. I wanted to be alone with my depression.
"Edmund's here," he replied as if rebuffing my unpleasantness.
I jumped up off the bed and in an instant opened the door to let him in.
"Sorry," I said, by way of an excuse. "Come in."
Edmund walked in followed by Michael, I didn't pay much attention to Michael being there, I was too anxious to get some news. Michael closed the door behind him.
"You saw Matty!" I exclaimed, looking at Edmund. "How is he? What's going on? Why wouldn't his mum let me in to see him?"
Edmund sat down, it seemed he was a bit taken aback by my verbal assault, Michael stood just inside the door.
"Calm down Alex," Michael pleaded. It was the first time I really noticed he was there.
"I didn't get to stay very long," Edmund explained. "Matty is okay, well he was in bed, he's got a black eye and two stitches to a cut underneath. It looks worse than it is, but I suppose it still hurts."
I wished she'd have let me see him, why wouldn't she? That's cruel.
"You can't phone him," Edmund continued. "His phone got smashed or something, anyway it's not working. You could phone the house, but I don't suppose they'll get Matty up out of bed to talk."
"What did he tell you?" I asked.
"He went to the hospital emergency with Mrs Whitley and she stayed until his parents got there. Back home, of course, they wanted to know what had happened. I don't know exactly how things went, except now his parents know it was Ryan who attacked him, I don't know what else he said about that, but..." he paused and looked across at Michael then back to me.
"It's okay Edmund," I said. "Michael's cool." I wanted to know everything and I didn't care if Michael heard or not.
"It came out, or maybe he told his parents, I don't know which, but he said he was gay."
"He told them?" I asked the question, but it wasn't really a question. I knew Matty, I could see him saying that in a confrontation, he wasn't a person that would hide.
"Yeah," Edmund replied. "They know and maybe they think the fight was about that, I don't know. Maybe they think you are involved or..." he paused again.
"Go on," I said. "What do you think?"
"Maybe they think, well like you are best friends, I don't know, but perhaps that you are involved, or, you know, the two of you are always together. Outside school, I mean."
"Maybe they think I'm gay and I'm responsible." I said what he was thinking. It made sense, his best friend, a year older, turns their son gay. Now loads of scenarios were buzzing around my head. I was sinking.
I just sat on my bed and dropped my head into my hands. Michael came over and sat next to me. He put his arm around me, and gave me a gentle hug.
"Guess I'll go," Edmund got up, "I can let myself out."
"Wait," I looked up. "Give me your number please."
So we exchanged phone numbers and Edmund promised to let me know if he heard anything else. He was a good friend. Michael went with him to show him out.
I had no idea what to do now, the picture was not complete, what did Matty's parents know? What would happen next? It was all out of control.
The door opened and Michael reappeared. "You alright?" He asked.
I tried a half hearted smile, "I guess," I replied.
"So why did Ryan beat up Matty?" Michael asked.
"Not now Michael, please," I said. "Look, you're a good brother and I'll tell you everything, I owe you that much, but just not right now."
"Okay, you sure you're okay?"
"Yeah, sure," I told him.
He left me and closed the door on his way out. I wasn't at all sure if I was okay, but it didn't seem like there was much to do about it.
I don't know when it happened, but at some point in the afternoon I just snapped out of my morosity, I think I must have told myself there's nothing I can do, so just go with it and deal with whatever comes up. The one thing that I had to do something about was how to get to see or talk to Matty.
I also decided to go and tell Michael what was going on, not everything, nothing about Jake, but the rest, the stuff with Ryan, because anyway he already knew about me and Matty, plus like I told Edmund he was cool.
I knocked on Michael's door and he shouted, "Come in."
I wasn't often in his room which was a bit smaller than mine, but you wouldn't notice the difference, it actually seemed like he had more space, that though was because he was tidy.
I sat down on this big orange floor cushion that he had and looked across at him lying on the bed. I spent the next twenty or so minutes in a more or less uninterrupted account of what had happened between me, Matty and Ryan.
I told him about the shower incident, how Matty had got Edmund to tell his sister to talk to Mathilde. I explained how I thought it was all over after I told Ryan it was nothing to do with me and that I hadn't told anyone. Then I talked about Ryan finding out it was Edmund's sister, him punching Edmund and finally Ryan shoving Matty's head down the toilet. The rest he knew.
There was a silent pause after I'd finished, not surprising, it was enough of a story to make a book.
Michael looked over at me from his bed. "Alex," he began. "Jed and me are pretty good mates."
What's up now I was wondering. Was he about to tell me another little history about him and Jed? Anyway, it would be a distraction, but it wasn't that at all.
"Mathilde never split with Ryan because of what happened between you and him. I'm not even certain she knew, I need to ask Jed. No, she split with Ryan... and with Brandon as well, because they were too young. She's going out with a guy called Robert who is around three years older. Before it was just, you know, playing about, now it's more a serious boy girl relationship. At least that's what Jed says, and I reckon he knows."
"How fucking ironic," I didn't mean to swear, it just came out. "Sorry," I apologised for swearing even though I knew it didn't bother Michael. "All this trouble with Ryan and it was all about nothing."
"Yeah, that's how it goes sometimes," Michael said. "People think everything is about themselves when it isn't at all."
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