Breathe Now

by D K Daniels

All of my stories have music included, think of it as a soundtrack to help bring you into the world I have created, to experience the vibe and mood. All great videos games and movies are nothing without excellent sound design and a killer soundtrack. Plus, I love sharing new artists I come across. Here's a song a I picked especially for this story. You can find it on Spotify and YouTube if you just google the song, but I'll include a link for quick access. It's recommended to listen to the song while reading.

Song: Fear By Sleeping At Last (Headphones bring this song to another level.)

For those who might be interested in supporting me, you can grab yourself a copy of the eBook if you really - really liked the story. It would mean a great deal to me, and you'll receive a virtual hug from me.

Find links here:

Scott Pelletier couldn't help but feel betrayed, but that happens when you sleep with your best friend. However, since Josh was too much of a coward to admit how gay he happened to be to his totally misogynistic, heterosexual father, Scott bore the brunt of the ordeal. The kind which divided small towns among trees, where boys played rough ice hockey, but broken men hiked into the woods with rifles. Late last December, the remains of the Henderson boy would have been the newest victim of the town, he traipsed out into the forest and decided to permanently stay. Everyone who attended the funeral would say seventeen was too young to die. The news of Scott's sexual encounter would wake the small town of Paarnet from its impermeable slumber, presumably sake it to its core. Scott figured by the time he got home, the frenzy would have begun, and everyone would know his perverse darkness. The rain was coming down hard, and you'd have to squish your eyes half shut to see through the downpour, but Scott was nearly home, having already made it the half mile. The boy tucked his fingers under his armpits, trying to warm up, but the rain cloaked around him, slicing at his exposed torso. The sixteen-year-old was drained emotionally, but any shortcomings emotionally, his cold, blue body more than made up the difference. He had no shirt, pants, or shoes, just his underwear. Scott had only managed to get his boxers back on before Mr. Osborn, Josh's father, dragged him by his blond locks and tossed him to the curb.

"Don't let me ever see you near my boy again, you fucking queer," Mr Osborn had yelled.

The voice lingered in the back of his mind, like a ghost haunting the halls of a grim mansion, all alone and sinister. When Scott arrived at his parent's small cape cod-styled home, the aging slats and disheveled roof looking more like a condemned building, he undid the latch of the chain-link gate. Scott trudged up the steps to his front porch, shivering and soaked to the bone. He dreaded facing his parents, knowing they would be furious when they discovered what had happened. Scott figured he could sneak in through the back door and avoid them for a little longer. So, Scott made his way to the backyard, scolding himself for his actions. He knew he had made a mistake but couldn't help who he was. His toes sank into the mud as he traipsed across the marshy grass. He wanted to punish himself for being so foolish.

"You idiot, stupid… Stupid…" Scott muttered.

He smacked his hands across the top of his head and crashed down on the table his mother used to fold fresh laundry on after it had come from the clothesline. The rain was still coming down hard, and Scott's limbs were numb. He wondered how long he could stay out there before he got hypothermia. He figured his mind could hold out longer than his body. His head slumped, the water cascading down over him, creating twin waterfalls on either side of his neck. He didn't know how long he'd been out there since the white noise of the rain spattering against the tin roof of the shed and yard ornaments completely took him away to a world where worrying wasn't for him. Eventually, the light spill of the tungsten lights came on in the kitchen, and he peered up; he saw his mother rinsing a cup at the sink. He knew he couldn't avoid his parents forever but wasn't ready to face them. He hoped his mother wouldn't come out and see him sitting there, half-naked and soaking wet. His wish didn't come true; instead, she glanced out into the yard, sensing something, honing in that telekinetic motherly ability. His mother was shocked as she stepped outside and saw Scott sitting there, half-naked and shivering in the rain.

"Scott, what on earth are you doing out here? You'll catch your death of cold!" she scolded.

Scott tried to explain, but he couldn't find the words. He didn't want to tell his mother about what had happened with Josh, especially not with his father potentially listening in. They were supposed to be boyfriends, but Josh had let him down and turned on him.

"Just felt like sitting here," Scott said.

His mother rolled her eyes.

"Well, that's just ridiculous. Get inside right now and get dry clothes before you get sick."

Scott nodded and clambered from the table, his body protesting, except he followed his mother inside, grateful for the warmth that hit him in the kitchen. He went straight to his bedroom to get dressed, hoping to avoid his father in case he judged Scott once he realized what had been done. When he passed his dad, David Nelson was enjoying a refreshing beer, nestled in front of a cozy wood-burning stove, watching some baseball.

"I don't know what gets into your son's mind," Nina said.

His mother was mumbling from the kitchen.

"Do you see the latest?" Nina continued. "Dragging mud all through the house."

David dismissed his wife's statement with a wave of his hand.

"It's not like you've ever been any good at keeping the house clean anyway," David replied, taking another swig of beer.

Scott's heart sank at the sound of his father's voice. He knew he was in for a lecture or a beating if he found out. Luckily, his father hadn't felt the need to vent his anger using his favorite melee accessory, the belt of late. However, there had been times when his father used his steel-toe work boots, and his stomach heaved even just thinking about it. As he peeled off his wet boxers, he heard his mother shouting into the living room. Scott could hear his mother arguing with his father as he changed into dry clothes.

"Well, if you two weren't fucking slobs, I'd have less to clean up," Nina shouted.

"Woman!" David replied, equally in the same tone his mother had.

"I work, I provide, don't I… just be happy you're not using coupons at the grocery store."

"Maybe if you weren't so hard on him all the time, he wouldn't be acting out like this," she said, her voice rising.

"I'm hard on him because he needs to learn respect and discipline," his father replied. "He can't just go around doing whatever he wants and expect no consequences. Damn, kid lives in a fairy tale."

Scott's heart began to race as he listened to his parents' argument. He was afraid that his father would get so angry that he would hit his mother or, worse, come to Scott's bedroom and take out his frustration on him. Scott knew he needed to be careful and avoid his father's wrath. He sat on his bed and tried to calm his nerves, but the fear was too overwhelming. Scott thought about his options, but there didn't seem to be any good ones. He could try talking to his father, but that would only worsen things. Scott could try to run away, but he had nowhere to go. All he could do was hope that his father would calm down and that everything would be okay. Scott curled up in a ball and tried to block out the sound of his parents' shouting. He wished that he could just disappear and make everything go away. But Scott knew that he couldn't. He had to face the reality of his situation and find a way to survive. As the argument continued, Scott felt a sense of despair wash over him. He didn't know how much longer he could take this, how much longer he could live in fear. All he could do was hope that someday things would get better, that he would find a way to escape this nightmare and live a normal life. When the crash of glass came, Scott was on his feet, racing toward the danger; his mother's shrieks filled the hallway leading to the bedrooms.

"You fucking cunt!" David roared.

Scott stumbled to a stop, gauging the situation; his father had his mother pinned up against the wall, his hands wrapped around her neck, squeezing. His face was red, the vein in his forehead prominent and ready to pop. Scott circumnavigated the broken beer bottle on the floor, sprinting to his father, his chest heaving, and he shoved his father.

"Stop!" Scott yelled.

Scott didn't think about the repercussions; after all, his mother had the life choked out of her. The two adults staggered together, his mother getting dragged along for the ride by the death vice grip. Scott took a step, prepared to run at his father again.

"You'll kill her!" Scott shouted.

"Back off, I'll deal with you in a minute," David rebuked.

Scott was baffled; his father wouldn't listen. He couldn't see past his blind rage, and in the unforeseen event that his mother's neck snapped or he choked the life from her, Scott couldn't see himself living with his father. Scott readied himself, took off at breakneck speed, and braced for impact, like one of those quarterbacks. Except, his father caught onto the ploy, stepped back, letting Nina go, and she dropped, sliding along the wall, coughing, gasping for air. Scott bolted forward, but his dad wound back his arm and struck out, his balled fist connecting with Scott's jaw. The boy didn't feel the pain. First, the blow dazed him, and Scott spun around with force and stumbled back, noticing the blood flying from his mouth. He couldn't stop himself from falling toward the broken glass bottle. To protect himself, Scott put his hands out to break the force of the impact, and his right hand dug into a shard of glass as he hit the ground, sliding forward until he stopped. Scott's cries filled the hallway as he clutched his hand, the pain searing through his body. Scott could feel the warm blood running down his fingers, mixing with the dried dirt still clinging to his skin. As he looked up, he saw his father backing away, grabbing his coat, and leaving the house without another word. Scott's mother stumbled over to him, holding her tender throat, tears streaming down her face as she tried to comfort him.

"It's okay, honey, it's okay," she whispered, holding him close.

Scott could hardly focus on her words, his attention consumed by the throbbing pain in his hand. He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself down, but the fear and anger were still too overwhelming. He felt trapped, like there was no way out of this nightmare. Eventually, his mother helped him and led him to the kitchen, where she cleaned and bandaged his hand. Scott winced as she applied pressure to the wound, but he didn't make a sound. He knew he needed to be strong and couldn't let his father's cruelty break him. As the night wore on, Scott huddled under a blanket on his bed, trying to ignore the pain in his hand and the ache in his heart. He thought about running away, about finding a new life somewhere far away from this small town and his abusive father. But he knew it was just a fantasy, that he was stuck here for the foreseeable future. As the first light of dawn crept into the house, Scott's mother entered the bedroom and sat beside him. She squeezed his hand gently, a small gesture of love and support filling Scott with hope.

"We'll get through this together," she said, looking into his eyes with fierce determination.

Scott nodded, feeling a glimmer of hope for the first time in what felt like forever. He'd need it once the whole town knew about his predilection. Scott managed to get an hour or two of sleep before his father returned, but he'd been gone most of the night and decided to go straight to bed without confrontation. Scott's secret was still safe, and he figured he'd get dressed and go for a walk. The walk around the block didn't cheer him up, but he comprehended his town's abject poverty. It was a small fishing village, so most people worked the sea. Scott figured since it was early morning, he'd wander down to the harbor, watching the boats depart from the jetty, returning with fresh fish destined for Newhaven down south.

Scott sat on a lobster pot, gazing out into the ocean, the orange sunrise low on the horizon. The air was chilly, but thankfully, the rain had stopped, which perked his spirits up. Every time he glanced down at his hand, the thick wad of bandaging crudely wrapped around his wound, he sighed. He wondered how long it would take for his hand to heal and if it would ever be the same again. He knew he couldn't hide the injury forever but he didn't want anyone to know about it. He felt like an outcast, like he didn't belong anywhere. As he sat there, watching the boats bobbing in the water, he tried to push his fears and doubts aside and focus on the beauty of the moment. For just a brief moment, he felt like he was free, like he could escape his problems and start anew. But he knew that it was just a fleeting feeling and that he would have to face the reality of his situation sooner or later. Scott sat there for a while longer, lost in his own thoughts. He couldn't help but think about how much he'd love to run away, to escape this small town and start a new life somewhere far away. And then he thought about Josh, his boyfriend, the boy he'd been caught in bed with. They could run away together and live in the south, where the sun always shined, and the streets were filled with actors and singers in Mayau. Lost in thought, Scott noticed a fishing trawler enter the bay and dock by the harbor. It was the Osborn boat, and Scott felt a jolt of excitement at the prospect of seeing his lover again.

Sometimes, the Josh worked the early morning shift with his father before school. Now that it was summer, Josh and Scott spent every waking minute together. But Scott stopped himself, remembering the warning from Mr Osborn. Scott knew he couldn't risk seeing Josh again, not if it meant putting him in danger. Scott sighed and stood up, his hand still throbbing with pain. He knew he couldn't stay here any longer and needed to find a way out of this town and start a new life. If Scott didn't leave, this town would kill him. But he also knew he couldn't do it without Josh.

The teen peered over at the boats, figuring he'd get near, just to see the cutest boy he'd ever seen, but not risk confronting Mr Osborn. Scott watched as Josh worked, his heart pounding with excitement and anxiety. He knew he shouldn't be there, that it was risky, but he couldn't resist the urge to see Josh again. The boy looked so handsome, even covered in fish guts and scales. Scott's heart swelled with affection, and he longed to run over to Josh and take him in his arms. But he knew he couldn't, not after what had happened with Mr Osborn. Scott felt a pang of guilt as he remembered the hurt and fear in Josh's eyes when he'd accused Scott of forcing him to have sex. He knew he needed to make things right and forgive Josh. He didn't mean it; Josh was just scared, and teenage boys do odd things when they are scared. Mr. Osborn walked off, apparently in the direction of the harbormaster. Seeing his chance to talk to Josh, Scott took a deep breath and stepped out from behind the ropes and nets. He walked towards the boat, looking casual and nonchalant, but he knew he probably looked like a nervous wreck. Scott fixed his eyes on Josh, who was still unloading crates, his face set in a determined expression. As Scott got closer, he noticed that Josh had a graze on his cheek. Scott felt a pang of concern and wondered if Josh was okay. He wanted to go over to him and ask about the cut to ensure he wasn't hurt, but he knew he couldn't.

"Hey," Scott said, stopping by the gantry a few feet away from Josh.

Josh looked up and saw Scott, his expression hardening.

"What are you doing here?" he asked, his voice cold.

However, his curt response was soon followed by nervous, glancing around, ensuring his father had gone.

"I just wanted to see you," Scott replied, feeling his palms start to sweat.

"Well, you shouldn't have come," Josh said, returning to work.

Scott felt a wave of disappointment wash over him. He'd hoped that Josh would be happy to see him, that they could discuss things and makeup. But it was clear that Josh was still afraid and hurt.

"I'm sorry," Scott said, his voice barely above a whisper.

Josh didn't respond, and Scott felt his heart sink. He knew things were messed up, that he'd hurt the boy he loved. He wanted to fix things, to make it right, but he didn't know how.

"I didn't mean for things to get so messed up," Scott said, stepping closer to Josh.

Josh turned to face him, his eyes blazing with anger.

"You didn't mean for things to get messed up?" Josh repeated, his voice rising. "You told my dad we were boyfriends? How could you just be so reckless."

Scott felt a lump rise in his throat.

"You lied about us, lied about me," Scott added.

The boys were quiet for a time.

He knew he hurt Josh and wished he could take it back. He wanted to tell Josh how much he loved him, how sorry he was, but the words wouldn't come. Admitting you were gay in a small town in buttfuck nowhere wasn't the smartest thing to do.

"I'm sorry," Scott said again, his voice breaking.

Josh shook his head.

"Sorry isn't enough," he said, turning away from Scott.

Scott felt a tear roll down his cheek. He knew he'd messed up and broken Josh's heart. That was the rule…. Nobody must know about us, or it would end badly. Scott wished he could make it right, turn back time and do things differently. But he knew he couldn't. All he could do was try to move forward, and to do that; he figured the only way he'd be truly happy was to run away. Scott's mind was already made up.

"I'm gonna skip town… I can't take it anymore," Scott said.

Josh ignored him, continuing his work, moving fish around the boat, stacking it by the entrance.

"Might go south, find anybody who will hire me…" Scott continued.

Scott sighed, seeing that his message hadn't gotten through to Josh, so as he turned to leave, Scott felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to see Josh looking at him, his expression softening.

"And where you gonna go?" Josh said, his voice gentle. "You can't disappear?"

Scott felt helpless searching Josh's soulful green eyes; he'd be happy to lean in and kiss him if Josh allowed it, but now wasn't the right time.

"I just need some time to figure things out," Scott murmured. "My plans are not foolproof."

There was quiet for a moment, their eyes searching, wandering every delicate contour of each other's face. Scott was mesmerized by Josh's wavy brown hair listing and swaying with the breeze. Coupled with his fisherman waders, he was pretty cute looking. The tense gaze got too intense, so Josh broke eye contact and glanced down, peering at Scott's hand; seconds ticked by, and he tentatively reached out, his slickered glove cupping Scott's fingers. He didn't have to ask how it happened; it happened much like the graze on Josh's face.

"Does it hurt?" Scott asked.

Scott peered down; the pair were so incredibly close that from afar, you'd only surmise they were kissing.

"Lots…" Scott murmured.

Thankfully, since Josh had broken through the awkwardness of their battle scars, Scott felt confident enough to enquire about the graze on Josh's cheek.

"You kinda look like a bad boy," Scott teased, pointing his free hand to Josh's cheek.

Josh grinned meekly, and then the two fell serious again.

"My hip hurts more," Josh said.

The two nodded, clearly understanding one another without having to speak about the abuse.

"Sorry," Josh added.

Josh couldn't make eye can't, his guilt clearly eating away at him. Scott felt a glimmer of hope. Maybe things weren't over between them after all. Maybe there was still a chance for them to be together.

"I understand," Scott said, his voice barely above a whisper.

Josh gave him a small smile before turning back to his work.

"Better get back to it," Josh said, glancing toward the harbormaster's shack.

Scott glanced over at the shack, which looked like a dilapidated garden shed for a moment longer. Scott knew he'd have to leave; he could see Mr. Osborn exit the building and start his journey back to the boat, so Scott turned his attention back to Josh.

"Guess I'll see ya around," Scott said.

He slipped away, starting back the way he came. Josh had turned, looking at Scott as he walked away, heading back in among the nets. He knew he'd have to speak up or risk losing the moment they shared forever.

"Suppose I wanted to tag along…." Josh called out.

Scott stopped, swiveled, and peered back at the boat.

"Where do I go?" Josh continued.

Scott smirked, feeling his insides bubble with awe, making him feel weird, where the butterflies took flight.

"The bridge outta town… The last bus today," Scott shouted back.

Everybody knew the hard shoulder by the bridge acted as an unofficial bus stop, and the last bus passed through at 10 PM. Two buses a day were all the town ever needed, one for the locals to leave and the one that brought stupid city people in at 8 AM.

Scott made it home by lunch; his mother happened to be in the garden, hanging up laundry; the basket sat on the table he'd made his protest on the previous night. However, the rusty pickup truck and his dad were nowhere to be seen. Scott relaxed, knowing his pa wasn't around and he could be himself. So, he exited the rear door, joining his mother at the clothesline.

"Thanks for patching me up, Mom," Scott said, offering her a small smile.

His mother turned and smiled at him.

"Of course, honey. I'm just glad you're okay," Nina said, her eyes filled with concern.

Scott nodded, feeling a lump rise in his throat. He wanted to tell his mother everything, to explain why he'd been sitting outside in the rain half-naked, but even if he did, how would he start?

"I'm tired, might go to lie down for a little while," Scott said, his voice barely above a whisper.

His mother nodded, understanding his need for rest.

"Okay, honey. I'll wake you up for dinner," Nina said, patting his arm gently.

Scott turned to leave but stopped, "You okay, Mom?" Scott asked.

The woman continued to lift clothing from the basket, draped them over the line, and pegged them on. She seemed to be holding on, just frail wisps of her usual self, clinging to reality. How the woman managed to keep back the tears inspired Scott; even though she was hurting, she didn't want Scott to know.

"Of course, I am," Nina lied.

The lines on her neck, the bruising from where David had choked her, were forming, and Scott figured his mother running away with them wasn't as bad an idea, but he couldn't risk telling her his plans. Scott walked back inside, his body aching with fatigue and pain. He made his way to his bedroom and collapsed onto his bed, his mind racing with thoughts and fears. Scott tried to push them aside and focus on the feeling of the soft mattress beneath him, the warmth of the blankets covering him. For just a moment, he felt he was safe and could escape the horrors of his life and be free. Scott knew it was an illusion that he couldn't hide from his problems for long. He closed his eyes and let the darkness take him, hoping that he would find some peace in his dreams.

Scott's heart raced as he heard his father's angry voice. He knew that he was in trouble, that his secret was out, and that he was going to pay for it. He could hear his mother trying to defend him, but her words were falling on deaf ears.

"Woman, you ought to know what's good for you if you don't move outta my way. I'm going to whip the hell out of him, make sure he doesn't have another perverse thought again!" David shouted.

"I'm sure it was just a misunderstanding," Nina added, her voice trembling.

Scott knew there was no way he could stay here, that he needed to leave before his father got his hands on him. He crawled out of bed, his heart pounding with fear and adrenaline. Scott grabbed a canvas bag from his closet and started shoving everything he could into it. There was screaming, followed by glass breaking, and he heard shouting on the street. His father had gone out to the truck; he heard the creak of the truck door open. Behind him, the bedroom door opened with a soft groan, and his mother popped her head in the door.

"Scott, what are you doing?" his mother asked, looking at him with concern.

"I can't stay here, Mom. I have to go," Scott said, his voice shaking.

His mother's eyes widened with fear.

"You can't just leave, Scott. Your father will kill you."

Scott knew his mother was right, but he also knew he couldn't stay here any longer. He zipped up his bag and slung it over his shoulder, his heart racing with fear and excitement.

"I have to go, Mom. I can't stay here," Scott said, his voice barely above a whisper.

"If I stay, either I kill him, or he'll kill me," Scott said.

His mother looked at him with tears in her eyes, her heart breaking for her son. She knew he'd be better off running, and staying was a mistake, putting himself in danger, but she also knew she couldn't stop him.

"Go out the window; I'll delay him," she said, hugging him tightly.

Scott hugged her back, tears streaming down his face. He knew he was leaving everything behind: his home, family, and life. Scott also knew he couldn't stay here any longer and had to escape the nightmare and find a new faraway life. His mom shut the door, returning to the foyer to face whatever cruel judgment her husband had concocted. When Scott slid open the sash window and climbed out into the night, he heard his father's angry voice growing muffled. He knew that he had to run, to get as far away from there as possible before it was too late, now that his father was in the house. Scott took off jogging, his bag bouncing against his back as he raced down the street, his heart pounding with fear and excitement. When he reached the end of the block, he glanced back, thinking about his mom. He didn't want to leave Nina, knowing she'd never leave David because she was afraid, but Scott knew she'd do anything to protect him, so he fled. Scott didn't know where he was going but knew he had to keep running and moving forward.

As he ran, he thought about everything that had led him to this moment, the bullying, the abuse, the fear. He thought about Josh, the boy he loved, and wondered if he would ever see him again. He hoped they could someday be together and start a new life somewhere far away from this small town and its narrow-minded people. Scott ran for what felt like hours, his feet pounding the pavement as he pushed himself to keep going. He forgot where he was going, but Scott knew that he had to keep running, and eventually, he ended up on the outskirts of town, not far from the bridge. Scott was traipsing along the side of the road, his heartbeat finally calming, his emotions mixed with fear and despair. He stopped to catch a breath and looked up at the sky, staring at the stars twinkling above him, a reminder that there was still beauty in the world. After a moment, Scott tightened his grip on his bag, which was slung over his shoulder, and walked on, his heart full of determination. Scott's feet carried him forward to the bridge; his heart was full of hope at seeing his boyfriend if he decided to come along. He didn't know what the future held, but Scott knew he would be free once he left that town. When Scott got to the designated spot, the lamppost next to the bridge, he was saddened. Josh hadn't turned up, meaning Scott was to go on this journey alone, with nobody by his side, nobody to depend on but himself.

Scott waited alone for the bus, wondering if running away was the better option. The cold started to work its magic on him, and a mist fell upon the town, making Scott wish he'd taken a jacket. Scott lost all hope of having his boyfriend tag along with him, and it was just something he had to accept. Scott stood alone under the tungsten streetlight when the bus pulled up, so Scott put his hand out, and the vehicle screeched to a halt. Scott sniffled, feeling rejected and hurt that Josh wasn't coming, so he plucked up his rucksack, went to the door, and climbed up the three steps to the bus driver.

"Single, please," Scott said.

The bus driver didn't bat an eye, took his money, and issued him a freshly printed ticket stub. Scott climbed up into the coach deck, funneled about six or seven seats deep, and flopped into the chair, tossing his rucksack on the seat against the window. The bus driver closed the door, put the bus in drive, and started away from the curb. Scott couldn't help but zone out, his ears tuned to the engine's purr as the bus crawled forward. When the noise got louder, Scott realized it wasn't just some white noise. So, it only severed to piqued curiosity. Scott shifted over to the window to see a green motocross bike cut alongside them, outpacing the bus. The driver jammed on the brakes when the motorcyclist swerved in front of the bus. The bike slowed down, then doubled back, and the guy used his leg to prop himself up. He pointed at the bus driver, then exited to the left, by the door. The boy pulled into the side, among the trees, removed his helmet, and dropped it on the ground, leaving the bike propped against a tree. When Scott turns around, helmetless, his hair blowing in the wind, looking frazzled. Scott's heart fills with joy, and he can't believe his eyes. He thought he would be alone on this journey, but here was Josh, risking everything to be with him. Scott's face broke into a wide grin, and he climbed to his feet, skirting down the aisle to the exit.

"Open the door!" Scott demanded.

"Right, right, hold your horses," the bus driver mumbled.

The man cranked back the handle, the door opened with a whoosh, the gas strut letting the air go, and just seeing Josh climb up onto the first step, Scott felt himself breathe again.

"You made it?" Scott said.

"I almost didn't…." Josh said.

The boys were silent.

"So…" Scott added.

Josh seemed to still have trouble with this whole ordeal, the running away bit.

"So…" Josh added.

The two boys jumped when the bus driver cut in.

"So, you gettin' on or what? $31.50 for a ticket."

The boys peered back at one another, then giggled collectively. They both locked eyes, and Josh nodded.

"Got my bag," Josh said.

"It's all you need," Scott muttered.

Scott and Josh got on the bus, their hearts pounding, yearning for something new. They sat beside each other, Scott tossing his bag in the opposite seat. As the bus pulled away from the town, Scott felt a sense of relief wash over him. He knew that he was leaving everything behind, his past, family, and life, but Scott also knew that he was starting anew and free to be who he wanted. They rested back, eventually holding hands, and nestled into one another, resting their heads against each other until the boys dozed off, their minds tired from the past few days' events. They didn't know the future but knew they had each other, which was enough.

They woke up to the sound of the bus pulling into the station, the sun shining bright outside. They grabbed their bags and stepped off the bus, their hearts pounding with anticipation. They looked around, taking in their new surroundings. It wasn't the palm trees, the sandy beaches, or the endless blue sky they dreamed of. They had made it as far as Newhaven; anywhere was better than home. They knew they had a lot of work to do and needed to find jobs, make a home, and build a life together. They looked at each other, their eyes filled with love and hope. They knew they had a long journey ahead of them, but they also knew they were ready for whatever the world had in store. They walked hand in hand out of the station, ready to take on the future together.

The End


This story is part of the 2023 story challenge "Inspired by a Picture: Wet Day". The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 28 July 2023 to 18 August 2023 is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated against other stories on the challenge home page.

The challenge was to write a story inspired by this picture:

2023 Inspired by a Picture Challenge - Wet Day

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Breathe Now

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[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 (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) 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. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead