We're Working On It

by Richard Norway

Chapter 16

Cory wanted nothing to do with the outside world because it had taken his friend Matt from him. He understood why it had happened too. Johnny had pulled the trigger, but Johnny was following what Johnny thought was a normal thing to do. He was following the implied rules set down by the society in which he lived. Cory didn't blame Johnny for Matt's death. He blamed the society which had hate in its heart, a society which does not want to know that there are other people out there, a society that feared those who are other than themselves.

He had spent the next few days in his room, isolating himself from anything outside the door. He awoke late the first morning, looked toward the window and recognizing that it was another day, turned over to sleep through it. He didn't want to be part of it. As he tried to sleep, a tear rolled down his cheek.

That evening, Cory was lying in bed staring at the wall beside him. After hours of motionless staring, he heard a knock at his bedroom door. He rolled over slightly to stare at the door but said nothing.

Richard entered with Cory's dinner on a tray, crossed the room and set it on Cory's desk.

Cory rolled over and continued to stare at the wall. He wanted to think about nothing, to become a nothing. To be human, you have to think, to care, to feel emotions. The pain of being human was too much.

Richard looked at Cory for a moment and then left the room. Cory did not eat his dinner that night.

Cory spent the next day looking out the window. He wouldn't dress himself but preferred to sit on his desk chair in his boxer underwear staring out of the window and seeing nothing. In mid afternoon, Cory saw Kevin walk up the street and stop at the front of the house. Kevin's eyes moved to the window of Cory's room. The two boys stared at each other for a moment, and then Kevin moved toward the front door. Cory continued his blank stare at the front lawn, and then moved slowly to his bed. He laid down again facing the wall as he heard the sound of the doorbell.

Within moments, Cory heard a new sound of someone knocking at his bedroom door, but again remained motionless.

Richard slowly opened the door, and only pushed his head inside of Cory's bedroom.

"Cory? Kevin's here to see you."

Cory remained still.

"Cory? Did you hear what I said?" Richard asked.

Cory would not turn away from the wall.

"Tell him I'm sleeping, will you?

"Cory. You can't let this go on like this. Won't you please go talk to him?

Cory remained silent.


Without any life coming from Cory, Richard looked downward toward the floor and then slowly closed the door.

The next day, Cory again began sitting by the window wearing only his underwear. He was now spending most of the day just staring out of the open window. Again, he saw Kevin approach the house. But this time, Cory did not make eye contact with Kevin and moved away from the window. He resumed his fetal position on his bed facing the wall. Cory knew that he was going to lose Kevin too. That's what the world was all about. It would eventually take Kevin too. Cory would be alone. He knew that. So right now, Cory was alone with himself.

The next day Cory kept thinking about Matt's funeral. Cory knew it was the next day as he had heard voices from the living room over the past few days. As he stared out the window, he knew that this was a decision time for him. He wanted to go, but he also wanted desperately to not be there. He looked out the window for a moment, but then turned, crossed the room and opened the door.

As Cory approached the kitchen, he could see Richard quietly and reflectively seated at the kitchen table, a cold cup of coffee was in front of him. Cory stopped at the entrance to the kitchen, and Richard looked up, but said nothing.

Cory finally spoke softly.

"Richard? I think I'd like to go the funeral tomorrow."

Richard was silent for a moment but held his eyes on the boy at the other end of the kitchen.

"Do you think you're ready for that? It'll be very emotional for you."

"No. I'm not ready," Cory heatedly said. But then more softly, "But I have to be there."

"Okay. There's no church service, only a graveside one. We'll leave at 10:00 am."

A slight smile came across Richard's face.

After a moment of silence, Cory nodded, turned and went back upstairs to his room. He lay back on top of his bed, but this time, he stared at the ceiling with his hands folded behind his head.

Cory dressed quickly the next morning, not really paying much attention to how he looked. He was only going through the motions. He did not smile, but he did not frown either. Not really checking how he looked one last time like he usually did before he goes out, Cory left his room to join Richard downstairs.

Richard was in the kitchen putting the milk back into the refrigerator when he saw Cory come in the room.

"Ready?" Richard asked.

"I guess so," Cory replied with no expression.

The drive to the cemetery was filled with silence as Cory sat the entire time watching the city glide by outside the window. Richard parked the car at the curb a short distance from the grave site. They could not see the grave from the curb yet as they had to walk up a steep hill.

As Cory neared the top of the hill, the awning came into view. There were many people at the grave site, and most of them were kids who Cory knew from school. But there were plenty of adults too. He only knew a few of the adults, mostly from school. Cory saw Kevin and Kelly standing a short distance away, but he didn't go over to see them. Mr. Bettler, the school Principal, and Ryan Baker, the school counselor, were talking to each other nearby.

Richard put his hand on Cory's shoulder for support as they walked the remaining distance to where Matt's graveside service was to be held. As they came closer to the site, Cory saw Matt's coffin. He had to stop for a moment. Cory stared at the coffin draped in flowers, still not wanting this to be true. Matt's parents were seated in the middle of the first row of folding chairs beside the coffin. Matt's father sat squarely with his head looking straight ahead while his mother sobbed openly into her handkerchief.

As Cory and Richard passed behind the people who had gathered, Cory saw again glimpses of the coffin passing between the people. Cory remained expressionless. They stopped at the rear of the assembly and waited for the service to begin. Cory moved close to Richard and stood motionless.

After waiting quietly for a few minutes, a small man dressed in a black suit moved to the head of the coffin and began to speak.

"Dearly beloved. We are gathered..." was all that Cory heard.

Cory's attention was now riveted on the coffin. Cory suddenly saw Matt's face. It was beautiful. It was an image that Cory knew was in his mind, but the image was superimposed on and in the coffin, being one with it. In Cory's mind, the image of Matt turned and looked straight at him and smiled. Tears freely flowed down Cory's cheeks now, but he remained motionless as he watched his friend in front of him, beckoning him, understanding him, loving him.

A moment later, Cory started to slowly move forward, leaving Richard behind, but keeping his thoughts on Matt. He moved his way through the crowd until he was in the front row. Kevin looked at him, but Cory didn't see him. Cory was now looking straight down at the coffin. Matt's image began to fade as Cory watched. Matt was leaving. Matt was leaving Cory. His tears exploded.

Seeing that the boy who he so loved was in such pain, Kevin bolted toward Cory.

"Nooo!" Cory yelled with all of his strength.

The minister stopped speaking as everyone looked at the boy disturbing Matt's final resting. Kevin was now racing toward Cory, grabbing at the air between them to pull himself onward, faster.

Cory suddenly turned around and began pushing his way through the crowd. The people started backing away like the parting of some sea...not red, but black...letting Cory through as he ran away from the coffin. Kevin could not reach him.

Cory ran, and ran, and ran, down the hill, past Richard's car and across the cemetery, out the front gate, past the homes on the sides of the street. Cory ran all the way home.

Cory launched into his bedroom, slammed the door behind him and abruptly stopped in the middle of the room. He looked at his window, not moving, not thinking – just staring. Cory slowly undressed himself down to his boxers, throwing the clothes on the floor. He moved to the window, sat in his desk chair and began staring out the window. After a moment, he reached up and closed the window, his last opening onto the world that had betrayed him. Leaving the closed window, he returned to his bed. Cory was now completely alone with himself.

Richard was beside himself the next morning after Matt's funeral. Matt was senselessly killed by another boy for no other reason then that Matt was gay and the fear that had implanted on another. Richard's foster son, Cory, the boy that Richard now loved as his own son, had retreated into himself in a rejection of the outside world. Cory lay upstairs in his room, alone unto himself as Richard sat on the living room sofa staring out of the front window seeing nothing.

Suddenly he was brought back to reality when, through the front window, he saw a car pull into the driveway. A middle-aged man, well dressed, got out of the car, stopped to look at the house and then moved toward the front door. Richard could also see Kevin and Kelly continuing their vigil outside of the house. Richard could only focus on the two teenagers, not recognizing the man at his front door.

The doorbell rang but Richard didn't move. He was still in a half world between reality and his grief over Cory's withdrawal.

When the doorbell rang for a second time, Richard sullenly got up and walked to the front door. As he opened the door he was confronted with a large man, perhaps 6 foot 2 inches tall, neatly dressed in a well-tailored business suit and matching tie. Richard stared at the man, saying nothing.

"Mr. Mathews?" The man finally had to say.

Richard's eyes bulged widely as the voice in front of him registered. it was Matt's father. This was the father of the boy whose funeral he and Cory had been to yesterday.

"Oh God, I'm sorry, Todd. Please come in," Richard finally said with embarrassment and sympathy.

"Thank you," Todd Hubble replied as he stepped through the door.

Matt's father moved into the center of the living room, turned to face Richard and remained standing with his hands together in front of him.

"Please. Can I get you anything?" Richard asked.

"No, No thank you."

"Todd. I'm really sorry about your son," Richard had to say, remembering the grief that he had gone through when his own wife had passed away.

"Thank you for that. I'm going to miss him so very much. But that's not why I'm here."

Richard looked at Todd, a puzzled look on his face. Moments went by.

"I'm here to see Cory."

"Cory? But why?"

"Mr. Mathews, Richard, I'm a doctor. Actually, I'm also a psychologist. In the past few days, I've had quite a few conversations with the school counselors, Mr. Bettler and our own friends as well as friends of Cory and Matt. I know that Cory is shutting down. He's shutting out the reality that Matt has died. I'd like to try to talk to him, if it's okay with you."

Todd Hubble smiled briefly.

"Yes, of course. I'll get him," Richard blurted out.

He was eager to have some help in bringing Cory back to reality.

"No, I'd like to see him alone, in his room if that's possible."

Richard instinctively knew that the best place was in Cory's own room where Cory could feel safe.

"Okay, I'll show you where his room is."

Richard led Mr. Hubble to the stairway and started to walk up the stairs with Todd Hubble following closely behind. As they approached Cory's room at the end of the upstairs hallway, Richard stopped, looked at Todd and then quietly knocked on the door. As they entered, they saw Cory lying on his bed in his underwear looking at a blank wall. The starkness of the wall gave both Richard and Todd a sense of Cory's loneliness.

Cory turned to see who was at the door, and immediately recognized Matt's father. He quickly turned away and resumed his vigil with the wall.

Todd Hubble entered the room but stopped within a few feet of the door, while Richard remained in the hall and closed the door behind Matt's father.

Richard remained in the hallway just outside the door for a few moments, but eventually turned and returned to the living room.

After a few moments, Todd Hubble opened the conversation.

"Hello, Cory."

Cory did not respond or acknowledge Matt's father's presence.

"Cory, come and join me by the window," Matt's father said as he picked up a chair and carried it to the closed window.

"No. I don't want to look outside."

Todd Hubble, picked up another chair and placed it also in front of the window.

"Come on, Cory. Come talk to me about Matt."

Cory had heard his friend's name and his mind began to race back to the times that he had spent with Matt before Matt left him.

"Let's talk about the Matt who we both knew, shall we?"

Cory wanted so much to be able to talk about Matt, but he had left him. His mind began telling him that if he talked about Matt, maybe it wouldn't seem like he was gone, that he could be with him again.

Cory lay motionless on the bed for a few long minutes, but then slowly got out of bed and walked to the empty chair. He slowly sat and turned his gaze to the empty outside.

"Thank you, Cory."

Matt's father, sitting backwards in the chair, looked at Cory. He then put his hands on the back of the chair. Todd looked directly into Cory's eyes saying nothing for some time as Cory continued looking out the window. Very softly, but directly at Cory, Todd Hubble began to speak.

"Do you miss him, Cory?"

Cory said nothing and continued to look out the window, but he was listening to Matt's father.

"I know you miss him, Cory. I miss him. His mother misses him, too. Mathew got caught in something that he had no control over. I think you know what that was. Of all of his friends, I think you know more and understand more of what really happened than most people. I think Richard realizes it too, but not like you do."

Mr. Hubble paused to let the words sink in, and then continued.

"Take a look out the window, Cory. Who do you see?"

Cory leaned closer to the window.

Todd Hubble continued. "Do you see Kevin standing down there? He's been trying to see you for the last four days. He's not going to go away because he's not going to let you go. He loves you too much. But I think you know that."

Todd Hubble continued to look at Cory, looking for a reaction. He knew that his words were having an affect on Cory, as Cory let the first tear glide across his cheek.

Todd Hubble shifted the chair closer to Cory and put his chin on the back of his hands resting on the back of the chair. He was now inches for Cory's face, and he began again slowly and with no force.

"Matt is still here. Do you know that?"

Cory, for the first time, turned to face Matt's father, but still said nothing. Tears were streaking down his cheeks now as he sniffled.

"Look outside again, Cory."

Cory turned and looked through the window again.

"Down there, on the lawn. Don't you see him? It looks like Kevin, but Matt is there, too. He's inside of Kevin. He's a part of Kevin."

Cory stared at Kevin and began to see Matt's face within Kevin's. They were as one.

"He's a part of you too, Cory. You are who you are because Matt touched a part of your life. He's a part of every person who he's ever touched."

Through the tears, Cory started a smile.

"Look down there again, Cory. Do you see Kelly across the street?"

Cory looked up slightly and saw Kelly standing alone across the street looking directly at him.

"Matt's a part of her too, Cory. I also know that Kelly loved him very much. I know that you all did."

Todd Hubble paused for a moment gathering his resolve.

"I also know that Matt was gay, and the reaction to him being gay by someone who couldn't understand was what killed him, not you."

Todd Hubble paused and looked straight at Cory, only inches from his face. Cory's smile continued to grow along with his tears. Cory was now openly crying.

"Cory. Maybe we won't see Matt every day, but he's still always here. We have our memories that can't be taken away. Don't loose them. I know I won't. Hold onto them."

Cory's crying was now uncontrollable. He turned and flew into Todd Hubble's arms, knocking over his chair.

"Oh God! I miss him so much. I feel so responsible," Cory finally was able to say with starts and stops.

"Cory. You're not responsible and you really do know that."

Cory held onto Todd Hubble for a long time, his tears slowly subsiding. He had a smile growing across his face.

Todd Hubble rose from his chair while still holding onto Cory.

Cory turned to face him.

"I know," Cory said.

Nothing more could be said. Cory, with Todd Hubble's words, had seen what had killed Matt, and he now knew that Matt would always be with him.

"There's something else that I have to say to you Cory. You meant the world to Matt. He loved both you and Kevin very much. I want to thank you for being his friend, for being there for the times when he needed someone."

"Thank you," Cory earnestly replied.

Todd Hubble returned the chair to its original position and started to leave the room. He paused for a moment and turned toward Cory.

"Cory? Did you know they're having a memorial for Matt at the school tomorrow? I'd be honored if you could attend."

"I'd like that. Actually, I wouldn't miss it for anything."

"Mr. Bettler asked me to ask you if you were up to saying a few words about Matt. You don't have to, you know. We'll all understand."

Cory looked at Matt's father for a long silent moment before he answered.

"Mr. Hubble. I think I want to say a few things. I think I need to."

Cory paused for a moment, still looking at Matt's dad.

"You see, Mr. Hubble? I'm going to be there for Matt again."

Todd Hubble smiled and nodded his head and turned toward the door.

Cory stopped Todd Hubble with a tug on his sleeve. Matt's father turned and looked down at Cory.

"Thank you. Thank you for what you said about me and Matt and about Matt still being with me. I needed to know that."

Todd Hubble smiled down at Cory, bobbed his head a few times and then turned, opened the door and left the room.

Cory stood smiling to himself for the first time in days as he watched Matt's father leave. He turned around, walked to the window, and opened it.

Knowing that a part of Matt will always be with him filled him with encouragement. He now knew how he was going to go on with his life, and what he was going to say at the memorial the next day.

When Todd Hubble reached the bottom of the stairs, Kevin had already come inside, and he and Richard were standing in the center of the living room looking at Todd with anticipation.

"Mr. Mathews? Can I speak to you for a moment?" Todd Hubble asked before either of them could say a word.

Richard followed Todd Hubble to the side of the room where Todd whispered a few words into his ear. Todd Hubble had to tell him about the memorial service the next day. But he also wanted to tell him that Cory needed Kevin at that moment. He didn't want Kevin to hear it though because he was talking about the real healing power of love and didn't want to embarrass Kevin. Kevin being Kevin was what Cory needed.

Kevin didn't know what to think, wondering what all the secrecy was about.

As Todd Hubble and Richard finished their conversation, they walked back toward Kevin. Todd Hubble and Richard shook hands, and as Todd moved toward the door to leave, he turned to Kevin and gave him a knowing wink. He then left the room through the front door.

Just after Todd Hubble left, Cory walked down the stairs. He had a bounce in his step that hadn't been seen for days. At the bottom of the stairs, Cory saw Kevin standing in center of the room. He paused, not knowing that he would be inside the house, and continuing to stare at Kevin.

Without a word, Cory slowly walked over to Kevin and put his arms around him.

"Kevin, I'm so sorry. I am really so sorry." he whispered into his ear.

"Don't be, Cory. You have nothing to be sorry about. Cory, I need you, I need you so much right now. I will be right beside you. We will get through this. And we will do it together."

Cory looked into those green eyes and smiled at what he saw. There it was. Cory knew it'll always be there. There was Kevin's sparkle, and Cory knew it was for him.

"Kevin. I thought I was going to lose you. I lost Matt and I could see the world taking you away from me too. I was so scared and wanted nothing like that to happen, but I kept telling myself that it would happen. I don't know why I thought that; it made no sense, but, I did."

Kevin pulled Cory in closer, holding him, again feeling Cory in his life again.

"Forever, Cory. Don't ever forget that, please."

Cory looked into Kevin's eyes. He understood now that those eyes would be his strength, his life, his forever.

"Forever," Cory breathed out.

Richard smiled a knowing smile, and Cory, coming back to the now, looked over toward him.


"Yes, Cory?"

"I'm going to say a few words at a memorial for Matt tomorrow."

"Yeah, I heard."

"Will you be there?"

"Well, most of those things are for the students. I'm not sure if parents are invited."

"I'd like you to be there. Really! I want you there very much."

"Alright son, I'll be there."

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[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