“If you’ll be my star, I’ll be your sky.”
I looked down into the water and closed my eyes. Part of me wanted to jump. To be done with everything. To be done with all the terrible things that happened to me. To be done with putting up a fight. But the other part of me wanted to be held. To be able to let my guard down. To be loved. Was it too much to ask for? I sighed and opened my eyes again. My phone dinged, but I ignored it. I looked down at the lighter in my hands and pulled on the bottom of it, opening a small compartment. Inside was a necklace. It was a simple, silver chain with two charms. A moon and a star. I reached into my shirt and pulled out a similar necklace. I missed her. I wrapped the necklace around my hand and clutched the lighter tightly. I closed my eyes shut and turned around, leaning backward.
I hit the water with a splash and starting sinking. I opened my eyes and saw stars in the sky through the hole in the roof of the cave. It winked at me. I blinked slowly, the water burning my eyes slightly. I saw air bubbles float to the top as I sank deeper and deeper. My eyes were barely open as breathed out one last time when I hit the bottom. Darkness surrounded me. All I could see was that one star, shining through the darkness like a spotlight on me. If only I was as strong as that star. If only I could shine through. But I couldn't. I closed my eyes one last time. Letting the water fill my lungs.
<><><><><> Theodore's POV <><><><><>
I ran as fast as I could, the creek coming into sight. I jumped in without hesitation and swam down to the familiar entrance to the cave. I dived through the opening and opened my eyes, looking around. He was on the floor of the pool. I swam down as fast as I could, sweeping him into my arms. His face was pale and he was freezing cold. I kicked harder than I ever had to bring us to the top and broke through the surface with a gasp of breath. I pressed two fingers to his neck to find his pulse. It wasn't there. I quickly laid him on the floor of the cave and sat on stomach lightly, pressing my lips on his and beginning CPR. I was forced to learn it from my sister who was a lifeguard, and I'm so thankful for that.
When I felt a very faint pulse, I fumbled to grab his phone, calling 911. Mine was broken from the water.
"Damn it, Christian," I mumbled as our emergency service picked up the phone.
"911, what's your emergency?"
"My friend drowned. I need help. I gave him CPR but his pulse is still very faint," I explained shakily. I was trying to keep calm. Why did he do it? I had so many questions, but I focused on the blaring sirens in the distance. I carried him out of the cave and the ambulance put him on a stretcher and pushed him into the truck. A police officer came over to me to ask me questions, but I was distracted.
"Sorry, sir, but can I please go with him?" I asked hopefully. The officer gave me a kind smile and nodded.
"I'll go too and ask you questions in the car, sound good?" he compromised and I nodded quickly, climbing into the car and sitting next to Christian.
When we were all settled in, the police officer took a notepad and pen out and began to question me.
"What's his name?"
"Christina... Tazo I think."
"What's your relationship to him? Brother?"
"Uh no. I'm his friend," I replied. Was I his friend? I guess he kind of accepted it.
"Do you know where his parents are or have his parents' phone numbers?"
I handed him Christian's phone.
"No, but this is his phone."
"Thank you. We'll contact his parents. What's your name again?"
"Theodore, sir, but you can call me Theo."
"Okay. So do you know how this happened, Theo?"
"Yeah. It was... uh, it was a suicide attempt, sir," I said quietly, tears forming in my eyes. If I was only a little bit faster, he might not be fighting to breathe right now. The officer nodded. He finished asking me questions and we sat in silence until we reached the hospital. I was told to wait outside while they helped Christian.
"Damn it!" I yelled to myself. What was wrong with me? Why hadn't I seen this coming? He was obviously depressed!
"You fucking idiot!" I facepalmed. I thought back to all the times we had spent together. That first time at my house. All those times in school. That night at the hill. That moment at the cave. I can't believe I hadn't acted on my suspicion! I had a feeling something bad would happen, but I was too much of a fuckhead to do something about it! This is all my fault. I really liked him. I don't know when it started. My growing feelings for that boy crept up on me like a ninja. Maybe it was his beautiful smile. That one that I've only seen a couple of times. Maybe it was his mysterious personality. He always seemed to be hiding something. What could have caused this? It could be a number of reasons, really.
1. Maybe it was his dad. Something was off about that man the moment I saw him. He would yell at Christian. I knew he would, but Christian was just say it was all fine. He looked at his father with so much love and admiration in his eyes that I couldn't take that away. I knew he loved his dad. He didn't know what else to feel about him. He thought that because his dad was his dad, it automatically meant that he should love him no matter what. I'm not entirely sure, but I think his dad abuses him. Maybe verbally, maybe physically, maybe mentally, but I do think it happens.
2. Or maybe it was me. Since the moment we've met, Christian hadn't really shown that he cared too much about me. He yelled at me when I ran in front of Scott's car. He ignored me and ran away from me in school. He wouldn't open up to me in private. He wouldn't be himself around me. Maybe I had pushed too hard. I had first laid eyes on the boy years before I actually met him. I always looked up to him. He was happy all the time and never let anything get him down. That hasn't changed even after I found out that his smiles were fake and his emotions wore a mask. I knew I wanted to be his friend and practically forced him into a friendship. Maybe if I hadn't, none of this would have happened. Maybe we were meant to be strangers.
3. Or maybe it was something I was entire unaware of. A hard breakup. The loss of a family member or friend. A bully in school. Maybe it was because he was raped. It could have been basically anything. Maybe it was life in general. This could have been caused by a multitude of small, but bad, days as well as one big bad moment.
It could have been all of these or none of these. I closed my eyes and put my head in my hands. I missed him already. I missed his presence. I missed his voice. I missed his eyes. His eyes must have been the most beautiful shade of green. I had looked at them long enough to know. I had studied them so hard that I knew how to read him. I knew when he was being honest and when he lied because he didn't want somebody to get hurt. I could tell when he wanted to cry and when he wanted to scream in anger. I could read him like a book through his eyes. But that day on the hill, it was like his pages went blank. Like they were in a foreign language. They became a stormy green, darker than I had ever seen them. I couldn't tell what he was thinking or what he felt. And it scared me.
"Bad news, his dad didn't pick up. Good news, his mom did," the same police officer from earlier today said. I raised an eyebrow in curiosity, tugging the sides of my beanie down. I had been given a new set of clothes because mine were soaked and I was freezing. The cave's water wasn't exactly warm.
"What'd she say?" I asked.
"Well, she started crying and I could barely understand what she was saying, but she did mention something about being divorced because of an abusive husband. Know anything about that?"
"No, I didn't. I had a feeling that his dad wasn't father of the year because I heard him yelling at Christian a lot, but I didn't think much of it and I didn't have any proof so I tried to ignore it. Christian told me once that he loved his dad, so I didn't think it was too bad, you know? He didn't seem to be lying either. I think that he really does love his dad," I explained. The officer nodded.
"So, are you and Christian close friends?" he asked and I felt my face heat up a little.
"Well, I'd like to think so, but he's really closed off and doesn't show much genuine emotion."
"I see... do you have any idea why he decided to do this?"
"No strong ideas. By the way, is he doing alright?" I asked and the police officer nodded with a small smile.
"Yeah, he's doing fine. If you hadn't saved him when you did, he might not have made it. He's very lucky that you knew how to do CPR."
I blushed. I forgot about that. I hated myself for not wanted to give CPR, but to simply kiss the boy. It was life or death, and I could have cost him his life if I got distracted for a tiny while longer.
"You like him, don't you?"
"What?" I asked in shock. How did he know? Was it that obvious?
"You're blushing like a mad man. It could just be embarrassment," he said and I looked down at my hands.
"Yeah, I do. I'm not sure if he likes me back though."
He put a hand on my shoulder and I looked up at him. He was grinning.
"I'm sure it will work out just fine," he assured and I gave him a weak smile. He walked away to speak with the doctors. I'm sure it won't work out fine. He doesn't seem to want anything to do with me. I couldn't help but think back to that night on the hill.
"I-... I don't think I was ever okay. I don't think I'm ever going to be okay," he said. I bit my lip, looking away. I want him to be okay. I want him to be better than okay. I want him to be able to give a confident, genuine smile every time he sees me.
I didn't realize it before, but now that I think about it, that night on the hill, the thoughts we shared with each other, the hours we spent together that night, was when I started catching feelings. When he was raped, the anger that boiled up in me was nothing I'd ever experienced. I remember thinking who could ever do that to him? Who would be sick enough to take advantage of this boy? My heart broke every time he smiled, but it wasn't real. Every time he laughed, but it was fake. How could I have let myself believe that they were real for so fucking long?
Then I remembered our last call.
"Call me by my name," he said.
"Please tell me where you are, Christian," I begged. This was the first time I've called him by his real name. I don't remember why I refused to call him it before. Maybe it was his adorable reaction to the nickname or because I knew it would come in handy in the future or that I thought it was funny. Silence filled the call for a moment before he spoke again.
"I think I'm having a heart attack."
I chuckled softly.
"No, that's not a heart attack. Is your heart beating fast?" I asked. Did he like me back? Was I doubting it for nothing?
My heartbeat sped up as well as I asked another question.
"Does your face feel hot?"
"How do you feel?" I asked hopefully.
"I-I don't know. Say it again," he commanded. How could I refuse him?
"Christian. Tell me where you are."
"I... I'm at the cave. You better hurry," he admitted, ending the call. The cave? I began to run.
I sighed. I didn't run fast enough. I could have run faster. Now he was in the hospital. I sat in the chair silently and looked out the window. One star in particular caught my eye. It shone so bright.
"If you'll be my star, I'll be your sky," I mumbled, remembering a quote.
"Mr. Millen?" a voice called and I looked up to see a doctor. She smiled at me and gestured to Christian's room door.
"You can go in and see him if you'd like. He's sleeping," she said. I shot out of my seat and thanked her before entering the room. My eyes widened at the pale boy sleeping on the hospital bed. He looked so peaceful and so hurt at the same time. Because of the low collar on his hospital gown, I could see bite marks and bruises. Was he raped again? Is that why he did it? Anger boiled up in me. I can't believe somebody would do that! I bent down to sit on the bed, eventually shifting into a laying position. I could hear his shaky breaths and moved closer. He was freezing. I pulled my beanie off and placed it on his own head, getting even closer. I closed my eyes and nuzzled my face into his shoulder.
"I really like you, Carson. Please wake up. Please be okay," I murmured, drifting off to sleep.
[December 10, 2020]