Dandelion Crowns and Paper Butterflies

If I Break Up

"Hey! Gay!"

"Sissy!"

"Tim and Josiah, sitting in the tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G..."

With tears in his eyes, Tim turns away from the mocking Gladers and runs into the Deadheads.

The Gladers have been acting like that the whole day, but Tim had always found a way to stay out of their way. Until now. Lunch time.

He doesn't know how they know about him and Josiah – someone must have told them. Tim wants to find that person and beat him to the ground.

Trying not to cry, he climbs into a tree and hides behind the leaves. He snorts bitterly. Flore had promised to help him, but she is nowhere to be seen. Josiah is in the Homestead, probably still asleep, having no idea what's going on. And all of his other friends are either looking at him with disgusted looks on their faces, or hiding somewhere because they don't want to be bullied as well.

One tear escapes from his eye, but he angrily wipes it away. Of course he had expected this. He had a nightmare about it that night. But he secretly hoped that the Gladers wouldn't be so mean, that they would understand it and accept it, like Flore did.

Apparently, they wouldn't.

Voices beneath him roughly jerk him out of his thoughts.

"Where did he go?"

"He's probably crying with his boyfriend."

"That's just disgusting."

Tim hears that the two boys walk away, and at that moment, his foot slips on a branch, and he falls out of the tree. Luckily, the ground is covered in a thick layer of leaves, but unfortunately, the two boys have heard him.

"There he is!" one of them yells.

Tim knows that he is acting like a coward, but he runs off anyway. As soon as he runs out of the Deadheads, the other Gladers see him, too, and they follow him.

Tim can prevent them from catching up with him until he reaches the Homestead. Just in front of the wooden building's door, he trips over something and falls. Ignoring the pain in his wrist, he struggles up, but the Gladers have already surrounded him.

Tim pinches his jaws on each other.

"Leave me alone!" he yells. His voice breaks on the last word, and mocking laughter echoes through the group.

"Look at that. He's crying."

"Yeah, he is. What a sissy."

"Leave me alone!"

Someone imitates Tim's voice, but higher and more like a girl.

Tim desperately looks at his friends – at least, the people that used to be his friends – but none of them moves, none of them intervenes or even says something.

He stifles a sob as the remarks go on.

"Why don't you go cry with your boyfriend?"

"You're unnatural, Timmy. You're a mistake of the nature."

"You should be ashamed of yourself."

The cruel talking changes into a horrible buzzing. Tim can't hold his tears back, anymore. Breathing heavily, he lets the despair take over his mind.

Without even knowing why, he throws his head in his neck and yells on the top of his lungs: "If I break up with him, will you stop then?"

Deathly silence.

Tim clasps a hand over his mouth as he realizes what he just said. He had said that he would break up with Josiah if the Gladers would stop bullying him. It is the most selfish thing he has ever said.

Then a painfully familiar voice breaks the silence.

"What?"

Tim looks up as he hears Josiah's voice. The boy just walks out of the Homestead, his hair adorably ruffled, and a hurt look on his face. Tim abruptly bursts out in sobbing.

"Jo-Josiah... I'm so sorry... I didn't mean it like that..."

Josiah squeezes his eyes shut, as if holding back tears, and then he replies with a tone of ice: "No, Tim. If you think about us that way, then it's over."

He walks away, shoulders hanging, bending forward as if he is heavily injured. The Gladers stare at Tim for another moment before they shrug and go back to their business.

Biting his lip, Tim goes after Josiah, who is walking towards the Deadheads.

"Josiah, please, let me explain this..." he tries, but the dark-haired boy turns around to him and snaps: "Leave me alone, Tim."

Tim sniffs broken-heartedly as Josiah goes on walking away. He puts his hands in his pockets and turns around, starting to walk towards a place where Josiah isn't.

And as he does so, he doesn't see the Glader with the brick who hits Josiah on the head.

He also doesn't see that Josiah falls on the ground, unconscious, and that three boys take him with them.

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