Someone shoot me.
The last thing I wanted to do on a Friday night was go to therapy. I wanted to be at home, in bed, with a bag of chips, and The Breakfast Club. In that order.
Mom left me at the entrance of the therapist’s office. Kissing me goodbye on the top of my head as if I were a child on their first day of kindergarten. She probably didn’t want the other parents in the waiting room to know I belonged to her. Not the skinny kid with the black hair and stretched ears. Not me.
I sat near the entrance and picked up an issue of Highlights. They were a bit juvenile for a sixteen-year-old, but I enjoyed reading the poems and doing the trivia.
“Kyle Buckner?” A tall woman said from the doorway.
I stood, brushed the imaginary dust off my pant legs, followed her, and closed the door behind me.
I expected there to be books lining the walls, a couch with a propped-up headrest, and a sweaty, fat old man with a yellow legal pad. Instead, the room had one large window overlooking the construction outside, red floral pattern wallpaper and a black desk smack dab in the middle of the room with two swivel chairs. One for the patient and the other for their parents. My therapist was a beautiful woman with long, wavy blonde hair hanging down around her shoulders and the biggest, bluest eyes I’d ever seen. I wished my eyes looked like hers. Mine were a muddy brown, and I hated them.
“Hello, Kyle,” Veronica said, holding her hand out for me to shake.
“Hello, Dr. Rowe,” I said with a sloppy smile.
She smiled back, and I felt better for coming.
“Please, sit.” She gestured to one of the large padded swivel chairs. I took a seat and spun a few times to get the urge to out of my system.
“How are you doing? I hear you’ve been getting bad grades at school.” Dr. Rowe said, staring at my file. My mother must have spoken with her. I made a mental note to hide my report cards from her.
“Oh, yeah,” I said, grabbing the bottom of my chair. “I just don’t understand the new stuff in history.”
She nodded in a disbelieving sort of way and made a note in my file. Things were off to a good start.
“Making any friends?” she said, returning her gaze to me instead of the papers on her desk.
“Tons,” I said, spinning in my chair again. I caught her blue eyes every time I made it back around again.
I stopped. “Sorry,”
“Tell me about school. What’s really going on?”
“School fucking blows,” I said, tugging on the plug in my newly stretched lobe to stop the itch.
Dr. Rowe raised an arched brow and made another note in my file.
“Why is that?” she asked. “Have you been taking your,” she checked my chart “Ritalin?”
I spun one more time just to get the jitters out. “Of course, I have,”
I pulled myself up in my chair and sat back. My shirt bunched up a little in the back, but I tried to ignore the discomfort. Fidgeting too much might give Mrs. Rowe an excuse to tell my mom I might not be taking my meds. Which I did take, like clockwork.
“I get bullied.”
She made a note. “By whom?” she asked.
I paused for a moment.
“Pretty much everyone,” I said, staring at my feet.
“Why do you get bullied, Kyle?”
“Well, that’s an easy one,” I said “I’m gay.”
Dr. Rowe’s pen returned to the papers. “When did you make this decision?”
“Decided?” I asked. “You think I chose this?”
Veronica’s expression didn’t change.
“Well, yes,” she said, “Your mother told us you’ve been going through a phase. You must have decided recently.”
I stood. Rage boiled in my chest, and I held back my need to throw something. I couldn’t look Dr. Rowe in the eyes.
“I’m outta here!” I said, walking to the door.
I opened the door and closed it behind me before I could even give her the chance to finish her breath.
I lived in a town with one traffic light. Pine Box, Virginia. If you looked it up on a map, I’m sure you wouldn’t find it. There were more backwoods rednecks here than most places. The people all knew each other’s business, and no one seemed to mind. I, of course, did but no one gave a shit what the faggot had to say.
I tried my best to stay to myself and stay out of trouble, which was particularly hard when people forced problems in your face. School proved that every day
My school was a tiny building toward the end of Pine Box, closer to the road leading AWAY from this town than any other building. It was grade six through twelve but still managed to stay below a thousand students.
I was in eleventh grade and had many of my classes with the senior students, like Duke Sintell. Duke was the football player type but never tried to get on the team. It was probably because he needed at least a B average to stay on the team, and it was all too much for his brain.
Duke was a big guy, about six feet, upper two hundred pounds, mostly muscle. He did, however, have a rather entertaining double chin that jiggled when he talked. He was the perfect person to avoid when you were less than average, such as myself.
“Hey, pretty boy,” Duke said to me at lunch after grabbing his tray to get in line. His double chin giggled and danced with each word. “You gonna get a banana, pretty boy?” His friends laughed at his mocking voice, and he waited for my response.
I could see the anticipation in his eyes, the longing to see my pain. I did feel it, it wasn’t great to know everyone thought you were a freak, a monster just for liking the same sex, or for wearing black.
Of course, I hid it. I played it cool. I never let them see me suffer.
“Only yours, Duke.” I would say with a calm disposition and a bite of my mashed potatoes. “You know that.” I would add a wink for effect and see his brown eyes widen in anger.
This happened every day. A bigoted comment, a cold response, a fag joke here, a sarcastic kiss blown there. It was like a fucking merry go round.
After lunch, I grabbed my bag and threw it over my shoulder. My next class was in ten minutes, and I wanted to see my friend Deb on the way there. Halfway to her locker, I was stopped by a group of boys. Duke’s boys.
“What was that?” Duke said with a shove.
My bag fell off my shoulder and hit the floor with a thud. I was glad that the noise wasn’t my face. “What was what?” I said, bending to grab my bag.
He let me pick it up and replace it on my shoulder before pushing me again. My bag fell to the ground once more, and my shoulder grew red hot from the shoving.
“Duke!” I snapped.
His face widened into a grin. His buddies laughed.
My stomach fell.
“Earlier, in the cafeteria,” Duke said, kicking my backpack away from me. “What was that about?”
I could feel the sweat forming on my forehead, and it made me grow cold. I was used to being picked on from afar, but never like this.
“I was kidding. You know that,” I looked at each boy in the eye for a split second. Just long enough to show I was honest (if that ever did anything).
“I don’t think you were, pretty boy,” Duke said. He grabbed me by the arm and dragged me away. The hallway near the cafeteria was empty since most people were in class.
I kicked and pulled as hard as I could to no avail. He was much bigger than me, and his buddies were there to back him up.
When you actually NEED a hall monitor…
“Duke!” I yelled, pulling on his arm. My feet tried to stop but the fear made them continue on.
Duke dragged me by my arm into the boy’s bathroom.
“You like to joke about loving my dick when you haven’t even seen it?” Duke asked.
The boys opened the bathroom stall, and Duke threw me inside hard enough to hit the wall on the other side. I tried to get back out but they pushed the door closed on me.
“Duke!” I yelled, pounding on the door as hard as I could.
“You just wait for it, pretty boy. You’ll learn you weren’t joking.”
I heard his zipper from the other side of the stall. Nausea crept up when my stomach dropped again, and I vomited hard into the toilet.
“What’s going on here?” I heard through my retches. “Duke? Who’s in the stall?” It was a woman’s voice.
“Kyle Buckner.” I heard Duke say to the teacher.
The stall opened, and Mrs. O’Harris stood on the other side. She helped me up. “I heard yelling. Are you alright?” she asked me after I was on my feet.
I nodded. I couldn’t speak just yet without the threat of puking again.
Mrs. O’Harris returned her attention to the other boys. “WHAT happened?”
They tumbled over each other as they tried to come up with a valid excuse that wouldn’t ultimately get them expelled for attempted sexual assault.
“Kyle got sick, so we helped him into the stall.” Duke finally said. “Sorry, puke freaks us out.”
I still felt like puking again, but I took deep breaths to try and calm it. My hands shook at my sides, so I slipped them into my pockets.
Mrs. O’Harris returned to me. “Is that true, Kyle?”
Duke caught my eye, he slowly zipped his pants back up as if his zipper just happened to be open. His gaze was hard and dark, and his eyebrows scrunched together so close they almost connected.
“Yes,” I said. “I just got sick. Sorry.”
Mrs. O’Harris sent everyone to class, and the boys left punching each other and carrying on as if nothing happened. She sent me to the nurse, where I proceeded to lie my ass off to be sent home.
“Don’t return without a doctor’s note.” the nurse said before signing my permission form to leave the premises.
“Yea, okay,” I said, rolling my eyes.
No one really cared about doctors’ notes here. They just said that to try and scare the skippers.
I walked all the way home and left my mind as blank as possible. I didn’t want to think of Duke, his friends, Deb, anyone from that school. I couldn’t.
Birds flew over my head and landed in the tree ahead of me, jumping on their branch.
“Fuck you, birds.”
I was pissed. My hands couldn’t stop shaking. All I could think of was the sound of Duke’s zipper. I wondered if he would have actually done it.
And my therapist telling me I chose this lifestyle.
I made it home. My parents wouldn’t be back until five.
The driveway was empty except for one large oak tree with a tire swing I hadn’t touched since I was ten. The front door was unlocked as usual, and I stared at my feet until I got to my room. I wasn’t going to face the family photos of the fake smiles or the WELCOME TO OUR HAPPY HOME sign that hung in the hallway entrance.
My room was small, which didn’t bother me. I had a few things hanging on the walls, like my Alice Cooper poster and my AC/DC cloth wall cloth.
On top of my dresser was a tiny wooden box big enough to hold a guitar pick. I didn’t play guitar, and never wanted to. Instead, inside sat a tiny razor blade. It was small and light and fit perfectly between my fingers.
I pulled it from the box and returned to my bed. My pant leg lifted up when I sat, revealing an assortment of scars that my tiny little friend painted for me. I pulled my pant leg up higher and put the razor to my skin.
Duke’s face crosses my mind, and I flicked my wrist. White-hot burning came and stopped. Again.
I didn’t stop until every evil thought that burned in my mind today was, instead, burning on my leg.
Returning the razor to the box, the burning continued along with a warm, flowing sensation on my calf. I grabbed some tissues from the bathroom and soaked up my mess.
I used to cry when people bullied me. Now, my leg cried for me.
It would never change. They knew it, and I knew it too.