XIX. Moments Like This
I didn’t get a wink of sleep last night. I refused to close my eyes in fear that the monster disguised as Madison’s father would come back in the dark to try to finish what he’d started. But that didn’t happen, thankfully. Unfortunately, that didn’t stop Madison’s relentless nightmares or that haunting tears that continuously streamed down his battered face during the night. One of his nightmares got to the point that he was yelling, borderline screaming for his father to stop, tears endlessly falling. I was so scared and woke him up as soon as I could. He opened his eyes and frantically looked around as if he didn’t know where he was before his eyes landed on me. I held him close and let him cry until he’d cried himself back to sleep. And I’ve been holding onto him ever since.
I glanced at the clock as I gently combed my fingers through his hair. When I did that, it seemed to soothe his mind, as if his subconscious knew he was safe with me, even when he was asleep. It was a bit past nine. I knew Madison hated starting the day late, but the way he looked when he was sleeping, calm and serene, made me stop. He looked like an angel. He was an angel. My angel, handcrafted and sent to me by God Himself.
I found myself fluttering my eyes closed as I held Madison tighter, preparing my mind and heart for something I hadn’t done in a while. “Hey, God,” I softly said, careful not to wake Madison up. “I know I haven’t talked to you in a while, not since all this drama has started, and I’m sorry. That’s when I should’ve been talking to You the most. It’s just...I don’t know. My church says that you hate me but I don’t think you do. I know you don’t because if you did, why make me that way? I mean, the Bible even says that you love each and every one of us, so why would who I love change that? I just...I wish the church understood.” I took a deep breath before continuing. “I’m...I’m coming to you in prayers that you’ll protect the one I love from the evil that is his father. Madison is just so amazing and nice and kind-hearted and doesn’t deserve any of this pain. And I know there’s a reason that you’re doing this that we don’t understand yet, but please...please protect him for me. I love him so much that it hurts and it kills me to see him hurt like this. Thank you for all that you’ve done, all that you’re doing, and all you’re going to do, and in your son Jesus’ name, amen,” I softly concluded as I opened my eyes. It felt good to get everything out and confide in my faith. I felt comforted in a weird, but good way.
My attention returned to the sleeping angel in my arms, a small grin growing on my lips before I gently started bombarding him with gentle kisses the way he’d done me a mere day ago. “Baby,” I whispered as I kissed his cheek. “Baby, it’s time to wake up...” He merely stirred, but didn’t move much. I placed another gentle kiss on his nose. “Madison, wake up, il mio amore (my love).”
His eyes slowly fluttered open, revealing his beautiful eyes, though my heart pulled at the sight of his painful-looking black eye. It’d swollen even more last night to the point his eye was barely halfway open. “I look that bad, huh?” Madison said with a humorless laugh, his voice scratchy and weak, but a wince followed soon after as he gently cradled his rib. I carefully pulled back the covers and saw that his chest wounds had also become worse in the night.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go to the hospital, Madison? We could make sure you’re okay and get your sorry excuse for a father arrested.”
Madison instantly shook his head as he slowly sat himself to a sitting position, biting his bottom lip to hold back a wince. “No, Noah. I don’t want to press charges or anything it’s just...thanks babe, but I’m fine. I promise, just a bit sore that’s all.”
“Can you at least tell me where he lives so we can have a nice long conversation at what happens when someone puts a hand on my boyfriend?” I asked, my voice slightly tight.
“I just wanna talk,” I said throwing my hands up in defense, causing him to chuckle. We both knew I was lying.
“Oh, Noah, cosa devo fare con te? (What am I to do with you?)" he playfully asked with a smile.
“Love me,” I shrugged with a smile of my own before I gently hooked my index finger under his chin and pressed my lips to his. We held it for a moment before I pulled away. “I’ll get you some painkillers and get started on breakfast,” I softly said as I made a move to get up, but he stopped me by gently putting his hand on my shoulder.
“Noah, I see the bags under your eyes. You need some sleep. I’m not completely helpless, I can get my own painkillers and make my own breakfast. There’s no use in you losing any more sleep over me.”
I chuckled. “Babe, I’ve been losing sleep over you since before we even started dating.” He smiled in response and my heart fluttered.
“Okay,” he caved in. “I’ll let you take care of me for today.”
I gently kissed his forehead. “Good. And we need to figure out what we’re going to do about-”
“Not right now,” he said, cutting me off. “I don’t want to think about him right now. Please.” The pain in his voice broke me into a million pieces, but instead of pushing the issue further I merely nodded, kissed him again, and got up to get some meds and creams.
He effortlessly swallowed the pills as I silently rubbed the creams on his bruises, the only sounds heard throughout his apartment were his winces. It hurt me that I was causing him more pain than he was already enduring, but I made it up by making him a nice and easy breakfast to take his mind off of things by reminding him how good of a chief I am.
I was in the middle of mixing the batter for some waffles as the oven heated up for the rolls when my phone buzzed in my back pocket. I quickly pulled it out, and once I saw Connor’s name, I instantly answered and cradled the phone between my shoulder and ear. “Hey, Con. Look this isn’t really a-”
“Noah? Noah, my gosh you’re alive. I’ve been texting you all night and I’ve called half a billion times. You’re Nona is worried sick and has been blowing up my phone all night. Where are you, man? Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I said with a half-hearted chuckle, the mention of my Nona causing anger to boil in my stomach. “I’m with Mads, he’s really going through it and needs me, but don’t tell Nona. She and I had a falling out yesterday, but I don’t want to talk about it.” There was silence on Connor’s end as I poured the batter into the waffle iron just as the oven beeped, letting me know it was done preheating. “Con? Earth to Connor? You still there?”
“Yeah, sorry it’s just...dang. You need any help? I don’t mind-”
“No it’s fine, Connor, really. We need this time together...alone.” I don’t know why, but it felt extremely awkward talking to my best friend about my boyfriend, though I knew it shouldn’t. I slid the bread into the oven. I’m still getting used to this.
“I get it, I get it. Will you be at practice?”
“Not tonight, but maybe for a bit next practice. I don’t know, I’ll let you know later, okay?”
“Okay. Good luck, man. Call me if you need anything.”
“Will do. But remember, as far as my Nona’s concerned, you don’t even know me.”
Connor chuckled on the other end of the line. “Positive. Rest up, Noah.” Then the line clicked dead. I chuckled before I slid my phone back into my back pocket and flipped the waffle iron.
After a while, I was walking back into Madison’s bedroom carrying two plates with waffles, biscuits, and bacon in one hand and two glasses of fruit punch in the other. “Coming in hot, babe,” I warned as I offered him his food. A smile played on his handsome face as he took his food from my hands before he pressed a kiss to my lips.
“Thank you, Noah. Exactly what I needed.” I smiled as I got comfortable on the bed with him and looked at the TV only to realize he was watching reruns of iCarly, the episode where Sam checks into a mental institution for having a crush on Freddy. I found myself chuckling, causing Madison to lift a brow at me. “What?”
“It’s just...this episode kind of reminds me of me, of us. I mean, when I first realized I was gay, let alone had a crush on a hot guy like you, I thought I’d gone mental, off the deep end. But then I realized there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s was just different than I was used to. And I’m glad I took this chance.”
Madison chuckled as he placed his glass on his nightstand and wrapped his free arm around me. “I’m glad you took that chance too. But you know how I relate? You are Freddy: a cute boy with an insane mom-slash-Nona who’s trying to protect you from what she doesn’t understand because she’s so afraid to let the world and all its changes in. I, on the other hand, am Carly with a detached father, minus the creative brother.”
“But Carly and Freddy don’t end up together in the end,” I said, my eyebrows furrowing.
“Well in this universe they do, I assure you that.”
I found myself chuckling as I set my food to the side and moved us so that I was now holding Madison, careful that our movement didn’t knock over the food and create a mess. “I think I can live with that.”
“Me too. It’s just...wow. How can our families be so screwed up and broken? I kind of think it’s funny.”
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “But, as cheesy as it sounds, I’m good as long as I’ve got you.”
Madison turned his head and kissed my cheek. “I couldn’t have said it better myself, love.”
Moments like this make the break with my Nona worth it. And I don’t regret it at all.