Fever Dreams

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Chapter 6: Scared

I pulled my mom into a sitting position on the couch. I’d had to drag her over from where she’d passed out behind it, which was pretty impressive for a fourteen-year-old.
She was awake at this point, but barely. Her glazed expression swept over me, seeking recognition in her inebriated state.
“Mom,” I pleaded. “Say something.”
“I never wanted you,” she murmured. “I wish you’d go the fuck away, you nasty creature. I didn’t fucking make you. You’re not mine. Go away.”

She muttered things like this all the time, but every time it hurt. All the time I wondered if she was slurring the words she didn’t have the guts to say. Sometimes I thought she really didn’t want me.
I’m a mistake.
“Are you okay, man?” asked Pete, who was sitting next to me.
It was Thursday; lunch. I guess I’d been spacing, but I could feel the moisture in my eyes. Remembering my mother’s days of drinking always made me emotional.
“I’m fine,” I said, trying to sound just that. “High pollen count.”
Pete and the others at the lunch table seemed to buy that. I got up to dump my tray, then made my way to the bathroom. Little did I know that I was followed.
“Hey, Ethan, were you crying back there?” Silas asked, entering the bathroom after me.
I shrugged, looking at our reflections. There was no point in lying to him. He was really one of the only people I could confide in; I didn’t trust anyone else.
“Yes, I was,” I said softly.
He blinked, probably in shock that I’d admitted to it, then motioned for me to sit down on the bench against the wall. It was a weird gesture to me; his arms were around my waist and my head was leaning against his shoulder as he allowed me to finish crying. I’m not used to sharing my emotions with other people, so the tears came full-force. And Silas just sat silently, allowing me to vent my pain.
When I’d recovered enough, I spoke. “Well, I guess what you need to know first is that my mom was an alcoholic. A while back she got help; she’d been sober for a couple years now. I came home yesterday to find her passed out in the yard. I guess I’m scared, y’know, because she’s an abusive drunk.”
“She hits you?” Silas asked, bringing one of his hands up to stroke my hair.
“No, verbally abusive,” I clarified. “She’d tell me that I was a mistake and she wished she never gave birth to me.”
“So you’re afraid that what she’s saying is her confession; she can’t admit it when she’s sober.”
I nodded, burying my face in the crook of his neck to distract myself from crying any more.
“I’m so sorry, Ethan,” he whispered. “Hey, since you admitted something, would you like me to?”
I glanced up at him. “What, like quid pro quo?”
His nose brushed against my forehead when he looked down at me. “What?”
“Quid pro quo. It’s Latin for ‘this for that.’ Like, I share something, you share something.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s what I had in mind.”
“Well, you can if you want, but you don’t have to.”
“Nah, I need someone to talk to about it. My mom started dating this guy out of nowhere, and yesterday he basically threatened me. I don’t know if he’s just trying to scare me into staying out of his relationship with my mom or if he’d seriously hurt me if I got out of line, and it’s really messing me up. I’m scared as well. So, um, you’re not alone.”
“That means a lot to me, Silas.”
“Yeah, well, I’m not usually good with words but I try.”
I sat up and finished drying my tears, then leaned over to capture his lips in a quick kiss. “Feel special, okay? I never confide in anyone.”
“Why are you confiding in me then?”
“To be honest, I don’t know. I guess I just feel like I can trust you.”
He smiled; that smile that made something in me just ache. “I’m glad you feel that way. Where I came from, I wasn’t very well-liked.”
“Why not?” I can’t imagine anyone hating this beautiful creature.
“Is it okay if we don’t go into it right now? I mean, I like you, and that’s why I don’t feel comfortable telling you. I feel like it may make you see me in a different light, and pull away from me. I just want to tell you when you know me better as a person. Is that okay?”
I nodded. “It’s fine.”

One of the first friends I made when I started school here was Kristina Barnett. She sits in front of me in Psychology, and she also noticed the copious amount of staring between Ethan and me. She loves gay romance, though, so she’s basically our biggest fan.
In fact, here’s how a typical day goes:
I came into Psychology on Friday and sat in my seat behind Kristina, who instantly turned around.
“Hey, how’s it going with Ethan?” she asked.
I whacked her on the forehead. “Not so loud, dimwit! The homophobic walls have homophobic ears.”
She narrowed her eyes. “You’re lucky that’s really clever. And hey, it’s not like anyone’s listening. Relax!”
“But to answer your question, our date’s still on for tomorrow night. He said his mom will be leaving around the time I get there, and she can’t know it’s a date. So what do I wear that’s flirty but not outright like ‘Hey I’m on a date with your son.’”
“That’s probably the gayest thing I’ve ever heard, honestly. Congratulations.”
“It’s a legit question.”
“I know, I know. You’re trying to ask how to not make it obvious that you’re dating. You just asked it in the most inherently gay way possible.”
I glared. “I don’t have to take this.”
She grinned. “Whatever, you love me. And look, I’ll come over and help you pick an outfit. But what I really need to say here is this: Are you sure you want to date a guy who isn’t willing to come out?”
“I don’t mind. In fact, I like that I don’t have to out myself at this school so soon. I was outed at fourteen, then had to go through three years of homophobia before moving here. Trust me, I’d like to spend some time under the radar for a change.”
“If you say so."
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