The Bartender

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Chapter Twenty-One

I glared at my parents for two minutes straight. I had finally found someone I liked and they were hell bent on ruining it for me. I rolled my eyes at them and started to go to my room.

“Aiden wait, we need to talk” dad said making me turn towards him angrily.

“What?”

Dad sighed. “We’re worried about you Aiden. I… We saw your... your hands yesterday and you went off for a whole day and night. We need to know if you’re fine... I mean, if course you’re not, but... Where did you go? What happened? Why did you do it?” he threw the questions at me.

I honestly didn’t know what to say. I guess I wasn’t thinking. Besides, what could I possibly say?

“And, do you care to explain this?” mom asked, showing me my box of bracelets, and of course, the pills.

“You looked through my stuff?” I questioned angrily.

“We weren’t snooping. Maria went to do your laundry and saw them lying on the floor. Aiden, how many did you take?” Mom asked.

“How long have you been doing this?”

“Are they the reason you cut?”

“What made you think doing drugs was an option?”

“Enough!” I screamed at them. “Stop with the questions! Please!”

“No, Aiden. We need to know so that we can help you!” Mom shouted back.

“Help me?” I scoffed. “You think you can help me? All you’re capable of doing is stress me day after day. First, I see you doing things with her at where we make food, we eat food from there, Mom! Fucking hell! Do you know what that did to me? Do you!”

“Aiden calm down” Chance insisted.

“Oh no, I’m on a fucking roll, don’t stop me” I seethed. “And you,” I pointed at my dad, still fuming. “You’re never fucking here anymore and when I think you want to spend time with me, you just come here to bombard with news of your other family. Oh I could deal with the fact that my parents are fucking homos but a brother? For 18 years, you now tell me that I have a fucking brother? And who does he turn out to be? Niall fucking Richardson. The gay boy I’ve been bullying for two good years. Now he won’t even look at me. And you want me to calm down?”

“Why don’t we all relax” Dad tried saying but I stopped him.

“I’m not speaking to any of you. You guys are such jerks” I screamed at them and turned to walk away.

“Aiden! Aiden get back here! Aiden!” Dad screamed after me but I was already on the stairs, running to my room.

“Aiden Get Back Here!”

That was all I heard when I slammed my door and locked it. I couldn’t deal with them. I had had an amazing day and night with Brian, even though I couldn’t remember most of the day, I was content with it.

All of that was ruined now with my parents talking about my addiction and the drugs. I really wanted to stop and I needed them to stop rubbing it in my face. I already felt bad about it enough but when someone else talked about it, it just made it a hundred times worse. I hated it.

I saw that my closet was intact so they weren’t lying when they said they hadn’t snooped. I wondered how I might have forgotten to stuff the damn box back in my closet. What was wrong with me?

Without even bothering to lay down for a while, I went to the bathroom to take shower. I had heard that showers helped when you were feeling down and right now, I was feeling all kinds of down. My feelings were all over the place, to be honest. I had no idea how to sort them in my head. All I knew was, I was angry and sad at the same time and there was nothing I could do about it.

Well, maybe there was something I could do about it. They might have taken my box with the essentials but they probably didn’t think about the bathroom drawers. I send an I got out of the shower and walked towards the drawers, dripping water on the tiles in the process.

I opened the drawers and searched for a shaving stick or anything sharp but to my horror, there was nothing. I checked the others, hell, I even checked the dustbin. It was like they had done a sweep of the whole place.

Were they trying to help me or kill me?

I punched the wall in anger, screaming at the top of my voice. What did they think they were doing? I hated them. All of them! I kept punching the wall in frustration. I threw things around. I didn’t know what to do. I cried. I knelt down and sobbed into my palms. I hated this so much.

By the time I came back, my knuckles were red with blood. I sighed and rubbed my eyes before going back to the shower that I had left running.

It was about seven in the morning when I finished dressing up for school. I didn’t want to be home after what had happened and honestly, I didn’t want to be in school either given how much I hated the place. Ironically, it was much better than being home at that moment.

I took in a deep breath and opened my door to see my dad sitting by the wall opposite my room.

“Finally” he groaned.

“What do you want?”

“Cut it with the attitude Aiden. You’re not a child. We’re going to sit down and talk about everything. When we’re satisfied, you can go to school. Now, give me your phone. You’re grounded and if you so much as talk back to me, I’m gonna ground you for a whole month!”

“I thought I wasn’t a child” I mumbled.

“That’s it. You’re grounded till you graduate!” he stated and walked away leaving me with my mouth open in shock.

“But dad! That’s like, 5 months away!” I screamed after him as he went down the stairs.

“Then fucking sit down and let’s talk before I ground you for your whole life, and trust me, I can”.

I sighed, looking down in shame. What did I do to deserve this treatment?

I sat down as he wanted and listened to him talk. I noticed that Chance and Klara were not around and I was grateful for that. Even though I was trying to accept them, I guess I wasn’t entirely comfortable. I mean, I didn’t know them from anywhere and all of a sudden, they’re in my life and part of my family. That was kind of hard to accept.

“Is he your dealer?”

“What?” I asked, coming back to reality.

“Brian, your boyfriend. Is he your dealer? Is he even your boyfriend?” dad asked making me look at him in shock. “Aiden, is he making you do things for the drugs, like sex? Because I know you’re not okay with that after. And I even have difficulty thinking about it. Oh my God, Aiden, is he taking advantage of you?”

“No, I want him to be I guess, Of course not, and HELL NO!”

“Aiden, are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. He’s not taking advantage of me, dad” I answered quickly. “We’ve not even done stuff, I mean, we’ve kissed but, we’re just starting to get to know each other”.

“Oh okay. That’s okay I guess”.

“And, is he the one who gave you the drugs? Because if so, I don’t want you near him”.

“No, no dad. I... I got them from someone else, not Brian, I promise. You can’t make me stop seeing him, please. I... I like being with him, please dad”. I pleaded, because of all the things that happened to me, I wasn’t sure I would be able to overcome being away from Brian. I was just starting to know him and I already liked him. He made me happy, he made me a better person.

“I thought you were just starting to get to know him” Dad asked wearily.

“Yeah but he makes me really happy dad. I don’t think about cutting when I’m with him”. It was true. It never crossed my mind last night.

“Okay... But he’s still sketchy” Dad stated.

“No he’s not. Come on, he’s like a brother to Kyle”.

“Kyle? Your best friend? How is he?”

I was so glad the subject was changed. My dad and I just talked about Kyle until it was time for breakfast. I quickly ate breakfast.

“Um, dad?” I asked as I got up from the dining table. “Can I have my phone back? Please? I know you’re angry but... You have all my stuff. I won’t do them again” I tried.

“I don’t know if I can trust you Aiden. Until then, no phone” he answered and I pouted.

I tried.

“Oh, and you have an appointment with Miss Imane Mills” he told me.

“The therapist?” I asked, my eyes widening in shock. Oh no. They didn’t!

“Yes, you remember her?”

“Dad I’m not depressed!” I stated angrily.

“No one said you were. It’s at 3:30, right after school and I’ll be there to pick you up!” he answered. “Oh, and before I forget, the driver is taking you to school. You’ve lost your car privileges too”.

“Oh for fucks sake!”

***

My day was simply the worst, I noticed the moment I got to school. I wanted to be alone to deal with my anger and apparent depression but leave it to Kyle to bombard me with questions. Oh and, Andrew was with him. What were they now, besties?

“Where have you been? I’ve been trying to reach you since yesterday!” Kyle stated angrily.

“I got grounded” I groaned.

“Serves you right!”

“Whoa, calm down” Andrew stated, pushing Kyle back gently. “What happened Aiden?”

I shrugged. “Well, apparently, I’m depressed and I’m not allowed to use a phone or drive my car anymore” I said and tried to walk past them but they stopped me.

“What do you mean you’re depressed” Andrew asked.

“Um... Maybe we shouldn’t...” Kyle started answering for me.

“No, let me tell him. Andrew, I have a secret. I’m a fucking rape victim and I’ve been cutting my damn wrists to get over it. I did a few drugs and all of a sudden, my parents think I’m fucking depressed and they’re making me see a therapist. That’s it”.

Andrew looked dumbfounded as he stated back at me but I just scoffed.

“Aiden, calm down. Maybe we should talk about this later” Kyle said.

“What? Don’t act like you don’t think so too. you were there when I sliced my wrists for the first time”.

“You know that’s not what I think” he insisted. “I love you Aiden, you know that and if your parents think you should see a therapist, I agree. Drugs shouldn’t be an escape, not should cutting. You know how I feel about that”.

I shook my head at him.

“He’s right Aiden. I’m sorry for what happened to you” Andrew said, finally finding his voice.

“Heh, it’s alright” I shrugged. “Took out my frustration on a wall earlier”.

“This is not funny Aiden” Kyle groaned.

“Lighten up bro, life’s too short to be serious”.

***

Apparently, I’m crazy for thinking I could laugh and make jokes about depression and Kyle made sure I knew that. I knew it was wrong but I couldn’t help it. I didn’t like feeling sad all the time. The only time I was genuinely happy was last night, and it had all been thrown out the window. Now, I had no way of getting to my source of happiness because Dad had decided to pick me up.

The only thing I was grateful for today was that Andrew didn’t act different or look at me with pity. I mean, he stopped talking about the parties and smoking, but he was still the same guy. Kyle on the other hand was still worrying about my wellbeing. I loved the guy but honestly, he needed to chill out.

“Aiden!” Speaking of the devil, “Have you seen Niall today? I’ve been trying to reach him but I think he’s avoiding me”.

“Oh, I wonder why!”

“Aiden, come on. I’m serious”.

“Dude, you’re probably suffocating him” I stated as we walked towards the cafeteria.

“You think so?” he asked, worry evident in his voice. He even looked sad and I felt so bad.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that. Maybe it’s not you he’s avoiding” I suggested.

“Then who?”

“Me”.

“You?” Kyle questioned and his eyes widened in realization. “You’re not bullying him are you?”

“Nope. It’s just...” I sighed. It seemed today was meant for revealing secrets. “Kyle, Niall is my brother” I stated.

“What?” he shouted making me grab his arm and lead him away from the cafeteria, where we had been headed.

“It’s a long story. Um, remember when I said my mom cheated?”

“Yeah” he nodded.

“Turns out, my mom has been a lesbian all her life, my dad has been gay all his life and to keep people from knowing, they got married and had me”.

“Oh my god!” he shouted.

“Quiet” I rolled my eyes.

“So, they’ve been in the closet all their life?”

“I guess” I shrugged.

“Okay, but where does Niall come in?”

“Dad’s boyfriend, Chance is his father. But it seems my mom was also his surrogate or something. So technically, Kyle and I are half-brothers”.

“Wow!”

“I know”.

“He’s going to hate you”.

“I know” I said with a sigh.

“We’ve got to find him” Kyle suggested.

“Okay”. Anything to get back in his good graces, if I ever were.

So we set up to look for Niall. Kyle even dragged Andrew too neglecting his protests. We split up and I took the bathroom. I knew he would be there because that was where he usually hid after encountering me.

God, I felt so guilty for doing that to him.

I checked under the stalls and saw a person sitting on the floor in the last one.

I opened it and saw Niall sitting there, crying.

“Oh my God, Niall” I cried immediately when I saw his wrists. “What did you do that for?”

“You made me do that!” he cried.

I flinched. I deserved that and so much more. I made him hurt himself. If it hadn’t been for my selfishness, for bullying him just because I had been bullied, just because he was gay, this wouldn’t have happened.

“I am so sorry” I apologized, but I knew that mere words couldn’t erase what I’d done to him.

I sat down beside him, putting my arm around his shoulder.

“Leave me alone” he sobbed even though he rested his head against my chest.

“I’m so sorry for doing this to you” I whispered as I run my hand through his hair. “I am so sorry”. I would keep saying it until he knew that I regretted everything.

“No you’re not” he sobbed. “Do you know what hurts worse?”

I shook my head, knowing he couldn’t see me.

“That I still can’t hate you. Even after everything you did, you’re still my brother and I’ve wanted a brother since I was 5” he sobbed. “I wanted my brother to be big guy, full of love, someone who could protect me”.

Protect him from me.

“Because I’ve been hurt so much. I thought Kyle could protect me, but he loves you way too much and I don’t even know why. You’re a monster, you’re a bully. I hate you. But you’re still my brother”.

“I’m sorry”. I didn’t know what else to say. Everything he said was true. I wanted to bury myself under due to the shame.

“It’s okay. Because, I... I don’t know how to hate someone”.

“You can” I told him. “You can hate me and I won’t fault you for it. I understand. I’ve hurt you so much”.

“Yeah”.

“Even though you’re my brother”

“You didn’t know”.

“Still. Whether you’re my brother or not, I shouldn’t have hurt you like that. No one deserves that”.

Niall sighed. He rubbed his finger on his wrist. I then noticed that he was still bleeding and I wondered how deep he cut.

“It won’t stop. I don’t know what to do” he said.

“Um, wait here, I’ll be back as soon as I can” I said, getting up to get my first aid box from my locker. I had it for emergency cases like this, only, I didn’t think I’ll use it for another person.

“Don’t leave me” he whispered.

“I’ll be back in two seconds” I promised and run to my locker. Thankfully, I didn’t meet any student or teacher at they were still at lunch.

I got back quickly and sat down in front of him, taking his arm.

“What are you doing?”

“I’ll make it stop” I said.

“How?”

“Just watch” I stated and cleaned his wounds. When I finally made it stop bleeding, I threw the bloodied cotton in the toilet bowl and flushed. I then started to wrap his arm with a bandage.

“Aiden, what’s that?” he asked.

“What?”

He pointed towards my wrist and I sucked in a deep breath. My sleeves had rolled up. I didn’t even realize it.

“You cut too?”

“Yeah” I whispered.

“Why?”

“We all have our demons brother” I stated.

“Tell me, please” he asked and I sighed. I guess he deserved to know.

So I did. I told him about everything that happened throughout my time in middle school till high school. I told him about the guy who bullied me because I was rich, the same one who raped me, and I told him how I hated homosexuals so much just because of that guy.

But I also told him how I had come to understand that not all people were bad and how I had come to accept people for who they were.

“So you’re the basic bully who projects?” he asked.

I chuckled. “That’s what you took from that?”

“No” he shook his head. “I just wanted to know why you hurt me. I understand now”.

“Niall, I am really sorry for what I did to you. I shouldn’t have used what happened to me as an excuse for being a terrible person. I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through, and I know it’s a bit too late but I hope that you can forgive me one day”.

“It’s okay” he shrugged.

“Can you promise me one thing?” I asked us I finished up bandaging his arm.

“What?”

“Please stop cutting. It’s not okay to use it as an escape and I learned that the hard way. Even though we just found out, you’re my brother and it’ll hurt to lose you before I even get to know you”.

“But it hurts so much, you know?”

I nodded. “Yeah, I do. Tell you what, anytime you feel down or feel like cutting, just call me. If you’re hurt, I can help you through it. We can hurt together” I suggested.

“Okay” he nodded. “Then please promise me too”.

“What?”

“That you’ll stop cutting. I’ll only do it if you do the same”.

“I promise”.

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