Chapter One: Max
He’d run away from the drunken abuse, the blaming he was subject to, and the silence that had always been the worst. Of course he knew that running away would be better for him. Of course he did. But sometimes, once in a while, when his thoughts wandered, he felt guilty. Guilty for leaving his father when he was needed there, needed as the subject of anger so that they could present a facsimile of a perfect family at least for one day. It conflicted him that he had guilt for saving himself from getting hurt by a father who didn’t love him, a man who couldn’t accept who he was without a drink in hand. Max had been stuck in a dull haze of pain and numbness that had slowly killed him, but he was alive now and that was all that mattered.
Max had always been told he was a whore and other people like him weren’t deserving of love by his father. He was a disgusting, piece of shit faggot, who was going to hell. The sad thing was that he had lived in New York, where most people supported his sexuality, and his father could still beat him to a pulp while drunk for years and no one noticed. Eighteen years of his life had come to a culmination to this action he took in impulse when he couldn’t take it anymore. His thoughts wandered to a few days earlier when he had packed his bags and just ran.
“Wake up, you faggot!” was what woke him that day just like every other slur directed at him in the morning. It was a Saturday morning of the first week of summer break and most were excited. Max, however, was dreading the hours that he had to stay with his drunk father and the bruises he’ll have to hide. School brought him a few hours of relief but vacation meant twenty four seven with his fucked up father who couldn’t even stay sober for an hour.
“You gonna pay? Or am I gonna have to beat it out of you?”
“No, sir” Max said, trying to hide his shaking.
“No, no, no, you’re no man. You’re fucking shaking.”
Max was lifted out of the bed and slammed right into the wall. He could feel the sting, but it didn’t hurt anymore. It used to, but now it was normal, to be aching everywhere, wincing everytime he walked, and hiding every broken bone and bruised arm.
“I’m sorry...” Max whimpered. He was surprised the pain still made him whimper when he couldn't even feel anything.
“You’re sorry?! You fuckwit! I should hit you harder for that!”
His father did what he promised. Max wasn’t punched or slapped. Instead, he was grappled and thrown against the bed frame. He could hear the crunch of his arm as it broke. Max couldn’t breath. The pain flared and he shuddered. It wasn’t the worse pain he’d felt but the collective physical and emotional pain was too much. He’d tried so hard to be normal. He had never gotten the chance to even kiss a boy without getting caught. He was frustrated and scared, so he stood up physically and metaphorically.
“Why are you doing this? I’m your son for fucks sake. Why do beat me up until I‘m hurting from head to toe? Why?” Max knew saying that would only make it worse, but he couldn’t take it anymore. He had to do something even if he died. He needed to save himself from the pain whether it meant surviving and running away or dying.
“You piece of shit. Are you listening? You aren’t my son! You couldn’t be, when you’re just a freak !”
“Of course,” Max said without emotion. He was done with all this pain. He didn’t even have a reason to argue now. All he could do was wait.
“You know what, I should kick you out of here. I’m giving you a parting gift though.”
Right after saying that, Max’s father dragged him towards the kitchen. Max tried to fight back because he knew what was going to happen. Blood dripping from his arms, words cut into his skin, forever branding him. He wanted to run, but he decided to allow his father— the man didn’t deserve the word but it was the only one Max knew—to have this last sense of pleasure. It was wrong but Max at that moment felt he deserved it. He’d caused his mother to go and made his father a drunk. To him, it was a worthy punishment for being allowed to pack his bags and run away.
Slowly Max was pulled up and his father gave him a sharp knife. Max was grateful for that because a dull knife would just rip his skin rather than cut it. It would hurt but at least there’d be some evidence of the pain he’d feel. He of course knew this from experience.
“I’m gonna watch as you carve faggot into your arm. Got it. Or do I have to hit you again?
Max knew that this would be a possibility but he was scared. The scars would forever mutilate him. Mark him as a freak and it would all be visible to everyone.
“MAX, you better answer me NOW”
Max flinched because of his father growling at him. Not his father. Not his father, just a monster
“ Yes, sir” Max mumbled, his voice shaking.
“YES, SIR” Max shouted “ I GOT IT, SIR” Tears were leaking from his eyes. He had to get this over with quickly or else he wouldn’t be able to leave. He had to leave. He couldn’t take this any longer, there was no need to.
He took the knife slowly. Turning it in his hands. He couldn’t even place the blade, on his arm. It wasn’t the pain that stopped him, it was the realization that the other scars he had were made by the same action that would forever mark him. He was disgusted, disgusted that sometimes it was only blood and pain that kept him from losing hope, that pain and blood,the things most people try to avoid their entire lives, were the things he rushed to when everything was overwhelming to him.
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