GRIP

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The Ice Wolves Cometh

“Do we have to do this?” The teenager protested.

“That’s the beauty of it,” The doctor began, “You don’t have to do anything.”

Declan rolled his eyes, “... And if I don’t do anything, I stay here. I know that. What I’m asking is if I have to do this whole... Reliving the past thing.” He air quoted the last bit.

“Look, Declan,” The doctor spoke in a calm, warm tone, as opposed to the teens angst filled timbre, “You’re in here for a disorder that has lead to many severe medical conditions, including death. We’ve talked about your feelings with coping with the disease itself. Now, we have to focus on what lead you here; it’s essential. Not only that, but you’ve been... From what my file shows, through a traumatic series of events. What with blowing your knee out, your best friend dying...” He was cut off.

“Hold on a second...” He rose up from the couch and hobbled closer, “How do you know about Skylar?”

“Well, you see,” again, he was cut off.

“Don’t start with your diplomatic bullshit. You always do this. You always give me these shallow answers… GOD… For ONCE give me an outright answer!” Declan raised his voice.

The doctor leaned back in his chair; disengaging. The only way he would get Declan to calm down was to let him have a rage fit. Some times it’s best to sit back and let someone have a fit, before you can begin to break down their psychosis.

“What else do you know,” Dr. Anderson remained silent, “TELL ME!” The teen yelled.

“Your coach.” Was all he uttered.

Declan sat back down and buried his face in his hands; crestfallen.

“Declan, he just wants what is best for you. I want the best for you. I know you don’t want to accept it, but people care about you. They want to see you get the help you so desperately need. That’s why you’re… That’s why everyone is here. If you don’t want to be here, then, leave. Simple as that.”

He shook his head, and turned to face the window. Declan hated being here. He hated having to let another person into his past. Why did it even matter…

“Take me back to when you met Gable... ‘Again’, as you’ve put it.”

Declan clenched his jaw. His palms sweaty from the anxiety Gable’s name itself brought him. His heart sped, his stomach dropped... He inhaled deeply and began retelling their torrid affair.


It hadn’t been but a few months since Declan had first experienced heartbreak. Dating was new to him, and it’d been hard dealing with the baggage that came with the dissolution of a relationship.

He stood at five feet, five inches, and weighed five hundred twelve pounds. Yep. Five hundred and twelve pounds. He lacked self-confidence, resigned to live life living within the confines of this obese façade… His jet black hair, overgrown and disheveled, only in attempt to hide his bloated face.

His peers didn’t help either; they had always treated him less than. Be it because his weight or his sexual preference. West Texas might seem peaceful and quaint, but, to him, it was everything except that; he hated how judgmental his peers were.

Further, he’d grown up in a Catholic home in which homosexuality wasn’t exactly… Acceptable. His recent relationship had taught him a lot, though. One particular lesson being that going to church didn’t necessarily make someone a good person.

However, that’s the territory that comes with trying to date someone who defines themselves publicly as heterosexual… An extremely pious one, at that.

“I can’t.” Declan declined.

“Just stay,” Ashton begged him. She was the epitome of a small town rich girl; the house, the car, the money… The self-entitlement, “My cousin and his friends are coming. They’ll be here shortly, and we can all hang out with them. You might meet someone!” she joked. It was clear that it was meant to be more of a jab, but he shrugged it off.

“I’m sure I will.” Declan rolled his eyes. He was still heartbroken, and felt disgusted with himself, but... What could he do, when the friends he had surrounded himself since his break up reside in the ice cream section of the local grocery store?


“What is this? A clown car?! Jesus titty fucking Christ, Slater.” One of the teenagers exclaimed, cramped, between another of the guys and the window.

All three of them were fairly well built. Slater, had wavy jet black hair, as opposed to the flat dirty blonde style the teenager next to the window covered with a cap. The jock in the middle of them had a slightly larger muscular build, his hair a brunette and curly mane.

“We’re almost there, shut your dick holster, Rob.” the larger jock joked.

“Bitch, did I ask you? No. So, shut the fuck up, Gable.” Robert snapped.

“No, but you bitched about it, so, by proxy, you’re the bitch. Logic, Bob; be one with it.”

“Alright, gaymosabi, thank you for the vocabulary lesson.” he spat.

“Hey, hey, ladies, can we calm down and concentrate on getting laid? I’m pretty fucking sure there’s going to be some hunnies up at this little… Snow cone stand bullshit.” Slater reminded them. Of course, it’s West Texas, what other reason was there to drive forty miles besides getting laid?

“Hunnies?” Robert asked with a disgusted face, “Who are you?”

“It’s… Totally, like, slang from England.” Gable joked in an effeminate tone eliciting a shove from Robert, pushing him into Slater causing him to overcorrect, “Hey, watch it! Let’s try NOT to get in a wreck. You may not be a stranger to broken bones, but that doesn’t apply to everyone present, Gable.”

“Sorry, Slater.” he exhaled a small chuckle.


Not long after Declan obliged to stay, the street lights began to flood the gaps of light the Sun had left behind in its magnificent setting.

“I’m going to go get my sketchpad,” he announced, and walked towards his car.

Even the walk towards his car was exhausting. His body hindered him from being the person he so badly wish he were. It was immensely difficult being subjected to the constant ridicule of his peers, without adding on how arduous it was for him to perform such mundane physical acts.

“Are you fucking kidding me with that, Slater?” one shouted as they jumped the curb incasing the parking lot, “You better not have fucked the alignment up, or I’ll have your ass.”

“I’m sure you will, Rob.” another chimed in, “You’re all about that ass, huh?” he added.

“Man, fuck you, Gable.” Robert yelled.

“Both of y’all, shut up. It’ll be perfectly fine. ASH!” Slater beckoned.

“Slater!!! I knew that was y’all, as soon as you pulled in,” her shrill drawl filled the air as she skipped toward the truck; the guys all climbed out, and proceeded to exchange pleasantries.

The trio looked as if they had been picked right out of redneck country. Well, all, except for one; he had the most beautiful emerald eyes Declan had ever seen. They were all statuesque and in shape. Definitely seasoned athletes. He could never have a chance in hell with any of them, and he knew it.

He resumed the quest towards his car, climbed in, and searched for his sketchpad. As he rummaged through his “organized” mess, the ruckus outside piqued his attention.

They had swiftly caucused near the snow cone stand he, Ashton, and a couple other girls had been hanging out at. It was then that he noticed the demeanor with which the emerald-eyed guy walked with. As if there weren’t a single thing that could phase him.

Declan snapped out of his haze and felt his heart thudding within the confines of his chest. He had held his breath the entire time he’d been fawning over the emerald eyed guy that he’d forgotten to breathe. As he composed himself, he noticed that the guys had dispersed. He scanned the area and found them going around, from car to car, sticking condoms in windshields.

Suddenly, there was a tap at his window causing him to jump. The same guy he’d been intently staring at was, now, at his window, laughing. Declan stared at him, surveying his visage. Every feature, every detail… Although acne laden, as he could tell due to their proximity, it was captivating. The guy motioned for Declan to lower his window; he obliged.

“Here, take one. For later.” He smirked.

Declan stared at the condom, and then back up at the guy. They stood there, surveying one another for what seemed like ages. Suddenly, Ashton’s voice broke the awkward silence.

“Declan! What are you doing in your car?! Come over here!!” She motioned.

They both looked in her direction. Declan was the first to bring his attention back to their current situation. Again, he resumed surveying him from top to bottom. His curly brunette hair, his defined physique, his eyes… Those eyes. Those, soul piercing, emerald eyes.

“Wait… Declan? Why does that sound familiar?” he furrowed his brow.

Declan looked into his eyes, swallowed, and stuttered, “I… I…”

“Do I know you?” He asked, “I swear I’ve heard that name before. I’m Gable. Gable Cask.”

His mind went from zero to one-hundred; memories began flooding his consciousness. Football games, basketball practices, gymnastics classes… He snapped back into the moment, gathered himself, and nodded his head.

“I know who you are,” Declan blurted, “We played on the same Tiger League football team… The Nittany Lions… Amongst other things…”

Gable laughed, “Yeah! I remember now! What’s up, man? How’ve you been?”

Before Declan could answer, he realized Ashton had made her way over to them.

She informed Gable that Robert and Slater were acting like complete morons, and, without missing a beat, he briskly went to find them.

“Declan, he is not gay.” Ashton said dryly, “Don’t get any ideas; I don’t want them to be freaked out by you. These are my friends, and if you freak them out, they’ll never come around you again, or did you not learn your lesson with Joseph?”

She’d never been so snarky towards him. Her words stung him, they were like a slap to his face. He’d learned to handle offensive retorts from his peers, but he hadn’t had a friend talk to him in such a manner before. Dejectedly, he looked towards Gable and shook his head.

“Now, c’mon, let’s go socialize.” She giggled. He noticed how patronizing her giggling and mannerisms were, yet again. He knew if he didn’t stay, he wouldn’t get a chance to talk to Gable, but he also knew he’d have to stand up for himself at some point in his life.

Then again… Why did he even bother talking to him… He was probably dating some beautiful girl already… Not that he’d have much of a chance, regardless. The self-deprecation continued within his mind… He’d never be good enough.

He climbed out of his car, and walked over to the group of teens. Robert was on Gable’s shoulders and the two were trying to reach something Slater had thrown onto a nearby pole. Declan stared at Gable intently. It was as though every time he looked at the teen he saw everything he’d ever wanted, merely feet away. He knew it would never happen, but something deep within him said differently.

“You know,” a voice whispered behind him causing him to jump, “If you keep staring at him like that, you should either kill him or take a picture.” She smirked.

“Jesus, Sarah… You scared the hell out of me.” Declan responded, as he struggled to swallow his heart back to its rightful place.

Sarah had been one of his best friends, ever since he had confessed to having a crush on her in the fifth grade. Unlike Ashton, she’d been one of his biggest advocates, even going as far as defending him when others berated him for his weight and appearance.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you, but… You were staring right at him. Nice ass, huh?” She poked him.

“Oh, I wasn’t staring; merely lost in thought.” Declan smiled coyly.

“Riiiight,” she rolled her eyes,

She was right, he had been staring… Longing, even, for any sense of acknowledgement, but, of course, the person who he longed for did not reciprocate his feelings. He was the proverbial bridesmaid, and he feared that’s how it would always be.

“So, what do you sell up in this place?” Gable asked Sarah in a mildly flirtatious tone. Declan had been too preoccupied talking to Sarah that he hadn’t notice his approach. The jock was hauntingly captivating.

“Well, we have snow cones, and… Well, snow cones… And lemonade… ‘Up in this place’… You know this.” Sarah listed in a rather mundane tone; Gable’s alluring carriage, unlike Declan, didn’t charm her.

“What kind of snow cones?” Gable insisted, with his left eyebrow raised. He was trying to flirt with her, but Sarah, being the hard ass she was, wasn’t having it.

“We have a sign on the side, Gable. Again, you’ve been here before.” She said bluntly.

“Oh, right.. Uh… Okay.” Gable responded, taken aback by her obvious disinterest, “What’s your favorite, Decs?” he asked.

Declan looked straight into the jocks’ eyes; again, he was frozen. Gable was actually engaging with him again, yet he couldn’t bring himself to form words. Any words he emitted were stammered. Sarah stared at him and rolled her eyes.

“He likes the sour blueberry. It makes his tongue turn blue.” Sarah stated. She narrowed her eyes at Declan in a ‘say something’ manner, which further pressured him to into hastily forming a coherent sentence. He was intimidated by the jock. It was as if, in this moment, nothing he could say would be good enough.

“Blueberry…” Gable contemplated his options as ruckus ensued behind them.

Declan’s eyesight remained transfixed on the athlete’s face. It was soft, even though laden with acne. His jawline was strong; his hair was perfect, and those eyes… Those emerald eyes that radiated with light of their own.

Suddenly, those eyes were looking back at him. The corners of Gable’s mouth raised and his eyes squinted.

“I should get blueberry, shouldn’t I?” He asked him, eyebrow, yet again, raised.

“Um… I really have to go.” Declan finally muttered.

“What? You’re leaving?” Sarah’s eyes widened.

“Yeah, man… Why are you leaving? Stay and hang out.” He pat him on the shoulder, and beamed him a million-watt smile. Declan figuratively melted by the jock’s touch.

“Sorry, my mom wants me home.” And with that, Declan began the short walk towards his vehicle.

There were so many things he had wanted to ask Gable; so many memories that haunted him. He should’ve mustered the courage to talk to him. He wanted to know him again.

As he drove away, his head reeled, his mind raced, his heart pounded… He had never felt this kind of overwhelming emotion in his life before. The feeling was unsettling, and he couldn’t do anything about it.

He looked in the rearview, and saw those emerald spheres looking towards him, however, just as their encounter, that too was short lived, as Ashton took him by the arm in a fit of laughter. The small snow cone stand vanished behind him.

What the hell did I just do...” Declan sighed, “SOUR BLUE BERRY! YOUR FAVORITE FREAKIN’ SNOW CONE IS SOUR BLUE FREAKIN’ BERRY!” He slammed his head on the steering wheel.

“SHIT!” He rubbed his forehead, and looked around to see if anyone had heard him curse.

He pulled into his parent’s driveway and sat in the car. He didn’t understand why he felt like this. Sure, Gable had crossed his mind every now and again, but he never imagined he’d ever see him again.

He labored into his house, and into his room. His heart still pounded rapidly. Memories of their friendship replayed in his head while he lay there. Was this God’s cruel joke? Was there a purpose for him coming back? Those questions would resonate within him for weeks to come.

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