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“So, naturally, you were upset.” Dr. Anderson commented.

“Of course, I was upset. How else was I supposed to react?” He snapped.

“No need to get angry, Declan,” he narrowed his eyes in an authoritative manner, “I’m merely trying to get to the heart of the matter.”

“It was just so... I don’t know... Unfair.” He scratched his head.

Declan had known of Lissie for a while now. Even thought Gable dismissed the prominence she had in his life, her repeated appearance on his page led him to believe otherwise.

In hindsight, he knew he should’ve never developed a friendship with her, but he was a man possessed by jealousy. He’d even gone as far as visiting her on occasion to push his hidden agenda; to find out the depth of their relationship. He confided in her far more than she reciprocated.

She knew what they’d gone through. She knew every detail of their relationship, yet she’d disregarded it and developed an dalliance of her own with Gable. Declan saw it as an insensitive and immensely cruel move on her part but he should’ve known better…

Gable and she probably made fun of him behind his back. It was true that there were always three sides to every story, and in this case four. His side, her side, Declan’s side, and the truth… Even in this very moment, he found himself embarrassed for letting something so petty get to him, after all this time.

“He keeps on texting me and acting like we’re best friends.” She complained.

Gable had been seeing Lissie off and on, after things with Mary fell apart. It started as a way to divert and silence the ongoing rumors of his sexuality, but he’d yet to be able to shake the feelings he had for Declan.

“If you don’t tell him something, I will.” She warned, “I refuse to let some stupid faggot stalk my boyfriend.”

“Just let it blow over, Lissie,” he finally suggested.

“Gable,” she insisted, “He’s obsessed with you. He won’t leave you alone. He’s crazy! That faggot showed up at my fucking basketball game. It’s not okay.”

“So, what, if he won’t leave me alone?!” He raised his voice.

“What do you mean, ‘so, what’?!” She screamed.

“Yes. So, what?” He lashed back.

Lissie narrowed her eyes. Rage soared throughout her body with ardent fervor. Suddenly, it hit her with the strength of a raging bull. Her chest collapsed, her palms began to sweat profusely.

“I knew it.” Her tone was stern, yet ominous. She sat down on the bed and placed her face in her damp hands.

“You know, I didn’t want to believe it. Not because of me, because I, honestly, do not give a shit. No… I didn’t want to believe it, because of how intently you denied it and made him out to be so... Crazy. Honestly, I don’t know who I feel more sorry for; you or that faggot.”

Her words dug into him.

“How did you...”

“Gable. It’s obvious. You barely even kiss me.” She shook her head, “Fucking look at me. I’m hot. I’m everything a girl would ever want to be. I’m a wet dream on legs. You would’ve fucked me by now.”

The conversation was testing his limits. He was taken aback and insulted, but his internal rage stemmed from his debilitating inability to confess his biggest secret.

However, it was true; she was amazingly beautiful. Stunning, even. Her legs went for days, she had a perfectly toned stomach, and her face was radiant. Any guy in Gable’s place would’ve jumped at the opportunity to have sex with her.

They stared at each other for what seemed an eternity. The palpable silence eventually initiated the events to follow. They neared each other. She grabbed his face and brought it towards hers. The passion was tangible in the atmosphere.

As they neared for a kiss, Gable enveloped her body and brought their bodies to his bed. The same bed in which he and Declan had discovered each others bodies so many months ago.

He pinned her against his mattress and began kissing down her body. His penis stiffened, and she reciprocated by pressing her thigh against it. He kissed her and she kissed back; their bodies entangled.

His lips traced down her jaw, and to her neck, nuzzling her. Her body forced itself on top of him, as she made her way down his torso. Her lips exploring every inch of the chiseled body all the years of working out had left him with.

The button on his jeans practically sprung forth, as she reached the top of them. He raised his hips in order to aid her in sliding them off. Her attention returned to the pulsating bulge constrained by a thin layer of cotton.

Their eyes connected once more, and once more they neared for a kiss. He pulled her to him, and began to disrobe her. His phone vibrated in the confines of his pocket, as his fingers fidgeted with the stubborn clasp of her brassiere. He ignored it and continued to fervently kiss the girl before him.

She broke their kiss and focused her attention on his erection. She lifted the band of his boxer briefs, and slowly began to lower them. The band slid down the perfectly round mounds that were his glutes, down beneath his testicles and onto the floor. His dick stood at attention. She enveloped the head of his penis and began to perform oral sex on him for the first time in their relationship.

That night, Gable and Lissie had sex. Not once, not twice, but five times. Each time, with more passion than before. Each time with more unbridled passion than the time before.

Long after Lissie had gone to sleep, Gable lay awake contemplating over what he’d done. The guilt pained his stomach, but he knew this was for the best. Though he had enjoyed himself, he knew deep inside he preferred Declan eons more than Lissie. It didn’t feel the same… She didn’t feel like home.

“Here’s what I don’t understand; if you knew he was cheating on you, amongst other things, why did you continue to be with him? You realize that by doing so, you were only enabling him to use you and to control your emotions, don’t you?” Dr. Anderson asked.

“Yes… Well… I just… I guess I didn’t want to believe it.” Declan shrugged.

“You seem to shrug a lot, when I ask you these types of questions.” Dr. Anderson pointed out.

“I can’t control what my body does… It’s an involuntary reaction.” Declan shook his head.

“So, you’re telling me that you were able to control your body to do numerous somersaults and revolutions in the air, yet you can’t control something as simple as a shrug?”

Declan’s jaw tensed up. It was true, he knew within him that he didn’t want to admit to all the things he’d done wrong. Gable wasn’t the sole reason they broke up; in a way, Declan had been the one who pushed for more, and, inadvertently, pushed him away.

“Are you going to answer the question?” Dr. Anderson’s voice filled the room.

Declan refused to look at him, his silence merely a diversion in order to come up with a suitable response.

As painful as it was, he didn’t want to accept responsibility for his actions. Be it teenage angst or just immaturity, he still felt as though the world owed him something.

His lip quivered, and, like so many times before, his eyes began to swell with emotion. His glossy globes glowed with the pain of the past two years. Finally, he shook his head, and dove it into his hands.

“Maybe we should end things early today, in that case,” Dr. Anderson closed his notebook, “You know, the last session we had, I really felt like we had a breakthrough, and now… It’s like you’ve taken five steps back. Is everything okay?”

Silently, Declan rose from his seat, and exited his office. He followed the hallway back to his room, and plopped on the bed. This existence was growing increasingly bleak again.

The walls surrounding him were dreadfully white and bare; he never cared to hang anything upon them save for a couple pictures. He looked towards the barred windows, trying to visualize the place he once called home, but it was for naught. This place felt like a prison again. A prison full of pretty people in small boxes.

“Alright, fag, here we go,” with that, Tommy neared the clippers to Declan’s head and began buzzing his hair off. Each tuft of hair that landed on the floor was a reminder of the imminent dissolution of his and Gable’s strenuous love affair… Of all the stress in his life he couldn’t bear with… Of the crippling disease that was killing him further and further with each passing day.

The entire team cheered and chanted his name as more and more hair fell underneath the chair. The growing pile of hair represented everything he’d come to loathe about himself.

Skylar stood a few feet away, staring at him with the same concerned gaze he’d been giving him since the night he had caught him purging at his house a few weeks before.

Since then, Skylar hadn’t been able to look at him the same anymore. It was hard to accept the fact that the very person he cared most for in the world was putting himself through this.

Bulimia had consumed Declan. Although he was able to finally nail the arabian front mount, his tumbling had improved significantly, and he’d been able to upgrade his vaults, he had become a complete and utter shell of his former self. The light in his eyes had vanished completely.

Every day was a constant battle with the person he saw in the mirror. Even now, as the guys around here laughed and bonded, all he could see were Skylar and himself in the mirror before him. His eyes now devoid of the comfort that once warmed his soul. Now, all that was left was the crestfallen autumn of their dalliance.

“I’m sorry,” Declan’s eyes screed towards Skylar, “I’m sorry for letting myself get to this point. I’m sorry for not choosing you. I’m sorry.”

“What do you think?!” Tommy handed him a mirror, “Fag?”

“What?” Declan snapped out of his inner soliloquy.

“What do you think of your hair, dumbass?”

Declan looked at the guy in the mirror, and examined his hair, or lack thereof. It was all gone; as if the weight of the world had been lifted off his shoulders.

“I like it.” He smiled and ran his head over the smooth surface.

Skylar walked over and did the same.

“You’re going to kill them tomorrow.” He shot him a concerned smile, the type a worried mother would give their child. It broke Declan to see the pain in his eyes, but he couldn’t do anything about it.

Gable." He texted him.

He was online. Right there. He could see him online. Why wasn’t he responding to the text he’d sent? Surely, his phone was near him. It always was.

"Hello?” Declan sent.

Ten minutes passed and no response. He even restarted his phone to make sure it was properly working. Why wasn’t he acknowledging him?

Declan grew impatient, so he did the next best thing; he went to MySpace, navigated to Gable’s page and drafted a message.

“Why aren’t you responding to my texts? We need to talk.” He sent him.

It took five minutes for MySpace to confirm that Gable had received the message, yet his response was nowhere to be found.

As time passed, Declan grew weary. He paced around the house trying to find something on which he could focus his irrationally growing internal wrath.

He exited onto the patio and onto his backyard. The ground beneath his feet made him feel restless. He tumbled around his backyard, in attempt to get the present off his mind, but it was for naught; his mind always brought him back to the crushing reality. He ran out the back gate and went on a run around his neighborhood… Again, nothing could distract him from the matter at hand.

It turned from uneasiness to anxiety. Why wasn’t he responding? Did he know about Ryder? That was it. That had to be it. Then again, Gable would’ve surely said something… That couldn’t be it. The more he thought, the faster his mind raced.

He walked back into the house and into the kitchen. His gaze examined the room, and stopped once it reached the fridge. He walked toward it.

Eat…” The voice within him urged, “Eat… You need to eat. Eat everything.

His hand grasped the handle, and opened. The fridge’s light illuminated his face, and, at once, he began to rummage through it.

From the tamales his mom had made earlier in the week, to the left over Chinese food, every single thing in the refrigerator made his stomach roar with hunger.

It’d been six days since he’d actually eaten a full meal. What with the qualifier creeping near, Gable’s apparent deception, his studies… His life was spiraling out of control. The only thing he could control now was his weight.

He checked his phone. Nothing. He took one last look in the fridge and walked briskly to his room. Instantly, he checked his messages. Nothing. He pulled out his phone and tapped the keys furiously.

"Gable, what the fuck?! Lissie? Really? What is going on?!" He sent after countless rewrites.

With his parents off at his brother’s football game, he had the house to himself, and the more he thought of it, the more insidious the situation at hand became. He couldn’t sit still; he was a man possessed

Again, he bolted for the kitchen and began to grab ingredients. It was as if his body moved involuntarily, everything was a blur, he couldn’t stop himself. He whisked the mixture he’d created, and began to kneed the dough into small circles. Finally, after the oven preheated, he stuck the tray in, and started the process all over again.

Two hours passed swiftly. His entire house reeked of fresh bread, reminiscent of his favorite bakery. The kitchen was full of pastries. He walked back to his room to check his messages. Again, nothing. No response. His heart raced, his head prickled with rage. He couldn’t handle this anymore.

He returned to the kitchen, drank a full glass of water, and began devouring the pastries he had baked. He ate, and ate, and ate, and ate. His stomach urged him to stop, but he kept inhaling cookie after muffin. He sat back; full beyond belief.

Then, it started from the pit of his stomach, and then pushed at the back of his throat. Instantly, he sprinted towards the bathroom, and without having to gag himself, everything came out.

After nothing else would come out, he stuck his index and middle finger down his throat and gagged himself to make sure absolutely nothing else remained. He repeated the process until only bile and blood dripped onto his chin.

He was left empty, yet, strangely, satisfied. He didn’t feel near as worthless as he did before… He felt free; relieved. However, he knew, deep down, he was only making things worse for himself. He had lost grip of his life.

As the searing water washed over his hands, he looked into the mirror. The man in the mirror wasn’t him. He looked incredibly thin. Far too thin. Scary thin. He analyzed his face, his cheeks were sunken, his skin looked ghostly pale, as opposed to the caramel complexion he sported at the beginning of this entire ordeal. His hair looked stringy, his clavicle protruded through, stretching his pasty skin… It scared him, but he didn’t waver. He had chosen this.

“In that moment,” Dr. Anderson began, “Did you realize you needed help?”

Declan sat back in his seat, “Part of me knew I needed help, but the other refused to be helped. Just like I refused to give up on Gable… Or refused to stop putting my life on the wire for a sport that was taking an unprecedented toll on my body.”

“Why didn’t you want the help?” He continued to delve farther into his psyche.

“I think it was definitely me trying to prove a point… To myself, and those around me,” Declan began, “I wanted to keep up this iron façade, and not be perceived as weak. I hated coming off as weak.”

“I can understand that,” Dr. Anderson nodded his head, “The last thing anyone wants to come off as is weak.”

“It was one of the first moments in which I knew I had begun to scrape rock bottom. Looking back at it, it scares me how incorrigible and cavalier I was about my destructive behavior.” Declan confessed.

Dr. Anderson looked at him in a different light after that. He could see him truly embracing recovery, and having a passion for life again. He could see the fire in his life, he could see how reinvigorated he looked. His eyes shined again.

“Declan, I just want you to know that I’m very proud of you. You’ve come a long way from the guarded boy I met months ago. You’ve gained your life back, and as long as you continue on this path, you will be able to accomplish anything, everything, and then more,” Dr. Anderson smiled, “Your innate willingness to persevere is extremely inspirational. I can see your light returning.”

“That really means a lot, Dr. Anderson,” he beamed.

They exchanged pleasantries, as he rose from the comfortable mahogany chair across from him. Declan was finally able to walk back to his room without limping. His knee had recovered, and now it seemed as if though his eating disorder was an issue of the past thanks to his “innate willingness to persevere” as Dr. Anderson mentioned… He truly felt as if he had saved himself from himself.

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