Speak & Listen

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My arms bled, but I was too furious to pay attention to that. The car was on a dangerous speed race to Clinton Hills, which was on the outskirts of the town. Above the feeling of wanting to break her neck, I wanted to beg her not to send those letters, regardless of her motives. Although I wondered why she had waited this long, was she having second thoughts? I had been nothing but a friend to her, it made no sense as to why she would do such a thing to me.

After several delays of traffic and mud swamps, I arrived at Sophia’s apartment. She and her father lived in a lakehouse near Clinton Hills. When I looked at the window of her room, the curtain had shifted a bit, insinuating that she saw my car stopping at her porch. I stormed out of the car and ran to the door and in an instant, I banged on the door. It was approaching evening, probably minutes before 7 pm, so everyone was surely awake.

Her father opened the door. “Adrian. What are you doing here?”

“Sophia’s dad...Is Sophia around?”

“Yes, but...why bang on my door? Is there something wrong? And your arms are bleeding.”

Sophia’s dad, Carmichael, was the sweetest human being on Earth. He hated it when Sophia and I fought. But this wasn’t a fight, but rather a confrontation and a beg. She had more power than me and she could send those letters in just a click.

Sophia appeared behind him, holding a teddy bear. I stormed passed her father and marched in. “Sophia how could you do this to me?”

“What? Adrian, what are you talking about?” She sounded feverish.

“Sophia, my key and chest are gone and you’re the...”

“Oh, shit...” She began to relax. “That was two weeks ago. I’m sure Benjamin had not touched your chest. How long did it take you to realize your key was missing?”

“Sophia how can you be so insensitive? Where have you been, hiding?”

“I’ve got mono. I’ve been homeschooling for the past days. I would have called you, but I don’t have a phone anymore. Why is this a big deal, I thought we had established that no one truly cares about your sexuality.”

“Sophia, are you listening to yourself?” I sobbed. “It’s me, Sophia. How could you ever do this to me when I told you this is my secret? Nana died, and you thought this is the perfect time to play silly games with me?” My voice disappeared to a whisper.

Her eyes widened. I assumed this was all a game to her. She thought I didn’t send those letters because I was worried about people not liking me or I was insecure about my sexuality. It was way beyond that. I kept those letters from them to keep myself alive!

“Adrian, I’m so sorry...I was just messing with you. Benjamin and I thought we were helping you to find someone since...”

Her cellphone ringed and on the caller id was Benjamin. “Put him on the loudspeaker, Sophia!” I commanded.

Her hands trembled as she accepted the call. “Hello?” Her voice quaked.

“Hey. Feeling better?” Benjamin’s voice echoed.

“Not really. Hey, we need to...”

“Wait, before you say anything...remember Adrian’s letters from two weeks ago?”

“That’s what I wanted to talk about, Benjamin. Don’t send those letters, please!”

Benjamin giggled. “Dude it’s too late. I’ve sent them through direct message, email and mailbox. Oh, wait...”

Sophia and I shared a glare, mine cursed her.

He continued. “There’s one I didn’t send without an address...”

I looked down, covering my face in embarrassment.

“Dude...it’s mine,” Benjamin added. “I got a letter too.”

“What?” Sophia yelled as her eyes turned to me. “Adrian, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know...”

“Wait...Adrian is there?” Benjamin spoke through the cellphone.

Unable to speak, cry or yell, my feet marched out of the house. Mom could not find out about this! Well, that was it. I was dead, right at that moment. Sophia never even bothered to run after me to stop me. Good for her, because I would have broken her neck. Good for me because I didn’t want to. I had much bigger things to worry about.

The wheels of the car revved against the muddy swamps and sped off. I took time as I listened to some Enya, now plotting ways I would kill myself if something bad happens. Like being stoned to death by everyone. I was in grave danger with no one to trust, not even Sophia. Not even Jeremiah Simone who I had written two letters for. All the letters were out. To all my crushes who were all at Clever Cats. There was no way I was going to make it through alive.

As I arrived at my apartment, the time being 9 pm, I ghosted into the house and when I got into my room, I failed to get some rest. The worst thoughts flooded my head, Mason strangling my neck, William squashing my head beneath his foot, Jeremiah Simone dragging me by my ankle to the school hall where everyone had heard about the letters, throwing slurs and rotten tomatoes at me. Stripped naked and tossed in a toilet chamber. Beaten and embarrassed.

I could envision Benjamin being not so sweet anymore, furious and embarrassed too. He was once the school’s jocks and that had major stature in our school... apparently. Ben and Gabriel, my worst bullies, were jocks as well.

Just when I thought my thoughts were simmering, my eyes turning low and finally getting some rest, the alarm beside my bed beeped and the sun beyond the curtain stung so brightly, I began to groan.

I stood up to turn off the alarm and I felt like crying. After doing my daily routine, mom being at work already, I ran to my car hoping I could arrive earlier than everyone else, wear my earphones and ignore the world or something.

My car sped through the mini traffic and in a couple of minutes, I had made it to Clever Cats. There were literally two cars in the yard and the rest of the school seemed empty. Who was the most understanding person? Who could I afford to trust? Was Mia part of the plan too? I decided I would call Mia.

When I was beginning to look for her number through my phone book, a loud splattering glass sound pounced from the backseat, scattering pieces of glass all over the internal of the car. It was like an explosion, some of the granules flew to the front seats. Afterwards, I heard footsteps running away with chiming giggles.

My body had frozen to stone, my head in a still position as if I had urinated myself. I looked at the back and my back window was broken to pieces of nothing. On the backseat was a large house brick taped with a brown dildo with a note. I emerged from the car and opened the car to my backseat to extract the note.

The note didn’t say much. Only ”Faggot !”

I always had duct tape and a feather duster in either the cabby hole or the trunk. I immediately used them to sweep the glass granules out of the car and some duct tape to patch the hole on my window. Afterwards, I took the brick with the note and dildo and simply threw it in the bin. I then cried.

Blaming myself for trusting someone in the first place. Myself for thinking that life was all peaches and thyme. That I would find my Prince Charming in that school, feeding me grapes and rubbing my feet? Who the hell did I think I was?

I race-walked to my locker, more people were inside and some eyes gawked at me. Some evidently laughed at me, mostly females. Luckily, none of the people on those letters was already in. The first class was History, so I was quick to grab whatever equipment I would need and race-walked to History class. I had my earphones on when I got in. Struggling for air to breathe, I leaned on one of the desks and cried even more.

“Adrian?” I heard the deep voice through the loud music.

I quickly took off my earphones and my heartbeat raced to an extent that it started to hurt. It was Benjamin, standing on the far end of the classroom with his bag strapped on one side of his shoulder. He didn’t look angry, but concerned.

“I promise I won’t hurt you...” He spoke again with both his hands in the air.

No, I never listened. That was what Chris and Brandon would say to me too before beating me to a pulp. I sped to the door and before he did, I was out. But I wish that I didn’t.

The school was now full, everyone walking in the corridors, passages and toilets. I wasn’t safe anymore.

“Adrian wait...” When Benjamin yelled, the whole school suddenly turned to look at me and they all acknowledged my existence as ‘that gay guy who wanted to change straight men’. There was a moment of cold silence. There were photoshopped pictures of me butt-naked. At a distance, I could see pictures flooded into my locker and papers passed around by the school. It was as if I could suddenly hear thoughts.

One would have asked why don’t we crush on other gay men? Well...because crushes, in general, don’t work that way. You don’t choose who you crush on, regardless of their sexual orientation. It’s as simple as that.

On the passages was William, walking through the crowd with the most agitated expression on his face. He gave me a single glare before he disappeared into one of the classes. I looked at Benjamin, who saw the gore in my eyes and not even he could tell me that everything was okay and I’d get through it.

Two jocks who passed by winked and spanked my buttocks. My body vibrated as if I was sexually violated or something. It felt satanic and immoral for someone to do such a thing to someone else. Tears strolled down my face as my body froze.

Benjamin, in an instant, threw a punch on one of the jocks. Only to realize that Niall and Josh, the jocks who I then remembered, were also recipients. My classmates from fourth grade. Now forgotten until that particular moment.

Jeremiah, out of nowhere, assisted Benjamin as well. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t stand and watch. I couldn’t stand and think that I didn’t deserve this. I needed this to warn me to never creepily write letters to my crushes, never talk to my crushes, never express myself in that matter no matter how deep I fall for a man ever again.

“Adrian?” Sophia jogged to me in tears.

“Get the FUCK away from me!” My voice roared at the capped word.

I sprinted out of the building to the school’s track field. I isolated myself at the pavilion and again, began crying. I regretted everything. I regretted living, I even blamed mom for allowing me into this world.

I looked at my arms again, and my nails began to itch if I’m making sense.

No, Adrian. Don’t. Snap out of it!

My arms still had fresh wounds from last evening. I couldn’t help it, every time I would feel awkward, enclosed, furious or timid, I’d go to my arms and scratch deep. Not even Sophia knew about this habit, not even my parents, however, there was only one person who knew...it was Jeremiah Simone. As I’ve said, he knew everything about me.

My mind sunk into a dark hole where even the sport’s field and the pavilion and all human architecture disappeared. I was alone, I could feel pain radiating from my arms to my neck, from there to my head but it felt as if it was fading away the more my nails dug into my skin.

“Mr Spector!” Someone yelled.

My eyes shot open. Below the pavilion was Mrs Ravens. The student counsellor of the school. “Yes...what do you want?” As rude as they may have sounded, it was not intended.

“I need to see you...in my office. Now.” Her hand capped her eyes.

I couldn’t say no anyway. I climbed off the pavilion and hid my forearms including my bleeding fingers under the oversized sweater I wore to school that day. My arms were burning in pain, which I somehow enjoyed. My tears were already wiped. “I’m here now.”

In a couple of minutes, after following her heels clicking in silence, we settled in her office. I had been here two to three times.

She still had fresh-cut red roses beautifully petalled on her table in a vase and a fresh warm aroma of jasmine cologne she always wore. She was a stunning Americana dream woman who dressed so modest for her age. The most favourite feature I loved on her was her naturally long and volumed and artificially curled brunette hair complemented by the red, cherry lips that always reminded me of either Marilyn Monroe, Lana del Rey or Mary Jane. Weirdly.

“What happened?” Her voice sang beautifully.

“What do you mean?”

“Should I show you the entire school to help you know what I’m talking about?” Her voice was sterned.

I looked down. I understood she was just trying to help. However I did not find it appropriate to be ‘summoned’ to the counsellor’s office to be practically forced to talk about what my problem was. I found that extremely crude.

“Well...it’s just every opinion they have ever had about me. The only difference now is that the whole school is into it.” I smiled.

“Do you know how it started?”

I froze, knowing that everything here was my fault. “Yes.”

“Can you tell me how?”

I shook my head. Really, I couldn’t. “No.”

“Why?” Her eyebrows knitted tensely.

“Because I wasn’t the one who started this.” It felt good pushing the blame on someone else.

“Who did?”

“I don’t know, Mrs Ravens. Maybe it’s your job to find out.”

Her chest rose, I assume she was a bit offended. “Adrian, I am your friend here. I am trying to help you.”

“Firstly, I am not your friend.” My teeth gritted as I whispered to her, looking at her with eyes of rage. “Okay? And secondly, if I really did need your help, I would have come up to you now, wouldn’t I? FRIEND!?” My body was right above her table, ready to pounce at her intimidated face once she said something unintelligent.

“So you’re fine, Adrian?” Her eyebrow raised.

I fixed myself, standing upright and throwing a strap of my bag on one side of my shoulders. I smiled at her. “Yes, Mrs Ravens, I am great.”

I stormed out of the office, tears ready to escape my eyes again. But I realized that I didn’t want any help, even though I may have needed it.

It was already second period, I had stayed at the pavilion longer than I thought. I walked to my locker and I was right. Some of the letters, from Mason and William specifically, were shoved back with notes written “Faggot”. There was a long sticking dildo on the door of my locker with another note written ‘I knew you always wanted to fuck’. Another said, ‘you know where to find me for some head’.

And there were so many more. Some were slurs, some were sexualizing and some just plain rude. I looked around, there wasn’t anyone on the corridors.

Suddenly, my head was pushed against my locker and a loud steel bang echoed. I couldn’t see who, but I felt the punches and kicks from several men who kept on yelling ‘Faggot’. One dragged me by my ankle, I screamed through the passage and no one, I mean no one, came out to see. I found myself in the boys toilet. One of the school jocks, who I was sure never received a letter, tore my clothes apart, stripped off my pants and underwear and the kicks continued.

“Please. I’m sorry.” I screamed.

One hand slapped me across my face and dizziness followed. I heard a belt tangling and saw one of the jocks take off their pants and his enormity showed. I looked around to see if I could recognize one of their faces, and I couldn’t notice even one. The jock who had his penis out pinned my neck to the floor from behind, tossing my naked body to the floor and when I was about to take a breath and prepare to scream again, a large instrument penetrated my rectum.

I screamed, but instantly my mouth was covered. It was his penis, I could tell from the scorching warmth. It went in and out, forcing it to fit in. Forcing it in even when it didn’t fit.

He moaned, in an instant, I could tell another got on top of me. There were five of them, exchanging with my rectum. I reached a point of numbness, where I couldn’t scream or feel or feel any need to scream for help. I assumed that was how death felt like. Absence of all emotions and feeling, just apathy.

One even licked my face, he had blond hair. I could hear them leave, but my eyes couldn’t follow them. My eyes were on the wet floor. My body, my naked body, was trembling in deep fear and coldness and severe trauma. My rectum was numb, my spine paralyzed and the only thing I could do was breathe. I was still breathing, that I was grateful for, but I couldn’t feel my arms nor my legs.

Someone walked in, and a loud masculine scream followed. “Mrs Ravens!!!”

Was the last thing I heard.

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