I loved this chapter. one of the best
I loved this chapter. one of the best
Wings of A Butterfly
A Mother's Will
I knocked on his door three times, each knock slightly lower on the door than the other. I never noticed that I did it until now. Something about Lucas made me more aware of anything I did. Even my little weird things like my knock. The pizza in my left hand was starting to make my palm sweat, or at least that’s what I convinced myself was making it sweat. He opened the door and smiled at me.
“Pizza delivery,” I said with a smile.
“Ugh, finally,” he said, still smiling, “This day went by so slowly.”
“Why’s that?” I asked as I walked inside.
“After we split up I had to go see the counselor for my evaluation,” he said following me.
“Oh God, what happened,” I said. I put the pizza down on his desk and sat in his chair.
“Nothin really, it just dragged on forever,” he said.
“Well I hope you’re hungry,” I said, “I got an extra large.”
“Yeah I’m starving actually,” he said.
“Good, cause you’re gonna love this pizza,” I said.
“Where’s it from?” he asked.
“This little Italian place in town,” I said, “We have one where I lived and it’s amazingly good.”
I opened the box and we each grabbed a slice. I sat back down in his chair and he flopped down on his bed and ate the slice in seconds. I laughed at him and he smiled awkwardly at me.
“Christ man, you weren’t kiddin,” I said.
“Neither were you,” he said, “This stuff is amazing.”
“Told you so,” I said smiling.
“So what movie did you bring?” he asked.
“Nah, you don’t get to know,” I said.
“Well, we have to eat this whole pizza, and I don’t want you to have any time to object. So you don’t get to know until it’s in and ready to play,” I said.
“Alright,” he said with a snort.
A moment of silence passed between us as we ate. His eyes were glued to the ground and I could tell he was thinking of something that he wasn’t sure about saying. After I finished my slice, I took a deep breath.
“Is there something you want to ask me?” I asked.
“Sorta,” he said.
“Well go for it,” I said.
“Well, it’s just…”
“Spit it out Luke,” I said.
“Earlier today…you seemed like something was bothering you,” he said.
“Yeah, there was,” I said.
“Well it got me thinking,” he said, “And I thought about it all day. I’m not trying to pry you for information or anything, but if you want we could make another deal. You tell me something, I’ll tell you something.”
“Luke, that’s really nice,” I said, “But I already planned on telling you tonight.”
“Oh,” he said, “Ok then. What’s going on?”
“I’ve had this on my mind for a couple days now,” I said, “You remember when you asked me what happened to my mom?”
“Yeah,” he said.
“Well…” I took a deep breath, “She died of Cancer.”
“Oh God…Aaron I’m so sorry,” he said.
“She uh…she didn’t even know she was sick. She just thought she was really run down,” I said.
He never broke his focus on me.
“She worked two jobs most of my life. She worked so hard to make sure we were able to survive,” I said.
My breathing got heavy and my eyes started stinging. I took several gulps of air as I thought about what happened.
“Go on Aaron,” he said.
“Well, she went to the doctor…and he diagnosed her with a very advanced stage of Breast Cancer,” I said.
Tears were now forming in my eyes as my chest started hurting.
“She didn’t even tell me about it,” I said, “I didn’t know until…”
Lucas sat up and sat on the edge of his bed. He stared into my eyes and somehow, I felt a little better. The pain in my chest went away and I was able to hold the tears back a little better than before.
“I came home from school one day and found her unconscious in the kitchen. I called 911 but it was too late. I found my mother dead that day.”
“Aaron…that’s terrible,” he said.
I wiped a tear that got through with my hand.
“She worked so hard for me. She worked so hard to give me a good life…” I said, “But she never thought about what would happen to me if she was gone.”
That did it. The tears pushed themselves out of my eyes and I fell forward into myself. Lucas stood up and kneeled down in front of me and caught me before I collapsed. He held me and I cried on his shoulder.
“Shh, it’s ok Aaron.”
“No, it’s not ok,” I said through the tears, “I was so mad at her for not telling me.”
“Aaron, that’s ok,” he said.
He pulled me away from him and looked directly into my eyes. He placed both hands firmly, but gently, on my shoulders.
“Aaron, it is ok for you to be mad. It’s ok to be sad,” he said, “And it’s ok for you to be happy without her.”
I looked back at him, confused.
“She obviously didn’t want you to know until it happened,” he said, “She was probably so scared about leaving you. She probably didn’t want you to have to live every single day in fear, and then have grief on top of that feeling after she died. It’s not wrong for you to be angry, but she probably didn’t tell you because of what knowing that she was going to die would do to you.”
He looked firmly into my eyes. I could see his fixation, and from that I could tell that he did genuinely care about me. In my mind, I saw myself drowning. I couldn’t keep myself afloat, even though I had people around me trying to pull me out of the water. I was just about to give up and let myself fall beneath the surface, when I felt a hand grab my arm and lift me up. I looked into the eyes of my rescuer. The bright hazel colored eyes that penetrated my soul and brought down every barrier I had built.
I looked back into his eyes and felt the pain be washed away. The tears stopped and I regained my composition. I took several deep breaths and calmed myself down. I sat up straight, never looking away from Lucas’ eyes. They made me feel safe.
“Thank you Luke,” I said.
“No, thank you Aaron,” he said.
“For what?” I asked.
“How many times have you told that story?” he asked.
“That was the first time,” I said.
“That’s what I figured. So thank you for trusting me,” he said.
“Thank you for being trustworthy,” I said.
He put his hand on my shoulder and smiled at me. I took a deep breath and smiled back at him.
“Aaron I am so sorry for what you’ve been through,” he said.
I nodded at him, but remained silent. I didn’t know what to do now. This was the most vulnerable I’ve ever felt in my life. For the first time since my mom’s funeral, I cried in front of another person. I knew he felt the tension boiling inside me, so he wrapped his arms around me again to comfort me.
“Thank you Lucas,” I said, “You don’t have to tell your story if you don’t want to.”
“It’s ok, I’ll save it for later,” he said pulling away from me, “So how bout that movie now?”
I smiled and said, “Yeah sure.”
I got up and put the movie in and pressed play. I sat back into the chair and he moved back onto his bed. I noticed he kept looking at me as if I were about to shatter into a million pieces.
“Luke I’m ok,” I said to reassure him.
“Am I that obvious?” he asked.
“A little,” I said with a grin.
“Sorry, I just wanted to make sure,” he said.
“Thanks, but it’s not necessary,” I said.
The movie began playing. Lucas seemed to light up once the opening scene started. I glanced over to him and raised an eyebrow.
“You know this movie?” I asked.
“You kidding?” he said as he got up.
He walked over to his bookshelf, and I noticed his slight limp again. He turned around smiling with the case of October Sky in his hands. I must have had a worried look on my face or something because his smile disappeared and his eyes glazed over a bit.
“Is something wrong?” he asked.
“I was about to ask the same thing,” I said.
“What do you mean?”
“Oh…” he said.
“What happened to you Luke?” I asked.
“I was kinda hoping you wouldn’t ask,” he said.
“Luke…” I said.
He walked back over to his bed and sat down. He placed his hands in his lap and didn’t look up at me.
“Please don’t be mad,” he said.
What the hell is going on?
“Jonathan drugged Henry that night at the club.”
“What?!” I yelled.
“I’m sorry Aaron, I didn’t know. I only found out this morning,” he said.
“What happened?!” I yelled, standing out of the chair.
“Aaron, please calm down,” he said.
“You just told me your friend drugged my friend and you expect me to be calm?!” I yelled.
“Yes I expect you to calm down so I can tell you the rest!” he said at the same volume.
I sat back into the chair and took a breath.
“Sorry Luke,” I said.
“It’s ok,” he said, “I talked to Jonathan this morning and he told me everything. He seemed so proud of it, so I yelled at him. Then he said, ‘It’s not like I raped him or anything,’ and the next thing I knew, my fist flew into his face. I knocked him on the ground and he kicked me in the hip when I leaned in to help him up.”
“Are you ok?” I asked.
“Yeah it’s just a little sore, nothing to worry about,” he said.
“Well…thank you for standing up for my friend Luke,” I said.
“It’s nothing, I knew you would do the same for me,” he said.
‘You would do the same for me?’
“How can you be so sure?” I asked.
“I don’t know, I just do,” he said.
I smiled at him and he smiled back. At that moment, I felt like we were floating in a space of nothingness. There was nothing to worry about except whether or not we were flying or falling. That’s how it was with Lucas. I could be flying or falling, and it would make no difference to me. It was a challenge to be open with him, but at the same time I felt completely safe.
We watched the movie in near silence. Apparently we both loved this movie so much that we could nearly recite the script. I swear at one point I saw him mouthing some of the words. But he just blushed and looked away from me.
Lucas made me feel different than my other friends did. I didn’t have to worry about what I said or how I said it. I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I stepped on his toes. I didn’t have to worry about anything really. All I had to do was be myself and let him see my vulnerable side every once in a while.
I don’t like saying this, but the counselor was right. As soon as I told Lucas why I was so afraid of being close to someone and depending on their existence to get through the day, the easier it was to trust him, and let our friendship happen.
It was nearly 11 at night when I got back to my dorm room. Jonathan was sitting at his desk. I could see very clearly where Lucas clocked him. I couldn’t help but smirk a little about it.***
“Where’ve you been?” he asked.
“Out with a friend,” I said.
“Out pretty late, don’t you have midterms this week?” he asked.
“Is that any of your business?” I asked.
I walked across the room to my own desk and opened up my laptop to check my email before I went to bed. I saw an email from my English professor and decided to wait till morning to read it.
“So what happened to your face?” I asked.
“Is that any of your business?” he asked.
“Oh, nice comeback,” I said.
“What’s with your attitude man?” he asked.
I stood up and faced him. “I’m generally not very nice to people who drug my friends and take advantage of them,” I said.
“Oh you were with Lucas, I see,” he said, “What else has he been lying about?”
My eyes flared and my chest filled with rage at his snotty comment. I dashed across the room and spun his chair around to face me.
“Look you little shit,” I said, “I really don’t care if you do drugs. You can OD on the shit for all I care. But if you EVER slip any of my friends any drugs again without them knowing about it, I swear to God I will rip off your balls and shove em down your throat.”
“Get the fuck off me,” he said pushing me out of his face.
I grabbed his arm and lifted him out of his chair. I threw him against the wall and slammed my fist next to his face.
“Do you have any idea what I did to people like you at my high school?” I asked, “Well it would be NOTHING compared to what I would do to you if you came within 5 feet of Henry ever again. Do you understand me?”
He nodded with fear. I released my grip on his shirt and walked away from him. I didn’t hear him move at all, but when I looked back he was opening the door to leave.
Give me one firm place to stand, and I shall move the Earth...more than the 383 miles it would move anyway.
Wow! How great to see Aaron being so vulnerable in telling Luke about his mother. Trusting another person so deeply takes a lot of fortitude. Then, along with Luke, being so protective of another friend. A maturity is growing within him and it suits him well. I like that he and Luke are bonding so well. Awesome chapter, ITC.
Great work, ITC! I love how comfortable he's becoming with Luke. I can really feel this story going somewhere great! I also enjoyed how both of them stood up for Henry, especially Aaron who only had Luke's word on the matter.
Aw! THAT is Fantastic!!Originally Posted by Aaron
This is a Good story, itc! THANK YOU!
WISDOM is the Knowledge you've gained ... After you could have used it! _Me
WOW Another great installment. I love that Luke and Aaron are getting so much closer. I sort of suspected that Henrey was drugged and fucked by Jonathan because he woke up in thier lounge and there was only 2 people in the room. I cant wait to see what happens next!
The trust, the vulnerability and the bonding are all so beautiful ...
Powerful chapter. Thanks for the update, ITC.
Did NOT see that coming at all! I love Aaron's confidence in approaching Jonathan and Luke's trust in Aaron. Very realistic and intense. Can't wait for the next chapter which at the rate your going could be in the next hour hahaha.
My fellow fans have said it all.
Great chapter - I didn't see it coming, either.
Thanks for your hard work and efforts.
Looking forward to seeing what you have in store for us next!
And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .
when i first read began reading this chapter i htought u were gonna have them build on their realtionship maybe the first kiss or something. guess not, it was still good anyway
Give me one firm place to stand, and I shall move the Earth...more than the 383 miles it would move anyway.
ITC, I've been away for the last two weeks and am glad to have a couple of chapters to read now that I'm back home. This story is going to be as good if not better than Graduation, in my opinion, so keep the chapters comming. I think it is great. H&K
I'm loving this story In my opinion it's even better than Graduation, keep it up!
Thanks for sharing!!
More please MORE!
Hey guys, first of all I'm really glad you guys are liking this story so much
Second, I've decided to split this next chapter into two parts because of how long it got. I cut it off at the best part I could.
And finally, I should have the second part up in about two or three days. And don't worry, the chapter you are all waiting for is getting very close.
Wings of A Butterfly
The Butterfly Effect (Part 1)
Jonathan didn’t come back that entire night. I woke up around 9:30 and his bed was completely made up. Any other day, I might have cared about it. I might have even been worried on a better day. The point of the matter is that I didn’t care one bit. The only thing I cared about that morning was the pain in my knuckles and wrist from slamming it against the wall last night.
I got out of bed and wiped the sleep out of my eyes as the sunlight filled my vision. I realized I was late for breakfast with Henry, so I grabbed some clothes and threw them on quickly. I was barely out the door when my phone started buzzing in my pants.
“I know Henry, I’m leaving now,” I said.
“Well hurry up man I’m starving,” he said.
“I’m goin, get off my back!”
I dashed out of the building and walked quickly over to the dining hall where I could easily see Henry standing by the main entrance. His blonde tips from his black spiky hair made him stand out like a Jewish man at a Nazi convention.
After we got our food, we sat down at a table outside and Henry immediately busted out his Chemistry books. I picked at my bacon and eggs while watching him sketch a model of a hydrogen molecule in the process of combining with an oxygen molecule. He looked up at me and smiled. His smile made me feel guilty.
At this point, I still hadn’t told him what Jonathan did to him, and I didn’t plan on telling him. He seemed to be doing so well lately with school and work that I didn’t want something like that to screw him up completely. It took me a few minutes to realize that I was staring at him and that he noticed me staring at him. I looked away quickly and awkwardly but felt his eyes still on me.
“Something wrong bro?” he asked.
“No,” I said, “Sorry, I was just staring off into space again.”
He chuckled at me and said, “Well nice to see some things never change.”
I smiled at him and checked my phone. 10:23. I was about to say something when Henry stood up.
“I’m gonna get another water bottle,” he said, “Want one?”
“Nah, I’m good,” I said.
He walked around the table and walked towards the vending machine next to the entrance of the dining hall.
“Aaron,” he called, “I forgot my wallet, can you grab it from my bag for me?”
“Yeah sure,” I said.
I leaned forward and dug through his bag to find his wallet. I found it sitting next to a bottle of pills in one of his pockets. I pulled the bottle out and looked it over. The word “vial” would probably describe it better. Henry grabbed the wallet out of my left hand, but froze when he saw what was in my right hand.
“Henry, what is this?” I asked.
“It’s nothing Aaron,” he said trying to grab it from me.
“It sure looks like something,” I said glaring into his eyes.
“It’s just a stress reliever,” he said, “It’s a prescription.”
“Since when to prescriptions come in drug vials?” I yelled.
“Aaron, calm down man,” he said, “It’s not a big deal.”
“It is SO a big deal Henry!” I yelled, “Do you have any idea what would happen to you if you were caught with this?”
“Caught with what?! I told you it’s a prescription!” he yelled.
“I don’t believe that shit for a second,” I said.
“Whatever man,” he said, “It’s not even any of your business. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately, and that stuff mellows me out.”
The speech was the same no matter who it came from. The “I’m not an addict” speech made my insides turn every time I heard it from someone on T.V. and I thanked God that I didn’t know anyone that stupid in my life.
Henry just stared at me, holding the vial up between my index finger and thumb. I couldn’t believe that this was happening. Someone as smart and successful as Henry getting caught up in drugs…it baffled me. I looked into his eyes, and noticed a slight change. Whoever this was standing in front of me, it was not my Henry. Not even a convincing double. It was someone completely different.
His eyes were focusing on that vial. I could see the desperation in them, trying valiantly not to reveal itself to me. I could see his lips twitching, as if wanting to say something he would regret. I could see him shifting from the Henry Farmer that I knew and cared for, to some stranger who only had one care in the world.
I could feel the intensity from his staring on my skin. My fingers were almost burning from the amount of concentration he was putting on my hand. At this moment, I knew the change was complete, and that this was not going to end well. I maintained my composure and bit down on my bottom lip, hoping that this wouldn’t explode and that I wouldn’t lose Henry forever.
“Henry,” I said, “You have to-“
“What? Get some help? Talk to someone? What Aaron? WHAT?” he yelled.
“Henry please,” I said, “I don’t want to see anything bad happen to you because of this.”
“I’m a grown man Aaron I can take care of myself,” he said, “I’m not an addict, I can stop whenever I feel like it.”
“Oh really?” I said, “Then prove it. Stop now while you still can.”
“Shut up Aaron. Who the fuck are you to talk?” he said.
“No Aaron, just shut up and give me the damn vial.”
“You want the vial?” I asked, holding it out to him, “Take it.”
He snatched it from my hand and stuffed it in his pocket. He didn’t even notice that I had emptied it into the palm of my hand and let the pills drop into my bag. He grabbed his bag and his books and walked away from me. I called out to him, but he yelled, “Piss off! I don’t fucking need you!” and flipped his middle finger at me.
And I watched him walk away.
“You’re sure it was drugs?” Carly asked.***
“I held the vial in my hand Carly, it definitely was not prescription,” I said.
“I can’t believe it…”
“I know,” I said.
“No I seriously can’t believe it.”
“You want to see the pills yourself?” I asked.
“You have them?” she asked.
“I dumped them in my bag, I was on my way to throw them away,” I said.
“Wow,” she said, “I’d hate to have you as my father.”
“Thanks, love you too,” I said sarcastically.
“No I’m serious, you’d be a real hardass,” she said.
I took a deep breath as I walked slowly beside Carly. The pills in the pocket of my bag seemed to make it heavier. Not in weight, but symbolically it felt like something big, something that would change a person’s life in a matter of seconds. It was as if I was carrying around more than just a little extra baggage.
We walked past the garden outside the Business building, and I saw a bunch of butterflies bobbing around the wildflowers growing in the soil. It was an unusual sight since we were right in the middle of the campus. A butterfly could hardly make it all the way in to find these flowers, let alone a whole dozen of them.
I felt Carly’s hand on my shoulder and realized I was drifting off into my own little world again. As I snapped back to reality, I noticed the extremely worried look on her face. The only time I saw that look was when she and Mike were fighting, or when something really big were about to go down.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“This doesn’t really seem to be fazing you as much as it should,” she said.
“What do you mean?”
“Aaron, your best friend is doing drugs!” she said, “How do you not know what I mean?”
“Well, it’s really hard to explain, but when we were fighting about it, I noticed a change in him,” I said.
“And he’s not my best friend anymore,” I said, “He’s someone completely different now.”
She sighed harshly and I looked away from her again. This time, I left my mind blank. I didn’t let myself think about anything. Unfortunately, the stress was still there. My mind couldn’t be controlled for very long and the stress seeped in and made me think of so many things; Henry, Jonathan, Lucas, Veronica (the counselor), and last but not least my Psych report that was due in 3 days.
“I need to go walk alone for a bit Car,” I said.
“Okay,” she said, “Call me later Aaron.” I heard the desperation and the pleading in her voice and decided that I would have to call her.
“Oh shit,” I said, suddenly realizing the time, “I have Psych in 10 minutes.”
“Why does that matter?” she asked, “You hate that class.”
“Yeah well, we’ve got this report due on Friday so I gotta go,” I said.
“Aaron, you’re a bad liar,” she said.
“Yeah, but that’s not the reason you’re going.”
“Spill,” she said.
“Ok well,” I said, “You remember Jonathan’s friend that was with us at the bar that night?”
“Yeah,” she said.
“Well he and I have become really good friends over the past week, and he’s in that class so…” I said.
“Oh my God you like him!” she beamed.
“Aaron, please,” she said, “I’ve read all the signs.”
“I assure you, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You’re not the kind of person who just ‘makes friends’ with random people in a week. You’re not the kind of person who will go to a class he hates just to see a new friend. You like him,” she said confidently.
“Oh, we’re on that again,” I said realizing what she meant.
“Come on Aaron,” she said, “Just admit it. If not to me, then to yourself.”
“Car, I would really appreciate it if you stopped making that assumption about me.”
“Ok, then answer this,” she said as she stopped walking, “Have you ever once been physically attracted to me?”
“What? No, you’re like my sister,” I said.
“Yeah but there was a point when you didn’t see me like that,” she said.
“Yeah, we were like 11. I was still referring to my penis as a fire hose at that point.”
“Even still, you never thought I was attractive,” she said.
“No, not once.”
“Then that’s all the evidence I need.”
“You’re completely insane,” I said.
I broke off from our path and started walking towards the Psych building. I heard her yell something after me, but I was “too far away” to hear it. Each step towards the science building was a step away from my friendship with that insane social butterfly for a while. I couldn’t take another one of her accusations, let alone another one of her investigations about why I am the way that I am.
Give me one firm place to stand, and I shall move the Earth...more than the 383 miles it would move anyway.
Woah!!! Drama ... I hate drugs with a passion ... I have seen what they do to really nice folks, so I hope ....
Great chapter, ITC. However, it seems Aaron may have to apologize to Jonathan. What happened that night may not have been all his doing. Also, I hope Henry reflects a little deeper to realize Aaron's concern for him. Looking forward to the next segment of the story.
Its always sad when you see someone fall into a drug addiction. He is right about one thing tho, his friend isnt the same person anymore. Im looking forward to how phyc class goes tho. I also cant wait untill Aaron confronts his sexuality.
next part now?
You've done it again ITC, that was a fantastic chapter for a great story. Keep them coming. H&K
A great chapter, but a terrible tragedy.
How will this develop from here?
You are crafting a very intriguing tale for us all.
Thanks for your efforts.
And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .
Good twist with the drugs. Another great update. Thanks, ITC.
great job ITC, I can't wait to read the next chapter and see how the story unfolds...
this is a great story and every new chapter seems to draw me in more and more. i almost feel as if im watching this all unfold in front of me. u have a wonderful talent for this stuff and i hope after 5this story ends u will continue to write
Hey everyone, thank you for waiting so patiently. As I promised, here is part two of chapter six. I almost had to split it into three because this second part got out of hand a bit >.<
Anyway, enjoy my friends!
Wings of A Butterfly
The Butterfly Effect (Part 2)
“Human beings like to believe in chance. We may make a game out of probability, we may take a leap of faith, or we may simply roll a die while playing a board game. Each involves taking a chance or a risk. But people don’t think about cause and effect as much as they think about chance.”
I tried my very hardest to keep my focus on the lecture. Lucas seemed mesmerized by Robbins’ lectures, so I wanted to see what the fuss was about. If only the day I chose to pay attention weren’t all about fate and destiny, I might have had an easier time accepting his point of view. Unfortunately, this guy seems to be able to pick my brain and know exactly how to irk me.
“You all know the popular ‘Butterfly Effect’ right?” he asked.
“You mean that movie about the dude who kills his girlfriend?” some random moron said from the back.
“No, I mean the theory that movie was based off of,” he said.
The awkward silence after a question is asked that many people think they know the answer to, but are too afraid to respond always made me laugh on the inside. I’d be willing to bet that every single person in this room has answered a question wrong.
“Anyone?” he asked.
“Newton’s law of motion, every action has a reaction, every force has an equal and opposite force, every choice has a consequence,” I said in a very mundane tone.
“Correct Bright eyes,” he said.
I smiled sarcastically at him. Lucas punched my shoulder and chuckled at me. The smile at Lucas was genuine.
“Like Sunshine here said, every action has a reaction. Therefore, we can assume that everything we do, every motion we make, every path we take, has an effect on the unfolding future around us. The smallest event, like a butterfly flapping its wings, can set off a chain of events, each one being caused by the previous one. “
“How is this related to Psychology?” I whispered to Lucas.
“Because people look for the deeper meaning in certain events to try and explain why something happened. It’s a coping mechanism,” he said.
“Ha, do you do it?” I asked.
“Sometimes…” he said.
He shyly looked away from me for a second with a grin on his face. I could see something bubbling beneath the surface that he was dying to let out. I laughed and poked him in the side to get him to look at me. When he turned his head and looked into my eyes I smiled at him.
“You look like you got something to say,” I said.
“Maybe I do,” he said with a grin.
“Well then you should say it or I might lose interest and just wander off somewhere,” I said.
“Ok, well you know that girl Rachel?” he asked
“Yes for the millionth time…everyone knows ‘that girl Rachel.’ Anyone who doesn’t is a mole person,” I said.
Professor Robbins dismissed the class and Lucas and I got up and started walking outside. The air was cooling off outside as the fall season approached. I looked off into the setting sun as Lucas continued.
“Right,” he said with a chuckle, “Well you know if it weren’t for her, we never would have met.”
“That day, when I bumped into you…I was turning in Jonathan’s fees for him since he was running late,” he said, “And Jonathan was late because he was moving in, which he was only doing because his mom heard about Rachel and the shooting.”
I froze. I didn’t know what to say; he was completely right. If it hadn’t been for that one event, that event I thought was meaningless and had nothing to do with me; I never would have met Lucas. I wouldn’t be standing here right now talking to him and realizing how lucky I was.
“I would have stayed in my spot in the back of class, and you wouldn’t have ever looked back at me,” he said.
“I can’t believe it…you’re absolutely right Lucas,” I said.
“Aaron…please, just call me Luke,” he said with a grin.
“Sorry,” I said grinning back.
We were standing outside my dorm building now, just taking in the relaxing setting. Not the area around us, but the comfort we had developed with each other. It was as if nothing that happened today even mattered when I was around him. All my issues and stress melted away when I was talking to him.
We stood there for a moment, gazing at the horizon. I was more invested in it than he was. My mother always told me that the sunset was one of the most beautiful natural things we got to see every day. One time, I swear I saw her crying while watching a sunset. I never really knew why she loved them so much, but I just assumed that since it was important to her, it should be important to me as well.
I looked back to Lucas and looked at my watch. Before I could catch the time, my phone started buzzing in my pocket. I pulled it out and looked to see who it was calling and saw the name “Henry” displayed on my screen. I silenced it and put it back in my pocket and looked back up to Lucas.
“Who was that?” he asked.
“Henry,” I said.
“Why didn’t you answer?”
“Uhm, he and I are kinda going through a rough patch right now,” I said.
“Oh,” he said, “Well I don’t mean to pry but, it seems to me if he’s calling you then he wants to apologize or something.”
“Oh trust me this is something that will take more than a little apology.”
My phone started buzzing again. This time it was alerting me of a new voicemail. I rolled my eyes and stuffed my phone back in my pocket, ignoring what was most likely a last ditch effort to keep me from reporting his stupid ass. Lucas looked at me with concern and it ripped a hole in my heart to see him like that.
“Why don’t you at least see what he has to say?” he asked.
“Oh fine,” I said pulling my phone out of my pocket, “ You know, you shouldn’t be such a good guy…you make me look bad all the time.”
He laughed at me and punched my shoulder as I typed in my password to my voicemail account. I waited for the recording to finish and the message to play while Lucas tried to get within earshot of the speaker. When the message started playing, I heard Henry with wild desperation in his voice. His words were broken apart by sharp breaths and sobs.
“Aaron… I… Please… Help me…”
The fear in his voice stood out the most. I felt a chill go down my spine when I heard the agony he was in, and instantly froze.
“I’m…behind the…old furniture store…”
He screamed in pain after that part and I heard some glass breaking. The scream stopped my breathing and almost made me lose my balance.
“Please come…It’s really bad…I need you…”
“Hey, any change?” Lucas said as he walked into Henry’s room.***
“No, not yet,” I said, “He was beat up pretty bad.”
“Yeah it looks like it,” he said, “Is he gonna be ok?”
“The doctor said that he’ll be on crutches for a while, and his arm got pretty messed up from him trying to pull the glass out of it. But he should be fine in a couple months,” I said.
“Do they know what happened yet?” he asked.
“No, he hasn’t been awake long enough to tell anyone,” I said
I looked away from Lucas in an attempt to hide myself again. This was the one side I was afraid to show. My vulnerable anxiety always caused me to over-worry about things, and I had gotten pretty good at hiding it in the past. I walked out of the room and into the hall. As I left, Henry’s doctor went into the room and Lucas followed me out.
“Hey,” he said.
He placed both hands on my shoulders and forced me to look at him. The hazel in his eyes was almost comforting as I felt mine swell with tears. I took in a sharp breath and struggled to maintain my composure, my wall. I could tell I wasn’t fooling Lucas though because his eyes were just as strong and reassuring as ever.
“Sorry,” I said.
“Don’t be sorry,” he said, “Just don’t hide from me.”
“Right,” I said, “I won’t, I promise.”
“Aaron,” he said.
“I promise,” I said.
The doctor came out of the room and looked at both of us.
“Henry’s awake,” he said.
“Thank God,” I said.
I tried to go back into the room but the doctor (and Lucas) stopped me. He had a very firm look on his face and didn’t look like he was about to let me see Henry any time soon.
“He told me what happened to him, and I need to talk to you for a moment Mr. Saunders,” he said.
“Ok,” I said, “Luke, could you go get us a couple sodas?”
“Sure,” Lucas said, in an almost nervous tone. I knew he didn’t want to leave, but I just froze him out until he walked away.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Well first, I need to know if you knew what drugs your friend was taking,” he said.
“I don’t know. I threw them out already,” I said, “What happened?”
“If you could find a sample somewhere, it would really help us in figuring out how big of an addiction we’re helping him fight,” he said.
“I’ll try to find some,” I said, “Now tell me what happened.”
“We really need a sample, otherwise we have no idea how Henry will respond-“
“Would you just freakin tell me what the hell happened to my friend?!” I yelled.
The doctor looked stunned, and took a half step backwards. I could feel the intensity from the eyes of the nurses down the hall at their station burning my skin, but I didn’t care. I stared with a furious scowl on my face, waiting for my answer. Once he regained his stance and shook off my snap, he looked at me with his serious doctor face again.
“He only said that he tried to get some more drugs from a dealer that met him in the abandoned furniture store. He didn’t have enough money and was beaten with a pipe and thrown out of the first story window.”
“He's gonna be okay though, right?” I asked.
“The hospital has a policy about patients with a drug dependency,” he said.
“What’s the policy?”
“He has to spend some time in rehab or we can’t discharge him.”
“Okay, well I’ll talk to him,” I said.
“Thank you Mr. Saunders,” he said.
He walked away from me with Henry’s chart under his arm and stopped at the Nurse’s station at the end of the hall. I turned and looked at Henry. He smiled weakly at me and tried to signal me to come in. Forcing my steps, I walked into the room and sat down in the chair next to his bed. I took in a deep breath and then looked at his face.
It was badly bruised, and his left eye was swollen shut. He had bandages around his neck and up the right side of his face. There were tiny marks all over from where the glass cut his face. But despite all of this, he had a smile on his face. It was slight, but it was still a smile and it made me feel better about being there.
“Henry…” I started.
“I know,” he said, “Rehab.”
“Aaron, I’m really sorry about what I said.”
“Don’t be Henry. It wasn’t your fault.”
“Yes it was,” he said, “Because part of me meant it, and I’m sorry.”
“I’m just glad you’re ok,” I said.
“Do you think they can send me somewhere near home?” he asked.
“I wanna see my family…”
“Ok Henry,” I said, “I’ll go ask.”
I stood up and gave him a clap on the shoulder. When I turned towards the door I saw Lucas standing there watching us with a soda bottle in his hand. He smiled at me when I saw him and held the bottle out to me. I smiled back as I approached him.
“Everything ok?” he asked.
I looked back at Henry and took a sigh of relief.
‘Yeah,” I said, “I hope so.”
“You need anything?” he asked.
“Nah, I’m alright,” I said.
“Actually you’re not,” he said.
I shot him a confused look and said, “Why not?”
“Cause you’ve been awake for almost 24 hours Aaron. You need to go home and get some sleep,” he said.
“I know,” I said.
“Want me to take you home?” he asked.
“Yeah…just give me two minutes,” I said.
He half smiled and walked over to the elevator. I turned around and went to find Dr. Haas who was still at the nurse’s station. When I got there, he was clearly flirting with the hot nurse wearing a nameplate that said “Debbie” over her obviously fake left tit. I cleared my throat to get their attention.
“Aaron,” he said.
“Hi, Dr. Haas, I was wondering…Henry was wondering if you would be able to-“
“Aaron I cannot in good conscious or hospital policy release him unless he goes into rehab,” he said.
“No, that’s not what I meant,” I said.
“He wanted to know if it was possible to be sent to a facility in Gilroy,” I said.
“Yeah, I think there’s a facility up there,” he said, “Any particular reason?”
“That’s where his family is,” I said.
“Oh, yeah sure. I’ll do everything I can Aaron,” he said.
“Aaron,” he said, “I can tell how much you care about Henry. I just want you to know that since he is in a very early stage of addiction, it’s going to be easier for him to break it. He won’t be gone for long.”
“Thank you,” I said, “That’s really good to hear,” I said.
“Don’t thank me,” he said, “You’re the one who saved him. If it weren’t for you, he wouldn’t have made it here in time.”
As I walked away, I realized that Dr. Haas was right and wrong at the same time. He was right that I saved Henry’s life and got him here in time. But I wasn’t responsible for him being saved. That responsibility rested on the shoulders of someone else. That someone deserved the thanks, not me. And that someone was sitting in the car outside waiting for me to come out there.
As I walked inside, I took my jacket off and kicked my sneakers across the room. Lucas sat down on my bed and kicked his shoes off. I stared at him with a grin on my face as he leaned back into my pillows and pretended to fall asleep.***
“Get up,” I said.
“Can’t hear you…sleeping,” he said.
I lunged forward and grabbed his arms to pull him off my bed. He wrapped his legs around my left arm and pulled out of my grip and grabbed onto the headboard as I pulled at his feet with no success. I let go of him and sighed harshly and he laughed at me with pride as he made himself comfortable.
“Ass,” I said.
“Douche,” he said.
I walked over to the closet and started changing into some gym shorts and a tank top. When I turned around Lucas was standing by the door. He looked tired and I guessed he was about to leave.
“You goin?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said, “You need to get some sleep.”
“So do you,” I said.
“Yeah well, I gotta cram for a test tomorrow anyway,” he said.
“Lucas,” I said.
He looked up at me and I fidgeted in the place I was standing.
“I just wanted to say thank you,” I said.
“No problem Aaron,” he said, “It’s what friends are for.”
“No, I mean,” I said, “For saving Henry’s life.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“If you didn’t make me check my voicemail, I wouldn’t have gotten to him in time,” I said.
“No,” I said, “Thank you Lucas. I owe you so much.”
I stepped forward and wrapped my arms around his shoulders. He lifted his arms and hugged me back. We stood there for a moment, as I felt Lucas pull me completely out of the figurative water I was drowning in. We were on dry land together and he held me to keep me from falling back in again.
I pulled away from him after a moment and wiped the tears away from my eyes. I looked at his shirt and saw some wet spots where my face was planted and chuckled at myself for being such a baby.
“Sorry,” I said pointing at his shirt.
“Hey, don’t ever be sorry for letting your guard down,” he said.
“Why?” I asked.
“Don’t take this the wrong way Aaron,” he said, “But there are a lot of people that think you’re unpleasant.”
“Thanks?” I said with a confused look.
“No, I mean,” he said, “If you would let your guard down more often, then those people would be able to see what an amazing person you are.”
I looked away from him and tried to zone out. I didn’t want to hear this speech again; I’ve heard it so many times from Carly. He placed his thumb and forefinger on my chin and forced me to look into his eyes. His eyes were the most revealing part of him and every time I looked into them, I could almost hear his angst screaming at me to let go and stop harboring my true self from him.
“Aaron, you’re such an amazing guy. It would be incredibly selfish of you to keep the world from noticing you,” he said.
“Lucas,” I said.
He dropped his hand from my face. He gave me a little half smile and turned towards the door. I grabbed his arm and turned him back to face me. I looked firmly into his eyes and saw myself reflected in them. No words were said between us, I don’t think any needed to be said anyway. I let go of his arm and he walked out the door.
I felt like a little piece of me had gone out with him. Like part of my soul had been torn off and all that was left was a bleeding wound where it was torn from. I took a deep breath to try and exhale the sting that Lucas left me with. It wasn’t caused by him, but by what I was doing to him. It made me sick to be such a boomerang, letting him in, blocking him out, and letting him in again.
I had to get my mind off of Lucas, so I paced around my room for a moment. Then I remembered that I had a paper due in two days. I sat at my computer and realized that the paper I was writing was about Lucas. I stood back up and looked around the room for a moment. I noticed Jonathan’s bag next to his bed and wondered where he was staying. That is…until I noticed something sticking out of his bag.
I leaned down to pick it up and recognized it right away. It was a vial identical to the one I found in Henry’s bag, with pills just like the ones I emptied out of the vial. I looked in disgust as I realized who the first person was that Henry got his drugs from. I had suspected it, but I never had any reason to believe it…until now.
Just then, the door opened and Jonathan walked into the room. He froze in the doorway and stared at me. He didn’t even notice what was in my hand. I stared him down until I could see beads of sweat dripping from his forehead. I could only imagine what my look of death actually looked like. Carly always said it would make a small child cry and wet his pants.
“What the hell are you doing here Jonathan,” I snarled.
“I…thought you’d be asleep,” he said.
“Yeah well that makes two of us,” I said.
He slowly took a step forward, but then retracted it as I felt my face contort in anger. I could smell the fear coming from him.
“Look, I heard about Henry,” he said, “And a part of me was hoping you’d be awake so I could tell you how sorry I am.”
“Sorry?” I yelled, “You better be fucking sorry asshole.”
I threw the vial at his feet and he flinched back into the now closed door.
“It’s your fucking fault he’s in there!” I yelled, “If it weren’t for you, he wouldn’t have been put in this situation!”
“Aaron,” he said.
“He has to go to rehab because of this!” I yelled, “Do you have any idea how much that’s going to screw up his life?!”
“I’m sorry!” he yelled.
“Yeah, that’s right. You ARE sorry. You are the sorriest piece of shit I’ve ever met, so why don’t you go crawl into some dark little hole and die there before I get the chance to strangle you myself!”
“Aaron, if you just give me a chance to explain!”
“The only thing I’m giving you is a 10 second head start,” I said.
He hesitated for a moment. I held up my hands and started counting down with them. When I got close to 5, I took a step forward. He flinched and threw the door open and ran out with tears in his eyes. I flopped down on my bed and massaged my temples after the door slammed shut.
Worthless sack of crap.
wowzers!!!! so much drama in one chapter. good job, dude.
well, you might be in the closet but your story telling and narrative abilities are right there out on the table for all to feast on.
i hate these stories 'cause you have to go on and on waiting for chapters to be written and usually i lose interest early on. you sir have forced me to reevaluate and make an exception...damn it, i guess i'm just as big a glutton as the rest of your entourage.
great work, now hurry up and get back to it.
I agree with Lefty, that was one powerful chapter. Don't keep us waiting too long for the next segment. H&K
Another gut wrenching, rock 'em, sock 'em chapter.
Your literary style is very good.
You keep us hyperventilating, wondering what's going to happen, next.
I wonder, if things are quite as they just appeared, though. Something seemed just enough off that, just maybe, we're not understanding.
IS this a cliffhanger more than we think?
Am I all wet?
I guess we'll find out soon enough.
Thanks for all of your hard work in bringing this great narrative to JUB to share with us.
And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .
p.s. i actually am not a fan of eggs
Brilliant chapter, ITC. There are so many little ends to tie up in this story and you are doing it with such excellence. It almost drains me emotionally as I read this. I truly look forward to the next chapter.
What a powerful chapter! Your characters are full of life - mostly good, some bad ... and all so real ...
I am waiting anxiously for the next chapter ...
Wings of A Butterfly
Apologies And Bitch Nurses
The repetitive knocking on my door jerked me out of my sleep. I felt around in the darkness for my lamp switch and flipped it on. I looked around the room for a moment as my eyes adjusted to the light coming from the lamp. The clock showed 3:13 a.m. and it had been a whole 25 hours since I threatened Jonathan.
I sat up and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes. Whoever had the balls to wake me up in the middle of the night clearly didn’t know me, so I decided it wasn’t worth rushing to the door. I slowly got out of bed and walked across the room to the door. With my hand on the knob, I shouted to the other side of the door.
“Someone better be dead!”
“Aaron…it’s Luke,” he said, “Please open the door.”
I threw the door open and saw Luke on the other side. He looked like he hadn’t slept in days. He was holding a piece of paper in his hand, and his eyes were bloodshot. He had a flashlight hanging out of his jacket pocket.
“Luke, I’m sorry man,” I said.
“Is Jonathan here?” he asked.
“No, I haven’t seen him all day,” I said.
He looked crushed when I said that. He seemed as if I was his last hope for something and I just let him down. I stood out of the way and let him inside. He walked over to my bed and sat down on the edge with the paper in his hands.
“Luke, what’s wrong?” I asked.
“Jonathan left this underneath my door last night,” he said.
I took the note out of his hands and read it. My eyes widened as I read what might have been the last words for Jonathan to think:
I am truly sorry for everything I’ve done, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my time and I’ve hurt a lot of people. But worst of all, I’ve hurt you more than once and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. Tell Henry how sorry I am, and tell Aaron I wish there were some way for me to make up for it. There is no way for me to make up for the mistakes I’ve made, and there is no excuse for what I’ve done.
I looked it over three times to make sure I read it right. I stared at it with my mouth wide open and my breath caught in my throat. I looked at Lucas and realized what was wrong with him. He had been crying…probably for hours.
“I think so,” he said.
“Come on,” I said grabbing his arm, “We’re gonna go find him.”
“Aaron, I’ve already gone looking for him,” he said, “I’ve looked everywhere he might go and everywhere he would never go…”
He sat back down and started crying. I sat down beside him and put my arm around his shoulder. Immediately, he leaned into me and cried on my shoulder. After a few minutes his crying turned to silent sobbing. The tears eventually stopped and he just sat there as I held him close to me.
After what seemed like forever, he pulled away from me and stared at the ground. My arm was still around his shoulder, but he didn’t seem to notice it at all. I could see his eyes glaze over as he drifted off into his thoughts.
“What?” he asked. His eyes didn’t move.
“We can’t just sit here,” I said.
“Aaron, I don’t know where else I can look,” he said.
His phone started buzzing in his pocket. He nearly ripped his jacket pulling it out. As soon as the phone was open, he was off the bed and standing by the door, listening intently to the other end of the line. I decided to change my clothes in case I was able to convince him to go looking for Jonathan.
I threw on a pair of gym pants and my favorite sweatshirt, hoping that maybe it had some good luck stored up since I last wore it. I turned around to see Lucas staring at me. He wasn’t actually staring at me, but through me. I could tell whatever was just told to him on the phone was not good news. I walked over to him and snapped my fingers in front of his eyes to get his attention.
“Who was that Luke?” I asked.
“It was the hospital,” he said, “They found Jonathan.”
As soon as we were out of the car, Lucas was dashing through the parking lot and into the hospital. I was no more than 3 steps behind him as I chased after him. We ran all the way through the hospital to the Nurse’s station in the ER. Lucas nearly toppled over an old man in a wheelchair as he was running.
He stopped running when he got to the counter that circled around the middle of the room. The nurse at the station was talking on the phone and typing something on her computer. I looked at Lucas and the look on his face shattered my heart. He looked absolutely destroyed by fear. I could tell he was getting impatient, and was about to try and get the nurse’s attention when Lucas slammed his left hand, palm down, on the counter.
“Can I help you sir?” the nurse said in an annoyed tone.
“Yes, I’m looking for Jonathan Meyers, I got a call about 10 minutes-“
“He’s in room 215. Go up the stairs and turn left,” she said with the same tone.
“Thank you,” he said.
The woman returned to her call after rudely dismissing Lucas. I was infuriated about the way she just treated him. I could see her silently mocking him with her eyes. It was the same look I got every time I said something sarcastic in my head. For the first time in God knows how long, I let my heart take control of my actions and I decided to use my mind to teach this bitch a lesson.
“Excuse me,” I said while knocking on the counter top.
“Yes?” she said with her annoyed tone.
“Is there something specific my friend did, or are you just a raging bitch all the time?” I asked.
“Excuse me?” she asked.
“I wish I could lady. You’re a fucking nurse; you’re supposed to care about people. But from what I’ve seen, you’re too much of a cold bitch to realize that my friend here is neck deep in panic and what he deserves from you is a little kindness and warmth. So the next time you decide someone here is annoying you, and silently mock them in your head, put yourself in their shoes and realize that what they need is a little compassion to calm them down.”
She stared at me, clearly stunned. I felt about a thousand pounds lift off my shoulders at that moment. I guess I was yelling at myself more than I was yelling at her. At that moment, I felt all the hate and loathing leave me. I felt nothing but the pain that was coming from Lucas as he pulled on my arm.
It wasn’t a pain in my arm; it was his pain being transferred into me through his touch. I ripped my glare away from the nurse and followed Lucas up the stairs. When we got to room 215, Lucas took on look and stopped dead in his tracks. I looked in to see what he saw, and felt a cold shiver run down my spine.
Jonathan was laying on the bed with a bunch of tubes and wires connected to him. His face was almost as white as paper, and he looked like he was in a pretty bad accident. There were cuts and scrapes all over his face and arms. A doctor came up to us as we stood in the doorway looking in and tapped me on the shoulder.
“Are you Lucas Harper?” he asked.
“No, I am,” Lucas said, “What happened to him?”
“He was found in the wreckage of a pretty bad collision on the highway. His blood tested positive for high concentrations of Ketamine. From speculation, we assume he overdosed at the wheel and lost control of the vehicle,” he said.
“Well what do you think happened?” I asked.
“Sorry?” the doctor said.
“Well you said, ‘We can assume,’ which means you don’t really think that’s what happened,” I said, “So what do you think happened?”
“Son, I don’t have an opinion one way or the other. I go off of facts, and we simply do not have enough facts to know exactly what happened,” he said, “Only speculation.”
“So what’s wrong with him now?” Lucas asked.
“Well, the accident caused one of his lungs to collapse. We were able to repair it, but he’s been having some trouble breathing. The drug overdose has caused his lungs to fill with fluid and mucus. Essentially, he’s drowning,” he said.
“So how do we…how do you fix this?” Lucas asked.
“Well, until we flush the drug out of his system, there’s not much we can do. Eventually he’s going to need to be hooked up to a machine to pump air through his lungs,” he said, “Until then, we can only hope that nothing major happens to him.”
“Major, like what?” I asked.
“Like him having a seizure because of his body going through withdrawals from the drug,” he said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t expect him to survive the night.”
“What?” Lucas yelled.
“I’ll send for his family shortly,” the doctor said.
“No you’re not doing anything except getting your ass in there and saving my best friend, do you understand me?” Lucas yelled.
“Mr. Harper, I’ve already told you. We have done everything we can for now,” he said.
Lucas just stood there with his eyes fixated on the doctor. The doctor looked at me and I gave him a nod that told him it was safe to walk way. He left me and Lucas standing in the doorway together. I pulled on Lucas’ arm and forced him to go into the room. Gently, I pushed him in front of me and he slowly approached Jonathan’s unconscious body. I saw what looked like a tear fall between his legs when he stopped moving.
I stayed close to the doorway as Lucas sat down in the chair next to the bed. Jonathan stirred and opened his eyes. From where I was standing, I could see regret, pain, and sadness in his eyes all at once. I felt a twinge in my chest when I saw how much Lucas could care for something no matter how much pain it caused him.
“You’re awake,” Lucas said.
“What happened?” Jonathan gasped, “Why can’t I breathe?”
“There’s,” Lucas said. He took in a deep breath before continuing, “a lot of fluid in your lungs.”
“Crap,” he wheezed.
“I’m sorry Jon,” Lucas said.
“It’s not your fault Luke,” he said gasping for air, “It’s mine.”
“Either way,” Lucas said, “You’ve gotta rest.”
“Why?” he asked, “it’s not like the odds of survival are in my favor.”
“Don’t talk like that,” Lucas said, “You’re gonna be fine.”
“Liar,” he coughed.
“They’re calling your family right now,” Lucas said.
“Fuck,” he said, “And I thought dying was my biggest problem.”
Lucas cracked a smile at Jonathan’s comment.
“Ha,” he said with a cough, “You smiled. I win.”
“Yeah, you win,” Lucas said, “I’m gonna go home and get some sleep man. You need to rest now, but I’ll be here first thing in the morning.”
“Thanks Luke,” he said.
Lucas stood up and wiped the strands of hair out of Jonathan’s face. He turned to face me and took a step forward, but stopped and turned back to Jonathan.
“I didn’t mean what I said Jon,” he said.
“I know Luke, it’s ok,” Jonathan said.
Lucas turned back towards me and slowly walked towards me. He almost walked past me but stopped right next to me. He looked at me with several different emotions in his eyes. Anger, sadness, hatred, fear; all were very loudly screaming in his hazel eyes that didn’t seem so hazel anymore.
“Luke,” I said, “I’m really sorry.”
“You shouldn’t be apologizing to me,” he said.
He was right. I looked away from him and towards Jonathan. I may not like the guy, but if what I said caused this and hurt Lucas this much, then I owed him a major apology. Not for him, but for Lucas.
I walked slowly to the chair Lucas was sitting in and gently sat down beside Jonathan. He looked at me with a blank stare. I really didn’t know what to say to him, but I had to say something. His dark brown eyes focused on me as I gathered the words in my head. For the first time in years I was actually speechless.
“Jon,” I said, “I’m sorry for what I said to you.”
“No you aren’t,” he said.
“Yes, I am,” I said.
He looked at me with confusion on his face and suspicion in his eyes. I sat uncomfortably in the chair with the smell of the hospital wrapping me in a cocoon of discomfort and agony. My mind suddenly found words and I spat them out as my mind conjured them in a string of regret.
“I’m sorry that what I said brought you here, and that as a result of what I said, Lucas is in pain,” I said.
“So you’re sorry for Lucas, but not for me.”
“Of course I’m sorry for you,” I said, “I’m sorry that you felt you had to do this. I’m sorry that, while it may not be the cause, what I said was part of what made you do this.”
“Please, you don’t even like me,” he said.
“That’s true,” I said, “But I would never wish death on anyone.”
“I know what I said, but I’m all talk. I never would have actually followed through if you called my bluff,” I said.
“I really am sorry…” he wheezed, “About Henry.”
“Listen to me Jonathan,” I said, “When you get out of here, you’re going to make up for what you’ve done. You’ll kick your habits and be a better person after.”
“I doubt it,” he said.
“Well then if you won’t do it for yourself, then would you at least do it for Lucas,” I said.
“He’s been out there trying to find you since he found your note,” I said, “He still cares about you despite all you’ve done. Don’t you think you owe him some of that back?”
“Aaron…if you actually think…I’m going to survive…”
“Stop it,” I said, “You’re going to fight as hard as you can because you owe that to Lucas.”
He looked down at his hands. I saw tears building up in his eyes and for the first time in years I felt guilty about something I said. I leaned forward and grabbed his left hand with both of mine. He looked back at me and a couple tears fell out and rolled down his cheeks.
“Get some rest Jonathan,” I said as I stood up to leave.
“Aaron,” he said, “If I don’t make it…”
“Don’t say that.”
“I have to…” he said, “Just tell Lucas that I know none of this is his fault.”
I stared at him wanting to ask him why he felt that needed to be clarified. After all, none of this could be pegged on Lucas’ shoulders, but most of it could be pegged on mine.
“He still blames himself for his girlfriend’s death last year,” he said, “I don’t want him to blame himself for mine.”
I gave him a nod and as much of a smile as I could muster. I walked out of the room to find Lucas sitting against the wall with his knees pulled against his chest. His head was on his arms and I could tell he was crying. I sat down next to him and put my arm around his shoulders again. He pulled his head off of his arms and fell into my chest as his cries took total control of his body.
And then the strangest thing happened. I felt myself crying as well. I felt the tears burn my eyes as they rushed forward and fell off of my face into Lucas’ hair. His sandy blonde hair turned darker where my tears hit.
“I’m so sorry Lucas,” I said.
“Why?” he asked.
“This is my fault,” I said.
We both pulled ourselves together and started walking out of the hospital. As I drove him home, he asked me why it was my fault, and I couldn’t lie to him. I told him everything that happened the night before. He didn’t look at me the whole way back. He stared out the window, and when I pulled into the parking complex, he threw the door open and flew out towards his dorm building.
I called out to him, but he didn’t even flinch. I watched as he slowly faded out of sight into the darkness. It was as if the darkness was swallowing him whole now, despite how bright the full moon was. I didn't even ask him if he could forgive me for being partially responsible.
When I got back into my room, I flopped down onto my bed and tried desperately to wake up, as if all of this were some horrible dream. I opened my eyes, but the pain was still there. It wasn't my pain though...it was Lucas' pain. I could still feel it now just as clearly as I could when he was pressed into me, bawling his eyes out. What made the pain sting even worse was knowing that at any moment, I could get a call telling me that Jonathan didn't make it.
The next thing I realized was that it was 9:30 a.m. Thursday. I didn't even remember going to sleep, or even being asleep. I went down to get some breakfast alone for the first time in over a year. I sat at a table, alone with my thoughts. Alone was a word I rarely used, no matter how alone I actually felt. I always had Henry, and I always had Carly. Last week I had Lucas too. Now I don’t have any of them.
I felt my phone buzz in my pocket so I pulled it out. I waited until the reminder buzz came to actually open it to see who it was. It was Lucas.
Jon rspnded well to the trtment. He’s brthing on his own.
That’s great Luke.
I’m rlly sry about last night. Can I make it up 2 u?
Sure, if you’re not mad at me anymore.
I nvr was Aaron. I’m sry I seemed like I did.
It’s cool man. So what do u have in mind?
Come by arnd 6 and u’ll find out =)
Another powerful chapter, loaded with emotion and meaning.
Hopefully, Jonathon will come out, come clean, and turn his life around; Henry, too.
Luke has been through a lot of heartache. Why is it that the innocent, open, loving people are always the ones run over by the Mack Trucks of life?
Aaron, at some point deep in the bowels of his mind, I hope knows that, contrary to being responsible for the condition Jonathon is in, is responsible for him getting better, instead.
I didn't really expect another chapter installment to have been posted by one of my favourite authors this morning, but I greatly appreciate it, heartwrenching as it may be.
You are a gifted writer. Thank you for sharing your talents with us.
And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .
I'm reminded of this quote from Emile Deschamps:
Thanks for this wonderful story!"When two people cry together for the first time, they understand how much they love each other."
Oh my God! Here I was thinking I couldn't possibly get any more hooked to this story, and you write something like this! It is absolutely amazing. Just WOW. I'm looking forward to the next installment. Thanks for taking your time to write this, and thanks even more for sharing it with us!
ITC i'am at a loss for words. That was a very emotional chapter and I could feel the tears in my eyes. You have a way with words that brings the reader into the story and feels all the emotion of the charters. Thanks for a great read. H&K
WOW! Great chapters. how did we get so lucky to have a writer like you here on JUB writing for us to enjoy. you're writing style is very unique.
Wow 2 powerful chapters. You always have us on the edge of our seat, ITC. Great job, as always.
Great updates!! Wonder what's going to happen around 6?
ITC, if you're not careful, you will have me in the hospital bed next to either Jonathan or Henry. There is little I can say other than these last few chapters have been nothing short of excellence. And, as you can well see, your stories hold a great deal more in substance than the typical gay saga full of sex. They represent an emotional side of life that contains the feelings of true love and compassion. What you have written is something that, in some degrees, each of us will or have witnessed sometime within our lives. And with all depths of the emotional ladder seemingly reached with this last chapter we get a glimse of it beginning to make it's way up the rungs and into a more positive light. Kudos to you for a very stirring story.
Wow. Another great couple of chapters. Please keep it up!
I have been crying ... Incredible sadness, I cannot take a death .. I am far too connected to this very real drama ... Your writing is spectacular ...
Wings of A Butterfly
Something in the Stars
* I knocked three times consecutively on Lucas’ door. When he opened the door, a big smile stretched across his face. He leaned in and wrapped his arms around me to greet me. Usually, I would have felt uncomfortable hugging a guy, but for some reason Lucas felt warm and inviting. I hugged him back and when he pulled away, all he could do was smile at me.
There was a silence between us, but it wasn’t awkward. It was the kind of silence where we both were just taking the moment in and establishing our comfort with each other. He walked over to his desk and started going through the drawers as I sat on his bed and watched him.
“So what’re we doin tonight?” I asked.
“Well, I hope you don’t mind but, my Astronomy class is having a stargazing lab tonight and they told us to bring a friend along,” he said.
“Really? That sounds awesome,” I said.
I didn’t intend it, but my voice gave off a less than happy tone.
“Sorry,” he said, “You don’t have to go if you don’t want.”
“Oh no Lucas,” I said, “I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Then what’s wrong?” he asked.
“It’s just…my mom was a star-gazer,” I said.
“Oh, Aaron I’m sorry I didn’t know…”
“No, it’s not a bad thing,” I said, “I want to go.”
His bright hazel eyes shimmered with excitement. He pulled a flashlight and a notebook out of his desk and threw them into his bag. With a smile on his face, he grabbed my arm and pulled me out the door.
We walked together in silence to the parking complex until we got to his car. The look on his face told me that there was something on his mind that he couldn’t shake. Even after we had been on the road for a few minutes, he still seemed like he was cutting himself off from me, and I was starting to get annoyed.
“Lucas,” I said, “Is something wrong?”
“No,” he said, “I’m just thinking…”
“Bout what?” I asked.
“I was just thinking about last night,” he said.
“Look Lucas, you said Jonathan is doing better. You shouldn’t keep worrying about him,” I said.
“No, that’s not what I meant.”
“Well what did you mean?” I asked.
“I was thinking…about us…” he said.
“What about us?” I asked.
“Ok…this is really hard to put into words,” he said with an uncomfortable laugh.
The sun was almost set now and the horizon glimmered with the remaining sunlight. The light bathed Lucas in an amazing gold color. Even in his uncertainty, he still seemed like the closest thing to a perfect human being. I placed my hand on his which was on the gearshift and looked fiercely into his eyes when he looked at me in surprise.
“Lucas, there is nothing you can say that will make me judge you, or laugh at you, or hate you,” I said, “You can tell me anything.”
“Well I don’t want to tell you anything, I want to ask you something,” he said.
“Ask away,” I said, “I’m all ears.”
He looked away from me and back at the road. He was concentrating on his wording so intensely that I could almost smell his hair burning from the heat coming from his brain. I felt the muscles in his hand contract around the gearshift and I saw his other hand tighten its grip around the steering wheel. He looked back at me, pursed his lips, and took a deep breath.
“Why did you cry with me?” he asked.
That’s it? That’s the big question?
I retracted my hand off of his and put it behind my head. I must have been thinking for a while because when I opened my eyes to answer, the sun was gone and the lights from the city were miles behind us. You could see the stars clearly now and everything seemed so peaceful.
“Lucas,” I said.
He turned his head towards me, but he didn’t look at me. For the first time, I felt like he was afraid of what I had to say. But the truth was that I was a little afraid of saying it. How could I tell him how much he meant to me, that I would be willing to die for him, when we’ve only known each other for a little over a week?
“When I was…holding you…” I said, “I was able to feel your pain. I felt how much you were hurting…and I just had to cry too.”
He slowed the car down and turned onto a dirt road where I saw headlights from cars and flashlights from the people around them. Lucas parked next to a white convertible Beetle and we got out to be greeted by his lab professor.
“Hey Lucas, what took you so long,” she said, “I expected you to be the first one out here.”
“My friend here likes to make me late,” he said with a grin.
“Hi, Aaron,” I said, “Saunders.”
“Oh, you’re the famous Aaron Saunders,” she said.
“I’m Camille Robbins,” she said, “I believe my husband is your Psychology professor.”
“Uh, yeah…” I said.
“I hear you like to knock him down a few notches everyday,” she said.
“Yeah, I guess I do,” I said with an awkward laugh, “He probably doesn’t like me very much.”
“That’s not true at all,” she said, “You’re his favorite student.”
“What?” Lucas and I said in unison.
“Yeah,” she said, “He says all the time he wishes his other students had as much passion for their beliefs as you do.”
I was stunned. After almost 3 months of stepping on each others’ toes, I could have bet my life on Robbins’ hatred for me. Lucas looked at me with the same stunned-stupid look on his face. Neither of us could believe my stubborn, arrogant outbursts in class actually made Robbins like me.
A man in a blue shirt with pit-stains visible even in the dark came over and whispered something into Camille’s ear. She motioned for us to join the rest of the group of the students in the field. I stood next to Lucas as the three lab professors got everyone’s attention. I could almost feel the excitement emanating from Lucas’ body.
“Welcome everyone,” the man with pit-stains said, “We’re gonna start the evening by giving everyone a handheld telescope. Your assignments are in your lab manuals so as soon as you’re finished, turn in your papers and sign out with either me, Professor Robbins, or Professor Galvin.”
Lucas received his telescope and we branched off into the field. We found a clearing where the trees below us parted and we could see the sky almost perfectly. The stars were gleaming in the night’s sky, and shimmered in Lucas’ eyes. I pointed out the few constellations I knew because of my mother.
My favorite was Orion the hunter. My mom told me all sorts of stories when I was a child about adventure heroes and I always wanted to be just like them. Orion the hunter made me think of how I was back then every time I looked at it. I turned my gaze to Lucas who was smiling at me as I stared at my hunter.
“What?” I asked.
“I had no idea you loved this so much,” he said.
“Yeah well…it was the one thing I shared with my mom besides DNA,” I said.
He smiled at me and sat down next to me in the chairs we set out. His arm brushed against mine as he put it on the armrest.
“Do you think about her a lot?” he asked.
“I think about her every day Luke,” I said.
I looked back up into the stars and wondered if my mother was somewhere up there watching me. I never truly believed in Heaven or Hell. I didn’t think I would be able to live this life the way I wanted to if I thought that there was an eternal one after it. But right here, and right now, it was almost like something blanketed me with warmth. As I sat there with Lucas, I couldn’t help but feel really good.
The instructors started rounding the students up and collecting their assignments. Lucas handed his in and we went back to his car. The inside of the car was surprisingly warm considering the cool temperature outside. The ride back to campus was very comfortable and safe.
“Have you heard from Henry yet?” he asked.
“Yeah…I got a letter from him today,” I said.
“How is he?”
“He sounds like he’s doing well,” I said, “Part of his therapy is atonement so he was apologizing to me for the pain his addiction may have caused me.”
“Well at least he’s getting better,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“Nothing,” he said.
“Is something wrong with Jonathan?” I asked.
“I saw him today,” he said, “He responded to the treatment for his breathing…but that lead them to find some internal bleeding and rib fractures that they missed.”
“Oh shit…is he going to be ok?” I asked.
“They didn’t say anything one way or the other,” he said.
“Lucas... I’m really sorry,” I said.
“Thank you Aaron,” he said, “I’m sure he’ll be alright.”
“Yeah,” I said, “He will be.”
We dove back into our comfortable silence for the rest of the drive back. We listened to music, but not very loudly. I was starting to drift off by the time we were close to campus. When the car stopped, I opened my eyes to see Lucas staring at me and rubbing his neck.
“Something wrong?” I asked groggily.
“Oh sorry,” he said with a laugh, “I was wondering if I should wake you or let you rest for a bit.”
I laughed a little back and noticed he was still rubbing his neck as we got out of the car. When we started walking, I reached over and placed my hand on the back of his neck and started rubbing it for him. He turned towards me and smiled awkwardly.
“You weren’t hitting the right spot,” I said, “Most of the tension is near the top of the neck.”
“Thanks Aaron,” he said.
We approached my building first. A part of me really didn’t want to leave him, but it was late and I was exhausted. We faced each other for a moment, with the street lamps shining onto us, and the empty courtyard chirping with sounds of crickets. I noticed my hand was still on his neck, but I didn’t pull it away.
He was staring into my eyes, and I was staring back into his. There was a sudden click between the two of us, and I knew that there was something going through his mind that he was afraid of saying. I removed my hand and put it in my pocket. I looked down at the ground for two seconds and when I looked back up, I felt Lucas’ lips press against mine. The shock made every muscle in my body clench.
He pulled away and saw the look of pure surprise on my face. I saw his comfort completely lift away as he realized what he had just done.
“Oh my God…Aaron I’m so sorry,” he said, “I don’t know why I did that. Can you please just forget this happened? I don’t know what came over me. I swear I’m not like that-“
“Lucas just…shut up for a second…”
I took a deep breath and calmed myself down as Lucas stopped babbling. He looked like he was on the verge of tears. I raised my right hand, which was balled up in a fist, and he flinched away. Before he could take off, I grabbed him with my left hand and put my right hand behind his head and pulled him back towards me to kiss him.
It gave me a rush. The adrenaline sped through my blood as I felt his soft lips press against mine. I pulled his body into mine and squeezed him so hard, not wanting to ever let go. I felt his tears drop onto my shirt and pulled away to notice he was crying. I gave him another soft peck on his amazing lips and let go of him.
“Good night Lucas,” I said with a grin on my face.
I turned and walked into my building with the biggest smile on my face and the most amazing warmth in my heart. I turned and saw Lucas standing outside with a stunned look, almost as if he were afraid to move. I smiled at him and turned towards the stairs.
Well that was different…
Wow! That gave me chills.... not chill chills, more like warm chills..... I love it. I wanted to be either one of them, experiencing that kiss. Aaron is finally able to appreciate the bond he has with Lucas. I'm happy too that Aaron has found out he is not the dreaded and hated student he has tried to portray.