Rose Water

Chapter 18

Thank you to my beta Carly. She is the most awesome, awesome to ever be awesome. Thanks to Britt for hounding me.


Personal demons are not meant to breathe the air. They roam and burrow below the surface of your skin. My demons make me itch. I can feel them moving inside of me. I want to burn them alive. I want to dissect them. I want to know everything about them and how they came to be. I want to push them away and off of me. I want to do all these things, but whenever I come one step closer to letting them go… I snatch them back. I don't let them go. I can't. I hold onto them, afraid to live without them. Exorcism.

Everyone is staring at me. Everyone is waiting for me to move. I blink.

I am having streams of consciousness, and then… I am fully alert. My nerves spring back to life and I start to move. Everything comes into focus. I see the blood. My heart beats faster. I see the cuts. My heart beats faster. My hands start to shake. I am spinning.

Slowly… slowly… slowly they all start to filter out of the bathroom, my alert state extinguishing some of their curiosity.

For just a moment they were concerned. Or were they? Did they just want to see what all the commotion was about? Did they want to be in the know? Maybe, who knows? The ones who are really concerned are still here, still watching me, still waiting. The rest have gone back to their food. Another twink, another problem.

I can't stop my hands from shaking. I push off the floor and stand on my feet. The world is tilted, moving. Debbie is talking to me, what is she saying? I need to focus. "Justin, sunshine, the ambulance is on its way," she says to me. I grip the tiled wall, steadying myself. I can see the man who jumped the stall, he is staring at me. I move my hands and lean my weight against the wall. I reach down to pull up my pants, wincing in pain as the jean material scraps over the open cuts.

I button my jeans, my breath coming out in spurts as every movement highlights a moment from this evening. I should never have gone to dinner. I should never have let myself believe that things could ever be the same again. "I'm not going to the hospital."

The blood on my legs is soaking into my jeans, making them heavy. I gather my things and make my way, painfully, out of the diner, blood still staining the bathroom floor.

"Justin, you have to go to the hospital. Those cuts can get infected." I know.

The slight chill in the air is a comfort as the bell above the diner door signals my exit. I am ten steps away from the diner when I see the ambulance pull up and the paramedics jump out. Debbie is on them in a flash, pointing to me. I see her signal to Kiki and I know what she just told her to do. Call Brian. Fuck… Me.

"Sir, we got a call that you were in need of some medical attention. What seems to be the problem?"

No, I don't want your help. "No, I am fine. I am going to go home," I tell them. I can feel my head spinning again, the loss of blood is starting to really effect me. I don't waiver in my position.

"You seem to have some kind of injury. You are bleeding," he says to me as he points at my jeans, the thigh area is drenched in blood and the blood on my arms is drying into the cement below. I look down at myself. I look like an extra from a horror movie.

"No, I… don't… want… your… help," I say, pausing in between each word so that they get the point. The paramedic tries to get me to come and let them look at me. But I know. I know that once I get into that ambulance they are going to take me to the hospital. I know.

After five minutes he finally gives up. His partner brings over a clipboard; the kind with the pen attached and hands it to me.

"We need you to sign these papers saying that you refuse treatment." I grab the dangling pen and sign.


"So, how did you manage to get out, alone?" Michael asks me. I line up my shot and hit the ball into the hole, circling the table to set up my next shot. I roll up my sleeve back up before leaning down and inspecting the table.

"Justin went to dinner at his mother's." I say. I make no indication of my feelings. I just state the fact. Michael accepts this and leans against the table as I shoot again and miss.

"He doesn't see her a lot, does he?"

"Well, not everyone can be as attached to their mother as you are Mikey." The vibration in my pocket halts me from the rest of what I am going to say. "Yeah," I say into the phone. I listen in silence as Kiki from the diner tells me a jumble of information. All I hear is Justin and blood.

"Who was it? Is everything okay?" Michael asks.

"I have to go," I say. I drop the cue on the table and walk out of the bar. I know Michael is going to want to know what's going on, but I don't have time to answer his questions right now. I walk out of Woody's, hop into the corvette and head toward the loft.


Nothing feels like metal. It can be cold. It can be warm. It can be as silent as the grave or tell all your secrets to the world. Metal can be strong. Metal can be easily dented. Metal can be all those things, but right now as I stand here, leaning my forehead against the metal door, all I want it to do is make me… disappear.

I push the door open and walk into the loft, sliding the door closed behind me. It's dark. It's quiet. No one is here. I walk into the bathroom and strip out of all my clothes. Blood is trailing down my legs, resting in the whites of my socks. I turn on the water, not bothering to adjust the temperature. I step under the cold water and close my eyes.

I lose myself inside my own thoughts, never hearing the door open and close or the footsteps as they walk toward me. I am on the floor of the shower, watching the blood wash off and away from my body. "Justin, holy shit," Brian says as he looks down at me. He reaches into the shower and turns the frigid water off. "Come on."

He steps into the shower and lifts me up. "I'm sorry," I say. I don't know why I apologize, I just need to. He helps me out of the shower and lifts me up onto the counter.

"What happened?" He asks as he looks at the cuts that are on my thighs and arms. The blood has been stunted by the cold water. The vessels are constricted and it flows in a more manageable manner. I can hardly see Brian. Unshed tears are pooling in my eyes.

"He was there," I finally say. He doesn't act like he hears me. He looks up at me as he reaches under the sink and pulls out a box, opening the lid and pulling out bandages and hydrogen peroxide.

"Who?" He asks as he starts to clean the cuts on my body. I don't feel his hands.

"My dad, he was there," I say. He stops moving, only for a second before he shakes off the shock and finishes what he is doing. "He was there and my sister told him that I was gay. He hit me… he hit me." I let my voice trail off. It's not like it's the first time he hit me. But, he never hit me openly, where my mom could see. I open my mouth to say something and my voice stops in my throat.

I look down and there are bandages covering the cuts on my arms and legs. I don't want to see bandages anymore. Brian helps me off the counter and walks with me into the bedroom. I slip into the sweats that are on the bed and pull the shirt over my head.

I see the lights turn off and Brian comes back into the room with two bottles of water and a bottle of pain pills, leftover from my last trip to the hospital.

He hands them to me and I take them quickly, chasing them with the water. He takes the bottle into the bathroom and I kneel down on the bed, slowly crawling over to my side before curling into a ball. "Justin," he says as he comes back into the room and sits down on his side of the bed, facing the closet.

"I don't want to talk about it," I say.

"You never want to talk about it and it's not getting better. What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to wait until I get the call that tells me that someone found your cold lifeless body somewhere?" He asks me. I don't answer.

"Talk to me," he says and I can hear how hard it is for him to try so hard to get me to open up when all he wants to do it shut down and not deal with this. I am leaving him no choice. I am forcing him to deal. I am forcing him to look at everything. I feel his arm wrap around me as the other one rests above my head.

"I don't know why you deal with me," I say and the tears flow freely.

"I'm not ready to give up yet. I don't like to lose," he says and I turn my body as slowly as I can. He kisses me and I let his arms wrap around me as best as they can.

"I am so fucked up."

"Yeah," he says with a laugh and I let myself laugh. I owe him that much.


I can't fix your broken pieces. I can't bear the weight of your soul. I can't take away your hurt. I can't breathe for you. I can hold you tightly.

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