Rose Water

Chapter 29

Someone's always watching and waiting. Someone always wants to know just a little bit more…

I can hear their voices, soft and low, trying too hard to whisper and failing. "Can he talk?" I hear the doctor ask. She's introduced herself to me. She's not so young and not so old, pleasantly middle-aged.

"He can talk," someone says, Dr. Travis, I think. "Whether or not he chooses to talk to you will be a whole other story." Their voices drop and I don't have to strain to hear.

"If no one has heard him talk then how do you know he can?" Nice one, I think. Smart. I sigh and lift my legs onto the bed. All white sheets and clothes, everything white and sterile and clean, so much easier to see the imperfections.

"Well, technically… we don't. Medically there should be no reason that he cannot speak. The wounds that he inflicted on himself are healed, for the most part. All physiological signs indicate that he should in fact be able to speak. We assume that he just doesn't want to."

I don't. I have nothing to say. Talking hurts too much. "He has a boyfriend?" I can hear a rustle of papers and then an intake of breath.

"Yes. Brian Kinney. He comes quite frequently to see him actually," Dr. Travis tells her. The other doctor, the newest one is silent for a moment.

"And Justin talks to him?"

"As far as we are aware no," Dr. Travis says, "at least not in any ways that we can hear. And all of his visits are supervised. He's gone long periods without speaking before."

The new doctor's voice holds a smile, a smug arrogance and I hear her say, "That's fine." When the door opens I don't look away and when the orderly closes and locks the door behind the doctor my breathing doesn't change. "Hello Justin. It's nice to see you today."

I bet.

"You seem to have just about every therapist in this place stumped. They consider you a real challenge." I bite back a smile and say nothing, my fingers pulling on the edge of my pants. She pulls a chair from the inside of the door and sits down across the room from me, legs crossed. When she opens her clipboard it's the same questions over again: How do you feel today? Do you feel like talking? Have you been eating? Does it all still just hurt? Wouldn't I like to go outside?

I have a million answers for her questions. Too many things I'd like to say but I keep it all inside and lean my head against the wall. In this place there is no extra. In my Ward, no sharp objects, nothing. No paper, no pens, no tables or chairs. The only furniture is the bed, made of fiberglass and bolted to the wall, the mattress soft enough and the sheets sewn on. Bathroom privileges when they say so and always supervised. I'm zoning her out. My brain is a roadmap to a dead end street, and thinking, trying to jumble it all just seems too taxing.

Breathe deep. Breathe constant. Close your eyes and try to… pause. I close my eyes and what I see is blood, blood, blood and my fingers clench.

"Have you seen Brian today?" My head presses deeper into the wall, just enough to cause a dull ache but I keep my face neutral. I don't take the bait. He's not allowed on Monday's. She already knows the answer. "Well, enough small talk. What do you say we jump right in and you can tell me why you think you need to cut yourself?"

I'm suddenly exhausted. Suddenly the time seems to tick on for just way too damn long.


You have your prison and I have mine.

"This isn't helping, you know." I take the beer from Michael's hand and smile as I press it to my lips, turning my back to the bar. The music is loud. Everything is the illusion of normal. "Maybe you should… I don't know… talk to someone," he shrugs.

"Why Mikey, I wasn't aware that you had obtained a degree in Psychology in the last few months. Gee, your Mommy must be so proud," I say with a sarcastic smile as I drown half of the beer and watch the people move around us.

"Asshole," he says with a shake of his head. "I'm just trying to help." I nod and smile, turning to put the beer down on the bar.

"Yeah, well, don't," is all I say and walk away. The closest person to me is brunette, dark skin and willing and I wrap my fingers around his wrist and pull him after me. If you can't be with the one you love, fuck the shit out of the one you're with. Or does it go some other way?

Steady compulsion into content oblivion.

Against the bricks, pressed next to the loft door and pulling my key from my pocket. His lips are pressed to my neck, sucking flesh and wanting more and I slip the key in the lock and slide the door open, trying hard not to think. "Nice place," he says and he turns. "I'm…"

"I don't want to know your name," I tell him, my hand closing over his mouth, my other on his collarbone pushing him towards the bedroom. He shrugs and turns to step up the stairs. I watch him peel off his clothes and drop them to the floor. Take it all.

His hands are on my shirt, unsnapping buttons and tongue touching my chest, licking and biting and hot and cold. I close my eyes and pretend. It's always the next best thing.


If you want to know the truth, I've always meant to die. Nothing ever happens the way it's supposed to. Some call it a simple twist of fate. I call it my everyday. In the end it all boils down to truths and consequences. How much is a person willing to gain or lose to be completely happy? Or at the very least content; happy is overrated. "Sooner or later you'll have to talk. We can't make progress until you do."

I smile, almost laugh. She's watching me with pen in hand, pad waiting. I don't have words for her. I rest my chin on my knee and let my eyes rest on the paint on my door. The bandage on my neck is thick and underneath the vein is pulsing and I wince and swallow, twice.

She sighs and sits back in her chair. "Justin," she says, voice tired and on the edge of irritated. "I'm just going to keep coming back until you talk to me."

I move my eyes, train them on her and smile. "Why?" Her head snaps up and into place when she hears my voice. I haven't spoken in over a month. She sits up straight, pulls her legs tighter against her body and leans forward.

"Why?" she repeats, licking her lips just a little, her tongue sticking out. She adjusts her glasses. I let my eyes turn to her, burn into her and wait.

Seconds tick by and I turn fully to her, crossing my legs above the sheets and letting my hands rest on my knees. In this room, in this light all my scars are visible, tiny red lines on pale skin, some healed and others trying. "Why would you want to keep coming back?" is what I ask.

She seems to be stumped but I know better and she looks at me, unblinking and says, "Because unlike you I'm just not ready to give up yet."

"Some people would call you insane," I tell her, "working so hard for someone who doesn't want your help." I make sure I emphasize the words. She smiles, bright.

"Some people would," she agrees. "Fortunately I have little time or patience for the opinion of others. I don't trust anyone to tell me how <i>they</i> think I should feel." I actually do laugh at that and the skin on my neck pulls and I wince and press my hand to the bandage.

"Seems like you chose the wrong profession," I tell her with a deep swallow and a grimace. She leans back in her chair and uncrosses her legs only to cross them at the ankles.

"No. I don't think so. A stubborn bitch, who likes to tell others what to do but can't stand getting advice herself. It seems like the perfect job to me," she tells me with a smile.

"Ever thought of going into advertising? You sound a hell of a lot like someone else I know," I say. My hand starts to shake and I drop it to my lap. I press down the sudden need to do damage, my eyes closing for just a second and opening again. I focus on the glass in her glasses, the paper on her clipboard, the pen in her hand and warmth flows all through me. Just one cut, one piece of release. Please.

"Brian's in advertising, isn't he?" I nod once and swallow. "He comes to see you. Quite often I'm told. Do you enjoy those visits?" I don't answer that. I watch her. "Justin."

"I'm still here." She writes something down and turns her eyes back to me. "Brian is different."

"It says in your file that he is quite older than…"

"I don't want to talk about Brian, okay," I snap. My words are sharp and she pulls back a little. Her hand stills against the clipboard and I can hear us both breathe. An orderly appears in the doorway and she waves him away.

"Look, Justin," she says. "I'm not big on beating around the bush. I think it just serves to make both parties pissed off. I'm here to help you and in order to do that you've got to help me a little. What exactly do you feel comfortable talking about?" She's pushing. She's getting angry and she's lost all her patience. And now it's our own personal game. The stakes might be a little too high.


I've had enough for the day and my eyes burn into hers. She sighs and after fifteen minutes of silence she stands and walks over to the door, knocks once and waits. "I'll be back to see you tomorrow. You will be sure to be here, right?" The orderly comes in and removes the chair, eyes constantly on me. She walks out behind him and turns back as he's closing the bars and locking them. "Goodnight." He shuts the big door and I'm alone again.

Idle thoughts make for pressing work. I lay down flat on top of the sheets and try not to breathe. I clench my hands into fists, pressing my nails in deep enough to leave red marks in my palm and for just a few moments I feel completely relaxed.


"God, you're good."

I smirk and lean away from his touch. "I know. And now you can go," I say. He doesn't fight or complain and scoots off the bed, slipping his jeans onto his legs and standing fluidly.

"Call me," he says. "You know… if you need a little more anonymous release. He drops a slip of paper onto the bed, in the tangle of sheets and grabs the rest of his clothes before slipping out the door. I lean over and grab a cigarette, lighting it and blowing smoke up and out.


When the phone rings the first time I don't move to answer but my eyes trail over to the clock on the nightstand. "Whoever this is, it better be really fucking important."

"Mr. Kinney, this is Dr. Antonia Morrison from The Hamlin Institute. I'm Justin's doctor. I'm sorry to be calling you so late," she says and I sit up against the pillows.

"Is something wrong? Or are you just calling for introductions," I say and take another long pull on my cigarette.

"Actually, Mr. Kinney I was calling to see if you'd be willing to meet with me tomorrow, before your visit with Justin and possibly maybe after." I smile at that and stand up, moving towards the kitchen to get a bottle of water.

"Fishing for information that the young lad is unwilling to give? That seems to be hitting a little below the belt, Doctor." She laughs and I look at the clock again. It's creeping slowly past one in the morning.

"I'll take my chances, Mr. Kinney." I nod to no one and take a drink of the water, snuffing the cigarette out into the sink.

"Mm," I say. "I suppose I could spare you a few minutes to probe into my brain." I hang up the phone, not waiting for a response, and down the rest of the water before walking over to the door to set the alarm.

Lights Out.


I look down at the cup of pills in my hand and back up at the nurse. "Are we going to have a problem again this morning?" I put the cup up to my mouth and swallow all at once, chasing the pills with the small cup of water she hands to me.

"Thank you," she says. I don't smile, just back away from the door with my tray of too plain breakfast and sit on the edge of the bed. The main door is left open for breakfast, the barred door shut in place and locked. Everything is supervised and I un-wrap the plastic spoon.

"Oh man come on, what the fuck is this shit? Can't a motherfucker get like a fucking Egg McMuffin or some shit, damn," I hear Shane yell. He's always yelling about something. There's a clatter of dishes and food and more yelling. "Fuck! Fuck! Okay, shit man." And then he's quiet. The rest of the Ward is all laughing and muffled voices.

"I heard we were gonna get something different tomorrow," someone else yells with a laugh. The nurse watching me is sitting calmly and her mind looks like it is a million miles away. I lift the spoon to my mouth and open. It's cold cereal, again. It's been cereal for the last week and a half. Before that it was oatmeal, plain oatmeal.

I eat the cereal as fast as I can. It's not good or wanted and my thumb rubs over the edge of the spoon, presses it into my tongue too hard and breaks skin. I swallow back the blood on my tongue and breathe. "Fuck," I say just under my breath. The nurse's eyes shoot up and lock on my mouth, the blood just barely visible and she stands sharply.

I hear her keys in the lock. I hear her yelling for Tony, the stronger of the orderlies. I hear his footsteps and hers moving closer. The tray is gone, so is the spoon and his arms are under mine. "Doctor Henry's office?" Tony asks.

"Yes," the nurse says quickly and I hear cheers from the others in the Ward. I don't try to keep pace with Tony as he walks and my hand tries instinctively to catch the blood dripping down my chin.


Marc, my own personal savior. His eyes are closed and his head is resting against the back of his leather chair. "This is what's going to happen," he tells me. "I'm going to talk and you are going to listen."

I can do that, I think. I can do that really well. The bandage around my tongue is heavy. It makes my mouth dry and I feel too often like I'm swallowing cotton. I sigh. "I'm tired Justin. We've known each other for a long time now and I'm just really tired. I've never had a patient like you. So determined to let yourself break completely. Why?"

He opens his eyes and looks at me. I look down at my hands but I can feel his gaze. "Justin."

"I was just following the rules," I shrug and touch the tip of my tongue against the roof of my mouth. "You told me to listen. I was listening." He slams his hand down on the desk and stands up, coming around to sit directly in front of me. We've been here before. Last time it did not end well.

"I need to know what you want. I need to know if we're all just wasting our fucking time. There are hundreds of people who need our help, are willing to take our help. Hundreds, who are willing to put in a little work, show some effort. Kids who want to pull out of their holes." My hands are restless in my lap and my eyes start to tear. I've come back from the edge before, always with someone to catch me.

No safety net this time. It all depends on me.


"Nice office," I say. She closes the door behind me and gestures to the chair across from her desk.

"I have to say, Mr. Kinney…"


"Brian. I have to say, Brian, that you are just about everything I thought you'd be. Thank you for agreeing to meet with me." She sits down in the chair across from mine and leans back, crossing her legs. I smirk at her attempt of pretend personal comfort.

"It's the very least I can do. I assume you wanted to talk about Justin. What's he done this time? Being a little too quiet?" She smiles at me and adjusts her glasses. I wait for her to think of what it is she really wants to say.

"Unfortunately, Brian, Justin was taken to the Hospital Ward this morning. He severely lacerated his tongue with a plastic spoon at breakfast." I nod my head and something like a small laugh creeps up and out.

"Sounds like someone is getting desperate," I say and sit back.

"It doesn't bother you in the least that Justin is…"

"Look, Dr. Morrison. A cut on the tongue is the least of his problems." I shrug. She nods and seems to think that over.

"The reason I called you." Thank God, she's getting to the point. "I'm worried about the fact that Justin has decided to stop talking… for the most part. I managed to get a little conversation out of him last night but he shut down at the mention of your name. Why do you think that is?"

How the fuck am I supposed to know? Justin is his own simple brand of way-too-fucked-up. A brand I can't help but love and fear.

"Maybe he simply doesn't have anything to say," I tell her with a move of my hand. "He's been talking to your people off and on for over a year now and all he seems to be doing is going around in a circle."

She nods her head. She finally seems to get it. "He talks to you. What do you suggest?"

"You want to hear him… you have to be willing to listen." That's it. That's my big insight into Justin Taylor. There is no more or no less.


"I spoke to Brian." Good for her I think but I'm suddenly too nervous. "He tells me that if I really want to hear you I have to listen." I laugh at that and my eyes roll up to the ceiling.

"Sounds like something he'd say," I tell her. I'm surprised my voice isn't too muffled by the bandage.

"He said you'd say that." I nod and cross my arms over my chest. "Do you want to talk to me about what happened this morning?" I pull my arms in tighter and lock my eyes on hers.

"Do you think I could maybe talk to Brian?" I know he's here and she seems to think it over. I wait impatiently and roll my bottom lip into my mouth. "Please?"

"I don't think it'll hurt," she says and she gets up and walks out of the room, taking her clipboard with her, the door locking behind her.


"Nice new digs you've got here, Sunshine," Brian says and he moves into the room. He's all leather jacket and dark blue jeans, buttoned down shirt, white, and his hands are resting on his hips.

"Well, I tried to fix it up for you. I think the cleaning lady is staging some sort of revolt. I'll have to fire her," I shrug with a smile. Brian sits down on the bed next to me and we both know that the nurse is just outside the door watching.

"You're not talking. That's just not fair, Justin," Brian says as he leans his back against the wall. I cross my legs on top of the mattress and let my forearms rest on my thighs.

"And I hear you're telling all my secrets to the enemy. People have been killed for less than that."

"Is that a threat?" The sounds of people moving outside the door and through the halls makes me pause. Brian's right leg is propped up on the mattress, his arm resting on top of his knee.

"Only if you really want it to be," I tell him with a smile. Brian smirks and nods. Unspoken words pass between us and like no time has passed our fingers tangle together and for too many minutes nothing is said or done.

"It's time to stop playing games, Justin," Brian says and there is no time for ploy in his voice. He's tired of playing, tired of the ups and downs. His fingers squeeze mine and I look up at him. He nods and leans into me. "Do you like it here?"

"Why would you even ask me that?"

"Because you sure as hell don't look like you're in any hurry to leave. Wake up. Nothing is going to change unless you change it. I mean, hell Justin, there are a million other fucked up kids who can take your place. You think you'll be more than the one they couldn't save when you finally kill yourself?" I can feel the tears in my eyes. Breathe back pain.

I've always been able to talk to you. You've always told me your own brand of complete truth.

"What if it's just too late?"

"I think we've been down this road before," Brian says and Dr. Morrison appears back in the doorway. Her arms are held tight at her sides and she's waiting. I nod at his words. Brian turns towards her and smiles. "Do you mind? Not gonna call the orderlies on me, are you?" Dr. Morrison grins and nods her head slightly forward, giving her silent permission.

Brian leans into me and presses his right hand to the side of my face. My right hand closes over his wrist and I squeeze. He pulls me forward and when his lips press into mine I want nothing but more. The kiss deepens and before he can try to pull away I feel the tears start to flow. I can taste tears, salty and heavy, fall between our lips and he pulls away.

He looks at me and he nods. I nod my head and move my hand to wipe away the tears falling down my face. He smooths his thumb over my cheek and wipes the tears on my jeans. "Asshole," I say and push his hand away.

"Yeah, well, you know," he says. "I do my best." And he stands. Dr. Morrison moves out of his way as he passes and stops on the outside of the door. "He's all yours, Doctor."


It's easy to give up at the end. It's harder to realize that you never even started to try, and crawling out of darkness is harder than anyone can ever explain. You have to start to move sometime and when the moving starts everything begins to shake. It's all backwards and back and back again. Getting it right is never easy.

All you can do is take a deep breath and wait.


Fuck Group Therapy

Open your mouth and learn to scream. Kill everything inside that ever made you less than nothing. "I guess I just got tired," I say and my eyes trail around the group, my fingers playing loosely with the plastic ID bracelet wrapped around my wrist. Déjà vu.

"Can you elaborate?" Dr. Morrison asks. I see Shane pull his feet into his chair and lean his head back. Melissa is scratching at a spot on her thigh and I focus my eyes on a spot in the carpet, accidentally bleached and discolored.

I sigh, deep. "What better way to wake up and shake everything off," is what I choose to say and I sit up. My feet are hooked around the legs of my chair. "I never had to worry about anything. My biggest fear was whether or not my mom and dad would get me what I wanted for Christmas. Pointless bullshit."

"But that changed one day?" Dr. Morrison asks. Her hand is pressing down on the plunger of a pen and she's waiting. Shane is stretching his hands above his head. Eric is humming the opening cords of some song by Nirvana. I can't remember the name.

I shake my head. "No," I tell her, then, "not at all." Shane is watching me, his eyes burning holes into my chest. "Because it never really existed."

"You said you were happy. You had everything you could ever want."

"And none of what I needed. My perfect little life was all a fucking lie. That happy family that people read about in the Christmas cards and saw in family photos didn't exist. My dad hit my mom, for years. She always took it and my sister was too little to know what was going on but I knew. I knew and I saw, most of everything. And when I told him I was gay, fuck, he lost his shit then."

"But you cut for years before that, right? I mean, shit, let's be honest about it. Does your one really have to do with your other?" Shane asks, his thumb trapped between his teeth and his leg propped up on his chair, his arm wrapped around his knee. Rebecca is starting to cry. She cries every session. Mark and Michael, two identical twins are both staring at her with frowns.

"Yeah," I say. There is no time for denial at this stage of the game. It's only the strong survive. Fuck the rest. "That's true. But not quite," I tell him. "My one made my two so much more bearable." The group laughs and Dr. Morrison's hand is frantic on her legal pad.

"So cutting…" she tries.

I look at her in the eyes and all the smile is gone from my face and my voice. "Cutting was better because at least it was honest." And all we want in our lives is to be completely honest.

At the very least it's what we'd like to think.


Public Relations, Make Amends

Relationships with people are usually fleeting and sometimes you find one or two worth holding onto. I never wanted too much from anyone else. I never expected to have to give too much. This is the progression of life, this steady and slow releasing and embracing of others.

"This is new, all this sharing and caring," Brian says and he's leaning against the wall. I laugh and smile.

"It's all part of the therapy method," I say, my hand curled protectively around a drawing pencil and sketchpad. The nurse is watching me, has been watching for hours. "Share a little with them. Make promises that you almost choke on trying to keep and then they give you," I hold up my hand, "a shiny new pencil to play with." I put my hand down and keep drawing. Brian smirks and shrugs out of his jacket, dropping it to the bed and sitting down next to me.

"I can think of so many other things we can do while I'm here," he says as he presses into my side. The nurse clears her throat and her eyes rake over us. "Like to watch? Maggie, I have to say I'm surprised." I smack him in the arm.

"Don't provoke Maggie, she gets all salty," I say as his hidden hand makes its way into my pants. I sigh and close my eyes. "You're going to get me in so much trouble."

"I'm willing to risk it," he tells me and I almost moan before pulling his hand out of my pants and breathing into his neck.

"If I'm good I get outpatient care soon. And I am trying so fucking hard to be good." Brian nods and sits up and sits back against the wall.

"What about the urges?"

"The urges are there, Brian. They're not just going to go away because I want them to. I'm always going to want to cut. It makes me feel better. It makes everything feel better. But, I am trying really fucking hard to channel that same feeling of release into something else. I'm just not sure how much that may be helping at the moment."

Brian seems to understand. He's fought his own demons. He's traveled my road. "Fifteen minutes," Maggie says.

"They're sticklers for time around here."

"Rules are rules," I say with a sad smile. "How's Gus and Lindsay and… you know, everyone else?" Brian takes the paper out of my hand and studies it too hard.

"They're all good. Still breathing at least," he tells me. "He's getting big. They miss you." I scoff.

"Yeah, somehow I doubt that."

"Well, you can ask them the next time you see them."


My mom is my mom.

"I'm sorry I haven't come by as much. How are you? Do you get enough to eat?" She's nervous. Her arms are crossed across her chest and her purse is dangling from her shoulder. Her hair is lighter than I remember. She's been coming to see me as much as she can and that's not much.

"Its fine," I tell her, more to ease her thoughts than mine. I've come to terms with our distance. We're walking the perimeter of the grounds, my hands shoved into my jean pockets and my hoodie zipped up halfway.

She's shaking her head. "No," she says. "No it really isn't okay, Justin. I should have paid more attention to you. I should have seen that you needed help. I was too wrapped up in me and what was going on in my own relationship. You got lost in the shuffle and I'm sorry."

I nod. "You did your best. Everything isn't your fault, okay?" I smile then and look at her. I can hear Maggie behind us at a safe distance.

"Thanks," is all she says. I let her grab onto my arm and pull herself into me. We don't talk anymore about the roads we've both taken and we curve a little on the path. "So, walking, that's new."

"Yeah," I say. "I'm slowly getting privileges. Still can't have any sharp objects. Still can't be unsupervised." And I motion to Maggie behind us with my thumb.

"I'm very proud of you, Justin."

I don't know what to say so I'm silent. The scar on my neck is fading to match the rest and I can't smile at her so I train my eyes straight ahead and listen to my heart beat.


Sometimes simple is best. I press pen to paper and write quickly, sealing the words in an envelope when I'm done.


Our time has passed.



Best friends are forever. Daphne comes to see me at the beginning of every month. She's working. She's seeing a boy. His name is Sam and he's tall and sweet. He loves her. She smiles a lot. "I like him, Justin."

"Good," I say. "I'm happy for you." She smiles and tells me about a movie that they saw recently. She tells me about how he took her out to dinner at a cheap restaurant where they sat outside and about how during dessert it started to rain but he just laughed. She tells me about how she's never had more fun. "You'll have to introduce us."

She smiles and hugs me and leans into me on the big couch in the common room. Maggie walks in to check, no longer a constant supervisor. "Deal. You'll love him. I swear."



Two Months Later…

Outpatient Status


Four Months Later…

One setback, Overnight stay and adjustment of medication. Enrollment at the Pittsburgh Institute of Fine Arts.


Six Months Later…

Good grades. Dorm living. Marc four times a week. Temptation. Tears.






One Year and Two Months…

Reunited and it feels so good.

I bite down on my bottom lip and his hand is pressed into my back, my legs open wide on the sheets and waiting. I don't try to think as he presses into me, all the air knocking out of my body and swirling into his neck. "Brian," I mumble. My breathing is labored and my whole body is shaking.

His answer is non-verbal and he speeds up, pressing harder, tighter and deeper and I have to arch my back and dig my heels into his thighs to hold on. My hands are clutching his arms and he's moving too fast and too slow.

Oh. Fuck. Me.

I breathe through every pulse in my veins and my blood is on fire. I can feel my bones detach as I release, pulling him with me and when he drops on top of me I smile. It's been more times than we can count since my release that nights have ended just like this and it never gets old.

"I'd rank that as a nine," I say when my voice comes back to me. I push sweat soaked hair out of my eyes and let my hand drop to my forehead. For a second I feel the need to move, to get up and disappear into the bathroom and I swallow it back.

Brian rolls off of me and reaches for the nightstand. He lights a cigarette and his movements are like fluid. "Only a nine?" he asks. "I'm losing my touch." I smile and turn to face him.

I stare into him for a moment and take the cigarette from between his fingers and inhale sharply before handing it back and blowing a stream of smoke into the air. "Are you ever sorry that you met me?"

He looks at me and thinks. "All the time."




We all need to keep some of our secrets.


Two Years Later…




Stop. This is my final confession.

Since you've come this far I'll let you in on my guilt. I only remember the truth when it's convenient. That's a secret for just you and me. So, maybe my father didn't exactly hate me. Maybe he was disappointed. And maybe I met Brian at night and not the day. Maybe it's possible that the blade sliced just two inches higher and everything after that day is my own private illusion.

Truth and lies. Where does one end and one begin? Everything is a multiple shade of gray and none of it makes sense most of the time. But just like in the beginning we'll all struggle with the end.

I'll be okay. It's the only alternative, unless I'm ready to give up. Whatever the maybe, the reason, the why, doesn't matter. Not anymore.

The truth is in the landscape. How much are you willing to believe? Well, I'll leave that part up to you.


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