Today was the last straw. For the past three months, he had been getting the worst of treatment because he turned out to be different than most people. The world seemed like a happy place, with things going his way most of the time.
Childhood was the easiest because nobody really remembers the majority of it. Most of it was fun, games and friends with a bit of crying and sulking when things occasionally did not go your way. But all in all, it was good. His mom loved and adored him to death, giving him everything he longed for. His father was alright, never showed him any emotion, but then again he was generally a quiet man; all he ever did was sit on his recliner after a long day at work, watch some sports and drink his pint of Carlsberg lager. His father has rarely had a conversation longer than ten minutes at a time, even that one time when they undertook an eleven-hour drive from their home in Indianapolis to New York. The one thing he never did was to miss his birthdays, school events and important milestones, even if he would just stand there and say the bare minimum.
When he began high school, he noticed that he was different. He could not control some things which he wished he could, feeling… for something different. Like almost all his peers feeling that way, he swept it under the rug as if it was nothing. He continued with his everyday life: going for football training every weekday after school then going home to make a meal for the family, before he went upstairs (where he spent most of his time binge-watching television series, writing fictional stories anonymously on the internet and just letting time pass). Towards the end of the first year of high school, his curiosity deepened. “How would this feel? What’s the difference between this and that? Why do I like him more than her?” With his newfound freedom at his boarding school, it wasn’t long before his curiosity birthed experimentation.
After six months of dating a boy for the first time, he finally drove himself to admit that he was really into boys. With acceptance came the reality that he had to tell his parents someday about this and the cogitation of this concept made him cringe. He had to face his parents and give them news not knowing how they would receive it. If they are disappointed in him, that would be far worse than any heartbreak he has ever felt, more painful than the day his sports scholarship was rejected. At least he had time on his side: He could take his time luring them into the idea. Is time really on his side though?
He had his first encounter with a boy called Josh from his Geography class. He was the class clown with almost everyone knowing he was into boys. He didn’t care, or try to hide anything. No matter what people called him or said to him, he just took it in, sent it back to the receiver and walked away with a smile. How he does that is a mystery. Even though Josh was always hot-blooded in public, he was mellow whenever they were alone. He even managed to act like he didn’t know Olivier whenever they were at school because Olivier preferred to keep it esoteric. Everything was immaculate, absolute and most importantly for him, private.
Like every secret, it was a matter of time before it came out, and unfortunately for them, theirs was jeopardised by a stupid mistake.
Sneaking around was getting boring so he decided to try spice up their affair. On a cold, November morning, they both snuck into school before anyone else arrived. Unfortunately, they weren’t the only ones trying to use the school grounds for their own pleasures: Mike and Molly were in the school for a similar reason. They didn’t notice they weren’t alone and started to go at it like rabbits, with the rest being history. It wasn’t long before people started to look at him weirdly, with snake eyes being thrown his way at each corner. It had been a week since their early escapade, so it never occurred to him what was going on, that was until he opened his locker and a dildo dropped from inside. Perplexed, shocked and quick to hide it away from anyone who could have seen, he grabbed hold of it and threw it back in his locker. With his heart racing, he read the note tied to the black item: “Since you like that so much, I thought you would have that you f****!”.
Coming out was always going to be difficult for him but now that he was forced to come out, it broke him. “How many people know? What do I do next? Where do I run to?” His head was going in circles. At the same time, he was trying to deduce who the note was from and decide how he was going to deal with this. Before he could freak out, someone threw a paper to the back of his head yelling “f****!”. It was at this moment that Olivier understood the meaning of the saying “Words cut deeper than the sharpest knife”.
This moment began three months of terror and abuse by his fellow students. The attacks never retreated. They went from drawings of penises in his notebooks to penis drawings over his bike using permanent markers. Even though some people would take this as nothing, it stung the most for him. The whole school system, including his teachers, knew of the hate he was receiving but no one did anything or stood up for him. Even Josh left him because he couldn’t handle the “publicity”. He was left alone and there was no way he could tell his parents because his father recently made a rather homophobic statement at home, that he would rather have a criminal for a son than a gay one. It was meant as a joke response to a WhatsApp thread that was doing the rounds, but to Oliver, it felt like a warning to stay in the closet.
“Mom, I think I might have a thing for other guys…”
Seen at 15:42.
“NO! You cannot be a f****. Not you too. Argh, sies maan!”
He had heard that word so many times. The F-word had been thrown to him on countless occasions. During lessons, in corridors, online, he had heard it all over. The only escape from it was his family, but now his mom had thrown it to him. All he was searching for was a thread to grab onto as he was drowning. He wished the rope could have come from anyone right now because he was going under and today, instead of holding tighter onto the edge of the boat, he decided to let go. He was done trying, done fighting, done crying. The words had driven him to surrender; to his premature death, all for being different. He replayed the number of times he had run to the bathroom to cry to take a break from life and the number of times he got intoxicated to stop the hurt. Then he realized it was all about to end.
Standing on the edge of the bridge, he let out one last sigh and shed a tear for the last time. Letting all go, he plunged from the edge and descended downwards without feeling. “Maybe this is what happiness feels like — Nothing at all.” And a smile came from his descending body.
“Sutures are not for lips”, I
said as flesh split from pearly whites,
but their lips never touch, do they?
“Hippocrates and his promise
frees the loose-lipped while our skin greys,”
said the bones with me in the pit.
Rain feeds their earth, hardens their wood,
cools the ground, forming their sharp tools;
so they break olive branches, pass
them on, the great passing over,
their arms tire then comes the tossing.
Look at their wet sticks and bloody stones.
Each hit a skeleton, hence the grave,
our skin stretched over drums and beaten,
by the spirits who sing in circles:
“Look at our instruments, they all
have tattoos saying ‘sticks and stones
broke our bones’ send some more.”
The Lander one have been working on this for a while now. We decided to put together some pieces tackling certain mental health themes and this is the first collaboration on this fine issue. Do visit out the talented young fellow on his blogsite: https://spacewalker314.wordpress.com/ and be sure to expect more collaborations in the not so distant future.