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The Storyteller

December 13, 1955


It’s too dark to see. My chest heaves for breath. An ache pounds behind my eyelids. Where am I? How did I get here? The pounding increases in rhythm as I unhinge my jaw in a silent shriek. Blood vesicles rush beneath my temples. Hands of soft leather secure me. This is inhuman.


"Turn it off now.” The hushed rumble of a man´s voice.


My eyes flick open. The priest looming over me has concern in his eyes. While I feel a wave of hatred coming from the woman controlling the machine.


¨How do you feel?¨ The priest loosened the cuffs and the strap over my forehead. It was the only way to hold me down.


¨I feel like s***. How do you think I should feel? You just electrocuted me for no goddamn reason!¨ The sound of the table rattling makes me realize that I am shaking from rage.


¨Because you need to be cured, boy. It is wrong, in the name of the Lord, to believe and act like a homosexual,¨ Cooed the woman next to me. Venom dripped off each word that left her wretched lips.  She only disliked me because I didn't want to screw her.


I scoffed as I sat up. Scooting off of the table, my legs stiffly bent. I followed aimlessly to wherever I was being led. Tears welled up in my eyes as I realized we were heading to the room with the bucket. I can't take the taste of apomorphine mixed with sweet candy.  It still lined the back of my throat from yesterday. Anytime I saw a picture of  my love, they would shove apomorphine into my throat. And with women, they'd give me candy. Well, only if I got aroused. 


April 29, 1956
The ride home with my parents was treacherous. It'd been months. Some kind of surprise this was. I don't even know how they found out.


My room was warm when I got home I heard a soft tapping on the glass. I felt a vile taste of love and disgust fill my mouth. His eyes were bothering me. He wouldn't make eye contact with me as I crawled out the opened window. A slight summer’s breeze came past my dusty window frame. I had not been here since Christmas time. We didn't speak as I hugged him with ferocity, I could feel his heartbeat beating against my chest. No amount of apomorphine or emetine would ever make me stop loving him.


"I-I have something to say," his eyes, finally finding mine. My stomach turned. Please don't tell me your parents are sending you there. His body curled away from me as his breath shook. "The reason you got sent there," The light of hope left my eyes, fear replaced it,"is because my parents found the n-notes you were giving me. In order for me not to get sent there, I said you had a crush on me, and that I didn't like you like that. Then they called your parents a-and well I guess you know the rest." His eyes bubbled with tears, seeking that understanding response he expects from me whenever he does anything wrong.


I could not look at him. He put me there. He kept the notes when I had specifically told him not to. Just for this reason. For this very reason. My face twisted into a mixture of absolute rage and agony. I could not hear what I was saying. I only knew that the boy I loved had sold me out. His eyebrow was cut open and he was pinned under my hips. I vaguely remember pulling him up off of the ground after I had seen a line of tears dropping on his shirt. They weren't his, they were mine. My lover could not lift himself from his knees. My arms struggle to pull me back into my room. I closed the windows and shut the blinds. I’d be okay with never seeing the light of day again.


1958-1960
From the day I was able to move out, I never spoke to my parents again. At first, I was tempted to bring ___ along. He was still in school though. Even so, after two years, I still couldn't bring myself to try and speak to him. I'd made an absolute fool of myself. Was I in the right to do so? There's never a clear answer for matters like that. I will, however, admit that I still long for him from time to time. It's been 4 years though. I've made it this far by myself.


When I received the letter in the mail, I'd broken down instantly. There wasn’t a return address, just the address from a small cemetery. I can’t imagine who would send me this sort of message. Knowing he died when I wasn’t there hurt me inside. 19 is too young to die.  The trip from Maryland to Kansas was painstakingly long. The only thing keeping me awake was the thought of seeing him one more time.


Rain drops infuse into my hair. I was alone. No one wants to go to a funeral when it was a suicide. I never could have seen him as suicidal. The casket is cheaply made but it works. Beads of water roll off the glossy finish.
“I just wanted to say I’m sorry. I should have never left you. God I know what you did hurt but my leaving you kills me inside.” My throat made it hard to breath, let alone breath. I couldn’t seem to get up as my knees sank farther into the mud. I was just wearing a cheap dress shirt and some jeans. I couldn’t have dressed up more? This is the last time I’m ever going to see him and I’m wearing a periwinkle shirt that feels like plastic against my skin; it feels artificial, I feel artificial. The clouds had started to clear up, though the air was still muggy. I kind of like it here.


“Maybe this won’t be the last time that I see you,” my knees argued but I stood. Mud smeared into the deep grooves in my pants as I wiped my hands off. For the second time, I walked away from him with no explanation. This time though, I wasn’t going to leave.  


September 10, 2016
Now, 56 long years after the funeral. I have reached the age of 76. I work at the Nelson library. And I live in the small rural town of Alixen, Kansas.


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September 10, 2016
“Haha, bye f**. Go home cry to your boyfriend.” Josh high fived his friend as he walked away from me and my scattered notebooks and pencils.


“I’d use my powers on you for sure.” My lips stung after connecting with the cement. The bullies who had pushed me down to the sidewalk were walking away triumphantly. What's so wrong with a boy wearing girls clothes? My new overalls had a tear in them. Mom is going to be so mad when she sees me. She doesn’t like it when I wear the clothes I that buy myself out in public, but maybe I like wearing clothes that fit my scrawny frame instead of the loose hanging ones from the men’s section. Being 5’4 and a junior in high school isn’t very fun.


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September 12, 2016


Today is the day I thought I died. However, I did not. Instead of waking up at the gates of heaven, I woke up tied down. My head was held back, tightly restrained by foam boards. I don’t want to go back to the hospital. Light throbbed through my head. My thoughts and memories blocked out any sort of consciousness. The car that had hit me vanished.
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September 16, 2016


My heel clipped on of the stairs leading into the cemetery.  Scuffing my new all white Converse All Stars. I’m not the type of kid you’d expect to see in here, that’s why I come. No one thinks twice about it. My powers wanted something new. Of course, with a pen and a notebook, I can use my powers however I want. Walking around through the paths, looking for some sort of character development. Even just a new name would suffice. Anything. There was one in the back that looked extremely well managed. I was curious.  Moss had grown over the feet on the frame of a wooden bench. Looking at the tombstone was like looking at a writing prompt. Yeah, it gives you the outlines to a story but you can make it go in any direction that you wanted.


Tangles of fine hair loosely dangle over my eyes as I wrote. “The story of Leo Fitzpatrick. An action packed adventure that lead to a soon death as he saved the one he loved.” My eyes filled with intensity as I quickly jot down the idea.


After having wrote over six pages. Well, in my case probably closer to seven, I hardly leave any space between my words. The sky has a hazy blue gray looming over it. I should probably be getting home soon. When I gather my things, something tells me to stay. It’s like a hand is luring me to stay. Maybe I’ll come visit Leo sometime again.
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September 16, 2016


“Medical bills are the way this government makes all their money, I swear.” It’s been nearly a week since I’d been home. The hospital from a nearby community had me do a whole bunch of tests. When they told me I was fine it infuriated me. They made me spend nearly 8,000 dollars. Only about twenty percent was covered by my insurance. Sweat beaded around my temples, I folded up my glasses and put them on the table. I guess I don’t necessarily need to eat for a while. My job at the library barely paid anything above minimum wage. I didn’t have a savings account. I was going to be scraping on empty for a while.


Seeing his gravestone brought me a little bit of peace. I remember the day gay marriage was legalised in every state. I spent nearly the whole night with Leo. I wish he could have made it to see the progress in the world.


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September 16, 2016


My mom’s voice is muffled because I have my face shoved into a pillow. “Mom I’ve heard your lecture about staying out a million times. It’s only 8 o’clock.”


“Oh yeah? And how do I know you weren't doing something bad? Huh?” I rolled over.


“ Mom, lets think about this. In the list I know the list going through your head, drugs, smoking, shooting’ up in the alley beside the library” here eyes watched me with a touch of what I would call dissatisfaction from being talked back to, “ I’m afraid of needles, smoke makes me choke when I smell it, and the only kind of I high I will and will ever want to be on, is happiness.” A sly grin creeps onto her face.


“I know you’re a good kid but I’m still worried about you. That’s my job as a mother, to worry about you. I just worry that other kids might judge you for being… different. In a sense. More flamboyant, if you will.”


My back straightens out, I know that she doesn't entirely approve of my being bisexual. However, that is not anything that I feel makes me invalid or not right. I was brought up believing ‘man goes with woman’ and there was nothing else. I didn’t know about it, being gay was the only other option and neither felt right.


“I’m fine mom. I’ll be fine.” I turn my back to her and throw my covers over me, clothes and all. My door silently shuts. When I hear the sauntering down the stairs I get up to lock the door. There's no reason to lock it. It just makes me feel safe.


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September 23, 2016 


Shelving is one of both the most stressful and the easiest job to do at the library. It’s amazing when you see someone checking out the book you put away earlier. In the same manner, it's annoying when you watch someone pick up a book, then deliberately putting it in the completely wrong spot. It just makes life harder and more stressful. It’s more stressful when I get called into my supervisor's office during the middle of my shift.
 

I try to sit casually in my padded chair but every time I move, it lets out a low moan. So I do my best to not move at all. I just hope to god I’m not getting laid off.


“So Miss. Thompson. What’d you call me in here for?” My mouth forms into a weak smile, I can feel my sweat plastering my shirt to me.


“Recently, as you know, Brianna was let go due to her being on maternity leave. She called me the other day to inform me that she will not be returning. While her leaving does allow another job, I feel it would be best for everyone if you stayed home. You’ve done a great job helping, but you have become more of a liability than an assistance. I’m sorry to say that we will be letting you go.  You can clean out your locker today. I advise you be out by tomorrow.” I felt the heat rising through my face.


“What? No you can’t do that! Do you have any clue how many bills I have?” I shook my head in disbelief.  “Where else am I supposed to work? I can’t do much of anything anymore,” Sandy stood there with no sympathy. Women never like me. Or at least they don’t show it. Trying to get her to change her mind was like trying to teach a fish calculous.  I slowly rose out of my chair, gathering my thoughts. “Good day to you, I’ll see you around.”


After closing the door behind myself I take a second to look around. Am I really going to miss this place? College students are typing furiously on their computers, girls are in the corner looking at fashion magazines of sickly skinny Vogue models, people are tucked away quietly reading in the columns of paper and ink. So the truth is yes. I will miss this place. It’s the only place that makes me feel like I am part of the community. I don’t want to leave.


The only place that makes sense to go is to Leo. After finding his gravestone, I realize I’m not the only one who is visiting.
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September 23, 2016


This bench was becoming a safe spot for me in the cemetery. No one ever came over near me when I was here. Well, except for today. When this dude just showed up and got really confused when I asked him if he knew Leo. He said he had known him.
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September 23, 2016


“Who are you?” My heart speed up. This kid looked exactly like Leo when he was a teen.


“Um, my name is Sten Thore,” Being as bad as I am at making conversation I looked to Leo for assistance. “So did you like, know this guy? I mean if you do I’d love to ask you some questions for research-”


“I loved him.” Sten’s eyes flicker within themselves.


“Oh,” He doesn’t speak while I sit next to him.


“So what do you want to know?”
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September 23, 2016


“So how exactly do your stories fit together? I’d love to know,” my pencil scribbles furiously as I write the perfectly fitting title.


'The Storyteller'




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