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I Know the Truth

In higher societies, the girls wear frilly skirts, lacy tops, long silky dresses interwoven with diamonds. It must be nice; living in one of those higher societies. Because here, I get torn up jeans, tight discount t-shirts, and old faded sweatshirts. As I remember this, the glitter I imagined adorning my gown crashes to the floor, highlighted by the very real sound of glass shattering next door. I close my eyes and sigh, slipping my feet into dirty Vans, and walk does the hallway and out the front door.
My legs take me down two blocks and around the corner to a park no one in their right mind would go to. I know I shouldn’t be here after dark, but I am anyways, probably because I know that this is where he’ll come. And he does. Not two minutes after settling down on a bench, I hear footsteps and shallow breathing. He must have run here. I stand, taking his hand, and lead him under the soft glow of a streetlight. Involuntarily, I gasp and quickly cough, trying unsuccessfully to hide my shock.
It’s pretty bad. Much worse than last time, though not the worst I’ve seen. His right eye is already beginning to swell closed and mottled purple bruises are claiming half of his face.
“Ay, Dios mio…” I whisper. And then my gaze drops to his arm. He’s holding it like a broken wing. “Alex…” I can say no more than that. The whole of his upper arm is a bloody mess and streams of “red tears” trickle down to his wrist. Three perfect lines are carved into the muscle of his arm; not deep enough to require stitches, but they’re deep enough. I search his face for clues, for a hint of emotion that might betray his set-in-stone expression.
“Alex? What…what happened?” He doesn’t answer so I guide him across the street and a block over to the convenience store on the corner.
The little bell on the door handle tinkles happily as we walk in, a sharp contrast to the mood. Sal, who owns the store, glances up, recognizing us. He takes one look at Alex and motions us to the back room.
Alone in the storage closet is possibly where Alex and I are most comfortable. There is nothing that can be done here that could shock us, nothing that could be awkward or uncomfortable. It’s ritual, but it’s also more than that. It’s… intimacy. It’s natural to us.
Alex sits on the table in the center of the room, hanging his head. And I rifle through the shelves in search of gauze and hydrogen peroxide. Taking them from the ledge, I set the bottle and rolls of gauze and tape on the table, then went to the freezer. I wrapped ice in a rag and brushed his hair out of his face. Alex’s hand covers mine and takes the makeshift ice pack from me. He winces as the cold comes into contact with his swollen face. I hold out my hand and he slips his into it. I can feel the pressure as he squeezes my hand when I begin to clean the cuts on his arm. He lets out a strained breath through clenched teeth and I wince.
“I’m so sorry, Alex.”
But he doesn’t respond. He just sits in silence as I tape and bandage the rest of his arm and clean his and my hands.
“He was drunk,” Alex mutters. “Drunk. And this time, I didn’t even do anything to deserve it.” His whole body seems to slump in resignation. “I hate my old man!” he yells, slamming his uninjured fist into the table. More silence, and I watch a single tear, the color of pain, run down his cheek.
Standing here, watching him, I realize something. No one but me knows Alex like this. They all make assumptions. They all think he gets into gang fights; that he gets hurt beating other people up. I’m the only one who knows the truth.





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Eer320 said...
Nov. 7, 2010 at 6:38 pm
That was really good!  Great job!
 
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