January 5, 2011
By , Limington, ME
Gazing into the stars, I remember the days when I was little. No matter how hard I try to forget all of my childhood, it will always be there floating through my head especially when I find myself looking at the stars as I used when I would try to fall asleep. Falling asleep with parents fighting all night is one of the hardest things to do, even more so if the fight gets physical. Things get thrown and smashed and the screams of a terrified woman shatter your eardrums. Some nights the only way I could fall asleep was if I cried. My crying would drown out the noise circling my ears and I would slowly drift off to sleep only to be abruptly woken up by, if I’m lucky, a scream or a slamming door. When I’m not so lucky, I would wake as I’m being thrown from my top bunk to the floor while my father continues to wail on me. And now I sit on the ledge of my window, still listening to my father yell and scream in the same manner he used to. Looking at the stars I wonder, is this really worth it?

At school the next day I find my only friend, Xavier. We are a lot alike. We are both from broken families with major problems. We both have weird names and we get made fun of for it. Xavier and Vladimir. To most people, we are considered “emo” because we wear black and have long hair. Our only antidote is each other. When ever something goes wrong at home, we know who to run to. Other kids just don’t understand the bond between people with the same issues.

When I meet up with Xavier, he tells me that his mom confronted him last night and interrogated him on whether he’s gay. That’s another stereotype of “our kind”. All of us are considered gay because we have long hair and wear skinny jeans. Xavier yelled at his mom for the false accusation. When I hear these things, my skin crawls. How can someone think they are asking an innocent question when they are really shooting down a person’s self-esteem and building a bigger wall between the person and society? It makes no sense to me what so ever!

Xavier and I are glued to each other everyday, all day. We are each others safety. Family Consumer Science is the only class I don’t have with him and it is also the only class I have with my girlfriend. I know I have been talking about having no friends except Xavier, but I do have a girlfriend. I don’t really know if you would consider her a girlfriend or not. We talk on the phone but we never hang out. We hug and stuff but there’s something missing and I can’t quite pinpoint it. Her name is Snow and she is just like “us”. Hair across her face, skinny jeans, black eyeliner, and two lip piercings. She’s my kind of perfect.

When my class with Snow arrives, I run in and sit down in the back row next to her and quickly hug her before the teacher walks in. She passes me a note. I tentatively unfold it and start to read the perfectly scribed letters that form the words that begin to decompose my heart. It says, ‘Is there something wrong with me? We never hang out and I feel shut down by you...’ As a piece of my heart breaks off and swings at the hinges, I reach for a pencil and start scribbling down a quick response saying, ‘Theres nothing wrong with you, it’s me. I just am having a hard time. Saturday. The Dot. Coffee?’ I want to try to fix this but, I don’t want to end up abandoning Xavier. I glance over and catch a quick smile and yes nod of Snow’s head. I guess we’re getting coffee on Saturday.

Before lunch I walk to Xavier’s class and wait for him to come out. I hear laughing and cruel words coming from Mrs. Delfigallo’s tech class. I look in and see Rick Rotello and his crew bashing Xavier. I can’t let this happen. We’ve always been there for each other when this happens. I run into the room and grab a chair. Just as I begin to swing it towards Rick’s back, Mr. MacDonald walked in and immediately began to yell. He knew that Rick and his gang have been out for us for a long time so thankfully I didn’t get in trouble. Rick and the crew were escorted down to the office and we didn’t expect to see them for a few days.

When school ends, I find Xavier waiting for me at his usual place on the swings. I walk over and plop down in the swing next to him. This is normal for us. Everyday when school ends, we swing for a little while to wait and make sure there are no “Ricks” waiting for us around the corner. But today something was up. Xavier’s face was distraught and he seemed a different kind of sad that I have ever seem him. I knuckle bump him in the shoulder only to get slapped.

“Dude, what’s wrong?” I ask genuinely as I place a hand on the top of his back. When I don’t get a response but a quick flash of his wrist, I jump up and stand in front of him. He’s been through this before but he hasn’t shown the feeling of doing it again recently. By “it”, I mean cutting. Some people are so afraid of it and hide behind the names self-harm or self-mutilation.

When I kneel down in front of him, he begins to cry. See, men cry, especially Xavier. He is the most sensitive guy I have ever met. I repeatedly tell him to look at me. When he does I stand up and he follows, almost knowing what I want from him. When he rises, he grabs my backpack for support and I continue to walk towards the exit of school property.

We arrive at my house about 20 minutes later. Xavier is no longer crying but I can see he still wants to. He fumbles up the stairs behind me and into my room where he plops down face first on my bed. I sit on the edge and ask him what’s going on. When he rolls over to face me, there is hate in his eyes and blood in his mind. He says that he has had enough with the discrimination and cruelty from people who are his equals. It’s to much for him.

“Xavier, don’t do anything stupid. You need to understand the people who care for you, really care for you and are here to help. So, what happened?” I say, trying to help.

When Xavier doesn’t do anything except roll back over and scratch his cuts, I get up and drag him up with me. When I look in his eyes, I see his anger, hatred, and just pure rage. He has been like this for some time but it has never just shown in his eyes like a burning flame in the middle of the desert, destroying everything within sight. He is slowly deteriorating from the inside-out and it’s becoming visible to everyone around him.

Standing in front of him, I ask him to please tell me what’s going on. Xavier sat down and began to ramble on about Rick and his friends.

“I just deal with so much crap and I never have a way to let it out. Even at home when I’m alone I can’t do anything to get rid of stress. Everyday I go for walks, scream in the woods, do anything that would ease a normal persons mind. The only thing that works for me is my razor. Each slice, whether it be shallow or deep, just let’s the pain and anger just slide and release from my body. I can’t find another solution unless somehow...” Xavier unexpectedly cut his words off and left them hanging.

I know what he’s thinking. Suicide. He attempted suicide and his family moved. That’s how I met him in the first place. I slap him gently in the face and squat down in a ball on the floor and begin to cry. I can’t lose my best friend. When Xavier sits down beside me, he says something. Something that I didn’t quite catch the first time and turn to him and wait for him to repeat it.

“I know it would kill you but... technically, it would save me. I wouldn’t have to deal with THIS anymore.” He mumbles as he closes his arms around his knees and buries his face in his sweatshirt.

“But I still would and I would be alone. I wouldn’t be able to even talk to Snow anymore because I wouldn’t be able to ask you questions when I need you. I, Xavier.” When I finished saying this, Xavier looked up at me and smiled. I don’t know if it was a real genuine smile or an infuriated smile. He tends to get mad when you make a point he can’t argue.

“Why do you need me when you have an amazing girlfriend. You have so much of a better life than mine. I know your family problems, but socially, you are completely- better- than me.”

“How can you say that?!? The only friends that I have that isn’t you is Snow and my cat and he doesn’t give me girl advice like you do. Apparently you don’t know how much you do for me. Every time I have crap in my life I can run to you and you always know what to do and what to say. You’re the only one who knows what goes on in my head.”

“I-I-I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what to do. I’m sorry if I offended you. I gotta go home.” Xavier said in a rather snotty voice.

Before he had the chance to turn the door handle and run, I blurt out, “No please don’t go. My parents won’t be home for a while can we just- hang out, play video games, and eat junk food like we used to?”

“Did you get Call of Duty: Black Ops yet? Xavier knew I had had this game reserved for almost a year.

“Got it right here.” I pull the game out of my drawer and throw it over to him. He flips it over in his hands and smiles.

“Let’s try it. Look, I’m sorry for what I said and did. I just...didn’t think about my choices clearly and my...solution- was the only thing I could think off without talking about this with someone.”

“It’s fine. I totally understand and I apologize too, for flipping out on you when you needed me for advice. And remember dude, talk to me. I’ll always be here for you no matter what the problem.” I say to Xavier to try to calm the mood a little more. Again I get a little smile. Xavier then sits down in one of my bean bag chairs and turns on my Xbox.

We play Xbox for a while until my mom comes home. When she gets home, she comes running up the stairs saying that there is a message on the answering machine form Xavier’s mom. It says that if he’s here he needs to come home and talk. Xavier grabs the phone and my mom leaves the room. I pretend that I’m not listening but I really am.

“Hi. Yeah, I’m at Vlad’s. Mom, I don’t want to come home and talk to you. Vlad is the only one who understands me. You don’t even try to understand me. You just don’t get it!! If you need to talk to me that badly, come over here. I’m not coming home tonight. Yep. Bye.” Xavier ends the phone call and sits beside me with his head in his hands.

“Alright! Back to the game! Do you want to fly the helicopter or do you want to snipe?” I ask.

“Doesn’t matter, just start the game.” Xavier gruffly replies.

I start up the game. After about 5 minutes he pauses and turns his head to look at me. His face turns crooked and he asks the question that I knew would happen sooner or later.

“Hey, do you think your parents would let me move in?” He asks with his eyebrows cocked inward.

“I think so but you would have to sit down and chat with the rents. They let Mandy’s friend move in before they went to college. I don’t know, but I’ll sit down with them and talk to them about it with you. Maybe we could go do that now before your mom gets here and then we could discuss it with her too. When my sister’s friend moved in my parents stopped fighting and it was actually peaceful in the house for once. Maybe we’ll be lucky again.” I say hesitantly, waiting and wondering about what he will say.

“I hope so. Let’s go.” Xavier says back. Surprisingly, he’s cool about talking to my parents. Maybe he really needs this.

I call down the stairs to my mom and dad. When we walk down stairs they are waiting at the table. The expressions on their faces were like the face of a deer in the headlights who might just make an escape. We sat down across form them and Xavier began talking.

“As you probably know, my parents and I have been having a lot of issues. Also, you probably know that Vlad and I are really close and we can talk to each other about anything. So, I have a proposition. I- was wondering- if I could move in.” Xavier finishes his rant and quickly darts his head around the room, waiting for a reply.

My dad pushes his chair back and clears his throat. “Well Xavier, you see, my wife and I had actually planned on asking Vlad if he thought it would be a good idea to ask you to live with us,” A smile spreads across everyone’s face and my dad continues. “There will be rules, just like in any normal household. Plus, we still have to talk to your parents. Your mom is coming over to talk to you tonight anyway, right? Why don’t you call her and tell her to bring Jack over too.” My dad finishes and stands up, arms open to Xavier. Xavier hesitantly walks over and hugs my father and quietly chuckles. I can see the lift in his mood already.

“Hey mom. Have you left to come talk to me yet? Okay. Could you maybe bring dad with you? Vlad’s family and I have to talk to both of you. Yes, mom. I know! I’m not going to continue now. When you get over here you will know what I’m talking about. Bye.”

“What did she say?” I ask, trying not to be nosey.

“She was mad because I told her that we needed to talk, all of us. I know she is already expects the worst. It’s not like I will never see her again. I mean, they live 10 minutes down the road.” Xavier is still smiling. I really hope this works out for him. He needs this.

“Yeah. I know Mandy’s friend’s parent’s were pretty mad when they found out that my parents were fine with her moving in. They were just a little mad that my parents had actually talked about it with her before they did her parents. Whatever. I think this will be great for you. For both of us.” I stand up from the dining room table and walk to Xavier as my dad had. He opens his arms and pulls me into a big brotherly hug.

When Xavier’s parents arrive, my parents tell us to go upstairs for a few minutes so they can tell them the news and try to calm them down. All we here are the muffled screams of a heated argument. There is a cease in the yelling. Crying? Is someone crying? I really think that Xavier’s mom is crying.

I hear my mom coming up the stairs. She enters my room and immediately begins to whisper.

“Xavier, your mom is very upset as you probably heard. I just wanted to come up and let you know that she is going to let you stay and I’m going to take you over to get your stuff tomorrow during school. Your mom will be at work and there is a possibility that your dad will be home. They are very upset. Would you be comfortable coming downstairs and talking with them for a minutes?” My mom quickly speaks to us in a hushed tone.

When Xavier nods and follows my mother downstairs, I quietly walk to the top of the stairs to listen. At first I hear nothing except his mom’s muffled cries.Then Xavier says words that I would never think to come out of his mouth.

“You pushed me to this. Every question from you put another cut on me. You can stand here and cry and try to make me feel bad but it’s not working. Your other option is to go home. I honestly don’t care about you anymore.” Xavier mutters immediately before turning around and running up the stairs.

“I can’t believe I pretty much just told my mother I hate her.” He says then continues to walk in to my room and sit in my gaming chair. He continues to play as if nothing happened.

Xavier’s mom is still downstairs and she’s still yelling at my parents. All of a sudden, there is the banging of high heels running up the stairs. Xavier’s mother busts the door open and begins to yell once more.

“You listen here. You are my son and you are coming home! You are not allowed back here or to even talk to this- this- this LUNATIC! Who pushed you to cutting yourself and wedged his way between you and your family!” She screams in one exasperated breath. She inhales and continues to yell at the top of her lunges.

At this statement, Xavier begins to yell back at her. In the run of it all, Xavier unzips his sweatshirt and leans over his open backpack as if to slip something into his sweatshirt. He stands up, holding whatever it is to his chest and re-zips his hoodie, his mother and him still enthralled in a battle.

“That’s it! I’m done! I can’t believe you! You don’t think of anyone but yourself!!” Xavier bellows as he runs out the door and down the steps. He forces the front door open and runs to the middle of the street. He screams with all his might and I try to run to him. This is when my life tears away and falls to the pit of death. I start out the door but before I could make it any where, Xavier reaches in his sweatshirt and pulls out a gun.

I yell to him in the midst of it all, “Xavier, no don’t. Don’t do it! You can’t leave me. You can’t-you can’t- can’t...” As my voice trails back in to the nonexistent whisper, he turns around and says 5 simple words that will be will me forever.

“Vlad, I love you man.” Soon after the words slipped from his mouth, the life slipped from his body. The gunshot. The bullet traveled at such a speed that he was on the ground before it was even audible. The shot fires like a thousand guillotines opening the door to the afterlife.

Standing in the driveway motionless, all the parents run to the scene. I walk over to him and fall to my knees. My hands run to his shoulders and shake him. Wake up, why won’t he wake up? I move my left hand up to his neck and feel for a pulse. It’s there. It’s barely there.

Running as fast as I possibly can, I run to the phone and dial 911. My heart is racing as fast a thousand horses galloping through the plains. My head won’t let me concentrate on more than one thought at a time and once one thought has risen is rapidly fades into another jumbled mess. Then finally.

“911, what is your emergency?”

“My best friend. He just shot himself. He still has a pulse. Please hurry! I can’t lose him. Please.” I hang up the phone and run back out to Xavier. Kneeling by him, I hear his parents is the background. They are still yelling and fighting with my parents. The rage that once filled Xavier’s eyes, now finds its place in mine. Standing up from my place on the tar, my legs start to fast walk without my consent.

My pace quickens and before I know it I’m standing in front of our parents. My face is twisted into a furious coil and all I want to do is punch someone in the face. This is all his mom’s fault. I was about to take a swing when I heard a siren in the distance, progressively getting louder. The siren shattered my thoughts and I lowered my arm and ran out to Xavier’s body. When the ambulance and patrol car pull up, 2 EMT’s rush out followed by the deputy. They rush over to his body with a defibrillator and an oxygen mask.

“Clear!” Nothing. The EMT charges the defibrillator and tries again.

“Clear!” The shock makes his lifeless body jump and fall back to the pavement. The man leans down to Xavier’s mouth and listens. No breath. At that moment, I actually begin to cry. My best friend is gone. He’s actually gone. I never thought this day would come that I am alone, without my buddy of 9 year, 42 weeks, and 3 days.

“Pronounced dead at 8:43 pm on November 24, 2012. Should we proceed to take him to the morgue?” Asked the man who goes about his job emotionlessly. To him it’s just another day on the job and that irks me. It’s the fact that someone just committed suicide and all he cares about is getting him to the morgue so he can go home.

I need to have a moment with the one who knows me and I know him equally. I walk up to the EMT filling out a death certificate and ask him if he can leave for just a few minutes and let me have a second with my brother. As he walks away, I fall to the ground and cry on the inert body that used to fill my heart and home with joy and laughter. I sit for just a brief moment and wallow in the air of the departed.

“It was your fault! It’s all your fault I’m left on this Earth without a friend! Get out of here! You’re not welcome around here anymore! I’ll be surprised if you even go to your own son’s funeral! I sure as heck will be there! You better watch out or I’ll-” I start yelling and can’t seem to stop.

“Vlad! You shut your mouth now. This was no one’s fault.” My mother bursts out in an explosion of tears. She runs to me and bear hugs me. At this point, I try not to fight but my body is doing everything that I told it not to. I shove my mom and continue to yell at Xavier’s parents. I yell so much that I can’t yell anymore. My breath is gone. My vision becomes a fuzzy coil floated in front of me like a weird cloud. My dad told me to pick my battles and I pick this one but my sword will not come unsheathed. I can’t win this one. Realizing my sudden defeat, I fall to the ground, conscious but not alive. At least I don’t want to be alive.

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