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The Darkest Closet This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

The slow dripping of water from a faucet was the only sound Jeremiah could hear. He finally stopped crying. The darkness of the janitor’s closet was like a cloak, covering the cracked blood on his body with its black silk. The darkness of the room was almost comforting to the battered boy; it was the upcoming morning that stirred fear within his heart.

Miah saw the irony in his situation; he could see that his kidnapping, being beaten and sodomized, and then waking up in a closet was ironic, and probably heroic to his aggressors. He thought to himself, that was the price he was meant to pay, for being seventeen and gay.

Miah grew up in the corn-fed town of Hinton, Iowa. The town itself ran six blocks north and seven blocks west, with little but two schools, a market, a church, and a post office in between. The local children grew up helping on their family farms, and playing pickup games of baseball during the intermission between Sunday school and dinner. Miah, however, avoided the other children, and kept to his corn fields.

The other Hinton kids always had their suspicions surrounding Miah. During their fast-paced games, they would watch as Miah would disappear into the corn stalks behind his house, and shrug his shoulders as they called out to him. Or, every Sunday, they would look over the chipped wooden pews and see Miah, in the very back, scanning a book of poems while Father Jim was reading the Word of the Lord. These wholesome children, raised on corn and God, never knew how to describe Miah, until a young girl labeled him for them.

Miah sat in the closet and stated to run his finger over the cracks in the tile. He couldn’t see the design, but he could feel the paint chipping and the mortar starting to break. He thought back to the corn fields, yellow and green mazes under the clear blue sky, and how his once private get away betrayed him.

He would go out into the fields, run his hands over the husks, and feel free. Miah did not classify himself in any particular way; he just knew that he was different. He did not enjoy the same activities as the other boys- and didn’t feel the same way about sports, God, or love. So, Miah would go into his fields, surround himself with the swaying corn, and convert his feelings and ambitions into poetry. He would lie on his back and breathe in the fumes of his surroundings, and feel the comfort of isolation wash over his body. His poems were left where he composed them; they were tied, bound in his notebooks, to the stems of the corn by chicken wire.

Although Miah was known as introverted and independent, he was not unattractive to the girls of Hinton. He was sixteen, tall, and had dirty blonde hair that swept gently over his icy blue eyes. There was one girl who showed particular interest in Jeremiah. Her name was Tricia Jean Parks, who grew up living at the farm next to Miah’s. Tricia Jean was a sweet Catholic girl with brown curls and a tendency to get what she wanted. She inhaled Jeremiah’s pheromones as religiously as she signed herself with the cross.

The dripping of the faucet stopped, and Miah found himself being suffocated by the dark, heavy silence. He took a gasping breath, and proceeded to think about the day when Tricia Jean followed him into his corn fields.

“What do you do in here, Miah?” Her voice made Jeremiah jump, he was startled by the placement of her hand on his back when he was about to flip a page in his notebook. He stared at her petite hand and didn’t answer her.

“Miah, I didn’t mean to scare you! I just wanted to make sure that you weren’t getting lonely in here by yourself.” Tricia took her hand off his shoulder and started to run her fingers, playfully, through his hair. Miah squired and turned away. Surprised, Tricia took another step toward him.

Jeremiah looked down as he said, “Thanks, Tricia, but I’m fine in here by myself.”

Tricia scanned the stalks surrounding them and inched a step closer. She placed her hand on Jeremiah’s shoulder and slowly trickled her finders down his skin, very lightly. She smiled at the ground and said softly, “Miah, let’s spend some quality time together.” With that, she violently grabbed Jeremiah, and pulled his face close to hers. Shocked, Jeremiah pushed her off of him, and started to walk away. He left his book of poetry. As he was leaving, he saw a look of astonishment on Tricia’s face. He called out to her, “I’m sorry Trish, I really am. You’re a really nice girl but I’m just not interested.” That was the last time Jeremiah walked through his cornfields of his own will.

In the dark of the closet, Miah began to think about how all the guys in Hinton found out about him rejecting Tricia Jean. She had spread the word by the time the sun had set that evening. He remembered voices telling him that he was a “biblical abomination”, a “danger to the boys of the town”, as well as “sick” and “demented”. Miah had assumed that Tricia had gone to the boys and said that he must be qu**r to turn her down. But Jeremiah remembered a voice that spoke to him while he was gagged and bound in the corn.

“Maybe this will fix you.”

Tricia Jean had gone straight to the source after she inferred Jeremiah’s sexuality.

“Dad?” Jeremiah blacked out as the owner of the voice walked away and dropped a wooden baseball bat. Sweat glimmered on Miah’s forehead. The closet was humid. He shivered.

The darkness in Miah’s head was more vivid to him than the negative light embracing his body in the janitor’s closet. Every time he closed his eyes he saw the events of the night unfold. The kidnapping from his bed, being dragged into the corn, his poetry read aloud as he was held down and felt his innocence stripped from him with every penetration and every hit. Jeremiah remembered the humiliation, the physical pain, and the image of his poetry burning against the back drop of a moonless night.

Miah pulled himself up, and used his arms to drag himself over to a mop bucket. It was full of lukewarm, soapy water. The darkness covered Jeremiah’s blood, but the scars within were permanent. He hesitated, and then dunked his head into the bucket. He let go of his breath. He thought to himself, “I’m fixed.”





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