Hello followers! I apologize for missing my regularly scheduled installments for the past two Saturdays. I was at a family reunion last Saturday, which of course was worthy of writing about in my journal! I was also pretty caught up in completing my client case conceptualization for my internship site this past weekend, which I just finished this morning.
Back to Eyes of Excruciation. Act 5 was a wonderful exercise in editing. I found myself modifying a few sentences to emphasize Ross’ confusion and fear, while also giving him a stronger sense of determination in exploring his first same-sex attraction.
Comments, likes, and specific feedback are welcomed and appreciated!
Tear Down the Clouds
I walk into Government on Friday, calm on the outside but my heart beating so fast that it must be shaking apart my insides.
Eddie is already in his desk like he’s waiting, arms folded and eyes far off. But he sees me, and I see him.
Nothing has changed.
I take my backpack off and sit. Still the same.
Sigh. Slouch. Sit up straight.
I fish out my notebook and pen while trying not to look Eddie’s way. Just keep it cool…you don’t even have to talk to him. Don’t get over your head. Nothing needs to be asked of you, Eddie. Edwardo Garza, Garcia, whoever the hell you wanna be. That’s your privilege.
I look back to talk to Mark, my best bud. He helps, he puts some sense into me…
He’s not here. His desk is empty.
“Hey.” My voice cracks at first, but I go on: “Where’s Mark at?”
Dana looks up. J.P., a big, but calm and almost sophisticated football player two desks back and one to the right, just shrugs before his eyes flit down.
“I think he switched out of this class,” Dana says.
“Yeah, he’s out,” Marco from group 4 adds from two rows over. “He said something about switching to C.P. classes.”
Concurrent placement. But…I was helping Mark with his journals. He could have finished them for this class on time. And, what, with two months before the end of school? Before we graduate?
I want to say all these things, but all I can manage is, “That’s weak.”
Stupid words, though. Everyone deserves the willpower to drop everything and leave. It’s self-defense. You can’t tell anybody not to do that. For grades. Or love.
Even if they are your best friend.
Class starts when the bell rings. We take notes as usual. I write and soak in the PowerPoint lecture. We’re finishing Chapter 13 on the presidency, going over a pocket veto and Executive Privileges.
Time drags on. Still, I’m set. There’s no other choice.
About halfway through the period, I look once at Eddie. His head is bent over his desk, and his hand is moving with a pen in it. He’s taking notes.
I blink. Small miracles.
As we go through the last slide, I watch his pen skim the page. His letters are long and thin. Almost cursive. Not like I’d have imagined.
“Alright,” Doas calls, the black projection screen marking the end of our lecture, “remember your test on Monday. Don’t forget your Scantrons. That’s all I have for today.”
The class sets off talking. Eddie shoves his notebook into his backpack and looks around at Marco, at J.P., grinning.
I sit there, half-expecting one of them to bring up prom, or maybe the after party. The other half of me just wants to walk out of the classroom and into the street.
“Dude, remember our pre-season game at McHi?” Eddie asks Marco Hinojosa, another football player. “Against Edinburg North?” Marco shakes his head. Flustered, Eddie turns to J.P. and says, “You remember, right?”
“When we played North last year?”
“Yeah, like in September.”
“Oh my God, dude,” Eddie chuckles, his same old laugh eliciting my strongest eye roll in recent memory. “That was when we tried the left 38 pitch trap.”
I listen, drifting in and out. Why isn’t football my thing? It isn’t my choice to be stripped of adrenaline and a drive for physicality, brutality, all that shit. I love sports, and I get how much pride, honor, and power is in a team, in a good play. But that’s something I haven’t experienced in years…something that’s dying inside of me.
I don’t want to be this way anymore.
“Hey, Eddie?” I recoil as I realize that it’s me, that’s my voice. Eddie looks at me and nods. No, I wasn’t supposed to speak. Weakling. Can’t hold it in?
I look at Eddie, really look at him through my contacts. He stares back at me with eyes that are relieved of a thousand nameless inhibitions and marked by a certain light.
“Do you –” I falter, struggling. My stomach crushes in on itself. I can’t, I can’t…
I am not weak. I don’t need help. He won’t understand!
Keep your balance. Think of the all the other guy-girl relationships that just aren’t working around you. You’re not alone.
Eddie raises his eyebrows at me. I shake my head. “Forget it.” I say, getting up and putting my backpack on. That’s you, alright. Being so damn dramatic.
“You’re leaving early?” he asks me with furrowed eyebrows. I take steps towards the door, passing like a ghost and just barely nodding yes to him. The bell rings. I get out, brushing past people without any consideration, my tears shoved down. Like withered suppressed words devoid of purpose.
The cars are gone. The lights are out. The sun is sinking.
And I’m all alone up here.
I breathe and look around, scoping out the view of the football field, the vacant bleachers. I have solitude here, time to be alone and think.
But there’s not much to think about this close to the edge.
I lean against the chain-link fence, looking down at the soft grass below. From the top, the pinnacle, to all the way down there: maybe forty feet. I couldn’t survive that.
“So who cares?” I ask bleakly. “Would you let me do this?” The universe instills a sense of resistance and clarity in me. I quiver inside, hurting. Graduation is just around the corner, and you’re thinking of doing this? You don’t know pain.
Like climbing over this fence at the top of these stadium bleachers and dropping to my own death, broken and ripped away from my body.
“Do I love you?” I cry to the emptiness. I wish Kristina could hear me asking her. Not Rebecca. Not Eddie.
I close my mouth, not willing to talk to myself, ruin myself even more. Friday night is coming, and the stars twinkle to life one by one while I sit with my back against the fence, my backpack one row down.
I wonder what mom and dad would think, knowing their son has considered committing suicide. Making such a big deal over a little high school romance.
I close my eyes and imagine. Think of what it is I’m so desperate for. But it’s like diving down into a cold lake, feeling around the darkness of the bottom, searching for something I dropped. I’m so scared of that dark, but I gotta keep looking.
I open my eyes.
Do you feel something for Eddie Gar-
I don’t know. But it’s the strongest emotion I’ve felt in a long time. Maybe ever.
But what about girls? A guy like Eddie is handsome, yeah, but not enough to love like that.
That’s what I should be telling myself. But I can’t.
I get up and hop down to my backpack. Treading on the metal, feeling the cold railing, I look over at the blackening football field and feel a sliver of hope. I’m surprised no one has found me trespassing yet.
On my way out, the thought of Eddie sitting lazy on a couch, Budweiser in hand, crosses my mind out of the blue. Then I envision myself peering into some abstract living room, smiling at him and asking how his day went.
No. The whole idea feels lopsided and, a little more subtly, threatening. I can hear something bigger than me saying, ‘Don’t you dare…’
So I get to my truck and start it, looking out at the yellow parking lines glimmer in the headlight’s beams. I know now, I feel it. There is one more option.
Closure. Tonight. Find him and tell him. Find a way to turn back and start again, no girl, no Eddie. Just me.
I pull out my phone and call Mark, letting the engine idle. It rings twice, three, four times.
“Y’ello?” That’s Mark. Sounding dull and slightly bothered.
“Mark,” I say. “I need you to help me out, please. Just one favor.”
“Do you…have Eddie’s number?”
A moment of silence.
“Yeah, I know,” he says slowly, his ill-advice already coming through. “I don’t have it.”
“What about John Puente’s?” I ask, trying to keep my voice from shaking.
“Look,” he says, suddenly sympathetic, “you can just forget about him, dude. It’s not who you are.”
“Mark, you don’t know.” My voice is breaking apart. “I’m not gonna keep letting this shit rule my life.”
I think of Hector, of his fear. His inability to just talk to the girl he likes. Or loves.
“I’m gonna tell Eddie, and I don’t care what happens.”
Mark is quiet again. I feel breathless but steady. I hear him sigh and pull the phone away. A few key presses.
“I don’t have J.P.’s either, but call John Hinojosa. I saw on Facebook that he went partying with J.P. tonight.”
I memorize it quick and look out my window, watching the dusk creep in across the fields and tennis courts.
Mark sighs heavily. “You shouldn’t do it, man.”
And without me thinking, I rip into him. “Did I tell you that when you asked me about you and Marcella?”
“No,” he argues, “but that was different, dude. Different enough.”
“Yeah…maybe it is.”
It’s time to go.
“Mark, I’ll be alright.” I squeeze my eyes shut. “Thanks for sticking by me.”
“Yeah,” he says, his voice fading away. Then he’s gone.
Heading north on Shary, I dial John Hinojosa’s number.