Word Bytes is a montly flash fiction column. All these stories include an LGBT prsence, but it is rarely the focus. Rather than write pieces that focus on LGBT issues, I want it to be quietly in the background as a small detail of reality. Where it should be.
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Disclaimer: The following flash fiction strays from my normal path of fantasy writing to bring to light some all too real issues. These issues can be rather distressing, though not graphic. Please also note this is still a work of fiction. Characters, events, and incidents are either the products of my imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
“Lord, please take this sickness away.”
Dust covered the video game controller after weeks of neglect from the boy kneeling nearby.
“Why did this happen to me? Aren't you supposed to keep me safe?”
The darkness of his room was the only place he felt safe to pray. Light could mean someone would see. Light could mean someone would know.
“Why am I like this? What did I do wrong?”
Even in the dark room, even with his eyes closed, he could still see the other boys shirtless in the locker room. He could feel his heart racing faster.
“Whatever I did I'm sorry. Please forgive me.”
He could feel the smallest touch of his best friend, just a pat on the back, sending electricity through his whole body.
Nothing ever changed. No matter how many times he prayed, it only got worse. No matter how much he pleaded, it seemed his cries fell on deaf ears.
Why would it? Why would God listen to someone like him? He was a sinner, separated from God. His body, designed to be a living temple of The Most High, was corrupted. The Devil lived inside and whispered despicable things.
“That's right.” The boy slowly stood, no longer kneeling on the floor. “There's someone else inside me. He's the one making me like this.”
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
The boy gently beat his fist against his chest. He knew he couldn’t actually hit The Devil out of him, it was more symbolic… at first. With each hit, the boy grew angry. Angry at this other thing living inside him, making him feel unforgivable things.
The symbolic hits grew wild. Anger and pain built him up to a frenzied rage. He flew about the room, ramming into anything he could. The bedpost, the closet door, the wall, anything the boy could use, he did. Even if he couldn’t drive the evil out, he wanted that part of him to feel the pain. He had to hurt it. The other him deserved the cuts and bruises.
Exhausted, defeated and numb, he sank to the ground, whimpering. He wanted desperately to cry, but the tears would not come. After weeks of crying himself to sleep every night, his eyes ran dry.
The sound of the garage door opening woke him from his daze. He couldn’t let his mom see the bruises. He moved quickly to tidy everything. He had to hide under the blankets before she came up.
If she saw, she would ask too many questions. She would know.
If she knew, would she abandon him too?
If I should die before I wake,
“Nolan honey, I’m home. Why are you in bed already?”
“I don’t feel very well, I just wanted to get a little sleep before dinner.”
His heart beat faster every moment she lingered in the room. Panic erupted through him as she sat down on the bed beside him. Did she know?
A gentle hand brushed through his hair.
“You’ve been feeling sick a lot recently, do we need to go see a doctor?”
“It’s just a little sniffle, probably just allergies.”
“Well, do you want to go out this weekend? Some fresh air might help.”
“Fresh air is full of pollen.”
Silence fell. The boy’s mother glanced at the unused game controller.
“Your birthday is coming up, is there any new games you want?”
“I don’t think anything is out yet.”
“Oh. Well, how about something else?”
“Let me think about it later, okay?”
“Sure honey, get some rest.”
His mom left the room, unable to hear her son’s whisper as she closed the door.
“I just want to be your good son again.”
I pray the Lord, my soul to take.
~ END of Part 1 ~
(Edit: Alexis) (Illustration: Pei-Ling Chiu)
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