Rope in the Closet
He wasn’t there for me. When I needed him the most, he wasn’t there. I just wanted to scream at him.
“I thought you were my friend! I thought you’d always have my back but… instead of watching it, you stuck the first knife right in and it hurt me more than you’ll ever know!”
But, in my heart I know even if he would listen, I could never bring myself to do it. Instead I just bottled everything up; the hurt, the confusion, the devastation and betrayal I felt. I just buried them as deep as I could but everybody knows, it doesn’t matter how deep you bury it, somehow or other it rears its ugly head and unsurprisingly… that’s what it did.
They say you don’t really know what you’ve got until it’s gone and I think I know exactly what they mean. It wasn’t so long ago I had what I considered a normal life. It was nothing special but it suited me just fine. Life was slowly passing me by and before I knew what was happening, everything changed. Perhaps I should go back a bit, start from the beginning. My name is Caleb and I am, or at least was, just your run-of-the-mill teenager except… I’m gay, and madly in love with my best friend Zach. I’d always just assumed he was straight, but in my mind there was also a desperate hope that maybe he wasn’t. I know it was a pipe dream, but sometimes false hope is better than no hope, or so I’d always believed. Anyway, this whole mess started just a couple short weeks ago…
Zach is tall, dark and handsome: a real gentleman too. I know it’s a little cliché but it really is true! Ever since we were at primary school and he saved me from some bullies, I suppose I’d always seen him as some sort of guardian angel. “Look at this!” he called, snapping me out of my reverie. He was looking at his shoulder in the mirror, where there was a dark scratch from where we’d been play-fighting.
“Sorry.” I mumbled, averting my gaze from his shirtless form, feeling my face flush.
I tried staring lamely at my feet, but I couldn’t help it. He had a body that was so perfect it could’ve been sculpted by Michelangelo himself. My eyes kept creeping up and slowly running over every inch of it. He turned to face me and I quickly turned my head, embarrassed. He didn’t say anything, so I nervously glanced at him afraid he’d seen me checking him out, but he was smiling, so he couldn’t have seen me. Then the thought occurred to me; maybe he did see me looking. Maybe he wanted me to look. It wasn’t likely, I knew that but once that idea was in my mind, it just kept on coming back, filling me with doubt.
“You’re a lot stronger than you look y’know!” laughed Zach, reaching past me to grab his shirt and pulling it over his head.
“I should probably get home, before it gets too dark.” I said glancing at my watch.
“Do you want me to walk you home?” he asked.
“I’ll be fine; it’s only a five minute walk.” I said before jokingly adding “Besides, apparently I’m tougher than I look!” to which Zach just laughed.
“I’ll see you tomorrow!” I called as I left his place and headed home.
I spent the whole walk home thinking about whether or not he’d seen me checking him out. Then I started thinking about his offer to walk me home. He was definitely the kind of guy to do that, so it didn’t mean anything… did it?
When I got home I showered up and went to my room for the night. I was so tensed up I just kept wandering round, thoughts of Zach swirling around in my mind. We’d never really talked about girls either, so maybe he was gay too. I began analyzing everything, trying to work it out but I just couldn’t make up my mind. I went to bed eventually but I just tossed and turned for hours over it, until I was finally too exhausted to think anymore.
The next day I was so tired and so confused that I made the biggest mistake of my life. Zach came around first thing in the morning, which was nothing unusual. I tidied myself up as best I could before going downstairs to join him in the living room.
“Sure took your time!” he laughed teasingly as I came down.
I couldn’t help but blush a little as I smiled. God, I hoped he didn’t realise I’d taken so long just to look good for him. That would’ve been embarrassing. I vaulted over the couch, dropping into the seat next to him. I flicked on the TV and we just sat there casually chatting and flicking through random channels for nearly an hour. We settled on watching music videos while we chatted, and I sat there trying not to sing along. Things were usually so effortless with Zach, but today it seemed a little awkward for me. I guess the stronger my feelings grew, the less natural things seemed for me. Zach on the other hand, was so relaxed. That couldn’t have been a good sign… could it? I started thinking about just being honest with him, but in my heart I knew I wouldn’t follow it through. I awkwardly turned away from him, back to the music videos when one of my favourites started. The next thing I knew, Zach was quietly singing to himself. It was so funny and yet, so endearing.
“I’m going home, to the place where I belong, where your love has always been enough for me.” He sang and I couldn’t help but smile at him.
“What’re you looking at?” he asked me with a laugh.
My face grew hot, I probably looked like I’d been sunburnt I was sure I was blushing so much. Hoping he wouldn’t notice, I tried to diffuse the tension I was feeling.
“Don’t quit your day job!” I laughed punching him lightly on the arm.
“Oh, is that right?” he asked. “Well, I think it’s time somebody taught you a little respect!” he said lunging forward and pinning me to the couch. I tried to break free and sit up, but I never could beat him in a wrestling match and he kept me pinned down.
“I’m guessing professional wrestler isn’t going to be your day job.” He teased grinning at my pathetic attempt to break free from his grip.
I don’t know what happened next but there I was, pinned down on my couch with Zach above me and without thinking I stretched my neck forward and kissed him. He was frozen like a statue for several agonizing moments, and suddenly he released me and leapt off the couch. “What the hell was that!?” he demanded, looking thoroughly confused. My mind went blank, I couldn’t think of anything to say so I just sat there stuttering like an idiot.
“I’m… I didn’t… I mean… I… Zach…” and he shook his head quickly before turning and practically running out the front door without a word.
“Wait!” I cried after him, but he was already long gone. I sat on the couch feeling sick to my stomach and finally, when I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer they rushed forth like a floodgate being thrown open.
I spent that whole afternoon crying in my room. My parents weren’t around all that much, and they’d gone up north for a few days as it was, so there was nobody to disturb me. There was nobody to console me either. I dreaded going to school the next day. I was going to see a lot of Zach; we were in mostly the same classes. I very nearly didn’t go to but… I was never one to skip school. I was so anxious as I made my way to school; my stomach was knotted so tight it was painful. I made it to class just in time so I just grabbed my usual seat near the front without looking around. The teacher set us some questions and disappeared for a bit, leaving us to it. I started doing my work, trying to ignore everything else going on around me, when something solid hit me in the back of the head.
“Hey! Fag!” Someone whispered. My throat slowly constricting I threw a nervous glance behind me. Zach was sitting there with two of the guys, Chris and Miller. It was Chris’ voice I’d heard. I guess Zach must’ve told them what had happened. I was so embarrassed I just wanted to melt away into nothing. I turned my back to them and tried to focus on my work, my vision blurred by the tears welling in my eyes. By the time the bell rung, I’d already packed up and I was off like a bowshot out of the classroom.
I spent the whole break hiding out behind the old classrooms, but they found me there. I try not to think too much about it but… I still feel every kick and every punch they hit with me with. The only thing that hurt more than the actual beating was that Zach stood there the whole time and just watched them do it. He never hit me himself, but he didn’t even try to stop them either. When the bell rung and the left me there, I just stayed curled up in a ball on the ground, mud on my clothes and tears streaking my face.
I lost track of how many times that happened during that week. Every day was more of the same, filled with beatings and tears. Zach wouldn’t even look at me and I didn’t really have any other friends. The few people who I might’ve turned to avoided me like the plague. I don’t think that it was they all had a problem with me, it was more that they were just sacred of the consequences of being seen showing me any form of sympathy. I don’t blame them either; if the positions had been reversed I’d probably have done the exact same thing. Yet, I couldn’t help but wish that just one person would’ve been there for me. I’d never felt so alone, it was like there was a chasm between me and everyone else and it just kept growing wider and wider. I felt like I was losing myself and so now… here I am: in my garage, standing on a chair with a rope clutched tightly in my trembling hand as I slowly pull the noose over my head. I have my final thoughts written here and now all I have to do is step forward… and I’ll be free…
Rope in the Closet was the second short story I ever wrote; and while I look back and think it could definitely do some refinement, I’m proud of it nonetheless.