Chapter 3 – Russian Roulette

An entire week had passed since the day I had retrieved my wallet from Nelly’s and I actually ran into Salem at school. He just… instantly & casually hung around me like it was nothing when he saw me there. He acted completely different from what I had seen and heard that previous Saturday outside of his father’s restaurant which I thought was strange. He acted as if none of the circumstances had occurred that day. I, actually, gave him a suspicious look almost wondering if his casual behavior was a joke of some sort.

He was a sophomore and I had no classes with him and our lunches were different. At our high school, “A” lunch was for freshmen & juniors &”B” lunch was for sophomores & seniors. We barely saw each other at all, except after school, but, on that very first Monday, he casually told me to go over to his house with him and Sarah after her shift ended at 6:00pm. That was new to me, since, I had been ignoring almost every opportunity of making friends here since I got to this prison of a town.

I remember that Monday when we had a conversation on the school grounds as we walked home together, he mentioned he, apparently, played hockey and loved ice skating and wanted to grow up to play professionally. He was really happy when he was talking. He had such a boyish & playful smile on his face the whole time he was talking to me. It was really fun to just be around him when he was like that. He just seemed so happy and innocent as if he was walking around town with a giant bag of his favorite candies. He asked me if I played sports to which I giggled and replied no. “Really? But, your so like..” He stammered. “…Built. Like you’ve got a strong looking body and some biceps I see.”

I laughed out loud almost loud enough for these two girls to turn and look at us, which they actually did. “I do gymnastics. Well, I DID at home, or, -I mean, my old home.” There it was. There was that weird “The Past Is The Present Is The Future” sickness I got, sometimes, whenever I tried to call some place my home.

He seemed really excited about that. He was so enthusiastic. He was talking really fast as though he was telling me all of the cool new things he got for Christmas like a little kid. “Oh, wow, so you must be really strong. I’ve seen YouTube videos of kids doing that stuff training for the Olympics and everything. You must be really tough.” He smiled at me, giving me a small shove.

“Well, it’s been a few months. I might be getting a little rusty.” I said, being modest.

“No way. I bet you have like a 6 pack abs and everything.” He was right. But, I rolled my eyes anyway. “Come on, let me see.”

“What? No way! That’s weird.” I said with wide eyes and felt my jaw drop in shock from his random antics as we passed the crossing guard.

He gave me a look as if I had answered “17.” to the question “What’s 2+2.?” It was a look that just said, “Are you being serious right now?”

“Stop being a girl and just show me.” He retorted in an actual annoyed tone. I gave him a strange look. I didn’t, exactly, want anyone to see the weird long haired kid lifting up his shirt on a public sidewalk for another boy to look at, so, when no one was looking, I, finally, just rolled my shirt up under my jacket and faced him as I kept walking. I didn’t really see what the big deal was. I was used to being almost half or fully naked in front of my other gymnast mates and I didn’t think much of it. They’re just muscles, after all. “Holy.” He was shocked, apparently, which I couldn’t help but find amusing to myself.

As more and more days went by, we hung out more and more. He became my friend, all of the sudden. It had only been a week, but, we really hit it off. He invited me to his house where Sarah and Nelly lived which was really interesting and fun to be honest. I had known her for quite sometime, now, so learning a little bit more about her and their father’s personal life was actually quite fun and entertaining. It made me smile to know I was welcome with open arms whenever they would have their supper, occasionally, ordering from their favorite Chinese restaurant in town, Lotus Café’. It made me feel the warmth in this town which I hadn’t experienced, prior. Before that week, the only place I ever felt that warmth was when I was with my mother, or the last time a flame ever touched that old Colorado house fireplace.

One day at school, though, I couldn’t walk home with him. I saw two of the school’s security guards walk side my side with him into the principal’s office while all of the other kids were dismissed. I found that very strange. One just stood outside of the door as the other brought him inside and was waiting for him to come out. I found that so unusual and unnecessary, but, just decided to walk home by myself. I didn’t understand what the point of them being there was. I just ignored it.

Salem and I would play basketball on their driveway where he had his dad fix him a professional sporting goods basketball hoop for him on the very second day he arrived their, he had told me. And, by that, I mean I attempted my best to even play the game, despite how bad I was. I tried to explain to him numerous times that I didn’t play the sport and that I was only a gymnast. In his boyish mind, however, he thought that meant that I would automatically be good at any sport I wanted to play and practically bullied me into playing the game with him. He was so excited and happy to just get me to play. Hehe. It was funny to see someone like that just look all happy and innocent about something and just want to spend time with me. He insisted and persisted. He wanted to teach me to play so much to the point where every two hours, the game was mentioned and slipped into one of our conversations in some way, shape, or form. Finally, I agreed.

Not surprisingly at all, he poked fun at me, making jokes about how bad he discovered I really was, barely being able to make 2 point shots from less than 7 feet away and telling me I shot like a little girl and would laugh at me. And, I wont lie, some of his comments and remarks were, actually, a little too harsh for my tastes to handle. But, I would, instantly, be relieved and reminded that he was joking when he would look at me with his grin after finishing one of his comments or when he would wrap his arm around my shoulder, playfully, the same way my best friend did back in Colorado. He did it in the exact same way. It was identical.

During that whole week, whenever I was at his house, we didn’t watch one movie or show on TV, and didn’t play a single video game at all, which I thought was, you know, weird. But, I ignored that, entirely.

Any short glimpses I was able to get of Salem at school, and while I was with him, I began to take notice that wherever he was, either one or two school guards were always near him. They were… examining him. They were following him, somehow, and protecting him from something or someone for some reason. They had a look of concern on their faces. I didn’t understand that at all. Was he okay? And, he wasn’t allowed to leave the grounds for school lunch like the other upper class-men were allowed to do, except the freshmen, but, I didn’t know why.

Things were really beginning to get very unusual. Whenever his father would leave to go do something, or his sister went to a friend’s house, or any scenario came up when Salem and I would be alone, the one who was about to leave would always pull him away from me and talk to him in another room far away from where I was, so I couldn’t hear or see what was going on or what was being said as they would talk to one another in a quickly paced conversation that always sounded like quick banter. Salem would always come rushing back to wherever I was in an, almost, angry manner with a pout or a scowl on his face. One time, he even stomped his feet loudly and threw his back onto the couch next to me. It was either that or they would give him a look, directly, in his eyes that just said.”WATCH, it.” or “You BETTER not.” for some reason.

It was like… they didn’t trust him to be alone. He wasn’t nine years old or anything. They were guarding him and looking at him the same way that a cop would watch a cell mate while they were walking back to their cell to make sure that things were running smoothly. I didn’t understand that. Sure, Salem was a little rough around the edges and some of the kids at school were a little intimidated by him from the glimpses that I got the chance to observe of him in school over the last five days, already granting him a small bunch of friends by his side as they saw how different he was from all of the other kids were at school and just wanted to be around him and learn more as they all, casually, got to know one other, but, he wasn’t a bad kid or anything. He wasn’t so bad with me, anyway.

One night while we were at their table, which was the only night that all three of them were not managing the store due to full coverage, we all shared a meal of Mei Fun and egg drop soup, I caught Sarah, immediately, look at her father as they both shared a serious glance with one another having some type of a mental conversation as they both stopped eating and, then, turned to look at Salem as he took a bite out of his egg-roll, nonchalantly, chewing on it happily, directly, after he made a comment that he thought it’d be nice if I showed him my house where me and my mom lived.

I felt as though there was some big and dramatic family secret that they were keeping from me. I didn’t know what it was, but, I knew that Salem was involved in it all, somehow. I didn’t get what or why it was so big or serious. I didn’t know what could be so terrible that would make them be so secretive all the time. It’s like he was… rabid or something. They treated him like he was living in a cage and they only let him out every once in a while to shake his legs and breathe and, then, blew a whistle for him to come back, immediately, as they put him back inside. They treated him like he was a prisoner! It was like he was in jail or something. It was beginning to annoy me, actually. Why would they do that to him?

One day, he even gave me a weak, little shy smile as though he was tired and walking around with thick, iron shackles around his hands and ankles as he dragged them around wherever he went. I really felt bad for the poor kid. That day, I realized that he was a slave, somehow, and I didn’t know why. I even cried that night on my bed thinking about him and that weak smile he gave me, softly, which told me so much about him without saying anything at all. It was like we mentally communicated for a moment. It was almost as if his soul said to me, “Help me!” I just wanted to hug him and tell him that it was all going to be okay. So, he got in trouble, smoked some cigarettes in the past, and switched schools. That wasn’t so bad. I mean, how bad could it have been? I had no idea. Not, yet, anyway. I had no idea what was coming.

He invited me over to his house that Saturday because he texted me and said that he was bored and wanted me to come over. He told me that he didn’t even bother to tell his family that I was coming over and told me not to tell them. I found that strange, but, he was dead serious. He even threatened me saying, “Don’t you tell.”, which, sounded kind of weird to me but I ignored it and came over.

We had been alone in his room just chatting as he continued to unpack a few of his personal belongings as I told him I, surprisingly, still had some baggage of my own I had, yet, to unpack and even briefed him a little bit on, exactly, why. I really didn’t know why I told him that. Not even my own mother knew about that. But, I just felt so open and comfortable letting him know. Telling him just made me feel a release from the pressure that I had been, unknowingly, feeling from having those in my closet. I didn’t even notice how much it had really been affecting me to have them in there until I told him. “Oh, cool.” He, casually, remarked about the situation.

I just liked the fact that he wasn’t so dramatic and was sort of corse about some things, sometimes. He didn’t let certain things bother him. It was like he was the knife that cut through the fat of the drama that I had been feeling during those three months prior to the day he knocked me down inside of his father’s pizzeria. He just let me… breathe. The fact that he didn’t really care so much about the little things that others make themselves sick with obsessing over made me realize just how sick I actually was. I was sick with my own obsessions gripping my fists tightly, but, grabbing onto absolutely nothing. It made me realize maybe I shouldn’t care.

I began to think if I didn’t think or worry so much, already, and just began to loosen up and live my life naturally the way that he did, maybe I’d be happier. It was like breathing. You don’t really think about it. You just do it. If you thought about every breathe you would take, because you were so afraid you wouldn’t take your next one, you would probably go insane. Maybe, that’s why many people do go insane. Maybe, the reason why many people don’t reach their goal is because they think about their goal too much and drive themselves crazy. It’s like quicksand. Don’t move so much and you’ll stop sinking. Maybe, his way of life was better than mine. I thought, maybe, the key to happiness that opens the door you want to go through so badly, is to just walk through it without thinking about it so hard knowing that it’s your door, instead of doubting and contemplating everything. I liked that. I began to sort of look up to him. He became a role model to me. It was like he was giving me advice without even realizing it. I even told him my last name because he asked me what it was and he didnt even care. He said that it was nice sounding. And, I thought, maybe, I shouldn’t care either.

We talked a bit more as he closed a folder, holding a report that he was in the process of writing for school. I, then, told him that I could help him since I had wanted to be writer since the 5th grade and that one of my most trreasured possessions hidden inside those four forbidden suitcases that I had locked and sealed inside of my closet, which I had not even dared to touch since I had even moved here, was a series of nine volume, free verse articulated books of poetry that I had been working on for the last two years. He smiled at me and told me that he, actually, loved to read and would love to read some when he came over. I was so… satisfied that he would even want to read anything I made or wrote. For the first time, I got excited about writing again. I got excited about going into those bags, once more. I, actually, wanted to open them and show him my work which was very close and personal to me and dear to my heart. But, hearing him say that, made me, remember the look that his sister and father gave to each other when he commented on how he would like to visit my house.

He asked me how long I had been going to Nelly’s and I told him my brief history on the place and when I first went in there. He was curious if I liked the place and if I really went there often. “Yeah, I do on Thursdays and Fridays after school. It’s on my way walking home, so, I like to grab myself a slice every here and there. Your dad makes great pizza.” I said with a smile, genuinely admiring the slices I had enjoyed over this school semester so far. I couldn’t help but giggle, actually. Time had slipped passed me so fast. I had not even realized how much I truly relied on that place every week for some joy and comfort from the stresses of my life.

“Oh, that’s neat. I’m glad you like it.” He said, briefly.

Being really curious, I decided to ask him how he felt about leaving all of his friends and school. He paused for a moment and turned his head away from me. “Uhm. You know, it was a rough, but like, I’m cool, now, yah, know? It’s cool. I’m good. Don’t worry about it.” He said staring out the window as we both sat on his bed next to one another.

After a silent 30 second pause of him looking outside and me not wanting to interrupt him, he, then, asked me if I wanted to play a game. I smiled at him. He really had been so kind to me over that last week and was just being a very generous host to me that day. He really had made me feel better about some of the things that I had been so angry about over the last few months. I, truly, appreciated that.

He gave me a little grin at first. It, then, turned into an actual large smile as he beamed at me. He had dimples. I didn’t even notice that until then. He never really smiled a cheeky and wide camera grin at me before and it just lit up his entire face. It was like a sunrise that just illuminated who he really was, entirely. He looked like a 4th grader about to say “Cheese!” before taking his school class photo or while standing in front of his 10th birthday cake which was his favorite flavor right before him and all of his friends were about to dig into it. You just saw the excitement on his face. I thought he was interesting when he was being smart or funny, but, he was even more interesting when he was fully happy. It was really nice to see him smile without any witty cleverness behind his eyes. I saw him for the first time without any interference. I saw him. I saw who he, actually, was, fully, as his face lit up like the Sun had cast all of its rays and light on him as he bloomed out in front of me to reveal to me who he, truly, was in secret without anyone else watching. It was like a private moment that his soul only trusted me with. It was like he came out for a moment and said, “Hi.” to me. And, it almost looked like an angel said, “Hellooo” to me in an echoed and whispered voice as if God had sent him to me to deliver a very important message to mankind from the skies and I was the one who was chosen to hear it. It was beautiful. It made me smile. It made me smile so wide even though I didn’t even want to. I saw his teeth. They were extremely white and shiny and I never realized how much I never noticed them because he never revealed them to me.

I got this feeling in my stomach that just made me want to do something. But, I didn’t know what. I liked this. I liked that we were… together. I agreed to his offer and he walked, happily, to his TV but, then, stopped and looked down for a moment with a grin and laughed, sharply, to himself as he exhaled his frustration and took a few sharp and annoyed breathes as he muttered, “Can’t do that…” I, instantly, remembered what Nelly said to him about “two weeks” and I realized that he was under some sort of a punishment which his father must have added on to that day. I assumed he wasn’t allowed to use any electronics, except for his cell phone, until the time was up. I didn’t know if there was anything else that he wasn’t allowed to do or use, though.

We sat back down and continued talking for about 10 minutes. However, I said something just, then, that I didn’t think clearly of before I began talking.

“I just know what it feels like to be forced into going somewhere that I don’t want to go to in the first place. At least, I wasn’t threatened with military school. Jeez. That must have been so- “ but, I stopped, seeing his head jerk to the side as he gave me this wide eyed look as though I had just told him that I killed my own mother and revealed to him the location of where the remains of her body were located that I had blended up inside of the food processor.

“What?” He asked in a tone that, almost, insinuated that it was obvious that what I did was wrong and I should know better.

Realizing what I had just said, being so wrapped up in my own thoughts from how much I liked the fact that his situation was similar to my own, I realized, then, that there was no other way that I would have known that information, unless his family either told me behind his back or I overheard some of, if not, all of the conversation which was exchanged between he & his father last week outside of his restaurant in private, or, what he thought was private. Not being a very good liar, and being taught never to lie or be dishonest in any way by my mother, I decided that there was no easy way around this. There was no way that I could dodge the reality of the situation. I decided to tell him the truth. I told him that I had overheard some of the conversation which was exchanged amongst the two of them that day. I told him that I really did not mean to listen to what was said between them & that it was not my true intention to do so, even though, that wasn’t true at all.

“Yeah, I’m real sorr-” I started.

He reacted, immediately. “What’d you say?”

He gave me a look of shock. It wasn’t so much of a look of horror, but, more of a look that just said- “Why’d you do that?” as if he was watching a movie & I just took the remote and shut the TV off on him or snatched the fork that he was using to eat from his hand. He, quickly, got up and walked over to the other side of the room and stood in front of his TV and looked at me. Seeing his sudden change in movements, I got up as well, not understanding what was happening as he looked at me.

“Look, I-” I began, but, he, instantly, interrupted me.

“You don’t know anything. How could you? Just be quiet. Shut-up!” He barked, quickly mashing his statements together.

“Look. I’m sorry I-“I started.

He was changing all of the sudden. He looked different. His face seemed edgier. The area around his eyes appeared darker as his mood was changing fast. I didn’t like it, at all. The whole tone of the room changed and it felt like it was spinning for a second.

He took a few steps, sideways, so he was standing in front of his window all while staring right at me & I mirrored his movements, going in the opposite way as we circled around the room for a moment until I was leaning against his dresser.

He just got angrier and angrier all by himself for no reason at all as he just stood there as though a storm was swirling around in his body, violently, and he was trying to control it and failing miserably as the hurricane in his mind swirled against his will, turning him into something else. In a low and breathy voice, he menacingly whispered at the bottom of his throat, slowly, saying, “You don’t even know what you’re TALKING about.” He didn’t even sound like Salem anymore. He sounded… demonic. His voice, almost, sounded like there were two people talking at once. “God.” He said in an annoyed sharp tone. He, then, paused for a moment looking blankly at his desk.

Suddenly, he took his arm and quickly whipped it knocking down a bunch of things from his desk next to the window causing a bunch of papers to fly all over the floor. I didn’t know what to do. I just sort of stared at him for a moment. I never experienced someone lash out like that in front of me.

He went from day to night in a heartbeat. He did a full 180 degree flip on me. He was acting completely different from the way he was before. He was acting like a robotic shadow version of himself. It felt like I was dealing with a completely different person. Salem was gone & it looked like he was under some type of a spell and was being possessed by an evil entity coming back to get its long lost revenge. It scared me. Was this kid, like… bipolar?

He used his foot to kick his Xbox One system hard enough for it to move two feet from where it was. He could’ve broken it, actually. He did it for no reason, whatsoever, and didn’t seem to care at all whether it was his or not.

Suddenly, I saw right in front of me the same kid that I heard his father talking about outside of his restaurant. This was the kid who lashes out at people, gets in trouble, & causes problems. I, then, realized why he was even here in the first place and what the serious reality of his life’s circumstances actually was. I realized that those security guards that were always watching over him and protecting him weren’t protecting him at all. They were watching over us. They were protecting everyone else. They were protecting the students and the teachers. They were protecting the principal, himself. And, I didn’t know if I enjoyed that I came to that conclusion of knowledge or if I was concerned for what the current situation was while I was alone with him in his bedroom. There were no security guards here. His family had no idea we were both in his house. It was just me and this stranger in his bedroom. I was alone.

“Oh, f***!” I heard him yell as he took notice of how hard he kicked his game system and a small piece of black plastic had come off the front of it. I guess he didn’t mean to kick it so hard, but, couldn’t control his movements very well from how he was feeling. This kid was unstable. He knelt in front of it for a moment and stared at it, then, took his remote & threw it in anger underneath him on the wooden floor making the batteries fly all over the place and the cover which was holding them inside to pop out violently. He did it like he really MEANT it. Jesus.

“Can you stop, please?”I asked him, feeling uncomfortable. I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t want to leave, exactly, but, I didn’t want to be around him when he was acting like that. I didn’t like it. I felt incredibly awkward as though I was invading his privacy, somehow, by watching him act out like that as if I was looking at him while taking a shower. And, he, instantly, turned his head to look at me as if I had invaded & trespassed some type of personal territory in his life for telling him what to do as he got up.

“Why don’t you just GET out. You don’t even belong here. F*** you. Get OUT!” He barked, speaking in that quick pace of his.

Feeling rather offended by that comment, and surprised that he would even say that, my mouth hung open a bit. “What’s your problem?” I asked. What did I do to him? He was verbally attacking me. What was wrong with him? I didn’t need that!

He paused for a moment. “Listen, Bumblebee…”

“It’s Applebee.” I said getting annoyed that he would refer to me by my last name & got it horribly wrong in the process in a rude way. I didn’t need personal attacks. I just didn’t need that, not now, especially.

“You don’t know anything. Just leeeeaaaaavee.” He said like a snake would say in human form as he gritted his teeth. “God,… you’re so annoying!” That didn’t make any sense at all. There was no reason for him to say that. I wasn’t even doing anything. It wasn’t logical. Suddenly, he quickly spat out, “You said that you hate it here, anyway. You’re probably from one of those pretty little prairie dairy places where everyone sings songs and dances around like a little fairy on a prairie to a ukulele. Why are you even here?” He was lashing OUT at me for no reason at all. My god. He was personally attacking me. I was shocked & got angry.

“Oh, yeah? Well you’re not from here, either. You were sent here. And, I wouldn’t even BE here unless I had to be.” I retorted back as I flicked my hair out of my eyes with a jerk of my head, upset by his comments and even more upset about remembering my current living situation. I couldn’t believe that. I couldn’t believe he’d bring that up.

After I said that, he paused for a moment, then, slowly walked over to his bed. “Well, why don’t you go to your little Detroit, or whatever, back where you belong…” He said, accenting the word “belong” as he picked up a shoe from his bed and quickly lunged it at me in my direction with full force. I don’t think he meant to hit me to be honest, just to throw something in my direction to add to what he was saying. But, his throw was extremely fast like he was a pitcher of an intense baseball team. It only landed two feet away from me, but, I got startled that he would even throw something towards me in the first place with that much force.

“…little baby.” He finished his sentence and violently threw the other shoe again in my direction. This time, it passed just 8 inches away from my FACE.

It, actually, almost hit me that time. This kid was crazy. “Why don’t you just stop it!” I said.

He paused. “Oh, yeah? Well, what-eh-you gonna do about it huh? What-eh-you gonna do?” He said walking intimidatingly closer to me. I got a little scared at that moment, not knowing what he was going to do or what he was capable of. I’d never had anyone intimidate me like that or threaten me in any way before, physically especially. Seeing how far this was getting, I realized where it was going.

“Stop it.” I said softly, feeling a little nervous and scared avoiding his eye contact and scanning my eyes all over the floor as I saw his body come closer to me.

“Or what?” He said getting even closer.

There he was. That bad boy that I kept envisioning in my head was right in front of me. And, let me tell you, I didn’t find it appealing at all. It wasn’t how I imagined it. I didn’t find it exciting or interesting. It was extremely uncomfortable to be around. You didn’t know what to expect and it was violent, out of control, and messy. It was awkward. It just made you feel uncomfortable in your own skin. I felt that cold and nervous panic you get when you’ve just been called into the principal’s office for being caught doing something horrible that you did wrong and knew the doom that was coming. I got the same feeling you would get if a cop walked up to you with handcuffs and told you that you were under arrest. I felt as if someone took a bow & arrow and used their arm to charge it back all the way, ready to shoot, and pointed it straight at my face. It just made me flinch and want to leave. I got the same feeling you would get as if someone was playing music extremely loud and it was uncomfortable, painful, and unbearable and you expected them and wanted them to lower it. But, instead, they raised the volume louder and louder all while staring directly at you. And, you wondered why they would ever do such a thing and prayed for them to stop. But, they never do.

He closed the distance between us, entirely, and at that moment, reflexes took over, and I felt that I had to defend myself, somehow. He was bigger than me, after all. And, he, then, actually pushed me. I felt my butt hit the tip of his dresser by my small body being pushed back half of a foot from his assault on me. And, I instinctively, looked up, quickly, and pushed him hard on his chest to push him away from me, afraid of what he would do if he got any closer.

“Just STOP it!” I yelled as I pushed him. He, instantly, widened those specs of his, making them look as though they lit up and grabbed my wrists really hard. Even with my slim arms being toned from my previous intense physical activity, I couldn’t pull away. The little bastard was strong as HELL. I tried and tried but couldn’t get him to let go. We fought each other’s strength for a moment, wrestling to see who’d win. “Let me go! Get off!” I shrieked but he wouldn’t let go of me. And I felt violated and scared. I never fought anyone like that before or had someone try to hurt me or WANT to for that matter and I just felt really vulnerable and threatened, especially, since we were alone. I, finally, used my left foot and kicked him as hard as I could in his stomach to free myself and he released his grip on me in shock and pain from the impact. He bent over and fell hard on his knees and squinted his eyes in pain, gasped, and breathed in a large amount of breathe as he fought to breathe, and held his belly tightly with both arms as he immediately hunched over on the floor.

I stood above him shocked at what just happened. This kid was going to hurt me. He was, actually, trying to hurt me and already was! And, now, I really hurt him. I began to hightail it out of there while he was down and I still had the chance before he recovered and did God only knows what to me. He was unpredictable after all. But, I, then, stopped. I turned to look in his direction and stared at his back. And, I oddly felt bad for what I did. I never hit someone and walked over back in front of him and knelt down and cautiously put my hand on his shoulder, concerned that he still hadn’t opened his eyes and was still hunched over in pain.

“Are-are you okay?” I asked him nervously. At that moment, exactly, when my hand touched his shoulder, his eyes burst wide open, looking directly up at me with his head still down giving me the deadliest & scariest look I had ever seen on a person before in my life. It almost looked like the way a demon would look at God directly after they were just sentenced and condemned to hell. He looked like he would almost throw up from how much anger was lodged inside of his throat & chest. His stare literally screamed “I HATEE yoooouuuuuuu.” at me, somehow. He looked like he was going to KILL me. And, I won’t lie. It scared the living hell out of me and I got startled and jumped a bit, instantly, releasing his shoulder from my hand and backed up a bit on instinct. He was like a pit bull that growled at me in teenage form. He looked at me for a moment as I just knelt before him. I froze not knowing what to do.

Then, all of the sudden, he lunged forward at me reaching his hands out and grabbed my face on both sides. “Oh, God. He’s going to bang my head against his dresser!” I thought, as I felt his hands over my hair on my face. I got so scared. This kid was insane. I grabbed his wrists with my hands and prepared to fight but before I could even do anything I felt a wetness on my mouth. His-his mouth was on my lips. He-he was KISSING me. He was holding my cheeks on both sides and was KISSING me. Woah. Woah. WOAH. WOAH. What the hell?!

My eyes were wide looking at him with his eyes closed and I then felt his breath on my nose breathing as he started to move his lips above my own. He sucked in my puckered upper lip in between his own and sucked it inside of his mouth, slowly, and pulled away making a click sound as I felt the suction pull at my lip. I felt really embarrassed hearing that for some reason, realizing my own lip was just in his mouth. This was a BOY’S mouth. He let out a deep moan from the back of his throat and moved his hands down to my shoulders so he could pull me in more softly. He got a bit less aggressive and handled me more sweetly, then. He started to kiss me passionately on the lips as I heard a slight whimper of pleasure escape him that sounded as if you pressed hard on a little boy’s bruise making him moan in pain as I felt him breathing really hard. He, then, pressed his body on me as he carefully pulled me with his hands to squeeze us together.

This all must have felt really good to him because he acted as though he was desperate like he was drinking water quickly after being in a desert with no supplies for 8 days straight. He sounded so vulnerable as if he was completely under control from the pleasure he was feeling. He felt so…. WARM and heated, almost in an irritated way as if he had a fever and was trying to calm it down. And, I wont lie, seeing how fragile he was from how he was feeling and knowing that I was the one causing that pleasure to coil inside of him, causing him to shiver, moan, and shake,… excited me. He started rubbing me all over on my arms and back. Then, he wrapped his arm around my neck and held me really close and put his other hand on my chest rubbing it softly as he kissed me tenderly on the lips. It felt like he was treating me like I was his GIRLFRIEND or something. I, literally, felt like a girl the way he was caressing me & holding me. What is he DOING?! What am IIIII doing? Why is he kissing me? Why am I enjoying this? I thought and I pushed him away with my hands, breathing hard. I just looked at him, wondering what was going on. I was energized & exhausted all at the same time and I wiped my mouth with the back of my wrist in embarrassment.

“What are you DOING?” I asked him in shock more so than anger as we both sat on the floor.

And, I saw in front of me, not a rough kid from the city, anymore, but, a scared little boy breathing really hard with a flushed face looking as though he had been caught in the worst act of his life as if God, himself, had just yelled at him. He moved his body in this awkward way, and squirmed a bit indicating he was extremely embarrassed. He looked so… small. He seemed so brittle & vulnerable as though if a gust of wind were to even so much as blow passed him, his body would suddenly crumble apart into little bits of sand and blow away with its gusts as he would fade away into nothingness.

He said nothing as he looked up at me even though I saw his lips attempt to move to say something. But, I think he was even more frightened than I was a few moments ago when he was attacking me. At that moment, I realized that Salem… he-he liked boys. And… I think he liked ME. And, just then, he realized I knew. His secret was out and I saw him gulp deeply as he understood there was no turning back from what he had just done. I, suddenly, saw why he was such an angry kid. I saw why he was attacking me. He wasn’t attacking me. He was attacking himself.

He was attacking his feelings. He was attacking his heart. He was like a dog chasing his own tail or barking at his own reflection. He lived his life throwing things at his own shadow because he hated it so much. He was scared and shy about his feelings and didn’t know what to do about it. And, since his heart followed him everywhere he went, like an evil spirit that was haunting him, he had no choice but to lash out at everyone and everything around him to protect himself thinking they were all hurting him. But, he was really hurting himself. The world was his enemy because he was his own enemy. He looked up at me with eyes that looked really hurt and ashamed over the fact that I had just caught his hand inside of the cookie jar, stopping him from eating the cookie that he so desperately desired for who knows how long as the cookie he grabbed crumbled apart into pieces in his hand and blew away with the wind into crumbs from his fingers. I saw him look down for a second & furrowed his brow a bit as the racing thoughts, I saw he was having, swirled around in his mind. He was scared and confused and so was I.

We both were.

Apologies, once again, for the repetition in scenes. I have made appropriate edits & extended the original last chapter & decided to break the original from 12,000 words into two whole new pieces. I had originally set it as one full chapter to not take away from the story’s build up to the end scene of this current chapter. But, I was able to find a solid breaking point that I could actually use in order to split it correctly to have it be more easily readable in an organized layout for new readers who are being welcomed into the story without negatively affecting the story’s composition and flow. All chapters will commence normally from this point on & chapters 4 & 5 are already completed and will be posted for publication in about 3 days. Thank you for reading!👑

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