I stood there for a while just thinking. Thinking about everything, while also trying to think about nothing. I stood there just staring at the door that Cole had walked out of. His words were haunting me: "If you really liked me you would've never let that happen". I don't know why this was affecting me so much. I mean Cole and I never really had much of anything, we didn't have a friendship or a romance, we didn't really have any type of relationship. We were just two people wrapped up in a weird situation where one person couldn't remember anything except for his infatuation for this boy and the other person is just trying not to get hurt in the process. Whatever relationship we could've had, would've been fucked up to begin with.
Eventually I had to go to class because this was only the beginning of my horrible day. In every class I was just sitting there reliving that memory over and over in my head, and just trying to figure out why I ever would do that to Cole. I don't know what kind of guy I was back then but I would never do that now. My thoughts went from: 'how could I do that?' to: 'how could I let Kevin do that?' and finally settled on: 'How am I gonna make Kevin pay for what he did?'.
By lunch time I was fuming with thoughts in my head on how I was going to confront Kevin. I knew I'd see him at lunch and that was probably the best time to talk to him. So it was convenient that the peak of my rage was settling right around that time anyway.
As soon as I saw him walk into the cafeteria I went to him before he could get to the table full of jocks, and I pulled him aside. "Hey, Kev I need to talk to you." I looked at him intently, "It's urgent".
He looked suspicious but willing, which was all the confirmation I needed. I walked ahead of him away from the cafeteria and to a more quiet area of the school where not many people go to, which is the hallway that leads to the library.
I tried to act calm enough so that I wouldn't give away my real intentions but it was hard.
"So what'd you want to talk about that was so urgent?" He said looking genuinely concerned. I almost considered not snapping at him because he still seemed like a good guy, but obviously in the past he wasn't so great.
"I remembered something…" I said sheepishly and looked up at his expression which was a look of total shock but excitement at the same time.
"Are you serious? Like this isn't a joke or something, right? Oh my God, buddy, this is great!" He was more than excited, he was ecstatic. It took me back for a second, but I regained my composure.
"Yeah, so do you wanna know what the memory was because you were in it."
He looked baffled at how stoic I was, "Uh, yeah, go ahead. I just think it's pretty cool that you're getting your memory back, soon you'll be your old self again."
"My old self, huh," I scoffed at that and Kevin just looked more confused, "You mean I'll be back to beating up faggots again, right?"
"Oh that doesn't ring a bell to you? Really? I thought I was the one who had lost their memory. Well, let me remind you then. It was about a month before my accident and I was standing outside at the back of the school and Cole Blume was walking towards me and you came up behind him then pushed him into the wall for no reason, called him a 'cock sucking faggot' and then punched him in the stomach." I said with a huff, I could barely get all my words out because I was so filled with rage from just retelling the story.
"So this whole thing was to yell at me about that stupid gay kid. What the fuck man? Have you totally lost it?"
"Maybe I have lost it but at least I can recognize how fucked up that was, while you look like you have no remorse for what you did." I said pointedly.
"Okay, first of all dude, it's you who doesn't remember the whole story. I walked over to you and he was standing there for some reason, but before I could even ask what was going on you were the one who started calling him names. I just joined in and then you were the one who pushed him into the wall. Maybe I did punch him but you were egging me on. You gave no indication that you didn't approve of what we were doing."
Okay even with the newfound information I still wanted to hit him, "I don't give a fuck. That was the old me and I still didn't punch him." I said while getting more in his face, trying to back him into a corner but he stood his ground.
"Oh, that's so fucking convenient, isn't it? 'That was the old me'," he mocked, "That's been your stupid excuse since you had this accident. I'm tired of it. Yeah, you lost your memory. I get it, but you didn't totally lose yourself. You're still the same goddamn asshole you were before, you're just more self-righteous now. And don't give me that bullshit about not condoning violence because even your 'new self' is violent. If anything you're more violent now then you were before. Like the Sam incident, where you pummeled his face in until he was bloody and half unconscious." He saw my guilty expression, "Yeah, don't forget that. So don't try to get on me about being a violent bully when you're the freaking king of violence. Fuck you man!" He said the last part as he got more into my face a shoved me a bit.
"Look Kevin, I know you don't believe it but I am a changed person. I'm not the asshole I used to be. And I know I have been violent after my accident but that was only because I had to be. But I'm not like you anymore. I don't pick on innocent people who don't stand a chance with me in a fight. That's just pathetic."
"You know what. How about you stop beating around the bush and start talking about what this whole confrontation has been about. It's about your weird obsession with that little faggot Cole, isn't it?" I was giving him a death glare and my face was getting red with anger, "Oh yeah, I can tell I hit a nerve there. What bothered you more? The fact that I said the precious F word or because I talked about your precious Cole? Huh? Why are you so fixated on him all of a sudden?" Then his face twisted into something evil looking, "Did he offer to give you a blow job? Is that why you're suddenly so obsessed with him because he's willing to suck you off? Or maybe he offered up his ass to you and let you do whatever you wanted to him. Because he's a little cock sucking slut who just wants some dick—"
Kevin was silenced by my fist hitting his face. I punched him. Right once he said that I couldn't control my anger anymore. I punched him square in the jaw with a right hook. It was like instinct, I didn't even realize I had punched him until he staggered back and leaned against the wall to hold himself up. He was holding his face while looking at me in total shock. I guess I had never hit him before. Well, there's a first for everything.
He recovered quickly though and stepped towards me again, "You motherfucker!" He came towards me and tackled me to the ground. I didn't expect it at all.
I'd never been in a two-sided fight before. The only violence I can remember being a part of was the attack on Sam, but this was different. This was personal, even though I don't remember much I know that Kevin was my best friend since childhood. Even without my memory I could tell that we were once close and even though I've changed I could still feel that connection I had to him. So it was kind of heart breaking that we were fighting like this.
He was on top of me at first when he lunged at me and he punched me a couple times in the face and said, "You're a fucking faggot," Then I kneed him in the crouch and he was immediately down on the floor. I kicked him in the stomach, but he got up quickly before I could get at him and he pushed me against the wall and my head hit the wall hard and I felt disoriented and he took that opportunity to punch me again.
I was just about to retaliate when someone interrupted, "Excuse me young men, what are you doing!" An authoritative female voice yelled.
We both froze and looked over at the person and it was the principal, Mrs. Freidman looking scandalized by our actions. "Both of you, to my office!" She pointed furiously down the hall.
Kevin and I just stood there for a second looking at each other, then she broke us out of our shock by yelling, "Now!"
We both quickly walked down the hall to her office with the sound of her heels clicking closely behind us.
There we were, sitting in the principal's office, me with a black eye forming and Kevin with a bloody nose. I already knew this wasn't going to be good.
Mrs. Freidman came into the room and sat down at her desk facing us and stared intently at us as if she was trying to figure out what to do. "I already notified the front desk to call your parents." She shook her head disapprovingly, "This behavior that you boys have exhibited today was shameful. I am deeply disturbed at what I witnessed."
I looked over at Kevin and he looked just as ashamed as I felt. I looked back at Mrs. Freidman and she was staring right at me, "And you, Mr. Ellis," she looked down at a paper, "Matthew, isn't it? You were just in here two weeks ago, for another act of violence against another student. You were suspended just last week and now you're back at it again. Do you think you're above the rules of the school or are you just completely idiotic," She said sternly. I knew she was a ball buster, but geez. "So what do you have to say for yourself?"
"I didn't mean for the… um, situation to get out of hand like that. I'm sorry," I said while trying to look as sheepish as possible, even though I didn't really feel that bad for hitting Kevin, he kind of deserved it.
"Well, that's a nice sentiment, but this time it's not gonna cut it. Do you think I'm just going to allow you to slide by after you've displayed two acts of violence. When your parents get here we'll talk about a suitable punishment." Then she turned her attention to Kevin, "Now, Mr. Lawrence or Kevin, I see that you haven't had any prior citations before this so your punishment can be a week of detention. I will still talk to your parents but for right now you can step out of my office. I would like to talk to Matthew alone." Kevin didn't move at first, "That'll be all," she said with a raised voice.
He quickly jumped up and left the office. Leaving me alone with the dragon lady herself.
"Now what are we going to do with you?" she said with smirk.
My parents entered the principal's office looking like the epitome of livid, if looks could kill I would've been dead two times over. I had enough shame to keep my head down as they sat down in the chairs next to me. Before I could fully contemplate about how much trouble I would be in at home, Mrs. Freidman cleared her throat, which caused all of us to look at her stern face.
"Mr. and Mrs. Ellis, as you know I called you here because your son had another incident of violence against another student," She said while looking pointedly at me over her glasses.
"Yes, we are aware but can you tell us exactly what happened?" My dad asked with a heavy look of concern.
"Well I came into the altercation a bit late so I think it would be more beneficial if Matthew told us what happened. Go ahead Matthew," she gestured.
I was silent because I didn't know how to explain the story without making me seem like the one at fault. "Um… I was talking with Kevin in the hallway and everything was cool and then we started arguing then one thing lead to another and we started to fight physically a bit," I said it quietly so that maybe they wouldn't fully hear me. But I knew they had heard me once my mom gasped and I saw her put her hand to her mouth looking astonished.
"Don't downplay it Matthew when I saw you two, Kevin had punched you in the stomach and you were in the act of punching him in the face. This wasn't just a little scrap, this was a complete brawl." Mrs. Freidman noted while still giving a stern look that would rival any angry librarian.
"I can't believe this Matt, you and Kevin are childhood friends. How could this happen?" My mom inquired.
I was about to try and explain further but the principal interjected, "The reason why this happened doesn't matter anymore, the point is, it happened and this is not the first time that Matthew has showed an act of violence towards another student. Let me remind you that he was suspended for this same offense not more than a week ago and he's already at it again. This calls for a serious punishment." Mrs. Freidman said quickly as she was a getting a little red in the face from getting worked up.
"Yes, we know that this isn't the first time Matt has done this and his behavior is inexcusable but he does still have his amnesia and that's probably causing him to act in these irrational ways." My dad was defending me, for once.
"I am fully aware of his condition, however, he is being a danger to the rest of my students and I cannot condone this behavior. I have half a mind to just expel him right now, but our school policy is three strikes and then expulsion. And since he is suffering from a rare condition I won't be so rash, however, I can't just let this go easily."
"Look, the last time got into a fight we agreed to send him to a therapist and now we've got him going on a regular schedule. What more can we do?" My mom asked frantically.
"Precisely what more can we do, is what I was thinking as well. So I thought it would be wise that we also make Matthew also see a school counselor twice a week, once one Monday and once on Friday for the rest of the school year,"
"Okay, that sounds sensible," my dad perked up.
"Not so fast, He's not getting away that easy. He is also banned from any school functions, this includes: dances, sporting events, after school activities. He also has detention for a month. Is that clear," she said sharply.
We all quickly replied, "Yes ma'am".
As soon as I stepped inside the house my parents were ready to attack. "Matthew Alexander Ellis! You must have lost your mind for sure. How could you get into another fight after just getting suspended not more than a week ago for the same thing," my mom exclaimed. I've never seen her look so mad, it made me kinda scared.
"I don't know what got into me, mom. I'm sorry, honestly," I said sheepishly.
She got closer to me, looking almost menacing as she literally wagged her finger in my face, "No, Matthew, that's not going to cut it this time young man. Your father and I are outraged," she said while gesturing for my dad to join in but he was respectfully staying quiet in the background, so she just continued, "We know that you have this whole memory loss thing to deal, which isn't easy but violence should never be an option. And now you're on the brink of being expelled. Do you want to explain yourself?" She asked with crossed arms and a frown on her face.
All I could do was stutter and mumble something incomprehensible, "I – I don't really… um, I don't know what I was thinking," I babbled.
"Also Kevin is your best friend, how could this happen? We know that you would have some side effects from the amnesia but I never thought that becoming a violent degenerate would be one of them." She said in a frenzy, but my dad finally interjected.
"Linda," my dad said firmly and my mom looked up startled out of her rant, "I think that the boy has had enough." I felt so relieved until he followed that statement with, "Let me sit down and have a talk with him," he said calmly.
My mom looked from him to me and then back at my dad and gave a nod, I guess his calm voice was reassuring enough so she just said, "Okay," and walked off.
Then my dad turned to me with a worn down look on his face. I could tell that the stress of my mishaps was getting to him and I felt so guilty for that.
"Sit down son," he said quietly but with authority. So I quickly sat down on the couch as he sat in the chair facing me.
"What's going on?" He asked. It was such a simple question that could be interpreted in many ways but at the same time, I knew exactly what he was asking.
"I don't –"
"And don't just say 'I don't know', because you know exactly what's going on,"
"So I'm guessing I can't just blame it all on the amnesia, can I?" I said with a smirk.
"Not unless you're acting violent because you can't remember things, which I highly doubt is the case. So please just talk to me. I know I haven't been able to have a one-on-one talk with you lately, and I regret that, but I'm here for you now buddy, so spill."
Where do I start? "I guess I should just be honest. I don't really know what to say. I know that my behavior seems to be crazy and irrational but believe me I've thought through all my actions very clearly before I did any of it. And that is what's so scary, the fact that I did all those acts without feeling much remorse."
"What's been causing you to do all of this?"
I was debating whether I should tell him everything (meaning the Cole situation and all) or if I should tell him an edited version of the real story. I looked up at him. He looked like a nice, distinguished man who is honest and kind and just wants to do right for his family. I knew that someday he could handle the truth about me, but right now he's already got so much on his plate that I didn't want to add any more stress. So I decided to give him the edited version.
"Dad, I'm having issues with a person at school and it's not necessarily a 'bad' issue but it's like an issue that involves a lot of feelings and miscommunication and… it's just complicated." I said swiftly, hopefully being descriptive enough that he would understand yet vague enough that he wouldn't fully get it.
He looked contemplative for a while and then looked at me with a knowing smile, "So this is all about relationship problems? Man, I guess I forgot what High School was all about," he said with an amused chuckle.
"Dad it's not as trivial as you think it is," I couldn't help but sound a little whiny because he wasn't taking it seriously.
"It must be if you're getting into regular fist fights over this 'relationship'."
"I mean this… person is very special to me for some reason. Since I have the memory loss it's like everything's been erased and it's like I don't know anything, but one of the few things that stayed with me is my…infatuation for this person. I don't know why they're so significant to me, but if I can remember my feelings for them then they must be important, right dad," I said sort of desperately as I looked at him to give me validation.
I must have said something to give him a hint as to what I was saying because his face got heavy with some emotion that I couldn't place, and then he recovered and looked like he had come to terms with something. "So tell me about this… person," he said softly.
I was relieved and I'm always ready to talk about Cole, "They're so nice and sweet and delicate, but with an edge, you know. They're so easy to talk to and I wish I could always be around them. But lately I've been messing things up so badly, it seems almost irreparable at this point. And not only have I been messing up recently but also in the past, like before the accident, I was apparently a complete asshole to this person and I don't know how to fix all the damage that I did in the past and all the stuff I've done recently." I said with a huff as I quickly got my confession out.
"Son, calm down. I think this person will understand that you have had some tough extenuating circumstances that are making your life difficult right now." He tried to reason but I wouldn't listen.
"No, but he – I mean they said that they don't want to deal with the 'emotional rollercoaster' that I'm putting them on and they basically don't want to have anything to do with me anymore. And I just don't know how to deal with all my messed up attempts to get this person to understand that I genuinely like them. I just feel like I failed."
"Hey, don't think that, okay. I can tell you're really trying. Let me tell you something that my father told me when I was going through a situation where I felt like I had failed. He said to me, 'son, when times get hard and you keep getting knocked down just remember that what defines us in life is how well we rise after falling. I've always remembered that and it helped me, hopefully it will help you too," he said with a warm smile.
The wise words from my father helped me more than he will ever know, because for the first time in a while I felt like there was hope.
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