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Time May Change Me

by William King

Chapter 18

Bad Things Happen

I wanted to call Matty, but I was frightened about his phone ringing and his parents being there. S ame if I sent a message. I wasn't sure if he'd got his phone hidden. I supposed he had. I would just have to wait to hear from him.

After breakfast I was talking to Michael in my room, telling him the story. W hat happene d, the people we'd met, the party at Linda's. I left out the details about getting stoned and stuff, but otherwise he pretty much got the whole picture.

"Wow Alex," he said when I got to the end. "I never thought you could do anything like that. You must really love him." He smiled broadly, and I came to sit next to him on the bed, I put my arm around his shoulder.

"I guess I must," I replied. Then I pulled him towards me and started a tickling match. Messing up his hair, I said, "It's good to see you little brother."

He smiled again a huge grin. "I'm glad you're back," he said. Then he had me pinned back on the bed. I let him, I could easily have pushed him off, but I was enjoying being close with him. He could irritate me like crazy sometimes, he knew exactly which buttons to press to wind me up, and like any brothers we argued over trivial things, but I still loved and cared about him, a lot.

The rest of the day was one of those days of not doing much. I was hoping for a call from Matty, but it still didn't come, and I knew I definitely couldn't go round to his place.

After dinner I was sitting with mum and dad at the table, they were going to send Michael to his room, but I told them he already knows mostly everything, so he stayed. My dad told me that I could have got into serious trouble running away with Matty. I m ay have been held responsible, and who knows what m ight have gone wrong. He told me I was lucky and explained that the two of them had talked things over. They wanted to support me. I t was okay if I was gay, but, and this was the killer blow, they couldn't see how I w ould be able to carry on being friends with Matty.

When my dad said 'friends' we both looked at each other and we knew what that word meant without spelling it out. He told me Matty's parents were furious about what I had done. H e explained that, although it wasn't necessarily right, they were blaming me for everything. The worst was they thought I was responsible for their son proclaiming he was gay. Long story short, they weren't letting their son anywhere near a pervert like me, and if I tried to see him they would get the police involved.

My parents were now more sympathetic than before, but my dad said I had to accept that some things in life aren't meant to be. It's a hard lesson, it wasn't all my fault. Matty had tried to be honest with his mum and dad, but they had taken it badly when he announced he was gay.

I kind of nodded my agreement although I had my head in my hands. W hat could I do? I left the table, went upstairs to my room and lay down on the bed staring at the ceiling. At that moment I thought my whole world had come crushing down and there was nothing I could do about it.

The phone vibrated, I picked it up, turned up the volume, it was Matty. "At last," I said relieved to finally be able to speak to him.

"Alex, I can't talk for long. I don't want them finding out I got a phone."

"Yeah, okay, I understand."

"My folks have gone crazy." I listened to him, I knew this wouldn't be good. "I won't be back at school after the hols. They're putting me in a boarding school. Locking me away."

"Oh shit," was all I could say. "Where?"

"Don't know... sorry got to go. Love you."

The phone went dead. I felt a cold shiver run through my body. How could things go so badly wrong? I didn't sleep well that night.

Friday night I called Gareth, just to see if everything was alright with him, that the police hadn't been back, and to find out the news.

The phone only rang twice and he picked up, "Alex, what's up, did you break out?"

"That's oh so not funny," I replied.

"Thought they'd lock the two of you away for sure." I kn e w if I could have see n him he'd be grinning.

"Well Matty is pretty much locked up, but not by the police. His parents had a fit."

"Well old folk can do that, sorry."

"You haven't had anymore visits from the police?"

"No, I think they bought the little story I told them."

"Which was?"

"Nothing much, just said it was some guys spreading rumours about drugs because they didn't like gays."

"That's pretty good."

"I reckon."

"And Aled, did they pay him a call?"

"No, but he's still freaked out they might. He worries too much."

"Well keep in touch, got to go."

"Yeah, take care."

The line went dead, but it had cheered me up hearing his voice. I wished I was a bit older and more independent, and that goes double for Matty. Why can't we just be left alone?

Monday would be school, the start of the summer term. Can't say I was looking forward to it. I thought about calling Jake, but remembered Jonathan had said it would be best to give him some space. Besides he doesn't want to listen to me go on about Matty and our problems.

My dad had another little talk with me. He was acting very nice towards me, making an effort, but he basically repeated that I had to get on with my life. What he meant was I couldn't count on continuing a friendship with Matty, but he never came right out and said it. I g uess he didn't want to hurt my feelings.

It was Saturday afternoon when I finally got a call from Matty, it seemed like weeks had passed, even if it was only a few days.

"Matty, it's so good to hear you."

"Yeah, you too," he replied. "I'm sorry Alex, I just haven't been able to call you. Either my mum or my dad are around or I can't go out. Can't do anything alone. They don't know about the phone and I want to keep it that way."

"Really I'm sorry I created this mess," I told him.

"Alex, it wasn't you. It was me told them I was gay. Never thought they'd go crazy like this."

"What happens now?" I asked him.

"That's kind of why I phoned..." He paused, I knew this would be bad. "They are sending me to a private school, a boarding school. I won't be back until the summer holidays."

"Oh shit, what can I do?"

"Nothing. We just have to accept it. What else can we do?"

I had no answer, not for him, not for us. "I'm sorry Matty."

"I'll try and keep in touch, but if you don't hear from me... well you know it's because I can't use, or don't have the phone. Maybe things will calm down later."

"I'm really gonna miss you."

"Same here."

There was a silence, I knew he was still there, I could hear him breathing, or was he crying?

"I love you Matty. I'll be here when you get back."

I'm sure he was sobbing, it was making me tearful. How terrible it is, parting when you can't even hold the boy you love.

"Bye Alex," he said finally. " L ove you."

And he was gone.

It was Jake who called me next. W e hadn't spoken since before the start of the holidays, an eternity ago.

"Jake, I'm so sorry," was the first thing I said.

"Thanks," he replied. "I guess you know what's be en going on from Jonathan?"

"Yeah, I kinda didn't want to call and bother you, Jonathan said you needed some space."

"He's a good friend."

I thought there for a moment I detected a sort of wistfulness in his voice. Why I thought that, I don't know. Maybe tragedy jolts us into introspection, thinking about the people we are close to, wondering about what might have been.

"He's been really good to me," I told him. "He cares a lot."

"Yeah I know... more than me."

"Oh no Jake, don't say that. We're not all made out of the same mould, but you care, you care the way Jake cares, it's different."

"You're sweet, you know that?"

"Only if you say so."

"It's good to talk to you Alex. I need a bit of happiness and diversion."

"I don't know that I'm the person for that. Has Jonathan told you what's happened?"

We spent the next three quarters of an hour talking together, with me giving Jake the highlights of the last two weeks, finishing with explaining where it left us. It was not a totally one sided conversation though. I listened to him telling me how difficult it was for his dad, how he felt he needed to stay with him to support him. He just wasn't able to leave him on his own.

There was no resolution, neither for Jake nor for me. Even if I always considered Jake b eing older, to be more experienced, wiser, t hat was not true. He wasn't able to do any more than sympathise with me. H e couldn't offer any solution. He did say that he would miss both of us. He didn't know how long he would be away or if he would be back.

When I thought about things it was exactly the same for me. I didn't know how long Matty would be away or if we would get back together. As friends do, we promised to keep in touch, but I wondered if we would. When Jake and I ended our call I thought how that was another person gone from my life, and it was hard.

I once wondered if three people could share a relationship together. Now there's no one. I was once happy and in love. That's all finished. What's left? Nothing!

My mother used to have this favourite expression, "give it time," she would say. Perhaps time will change things or time may change me, who knows?

When you 'come out' it's not always over in one go, sometimes it's more complicated. When you've found the person you love you don't want to be apart, sometimes it's not that easy. Alex and Matty must confront the obstacles thrown in front of them and deal with an episode from the past that they thought was all over with, but which comes back with disasterous consequences.

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