ROBERT

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I was looking at all the "red" marks on my English assignment when Robert sat down. The lie I told months ago, about Jason, came back to me.

“No, really!" said Robert. "What did he say? Who was it about?” I had said that I punched Jason in the john when he insulted my friends.

"He said, 'your friends suck,'" I said.

Jason hadn’t say anything. But then Lana! Lana had kept asking me what it was. So, I picked Robert as a target, because he is so laid back about people and drama.

I forgot that Robert holds a grudge when it comes to loyalty.

“I thought he said something about me!" Robert said, frustrated.

“Not specifically about you. I mean it was stupid! Are you gonna let me read your English play?”

“Blue Man, you’re pissing me off! You’re like lying. If it's not a big deal, why can't you just tell me?"

“What’s the point, now? It’s ancient history.” I grabbed his play and got the Hell outta there.

The truth is, that I would like to tell Robert everything. He’s my best friend; probably, my only real friend. I didn’t want anything to change. But things did change and now I was a liar. I had a secret that caused me to hide and pretend. Maybe, it was nobody’s business.

But, what was I going to say to Robert after school? Or tomorrow?

Maybe, suicide was a good idea. Or just death: a knife or a car crash. My daydreams never let me die, though. Usually, a random bad guy stabs me, and I stand right back up in a pool of blood. Or I walk away from an explosion with my backpack around my shoulder, like I just left the house.

Anyway--like I said before--I’m not going anywhere. Don’t always want to be here. Sometimes want to not be here. But, I’m not gonna take myself out. No way, no day.

The thing that did die (for the time being) was my brain. Should have just walked out of school and took a nap. But there were only two periods left. So, Foods, seventh period, 1:55 to 2:35. With Jason! My partner, Coral, was chatting with Jason and his friend, Dresden, as usual. So I did my own thing and talked with Dean-n-Dan about college.

Dean-n-Dan get along really well and they think the same thoughts, so they never argue or make mistakes. They just verify things for each other, like, ”MIT for EAPS," one of them said.

“With a focus on chemistry….”

“…..or physics. Either one.”

“Either one.”

I asked Jason for a wooden spoon, which was missing from my drawer. Which they were using to do drums on the stove. Hold a spoon upside down in each hand, like a chop stick, and tap tap tap out a beat.

“Dude,” said Jason, in that voice that was too deep for his size, “not to be a jerk, but we need it right now.” He rifled through the sink drawer. “Here’s a spoon.”

He gave me a silver teaspoon, with a little flower design on the handle, which must have come from someone’s kitchen. I stirred my simmering milk with this tiny spoon and burnt my finger tips. Then I finished making fudge topping for my parfait.

When am I ever gonna need to make a parfait? What the fuck is a parfait?

How do people live their whole lives, when there's no way to be sure of anything?

English, eighth period, 2:40 to 3:20, Ancient American literature. Really? Trying to understand Emily Dickinson's secret writing takes a right-after-lunch kind of energy. Funerals in her brain, and flies buzzing when she dies. Sounds like she’s pro-suicide. Kind of a hypocritical thing for an ‘It Gets Better,’ ‘#Me Too’ kind of school, don’t you think, class?

Somebody, kill me know. Make it real.

I pressed my burnt thumb and first finger together to the beat of iambic pentameter. Layers of numb skin covering a blazing core. When does pain get so bad, it shuts off?

I took a little stroll through my friendship with Robert, looking for a time when I started lying or when he should have known that I was gay. Or bi, or whatever.

One time in 8th grade, we got home from roller skating, and Robert wanted to go back out to talk with the girls he was flirting with. Elsie, with the neon purple finger nails, always looked away when you talked with her. Lannie, with the long brown hair, finished every sentence with a question mark. Robert said they were fierce on Halo, but I just couldn’t believe that. I mean, But, to stay up late for Elsie and Lannie, and have to be nice, only to kiss once (happy-hands-off) and then get home too late to even stay awake for the PS4? It’s pointless.

Then last year in the 9th grade, this loser girl liked me, so it was easy to just explain myself out of that one. But Robert wanted to ask me, while I was high, what I liked most about girls. Was it their boobs, their butts, their lips, how they are always touching you and flirting but acting like they are not, blah, blah, blah. And I was looking at his lips and his hands, magnified and close up. I wanted to suck on his fingers and his face, but I thought he could see my thoughts and so I just clammed up and got lost in my Uncharted poster. Anyway, that was depressing because I felt like a faggoty creeper for wanting my best friend, while I was high. Like, is this the real me that comes out when I lose control?

Went off pot, again.

Then it happened when I was completely sober and with the people who are supposed to know me. Maria and Lana were telling Troy what my problem was: too shy, too annoyed, too inexperienced, too immature, too much of a guy. I always think Lana knows. But everyone was joking and Robert looked at me seriously a couple times like he was looking into my brain, seeing the gay gene glowing pink, or something. God!

And then....yesterday before school I was talking to Robert. We were leaning on the Cafeteria windows outside on the Lawn, where the band and cheerleaders perform while the school eats lunch inside, facing the other way. Kinda stupid. But anyways, Jason was showing off his gymnastics moves in a T-shirt and jeans.

So, I was still supposed to think he's a jerk. Meaning, whenever Robert looked away, I inhaled two-second gif's of Jason doing back flips and jumping somersaults. Live-streaming, for real.

Then, the two worlds collided. Jason landed, brushed himself off and walked up to us. He broke into into real life, exactly where I wanted him, but not just out of the Matrix like that! My high-pitched girly laugh had to tell Robert something.

"What did he know and when did he know it," the talking heads ask during corruption probes. I only knew what he’d do: call me out, call me a fake, tell me it’s obvious I’m gay, and that I should have told him instead of pretending to be something I am not.

What waste of time it has been hanging out with a fag who doesn’t even like girls or know who he is, and can’t be real. No friend of mind...anymore.

Well, Emily Dickinson can suck my dick! I got caught up in Robert telling me off, walking down the hall, out of the school, across the field, down the street and out of town. Just slowly walking farther and farther away into white space, off the grid in my head anyways.

Then, the classroom was spinning, as I looked at the book on my desk. Emily Dickinson, in the black and white picture, was staring at me. She just wouldn’t fuck off. She was hypnotizing me, telling me that the funeral was in my brain. I felt like I was in a tunnel, looking down a long pipe, at the picture of Emily, framed by the text book. I would have to crawl downward through gray static to get to the top of my desk. But, I couldn’t actually move. I was frozen and my heart was racing.

It looked like there was a way out, but there really wasn’t. There was only an old friendship that was ruined by a lie. A lie, like a rock to carry with me, growing in weight, exponentially; a black hole to swallow everything I have ever done to try to be me; a point-mass so small and heavy, it’s defining feature is that it does not exist, while everyone knows it is there. I was a nothing you can actually see.

Can’t blame Robert or anyone for not wanting to get spaghettified.

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