I didn't want to be here anymore. I just felt like I should shrivel up and die; cease to exist. What was wrong with me? I hadn't left my room for days. Even my parents were beginning to worry, which meant that this was a pretty serious problem.
When was this torment going to end? I stared at my phone and just laid there, wrapped in my blanket, watching my blank screen that occasionally lit up and vibrated because of a concerned AJ. Every time AJ texted me though, it got my hopes up thinking it might be him. But I knew it was no use. He wasn't going to text me or call me. He didn't want me in his life anymore. I didn't blame him.
I licked my lips, the skin feeling cracked and chapped. My mother would always come in, offer me food but I wouldn't respond. I couldn't. My father would try to talk to me, even sit on the edge of the bed, rubbing my back as if he was a good father. I wouldn't answer.
If I wasn't staring at my phone, I would just keep my eyes adjusted on the wall next to me. I tried to stay awake as best I could for I was too afraid to sleep. When my eyes shut, my mind would be bombarded with thoughts and dreams of him. Not good ones. Nightmares; the type of dreams that would cause me to wake up to the sound of my voice screaming for him… screaming his name even though I was trying to forget it.
How could I have ruined this? Not even 2 weeks ago, my life was perfect, despite my parent's accusations. When I was with him, he made me feel as if I was important and I could be myself. How could I have let someone so perfect for me slip through my hands like so many grains of sand? I was an idiot; it was as simple as that.
"Hey, kiddo," My dad whispered, walking into my room. I kept my eyes on the wall, tightening my hand around my phone.
"Guess what I have?" He sat on my bed as I heard a slight rustle of paper. "The University of Chicago accepted you into their school. Isn't that great? It's the college you've wanted to get into!"
I opened my mouth to speak. My throat was dry, my tongue rough as sandpaper.
"Great," I croaked. "But…"
"I don't see a reason for college anymore."
"What are you talking about? Son, what has been your problem lately? You won't eat, this is the first time I've heard you speak in days. All you do is stare at the wall and sleep. It's worrying the hell out of your mother and me."
"So now you're worried about me."
"Of course we're worried about you. What kind of parent wouldn't--"
"What do you mean?" I demanded loudly. "What kind of parent would threaten to disown their child because they're gay? This is all your guy's fault!"
"I'm in love with someone. I wanted to be with them for as long as possible. I figured I could. But then you said stuff about leaving me on the streets and not paying for my college tuition," I swallowed the lump rising in my throat, closing my eyes and pulling the covers up to my chin. "So I broke up with him. And after seeing how hurt he was and discovering how painful it was to leave him, I realized that he's more important than some stupid college and foggy future. I'm sorry, dad."
"I'll leave if you want me to. But… I have to get him back. He's the most important person in my life and I can't lose him."
I ripped the covers off and pushed myself up from the bed, staggered forward a few steps and then collapsed in the middle of my room, gripping my torso in pain.
Hands gripped me and lifted me up as I cried out, my stomach twisting in agony.
"It hurts," I whimpered, squeezing my eyes shut and clenching my teeth.
"Mari, get an ambulance!" My dad shouted as my mom came running into the room. She nodded and pulled out her cellphone.
Everything was a blur. I didn't know what was going on but when I opened my eyes again, my parents were leaning over me, concern filling their faces. The beeping sound next to me made my head pound and I opened my mouth to complain but nothing came out.
A man walked in with blue scrubs and stared at me with raised eyebrows.
"My name is Doctor Lighton. You know where you are, correct?"
I nodded as he moved forward, flashing a light in my eyes and I turned my head away, glaring at the flashlight.
"You know who these two are?" He asked, pointing to my parents. I nodded and furrowed my eyebrows.
"Why am I in here?" I whispered, confused as ever.
"You collapsed from fatigue and food deprivation. It seems you haven't been eating anything for 2 weeks straight. You fainted due to malnutrition. You'll be okay. But when you go home, make sure you eat little by little so you don't gain a bunch of weight. Little, healthy snacks will work. But this is nothing for you to push aside. Starving yourself and not sleeping is a very unhealthy thing. You need at least 8 hours of sleep every night and 3 meals a day."
"I can't sleep," I croaked, tears filling my eyes.
"And why is that?"
"I just can't. I'm too afraid."
Lighton turned his head to stare at my parents; my mom and dad watching me with distress. Why did they care so much all of a sudden?
"Can you give us a moment?" He asked them and they nodded hesitantly, walking out of the room with many backwards glances. The doctor turned back to me and sat down with his clipboard, taking the chair next to me.
"What are you afraid of, Gage?"
I shook my head, slightly, staring at my pale hands on the hospital gown.
"Losing someone. Every time I close my eyes, it keeps replaying in my head."
"Who did you lose?"
"The person I'm in love with."
"But they're just dreams, right?"
"The thing is… it happened in reality. Whenever I sleep, that one line he said to me repeats non-stop; 'Just get out of my life; I don't want you in it anymore.'"
"You said 'he'?"
"I see. So you still love this man? What made him say that?"
"I left him."
"Because I thought that it was the right thing to do. My parents wouldn't have paid for my college if I hadn't. And now it just sounds stupid. It was a ridiculous reason to leave him and I regret it like crazy."
Doctor Lighton stared at me, his eyes lowering in understanding.
"Gage, why don't you try to get him back?"
I fiddled with my fingers as I glared at him.
"Because he doesn't want me. I ruined everything."
"You're kidding, right? Listen to me, kid," Lighton moved forward and pulled off his glasses, his brown eyes watching mine with intensity. "Sitting here, pouting and starving yourself isn't going to fix anything. You might as well try to talk to him! There's nothing to lose. If you at least apologize and try to explain what was going on, he might come back. And if he doesn't… his loss."
My eyes widened and I bit my lip, looking up at him.
He was right. There was no point in doing this to myself when I had a chance to get back the one person that made my life feel like it was somewhat worth living. I sat up and suddenly threw my arms around Lighton, tears streaming down my cheeks, the IV tugging at my arm.
"Thank you," I sobbed, burrowing my face in his shoulder. "So much."
He chuckled slightly and patted my back, sighing in relief as I leaned back onto the bed.
"I'm just glad I talked some sense into you."
"I know. I've never been like this. God, I'm such a mess."
Doctor Lighton laughed and ruffled my hair.
"All the more reason to get him back," he winked and stood up, strolling out of the room.
I sat there with my legs crossed, just smiling at the floor, a slight blush on my face. This might've been weird to say, but I was glad I came to the hospital. I would've never thought this positively without someone else's support.
"Gage, Doctor Lighton said you can go home now," a nurse said, poking her head in the doorway.
"Your clothes are on the chair. Get changed and meet your parents in the lobby."
After putting on some old, ratty jeans and a white t-shirt, I walked out into the lobby, my feet feeling heavy and unbalanced. I stumbled forward and hands gripped my arms before I could crash to the ground. Lighton shook his head as I stared up at him in surprise.
"Be careful. You haven't walked in a while so you need to get used to it again. Go home and take it easy, alright? And when you're ready, you'll know what to do."
The doc gave me that famous wink doctors have and patted my shoulder. I smirked and crossed my arms.
"I'm ready. I'm done taking it easy."
Lighton smiled widely and nodded before going to talk to a woman in the waiting room as my mom came up to me.
"Are you ready to go home, Gage?"
"Yeah, Mom," I smiled a bit. "But there's something I need to do first."
She tilted her head slightly.
"What on Earth do you need to do right now?"
"To get back what's rightfully mine. And no, you don't have any say in this so don't bother."
I pushed passed my shocked parents and staggered out the door. As I walked down the street, tripping every few seconds, I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and dialed Talen's number.
"I'm sorry", a mechanical voice answered. "This number is no longer in service, please--"
I groaned in irritation and shut my phone, sticking it back in my pocket. Why did he disconnect his cellphone?! Starting to get used to my feet again, I began a light jog. I was glad I was in the city because within minutes, I came up to the small music store Talen worked at. Pushing inside, I walked up to the man who was always at the counter.
"Hello," I gasped, out of breath from my lack of exercise as he lowered his magazine. "Is Talen in today?"
"Sorry, kid, you just missed him."
"Well, do you know where he went?"
"He said something about going to see his brother. By the way, you know what's been up with him lately? He's a lot more grouchy than usual."
"Um, I'm not sure. Thanks."
I ran out of the store and leaned against the wall. Why was it so hard to get ahold of Talen? I pulled my cellphone back out of my pocket and dialed AJ's number.
"Gage?" AJ answered on the first ring. "Gage, are you okay?!"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Can you come pick me up? I'm at the music store. I need your help with something."
"Yeah, of course. I'm on my way!"
I stood there for about ten minutes before AJ's black car roared up next to me. I climbed in and looked at him, his eyes staring at me in concern.
"What?" I asked, shifting uncomfortably in the seat.
"Where the hell have you been? You had me on edge for two weeks! You haven't answered any of my calls or texts and--"
I put a hand to his mouth and my eyebrows creased in irritation.
"Will you shut up and drive me to Cain's place?"