Cole did stay with me. At first, we just stood there in the middle of my dark kitchen. He had let go of me, but was still standing right in front of me. I guess he didn’t trust me to stay calm.
“I’m not going to hurt myself…” I told him.
The silence continued for a moment. My mind was blank. I probably would’ve just stood there for hours, unable to form a single thought, but then, he lifted his hand and carefully touched the side of my face.
“We should clean these,” he murmured.
I touched the same place. I felt something wet, and when I brought the hand under my gaze, I saw blood. I couldn’t understand what I was seeing.
“Do you have a medical kit or something?” he asked, and I nodded, pointing him to a cabinet on our left. He hesitated before he went to turn the lights on and get the kit, keeping his eyes on me.
He had nothing to worry about. I was still staring at the blood on my fingers. Now I could feel it dripping down my neck. I did that to myself. I did, didn’t I? I… I did.
A short moment later, Cole made me sit down next to the table and started cleaning the wounds.
“They’re not that deep, but…” he said quietly, his expression now sad.
I didn’t even want to think about it.
After Cole was done bandaging my face, he sat down in front of me. We didn’t talk at all for a while. I guess we both were too shaken to talk. I was also too ashamed to talk. I was still fighting with myself, but at least I wasn’t freaking out anymore.
What else to call it? I had freaked out. Over a fucking burger… Cole had to be crazy. Why was he still staying with me? I called him a rapist, yelled at his face and threatened him with a knife. Then he had to save my life. From myself.
“You can go if you want,” I finally breathed out, not looking at him.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said, leaning closer over the table. “You have my word.”
I shook my head. “You should stay away from me. I’m such a fucking mess…”
“Let’s just take it easy now, okay? I’m not going anywhere,” he said gently, studying me with his gaze for a long time, before he continued, “I’m really sorry for everything.”
“You have nothing to apologize for,” I said.
“Yes, I do. I caused this. I pushed you–”
“You didn’t do anything wrong,” I said, interrupting him. “This is all my fault…”
He looked like he wanted to argue, but he didn’t. Instead, he waited for a moment, still staring at me, before he spoke, “Will you let me help you?”
I closed my eyes. Help me…? Death was the only thing that could help me. Or was it…? I didn’t want to die. I shivered when I thought about how determined I’d been with the knife. I’d be dead now if Cole hadn’t acted so fast.
Did I want to die?
No, but this life wasn’t worth living either.
I opened my eyes again, and saw Cole. I saw the sadness in his eyes.
“Talking isn’t manly,” I told him. “Asking for help isn’t manly.”
“What are you on about?” he frowned.
I touched my temple, the scar that had faded, but that day was still clear in my memories. “I was…” I swallowed the rest of the words.
I heard his words, but I also saw the knife in my hand.
“I was abused by my father,” I spat out. “He almost killed me. Beat me to death. A co-worker found me just in time.”
“Oh my God…” Cole breathed out.
I stared at him. He looked horrified. Sick.
“He called me a sissy. Fag. Pig. Whore… The list goes on. For years, I had to watch my every word, do exactly as he said… I failed so many times I got used to the pain.”
“That’s… That’s so fucked up,” Cole said. “I’m so sorry…”
“He said I’m fucked up. A sick freak,” I continued, feeling so numb it scared me.
“You are not fucked up, nor a sick freak,” he said with a harsh voice, and I could tell he, too, knew how it was like to be called that. “You’re an amazing person, Randall.”
“I can still hear him inside my head, trying to humiliate me. I can hear him calling me those names, especially when I’m…” I had to shut my mouth. I wasn’t sure if I should continue talking. I feared I would crash again by speaking so openly about what had happened to me.
Men did not talk about things like that.
“Especially when I’m with you,” I said, almost forcing the last word out.
He leaned away from me. He seemed horrified.
“If I’d known… I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to make you feel–”
“But you did,” I interrupted him again. “You made me feel. And that is all you did.”
“I’m…” he trailed off, now confused.
I wanted to stop talking. I really did. Every single word I let slip past my lips made me feel worse, but the memory of the big knife in my hand forced me to continue.
I had two options: talk or die.
“I stopped feeling a long time ago,” I whispered. “You made me feel again.”
“You fucking sissy! I should’ve killed a fucking sissy like you!”
He was back. I closed my eyes, placed my hands on my clawed temples, trying to protect myself from him, but he was already there, yelling at me, ridiculing me. I wanted to cry. The fear was overwhelming me, and I was losing my breath.
“Hey, hey, hey… It’s all right… Nothing can hurt you…”
I was suddenly surrounded by warmth. Cole was hugging me. I wanted to push him away. I was angry at him for touching me. I wanted to scream and shout and break things and force him out of my life.
I wanted that knife!
No… That was not me speaking.
I lowered my hands so I could hug him back. His hold on me grew tighter. I was too tired to fight. I trusted Cole. I had no other choice but to trust him not to ridicule me. Because there was one thing I really wanted to do. What I, the person I was supposed to be, wanted to do.
So, I cried.
I had never cried like that before. I felt so weak and scared and desperate and… I just let it all out. I was too tired to care if it was manly or not. I didn’t fucking care. I didn’t care because Cole was holding me the entire time. He kept whispering soothing words to me. Hell, he kept encouraging me to let it all out. To cry my eyes out.
He didn’t ridicule me. He let me know it was all right to cry.
And it made me feel better. Once I was finally calming down, I felt much better. Still shaken, scared and overwhelmed, but better.
“You will be all right,” Cole told me, when I leaned away from him. His hands were still resting on my sides, and I was too weak to let go of his shoulders just yet. It took me a moment to trust my body enough so I could move one hand to wipe my face dry.
“I’m such a…” I spoke, but stopped myself before the last word.
A sissy? A wuss?
“I’m such a mess,” I said instead.
“I know someone,” Cole said quietly. “Someone like us, who can help you. He helped me. I can get you an appointment with him very soon.”
I shook my head. “I already have a shrink.”
“Trust me, you want someone like us. I’m sure your shrink is fine, but I’ve known mine for years. I know I can trust him one hundred percent. And he knows how to help people like you and me,” he spoke.
“Fine… Fine…” I mumbled. “I’ll see yours.”
“Good,” he smiled encouragingly, and I stopped to stare at him. As I watched his features, his smile grew a little bit wider, and warmer. “You will be all right, Randall.”
“I hate that name,” I whispered. “It was his decision…”
Dad had wanted to give me a manly name. Randall was what my father wanted me to be. He had made me into this fucking mess. I hated everything about that person. Randall. I couldn’t stand him.
“I’m so tired…” I breathed out.
“I know,” he muttered back. “Come, you should rest. I’ll stay the night with you.”
“You have better things to do…”
“No, I don’t. Come,” he said and stood up.
I followed his example. I was so goddamn tired, and not just physically…
I just wanted it to end. I wanted to…
I didn’t even know what I wanted.
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