by Shubham Netam
He came home running from school. Mother was working in the kitchen when she heard the door open, “Is it you John?” She asked.
John didn’t reply and went straight to upstairs. He opened the door of his room and went inside. He closed the door behind him and leaned his back against it. His backpack fell on the floor and he looked up at the ceiling of his room. He stood there like that for a while until the mirror on the wall grabbed his attention. He went closer and saw his reflection in it. His face had bruises as if someone had beaten him up. He heard his mother’s footsteps. She was coming upstairs. She knocked the door.
“Are you alright Honey?”, mother asked.
“Yes mom”, he replied without opening the door of his room. John didn’t get surprised to find his mother at home. She had taken a break from her work and had come home to make lunch for his son.
“I’m getting late. I got to leave now. Don’t forget to eat your lunch. Bye. Take care Honey. Love you.”
John didn’t want his mother to see him like that. If she saw him with those bruises, she would be very upset and feel sorry for him. His eyes got filled with tears and a drop of tear rolled down his face. He looked into the mirror one more time. He saw his face. His nose was bleeding and his lips were swollen.
It was Steve who had given him those bruises. He was John’s classmate. He was John’s bully. He was bigger than John, taller than John, Stronger than John. Steve would push him around. Sometimes he’d block John’s way in school corridor and slam him against the walls. Sometimes he’d hit him. But, today Steve punched his face so hard that John’s nose and lips started bleeding. John was too weak, unable to protect himself from his bully, STEVE.
While grieving over his misery he took off his clothes and went to the bathroom and hit the shower. He turned on the shower. As the cold water touched his skin it sent sensations to his body and made him shiver. When he was finished he stepped out of the shower. Water was dripping from his skinny body. He took the towel from the bed and started drying himself. He put on some clothes and came downstairs. He saw his mother was gone. He made his way to the kitchen and sat at the corner of the table to eat his lunch. He saw his mother had made pancakes for him and had put them on the table.
He cut the pancakes into small pieces with a fork and a knife and took a bite. They were delicious as always. He thought about his mother. He thought how lucky he was to have her in his life. His mother worked at a diner. She had never worked before when John’s father was alive but his sudden death had changed her life. It was then when she took charge of their lives and decided to work because she had no other option. She worked all day so she could give his son a decent life. After having lunch John went back to his room.
Around eight O’clock in the evening, mother returned home from work. She was exhausted. She had brought some doughnuts with her for John. She put the bag of doughnuts in the kitchen and went upstairs to see him. The door of his room was cracked open. Mother opened the door carefully not to wake him up. It was a full moon. The room was moonlit. She saw John was sleeping. She went inside and stood there near the bedside for a while looking at her son. Despite being the full moon, the light
wasn’t bright enough to make John’s bruises visible in the dark. She leaned down and kissed John’s forehead and left the room.
In the middle of the night, John woke up to a sound. He got shocked to see a dark figure in his room near the window. John hurriedly turned to the bedside but before he could switch on the light, the dark figure was gone. He got off the bed and went to the window and looked out but there was no one. John couldn’t understand anything. He sat on the edge of the bed confused. That night he couldn’t sleep.
Steve stood there near John’s bed and kept staring him. He thought John was looking like an angel while sleeping. He felt sorry for hitting John badly. He didn’t want to hurt John. Steve remembered the time when both used to be friends, when Steve was new in that town and his family had moved to the house few blocks away from John’s. Despite having contrasting personalities they quickly became friends. John was a shy and reserved boy where Steve was quite social and made lots of friends with whom he played football. They would spend hours talking to each other. Soon, John started to have feelings for Steve. Later, John’s affection for Steve turned into much more than that, something that John had never felt before. But when Steve realised the true nature of John’s feelings, he abandoned John and started treating him badly. This was all very hurtful for poor John.
Steve remembered John’s beautiful eyes. He also remembered John looking at him with those innocent eyes filled with loneliness. He wanted to look into John’s eyes one more time. He wanted to get down on his knees and beg John for forgiveness for mistreating him. He wanted to hold John tightly in his arms. He wanted to put his lips on John’s.
Steve snapped out of his dreams realising how long he had been there standing and staring. He went to the window and turned his head and looked back at sleeping John one more time. He climbed up the window carefully trying not to make any sound. Unfortunately, his foot hit the glass of the window making a small noise. John woke up and saw Steve in his room near the window. Steve quickly jumped off the window and ran away. John turned on the light till then Steve was gone. John went to the window and looked out but he didn’t see anyone. He sat on the edge of the bed confused. That night he couldn’t sleep.
It was Saturday. John woke up late in the morning. The sun was shining bright. He heard the siren of an ambulance. The sound was coming from few blocks away. He didn’t pay attention to that. He checked the time. The time was eight O’clock. He thought about the last night. He didn’t remember when he fell asleep last night but he did remember Steve jumping off his room’s window. He didn’t understand why Steve sneaked in in his room. He got off the bed and went to the bathroom. He looked himself in the mirror. His lips were healed and he was looking the way he looked. He splashed water on his face. After that he came downstairs. He saw his mother was sitting on the couch in the living room. He could still hear the siren of the ambulance. Her mother looked upset.
“Mom?”, John said.
Mother looked at John.
“What’s going on? Is everything okay?” He asked.
“Honey” She paused for a moment.
“Your friend Steve…”, Another pause.
As mother said Steve’s name, the last night’s incident popped into his head. He also got a little uncomfortable when his mother called Steve his friend.
“What about him?”
“He is dead. He committed suicide,” said mother.***