Gets switched to overload
And nobody’s gonna go to school today
She’s gonna make them stay at home
And daddy doesn’t understand it
He always said she was good as gold...
(I Don't Like Mondays, by Bob Geldof)
(Revised and reposted)
Dad came and sat on the bed and put his hand on my cheek. On my face. I remember it was almost cold.
When I woke up, it was too bright and I couldn't feel my leg.
I panicked and thrashed and tore the... the sheets off... and... bandaging and a- a frame, and BLOOD, and....
It was still there and my toes were there and I touched and felt and even my stomach hurting was better... not....
I made gasping, awful sounds when suddenly Mom and Dad... they were holding my hands hard and... they were before too....
I was in the hospital.
I'd torn out the IV and it was bleeding pretty badly, and I was in the hospital again.
And I still had my leg even though I couldn't feel it. Again.
I started to cry. Again.
It was an infection in one of the bones but they thought it was a new one and it got really bad really fast and they had to operate another time and take some of my bone out and put some steel in and cut out some infected muscle and I was still going to recover okay, the doctor said.
Mom and Dad and Valerie were all really positive and I knew that it was... well, good news was what they said. But the only good news was my leg.
Carson wasn't there and didn't come and after an hour I finally asked where she was. Mom got all sad again. They all did.
They wanted her to stay away from me. Her father or her doctor or someone.
I'd been asleep for almost two days. She hadn't visited once, though she'd called every night to Mom and Dad.
That was all she was allowed. I just couldn't take it any more.
I had a nightmare that I had no arms or legs and woke up the whole floor. The nurses hated me.
I didn't sleep anymore because of the nightmares. I just waited to pass out from the drugs because then I didn't dream. I tried not to think or anything because then I thought about Carson.
One morning Mom hugged me and I turned my head away without thinking and she cried and I just closed my eyes and tried to not hear. I wanted her to go away so I wouldn't have to even pretend. I was sorry she was sad but I couldn't... care.
I think my leg was healing, but everyone was on about my weight and food and stuff. I couldn't stand the sight of it, and even when I tried, it was like... it made me sicker. It tasted like dirt anyway.
One day I felt so sick so I threw up lunch, the bites I'd taken. I just left it on the tray in front of me and waited. It wasn't much, anyway. I didn't care.
I did it at supper too. I ate, but I threw it up. It felt better. But I guess I'd tried, before. And before, I could hide it.
That evening a new doctor came in alone and sat and talked to me instead of just standing and talking to Mom and Dad. I figured he was a shrink but I didn't care.
The next time, in the morning, he injected something in the IV tube. After a while I felt nothing and we talked.
I told him about how I knew she was going to kill herself.
The next day she came.
She was the most beautiful, wonderful thing I'd ever seen.
I don't care if people think I'm a sissy, it felt so good to cry. Even after I could barely breathe I felt good.
"I was so scared...."
It didn't matter. I had to touch her face again and again to be sure she was real. She had tears still, too... so I wiped them away.
She looked like she needed sleep and maybe had lost some weight. And she'd cut herself shaving, a pretty bad one, on her neck. She smelled all clean and cool and damp, like she'd just showered, just then.
She was beautiful.
The shrink came in and she sat up and I don't remember what anyone said.
Except he said Carson had to leave for a while. I remember that.
I know this is all over the place, but I was drugged up all the time, then.
They thought I was suicidal, but I just thought I'd die. And Carson.
And my shrink thought I was crazy, besides wanting to kill myself, which I wasn't.
She came every day after that. Carson did. Her mom or dad came with her every time too, but they let us talk alone and it was way better at home and all of them were seeing a counselor, even her sister, but mostly her. Or she'd still be going more often, I mean.
Her shrink was a woman doctor and right at the beginning she made her do about three or four hours of written tests and forms, a whole afternoon.
Carson liked her after a few visits, her shrink. She said she acted different to her and was way nicer after the tests came back from wherever they sent tests like that. And that's when her whole family went.
Things were better. She smiled better. She held my hand when she talked and I watched her.
Sorry I can't remember the words too well. It was like a dream, the people and what happened, and I couldn't remember anyone speaking words.
They made a special cast after they took the frame off. It was pinkish plastic, sort of comic-book flesh color, and full length, from my hip to right under my foot, like a sandal, and went around the back and sides and had velcro straps and a mesh thing that left the incision and stitches open except for bandages that kept getting colored, yellow and brown. I had nightmares about the colors so they brought big scrubs pants and cut off a leg and slid it over it so I wouldn't see it all the time.
Carson wouldn't hardly look at it either. She said it looked okay, but all she could see was the bandage and she left when they cleaned it.
It all worked, everyone said, and my leg was healing at last.
I had to stay home at least a week before I could go back to school, but I felt better than I ever did before, the first time, and by the end of my hospital stay I was up every day on my crutches and my leg had healed really well, the stitches and stuff anyway, and the doctors said there wasn't any sign of the infection at all in the scans and blood stuff.
It still ached all the time and even cramped, but it didn't hurt at all anymore, like before. I hardly even needed drugs.
When I went home, it was all good, even the ride. My leg was propped up on pillows so high my foot was in the window.
I was just thinking that if I was wearing the seat belt it'd be under my arm or across my neck or something and if I should wear a belt around my leg, too, when Dad said something and Mom laughed.
"What?" I was right behind him and couldn't hear over the road noise.
"I said, they should have made your cast a more convenient shape for the rest of us. Maybe bent so you could sit all the time? You can sleep sitting up, can't you?"
He sounded like he wasn't serious, but it would've been easier in the bathroom. And a lot of the bandages would be down out of sight.... But my knee would probably hurt. The physio said I'd have to start working hard on it as soon as the muscles and ligaments and stuff healed more, but she wouldn't bend it more than a few degrees yet.
"I was joking."
"I was ~joking~ about the cast...." Dad sounded funny. Mom looked funny, too, like she was worried about something.
"I know." I looked at my leg again.
"I just wonder if they could make a cast with a hinge in it for the knee? Carson had that knee brace thing last year, remember? I bet that would work great! Or something like that, but a cast like this too?" I thought about it.
Mom turned and looked at me like I was an alien or something.
"Who are you and what have you done with my child?!" Yup. Exactly like an alien. I grinned at her.
"I only thought of it 'cause it was Carson."
She laughed so hard she snorted.
When Dad helped me out of the car Valerie and Brenda laughed at my pants. Carson tried really hard not to, I could tell.
Mom had brought me some jeans to wear home. She called them that, but they weren't. They were really loose and went over the cast and all, but were ~huge~ and had room for about three of me in them, especially in the rear. And they were the right color, but they ~weren't~ jeans.
I'd said I'd just wear scrubs, but the hospital said they weren't allowed to just give them away and Mom and Dad both said it was just for the drive home, if they were so awful. But I think they both thought they were ridiculous, too.
Anyway, by the time I was on my crutches, Brenda could hardly talk she was laughing so hard.
"I... I, I keep... I keep waiting... for the... the OTHER clowns to g-g-GET OUT!!"
That started Mom and Carson off. Dad made grunting noises.
I thought I should say something, but I couldn't think of anything appropriate, so I just tried to be dignified.
It was hard, since I had to hitch up the waist every few steps....
Dad's pajama pants didn't fit much better, but they were pajama pants and supposed to be floppy. They were too long too, but not if I was just sitting. And at least they didn't fall down, with the drawstring.
It was so good being home, and everyone there, and feeling good... not like the last time, like it was all going to stop. I mostly just looked at everyone, like pictures of Carson and Brenda and Val and Mom and Dad, there. Carson laughing at something.
I fell asleep.
I had a dream I was back in school and all back to the way I was before, my leg and everything. I walked in a hallway and there were students and stuff, but I was alone somehow.
Then it was the locker room and then the showers and all the guys and Carson and she looked at me and smiled and the other guys were there, but they were gone, too, and it was just me and her and suddenly she was naked and she smiled at me.
I couldn't see anything but her smile, her eyes, but I knew she was naked.
I jolted awake and I was almost panting I was breathing so fast and my heart was hammering. And I'd... ejaculated.
Like I hadn't in my sleep in years.
While I cleaned up I tried to remember more about the dream.
Carson came over every day, even if just for a minute.
When she could stay longer, besides just talking or doing homework or surfing the web for stuff, sometimes we read teen magazines together, girl magazines.
She never had before, except once or twice, 'cause she was scared of getting caught, and besides she didn't believe she'd ever get a chance to live like she wanted and so it was too depressing.
Valerie had ~hundreds~ of two and three year-old magazines, all saved in piles in the garage, and Carson brought in the ones that looked interesting.
It was fun, looking at the clothes and makeup and advice and stuff and laughing at the models 'cause they were *all* like either twenty-somethings trying to be fifteen or teens trying to look twenty-five.
But she loved it. I did too. She laughed and smiled like....
I loved looking at her.
Brenda came too, to visit and do homework and talk, but less and less, and some days she just seemed to come to say hi, and then left, even if she had time. It was like she wasn't the same, or we weren't, from before.
She'd even visited in the hospital more, and since we couldn't talk with her about the stuff we did other times, Carson and me, it was hard.
One day when I was almost ready to go back to school, I asked Carson if she was going to tell Brenda, or Valerie.
Even with all the girl things we talked about, and how much she thought about important things, we hadn't talked about that any more at all, about her telling more people besides her family.
All the stuff in magazines about friends and how you had to work at friendships, it was all about not keeping secrets.
The real websites were all about telling, or people finding out and stuff, but it had a lot about the bad things that happened, too, about families being angry or leaving, and kids getting kicked out, and even worse stuff.
And the stories that weren't totally nicey-good were totally horrible about it. We had to stop reading those at all.
Real world, I knew it was hard enough with her parents and Jerri knowing, even with it going so good, but I felt kinda like a liar talking with Mom and Dad and sorta pretending nothing had changed, even if they knew more than a little about her, Mom anyway. And she probably told Dad.
But especially with Val and Brenda, I felt like I was being a bad friend. And I knew it wasn't fair to Carson to ask.
"I wish we could be like before, and I know it's better and I really... I know it's hard." I didn't even know exactly what I wanted to say.
Carson was rubbing my foot because I'd had little cramps all the time that day and it helped, even though it ached different ways when the cast was off. She stopped and just held it. I tried to explain myself better.
"I feel like Brenda isn't even... I mean, I think she's almost not my friend anymore." I started to feel bad, like I had the last few days whenever I thought about it. She hadn't been over for ten minutes in four days.
"And Val's mad at me sometimes, I think...."
Carson squeezed my foot hard so it relaxed. Then she picked my leg up so she could get out and put it carefully down on the pillows. She came around and lifted me so she could sit behind and hug me as hard as my foot for a minute.
"I'm just scared." She sounded scared.
"I know it's not really working, I mean for you, and I know telling you was about the best thing I ever did, but...." She stopped before she said she was scared again, but I could tell. Her hand was shaking in mine.
I didn't know if I was being selfish or if she was right. I said that, too.
"But I don't see how telling Brenda and Val can be, can go bad... I mean, they're...." I didn't have the words for that either. "They're my best friends too."
She leaned against me harder but didn't answer. I knew that just because they were my best friends didn't make them hers. I tried to remember if she'd ever said that.
"My shrink says I should be careful, but I don't have to keep it secret...." she took a breath and kept talking, slowly.
"But Dad wants me to not tell anyone. He doesn't say it like that but I can tell he wants... nobody... to know." She stopped for a breath or two.
"He wishes you didn't, even...." She hugged me closer. "If it were up to him I think I'd be in another school by now."
She was quiet for a while and I thought. Everything must be awful over there. She hadn't talked like this before. It was like the worst things I'd ever thought, before.
"What about your mom and sister?"
She moved a little. "Mom's... I... she's pretty unhappy, about, maybe about Dad more than me, but... pretty unhappy. I think she's scared for me, mostly." She stopped a little while.
"Jerri's been nicer to me lately." She sighed. "Maybe just 'cause Mom 'n Dad're treating me the way they do her now, like always checking where I'm going and who I'm with and all...." She breathed out hard, almost a snort.
"Different reasons, same leash."
I guess I made a question sound.
"She always says she's like on a leash 'cause they always want to know where she is and everything, and I guess it felt like it was pretty unfair before." She didn't sound like it was a joke.
"Have you talked with her about it, about you?" I knew they still weren't really close. She hugged me a bit harder and leaned her head on mine, that felt really nice.
"Y'know, now she stops by my door sometimes, like just to say goodnight or hi or stuff.... She never did that before." She was quiet again. "I think she's trying to be better, maybe."
"Maybe you could talk to her?"
Before she went home, she said she was going to talk to her sister, just to see if it felt safe. And she said I could talk to Val about her, but she was too scared to herself. She said it was okay if I did, and hugged me hard to show it was.
I told Val after she finished her homework, or whatever you call college stuff. I got her to come in my room and sit so I could see her.
I said Carson was really a girl and only me and her family and shrink really knew, and it was hard for her. I told her about... that Mom and Dad probably knew, but I didn't know for sure.
At the end, like after ten minutes of a long speech, she grinned at me.
"And I just thought you were gay."
"What?!" I didn't know if I was angry or... anything. Maybe surprised that she looked like... that.
She started ticking off on her fingers.
She thought we were both gay and that Carson was freaked about it and that I was just sick, but that I was just better with it. Being gay.
And Carson was seeing a therapist because of being gay, or her family finding out.
And she'd thought that we were for sure out to each other and stuff before I got hurt.
I couldn't figure out what she was thinking of because... Carson hadn't, hadn't... even ~told~ me then.
I told her that I didn't even ~know~ about her until after I went back to school, that night ~she~ said we should talk alone!
"Alright, she, sheesh... don't have a cow! ~She~ was bringing you presents and visiting all the time and straight guys just don't ~do~ that to other guys."
She looked at my face, I guess.
"OKAY! So ~girls~ do. You don't always have to be such a princess!"
"I'm not! She just... it's just it hurts her if you call her a guy. She gets that all the time all day in school, all her life and all, and it really hurts." I made a face.
"Her dad won't even call her... talk to her, or about it...."
Valerie made a sound. "But s- she must be used to it?"
"She's NOT used to it! How could she be USED to it!?" I was getting really upset.
"It's ~worse~!" It made me almost cry to think about how Carse had to live.
Val made a 'keep it down' face and I hoarse-whispered so I could keep talking.
"She was thinking of ~killing~ herself!! She ~hates~ trying to be a boy all the time... she ~hates~ it so, so... much, sh-sh-she-she wuh wuh..." I couldn't think about that any more. And I couldn't stop.
"I'm sorry. I didn't know."
Valerie made me move over and hugged me.
She didn't understand how Carson could like football and I had to tell her about ten times that she just ~did~ and liking a sport had nothing to do with being a girl and she watched Olympic hockey games, and weren't ~they~ all girls too?
And girls played rugby, too, and it was even rougher than football.
She still said football was a boys' game, just 'cause she didn't like it much.
And she couldn't even see how she could be a girl, being so big, and I had to tell her that being big wasn't anything, and ~I~ could see her perfectly well as a girl, and even lots of ~movie~ stars were tall, like Geena Davis was six feet and wore ~heels~ and was probably taller than Carson! And ~she~ looked great, too!
Valerie smiled at me differently.
"It sounds like you've got a girlfriend."
"She's not my girlfriend!" I turned red.
"Oh, no... I can see that... sure...." she teased at me.
"We're friends! That doesn't make us gir- or, or whatever!"
"So you're ~not~ dating?"
I think my face got me in trouble. I mean, we had... I ~had~ invited her to go to the movies, so we were gonna... date, I guess.
"So you ARE dating! See? See?! What else do you call a girlfriend?!" She grinned like the ultimate tease, even if that didn't make any sense and it wasn't true.
"We haven't yet anyway. It was when I got sick again...."
"But you were gonna, weren't you? Did you ask h-her or did she ask you? Where were you gonna go?"
I had to explain the whole plan, and why we were going to, so she could be a girl more than just inside and all.
Valerie thought it was the sweetest idea ever and said she'd help and everything.
And she still said Carse was my girlfriend, but nice-like.
I felt like I just got Val back. Before she went to bed she hugged me harder than I even could, any more. In bed, I hugged my pillow to sleep. I felt like I was almost healed, just from that.
I dreamed I touched her, Carson... I remembered her face. I touched her, it felt like, but I couldn't see anything but her eyes. But I could feel her, too. I remember that I felt her, touched her, but there was more.
When I woke up, it was a lot later, after the dream, but I'd made a mess again. And I couldn't remember the dream except that part, and that I'd felt her and couldn't remember where, or why I needed to remember.
I went back to sleep hugging my pillow again and wondering why... if hugging Carson could feel like a dream.
End of Part 6
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