When Alex woke up on the morning of his sixteenth birthday he should have been carefree and happy but there was something dragging him down, he automatically reached for his special kit which he made sure had been hidden from his parents. Inside the kit was a blade, some disinfectant and some bandages. Alex was a self harmer and he found that cutting himself could help alleviate his moods when he was really down. On this particular day, Alex made a mistake with the blade and cut deeper than he had ever done before or intended to do. For a few seconds he just sat there watching the blood flow out of his arm, he was so absorbed in this that he didn't hear his brother enter the room. It took a few seconds before his brother's scream entered into Alex's consciousness. His parents came running into the room to see why Jerry was screaming. It took Alice a second to take in what was wrong before she asked her husband Tom to phone for an ambulance and then she grabbed one of Alex's t-shirts off the floor and used it to try to staunch the bleeding. It was while she was doing this that she noticed that Alex had a blade in his hand.
The paramedics arrived quickly, which surprised Alex's parents and proceeded to take over from Alice. They stabilized Alex then asked if anyone would like to accompany them in the ambulance with Alex. Alice stated that as neither she nor her husband was properly dressed they would like to get dressed and follow in the car shortly.
When they arrived at the hospital with Jerry in tow, they went straight to reception at accident and emergency where they were asked to wait a few minutes whilst the receptionist notified the doctor in charge of their son's case that they were here.
"Mr & Mrs Wilshere? My name is Dr Goodwin and I have been supervising the treatment of your son Alex. I'll have a nurse look after your other son while we talk in private?" He led the parents into a side room and closed the door.
"Before we get started, Alex is okay. We were able to stop the bleeding and stitch the wound up. He is recovering now in a side room, but due to the nature of the injury I am required to refer him to a psychologist."
"Why does my son need to see some shrink? It was just an accident." Tom said
"I have to ask you some really difficult questions now which is why I didn't want Alex's brother in the room. Prior to today did either of you know that Alex had been self-harming?"
"What do you mean he's been self-harming? You mean that what he did today was no accident?"
"Yes and no. Alex did have an accident this morning, he cut deeper than he expected to. So I can assume neither of you were aware of this?"
"Now hang on a minute here pal, you seem to be implying that Alice and I are some sort of bad parents."
"No certainly not, I have seen quite a lot of self-harmers in the past and it is rare for anyone to know they were doing it until something goes wrong. What I meant to ask I suppose was if either of you were aware of Alex having an accident like this before?"
"No, I haven't seen him with so much as a scratch, and I am sure Tom would have told me if he had. But since Alex is always wearing those long sleeve tops nowadays I can't honestly say when I last saw his arms bare until today."
"Well from the look of some of the scars on his arms I would say he has been doing this for at least a year or so, which is why I want Alex to see a psychologist. They have more experience with this type of thing and it is usually best to head it off before it gets too serious."
"When will we be able to take him home?"
"Alex could go home right now so long as he takes it easy and rests up so his body has a chance to recover from the blood loss. Oh and I would also suggest you find his cutting kit and remove other sharp objects from his room for the time being. And I don't want to sound like I am telling you how to parent him but Alex is pretty vulnerable at the moment, the accident this morning has shaken him up a little, so I would suggest that you leave off talking about this morning too much." With that the doctor went to the door and ushered Tom and Alice out into the corridor where Jerry had been sitting with the nurse. "Right then I will go and get the papers for you to sign and then Alex is free to leave with you."
Back at their home Jerry and his dad were searching Alex's room while Alex was sitting with his mother who had just made a cup of tea for everyone. The British cure all. After a few minutes Tom came downstairs with a few objects in a bag. The minute he was in the room he threw the bag at Alex. As the bag landed a few of the things fell out including a skimpy pair of briefs and a magazine which showed a man on the front in a suggestive pose.
"Tell me why you would have that shit in your room; if you tell me truthfully I may let you remain here, otherwise you can get the hell out of my house."
Alex just broke down; his father had found the one thing he had been trying to deny to himself, the very secret that was the cause of his pain and suffering. Alex had realized that he was gay when he was just 13, but, being brought up in a house that openly showed their hatred of anything not deemed normal, he thought that there was something wrong with him. He had tried to change, he had tried not liking the boys in school or the men in the magazine but the only time he felt better was when he was cutting himself and now his father knew.
Tom was not a patient man and the fact that he had always suspected there was something abnormal about his eldest son, made him even angrier. When Alex wouldn't answer him he realized he had been right all along.
"Get the hell out, I will not have something disgusting in my house, and don't contact any of us ever again as far as I am concerned I only have one son now."
Alex slowly went towards the front door hoping his mother would at least stand up for him, but when he looked in her direction all he could see was hatred. He didn't know what hurt him more, the pain in his arm from the cut or the look his mother was giving him. He walked out the front door, picking up his jacket on the way out and started down the street.
Alex had no idea where he was walking, after walking around for 20 minutes he came across a bench, he just collapsed onto it. He was exhausted. After a few seconds of sitting there the exhaustion took over and he closed his eyes. Had Alex realized he was on a bench usually used by the homeless he would not have bothered to sit down never mind close his eyes; but because of the emotional and physical turmoil he had gone through he wasn't aware of anything going on around him.
When Alex opened his eyes again the enormity of what had happened hit him again and brought on another round of tears. It was at this point that a woman pulled over in her car. She could see some of the bandage on his arm and the distress in his eyes, so she turned off the engine, got out and went over to Alex where she could sit down next to him.
"Excuse me, you can tell me to mind my own business if you like but you look like you need some help, is there anything I can do?"
"I don't want to bother anyone with my troubles, besides I don't think you would want to help me when you know my story." Alex was certain that everyone thought just like his parents.
"Why don't you let me be the judge of that and let's start by telling me your name?"
"Hello Alex, nice to meet you, my name is Sarah Western." Sarah offered Alex a hand to shake. "Now, why don't you tell me a little about why I find you here when you look like you should be tucked up in bed recovering from your injury?"
"My father has thrown me out of the house because I am an abnormal and perverted freak."
"What makes you say you are abnormal, you certainly look normal to me." Alex didn't know why, but he felt that this woman was being genuine and was giving him a vibe that made him feel he could trust her.
"You really want to know? I am gay; there now you know, you can run away from the freak like everyone else will when they know." Alex was waiting for this woman to run but when she didn't he carried on, "I have tried for years to stop myself from being attracted to boys and be normal like I know that's what my dad wanted but I can't help it, I couldn't ask him how to stop it because he would have gone ballistic on me sooner and I didn't know who else to talk to about it." It was as if Alex was trying to prove that he had tried his best to change.
"So you think that because you are attracted to men rather than women there is something wrong with you? Honey that is probably one of only a few things you can't change about yourself. I mean you can get dye to change your hair colour or you can get lenses to change your eye colour but to change who you are attracted to is just not possible. It is all down to chemistry, you either like it or you don't and if you don't like it there is no way of making it so you do."
"But if that is true then what am I going to do? It means I will never be able to go back to my parents not that I think they would believe me now if I told them I was cured. This day is just getting worse. First I end up in the hospital, then my father throws me out and now you tell me I'm stuck being gay." Alex broke down in tears. After Sarah offered him a hankie for his eyes she put her arm around his shoulder to comfort him. It was what Alex needed, the feeling that someone cared, even if it was some stranger he had only just met.
"Well Alex, in my opinion being gay isn't as bad as you seem to think. But first things first, you need somewhere to stay and I can help with that. So, why don't we get in the car and go to my place where we can sit and talk some more, where it is a little warmer than out here. I don't know about you but I am freezing my butt off on this bench."
"Before we go anywhere, why are you helping me?" Alex might have been in pain and at his lowest but he wasn't so far gone that he wasn't at least suspicious of this lady's intentions.
"I suppose that is a fair question. When I saw you from the car you looked so lost and in pain that I felt it was my duty to see if I could help. I should also point out that I work with an organization known as the Samaritans. Have you heard of them?"
"Yeah I know who they are." After a little consideration Alex said "Okay, I'll come with you. It is getting cold out here." With that they both got into Sarah's car and drove to her house.
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