Trials and Tribulations
The silence in the room was kinda terrifying. I didn't expect to be yelled at; I mean I knew that they all loved me, but I wasn't expecting the complete silence that filled the room. I didn't sense anger or disappointment in the air from Dad, Aunt Alice, or Uncle Steve. However, after my announcement, their attention immediately shifted from me and Joey to Roger, and I didn't know why. Joey nervously squeezed my hand. I squeezed back leaned and into him, trying to reassure him that everything would be okay. Of course I had no clue what was really wrong.
"Uh guys?" I raised my voice bringing everyone's attention back to me. "What's up here? Roger didn't do anything."
"Son," Dad shook his head, and smiled, "We're all fine with you and Joey dating. In fact, we all thought it was just a matter of time. I told you last week I would love you no matter what. As for Roger, he was supposed to keep us updated." Dad said looking back at Roger, who was trying to sink into the couch we were sitting on.
"Please don't be mad at Roger." I said, pleading with my eyes as I looked at my father and then at Roger's parents. These people meant so much to me, and I just wanted them to understand why Roger hadn't told them. "We made him promise not to say anything to anyone. He is the best friend anyone could ever have and he kept his promise. So if you want to be mad at someone, then let it be me."
"And at me too," Joey interjected. There was no way he'd let me take the blame for something like this by myself. "Please be mad at me, not Roger. We asked him not to tell, and he did it more for me than anyone."
There was silence as Aunt Alice and Uncle Steve looked at each other and smiled. Dad looked over at them and nodded before he stood up. For a moment everything seemed off, until I seen the smile on my father's face.
"Come here boys," Dad stood up, throwing his arms wide.
Joey and I both stood and went to him. He drew us both into the tight and loving embrace that only a father is capable of giving.
"I'm so proud of both of you." Dad smiled as he kissed us both on the forehead. I could see the tears in his eyes as he looked at us.
Aunt Alice and Uncle Steve came over to us and hugged us too, soon followed by Roger in a six-way family hug. My family.
JT pushed himself back into a sitting position on the floor and raised his right hand to his mouth, wiping the blood from his split lip as he looked up into his father's eyes.
"Boy, I told you never to sass me again. You'll do as you're told or else." Mr. McCray growled at his son, scowling menacingly.
"But Poppa, I'll be kicked off the football team, if I'm not already." JT pleaded, shivering in fear at what else his father might do to him.
"You listen to me boy, either you uphold the family name and take care of that faggot that dishonored you, or you don't come home, and that's final." His father towered over JT, watching to ensure that his son would follow orders.
JT nodded and got up off the floor. He kept his head down as he passed his father. Leaving the living room, he headed for his bedroom. Tomorrow, he would do as his father ordered. He had no choice - at least, he didn't think he did.
"Thank you, Dad, it means a lot to me that you accept Joey and me. I've been scared for a little over a year, when I shouldn't have been. I love you," I whispered in Dad's ear, as I hugged him tighter. I took a step back and looked into my father's eyes. They were overflowing with his love for me and his smile was filled with pride.
I turned to Aunt Alice and Uncle Steve.
"Please don't be mad at Roger." I watched Aunt Alice shake her head a moment. Then she stepped forward, took me into her arms, and hugged me tightly.
"Don't worry sweetie, we aren't mad at him."
I hugged her a little tighter, relief flooding throughout my body. I kissed her cheek and told her, "Thank you."
That only left one member of my family to talk to. I turned my head to look over at Uncle Steve. He smiled and winked at me.
"Come here." Uncle Steve reached out his arms for me. I walked into his fatherly embrace.
"Thank you, Uncle Steve. You have no idea how good this feels." He hugged me tighter, and all I could think was that my family had to be the best in the entire world.
I turned looking for my boyfriend, and found him being hugged by my dad, which brought huge smile to my face.
"Boys, it's a school night, so we better break this up," Aunt Alice said looking between Roger, Joey, and me.
I turned to Dad. "Is it okay if I walk Joey home?"
"Before you guys leave, can I ask what you plan on telling your friends about the two of you?"
I looked at Joey to make sure it was alright if I answered for the both of us. The gentle nod that he gave me told me I could.
"We're not going to tell anyone yet. When we do, it'll only be after we both agree to do so."
All three adults smiled and nodded their approval.
We all left Dad, leaving by the back door and crossing over through the adjoining backyards. The Banks's went on in, leaving Joey and me on the back porch. As we faced each other, holding hands, there was a brilliant full moon lighting Joey's angelic face causing my heart rate to increase and leaving me totally breathless. Joey leaned in, and I met him half way. As our lips touched, I felt our souls connect.
"I better go in," Joey said as he broke the kiss.
"I love you, angel boy." I smiled and nodded.
"I love you too. Good night, Andy."
"Good night, babe."
He smile and went in, leaving me feeling like a million bucks. As I was walking back, the feeling Joey left me with had me smiling from ear to ear and the joy from knowing that Joey loved me back just increased, and I couldn't hold it in any longer. I pumped my fist in the air and yelled at the top of my lungs, "YES!" My entire family now knew the truth and supported us. Who could ask for anything better?
I didn't sleep well that night at all. I had a nightmare and woke up from it drenched in cold sweat and screaming. I don't remember screaming, but Dad heard me, and came running in to check on me. I dreamt I was on High Rock and could see for miles and miles. On the horizon, I could see a gathering of dark clouds. As I turned and looked in any direction, all I could see were dark, ugly, greenish, clouds. Yet if I looked straight up, the sun was bright and warm overhead. As I looked around, the storm clouds seemed to be getting closer, and the wind was picking up. At first, I thought I saw rain falling from the clouds, but as the clouds neared, it looked more like fingers were reaching down from the clouds toward the ground. They danced from hill top to hill top, all the while closing in on me. The wind began to howl and get stronger and stronger. I could see the destruction these fingers were causing as they got closer. It was then that I realized that these fingers were tornadoes. I was surrounded by tornadoes, and they were tightening the circle of destruction around me. I looked down at the foot of the mountain where Pine Hills was and saw tornado after tornado pass through the town I'd lived my whole life. I saw homes being torn apart. When one past over the Cherry Hills Outpatient Clinic, I swear that I could see glowing rocks spiral up into the funnel cloud.
The destruction that I was seeing wasn't the worst of it, for houses and towns could be rebuilt. I was filled with so much fear that it was like a poison, racing through my veins, causing my entire body to shake uncontrollably as I stood there paralyzed. I wasn't afraid that I would be hurt; rather that those I love were BEING hurt. The tornados continued to tighten their circle around me like a noose slowly tightening around my neck. Gone was the sun overhead. The sky was filled with boiling clouds as far as I could see. As the tornadoes began their climb up the mountain towards me, there was a sudden blast of blinding white light from above. I fell to the ground and covered my eyes from the explosion of light.
I opened my eyes, and took my first looked around. The sun was shining again, and the sky was a beautiful blue; not a cloud to be seen. But when I looked down towards Pine Hills, I could see the scars left by the tornadoes. The school was gone, the churches ripped apart, and my own neighborhood was torn asunder. There was nothing but rabble where my house and Roger's should have stood.
Then there was a light again, not a bright as before, yet brighter than the sun light. Standing in the air, out in front of me, a figure seemed to be within the light. I then heard an angelic voice call to me.
"Fear not, for I stand with thee and yours."
That's when I jerked awake. Dad said I was calling out NO over and over again until I seemed to calm down before I woke.
Before Dad left, he made sure that I was okay, and told me that he would talk to me more at breakfast. It was only six a.m., but I knew that it was useless to try to get anymore sleep. I went ahead and started my morning routine. I knew I had to gather my thoughts for Dad, but I also knew I wouldn't have to work to remember that dream. I will never be able to forget it.
I was rattled. I have had more than my fair share of bad dreams before; but most of them had dealt with me losing my mom, and my fear of becoming an orphan, so this feeling wasn't totally unknown to me. Yet, I had never felt as alone as I did in that dream, not to mention completely helpless to protect everyone that I loved. Then at the end, I didn't understand the voice or the bright light.
When I rounded the corner, Dad was sitting at the kitchen table, reading the newspaper.
"How are you feeling, Andy?"
"I don't know. It was a weird dream."
"You have plenty of time, so sit down and tell me about it," Dad said, as he pushed out the chair next to him at the table. I sat down and began to tell him about my nightmare.
After hearing the whole thing, Dad had me repeat the end of the dream to him a second time.
I watched my father's reaction as I did so. He was staring off into space listening to me. When I finished, he looked at me, smiled and nodded.
"I know your dream was disturbing, but if it holds any deeper meaning, then the ending can only be interpreted as a good omen. Focus on that, and I'm sure you'll feel much better about it, okay?" Dad said as he leaned forward and patted me on the shoulder. "Go ahead and have breakfast, then I will take you boys to school."
I nodded, got up, got my breakfast, and ate in silence, all the while thinking over the horrific dream and Dad's interpretation. Thinking about the voice did make me feel better, but I couldn't forget the destruction.
I couldn't help but worry that something bad was coming our way and I didn't know if it could be stopped. A story I had been reading online, Clan Short - Memories, came to mind. The boys in the story had a saying; sometimes we need to go through bad things for good things to happen. Maybe this was one of those situations. I just wish there were some way to keep bad things from happening and still have good things happen.
As I was finishing breakfast Dad had me call over and tell Roger and Joey to get ready, since we'd be leaving in five minutes. I wondered if I should tell them about my dream on the ride to school, but decided against it.
Dad dropped us off in front of school. I swallowed the fear that had not subsided and walked into the building with Joey and Roger.
Roger walked on without us when Joey stopped me at the door after we walked in.
"What's wrong Andy?" he asked, turning me to face him.
"I don't know." I sighed. "I just have a feeling something bad is gonna happen."
Joey looked me in the eye. "As long as we stand together, we have nothing to fear."
"What did you just say?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I said, as long as…" I interrupted him.
"I know what you said." I said a little harsh. "I'm sorry, Joey. I didn't mean to bite your head off, but this is just too weird and it kinda has me freaked out. It reminded me what a voice told me in my dream last night." I grabbed him by the arm, started walking us towards my locker, and I proceeded to tell him about the heavenly voice from my nightmare. When I finished, Joey gave me a weird look.
I didn't get a chance to explain further before I was shoved from behind into the lockers and put a two inch dent in one, with my head. As I shook the pain out of my head, I realized I was sitting on the floor with my back against the lockers, and blood was pouring down my face from a gash in my forehead. I looked up and saw JT had pinned Joey up against a locker, choking my boyfriend with his forearm. If the blood wasn't causing me to see red, the sight before me was now. Flanking JT were Jonas and Kevin, two of his lackeys from the football team.
None of them were paying any attention to me. I quickly jumped up before any of our attackers noticed, and I hit JT with all my might on the side of his head, knocking him to the floor. I was more than happy to return the favor for the blow I had been given. As I turned to face Jonas, from out of nowhere, Roger tackled him and started raining blows down on his face and body. That meant two out of the three bullies were now down which just left Kevin. I turned to take on Kevin; but all I saw was his back as he ran down the hall, as fast as he could. I turned my attention back to JT. He had now tried to beat Joey up twice and he had attacked me. I started for JT, who was still on the floor dazed. The blood from the cut on my head was starting to run into my eyes, stinging and serving to make me even angrier. I was just about to make him pay for attacking us, when I heard a commanding voice that I had no choice but to obey.