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'cause the rails and my bones all crack

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I never meant for everything to go so far. I never meant for it to be like this. I never meant to get myself trapped. I don’t know if there’s a way out. But it’s all my fault…I know it is.

 

My phone buzzed and my breath caught in my throat. It’s like that every time my phone goes off nowadays. I know it’ll be him. It’s always him.

 

And it was. I know I should just block him and pretend it never happened. But I just can't. If I do…I don’t even want to think about what he’ll do.

 

My phone buzzed again, once again stopping my breathing, but it was Connor. I haven’t even told Connor. I haven’t told anyone. But no one would believe me anyway…

 

Connor asked if I wanted to hang out. I said I can’t.

 

The website was supposed to be helpful. It was supposed to help me cope, help me meet other kids like me. And I did, I guess. I mean I did meet some wonderful people, but I also met Him.

 

I don’t dare say his name, it feels like if I did it would be like summoning Satan.

 

No! No, I can’t think like that. I shouldn’t talk bad about Him. It’s not fair, it’s not his fault. I shouldn’t talk bad about Him.

 

If anything...all of this is my fault. There really is no other way to put it, it is my fault. I know if I told anyone they would agree.

 

I knew it wouldn’t be good just by our first interaction. I mean I’m the one that chose to talk to him, so it has to be my fault. I put myself in this position.

 

I was bored and just looking through status updates on the website. And then I came across his. It very strongly implied he was going to cut. And I know how that feels like. I know.

 

I know the urge. I know the need. I know how it feels to feel like there’s no other way. I thought maybe I could help Him.

 

So I private messaged him, saying I'll listen if he wants to talk. And he responded immediately. He said he needed to do it. I told him I understand. But there are other ways. It’s so hypocritical coming from me of all people. I said that I won’t be angry or disappointed if he does it, but I’ll still be here if he wants to talk. I told him what I had wanted to hear.

 

The website is super slow and annoying and I thought that having an easier way to talk would be better. So I gave him my phone number. I never thought it would go this far.

 

He texted me immediately, once again. And we kept talking. I knew I couldn’t really help since he’s who knows where else in the world and I’m just a kid online. So I tried to see if there was any friends or family there to help him. He said he’s alone. That his friends all left him because he’s not good for their mental health.

 

I should have paid attention to that sign. I should have seen it coming.

 

I told him that I’m here. That I don’t plan on leaving. I just wanted to help Him. He asked me if I promised. After a moment, I said yes. Because all I cared about in that moment was making sure He stayed alive. Because if He stayed alive there’s more time for him to find someone in real life to actually help Him. There’s not much I can do through a screen.

 

My phone buzzed again. I desperately wanted to ignore it but I knew if I did it’ll just make everything worse later.

 

I checked, there was one from Connor and countless from Him.

 

I responded to Connors first. He was just asking what I was doing. I couldn’t just say that I’m talking with some guy I met online that I’m terrified of and am too scared to stop talking to. So I said I was doing homework. He asked if he could come over so we can work on it together, or rather hang out instead of homework. He would know somethings up if I keep denying.

 

So I said yes.

 

But I still have to deal with the real issue. I’m careful now, to make sure to not open his texts right away. Because if I open it it’ll say I read it and then I’ll have to respond immediately. Even if I don’t respond for a minute he’ll keep texting and texting and texting. He won’t stop. He never stops.

 

I tried to get him to stop last week. I tried. Because I know what he’s saying isn’t okay. I know it isn’t.

 

He wants me to be his savior. He wants me to be so many things that I’m not. He says he needs me. That I’m the only one that will talk to him. That I’m the only one who can help him. That there’s no one else he can talk to. That there’s no one else he can go to. That without me he wouldn’t be here…

 

I told him that I’m not his savior. That I can’t be. I told him that I can’t be anything more than just a friend. But I don’t want to be his friend.

 

He said that I betrayed him. That I’m leaving him. That I’m breaking my promise. I never wanted to make that promise. I just wanted him to be okay. I didn’t think he’d keep texting me every day. That he wouldn't ever leave me alone.

 

I heard a knock downstairs. Even though I know it isn’t logical part of me was still terrified that it would be Him. But he’s in a different state. He can’t get to me, physically at least.

 

He said I hurt him. I apologized for hurting him. He said he believes in second chances and therefore he’ll give me a second chance. I didn’t think I needed a second chance. He was the one that wouldn't stop, that wouldn’t leave me alone, that wouldn’t listen. I didn’t want this. I don’t want this. But I put this on myself…

 

I thought maybe things would change after that, but it’s been a week and it’s only worse. Now I know that even if I try to stop him he just won’t.

 

I would just leave my phone and actually enjoy my time with Connor, but I can’t just leave it. I can’t do that, if I do he may…do something.

 

The fear of him hurting or killing himself is always looming over my head.

 

I quickly sent a text back to Him, all he has been saying was Hi, and where are you, and I stuffed my phone into my pocket as I went downstairs.

 

He texts me whenever he’s about to cut or if he’s feeling suicidal. He refuses to talk to anyone else. I’ve tried and tried to get him to talk to someone who can actually help him. I’m not certified, I’m not meant for this. I don’t want this weight he’s putting on me.

 

But I’m the one that texted him first. I’m the one that gave him my phone number. I did this to myself. It’s my fault. All of it is my fault.

 

I opened the front door and Connor greeted me with a hug. I know I held on too tight and too long. But I feel safe in his arms. I want to feel safe…

 

He didn’t break the hug, seeming to realize that I needed it, asking “Ev, you okay?”

 

I quickly let go, despite my need for safety, I can’t tell him what’s going on, “Yeah, yeah sorry, I-I just missed you.”

 

My phone buzzed, I didn’t mean to stop breathing.

 

That caused even more worry to fill his features, “what’s going on? Who’s texting you?”

 

My phone buzzed again, I quickly reached into my pocket and just silenced the phone. But that just worried him more and he repeated his question.

 

“It’s no one,” no that’s stupid I need a real answer , “it-it’s just Jared.” I couldn't help myself from pulling at the hem of my shirt. Now he’ll be mad at Jared and that’s my fault too.

 

“Did he do something?” He made an active effort to keep his voice even. I like to think that’s because he may actually care about me. But then again why would he date me if he didn’t care about me?

 

My phone buzzed again…

 

I know I should just mute Him or turn my phone off but if I do that then he’ll get so upset and then he may do something or maybe he needs me now and I’m not there and it’ll be my fault if he does something because I could have stopped it and I should have done something and it’s all my fault…

 

I excused myself to the bathroom before Connor could protest. I just need some time to deal with this.

 

“Evan?” He’s right outside the door. He needs to go away. He can’t know about this. He’ll be so disappointed in me for getting myself in this situation. It’s all my fault and then he’ll see how stupid and pathetic and weak I am and then he’ll break up with me because he deserves better…

 

At the same time, Connor knocked on the door, and my phone buzzed once again. I opened up my phone.

 

He wants to know if I’m busy. I answered honestly, saying I’m with my boyfriend.

 

He just said that ‘that’s fun’. He’s bored and wants to talk. I don’t want to talk to him. I never wanted to talk to him for more than that one night. I should have stopped this earlier…

 

“Evan? I’m getting worried, what’s going on? You can tell me,” he does sound worried…I didn’t mean to worry him.

 

But I can't just tell him.

 

I know I should. I know I need help to get out of this, but he’ll be so upset with me.

 

I actually dared tell Him that I have to go. I deleted his texts just in case. I turned my phone all the way off, giving myself a break from Him.

 

Now to face Connor…

 

I flushed the toilet and washed my hands, to at least seem like maybe I was actually going to the bathroom and not hiding from him in here.

 

When I opened the door I was met with all his concern and worry, “Evan, please tell me what’s going on.”

 

“There’s nothing going on,” I tried to lie but he saw right through it.

 

“Who are you texting?” He’s getting impatient. I’m upsetting him. All I do is upset everyone. This is my fault too…

 

“It’s no one, it doesn’t matter.” It does matter and he knows it. “Can we just move on?” I asked.

 

I know I can’t move on. I can’t ever move on. But maybe Connor can…


“It does matter if it’s bothering you,” he let out a deep breath, “if I let this go for now, we’ll be talking about it later, okay?” I just nodded. Maybe he’ll forget.

Chapter Text

I tried, I really tried to enjoy myself with Connor.  We decided to watch a movie and just relax. But I couldn't relax, I couldn't get my mind to just shut up! All my thoughts were on Him and thinking if he’s okay, if he’s mad at me, if he needs someone. I can’t get Him out of my head and I hate it.

 

Even what’s supposed to be the happy times are ruined. But I shouldn’t blame him for that, I can’t blame him for that.

 

But I know how to pretend. I may not always be good at it, but sometimes I am. With Mom she never sees through my masks, Connor usually can though. But he already knows somethings up and agreed to drop it, and so maybe that’s why he’s not saying anything.

 

Connor seemed a bit off too, I know that’s my fault. But he kept his word and didn’t bring it back up for the time being. I was scared for Connor to leave. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to be alone with Him. That’s when he has the most control.

 

But I stayed silent as Connor got ready to leave. I stayed quiet as he walked out the door. And I stayed quiet as a tear fell because I knew I’d just be sucked back in and no one would be there to help me out.

 

Maybe I should have told Connor.

 

I knew I had to open up my phone, I had to check if he’s okay. As I turned my phone back on all the messages I had missed came in. It was a couple minutes before it stopped buzzing. It was a couple minutes before I could even try to breathe again.

 

I don’t want this responsibility. I can’t handle this weight he’s putting on me. I can’t be responsible to try to keep him alive when I’m struggling to just keep myself alive. I can’t keep him happy when I’m not even happy. I can’t do this.

 

He needed me and I wasn’t there. He said he cut again. Is that my fault? I could have tried to stop him, I could have at least tried.

 

I quickly went onto the website, I don’t really go on it anymore because it says when I’m active and then he’ll know I’m active and not talking to him. But I needed to see his status updates, he usually says when he’s going to do something.

 

And he did. But there was people telling him not to, there was people offering to talk to them, he had people there.

 

I told him that I’m not mad. He responded within seconds.

 

I don’t want this. I don’t want to deal with this, I can’t even handle my own issues how can I take his too?

 

I didn’t tell anyone, but I had been reporting him to the website admins. Because that’s the only way I can get them to help him if he won’t contact them himself. I’ve reported him almost every day because he needs help and I just can’t do that. I can’t save him.

 

He said he’s suicidal. That he’s going to jump. I know I should call him, to make sure he’s alive but the thought of actually talking to him on the phone makes my chest tighten so hard it physically hurts. I’ve never talked to him on the phone before, just text.

 

I know logically what to do, to some extent. Keep talking to him, be kind and encouraging, listen, see if there’s anyone around him, maybe you to see how he’s planning on doing it, try to get help. But I’m not a professionals, I’m not meant for this.

 

He’s said this kind of stuff before, and he hasn’t done anything while I’ve known him, but I’m still scared . The only other idea I have is to call a suicide hotline for help.

 

Talking on the phone is one of the most terrifying things I can do. But there’s no other way to help him, I can’t just let him die.

 

It took multiple minutes of me trying to bring up the courage to dial the number I found online, but I finally did it. It took several rings but a woman finally answered.

 

“Hello, what’s going on?” She asked with complete calm and composure in her voice.

 

“Hi, um so I-well my…friend he-he’s, I’m sorry,” I took a second to try to breathe. I need to do this.

 

She interrupted my thoughts, “it’s okay, take your time.” But I know that we can only talk twenty minutes before she has to hang up and change to a new call.

 

“Um, yeah. Thanks, um my friend texted me and he said that-that he wants to kill himself and I don’t know what to do but I met him online and I don’t even know his last name or where he lives or what he even looks like and I don’t know how to help him and he refuses to talk to anyone else or call a hotline or anything,” I didn’t mean to ramble, it all just came out in one breath.

 

“Okay,” I’m not sure if she’s trying to calm me or giving herself time to process my word vomit, probably both, “so you’re friend is suicidal and you don’t know how to help him?”

 

I nodded, even though she couldn’t see it, as I mumbled a small ‘yeah’.

 

“Given the circumstances you are handling this very well. I’m glad you called in,” she encouraged. But how do I fix it? “First I just need some details. Can you tell me your name and his name, I need his name in case he calls in?”

 

After saying our names she said to give her a moment to discuss with a supervisor. The impatience was still growing in me, she hasn’t given me any answers. Though I’ve made sure to keep texting Him, and he’s been responding, I still don’t know what’s happening with me.

 

“Since you don’t know where he lives and he won’t call in there’s really not much we can do. Do you know why he won’t call in?” Her voice kept that same calm and collected tone.

 

“I’ll ask,” I mumbled distractedly. After a few agonizing minutes he finally responded. “He says he scared that you guys would call the police on him and he’d have to go to the hospital.”

 

The woman let out a breath, “those...those are very real fears.” I made a noise of agreement and waited for her to continue. “I’d say just keep texting him and see if there’s anyone there that can help him. I’m really sorry but our time is up. Please feel free to call back for more help.” And with that, she hung up on me.

 

I-I know I need to keep texting him, but I really don’t want to be talking to him 24/7. I know it’s selfish but I also need to take care of myself. But I can’t. I can’t because I need to keep talking to him and making sure he’s okay and making sure he’s alive because if he dies and I could have at least tried to stop it then it’s my fault. Then his blood is on my hands.

 

I don’t want his blood on my hands…

Chapter Text

Sometimes I just break

 

I knew it was coming the second my chest started to tighten. It tightened so much I couldn’t breathe, which did not bode well for me.

 

It’s my fault.

 

I desperately tried to breathe in but I just couldn't. As a tear fell from my eye I realized that I couldn’t keep myself from spiraling. Thankfully I had closed my door earlier so if Mom comes home early, which rarely happens, I’ll have some time to pull myself together.

 

It’s like my lungs shrunk, no matter what I did I couldn't just breathe .

 

I just…I couldn't help it.

 

I cried. Not even the silent crying I mastered so long ago, but loud, ugly sobs. It’s awful and gross and stupid but I couldn’t stop it. It wouldn’t stop it won’t ever stop.

 

Nothing horrific even happened. As far as I know He is still alive which is good because then his blood isn’t on my hands. But I don’t want this. I don’t want every every second revolved around him. I can’t do this.

 

I clenched my fists to try to ground me, but nothing’s working. When it gets bad nothing really works. I let out sob after awful sob with no end in sight. Tears poured down my face, reminding me just how weak I am.

 

But I can’t stop it, I can’t stop him because then that’s on me. I should be stronger I should be able to handle it. He doesn’t know he’s hurting me he’s not trying to. It’s my fault, I’m the weak one, I’m the one that keeps getting hurt. I should be able to handle it he needs support. I should help him, that’s the right thing to do. I have to do the right thing if I don’t that’s selfish. I’m selfish.

 

But sometimes I want to just be selfish because then maybe I can be okay…

 

I want to be okay. I need to be okay but I’m not. I’m just not. Will I ever be?

 

I don’t think I will…

 

As I let myself fall apart I somehow heard someone downstairs. It’s way too early for Mom to be home so Connor must have come. I knew I had to seem okay. I can’t tell him what’s going on. He doesn’t even know I talk to people online.

 

Its crazy how easy it is to fall apart but how quickly I can force myself back together.

 

It’s crazy how easy it is to put on the mask.

 

I wiped my tears, forced a deep breath, and composed myself. Strange how I can seem so okay on the outside but am breaking apart inside.

 

“Evan?” I heard Connor call out. But why did he come? How did he even get into the house he doesn’t have a key. Unless I left it at his house again, or maybe he picked the lock, or figured out the garage code and it’s my fault. But he wouldn’t do anything. But it’s still my fault, everything is always my fault that’s just my reality.

 

I could hear his footsteps as he walked up the stairs.

 

I just wanted to cry. I know it’s pathetic but I needed to just let everything out, holding it in hurts too too much. But now I have to be okay, I need to keep on the mask or Connor will know and then-and then he’ll be so disappointed and that’ll be my fault too.

 

“Hey Ev,” his voice was softer than usual as he stood briefly in the doorframe of my room before he came in.

 

“Hey, Connor,” I even managed a smile, but I don’t know how real it looked, “What are you doing here?”

 

“Sorry for breaking in, but I was worried. I’ve been thinking about the other day when I was over and you were texting…someone,” he seemed sincere, but that doesn’t mean I can tell him. I can’t tell him it’ll ruin everything.

 

But I can’t keep being trapped.

 

“It’s-I’m fine, I’m good. Thank you for the concern but it’ll be okay. It’s okay,” why can’t I ever talk without rambling?

 

He sighed, sitting down next to me, “I can tell it’s not okay. I’m not going to be mad or upset with you, okay? I just want to help, I can’t stand watching you be hurt and not doing anything about it.”

 

I felt my mask begin to crack.

 

“Ev, I care about you and I want to help.”

 

I desperately tried to hold the pieces together but when he put his arm around me I broke.

 

I always break…

 

I quickly covered my face with my hands as I cried. I felt his arms wrap around me and for a few minutes he just held me and let me cry.

 

That was when my phone buzzed. I let out another sob, knowing knowing it was Him. I just can’t ever get away.

 

Even though Connor tensed up at my phone going off he didn’t let me go. I don’t want him to let me go.

 

“Who is texting you?” He asked firmly.

 

I rubbed my eyes, trying to muster up the courage to tell him. I could lie. It would be so much easier to lie.

 

But then I’ll still be trapped. I don’t want to keep being trapped.

 

Chapter Text

“Ev,” he tried to get my attention as I zoned out again.

 

Idiot! I’m so stupid if I keep zoning out he’ll just be even more worried.

 

“It’s okay, I’m okay,” I blurted out as I kept wiping the tears from my eyes. That was when he pulled back, it only made me want to let out another sob. He moved me so I was sitting directly in front of him, fully facing him.

 

“I know you’re not okay. Lying won’t get either of us anywhere. The only way I can help you is if you tell me what’s going on,” he emphasized each word.

 

My cast my eyes down instinctively, I know he’s already disappointed in me.

 

I didn’t delete the most recent texts, I do have proof of what He’s told me. If I didn’t have proof no one would believe me. Ever.

 

He waited for me to bring up the courage to speak again, but the silence only scared me more. “There’s this guy-” I quickly shut myself up realizing how utterly horrible that sounds, especially to my boyfriend, “no no no, not like that. I didn’t mean it like that, it’s just I met him online and the stuff he’s saying really scares me but he doesn’t know what I look like or my last name or anything,” I tried to cut off my ramble but once I started I couldn’t stop because I’m just making everything worse and I need to try to fix it.

 

“I mean, it started just because I thought I could try to help him. On the website he strongly implied he was gonna cut and I know, I know what that’s like so I thought if I talked to him at least I tried to help, I can’t have guilt if I at least tried, because if I didn’t try to help and I could have then isn’t it my fault?”

 

I had to take a second to breathe as my words were coming out way too fast, in that moment all Connor whispered was “that makes sense.”

 

But I kept going, “and so through the website I pm'd him and he responded and we started talking. And-and he kept saying that he’s gonna cut that he needs to. But the website is like super crappy and annoying with the private messaging so I gave him my phone number so it would be easier to talk. And he texted me and we just kept talking. But then-but then he started saying stuff that was...it was really weird. I don’t mean like he’s weird, it’s just what he was saying I just-I just didn’t know how to deal with. Like, it didn’t feel real it was so strange but like no one will ever believe me. No one would ever believe me for something like that, I’ve even forced myself to stop thinking about it because it just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense and no one will ever believe me and-” that was where he cut me off.

 

“Evan, whatever you say, whatever he said and did, I’ll believe you. Even if it seems weird or illogical I’ll believe you. I’ll always believe you,” he seemed so sincere.

 

But I knew if I didn’t continue talking right there I’d never finish the story, “but it’s my fault. He asked me if I was uncomfortable and I said no. I was scared what would happen if I said yes. I was extremely uncomfortable and scared but I was more scared on what he would do if I tried to get him to stop saying those things. He-he gave me a way out and I didn’t take it. I closed my own door and wondered why I got trapped,” my voice turned to a whisper with the last sentence, my eyes seemed to look through Connor rather than at him.

 

“I got myself into this…he-he might not have known. He didn’t know he was hurting me, he didn’t know. I knew, I saw the signs immediately. He told me that everyone else left, all his friends left because he’s bad for their mental health. I knew that was a bad sign, I knew I should pay attention to that, and I never forgot that but I didn’t do anything about it,” my words came out so quick I don’t even know if he can even tell what I’m saying.

 

My breathing was increasing but I just couldn't stop, “he just kept going and going and he kept texting me. But I told him I’d stay, I told him I’d be his friend, because I was scared what would happen if I didn’t. I thought if I stayed a little longer he’d find someone who would actually help him. But I was wrong, I was wrong. He got sick and he was getting worse mentally and he-and he wouldn’t stop saying those things. The stuff he said…” that’s when I broke into another sob.

 

Connor pulled me into another tight hug. After letting me cry for a few minutes he asked me gently, “what did he say to you?”

 

I couldn’t dare say it, it would be too much. It would be so much more real to say it aloud, instead I just handed him my phone and showed him. He’s more likely to believe me if he sees proof of what He’s telling me. I just watched him read it, read it all. At least all that I haven’t already deleted.

 

His eyes grew wide and his arm wrapped around me tighter, “oh Ev…this-this isn’t okay. This isn’t normal.”

 

I know it isn’t normal but that doesn’t mean I could ever stop him. I didn’t tell him that part.

 

“I-I tried to get him to stop once. But he wouldn’t, he wouldn’t ever stop,” I had to start gasping for breath to keep keep myself from crying again. I cry too much. He’ll get annoyed with me I need to stop crying I need to stop. “He said I hurt him and I betrayed him and that I broke my promise but I ever wanted to make that promise. I never did I never did but I still did and that’s my fault that’s my fault.”

 

“Evan, he is the one that said those things to you, he’s the one that wouldn’t stop.”

 

“I should have stopped him though! I knew what he was doing and I just-I just let him do it!” Connor please please don’t be mad at me I’m not mad at you I’m mad at me.

 

“He needs help, seriously, this isn’t normal. All of this is manipulation, it makes sense why you’re so scared this is scary. But you can’t help him, he’s just hurting you more and more. Ev…you need to block him,” he was so deadly serious it was almost scary.

 

My phone buzzed and I flinched. The fury behind Connor’s eyes at watching me flinch was scary to see.

 

I frantically shook my head ‘no’, “no no no no, I can’t block him. If-if I do he he might do something and then that’s my fault-”

 

“Don’t you see? That’s manipulation. He’s using the fear of him committing suicide or cutting to scare you out of doing anything to stop him. He’s emotionally and verbally abusing you and I’m not going to let this continue. We need to block him.” That makes sense. I want…no I need a way out and Connor is giving it to me. I didn’t take the way out when He gave it to me, I need to take it now.

 

I nodded, and that’s when Connor got to work. He quickly went to settings and blocked his texts, then he blocked his calls. He deleted all the texts I had left and then his contact. That makes sense, it would keep me from contacting him again if guilt ever got the better of me. Which would likely happen.

 

“I have to block him on the website,” I mumbled after realizing that fact, taking my phone back.

 

“Do you want me to do it?” He asked. He really does seem to care.

 

“I know how to do it, but can you just…” I trailed off to embarrassed to actually ask. But I guess he just knows me well enough, he pulled me even closer to himself as he watched me open up the website I met Him on.

 

Immediately I got the notification that He sent me a message on there. But instead of private messaging me, he made it public. All he said was asking if I blocked him. I didn’t respond, I just quickly blocked his messages on the website.

 

Before I closed the website He made a new status update saying how ‘someone who promised they’d stay still left’. The status update continued but I would have to click on it to read the whole thing. I can’t block his status updates from appearing on the main page. He’s venting about me to the whole website.

 

He’s going to turn them all against me.

 

Without another thought I closed the tab. It took all the strength left in me, which isn’t a lot, to not break down again. I’ve already cried too much today.

 

“I’m proud of you,” Connor kissed the side of my head.

 

“What if he…does something?” My voice was barely above a whisper.

 

“No matter what he may or may not do it’s not your fault. He makes his own choices, you can’t save him and you can’t stop him. It’s his own decision,” he sounded so sure of himself. I don’t think I can ever be so sure.



Chapter Text

I finally figured it out. I’m not that mad at Him, not really. I’m just pissed at myself. Because I’m the one that got myself into the situation, and I’m the one that didn’t get myself out of it. I knew what he was doing, I saw the signs, and I didn’t stop him.

 

I can’t believe …no, I actually can believe how far I let it go. I can believe that I let him have so much influence on my choices and on my life. I’m not going to say control because I let it happen, I chose to let him do and say and what he wanted. That wasn’t him controlling me it was my own stupidity.

 

“Evan!” Jared’s impatience was clear. I guess I zoned out again, that’s been happening a lot, “did you hear anything I just said?” He invited me to his house and I’m not even listening to him I’m so stupid.

 

“No-no, sorry. I’m sorry,” I managed to mess this up to. Jared is one of the only people who will actually talk to me and now I screwed this up too.

 

“If you’re going to be all spacey and mopey about whatever’s going on you might as well just tell me,” he decided, looking at me expectantly.

 

“Oh…” I didn’t expect that, but it’s not like he really even cares he’s just sick of me not listening, “it’s nothing.”

 

“If it’s nothin then you would have listened to me,” he took a more serious note that time. Does he actually care to know.

 

After taking a deep breath I decided to just tell him a brief summary, “it’s just, this guy I was talking to for a little while was…he was really manipulative and-and emotionally abusive to me. But like, I saw what he was doing but I didn’t stop him and I was so scared but he wouldn’t stop,” I quickly cut myself off, recognizing that if I kept talking I would get emotional and Jared would never let me live it down if I cried in front of him.

 

“Do you have proof?” Was what he asked after I stopped talking.

 

“No-no I deleted his texts. I don’t have any proof…”

 

“You know that’s your fault, right?”

 

“What?” I gaped at him.

 

“You saw the signs and you just let it happen. You could have stopped him but you didn’t. That's your fault,” he said it so simply, like it’s just basic knowledge. I guess it is.

 

“Yeah-yeah you’re right,” I checked the time, “I gotta go.”

 

“What? You’ve been here less than an hour,” he didn’t get up, he just called after me.

 

I didn’t answer, I just ran out of his house like the weak loser I am. I mean, I know it’s my fault, everything he said was right. It’s just different hearing someone else say it aloud.

 

I’m the one that told Jared anyway, I know better than to trust him. At least I wasn’t idiotic enough to actually say what He would tell me. Jared would never let me live it down if he knew the kind of stuff I let Him say to me.

 

But I guess that’s just a me problem. I know better but I still make the same mistakes.

 

Does Connor think it’s my fault? He said that what he did after I blocked him isn’t my fault, but was the original situation my fault?

 

By now He must have told everyone on the website how I hurt Him, how I left Him. That’s just one of those things He does, He turns people against each other. I’ve seen Him do it before, He had this friend that He said hurt Him and He turned everyone against him.

 

He turned everyone against me…

 

As I walked home I quickly looked up how to delete my account on the website. I just need to email the website admins and then they’ll delete the account. I opened up the website. I didn’t bother checking the notifications, I just found the email and started writing a draft.

 

It said I need to write an explanation on why I want to delete the account.

 

Would it be wrong to warn them about Him? Probably…

 

I just wrote that the website wasn’t benefiting me. It’s a lame excuse but better than nothing I guess…

 

Should I just ask Connor what he thinks?

 

No. No that’s stupid I already messed up by talking to Jared. But Jared what right…

 

If I had just been stronger none of this would have happened. If I had just told Him that I was uncomfortable maybe he wouldn’t have stopped. But I did tell

Him at one point...but he refused to stop. He blamed me. He said it was my fault. That I hurt him, that I betrayed him.

 

But I did hurt Him. I don’t even know if he’s alive now. I have no way to find out. I hurt Him and I did betray Him, so He was right.

 

I have no right to complain about being hurt when I hurt Him too. I’m the villain in His story. I can’t play the victim. I just need to accept that.




Chapter Text

I accept that it happened. I accept that it was my fault. I accept that I let it happen. I accept that he said the things that he said. I accept that I couldn’t get myself out of it. But I can’t move on…

 

I’m trying to. I really am. I thought if I just accepted it all it would be better.

 

But maybe I can’t move on because I still care about him, I’m still thinking about him. Maybe that’s what he wanted.

 

No. No this wasn't some diabolical plot, this wasn’t some elaborate plan. This was a teenager who needed help and didn’t know how to get it. This was a kid who desperately wanted someone to be there that they would say anything to get them to stay.

 

It would be a lot easier if I hated him. But I don’t. I still want him to be okay, I want him to be better. I want him to get the help he needs. The help I could never give him, the support that I just couldn’t give.

 

If I hated him I wouldn’t care so much, but I do. If I hated him maybe it would be easier to move on. Because if I hated him I would blame him because he’s the one that said what he said and did what he did.

 

I would blame him for all the panic attacks I’ve had over this time. I would blame him for causing me to delete my account on the website, something I really did care about because I met some amazing people through it. I would blame him for all the fear I’ve had, for all the pain I’ve suffered.

 

But it’s not right to blame him. Maybe he didn’t see what he was doing, maybe he didn’t know how much he was hurting me. Maybe he did care about me.

 

But if he cared would he have said those things to me? Would he have kept going after I told him to stop? Would he have kept going after he knew I was uncomfortable? Would he have ever stopped?

 

This was a guy who needed help, and I didn’t give it to him. I tried but in the end I only hurt both of us. I tried to help him talk to professionals, I even called a suicide hotline for help. But he didn’t want to talk to anyone but me.

 

I can’t be his savior. I can’t be anyone’s savior. I don’t even know if I can save myself. I couldn’t save myself when all of this happened. Connor had to save me. I mean, he didn’t have to but he did.

 

It’s easy to be angry at Him. It is. I don’t know if that’s right though. Maybe it’s okay to be angry. I want to scream and cry and throw things and yell about how much he hurt me. But I know I hurt him too.

 

I want to shout and holler about how much I hate him.

 

I want to be able to say that he can’t hurt me anymore. But he still is. Or maybe I’m just hurting myself. Maybe I’m just letting myself be hurt again and again because I know I deserve it.

 

Did Connor leave without me?

 

I’m supposed to meet him here. He said he’d meet me right outside after school. I guess I lost track of time thinking, which happens a lot. I wouldn’t blame him if he changed his mind. I wouldn’t want to be with me either.

 

“Evan! Hey!” Connor jogged over to where I sat under a tree next to the sidewalk, “Sorry I got held up my teacher wanted to talk about my lack of effort or whatever.”

 

He’s come to get me.

 

“It’s okay,” I mumbled as I tried to get up, only for him to reach out a hand and pull me up, “why did you say you wanted to meet? I mean I love spending time with you it was just so sudden. Oh that sounded bad, I’m sorry, nevermind I-” he cut off my ramble.

 

“Hey, it’s okay,” he tried to calm me down by putting his hands on my shoulders, “it’s just, I can tell that what happened with that guy is still bothering you. I think it would be good for you to talk about.”

 

“Wait what?” I floundered a bit, trying to come up with the words to say. I mean I guess it would be good to talk about but Connor doesn’t deserve that and I mean shouldn’t I be over it by now? It’s over, I’m safe, shouldn’t I just heal?

 

“It’s okay if you don’t want to talk now, I just think it’s important,” he assured me, already leading me to his car.

 

He has a point, I just wish that he told me earlier because then I would have had time to mentally prepare myself to try to talk about it. Then again if he told me before then I would have just been worrying about it all day and I wouldn’t be able to focus and it would just be a mess.

 

“Okay,” was all I managed to get out while I tried to wrap my head around all this. He really does seem to want me to talk to him and actually open up because I’m still hurting, I’m still hurting , but it’s so hard. Do I deserve to open up about it?

 

I mean I guess? Because I’m still in pain about it and yeah I did hurt him but he hurt me too. It’s not bad to talk about that, I think.

 

Connor hopped in his car and I just followed. I didn’t even put any thought to where he was taking me I just let it happen.

 

That’s one of my problems, isn’t it? I just let things happen I don’t question it, I don’t stop it.

 

But this is different, this is Connor. He’s not going to hurt me.

 

We fell into a silence as he drove. But my thoughts sounded so loud.

 

I didn’t think He would hurt me either…but I saw the signs. I knew what he was doing. Connor has pushed me, yeah, but that was before we really knew each other. With Him…that was different. He never really cared about me. He didn’t.

 

“If you want to talk, I’ll listen,” he pulled me from my mind.

 

“I-I don’t know…” I really don’t know, I’m trying to figure it out but I thought I did already, yet I’m still not over it. Will I ever be over it?

 

“It’s not your fault, you know?” He said suddenly.

 

“What do you mean?” Genuine confusion filled my voice.

 

He answered like it was obvious, maybe it was, “you can’t control what he does and says.” Before I could protest he continued, “he chose to hurt you, he chose to say…those things to you. You couldn’t control that. I don’t blame you for being scared, it was scary. I can’t imagine going through that for so long.”

 

“I asked him to stop but he wouldn’t…he wouldn’t stop,” it came out in a whimper but I didn’t care at the moment.

 

“I’m proud of you for telling me about it, and letting me help you stop it,” he seemed so sincere…

 

“I should have said something earlier,” it wasn't much of an argument.

 

“You were scared,” he shrugged, “you thought you could do it on your own, I don’t blame you for that.”

 

“Jared said it’s my fault…” I mumbled, immediately regretting speaking when a sharp ‘what’ sounded from Connor. “He said that if I saw the signs and didn’t do anything, it’s my fault.”

 

“That little fu-” he cut himself off when I recoiled in on myself, pulling at the hem of my shirt, “Okay first off, as I said it’s not your fault. He’s the one that hurt you and-”

 

I actually cut him off that time, “I hurt him too!” I didn’t mean to be so loud.

 

“So what? By leaving? You left because he was hurting you. Yeah you might have said would stay but that was before he turned into a psychopath.”

 

“He’s not a psychopath,” I didn’t put much effort into defending Him.

 

“Yeah,” he actually almost let out a laugh, “I read the texts. That kid is not okay.” He has a point.

 

“He didn’t know…” why do I even bother trying to defend him?

 

That was when he got angry, “didn’t know? Evan, he knew exactly what he was saying to you! He used the fear of him killing himself to get you to be his friend. No, he didn’t even want you to be a friend…he wanted you to be more than that,” I had to try to suck in breaths to keep the oxygen coming, “Even when you said you wanted him to stop, he wouldn’t. He tried to force an obligation on you to keep him alive, that’s not your job.”

 

“Why wouldn’t he just stop when I asked him to? He knew I was uncomfortable, he knew I didn’t want him to say those things…” I ended in a whisper.

 

“That’s part of the emotional abuse. It was an abusive relationship, it doesn’t always make sense, that’s how it goes,” he reasoned.

 

I nodded, that makes sense.

Chapter Text

“Do you think that if he…did something to himself after I left, because I left, that that’s my fault?”

 

“Absolutely not. He makes his own decisions,” he said it so definitively, so sure. I could never be that sure…but I want to be.

 

“But if I’m the one that caused it-” he cut me off.

 

“Stop Evan, just stop you know I’m able to retort any argument you have for that sick dude,” he made a good point.

 

I did stop. Because I actually know that when someone says stop you need to just stop .

 

Wait no no that was petty.

 

But like, it’s true, he didn’t stop. He never stopped.

 

The roads we were driving began to familiarize, and I felt a small smile make its way onto my face. Upon seeing Connors smirk I know he noticed. Leave it to Connor to know how to make me feel a bit better.

 

“Sorry that was harsh, it’s just, I can’t stand hearing you defend someone like that, defend Him ,” he apologized

 

“I’m sorry-” again he cut me off.

 

“Don’t apologize. Just…” he huffed out a breath, “I know it’s hard but you need to understand that what happened wasn’t okay, at all. And it’s not your fault.”

 

After only a second of thinking I spoke, “I know I couldn’t have controlled what he did and said, but I’m the one that got myself into the situation.”

 

Somehow he still has some patience for me, “you didn’t know how far it would go. Even with the signs no one could have known how far he would take things, okay? You didn’t know, and yeah it’s hard but you need to accept that.”

 

I can’t really move on until I accept it, can I? I accepted that it happened and that it’s my fault, but not that it could possibly not be my fault. Is that how to heal? I want to heal-I need to heal.

 

“I want to accept it. But how do I do that?” I’m not sure if I asked that more to him or to myself.

 

“Well first off you need to stop telling yourself that this was your fault,” though he shrugged when he said it his tone was serious.

 

I nodded. Maybe he really does know what he’s talking about.

 

It was just one more turn and we arrived at his unforetold destination. I couldn't help but smile. It’s been a little while since Connor has brought me to the old apple orchard. He’s snuck me in a few times before, those were some of the best days I’ve ever had; only us surrounded by all the trees.

 

He parked in a totally completely legal parking spot and got out of the car. After he helped me over the fence he hopped it like it was nothing. Him and his long legs, I almost rolled my eyes. But I smiled again.

 

This, this is what I want in my life. I want to be happy. And I want to be happy with someone who actually cares about my wellbeing.

 

I probably need to heal to be really happy. But I’m working on it. I am. I just need to accept that it…may not have been-no it wasn’t, it wasn’t my fault?

 

Yeah okay nope, I can’t even lie well in my own thoughts. Fake it ‘till you make it?

 

No. No, I can’t do that. That’s how I got in this mess. I pretended what He was saying was okay. I pretended I wasn’t uncomfortable and scared. I pretended that I was okay. I pretended that what was happening with Him wasn’t as bad as it was. I faked it, I faked being happy and okay. I didn’t make it. It just screwed me over more. I can’t keep pretending.

 

I just need to enjoy this. Enjoy my time with Connor.

 

We took our time walking up that big hill, the one we always sit on. From there you can see almost the whole orchard. We have no need to rush.

 

Maybe instead of pretending if I just give myself the bitter truth then that will help.

 

The truth is I’m still scared. The truth is I’m still mad at Him. The truth is I’m still mad at myself.

 

I’m scared for him, and for me. I’m scared for what may have happened to him, for what he may have done. I’m scared that since I left him he’ll find someone else to be his…to be what he wanted me to be. I’m scared that what happened with Him will screw up my relationship with Connor. I’m scared that I won’t be able to heal.

 

The sun was warm against my skin, but not so hot that it burned.

 

But Connor was right, I can’t control what he does. Especially now that I’m out of his life. I can’t control if someone else falls victim to…what He does. And if Connor not only believed me about Him, but he actually is staying through all this will me, then he is staying right?

 

I have to at least try to heal. It’s possible, maybe not definite, but maybe it can happen.

 

It’s nice to be in the sun sometimes.

 

I am still mad at him. I thought I wasn’t, I thought that once I accepted what he did that I wouldn’t be mad at him anymore. But the truth is, I’m still angry. Because I can not even begin to comprehend how he thought this was right, any of it. I know I said it was okay in the beginning, and that’s on me. But I did eventually tell him to stop. I did tell him that what he was saying wasn’t okay. That I’m not…that I’ll never be what he wanted me to be. That that’s not who I am. And I’ll never be that, for him or for anyone.

 

We made it to the top of the hill and sat down in the sun’s warmth.

 

I am mad at myself. I’m mad that I let this happen. I’m mad that I encouraged him. I’m mad that I didn’t even plan on telling anyone. I’m mad that I told Jared. I’m mad that I can’t just heal.

 

We relished in the peace around us. The wind softly brushing against the grass, the birds in the tall trees, everything.

 

But I’m happy that I did tell Connor. I’m happy that he stayed. I’m happy that he brought me here. I’m happy that he still wants me.

 

Connor wants me. I thought He wanted me, but He wanted me to be something I’m not, He didn’t want the real me. Connor wants the real me, and that’s all I ever really wanted in a relationship.

 

Right now it’s only us, and it’s enough.

 

I felt his arm wrap around me and I put my head on his shoulder. It’s nice. It’s really nice.

 

I think Connor has been right about everything up to this point. He was right about…well yeah, everything. So then why shouldn’t I trust him? If he really is right then he’s right about the fact that it’s not my fault.

 

I want to believe that. Genuinely. I don’t want this to keep weighing me down. I want to be able to move on. I need to.

 

It worked worked before, me telling myself over and over that it is my fault, so maybe if I do the opposite it’ll work.

 

It’s not my fault?

 

It’s not my fault?...

 

It's not my fault…

 

It’s not my fault.

 

“It’s not my fault,” I heard myself whisper, it didn’t come out as a question.

 

“It’s not your fault,” Connor agreed, he held me a big tighter, I relished in his warmth. I hope it’s true. I hope he’s right. I need to believe it’s true.

 

I’m not healed yet. No, not yet. But I will heal, I think. It’ll take time and effort but I think it’ll happen. And that’s enough.