I turn and at once, my breathing falters and I’m looking at him, staring at his blue eyes wide and bare of any makeup. There’s a million unspoken words in his gaze, all of which I am incapable of revealing. I try to shift through them, the words he cant say, searching his gaze for something definite…but all that’s definable is his sadness. I move closer to the bars letting my fingers move around them. I expect him to move closer, I want to feel his fingers on my own, and his breath against my face…my lips. He doesn’t move though instead he sighs and it’s a long heavy sound, like someone’s final gasp for air, for oxygen. “…you weren’t supposed to come here…” He lowers his gaze as he talks until he’s focusing all his attention on his fingers rather than on me. His voice is low and I imagine I would need a microphone to amplify it to the volume of a normal speaking voice. He says nothing more after that, he stares at his chipped nail polish ignoring me. It’s nothing like I expected, this moment I mean. I guess I thought he’d be happy to see me. I expected something corny like you see in the movies, perhaps him running up to the bars confessing his love to me through the medal barrier between us.
“Matt says they’re still looking for evidence…you might not go to prison.” I stumble over my words, my voice sounding too eager to provide him with some tiny shard of good news.
Another sigh and he’s getting up. He’s not moving towards the bars or towards me though. He moves into a corner where it’s darker and the poor lighting dims the blue in his eyes. He leans against the wall his arms resting across his chest. For the moment he doesn’t even look like himself. He looks hallow, all skin and bones and black hair. He seems to fit with his surroundings… “He lied. They’re keeping me here until they decide which prison I’m going to go to.” He sinks to the floor after the words leave his mouth. “You should go.” He states while yanking his knees against his chest, his gaze is set on me again and I notice that his eyes almost look black. Black and cold, black and emotionless.
I bite my lip and fight back tears that attempt to erupt from my eyes. I could cry lakes right now, possibly even an ocean. I don’t cry at all though. I grip the bars tighter as if they provide me with some link to Billy…the Billy I Knew. I stare at him looking within myself for the right words to say to break him of this spell. I can think of nothing though, my mind shifts through words attempting to piece them together to create some amazing sentence. My mind fails though and I am left with no other ability but to stare into the darkness of his cell and the darkness of his eyes.
“Please Joel…go.” His voice is softer this time. It’s not a demand, it’s a request. He needs me to go because whatever pain he was feeling before is somehow amplified with my presence near him. I can’t go though. Reality is a harsh foe, one that cannot be defeated. I suppose I think by standing here I might somehow stall the inevitable…stall my leaving him.
“It’s not worth it…” The words slide from my mouth, the beginning of tears forming in my eyes. I can barely see him now but only because of the wet glaze forming over my eyes.
“Please…” he begs again, his voice a whisper breaking through the darkness surrounding him.
I feel my grip on the bars strengthening even more and I wish it was all so easy as holding onto the bars. I wish all I had to do was never let go of them and then I would never have to let go of him. “Not worth it to leave. I think everything becomes harder when I’m not with you. Breathing hurts my lungs and talking becomes a task. Laughter, I think I’m now immune to it.” Tears slide down my cheeks touching the cold medal of the bars as they land. I see nothing now, nothing but blurry splotches. “Living…living is pointless.” I shut my eyes, hoping the simple action might stop the tears, like a faucet turned off by the simple turning of a knob. They don’t stop though. Everything in me hurts, and the sobbing is nearly uncontrollable. I cling to the bars, my body shaking, my eyes tightly closed. I don’t care if he’s watching me break…I don’t care who sees anymore. I’m hoping the pain will become so intense I might just die. Maybe I’ll cry all the water out of my body so that I shrivel up, a dehydrated corpse, a boy killed by his own tears.
“It isn’t pointless.” His hands are the first thing I feel, they fall upon my own and disengage my hands from the bars so that instead of cold medal I’m touching him. I open my eyes slowly, until I’m face to face with him, the bars between us the only thing keeping up apart. “Joel, this is though …this thing of loving me, it’s pointless.” His eye lids never flicker, nor does his mouth twitch as he says the words and I realize he is totally convinced they’re true. I’m not convinced though, there’s millions of reasons why I can’t believe them and wont accept them.
“No…no. This is the only thing that isn’t pointless…” Desperately the words tumble from my mouth. I try to pull him closer but his thin chest connects with the bars and I’m in all out tears again. I’m crying because of his words, and the doubt that’s now forming in his eyes. The doubt that tells me I’m wrong.
“Joel don’t you see, you’re clinging to a fading dream.” His hands slide from my own and at once I’m freezing. Freezing because no longer are we connected, it’s as though he’s pushed a barrier of ice between us, one stronger than the medal bars or the walls of the cell. “…just let go, please let go.” He steps back and I feel more ice forming between us. I do the only thing I can think to do, the only thing that makes any bit of sense at this moment. I reach into the cell and I grab his arm, holding him as tightly as I held the bars. I look at him and he looks away, his gaze moving to the floor as if simply looking at me might destroy him in some way.
“Billy…” I choke on a sob and hold his arm tighter, scared to let go. “look at me…please just look at me.” With my other hand I swat at tears, hitting them and pushing them away as if they’re intruders or enemies attacking my face.
He moves his eyes slowly to meet mine. The sadness in them is almost unbearable. “Why…” He begins, his own voice cracking as he speaks. “Why wont you let me go?” He asks while he searches my gaze for my answer.
“Because I love you.” I don’t falter on my words, I don’t stutter, or stumble over them. They fall from my lips clearly unaffected by sobs and tears.
He nods, his own eyes flooding with tears. I weaken my hold on his arm and pull my own arm back through the bars. He steps closer again and moves his hand to my face, touching my cheek gently. “…then do this because you love me.” He steps away then and moves into the darkness again, fading out of my view and possibly out of my life forever.
I stand there. I stare but cant move. Eventually one of the police officers come in and inform me my time is up and somehow I end up back at the car. I suppose it’s like being drunk, time is moving, and I’m functioning but not really functioning at all.
I’m in the car now, Matt’s staring at me. I don’t know how I got to the car. I can’t remember what the officer said to me, how his voice sounded…how he looked. I can’t even remember walking. Pain, it’s all I can remember and feel. Pain, and Matt’s eyes on me, I feel those too. I’m crying, my face is buried in my palms…wet palms now. Matt wants to know what happened, I can make out that much through the sound of my own sobs. I wont answer him though, I think I’ve suddenly lost that ability to…the ability to speak.
He gives up after a while I guess, because before I know it he’s telling me to get out of the car. I don’t listen though…I hear a door slam and I realize he’s leaving me. Leaving me in the dark, in the cold…leaving me with my tears and the only thing I have left…my pain. Minutes later my door is pulled open and Benji’s talking, telling me I have to get up, telling me I’ll freeze to death in the car. I don’t open my eyes, I continue to cry. I let him and Matt drag me into the house where Tony is waiting with coffee for me. I only open my eyes when Tony hands me the coffee. The warmth of the cup is somewhat comforting.
“Drink this…” Tony says as he releases the cup to me, his gaze set on me in concern. His aren’t the only eyes on me. Benji is staring at me too as is Matt. I take a sip of the coffee and try to make myself comfortable on the couch they’ve sat me on. I can’t get comfortable of course, not with tears still falling from my eyes and pain so heavy on my heart.
Benji moves closer and slides onto the couch beside me. He doesn’t speak, he doesn’t even look at me, he moves his gaze to Tony and pats the empty spot to his right. Tony shakes his head though and grabs hold of Matt’s arm. “We’re going to go clean up the kitchen…” It’s a lame excuse, all he really wants is to get out of the room, get away from me and my breakdown.
“No…” Benji gets up and looks at me and then at Tony. “I’ll help you clean…Matt can stay with him.” He moves his gaze to me again and shakes his head as though he’s disappointed in me. He and Tony then walk away and I realize somehow I’ve managed to upset him, my own brother, the only other person I love almost as much as Billy. I start crying again, my salty tears crash into the coffee, making ripples in the brown liquid.
“You’re getting teardrops in your coffee.” Matt says softly as he slides into the seat Benji was in minutes before. He slides his hand around the cup and slowly pulls it away from me. “Shh you need to calm down. You’ve been crying since you got in the car at the station…that was almost an hour ago Joel…” He continues talking, his words all whispers and soft pleas, all attempts to make me cease my tears. He finally gives up though and disappears into the hallway.
I expect him to return with Benji, but neither Benji or Matt return to the room. No one comes…and it’s very possible it’s because no one cares anymore.