Chapter One: A Youthful Mind
It was a cruel and imperfect night which, with the power of the
wind, inflicted it's wipe upon the bearskin of all those who
dared wander out in its midst without proper clothing and
protection. The news had reported that a snowstorm would attack
that night and consequently if one, walking on the streets, would
have looked up into the windows of the houses surrounding him he
would have undoubtedly seen, every once in awhile, a young face
peering out into the darkness, trying to discover whether the
news had been correct and, hopefully, school would be canceled.
He would have also witnessed, if he had been paying attention,
the disappointment on the features of this young individual, for
not even a single speck of snow could be seen in the air or on
the ground, thus shattering all hopes of freedom.
These children would promptly, at that moment and time, return to the sides of their beds, kneel, and pray, full heartedly, to the almighty that he might fulfill the prophecy prophesied on the radio and deliver them from the shackles of their schools. And then, they would claim into their beds and cover themselves in the warm blankets that so eagerly had been made for them by their maids or mothers. They would most probably not wonder about the pre-made beds, for it had been ordained that the organized event was a recurring phenomena which happened, so it seemed, through nature's own laws and will.
It would take a couple of moments, they knew, for their blankets to warm up, as they snuggled in them and produced body heat, and so they remained, patiently, under the covers which sheltered them from the cold. The weather was mocking them, and even as they fell into the clutches of sleep and darkness they listened to the wind, wondering if it was carrying on it small but powerful pieces of ice and snow that would grant them their freedom.
They would, throughout that long night, awaken every once in a while to go to the bathroom and then, on their way from or to the place of conduct, glance out the window to see if the unaccommodating environment had changed. They would then, for a moment and in their drowsiness, convince themselves that the pavement was white and that a blanket of snow had, during their couple hours of sleep, fallen from the heavens. However, after rubbing their eyes and adjusting their sight to the darkness beneath, they realized that their observation was nothing but an illusion and, disappointed, return to their beds, which by that time would have lost all warmth. This phenomenon occurred so often and with such efficiency that someone, standing on the pavement, could almost predict when the next face would appear in the window of the houses surrounding him. If he were not familiar with the event, which recurred every time snow was predicted, he would've probably freaked out and escape into the shelter of his own home.
At that same hour, many parents were pacing the living rooms downstairs, a cup of brandy in their warm fingers, praying that the promised storm would not appear in their elegant neighborhood. They honestly did not want to deal with a bunch of children during the middle of the week, who, without school, would have nothing but boredom in their little minds. The weekends would be difficult enough, they thought to themselves, but spending three or four days trapped in their house with the small devils, that would be intolerable. The children would probably advocate that they, the parents, allow them, the children, to watch hour after hour of television and movies, thus wasting their time and manipulating and destroying their youthful minds. When they were young, the parents would think to themselves in a lofty manner, they would play sports and hang out. These days, all children wanted to do was watch movies and television, all they wanted to do was waste time. The snow would only promote that devilish behavior.
Everyone knew that television and video games ruined the mind, it was an accepted fact in that community, an accepted fact that the priest did not hesitate to remind them every week during his long-winded sermon. The religious folk would leave the church, bewildered with new understanding and inspired with new religious passion, and declare that their children must stop playing, literally by the use of their video games, into the devil's hands. After all, they would not want to end up in hell. Hollywood corrupted them and, while their teachers occasionally allow them to eat from the forbidden fruit, between their children going to school, which was not as perfect as homeschooling them, and spending the day at home watching movies, TV and video games, the parents would, undoubtedly, choose school.
This was also because that at school the children could not bother them and interfere with their work and business, which they were trying to constantly conduct. Their community was a wealthy one and consequently those with the most wealth were recognized, respected, and, in a sense, placed higher on the communal hierarchy. If their children did not understand the intricacies of society, the essentialness of wealth and power, it was not their faults. Eventually, the parents pacing in the living rooms decided to, after praying a little, allow nature to take its course and sit down in front of the TV, excited to watch the previous game which many of them had missed, due to their long hours at work.
John and Patrick were lying on the floor in front of the TV screen, remote controls in their hands, playing one of their most favorite games, Call of Duty. A pair of textbooks and notes rested on the desk nearby and, ignored, the pages had been turned by the cold wind, which escaped into the room through an open window. They had both considered getting up from their comfortable positions and closing the window, for the wind had been growing colder with every moment, however, somewhat lazy and in the midst of a great battle, they decided, subconsciously, to forgive the air. They were "studying" for a midterm and Patrick, who had memorized every aspect of the math equations they were required to use, had given up teaching his somewhat incompetent friend, John, the necessary information. John, he knew, intended to cheat during the exam. More specifically, he intended to cheat from Patrick, who sat a desk away and would never refuse to allow him to glance at this answer sheet.
They therefore, five minutes into the lesson, decided to forgo any studying and focus on the more important and necessary aspects of life.
"Watch the tank," Patrick whispered, his lips curled in a frozen expression of hatred and madness, as he unleashed his fury on an enemy combatants. "Stop being distracted with that dead body and watch the tank."
John, who for some reason was not good at the game, which was not due to lack of practice and passion, continued running and found his body blown to pieces by the mentioned tank. At least it would have been blown to pieces if the graphics of the game allowed it. Instead he was tossed a couple feet away from the explosion, slaughtered. Still, in his memory, he convinced himself that he saw his arm torn off his body and rolling on the ground, blood spurting from every vein. One could only imagine the vivid imagery and detailed storytelling that he and his friends would participate in the next day, describing the events of all the battles they participated in throughout that night. Of course their bodies did not explode, they all knew that, the game's graphics would not allow such imagery. But, they had convinced themselves of their stories and memories and, in a form of mass delusion, believed, to some degree, that their bodies were being torn apart.
Patrick, who attempted overpowering the now numerous enemies which began surrounding him, screamed, trying to make every second of his last effort count, and, eventually after a long while of gunfire, died.
"That is upsetting," he mumbled, putting down his remote and turning towards John. "I told you that there was a tank and you foolishly ran out into the open, what were you thinking?"
"Won't your parents be worried if you don't go home soon?" John inquired, ignoring his friend's rhetorical question.
"They think we are studying for the exam," he said, smiling, as he placed his palm on the warm carpet and, pushing himself away from the ground, got to his feet.
He loved the comfortable feeling of a carpet, especially if he had just taken a shower and was walking around barefoot. His home was covered with wooden tiles, which really annoyed him, and, although he begged his parents to place a carpet in his room, because of the recently acquired dog, which had not yet been home trained, they refused his request.
"Do you know how difficult it is to clean a carpet?" His mother, a normally good tempered person, would ask, over and over and over again. "Are you going to clean the carpet, I don't think so."
He had never asked for a dog and did not want one. It was not his fault that his sister decided she wanted a dog for her birthday. Why should he have to care about the stupid pet. Finding his way to the window, Patrick closed it and then stared outside, and, seeing that snow had resisted covering the pavements, he looked at his own reflection. He was skinny and pale, with narrow cheekbones and little color in his skin. His brown eyes, which dazzled in the light from the street, were that of a happy individual who had little sorrow or discomfort his life.
Unlike many of his friends, who had just began to notice their features and wonder if they looked pretty or handsome, he looked at his body with complete indifference. In fact, he did not feel connected with almost anything in his life, even his friends and parents seem to venture in the shadows of his existence. He saw them coming and going and while he noticed them and loved them, he never completely felt that he was one of them. He saw them in the distance and he stared at them and they stared back at him, with kind smiles, and he understood and observed them, the little intricacies and details of their lives, and he comprehended them in a way that a child should never comprehend his parents or friends.
"We should've practiced for the math test,"He mumbled, turning towards John, "I don't think there will be a storm. We will probably have the test tomorrow after all."
His friend cursed, a miserable expression on his face, and then look back at the TV screen with anticipation, trying to hint something to Patrick but not wanting to be blunt. Patrick was about to surrender to his friends disturbing expression, however, at that moment the doorbell, of the house, rung. The two boys nervously look at one another, both hoping that Patrick's parents had not grown worried by his absence and come to collect him. They rushed to the wooden door that prevented anyone unwanted from entering John's chaotic room and, pulling it open, swiftly but silently ventured into the hallway and, poking their heads over the brown balcony, watched as Isabella, their babysitter, threw open the front door.
John's parents, without any plans, suddenly, during the previous day, decided that they must go on a vacation and therefore they left their son in the hands of a trustworthy teenage girl. John never complain about the confusing and unorganized, which some might call romantic, way in which his parents planned vacations. He and Isabella had an understanding, as long as they did not interfere with each other's plans their days together would pass smoothly and without incident.
He still remembered the massive party that she threw during his parents last vacation, a party which, in less than twenty minutes, had grown willed with enthusiastic teenage boys and girls. He, Patrick and Ian had stayed up until two in the morning watching the dancing and the drunk people trash the home in an energetic and dumbfounded manner. He hoped that the event was a recurring phenomenon. He did not mind that he later, with a little help from Isabella, was forced to clean the house before his parents returned. That night was one of the best he could ever remember.
"Do you think she is throwing another party?" he asked Patrick, hoping the answer would be affirmative.
"How should I know?" He replied, a smile lingering on his lips as he remembered that night, "I definitely hope so. Poor Ian, he has the flu." They both laughed.
As Isabella opening the door a big gust of wind rushed into the room, twirling as it went, and sent shivers down the boys backs. It was definitely cold enough for snow; however, no specs of ice had descended from the heaven, which meant that the coldness was a pointless waste of perfect environmental conditions for a storm.
To the boys disappointment, only one individual strolled in through the open door, his dark hair, which hung inches from his shoulders, ran like waves in the cold wind. Dred, the young man, was wearing his football jacket with pride, a symbol of his lofty place on the hierarchy within the teenage world, and, with confidence, he grabbed Isabella and hugged her with delight.
Dred, who was a senior in high school, had gone on a trip with his father to research different colleges in the state and had not seen his girlfriend for quite some time.
After embracing her in a somewhat elementary manner, they kissed, infused and energizes by an unquenched passion of teenage hormones. At least that is how Patrick viewed the abrupt situation, looking down from the balcony at the two persons who were slowly transforming into one with every breath.
He had only recently discovered the emotional insanity promoted by the desire for a girl and, at that moment, gazing at the unfolding events, he wondered how it felt to kiss a girl. How it felt to be so close to someone. Love was something he had not yet experienced nor was he ever kissed in a non-formal manner, but, he could definitely imagine the mixture of emotions which would rush through his veins if he were ever placed in the scenario taking place beneath him.
"Cool," he whispered, glancing over to John, expecting to see some smile or recognition of joy on his features.
Instead, and somewhat surprisingly, he discovered, or rather encountered, the pale face of a frightened, confused and angry boy, one which he did not recognize. For a moment, he looked back at the couple below, still in a tangle and enjoying each others company, wondering if there was anything that he had missed, something to explain John's unconventional expression. He saw nothing inordinately; teenagers sucking each others faces, as though trying to pull off the skin, was a common way of obtaining pleasure and a sign of love.
"What's up?" He asked, turning towards John.
"I kissed someone," his friend replied, seemingly guilty about the action. "I kiss someone."
Patrick burst into unstoppable laughter and, as though trying to make certain that his guts do not spill out from his stomach, he covered his solar plexus with the palms of his hand. John, who was blushing, looked as though there was something important he had forgotten to mention, something he did not want to mention. Patrick, who was still on his unprohibited adventure of laughter, did not notice this unexpected and unexplained dark expression that converted the young face of his friend to that of an old man.
"You kiss someone and did not tell me?" he asked, as though insulted.
Normally his instincts were acute and he would have grasped, quickly and easily, that this friend was, at that moment, emotionally unsound; however, his concentration had been devoured by his laughter which shattered his intuition. He sympathized with his friends embarrassment, but, after all, they constantly embarrassed one another, mocking each others behaviors and beliefs.
If he would have been concentrating, however, he would have noticed that the expression on his friend's face was different, he was more than embarrassed, he was on the verge of tears.
Downstairs, Dred and Isabella had completed their ceremonious and overly passionate greetings and, after shutting the door to prevent more wind from entering the house and more heat from escaping it, they marched, hand-in-hand, into the living room; Dred probably hoping to continue making out on the couch and Isabella hoping to discuss the recent events and tell him what had occurred to her during his absence. They disappeared, transforming the way the boys peered down from the balcony from a somewhat reasonable position to a awkward one. Finally, after taunting his friends for a while longer, Patrick realized there was something wrong with John, he seems ashamed and even guilt.
"What's wrong?" He inquired, concern and uncertainty in his tone. "So you kissed someone, you are interested in someone for the first time, why do you look so," he mumbled for a moment, "guilty," he finally concluded. "Why do you look so guilty?" he repeated, this time with a little more confidence.
John had always trusted him, they were like brothers and shared each other's secrets, but, he sensed that his friend was deliberately hiding something from him, as though afraid of what his reaction would be if he knew the concealed information. This only made him more concerned and curious, they talked about every intricacy of their lives, why would he hide this information. He tried smiling, hoping to demonstrate his good humor and assure John of his friendly intentions. Sadly, the corner of his lips twisted in the last moment, transforming the kind and intended smile into a psychotic grin.
"What's up?" he asked again.
"Ian," John mumbled so that he could barely hear him. "I kissed Ian."
Somehow, Patrick knew that he was telling the truth, that two of his best friends had kissed each other, that the two boys had kissed. Still, hoping he misunderstood what had been said, Patrick laughed, giving him a chance to repent and informed him that he was joking. An awkward silence passed between them once his laughter transformed into abrupt chuckles and then died into silence.
They glared at each other, as friends often do, and John, who tried for a couple of moments to overcoming his instinct, eventually look away. He listened to the giggling originating from the living room below, hoping to distract himself with the unprofessional sound. It appeared as though Dred had achieved his goal and he and his girlfriend were making out.
"It just happened a couple of days ago, we didn't mean it to happen, it just happened," John finally said, realizing it would be best to just tear off the Bandaid and see what happened.
Ignoring him, Patrick found his feet and, after a minute of feeling as though hundreds of needles were piercing his skin due to the fact that one of his feet was asleep, marched down the stairs. The foot still felt wobbly as he moved, swiftly, and bolts of pain still ran up and down it. Nevertheless, ignoring them, he continued moving, not wanting to remain in that house for another second. As he opened the door, wind blasting against his face and whipping him with its force, he heard John, who was right behind him, mumbles something which he could not comprehend and didn't want to comprehend.
In a climactic manner and while trying to emphasize his disdain in what he just heard, Patrick slammed the door behind him, leaving John on the other side. Using physical gestures and behaviors to express his emotions was something he rarely did, for his father, who was a famous surgeon, taught him that remaining calm and suppressing emotions was an important aspect in developing one's character. He declared that there was nothing wrong in feeling anger, disdain, guilt and other earthly or dark emotions, however, expressing them in a physical manner was impolite. Unlike most individuals who constantly preached about ways of life and, not following the their own advice, were hypocritical, Patrick saw that his father practiced what he preached and never allowed his emotions to control his physical state of being. He greatly respected that specific aspect in his father's behavior and tried mimicking it.
Knowing Patrick, John, maybe somewhat unwisely, chose not to pursue him into the night, believing that he needed some time alone and would not react kindly to anything that he would have to say. He is reasonable, John told himself over and over again as he mounted the stairs to his room, he will think about it for a while and eventually realize that he does not have to be upset.
They were best friends, but John knew that Patrick could be unforgiving if, after contemplating something, he accepted a course of action. He was stubborn and unforgiving the way brilliant people, at younger ages and sometimes, if they do not overcome their ego, throughout their life, usually are. Most importantly, he was religious and had a lot of passion for his beliefs. Slamming the door of his room behind him and falling onto his bed, John tried to triumph over the tears swelling in his eyes, but, gaining access to his soul and overpower it, they came rushing forward, drowning his sight.
Outside, the intolerant wind caused Patrick to tremble with discomfort, for he had, in his anger, forgotten his coat behind. After considering for a moment to return and retrieve it, he decided that such an action would only embarrass him and did not emphasize his anger. He therefore concluded that he must not give in to the torturous wind and should ignore it.
A strong impulse drove him to stamp his feet a couple of times, randomly, in a childish manner as he wandered through the streets, as though trying to shake a burden from his shoulders. This action only confirmed his uneasiness and even reinforced it. His heartbeat , which pounded more strongly with every step, referenced his emotions, placing his bodies state of being with that of his soul.
Nevertheless, he did not really know what essentially bothered him, what caused him to act with such anger and passion. A troublesome feeling or rather emptiness and uncertainty occupied his thoughts, and yet, if asked, he would not be able to describe or discuss those feelings or sense of uncertainty and uneasiness.
Not wanting to return home in such an ugly mind state and be confronted by his father about the occurrences of that day, he decided to wander around for a while and calm his temper. He maintained his long strides, which expressed his dark emotions, long after beads of sweat had ran down his forward and exhaustion trembled in his bones and muscles. His stubbornness refused to submit to the pressure of tiredness and he continued marching on, dismissing his discomfort. In his pursuit to tempt fate to accompany him with a stroke, he did not realize, at first, that he had, subconsciously, traveled to a nearby church and, stopping to glanced around for a moment, he decided to enter the marvelous building. The loftiness of God could be seen on the beautifully carved wooden doors which, choosing to not prohibit him from entering, turned on their hinges as he pushed them forward.
Individuals who had chosen to wisely invest in their afterlife had, during the past five decades, donated a fortune for the building and upkeep of the church, thereby contributing to their eternity. The church was a subsection to a Christian orphanage and day school; however, because of lack of funds and other legal difficulties, they were forced, two years beforehand, to shut down those establishments. Perhaps not enough people considered the afterlife to be such an important investment, especially not after the rumored scandals which had been investigated during those challenging and unfortunate years.
The insufficient funds and robust way through which the religious organization had encountered the law left it somewhat unstable in that community. However, a quick redemption and swift rehabilitation was promised and inevitable, for a new priest had been summoned to the community and was, on all religious accounts, performing great services.
A beautiful painting observed Patrick as he traveled through the shadows and, making his way to his special bench, he sat and looked up at the cross before him. He sat there for a long while, not contemplating any specific thing and, for no reason, remaining still and silent. He was tired and the eventful days cause drowsiness to blind his mind and enslave his unfocused thoughts. For some reason, the janitor, who had grown weary and detached in his old age, left the windows of the church open, allowing freezing air to enter the normally warm and cosy sanctuary and stun Patricks lunges with bursts of pain. Those bursts manifested themselves in his ribs, causing him to tremble with every inhalation.
Breathing steadily, he eventually grew accustomed to the cold air which penetrated his lungs. It was a reviving feeling, the energetic wind traveling through his body and over his skin, brushing him with a gentle and loving finger. Time appeared to settle in that sanctuary, as though a divine being, unbound to anything, was present and aware of all the suffering that had motivated the prayers of countless individuals and was lingering in that small and yet comforting place.
Every aspect of the place could drive a man, even one ignorant of religion, to the peak of spirituality. For some undefined reason, a sensation of meaningfulness resonated within the soul while gazing at the massive cross which stood at the forefront of the church. Theories of undiscovered and unseen entities, processes and even elevations of bodily occupations transfused the minds of many individuals within those walls.
A marvelous balcony, carved with incredible skill, and the other pieces of art hung about, contributed to this sensation of awe and eternity. What exactly is the comfort that individuals try receiving when they come into that room and shuffle into the benches, is unknown. Perhaps it is the comfort of meaning and purpose or the comfort that, although they were unable to prevent the inevitable, thus acquiring a major disability, they wanted to believe and have faith that something bigger and more powerful than them was observing them I had a well thought out plan for their lives. Perhaps it was the act of discussing something beyond their control with a perfect being that gave them reassurance and reinforced their soul, undermining their concerns.
After a couple of minutes of sitting in his normal spot and as though on religious cue, a priest, with dark skin and a tamed and heartfelt smile, gathered his robes and sat himself down besides the young boy. Patrick, in his deep thought, did not realized that someone was approaching him and now, once his concentration was shattered, glanced up at his disturber. His features made it apparent that he did not require nor desire the priest's company, but, wisely ignoring the child's expression of discomfort, the robed man refused to abandon the boy to his thoughts.
"Hi, Patrick," he whispered in an unsupervised and kind voice. The kind of voice one would expect belonged to an individual who nothing would shock him or transform him into an unhappy man. "Is it wise to be out so late at night? Do your parents know that you are here?"
The boy ignored his questions.
Patrick had not known that priest for long and had only heard his sermons a couple of times. There always seemed to be a touch of concern on his features, as though he was worried about something or someone. Besides for the glimpses of concern which resonated from his face every once in a while, Patrick could not make out almost any of his other emotions. It seems as if a mask was shadowing the intricate muscles of his features. And yet, every once in a while he saw a burst of expressions escape the priest's clutches, demonstrating the feelings of the soul in which they had been imprisoned, only to vanish once again.
"Can I tell you a story about one of my friends?" The boy asked mumbling. Seeing a spark of recognition light up within the priest's eyes, he said "This isn't an embarrassing story about me. I am not telling you a story about myself and saying that it happened to my friend just because that I do not want you to know that it really happened to me. This is a story that happened to my friend, my real friend."
Deciding it was smart to calm down and take a breath, he saw that the priest's smile subsided and then vanished. The man looked at him, seemingly trying to determine something which lay inches beyond his reach, and then, finally acknowledging the boy's observation, he nodded his head in approval.
"Of course you can tell me a story about your friend."
Normally, Patrick refused to take anyone's advice, he wanted to figure things out for himself, without the help of more knowledgeable individuals. His teachers were discontented with that attribute and conduct of his character. There is nothing wrong with asking for advice from someone who knows more than you, they would constantly say. His father, however, found it important that he discovered reality on his own, with little assistance from others. But, at that moment the fog that accosted his mind and prohibit him from achieving the one thing he wanted, to think, left him no choice but to ask the priest for his advice.
Recalling that moment of weakness and the catastrophe it had, so eagerly, induced, he wondered whether his life would have been different if he had not chosen to enter that church, take a seat on the bench and ask the priest for his wisdom. That single recollection, that single instant, forever would cause trembles to run down his spine and haunt his dreams. If he could only go back to his younger self, seated so innocently on those wooden chairs, and warn him of the unimaginable future those moments would endorse, he would have been able to change everything.
The young boy surveyed the priest's expression, finding nothing of interest, and finally, because of his admiration toward the man of God, decided it would be best to unravel the story for the him and seek his knowledge. It was a sudden decision that caught him by surprise, for, until that somewhat accidental moment, he was uncertain of why he had even wondered into that holy place and sat on that bench. Now he knew that he had been desiring advice and that that was the reason for him being there.
Realizing and glad that his emotions had finally been betrayed to him, he said, wrestling with his words, "Is it a sin for a boy to love another boy? I mean... I don't mean love in a friendship kind of way, I mean love in a loving kind of way. Is that a sin?" He mumbled something incoherent for a moment and then continued, with somewhat more confidence. "I am not sure whether love is the right word, I mean kissing and stuff like that, do you know what I mean?"
They glared at one another for a long while, the priest looking at the boy in a somewhat sickening manner. He was almost certain that the child had asked him the one question he truly feared being asked by someone his age. His rattled mind tried finding a solution for how to avoid the problem, and yet, it was his duty to reply with all honesty to the boy's question.
"I think so, I think I understand," the priest mumbled, and although his facial expression had not changed, the tone of his voice had transformed into a more serious one. "The Bible tells us that it is a sin, it is unnatural, why, do you have feelings for another boy?"
A visible uneasiness creeped into Patricks features, while a lack of patience could be witnessed, as it seep into his mind and encompassing his soul, for it was exposed in his voice. "I already told you, this is about my friend, not me." A moment later he once again restored the indifference in his features and, somewhat ashamed of himself, glance at the door of the church with anticipation.
His eyes flickered as he considered leaving, but then a reassuring hand, extended by the priest and place, abruptly, on his shoulder, calmed the beating of his heart.
"I am sorry, of course you mentioned this question was regarding your friend, I had forgotten, I apologize."
Altering his position, the boy looked back at the holy man and bit his lip. There was an interesting spark in Patrick's eyes, as though he knew where the approaching conversation would lead and was not sure if he wanted to go down that foreseeing path. However, eventually the spark of recognition subsided and then vanished.
He listened attentively to his pounding heart, that complex muscle in his body which so eagerly and so regularly warned him, correctly, of a anticipated danger. It was small, the size of his fist, he once heard someone reliable say, and yet it understood the necessity of surviving, existing.
He begged it to calm down and yet, to spite him, it continued pounding with overburdening passion. If the cold air from the outdoors would have only stopped piercing his lung. If the blood swarming in his body would have only stopped pounding his eardrums. If his twitching fingers would have only stopped trembling and his shaking teeth would have only stopped grinding each other. If all those things had happened he might have felt confident enough to leave that sanctuary. It could have changed everything. It might have changed his life.
"He is a good friend," Patrick finally said, "We have known each other for eight or nine years." He had always suspected that John was different, but, he had never mentioned his feelings and Patrick, in turn, ignored all the implications of his actions. "He likes playing dress-up and coloring his nails, his parents don't care, I don't think they noticed many things that he does. He just told me that he kissed another boys, one of my other friends, do you think he is a sinner?"
The holy man touched his dark uniform, his fingers brushing over the fabric with an edge of excitement, and a enthusiastic tremor of conviction flickering his eyes. The frightening expression vanished before the boy noticed it or the priest even realized that the sensation of power and certainty had overcome him. Nonetheless, it left behind an unearthly shadow, as though a demon had been in their presents and visited their darkest memories. The priest had never exploited the power bestowed upon him by the church or the trust entrusted to him by the people of the community; but, even he, in his holiness, could not overwhelm the human lust and instinct for power, conviction and control, which suppresses the goodness in the soul of many individuals and transformed them, so eagerly, into tyrants.
It was a power far greater than the power entrusted to even judges and a feeling of conviction which even a jury does not acquire when they convicting a man. He felt a sense of certainty which only a religious man, a devoted religious man, could feel. Not even a scientist, gazing into space with the use of the telescope or researching the bacteria by means of the microscope, felt the conviction that the holy man experienced at that moment. Certainly no philosopher has ever tasted such sweet certainty.
"The Bible tells us that God created a man and a woman. The natural thing is for them, for a man and a woman, is to love one another and get married. Our physiology makes certain that we should be attracted to one another. Even animals recognize this instinct. It is unnatural for a man to love another man and a woman to love another woman. It is a sin." He was about to describe to the boy how exactly the physiology of the body and the human origins of a man and a woman fit together, so to speak and sexually speaking. In his conviction he had, for a moment, drastically misplaced the context of the situation. Realizing the forbidden mistake he had almost made, the priest restrained himself, somewhat, and said, "Nature itself has determined that two men and two women cannot have a child. Nature itself bears witness to God's plan and understands his wisdom. If the Bible, human psychology and nature all condemned the actions you speak of, who is man to declare otherwise, who is man to say that he is not sinning when God himself says that he is. Do not reject what you know yourself to be true, what you know yourself to be moral, what your instincts tell you is normal."
The confidence in the priest's thoughtful words reassured the young boy, who, after briefly contemplating his assertions, which were many, decided that they were valid. Until that moment he had not known what exactly bothered him, but now he knew his instincts, his natural inclinations, warned him of a sin. A sin he felt obligated to condemn. Regulating his posture, by bending forward, and gently placing his left had within the palm of his right one, the priest inhaled slowly, trying to find the divine in his presents and sense God's normally increasing and encompassing love. His condemning thoughts, regarding natural and unnatural inclinations, was evident in his stern glare and dwelled in his eyes, which had first been darting from side to side but were now calm and, although still motivated and passionate, unmoving. Everything remained motionless for a long moment before his right thigh started, rapidly and almost uncontrollably, quivering and vibrating with anxiety.
"It is unnatural," he mumbled again, this time more for himself then the boy, "It is unnatural for a man to love a man and a woman to love a woman. God created a man and a woman and informed them that, only together, they can build a household and have children. Two men cannot have children, it is biologically impossible. Two woman cannot have children, it is biologically impossible. God created a man and a woman... it is only natural..." He continued whispering some incoherent words for a couple of seconds before he finally concluded. "It is unnatural, do you understand? Do you understand what I am telling you?"
Patrick looked at the holy man with amazement and bewilderment, wondering why he had suddenly transformed into a restless teenagers who, due to a nervous breakdown or trying to be comprehended and show enthusiasm, would repeat a statement over and over until his message was received. They stared at one another for a long moment in awkward silence, one which is sometimes discovered as conversations dwindle and none of the participants have anything to add or expand upon.
"It is a test," said the priest in a predicted manner, "God is testing you and your friend, he wants to see if you love him." Patrick disliked the dark expression which encompassed his features, however, he knew that eventually the holy man would begin talking of tests and difficulties. It did not surprised. "Your friend must redeem himself and whenever he chooses to return to God, God will accept him and love him, but, until that moment, until he finds his way to God and abolishes all sin from his heart you must stay away from him. He is a bad influence, a bad example. You must stay away from him."
"He is my closest friend."
That perspective of the circumstance did not seem to diminish the priest's motivation. With a combined expression of confidence and uneasiness, he glared at the young boy, as though expecting him to already know the predetermined answer.
After determining that Patrick was not going to say anything and while tracing his fingers over a carved symbol in the bench, he said, "That is why this is a test. If you truly love God you will make the right choice. I am preparing a sermon for Sunday and I hope I will see you then."
Although it was only Wednesday, he stood, walked up to the podium and began speaking of matters which did not concern the young boy who, after remaining in his place for a long while, listening to the priest's calm and inspiring voice, got up and left the building.
When the priest had spoken to him, the answer appeared satisfying, now, however, the young boy wondered whether he should reevaluate the whole conversation. After all, John was his closest friend. Could he abandoned an individual who had been in his life for eight years? Maybe it was possible that he misunderstood the priest and his instructions. It was improbable that such a scenario had occurred, for he rarely misunderstood people, however such a situation still stood in the realm of existence.
He stopped for a minute, an uneasy look on his face, as a gigantic insect crawled its way past his blue sneakers, cradling a piece of forgotten food. The insect had also stopped, as it encountered the unexpected material of his shoe, and then continued moving towards an unknown and unpredicted place. Patrick continued staring at the ground long after the insect had passed his position. In fact, when he had finally awoken himself from the daze he did not remember what had caused him to stop. He glanced around, trying to find the cause for his interruption, and then, not seeing anything, he continued traveling home.
His eyes turned to the windows of the houses surrounding him as he walked, and he could see husbands and wives chatting with one another or, in some unpleasant situations, screaming at one another. In a gesture of kindness, the heavens had finally decided, after a long battle, to release the gift of snow upon the community. Patrick smiled as he saw the first specs of snow twirling through the air and rest on the ground, melting into nothingness. He wondered whether they would eventually stick.
His home was on the other side of town and when he finally reached it a full-blown storm was beating down on him with melancholy. He quickly escaped the violent night and, wandering into the massive house which was his domain, he soon realized that his parents had chosen to go to sleep. They were busy people with important jobs, ones which required their undivided attention, and consequently allowed him to endeavor through reality at his own pace.
He could only imagine his father, sitting comfortably on the sofa and waiting for his return, eventually lose all interest in the situation and, knowing that he was supposed to be up early the next morning, turn off the lights of the house and go to sleep, hopeful that his son would return shortly. His mother, who always returned from work exhausted, would have probably found comfort in sleep hours beforehand.
Acquainted with the dark, the young boy, without turning on any lights, traveled upstairs and silently slipped into his room. A fresh stack of laundry had made itself, due to the maids professionalism, to the legs of his bed. Barely acknowledging the stack, he immediately thrust the whole pile into a single draw and, grabbing a towel, underwear and a undershirt, Patrick, after peeling off his sweaty clothes, soon found himself in the bathroom taking a shower.
He allow the refreshing warm water to wash over his pale skin. He stood still for over half an hour, thinking of different unrealistic situations, and then left the shower. Clouds of steam had escaped into the bathroom and were rolling around him in silence. The mirror, which beforehand reflected his young face, was now blurry with a thick layer of vapor. Realizing that the towel he acquired was slightly too small for him, he marched, with his underwear and undershirt in his right hand, back into his room. Finding a stack of towels in one of the closets, he dried his hair and then wrapped it around his waist. Eventually he put on the underwear and undershirts and, before getting into bed, glanced out of the window, observation storm. The snow had stuck.
Before I continue with the recital of this story, one that I think you will find both intriguing and appalling, I wish to inform you that I am not attempting to impose any specific philosophy or belief upon your mind, rather to inform you of a situation in a detailed and professional manner. If, however, you detect my opinion within this story, I ask for your forgiveness and your understanding, for I am human and sometimes, like all imperfect beings, I am carried away by the passion of my beliefs. While reporting this story I have encountered unimaginable cruelties and incredible injustices, therefore, I might sometimes be unable to represent the facts without introducing my own opinions or suppressing my convictions.Nevertheless, my mission is to describe the events that had befalling a child who, to my humble opinion, was undeserving of the punishment inflicted upon him. Saying this, I realized that I have neglected to restrain myself and have broken the promise given to you only moments ago, that I will not impose my opinions upon you, my dear reader.