A Day in the Life of Christy Castle before Michael

A Day in the Life of Christy Castle before Michael

Christy looked at the paper cup containing his medication. It sat in the same place on the breakfast tray every morning. He hated that he had to take medication and, as much as he valued food, he lost his appetite every time he saw the pills. They reminded him of before, of what they did to him. He hated them with the white-hot fury of a thousand suns. He hated the pills even more for reminding him of them. He spent every moment of his pathetic existence fighting not to think about them, not to remember them, not to let them assault his mind as they’d assaulted him—fighting the fear. The fear that one day at least one of them would come for him. To take him back. Back to... before. He struck out sending the tray crashing to the polished tongue-and-groove floor, the food landing with a soft splat. He squeezed his eyes closed, pressed the heels of his hands to his lids, and concentrated. Go away. Leave me alone, he silently begged his vivid memories.

When the memories slowly faded, he stared at the food lying lifelessly on the floor. The crumpled pancakes reminded him of himself, of the way he imagined he looked when they made him sleep on the floor. He shouldn’t have wasted the food. Food was important. He bent, righted the plate, and scooped the pancakes, eggs, and bacon onto it with his hands. He set the plate on the granite counter and stared down at the spilled orange juice, scattered pills, and upside down tray. He couldn’t save the juice and wouldn’t save the medication. He stood and went to shower.

Freshly showered, he shaved carefully. He liked the feeling of being clean, of having no hair on his face. They had always left him dirty... before. He shivered at the memory of sleeping in his own filth and his stomach growled reminding him that he hadn’t eaten yet. He rinsed and dried his face, and went to the closet.

He carefully placed a scarf around his neck to hide the scar that bisected his neck from ear to ear. Another reminder of... before. He reached for a small round mirror and turned. Holding it up, he checked his reflection in the wall mirror behind him. The back of his long white-blond curls looked good today, not too frizzy. He turned back, set the mirror on the counter, and reached for a small glass jar. Removing the decorative cap, he dipped his finger in the watermelon-flavored gloss and expertly laced his lips. This gloss was his favorite, not only in flavor, but also in clarity. It made him feel pretty all while it was hardly noticeable.

He closed the jar and set it on the counter next to the others of more distinct color, and opened the drawer beneath the counter. Three-by-five spiral notepads and pens filled the drawer. Writing and hand gestures were his only methods of communication now, after what they did to him in the before. He thought of the pads and pens as his soldiers who would write to the death for him. He contemplated for a moment before choosing a blue pad and pen. His blue soldiers would match the scarf he wore today. It was important that things matched, that they were symmetrical. When things were organized and neat, his mind worked better. He could focus on the here and now, and know they were his possessions and no one else’s.

Continue reading from Granny Irene's here:

A soft knock sounded at the bathroom door startling him. Unexpected noise always scared him more than it should. If he were normal, it wouldn’t. But he wasn’t. He breathed through the fear and reminded himself that it was only Rob, his psychiatrist. He shoved the pad and pen into his jeans pocket and opened the door.

“Morning,” Rob greeted.

Christy offered a small nod.

“Bad morning?”

Christy withdrew his pad and pen and scribbled, Angry.

“About what?”

Them.

“You should be. Did you eat anything at all?”

Christy shook his head.

“You need to take your medication and eat something.”

Christy nodded grudgingly and went to collect the pills from the floor.

Rob knelt beside him. “Leave those there, Christy. You don’t eat anything that has been on the floor,” he said softly.

Christy stilled. He’d only ever eaten off the floor until he came to Wellington Ranch.

“I’m going to take the pills from your hand.”

Christy dropped them before Rob could touch him. He hated to be touched. He looked at Rob and tried to gauge whether he was angry. Rob didn’t seem angry, but then, he wasn’t very good at interpreting facial expressions.

“It’s okay. The staff will clean it up.”

Rob stood, made a quick phone call, and ordered more food and medication. He took a seat on a barstool at the kitchen island and gestured for Christy to do the same.

He took the seat opposite Rob.

“Did you plan to walk to school today?”

Christy nodded.

“You’ll have to eat fast or you’ll be late.”

Christy nodded again.

A kitchen employee entered the cabin, set a duplicate tray of food and medication before him, and bent to clean up the mess.

Christy felt guilty about the mess and the wasted food. He scribbled on his pad and held it up so Rob could read it.

“Apology accepted. What, in particular, upset you?” Rob asked.

Christy downed the medication and swallowed a bite of pancake carefully. He still had trouble swallowing at times. He set the fork down and scribbled, Medication reminds me of them.

“I’m sorry. Let’s look at the bright side. You’re sleeping better, the memories are bothering you less each day, and you’re more even-tempered when you’re awake. You’re also doing well in school.” Rob smiled now. “How’s your reconnaissance going?”

Christy couldn’t prevent the small smile that crept onto his lips as his cheeks heated. Since he’d seen Michael at school, he’d done nothing but spy on him. He was fairly certain he had what the other kids called “crushing on a guy.” If he wasn’t thinking about them, he was thinking about Michael.

Rob chuckled softly. “When are you going to introduce yourself to him?”

Christy rolled his eyes and scribbled, Never.

“Great eye-roll. Why not?”

Another eye-roll.

“You could write a note to him.”

Christy frowned. He hadn’t thought of that. But what would he say in a note? Hello, I’m broken but I would like to be with you. He shook his head, and scribbled, I am broken.

“We’ve discussed that, Christy. The abuse you suffered doesn’t define you. You’re not broken. You’re recovering from severe trauma.”

Broken.

“You’ll feel a lot better when you stop believing that.”

Christy didn’t see how that would help him and he had to be realistic. He could barely make it through some days and nightmares made his nights horrible. He ate the last of the eggs and didn’t want to waste the remaining pancakes and bacon. He scribbled, Save for later?

“Sure.” Rob covered the food, stood, and slid the tray into the refrigerator. He glanced at the clock on the stove and said, “You’ll be late for school if you don’t let security drive you.”

Christy frowned. He’d been walking to school for four months and it gave him a sense of freedom and confidence he’d never before known. In the beginning, he’d gotten lost a few times and security had to pick him up and drive him the rest of the way to school. He didn’t like it when people stared at him and when security dropped him off, people stared even more. Also, his feet were getting stronger. He could even jog a little if he concentrated on the placement of his feet. One foot was still numb in parts and he tripped a lot, but he liked being outside, even if the day was cold and overcast. He’d never been allowed outside in the before. He scribbled, Drive and walk?

“That’s up to you.”

He liked that Rob allowed him to make his own decisions and he offered Rob a small smile and an appreciative nod. He hopped off the barstool and went to the bathroom to brush his teeth.

~*~

He tapped the driver on the shoulder and the man pulled the car to the curb. Christy held his pad up for the man to read. Walk now.

“Okay.” The man got out of the car and looked around the area before opening Christy’s door.

Christy exited the car and slung his backpack over a shoulder. He motioned with both hands to stay back when he walked and the man understood.

“I’ll stay far enough back so people don’t see me.”

Christy scribbled quickly, Thank you, and set out for the school parking lot. He made it there just as Michael’s SUV pulled in. His spirits immediately lifted and a small excitement filled him as Michael got out of the car. He hadn’t figured out exactly why the sight of Michael made him feel a little excited. He liked Michael, and knew he was very nice, and funny, but Michael didn’t even know he existed. They’d only bumped into each other that one time. He’d been stupid to follow so close, but sometimes Michael walked fast and he had a hard time keeping up with him. When he concentrated and watched his feet so he didn’t trip, he sometimes forgot where he was.

Two months ago, Michael had been on his way to class early one morning and turned abruptly. Christy had followed too close and Michael crashed into him. They both tripped, and almost fell, and Michael quickly caught his arm to steady him.

“Sorry, man, didn’t see you.”

Time seemed to stop as Michael stared down at him. Christy froze in terror, and his heart raced in this throat as he waited for Michael to rail at him and hit him for being in the way. To his utter astonishment, there was no anger or disgust in Michael’s eyes, but genuine concern. He didn’t know what to do and didn't have a voice to apologize with, so he’d stood there, a dumb rock, and stared up at Michael. Then the look in Michael’s eyes had changed to one of...interest.

“Your eyes are amazing.”

It had taken him a moment to translate Michael's words into Greek and process them. Then he couldn’t stop a small smile from forming on his lips and for the first time in his life, he imagined what it would be like if someone liked him; what it would be like if Michael cared for him... just a little. Then he immediately worried it wasn’t appropriate to smile.

“Sorry, man.”

Having no idea what to do, he’d simply walked away. The strangest thing about the encounter was that it was the first time he hadn’t freaked out when someone touched him. It was almost as if Michael’s touch had calmed him somehow. His mind also hadn’t gone to the faraway place, the place where he couldn’t remember things. He’d actually been able to think and translate Michael’s words in his mind. He still had trouble understanding things, but he'd been able to understand what Michael said. And what he meant. Michael had paid him a compliment, the first genuine compliment he’d ever received. It was also the only time he’d been near enough to smell Michael’s soap and mild cologne. He smelled wonderful. The chance encounter had gone far in easing his nightmares and had been a balm on his beleaguered soul. He often dreamed of Michael now, more often than he had nightmares. It had been a truly magical encounter.

He watched Michael greet Jake as Jake got out of his car. The two of them were like inseparable brothers. A small part of Christy’s insides twisted. The memories of his mother were faint, but the feelings of love and comfort, and the sense of security he’d known from her as a small child, were still there. The feelings seemed to blossom and grow stronger when he watched Michael and Jake together. They also made him feel lonely. He longed to be loved and protected.

“Hey, hey, hey! Get off me gay boy!” Jake yelled when Michael hooked an arm around his neck and kissed the side of his head.

Jake always said that when Michael kissed his head and it made Christy smile every time. They were always happy together.

Someone rushed past Christy and bumped him hard with a backpack. He pitched forward but caught his balance before he fell. He squeezed his eyes shut as his heart pounded in his throat. He swallowed hard and prayed his mind wouldn’t leave him again. When he was certain his mind was still there, he slowly opened his eyes. The guy was long gone. Whether he did it on purpose or not, Christy didn’t care. Some of the people at school could be mean, but it was nothing like...before. He turned back to the parking lot and Michael and Jake were gone. A raw sense of loss filled him, twisting in his gut and making his chest hurt.

He looked around frantically and saw them crossing the commons. He hurried to catch up to them, concentrating on his steps, and slowed when he was fifteen feet behind them.

“You gonna make practice today or do you have another test for Columbia?” Michael asked.

“No test. I’ll be there,” Jake answered.

Michael beamed.

“You keep looking at me like that and people are gonna talk,” Jake teased.

“Shut up.”

Jake chuckled. “See you at lunch.”

Christy watched them part and hurried after Michael. When Michael entered the building where his first class was, Christy slowed. The thought of entering a crowded hallway always scared him. So many people could touch him. He clasped his hands together to stop them from shaking, took two deep breaths, and followed Michael inside.

“Hey, Michael!” Gavin greeted and high-fived Michael as he walked by.

“Hey, Gav! See you at lunch!”

Someone headed in the opposite direction bumped Christy’s shoulder. He stopped walking and stilled, squeezing his eyes shut. Then someone slammed into the back of him sending him into a locker. Only his down jacket and backpack kept him from serious injury.

“Hey, watch out, man,” the guy said before moving on.

He took deep breaths and reminded himself that it was an accident. The guy wasn’t out to hurt him. This was school. People bumped into you a lot. It was normal. He opened his eyes in time to see Michael enter his classroom and his heart sank. Then the first bell rang overhead causing him to jump. He turned and made his way from the building, staying as close to the lockers as physically possible. When he reached the cool, fresh outdoor air, his heartbeat finally began to slow.

He padded toward art class, his Converse making soft squeaks in the dewy grass of the commons, and he thought for the millionth time that he was worthless and weak, a pathetic excuse for a human being.

~*~

When his fourth period gym class ended, he rushed from the locker room and hoped Jason wouldn’t follow him again. At least today, Jason hadn’t grabbed his ass when he changed out of his gym clothes. Jason was someone to be afraid of, someone to stay far away from, he was just plain dangerous. Christy knew all to well what kind of man Jason would become.

Christy made his way to the cafeteria and Miss Lottie motioned him behind the food counter. She’d set up a small, round table and a chair so he didn’t have to eat alone in the cafeteria with kids hassling him, stealing his food, and dumping his tray.

“Don’t you look fine in your blue scarf today!” she greeted.

Christy mouthed “thank you,” as he set his backpack aside and took a seat. She set a bowl of macaroni and cheese in front of him and brushed a hand over his curls. He flinched, then immediately hated himself for it. His brain knew Lottie wouldn’t hurt him, but the rest of him still hadn’t gotten used to her.

“Now, now, don’t be so hard on yourself,” she said as if she’d read his mind.

He tried to give her a small smile but didn’t think he did a very good job of it.

She returned to the food counter and passed plates of fried chicken and turkey sandwiches past the food guard.

“Afternoon, Miss Lottie.”

Christy looked up from his bowl at the sound of Michael’s voice. Michael’s bright green eyes shined with laughter as he ordered a turkey sandwich and Jake teased Lottie about going on a date.

Christy had been surprised when he first heard Jake tease Miss Lottie about a date. He didn’t think a cool guy like Jake would find an older, tall, overweight woman attractive. In truth, Miss Lottie was fat. When he’d asked Miss Lottie if she would go on the date, she had burst into laughter. He’d been mortified that he’d asked something inappropriate. Seeing his confusion, she sat at the table with him and explained that Jake was teasing her. When he asked why, she said it was because he liked her. He didn’t get it. People had teased him with food and he hated it. He’d asked Rob about it and Rob helped him look the word 'tease' up in the dictionary and explained that it could be in a playful or unkind way. Then he understood that Jake meant it in a playful way. Though he understood, he still couldn’t bring himself to tease anyone.

He watched as Michael added a salad to his tray, carefully ladle dressing on it, and set the ladle back in the bowl. He admired how Michael never spilled anything, never wasted any food. When he looked up, he found Michael watching him intently. His cheeks heated and time froze just as it had the day they bumped into each other. Again, his heart raced and he sat there like a dumb rock as Michael’s green eyes held him rapt. He didn’t know what to do, what was appropriate, whether he should lower his eyes as they had made him do. Then Michael smiled and Christy gasped softly as his cheeks went up in flames. His face had never felt so hot.

He watched as Michael moved down the line after Jake and released the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. Then Michael bent and looked at him through the clear sneeze guard that protected the food and winked.

Michael winked. It was all too much and Christy turned away. Even for someone as broken as he was, a wink didn’t require translation. He knew that meant someone liked you. Dare he look back? He breathed deeply, gathered his courage, and dared to look back. Michael only smiled at him before walking away.

“Looks like you have an admirer,” Miss Lottie said softly as she sat in the small chair across from him.

Christy’s cheeks flamed red again as some distant part of his mind idly wondered how Miss Lottie fit into such a small chair.

She laughed softly. “Don’t worry, sugar. That’s a good thing. Do you like him?”

Christy turned away.

She chuckled softly again. “He’s one of the nicest boys in school. Have you met him yet?”

Christy turned back to her and shook his head.

“Would you like to meet him?”

Christy didn’t know whether to nod 'yes' or shake his head 'no.' What is the right thing to do?

She chuckled again. “You let me know if you want to meet him, okay, sugar?”

~*~

Christy quickly put his book in his backpack as the final bell rang ending his last period class. Now was his favorite time of day. He left the classroom and headed out to the track to watch Michael practice.

Michael skimmed the last hurdle, crossed the finish line, and whooped in the air. “Woo-hoo! Gotcha, bro!”

Jake checked the stopwatch. “I don’t believe it! You did it in 13.98 seconds!” He smacked Michael’s hand in a glorious high five.

Their words floated up to Christy on the light afternoon breeze as he sat high in the bleachers.

“I finally got below fourteen,” Michael said as he walked across the track, pulled a bottle of water from his bag, upended it, and let the water rain down on him.

“Still got a ways to go, man. You gotta get below 12.87 seconds to beat the world record in one-ten-meter hurdles,” Jake reminded him.

Droplets flew as Michael shook his chestnut curls, and Christy thought that was the hottest thing he’d ever seen. He imagined Michael in the shower, his skin glistening with clean water as it rained down on him. His heartbeat quickened at the image in his mind’s eye.

Jake took a seat on the bench next to Michael and cuffed his shoulder. Christy watched as Michael stretched his long legs out in front of him and imagined Michael holding him. He was pathetically small and, given Michael’s height, he’d be lucky if he were tall enough to rest his head against Michael’s chest.

Jake’s gaze flicked to Christy then back to Michael. “He’s here again.”

Panic welled within and confusion filled Christy’s mind. He wanted Michael to notice him but not today. He wasn’t prepared to meet him yet. His eyes scanned the bleachers quickly. The only way to leave was to descend the steps that ended right where Michael and Jake sat. He quickly looked down the long line of bleachers and wondered if he could make it across and down the steps at the other end without Michael or Jake noticing him. His odds weren’t good.

Michael wiped the moisture from his face. “Who?”

“You know who. Mute boy.”

Christy winced at the moniker they’d given him at school. He wasn’t mute. He could speak, or was supposed to be able to when his neck healed. Anger quickly replaced his panic and confusion as he thought about them and the before.

Michael wadded the towel and threw it at Jake. “Don’t call him that. His name’s Christy.”

Christy stilled. Michael knows my name.

“What kind of a name is that?” Jake asked.

“A pretty one,” Michael answered.

“He’s weird.”

“He’s pretty.”

“Pretty,” Christy breathed a whisper on the air. He didn’t know whether to be happy or to run. This was what he wanted, wasn’t it? He was so scared.

“It’s like you have a crush on him or something,” Jake said.

“I do. Have for two months,” Michael said.

Christy’s mouth went dry and his heart now beat in his throat. He searched the bleachers again for an escape route. Any way he left the bleachers, he’d have to walk past Michael and Jake. He should have thought this out better. He just didn’t think anyone would notice him up here, and silently cursed himself for being so stupid.

“Michael, the guy’s a tool. He doesn’t speak, he follows you around like a lost puppy, and seriously watches you. Like he’s stalking you.”

Christy winced again at the criticism.

“Maybe he thinks I’m hot.”

Christy’s face filled with heat and he lost himself in erotic images of Michael, their words lost on the air as the wind shifted.

Michael glanced up the bleachers at Christy. “I’m beginning to wonder if what I like exists.”

Skata, Christy swore silently to himself and turned away quickly.

Jake finished packing and took a seat next to Michael again. “Tell me what you like. Besides that Andrej guy.”

Michael leaned forward, elbows on knees, and rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands. “I can’t tell a straight guy what I like in a guy.”

“Be easy, bro. I see what you check out, so let’s see if I have the 4-1-1.”

The wind shifted again and Christy listened intently as Michael and Jake spoke, their words drifting up to him on the breeze. Michael’s eyes traveled up the bleachers to settle on Christy again. He balled his fists and stifled the urge to bolt. What should I do?

“I’m going to go talk to him,” Michael said.

No! Christy’s breaths came fast now. Should I run?

Jake half laughed. “Did you forget that he doesn’t speak?”

Michael was immediately defensive. “So what?”

Christy froze again. Michael didn’t care that he couldn’t speak. Michael doesn't care if I can't speak! He watched Jake walk away. Then Michael looked up at him again. When their eyes met, Christy had to turn away. Then Michael began to climb the bleachers heading in his direction and Christy thought he would faint.

Bénédicte Girault has translated Omorphi into French.
©2013-2017 C. Kennedy. All rights reserved.

26 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Dianne! A little rough around the edges without an editor, and not as fleshed out as I would have liked, but I didn't want it to be uber long. :D Glad you enjoyed and it's always great to see you here!

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    2. A whole chapter here wouldn't be enough, Cody!

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    3. :D Thanks so much, Dianne! <3

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  2. Thank you for sharing the link to this wonderful excerpt. And Happy One Year Anniversary for the release of Omorphi.

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  3. Breathtaking. Just enough to remind me exactly why I love this book. Congratulations again, honey, on the one year anniversary.

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  4. CODY! Don't know how I missed this when I read Omorphi for the first time but i'm thrilled to read it now. Fabulous. Sweet Christy and Michael. love the cafeteria scene. Congratulations on the one-year anniversary of such an amazing book; one of my top 10. I treasure my paperback and the vellum that you sent me. I am so looking forward to Tharros.

    XX
    Beth Bellanca

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    1. Thank you ever so much, Beth! It's an outtake - and isn't in the book. No worries about missing it. :)

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  5. I love this glimpse into Christy's life, pre Michael.

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    1. Thank you, Sandy! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

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  6. Love this! To learn more from Christy and what he was thinking. :) Thank you so much!! <3

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  8. I miss reading these boys so much and it was great to catch a glimpse of Christy's thoughts. Thank you for sharing, Cody :)

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  9. This still makes me want to cry. I am so glad that Christy and Michael found each other. Go Christy! for being so brave and courageous.

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  10. OHhh.. wonderful. I love this. I loved Omorphi. Amazing story and wonderful characters. :) I love this glimpse into Christy's head before Michael. Thank you, <3 xoxo

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  11. Now, then, how can I have missed this exquisite piece of Christy's mind? I love it when we see things from his side.
    Thank you for posting.
    <3

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  12. Thank you for Christy's thoughts .. these 3 books are still at top of my favorite series list & reread list. Always wonderful to reconnect.

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  13. i just found this and it is wonderful!!!

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  14. Please tell me you are going to release this in ebook format. It would be perfect to go along with the rest of the series

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  15. Beautiful story, loved this little glimpse into Christy.

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