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To many, it appeared to be just another freezing early-February night in southwestern Ohio. Most of the stores, although open, were almost completely clear of any potential customers. Cars weaved through the streets, anxious to arrive safely in their respective homes. A light snow trickled down from above, adding yet another layer to the already hazardous conditions of the weather. All in all, everything seemed to point to the fact that it was just another winter night, one that would pass to a slightly better winter day in just a few hours.
Alex Monath was unaware of all of this; his winter night had been anything but normal. He sat weeping at his kitchen table, reading through his mother’s short-but-not-sweet suicide note. It was quickly getting soaked by his constant tears, the ink blurring into a barely-legible scribble. He had come home that evening to find his mother dangling from one of the rafters of their expansive living room, her neck caught up in the receiving end of a noose. He tried his best to save her, but his efforts were in vain; from the cold, clammy feel of her hands, he could tell that she had been dead for several hours.
Her suicide note read:
I’m sorry, but I just can’t do this anymore! The evil that you are burns my soul, and I cannot bear to see it go on any longer. What you did tonight is unforgivable, to me and to God. I’m sorry that you’ll have had to find me the way you did, but whatever. It is what it is. I hope that you’ll repent of your evil ways and turn back to God, so that I didn’t die in vain.
Alex always seemed to be a rather normal kid. He had been raised in a strict Christian home by his single mother (his father had walked out for a six-pack of Budweiser when he was two, and had never quite returned). Throughout elementary and middle school, he proved to be a star baseball player that shined every single time he played. He was a typical AP student, and never got any kind of grade below a B+. At the start of his high school years (and much to the dismay of his mother), he gave up baseball to pursue a newfound love of painting. All in all, though, he was just the average American guy.
As he moved through his high school years, however, he noticed that a slight change was going on that he had previously been unaware of. He first noticed one day that all of his friends were females, all of which treated him as if he were one of their own. This quickly brought him to a more unnerving revelation; he had never been attracted to any of his friends, either. The further that he looked back, the more that he realized that this pattern had been happening throughout his entire life.
But the most disturbing thought was that if he wasn’t attracted to girls, then who was he attracted to? The answer wasn’t very hard to conclude. He found himself glancing periodically at various guys in his classes, trying to do so without them noticing. The more that he realized that he was gay, the more ashamed he felt about himself; as a Christian, he had been raised to believe that homosexuality was the most evil sin that a person could commit, and that God despised anyone who “practiced” that kind of “evil lifestyle."
He considered discussing with his mother about the issue, but decided that that would be against his better judgement; he knew that until he was fully prepared to deal with the consequences, he would be better off keeping it to himself. So instead, he turned to the book that supposedly held all of the answers to all of the world’s problems from within its pages; The Bible. After reading through all of the books (focusing heavily on the New Testament), he came to a startling conclusion; Jesus never said a single thing about homosexuality period, and never even came close to condemning gay marriage, as many diehard Christians claimed that he did. Instead, he commanded everyone to love each other and ignore the differences between various people. He also noticed that in the Old Testament (namely Leviticus), God banned many other things right next to homosexuality; nearly all of these other laws were completely ignored by modern-day Christians. Alex realized that he was who he was for an important reason, and that God would never damn him for that.
Alex threw the suicide note down on the ground in disgust. What had he done to deserve this? What kind of sick joke was God playing on him? Before his miserable train of thought could continue on, however, he heard a sudden high-pitched squeal start up from his bedroom. Shaking ever so slightly, he stood up and stumbled into his room. Sure enough, it was his almost-completely brown guinea pig, Jamie. He reached into Jamie’s cage and picked up the pig, being careful not the get any of his feet caught up in the metal bars.
“Hey, Jamie,” Alex said, “I wish that I could tell you that everything’s going to be alright, but it’s not. I don’t know what it’s going to be, as a matter of fact.” Jamie only stared up at Alex’s face silently, adoring him with his beady black eyes. “I wish that you could understand what I’m saying! Oh, what I would give to be able to talk to my mom again!” The tears had returned. Alex walked with Jamie back into the kitchen, being careful to shield the pig’s eyes from the grotesque, dangling figure that was his mother.
Alex looked out the patio door window; the snow was falling in large clumps now. Without fully realizing what he was doing, he slowly opened the door and stepped out into the frigid cold. Instantly, Jamie climbed up under Alex’s neck and let out a small shriek, unfamiliar with the cold air. He held him closer, trying to provide as much heat to his pet as possible. There wasn’t much; he was clothed in only a thin button-up shirt, and could feel the heat slipping out fast. He walked over to the top step of the patio and sat down, cradling Jamie against his chest.
“I don’t get why any of this had to happen… it wasn’t a bad thing! I’m not a bad thing, am I? I told her that!” Alex said. “This didn’t have to happen! WHY?”
Alex had come out to his mother only a month before, after finding that all of his friends were all right with it. Although he knew that it wouldn’t be an easy endeavor, he felt that he could do it. At least, he hoped to God that he could.
It was a Thursday evening; his mother sat at her computer, playing games on Facebook, while Alex sat in a chair, reading a Dean Koontz novel. She had been in a particularly good mood that day, as her small hardware store had seen an unusually high turnout in the past few weeks (she blamed it on God’s will, while Alex thought that ice melt might have been a factor as well). He knew that her good moods were hard to come by nowadays, and figured that there was no good time like the present.
“Hey, mom,” Alex said, “Can I talk to you about something? It’s important.”
“Of course,” she replied, “What’s up?”
“Well…” It took him a moment to gather his thoughts. “Well, ever since high school started, there has been a lot of change in a lot of areas of my life, y’know? New friends, new hobbies, new realizations about myself.”
“Okay…?” she said, looking confused.
“There’s something that I’ve known about myself for a while; I didn’t really know how to say it, but I think that I’m ready now. Umm…”
“Just say it, Alex!”
“Mom, I’m gay.”
She sat completely still and silent, seemingly not comprehending Alex’s words. Finally, her eyes started to show some semblance of life from within them. “Wh-what. What did you say?”
“I’m gay, mom. I’m attracted to guys, not girls.”
“Yeah, I know what that damn word means! It means that you’ve turned your back on God! Come, we’ll pray for the Lord to take this evil affliction from you!” She attempted to take his hands into hers, but he pulled them away.
"No! Mom, God’s okay with this-"
“HOW DARE YOU SAY THAT! Nowhere in his word does he condone such vile behavior!” She was already to the point of shouting.
“What about your 'vile' behavior? God said that you aren’t supposed to mix fabrics of different kinds, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping you!” Alex said, trying to reason with her. It was of little use.
Her face flushed a dark shade of scarlet. “IT’S NOT THE SAME THING!”
By that time, Alex knew that he was winning the argument, so he made the rash decision to push even further. “How isn’t it? Where did God put any one law above any other? For that matter, where did Jesus ever say that homosexuality was bad at all?”
"But Paul said that-"
“Forget Paul! He wasn’t the Son of God!” Alex exclaimed.
His mother looked as if she had been slapped in the face. In a way, Alex supposed, she had been. “Go to bed! Now!”
Alex did as he was told, knowing that arguing the point any further would only bring about more trouble. She barely talked to him at all, only for the most basic of formalities. Although it hurt him, he was thankful that she wasn’t going to slice him with sharp words any more than she already had. In that way, at least, he could have peace.
“But it didn’t work out that way;” Alex said, “If it had, everything would have been good. It wouldn’t have been my fault…” Although he held back his tears, he could feel ice quickly forming on the sides of his face. He could barely feel his toes, and could see that his fingers were turning a light shade of blue. He had learned what this meant in health class a couple of years back; he was catching frostbite.
Alex looked down at Jamie. He had stopped whistling a while ago, and he looked so still. “Jamie?” Alex lightly patted the guinea pig on the back. “Jamie? Come on, wake up!” Alex lifted him in front of his face. The pig’s eyes were dark and glazed; Jamie was dead.
“No! Jamie! Stay with me!” Alex tried to bundle him close to himself, but there was nothing that he could do. That was when the real tears came, large, fast, and heavy. “I killed him! I can’t believe it, I killed him!” It took him several minutes to fully settle down. By that time, his fingers had darkened to a deep purple.
Alex walked around to the back of his house with his dead pet, still crying. Although it took him a few minutes of searching, he finally found a good spot to bury him in. It didn’t take long. As he walked back to the porch, he noticed that his right leg had begun to drag upon the ground. He had officially lost his leg.
He walk-dragged himself back inside the house, and into his mother’s room. He and his mother both had always been large supporters of the second amendment; as such, she always kept several weapons in the house for personal protection. He had to search around for one of them, but eventually found his mother’s large Glock. He checked to make sure that it was fully loaded, and then carried it back outside with him.
Alex had first noticed Caleb in his history class, where they were partnered up to do a project about the Civil Rights movement together. He had been attracted to him for quite a while, but was always too afraid to ever start a conversation with him about anything. Through the project, however, they got to know each other quite well. Before long, Caleb had asked Alex out on a date, which he gladly accepted.
Alex approached his mother for the first time since their last fight, in the hopes of informing her of the good news. Little did he know that just a few short hours later, everything would change for the worse.
“Mom?” Alex asked.
“Oh no, what is it now?” she responded, already sounding dismayed.
“I just wanted to let you know that I have a date tonight,” he said.
Her eyes narrowed to slits, showing a new-burning fire in her mind. “I’ll be damned before you go out on the town with some queer and commit sodomy!” she said.
"Mom, there’s not going to be any sex! He and I-"
“Do not call that act sex! It is the most evil act that a man can commit! And I know what your kind does; it’s the only thing that your kind is good at.”
He was shocked. “My kind? I’m a human, not some dog! It’s who I am, that’s all!”
She laughed, and for a moment Alex was reminded of Margret White from Carrie. “Hardly! In fact, a dog would be the best title for a person - no wait, a creature - like yourself.”
“Whatever, I’m done with this!” Alex said, bypassing his mother and walking out the door. Caleb was parked in their driveway, waiting.
As he got into the car, his mother appeared in the doorway. “If you leave, you will be damned for all time!” she shouted.
“What is that all about?” Caleb asked, surprised.
“Nothing. Please, let’s just get out of here!” Alex said, trying to cover up his frustrations.
The date went perfect, although Alex could never get his mother’s words fully off of his mind. They had a light dinner and saw a Jennifer Aniston movie, and sat around talking for thirty minutes after it was over. He did tell the truth; nothing inappropriate ever happened. Caleb leaned over and gave Alex a brief but passionate kiss before they parted ways for the night. Dreading it, Alex walked up to the front door and entered the house.
“And then I found her,” Alex said, “And now it’s all over.” He was outside and alone, knowing that he would never see another living human being again. He knew that Caleb would be hurt, but he no longer really cared; he could no longer live in a world where he knew that the deaths of his mother and guinea pig were on his shoulders. For the first time in his brief life, he hoped that there wasn’t a God; if there was, he knew that he would be going to hell for what he was about to do.
Alex pulled out his pocket knife and opened it. After a moment of reflection while staring at himself in the blade, he slit his wrists in long, jagged “X” shapes. The pain was immense, but he was able to barely tolerate it. Blood poured over the ground in large puddles, turning the perfectly white snow red. He then picked up his mother’s pistol and stared down the black chamber. He was already quickly losing consciousness, and knew that he had to do it soon, if he was ever going to do it at all. He raised the gun with a weak arm and pointed it at the base of his temple, and let it rest there.
Then Alex Monath pulled the trigger.
Written by Jeremy Lackey