I Don't Wanna Be Special (I Just Wanna Survive)
rating: +51+x

Dear Journal,

Wow. it's been a long time since I've written that. handwriting has gotten much less legible tho. Crazy how time flies.

It's Eric, by the way, in case you've forgotten. My therapist is making me do this. Mom's busy with work and stuff and I'm now entering high school as a softmo sophmo sophomore. God that's a pretentious word. Too many O's.

Anyway, I'm entering public school as a soph-o-more and I can just feel that that's gonna end real badly. Best case mom hates the school system and tries to homeschool me again. I'm not sure what the worst case is, but a lot is changing and I don't know how I feel and my therapist said "you should keep a journal," so I'm doing that.

I used to think you were real. Beyond just the tangibility of an actual journal, that is; I used to think you were like living or could think. How crazy is that?

almost as crazy as asking you a question even though I'm old enough and smart enough to know that you are not a living thinking thing. Jelly needs feeding, bc she's a good girl! I'll write when I have something to say.

Dear Journal,

School wasn't exactly as bad as I was expecting it but it was bad. Now, I knew better than to trust high school movie stereotypes, and I was right in that matter, it wasn't that bad. People weren't being mean or anything, they were just apathetic. Everyone is too tired to care. Granted, so was I, but it still kinda sucked. Nobody went out of their way to talk to me today. But I didn't go out of my way to talk to them, so I guess it tracks?

I ate lunch alone on the stairs. Does that make me a loser?
I think that might make me a loser. Well, Jelly likes me, and that's the only opinion that matters to me.

Dear Journal,

Not much happened today at school just more class.

Dad was quiet today, I guess he's happy. I know that he doesn't like me being around the house but what the hell else am I supposed to do? It's not like he does anything when he's home. He'll yell at me for things and then turn around and do them. He yelled at me this summer for watching too much tv. I watched tv about half as much as he was watching golf or hockey or whatever. ugh. whatever. I'll write tomorrow

Dear Journal,

Katherine says I'm supposed to write in you every day but like nothing happened today. It was basically Monday 2: Electric Boogaloo. Jelly's hanging out at the foot of the bed. I'm trying to figure out how to get some self-reflection done. I'm looking back at old entries, seeing where I came from I guess, and



Okay, nevermind, because Dad came in my room while I was writing, so naturally, I closed the journal. And he was like "what are you writing that I can't see?" and I was like "its nothing, just my therapy journal" and he wrestled it from my hands and started reading as I tried to get it back. I guess he read Monday and Tuesday's entries because he got really mad and went on this whole tirade about getting in trouble and "contributing to the household." What the fuck does that even mean? He started yelling about something stupid and hard to follow and basically said he was taking the journal, despite my saying it was for therapy, and he took it to his room. And despite my semi-reluctance to even write, I'm mad that he doesn't respect me enough to not be a complete dick.

I tried to talk to mom about it but she wouldn't listen, just kept saying she was busy. I think she just didn't want to deal with dad, but that means I have to deal with dad, which is bullshit. He fell asleep watching golf again and I straight up just went into his room and grabbed the journal back. Not like he'll remember taking it.

Maybe I should consider hiding my journal.

Dear Journal,

Therapy today. And not that I mind it, but why am I in therapy again? I'm not sure I understand. My mom said something about the developmental years of teenagers. Not sure if I buy that.

Anyway, I told Katherine about my week. She asked if it bothers me that I haven't made any potential friends yet and honestly, yeah it does. It occurs to me I was never quite good at making friends, but that I was more content with fewer friends as a child for some reason. My head is foggy when I think back to then.

Katherine asked about the journal and I told her I'd been writing, and about Dad freaking out yesterday. She said I deserved that privacy and I responded that basically that's a nice sentiment but it doesn't stop my dad from trying to invade it. I told her about how I'd been journaling every day and sometimes it got hard because I felt I was repeating myself. She explained that I didn't have to write in it every day.

Honestly, hearing that it wasnt a daily requirement is such a relief. I've been worrying myself recently over what to write, there have been some days where it felt like nothing happened but I forced myself to write anyways.

When did writing become hard? Like remember when I would try and make my own magic toys? I would write a whole thing about how to turn something normal into something like magical? or just straight up impossible. And at the time, I thought it worked. Glitter glue everywhere. Doing dumb things and ruining perfectly good calculators.

Just those dumb little rituals, trying to make the world a little better, or magical. Wonderful, even.



I was a pretty stupid kid, huh?

Dear Journal,

Friday finally. I'm really not looking forward to having to do school five days a week.

But something weird happened during lunch. I had to get lunch from the cafeteria bc I didn't have time to pack one last night, and as I was walking through the tables to get to the stairs some guy grabbed my shoulder. I think I have 4th period with him. He was like "you're new right" and then invited me to sit at his lunch table. He didn't seem mean and the offer seemed genuine, but when I saw his table was piled high with a bunch of muscular jock-type dudes messing around, I really didn't wanna sit with him.

At that point, somebody behind him was like "actually he was gonna sit with me and Liv today, Jake. Hope that's cool." and Jake and I looked behind us and it was this kid from my 6th period. I think he's in my 5th period too. and Jake the Jock [sidenote: is it just me or does that sound like a character from a kids' book?] was like "yeah totally, see you in history Martin" and left. I sat down at the table with the guy (Martin) because it seemed weird to walk to the stairway at that point but I kinda awkwardly sat there for a few minutes before saying anything. ugh.

Anyway, I finally was like "is there some reason you told me I was sitting with you?" he shrugged and said "I just can't stand to see the jocks grow in numbers." and I couldn't tell if he was joking, but I was too confused scared? anxious to ask for clarification. Martin introduced himself and I did the same and we were coexisting, making small talk. Eventually, this other girl came along and spent like an entire minute talking to Martin before she realized I was there. But she was very apologetic when she did realize! Her name is Liv and she and Martin are really close friends and she said they usually occupy the end of another busy table but this time they were lucky enough to eat with someone else.

Why anyone would wanna be friends with me, I have no clue.




Oh shit, that's why I'm in therapy, isn't it?

Dear Journal,
Journal,
My dearest Journal,
How's it hanging, nal?
Yo, DJ,

Idk. I'm bored. Went shopping for school supplies with Mom. Dad went through my room while I'm gone. He thinks I don't know, but I know how I left things. I think he was looking for this. You. My journal. Ugh. journals are confusing. I'm gonna have to do something about dad.

INVISIBLE JOURNAL NOTES

By Eric

For when people don't respect your privacy


1. Paint the outside of your journal with a repeating pattern, preferably with colors that match the area you plan on hiding it.

2. Grab some material from the place you plan on hiding it (e.g. a scrap of fabric from the pillowcase, thread from a rug, chipped drywall from the closet, etc)

3. Place the material and the journal into a large plastic bag together

4. Submerge the bag in cold water (filled with glitter, obviously)

5. Regret sticking your hand in glitter water

6. Suspend the bag above boiling water (not the glitter water) so that the bag catches the steam

7. Tell your parents you're doing a project on the water cycle when they come back home and find you holding a bag above a stream of steam


I know that's not going to make the journals actually invisible, but they're hidden better now and it gave me something to do. It was nice to relive my childhood sense of wonder and the magic of glitter for like an hour. And I loved painting the covers actually. Anyway now I have multiple journals in case dad tries to steal this one again.

What am I gonna do with all of them?

Hey Eric, you okay?
I'm exhausted. Learning about circadian rhythms and how they shift in teenage years at 7:30am is a cruel irony I wouldn't wish on anyone. We seriously have to do this 5 days in a row every week?
So adjusting from homeschooling is hard? I can't even imagine. :c
Are we allowed to pass notes?
Not really but the teacher doesn't care. :p Anyway, I wanted to invite you to sit with me at lunch again!
Really?
Yeah! :) You were a lot of fun to talk to the other day.
Thanks, but are you sure Martin will be okay with it?
Of course! You made an excellent impression on him. He'd love to have you join us again.
Really? Okay, sure. Thanks.
Great! Just look for us in the cafeteria. We'll save you a seat! :D

Dear Journal,

God, I miss Jelly so much during the day. Literally in the middle of class I nearly got up to go and pet Jelly and then I realized Jelly was at home and I couldn't take a break to pet my own dog. Is this why teenagers are so angsty? They don't have dogs to pet? I think I've cracked the code.

Sat with Liv and Martin again. That jock from Friday Jake came up at lunch and offered me to hang out again. Well, sort of? He was asking for my social media handles and I just kinda had to awkwardly tell him I don't really use social media. (Well, I still use the chatrooms, but that's a secret I take to the grave.) He didn't believe me at first, funny enough, asked to see my home screen. He finally believed me when I pulled out my dumbphone that was supposed to be a play on smartphone but it didn't land bc my phone isn't dumb and I honestly don't really want a smartphone.

Point is, Jake finally believed me after he saw my phone, and Martin and Liv were very clearly trying not to laugh at me, and that kinda sucked for a moment. Jake thought for a minute then decided we'd see each other in class all the time anyway, then went off to take his throne in the jungle of jocks. I can't tell if he's trying to be my friend or just being nice. Something feels off.

I might have to talk with Mom about getting a smartphone. I don't care about the actual smartphone so much. But it would be cool to listen to music. We'll see.

Dear Journal,

I think Martin and Liv have adopted me into their friend group.

I don't know why I say "I think" because they explicitly told me they have and they used that exact verbage. Adopted. what a weird way to say it. In any case we're sitting next to each other any time we have a class together, sitting at their lunch table is officially a standing invitation, etc. So I guess I have friends now. I think? I dunno, maybe they'll decide it's not worth the trouble. But they're really cool and nice and they're super funny, so I hope they keep me around. Is that desperate of me?

Anyway, they asked me if I wanted to hang out after school. They were talking about something called "GSA," and I wanted to hang out with them but therapy is right after school on Thursdays, but I couldn't tell them that, so I just told them I had to get home and apologized. At least they want to hang out with me more. Maybe.

I told Katherine about Martin and Liv today and she got pretty excited. She hid it real well behind her professional demeanor but like. I knew. And she knew I knew and was trying to convince me my knowing was wrong but it wasn't. She was excited and bad at pretending she wasn't is the point. It was weird but also kinda comforting? Like, it's weird when adults are like invested in you having friends, but it's also nice because.

Well, because it means there's someone in your corner.

Dear Journal,

I finally feel comfortable calling Liv and Martin my friends now. Obviously I'm not as close to them as they are to each other, but when they hang out they always invite me along. Mom and Dad have even met them. Mom loved them and appreciated that I'd found friends. Dad liked Liv well enough, but he was real dismissive of Martin. I'm not sure why.

School is bleh still. But when I came home a few nights ago and said I got an A on my first test, she got excited. She said we should celebrate my hard work, and I was like what but she just excitedly hurried off and came back a minute later holding something behind her back. She mentioned the whole smartphone thing and for a second I was like did she get me a smartphone because I'm still not sure if I want one and it would suck to get one only for me to not use it but it was actually a cassette player/recorder. Which honestly I think is really cool. Most artists don't really release on cassette anymore and for good reason, but there's something kind of retro about it that tickles my… whatever the excited version of a funny bone is. She said it was hers when she was younger and she managed to find it and it was still working so I should have it.

I'm actually listening to it right now. It's really hard to not get distracted and accidentally write the lyrics. Whatever, I'm too excited to stop listening.

Yep, it's recording now.

Wow! That's so cool!

Pffft! Liv, you know your phone can record things just as easy. Maybe easier.

Yeah, but this is cooler because tape recorders are more old school!

Martin gets it.

Hey, I'm not denying that old school is cool!

HahaHaha!ha!Hahaha!

Hey guys! Liv, Eric. Martin.

Uh. Hey, Jake. What's up?

Well, there's a party this Saturday, and I wanted to make sure you three knew you're invited.

A party?

Yeah! It'd be your first high school party, right? You gotta come, trust me it'll be sick!

You mean over the top?

Nah, man. It'll just be… chill. Scout's honor!

Pft, you were barely a cub scout.

Well, I think it sounds super fun! We're in.

We are?

Definitely! It'll be a lot of fun.

…I guess we'll see you there.

Sweet! It's at Cam's place. I'll text you guys the address. And Eric, I'll send you a carrier pigeon or something, haha! …Kidding! I'm kidding! I'll see you there.

So… we're going to a party this weekend?

We'll pick you up Saturday afternoon.

It'll be fun. Really, Eric.

Okay. I gotta get some water, I'll be right back.

…So. You gonna ask him any time soon?

I have no clue what you're talking about.

Come on.

…Is it that obvious?

Only to me. Wait. The party, right? That's why you wanted to go.

Partially I guess. I'll ask him then. Maybe then you can talk to Jake.

Hmph. I've tried talking to Jake, and I'm fine just being school friends anyway.

Really?

Well, you know what it's like with Jake. On his own, he's fine, even fun and… surprisingly deep. But in a group…

Yeah. I get it.

I got some chips for us.

Aww, that's sweet of you.

Did I miss any riveting conversation while I was gone?

Not really.

Oh shit my tape recorder is still—

Dear Journal,

So Dad was an asshole today.

Liv and Martin and I got invited to a party, so I told Dad when I got home and he kinda grunted in that way of his that means "okay but I'm not happy about it." But he's been this way about a lot of stuff lately and I just got sick of it so I was like "what? what's your problem with me going to a party?" and he said "I don't want you hanging out with martin anymore." And I was like ?????? "and reduce my total friend count from 2 to one? I thought me having friends was a good thing." and he tried to interrupt me and I was like "he's a good student, he's nice, he's the first person to give a damn about me in this school, he's a good influence on me" and he finally yelled in that way he does when he's like "do whatever the fuck you want but you're gonna regret it." He's so obnoxious when he gets that way.

And then when I got to my room, it was clear that he had been in there and snooping through my stuff again. He tried to put everything back but I could tell. You know, it's weird because based on where everything was he should've found the closet journal. He must've looked right at it and not seen it, because I know if he had, he would've read it and confiscated it. Guess that camouflage paint really worked.

So much happened tonight.

Wait. Shit. I'm supposed to start this with "Dear Journal"


Dear Journal,

So much happened tonight.

The long and short of it is I went to that party and everything is different now.

shit, where do I begin?
ok so

ok so Martin and Liv came over to take me to the party and my dad was grumpy as usual but i didnt pay any mind because I was hanging with my friends.

So we got to the party and immediately i get this gut feeling like i should turn around and bail, but Martin, Liv, and I press on. And I'm there surrounded by people I barely know, and everyone's drinking and stuff. So the three of us are just kind of chilling for like two seconds before Jake finds us and before we can even answer any of the myriad of questions he's asking he's somehow gotten each of us a drink. I think it was beer? it didn't taste any good so i just didnt drink it.

But before we did anything, Liv took me aside and told me that she liked me, like like liked me and basically had this giant crush on me from day one, and asked if I would go on a date with her. that had never happened to me before. And I like Liv, she's sweet and outspoken and honestly very cute, so I said okay, and we kissed a bit. Kissing her was nice, but I dunno. I just wasn't sure what i was expecting, but it wasnt like i was expecting. she wasn't the only person i kissed that night

I don't exactly remember what happened next. But somehow I got next to these guys who were smoking weed. Like, from a bong. Another teen movie cliche. And they passed it to me and Jake was there for some reason and like "I don't think Eric will enjoy that." So i grabbed it and they showed me how to do it and then, like everything got real weird. I'm still feeling it. It was a lot of smoke. Was it? It felt like a lot.

I got a little bit freaked after that? Its weird. But somebody suggested a game, and they definitely said it wasn't spin the bottle, even though it was mostly like spin the bottle. And the people who wanted to play it were like "eric should play" and it seemed like a good idea but something felt off? I looked around and martin was near me so i just kinda blurted "only if martin plays too" and then Jake like had a whisper argument with Martin? I think he was basically trying to get us to not play, but martin became weirdly determined so he sat down and I sat down on the opposite side of the circle.

basically, the game was spin the bottle except after spinning, the spinner left the room and everyone voted on whether the lander should slap or kiss the spinner, and then the spinner came back and that happened. It was fun for a few rounds, but the important thing is that eventually i spun and the bottle landed on martin. and after the deliberation whatever, I sat in front of him, eyes closed for some assenine apparently it's "asinine" reason, and then he kissed me. and it was a good kiss. Like don't get me wrong kissing liv was nice but this. this was on a completely different level. i cant even begin to describe it. It was like

Fireworks. Inside of me.


Thats stupid. And it was probably just the weed. And liv and I are trying to date and I like her.

The rest of the night was boring? we didn't stay long after

so

yeah

a lot happened tonight.

Earth to Eric! U ok there, space cadet?
Yeah, just lost in thought. What are we working on?
Trigonometric functions. I'll catch you up later.
Thanks, Jake, but that's okay.
So, watcha thinkin abt?
The party mostly. A lot happened. A lot of firsts.
& ur trying to find out how to turn those into seconds?
Maybe.
U can have my stash if u want. Been trying to quit. Shit just makes me paranoid but u seemed more relaxed. Better 4 u than me.
Really? Just like that?
Yeah. Come find me after school, we can figure it out then.
Ok. Thanks.
Of course. Just promise u wont do it around Martin 2 much. He worries.
? Ok. I mean, we're still kinda new friends so, I don't know if he'd really be that worried.
Trust me. He'll worry abt u.

Dear Journal,

It's been a while since I wrote in this particular journal. I've been cycling which ones I write through basically bc I'm paranoid. But to catch you up:

Liv and I are like, dating now and it's kinda strange, tbh. My mom was excited and even my dad seemed interested in the development so yay? I'm not sure what's so different with us dating. We make out sometimes but that's about it. Making out with her is nice I guess, and she's pretty but I guess I just don't understand dating. Am I supposed to feel something more? I don't know. I don't get romance.

We don't see Martin as much which makes me sad, and he's weirdly quiet when Liv and I are hanging out and doing couple-y things. I think it must suck to be the third wheel. Not that I know. I don't know. I don't like it though. Martin is my friend too and like sometimes I get this weird ache that's like, I miss him, even when all three of us are hanging out.

I think I just miss how things used to be. I think I might've rushed into this thing with Liv. I think I wasn't prepared to go back to public school. I think a lot of things.
And when I think too much, I get high and I listen to my cassette. And I stop thinking like me, and start thinking like John Lennon, or Nirvana, or whoever. I like not thinking like me.

Dear Journal,

Unsurprisingly, Katherine's not super keen on all of my new habits. But she promised not to tell my mom so that's good at least. She wants me to confront these thoughts I don't like thinking about, but why would I do that? Nothing good can come from me thinking these thoughts. I don't wanna rabbit hole on whatever my latest insecurity is, whether that's being a good boyfriend or wanting to see a friend who I see literally every day more, or what. I know that a wonderland of negative feelings are waiting for me at the bottom of my descent. So I don't wanna think about it.

Katherine said something that basically translated to "you're avoiding these feelings and you shouldn't do that" and I was just like "why? why do I have to be honest with myself 100% of the time?" and her answer basically came out to I'll feel better, but I've been down this road before, and no, I won't. If I have to be honest but feel like shit, I prefer the path of self-delusion and weed and feeling good.

I'm just frustrated. Not even at Katherine. Just with the world I guess. Let's go with that. The world sucks. Makes sense to be mad at the world. It's a mess. And I'm only 15 so I can't do anything to change it. And school sure as shit isn't gonna teach me how either, thereby keeping the world worse. It's a cycle of shit. The world fucking sucks.

I only noticed this recently, but people aren't really talking to me at school. Not that they were talking to me before, but like there used to be like a novelty of me being the new kid. But now I'm not new and I only hang out with Martin and Liv, and I'm okay with that I think? The only other person who regularly goes out of their way to say hi is Jake, and I still have no clue why. I think I'm gaining a reputation as a stoner. Maybe that's true. I can't really tell. I'm not really sure it matters in any case. Like if I am, so what? It feels good. I'm not going overboard after that first night, I'm avoiding the hard shit, I don't do it at home, I'm being careful. It just makes me feel good. I'm not gonna make this the origin story for Eric: the drug addict.

It just makes me feel good, ok?

Comment ça va?
Ça va bien. Est-ce que Mme Prescott lire ceci?
Je pense que tu voulais dire: « Mme Prescott va-t-elle lire ceci? » Et non.
Alors pourquoi sommes-nous encore en français?
Je ne sais pas.
Okay can we talk about the party Jake invited us to?
What about it?
Well it feels like only a few weeks since the last one?
It's been well over a month.
Wow, really? Well, anyway, you don't seem that stoked to go.
Neither did you, tbh.
Yeah. So, like, why are we going?
Liv. She likes partying sometimes. And she's my best friend and your girlfriend.
Right. I don't wanna go. But I don't wanna turn it into a thing with Liv.
She wouldn't turn it into a thing.
I know. I just… can't chance it. I'm not even sure why Jake keeps inviting me.
Because you hang out with Liv and I.
Is or was there something between Liv and Jake?
No, of course not. It's more between me and him. Short version is he and I used to be friends, but I felt neglected by him, so now we're not. Sorta.
Is that how you feel since Liv and I got together? Neglected?
What? No. Why would you think that?
I just feel like things are different between you and me lately. Like I did something wrong and I don't know what. And I think it started at that stupid party.
You haven't done anything wrong. You're still my friend, everything's fine. I guess you're kinda right, but if things are different, that's my fault. I know you two haven't neglected me. And things haven't felt too off to me.
Maybe I'm just paranoid. Maybe what everyone says about me is right.
Fuck them. You're still awesome in my book, and in Liv's.
Good. Yours are the only opinions that matter.
So, the party?
For Liv.
For Liv.

Dear Journal,

You know when your brain moves too fast and you can't process what's going on and you can't even blame it on drugs? Yeah. That feeling is the worst. I want to do something, but there's nothing to do.

Sometimes I just want the world to stop for a second.



Wait. That gives me an idea.

STOP-THE-WORLD WATCH NOTES

By Eric

For when the world is too fucking much


1. Quietly retrieve your old pocket watch (from when you thought pocket watches were cool), red construction paper, scissors, and some glitter glue (duh) in the dead of night. Try not to wake anyone.

2. Try to cut a red octagon out of construction paper.

3. Try again.

4. Try just cutting a square, then cutting out the corners, and finally say fuck it and go with that octagonal mess.

5. Use the glitter glue to stick the red octagon on the back of the watch

6. When that doesn't work use super glue.

7. Sprinkle glitter on the watch face (duh)

8. When the world gets to be too much, hold the watch, breathe deeply, and for just a moment, the world will stop, allowing you to regain your composure.

So me and my friends went to another party tonight. When we got there, Liv was clinging on my arm and it felt weird and public and uncomfortable in a way i couldn't place. and we were hanging out for a little while before running into Jake, and I expect the whole rigamarole of him talking to us too jovially, but instead he just got this stern look on his face and asked Martin "hey can I talk to you somewhere?" and Martin got weirdly defensive, but eventually Jake pulled him away, and Liv and I just looked at each other uncomfortably for a moment, so I was like "I'm gonna get a drink" and I went to look for Martin and Jake, and I didn't see them for a second, but I saw them in the back yard, and I couldn't tell what was happening but Martin seemed really angry, but Jake didn't.

Eventually Martin just stormed away, and Jake tried to follow him but Martin shouted at him, stormed back to the house, grabbed a beer, and chugged it. & that seemed uncharacteristic to me, so I decided to stay sober for the night. For most of the night I just wandered around aimlessly, mainly just trying to make sure Martin was okay.

I passed a group of people who were smoking, and somebody asked if I wanted in. And before I could respond, somebody said "It's Eric, of course he does!" and that really irked me. Because, normally he'd be absolutely right but tonight was different and weird. And I didn't like being spoken for so I was just like "no" and left. I felt weirdly tense, and that made me want to smoke more, but I didn't because I told myself I had to be there for Martin, except Martin was nowhere to be found. Which made me feel stupid and weird.

Eventually I got to a room where people were playing slap or kiss again, because I guess nobody here knows any other party games. And I had no intention of playing. But then I heard a voice say "I'll only play if Eric plays." It was Martin. Slurring his speech, and giving me this dopey grin from the other side of the room. I carefully made my way across the room and was basically like "I'm not playing this stupid game, let's go," but he kept insisting. He pulled me down next to him, and it was at that moment that I realized he had been sitting next to Jake. Jake seemed uncomfortable with the whole thing too, but I couldn't figure out what part of it was wrong.

I played along a few rounds, each time trying to get Martin to get up and leave, until eventually it landed on me and I had to spin. And of course, lucky me, it landed on Martin. So I left the room so they could vote, and then Liv found me. I told her about Martin and she grimaced. I basically said we should leave and she told me she would wait out front for us. And of course, 2 seconds after she leaves, I have to go back in and sit in front of Martin, and I'd hoped our classmates would have some situational awareness, but NOPE. He just started kissing me, and people were laughing, and he was sloppy, but it still felt weirdly good to me for some reason. And I still don't get it.

So it was Martin's turn and he spun and left the room all smiley still, and I just basically told everyone "I'm taking him home," and some people were like disappointed, but Jake was just like "You'll make sure he's okay?" and I was just like "Of course." and then walked out, told Martin "game's over" and started leading him out of the house. And then on our way out he said


I just debated writing this for several minutes.

He said "You know, Liv's wrong. You're an excellent kisser."

And it was weird and embarrassing. And I guess Liv doesn't like my kissing. I wish he hadn't said that.

Liv and I practically carried Martin. Liv went home, but I took Martin back to my house. And Dad didn't want him there at first but mom basically overruled him. I carefully got him in my room, got a sleeping bag out and painfully waited for sleep to come.

But Martin wouldn't stop talking. He was like "Jake is pretty stupid," and kept saying similar things and he was laughing for a bit. But then he got weepy.
And he said "Why do I only ever fall for stupid guys?"
And then everything clicked. The whole thing with Jake. Why my dad doesn't like Martin. The weird unspoken thing of why Martin and Liv aren't dating.
And all I could say is "I'm sorry there are so many stupid guys in your life."

Because I'm a stupid guy, too. Because like


Okay so I like dating Liv. And I find her (and girls in general) attractive. But something happened the two times I kissed him and I can't explain it. I'm like 99.999% sure I'm not gay. But something's missing with me and Liv.

I'm not one of the stupid guys Martin fell for, I know that. But realizing he liked guys made me feel weird. But like a good weird? And feeling good weird made me feel weird weird. Because. Why would that be good?

But I cant stop thinking about the two times I kissed Martin.
And I must've kissed Liv dozens of times. And I never thought about them like this.
And he's asleep now and I can't stop thinking.

I think I think too much. At least I can pet Jelly. And at least I can stop time for a bit. Not that it will get me back the extra hours of sleep.

Dear journal,

I'm still reeling from last night. And I feel really uncomfortable. Martin barely remembered anything this morning and clearly had a massive hangover. As soon as I was awake enough to process what was happening I quickly snuck him out of the house and we went to go get waffles. And we were quiet as we waited for our waffles, which honestly is fine with me, because I just like spending time with him, but then he was like "did I say anything dumb last night?"

And I debated what to say for a sec, but eventually I said "the only thing I remember is that you told me you were… gay." And he didn't really seem surprised or anything. he said something like "it's not a secret or anything." but I still felt weird that he told me and didnt remember and I feel so weird.

I didn't want to bring up Jake. Or the kiss. Or the first kiss. Or anything.

I just wanted to eat a waffle for a few quiet seconds with my best friend.

Dear journal,

It occurred to me that last entry was the first time I called Martin my best friend. But it's true. He is. And it feels weird because I know I'm not his, because he's way closer to Liv. And so despite him being my best friend, and Liv being my girlfriend, I somehow feel left out? I tried to explain how I'm feeling to Katherine but I didn't describe it well. I didn't bring up the kiss thing to Katherine. I know she wouldn't tell my parents, but I'm still trying to figure this out myself. I searched up sexuality test and the first thing I saw was a post online that said if you're searching up sexuality tests, you're gay. Which obviously, cleared everything up for me. Ha.

I just don't get it. Something's shifted and I can't tell what, and it feels like I'm going insane. I bring that stupid pocket watch to school because when I'm alone and I pull it out, I swear I feel everything slow down, just for a second. And I can breathe.

I'll see Jake on occasion. He's not hanging around the other jocks as much anymore. Honestly all I can figure out that something happened or is happening with him and Martin. I've discovered I really don't like Jake. But he's also a decent guy when I have to work with him in class? It's weird. I don't get it. I don't get anything anymore. I just wanna listen to music and feel like things make sense for once.




BIS







EXU







AL!





HOLY

FUCKING

SHIT!!


There's a word for it! How did I never know? Bisexual. There's a word for it.

Okay wait, let me explain.

So Martin and Liv are always doing "GSA" on Thursday afternoons (which I politely pretended to know what it was, like friends do) and Mom always takes me to therapy right after school. Except today my appointment was pushed back an hour, so I was like "might as figure out what the hell GSA stands for." after today, I asked Mom and Katherine if we could have appointments one hour later from now on.

Apparently GSA stands for Gay-Straight Alliance (well, officially it's Gender and Sexuality Alliance but Liv kept saying the first so). There were flags all around the meeting room and different students with pins matching the flag's colors and I was like ??? and Martin was like you know how the rainbow flag is for gay people, to which I nodded like a liar, and he explained there are other flags for other sexualities and even genders and I was confused and a little overwhelmed honestly.

And he explained the rainbow one, and this like cotton candy colored one (trans I think?) and a few others and there was one that was pink and purple and blue and he said that one was bisexual, so I was like whats that, and he said it was when you were attracted to girls and boys and I was like "THAT'S A THING?!?!?!?!?!" which got a laugh from everyone but I didn't know

I didn't know I could be attracted to boys and girls.
I was right. I'm not gay.
I'm BISEXUAL.

Dear journal,

Hi. I'm Bi.




And I think I've just pieced together a lot of really obvious stuff about myself.

Dear journal,

No. I'm not doing it.
But I should.
But it's stupid.
But it's not fair to either of us.
Shut up.
Maybe I should flip a coin.
But I need to think this through.
I need to do it don't I?
But why should I have to?
I can't figure it out.

THE MAKE-UP-YOUR-FUCKING-MIND-A-TRON NOTES

By Eric

For when you just need to make a damn decision


1. Cover a quarter with glitter glue (obviously)

2. Assign options to heads and tails.

3. Flip it.

4. Accept the fucking result and just go along with what it says, steady in your resolve.








Shit.

Dear journal,

Today I made the dumbest choice I've made in a long time.
Well, maybe not the dumbest. I stand by it, but…
I don't know.

The long and short of it is I broke up with Liv. I was honest and I told her something didn't feel right in our relationship, and that I liked her better as a friend, and that she shouldn't have to pretend to like my kissing. I can't tell what she's thinking. But I know she probably doesn't like me right now. That's why I decided to tell her today. Friday after school. She and I will both have the weekend to process and deal with shit.

And then I went to find Martin. Because I wanted him to hear about the break up from me, so that I could explain. And I found him talking to Jake, and I asked to talk to him alone and then I realized.

They were holding hands.
My timing was fucking perfect.

And I brushed him off and said I'd tell him later. And then I went home and started writing, but this isn't working. I feel like crying. Or screaming into my pillow. Or punching a wall. or getting high. Maybe all of the above. I'll let you know what works.

Dear Journal,

Had to get lunch from the cafeteria today. Jake was sitting with Martin and Liv. I looked away before they saw me and went to eat lunch on the stairs. I'm spending most of my time with the other "stoners" these days. I guess it's official.

I don't know why I care so much. I shouldn't.

But I haven't talked to Liv or Martin in almost a week. And I try to ignore Jake in the few classes we have together. Maybe one day this will make sense.

Katherine thinks I should just talk to them. But how can I? Which one of them would want to hang out with me at this point? It's better if I just leave them alone. I don't want to drag them down with me.

Ahhhhh, look at all the lonely people

Ahhhhh, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rig-

-op it, Jelly! Hey, I was listening to that!

Bad dog! Get back here! Oof!

Eric?

Jake. Shit.

Dude, are you okay? I just saw you trip and… wait, Eric-?

I'm fine! Just- Just go away.

Eric, you don't look fine. You look like you've been-

It's weed, okay? Everyone already thinks I'm a stoner so… it's…

Eric… What's wrong? Let's talk about it, huh? I'll walk you home and-

I can't go home.

What?

…my dad kicked me out.

Come on, get up.

What?

We're going back to my place.

Jake, I can handle myself.

Where were you planning on going, huh? Where are you going to sleep tonight?

…here?

Yeah, no, you're coming with me.

I appreciate it, but-

Eric. That wasn't a request. Get your ass off the ground, and come with me.

Woof!

Hey there buddy! Who's a good girl? Who's a good girl? You are!

Seems like your dog's made up her mind.

…fine.

Your dog is really friendly.

Yeah. Jelly. Her name's Jelly. I grabbed her before my dad could say anything.

I have a dog at my place. Scooter.

Yeah?

Yeah. Think they'll play nice?

Jelly loves other dogs, so probably.

Heh. …Have you told Martin and Liv yet?

…I haven't really talked to them in a while.

But they're your best friends.

Were. They were. But since I broke up with Liv… I don't know. I haven't really talked to them. They probably hate me.

I'm sure that's not true. I mean, I don't know how Liv feels, but Martin has no reason to hate you.

Maybe, but I'm not putting him in that situation.

What situation?

Of having to choose between his two closest friends. And I know if I did put him in that situation that he'd choose Liv. I'm just some guy he basically just met.

Dude, what are you on about? Why would he have to choose? Why would he choose Liv if he did have to choose? You're his friend, Eric. And you're really lucky for that.

I know I'm lucky, I know I'm his friend, but I can't lose him because then I won't have anyone, so I don't talk to him so I won't lose him!

…You're not gonna lose anyone. Plus, you have me. And don't go pulling that "we don't know each other" bullshit. I know you, Eric. I see you, and I like what I see.

You don't know the first thing about me.

…What's that there?

Cassette player. Shit it's rec-

Dear Journal,

I was getting careless. I must've left a journal lying out. I don't know which one. I don't know why Dad threw me out. If it was the weed, or the homoerotic subject matter, or something else, or some combination of it all. Or maybe it had nothing to do with it. Maybe he was just drunk and angry about something else. I think that possibility scares me most.

I don't think mom knows. This seems like something dad just kind of decided. I don't know how to approach mom about this or even if I should

I kind of glossed over the staying with Jake thing but it feels like something he just kind of glossed over. Jelly and Scooter are playing in his yard. But it's unsettling to be here when I still don't know how I feel I do know how I feel though. I'm jealous of him. That's what this is isn't it? I'm jealous because



But I'm staying at his house. It's weird. I don't know. I don't know where I'm gonna go tomorrow, but I don't wanna stay here. I don't know what I'm supposed to do now. I'm lost.
And to top it all off, I accidentally recorded over my Revolver cassette.
I'm tired.

Hey u still up?
Yeah? Why are we writing instead of whispering?
Family of very light sleepers. Especially the dog. Sound carries weirdly in this house.
What do you want?
i dont know. to talk i guess. to see if ur doin ok. r u?
Not really. Kinda been the worst day of my life.
im sry. i know its not much but i can talk to my parents & explain ur situash. u could prolly stay for a while
Oh shut the fuck up. I'm finding another place to stay tomorrow.
! ? Why?
Because this is too much for me, Jake. Were not even friends.
id beg to differ
you barely know me.
ID BEG TO DIFFER.
whatever.
r u angry @ me? did i do somethin wrong?
No. I just. don't like you in general. which sounds terrible written out like that. because it is. fuck.
?? why??
You dont want to know.
yes i do
No, you don't.
YES I DO
No, you don't. Because then you'll hate me too.
im not gonna hate u. im not capable of that.
come on answer me
look ill be a punching bag 4 u to vent at but i need to know y im being punched
im not gonna stop bothering u until u write back

Fine. You really wanna know?
YES
It's that you're so popular and charasmatic, but you're a dick any time its not one on one. You act like this typical meathead jock but you're too nice to even make fun of. And you clearly pissed off Martin but yet he forgives you? It's all just too much and
That's not it. Those are just rationalizations.
The truth is I'm jealous of you.

?? jealous? y??

…I think I might be in love with Martin.

oh.

yeah.

well i dont hate u
Yeah, right.
i dont. its just. awkward.
how did u know we were… together? i guess?

I was gonna tell him that or some variation on it after breaking up with Liv. But it was too late. He was holding your hand.
oh.
yeah.
…I think Martin hates me.
? I thought you worked things out?
We did. but i was vague with him for a long time. I liked him, but I wasn't ready to be out.
& now you are?
no. not really. but it turns out what bothered Martin abt that wasnt the coming out thing. he felt that i didnt wanna be seen with him because of some social class bs.
which maybe was true. and now im the one who sounds terrible. and also why martin probably hates me

he doesn't hate u.

can I ask when you knew you were queer? If that's the right word?

When I was pretty young I guess? i found out gay marriage was legal in canada and immediately wanted to move to canada to marry my best friend.
y u askin?

Idk. It's all new to me and I'm trying to figure it out.
I'm pretty sure I'm bi? But I only just figured that out recently.
I feel so stupid for not knowing. Not realizing sooner.

hey, ur not stupid. these things take time to figure out
is that y ur dad kicked u out?

I honestly don't know. Maybe. But maybe not. He's an asshole, so he might've just done it out of spite. he's disappointed in me as a son.
Then hes a fucking idiot. & he doesnt see who u r.
I'm starting to get what Martin sees in you.

Jake,

Thanks for letting me making me stay the night. I could say sorry a million times and thank you a million more and it wouldn't make up for what you did for me. I'm eternally in your debt, which kinda sucks all things considered.

As for what we talked about last night, I'm sorry about what I said. It was true, but it was also stupid and baseless. You're actually a really good person, and I'm happy Liv and Martin have accepted you into the group.

Speaking of, you'll notice two more notes underneath this one addressed to each of them. I'm afraid I must ask you a favor. I need you to explain what happened to me and give them the letters. Obviously, I'm not gonna be around for school since I left before you even woke up. I'm fine, don't worry, I'm not hurt, not gonna do anything stupid, I'm just trying to figure out my options. But I can't give these to them. I can't see them again. I don't deserve that privilege after ignoring them for so long. You can look at the letters if you need to, but I'd appreciate you not doing that.

With any luck, I'll be back for Jelly in a few days. But if something goes wrong… will you find her a good home? And give her lots of pets and treats from me? I'll let you know if it comes to that, one way or another.

Thank you so much for everything.
-Eric

Liv,

I'm really sorry for everything I did. For being a bad boyfriend, for breaking up with you, for being a bad kisser, etc. In truth, I was attracted to the intangible idea of a girlfriend that I didn't know what to do when I got one. You deserve so much better than me. Know I don't regret any of the time we spent together. You're really fucking awesome, and if I ever work up the nerve to show my face again, I hope we can be friends again. If that's what you want. Thank you for all of the fun times we had.

-Eric

Martin,

God I have so many things to say to you I don't know where to start. I have apologies I could make for things you never knew about, pleas I could make that you'd have no way of answering, things I could say, so so many things I can say.

But I won't. Because I want what's best for you. And what's best is to only know the following:

I'm sorry that I'm the stupidest guy in your life. And I'm forever grateful that you took a chance on the new kid and decided to be my friend. You were my first and best friend in high school. Maybe ever. And that's meant so much to me. Thank you for everything.

-Eric

Mom,

I really don't know what to say. I just want you to know I'm okay. Maybe you already know. I don't know. I'm sorry.

-Eric

Dad,

I have nothing to say to you.


Dad,

What the fuck is your problem?


Dad,

Why? Why did you do that? Don't I at least deserve an explanation for why today you decided to be a massive dick?

Fuck. And fuck you.

EMPATHY GENERATOR NOTES

By Eric

For my father


1. Carve your name into the last thing you own so no one can take it from you.

2. Buy some blank cassettes

3. Glitter in the cassette player (duh)

4. Do the only thing you can to take your mind off of everything.

5. Record what you're thinking. Unfiltered. Make him understand.

…Fuck.

I did this specifically so I could speak my mind to you.

Pffffft hehehehe- and now I have no fuckin' idea what to say.

Haha, hahaha, HAHAHA! Fuckin'… incredible.

Ha… ha…

…Dad, why do you hate me so fucking much?

I'm your son. What the fuck did I do to make you despise me? I don't get it. I… never did anything to you. Why do you hate me? You have no clue what it's like being me. But you never give me a chance to explain. You just think I'm a failure… for no reason.

I'm just trying to get through, I'm just trying to survive high school, and dating, and YOU, and I shouldn't need to survive you. I never did…

I never did anything to you. It's not me is it? It's your failing.

Fatherhood too much for you? Not all it was cracked up to be?

…You're the one who should be in therapy.

Maybe then you'll see things from my perspective. For fucking once in your miserable life.

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