Why Kris?

So a friend of mine was reading my story, The Long Way Home, and he kinda rolled his eyes in his funny little “Why? Why oh why?” sort of way. When I confronted him about it (that makes me sound defensive over my story…I wasn’t like “You have a problem with my story?” or anything like that, I just wanted to know what had amused him so much) he asked me why I picked strange names for the two main characters while everyone else (well…except for the kids) has near normal names.

My first reaction was “typical non-reader!”, but then the more I thought about it, the more I thought that there may be others thinking the same thing on here, so here I am, about to explain my rigid and methodical mind when it came to naming my characters.

First of all let’s start with Kris, short for Kristos. This came about from the original spelling: Christos. Christos means ‘Christ’ – surprise surprise. Because Kris is gay, not all types of Christians would be accepting of him, so I chose to change the spelling of Christos to suit this. I guess it was also my feeble attempt in giving the message that although the character is gay, he is still entitled to his beliefs/religion – he’s hardly the devil just because he’s gay after all. As the Bible says, “Love thy neighbour as thyself”, as well as passages in the Old Testament book Leviticus prohibiting “lying with mankind as with womankind”. The name Kristos was supposed to take these things into account…though I guess I’ve kinda failed there, haha!

Okay, Bea is quite a simple one. The name Bea means ‘bringer of joy’. Bea is the one that Kris has always turned to for advice, as well as being the first to realise that her brother was gay. She has always been there for him, trying to bring him happiness, so I thought it only right for her name to reflect that.

The name Daniel also has a meaning to me, though my friend didn’t pick up on this since it’s a “normal” name; Daniel means ‘worshipper of God’. In using this name I don’t mean the character actually believes in God or anything – it has more to do with the fact that if he thinks something is bad, he will avoid it, like he is doing with Kris. He’s obviously been brought up learning that to be gay is wrong, and he feels peer pressure from the bullies at school that to hang out with a gay person is wrong, so he rejects Kris so that he can stay on what he considers the “right path”. He’s not a bad guy, just misguided in trying to do what is right.

So I hope you guys understand what I was trying to explain to you (seriously, whenever I get an ‘Explain…’ question in exams, I fall apart!). If not, I do apologize; feel free to comment and tell me you haven’t a clue what the hell I’m waffling on about. I will try again at explaining in English.

In the meantime, keep smiling. Smiling’s good for you. Although you might get crow’s feet, it’s much more attractive than that frown line that could form between your eyebrows!

Claire

The Long Way Home – Chapter Ten

“Daniel. Come on, Daniel. This is stupid. Daniel!”

His words were falling on deaf ears – ignorant ears. It riled Kris up to no end, and he grabbed the other boy’s elbow in an attempt to spin him round to face him. Daniel yanked his arm away, his face a picture of disgust that hurt Kris more than anything that he could possibly say.

“Leave. Me. Alone.” 

“This is ridiculous, Daniel!” Kris whined. “Why are you being like this? I thought we were supposed to be friends.” 

“I’m not gay!” was the snarl’s words. 

“Well yeah, you’ve made that pretty clear!” Kris snapped back. “But as my friend I would’ve thought you’d give me more credit!” 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Daniel challenged, green eyes flashing in the daylight. 

“Do you really think that even if I did like you in that way I would just jump your bones at the first chance I had?” His profuse blushing was enough to go against the denial he had voiced about his feelings for Daniel, but Kris continued in any case. “We have been friends for years! You have known me for eleven years, and although I wasn’t out at the time-” 

“Okay, just stop!” 

“Daniel-” 

“How long?” 

“What?” 

“How long have you had this…thing for me?” 

Kris paused, unsure whether to be honest or not about this. Choosing truth, he said, “Do you remember that time when we were going to play football with your cousins, but they bailed on us and we ended up racing one another around the field instead?” 

“Yeah, I do,” Daniel nodded, his eyes starting to glaze over as he recalled that day. “It was boiling that day; middle of July, wasn’t it? I remember we were all sweaty and decided to take a dip in the river nearby to cool off…” He frowned suddenly. “Wait.” He looked at Kris, a look of horror contorting his features. “That long?” he breathed. Kris nodded, his eyes concentrating on the ground before his feet. “A year?!” 

“Ten months!” Kris corrected quickly, blushing profusely. “Anyway, that’s not the point! The point is that I never came on to you during that period of time, did I? So what’s different now?” 

Daniel seemed unable to come up with an argument, his mouth opening and closing a few times. He looked like he was actually going to say something when a few of Daniel’s teammates came up to them. 

“Hey! Danny boy! What are you doing talking to this poofter?” Sam, the captain, snarled. His punctuated his question by shoulder barging into Kris, causing him to stumble backwards. 

“Daniel, please. We were friends. Best friends! Why can’t we go back to that?” Kris begged. Daniel walked over to him under the watchful eyes of Sam and the others. Kris allowed himself to get his hopes up as Daniel looked uncertainly at him – at least he wasn’t looking at him as though he was a piece of dirt. 

“Daniel? Dude…” Sam trailed off, frowning in confusion. Daniel turned his head to look back at his fellow teammates before looking back to Kris, an unsure look upon his face. Then all of a sudden the green eyes turned dark and before Kris knew what was going on Daniel had knocked him to the ground. He had no time to recover as Daniel kicked him hard in the ribs before lifting him slightly by the front of his shirt. 

“I’m not interested, fag,” he snarled before dropping Kris and leaving, Sam and the other boys sniggering as they followed Daniel. Kris tried not to but he let out a pitiful sob as he curled himself up in a ball, his eyes squeezed shut, silently begging the world to swallow him up, extract him from this pathetic life he lead. It was only when he felt a gentle hand on his back that he opened his eyes and looked to find the source of comfort. It was a girl he knew from his classes, Kerry Torrell. She had always seemed quite distant from everyone, so it was a surprise to see her kneeling over him, concern swimming in the depths of her hazel eyes. 

“Don’t be ashamed when you’re dubbed a ‘fag’,” she said softly. “Arseholes talk shit, and those were arseholes!” 

Kris laughed through his tears, allowing Kerry to help him up. He winced as he felt his ribs cry out in agony from his movement and a low hiss left his lips, but he managed to get to his feet. “Thanks,” he smiled, “but Daniel’s not an arsehole; he’s my friend.” 

“Hmm. Some friend,” Kerry sighed. “Reminds me of my ‘friend’.” Her voice was dripping with sarcasm as she drawled out the word ‘friend’, using air quotes to further prove her bitterness towards this person. 

“What do you mean?” Kris frowned. 

“It means I’m a lesbian,” Kerry deadpanned. “Had a huge crush on my supposed best friend, Jasmine. When I came out, she ditched me. Said she heard rumours going round that I had the hots for her. I didn’t deny it, so she begged her parents to let her move school. The last thing she said to me was ‘I never want to see you again’. Nor has she.” 

“Ouch,” Kris cringed for Kerry. “Have you got any other friends?” 

“Nope.” She paused, looking him in the eyes intently. “Unless you have an offer for me.” Kris smiled and went to hug her, but she stepped back and away from his grip. “If we are going to be friends,” she muttered, “you must know that I don’t do hugs.” 

Kris chuckled at this. “Deal,” he said.

Two more pictures! …And a long long lonnnng gabble about the supercouple ‘Nuke’

Jake Silberman and Van Hansis as Noah and Luke from As The World Turns.

Gosh I loved Luke Snyder’s story even before Van took over from Jake Weary. He’s just an interesting character, sometimes even seeming like he has multiple personalities. He can be really funny and cheeky, caring and putting others before himself, or really really whiny and irritable. He makes me laugh, smile, cry and scream in frustration, which is probably why I love his character so much. But most of all – since it’s Van Hansis – he’s adorable. There are times when it is very clear that he has the Grimaldi blood running through his veins (his real name is Luciano Eduardo Grimaldi, biological son of wealthy businessman Damien Grimaldi who is constantly involved in dodgy dealings), though he would feel totally ashamed if he realised that some of his actions reflect the way of the Grimaldi family. He considers Holden Snyder to be his real dad.

When Luke came out as gay, my heart bled for him because his mother, Lily, couldn’t accept him, and when Damien found out he wanted to ship Luke to some de-gaying camp. Skipping all the drama, Lily finally accepted Luke, and Damien was out of his life for a few more years. Til the next time. Git.

And then a certain Mr Noah Mayer came into Luke’s life. Noah, a military brat, wants to be a film director. At first he’s shy and repressed, in denial about his sexuality, and willing to lie and use others to keep his father happy. Yeah, the submission towards his father, Colonel Winston Mayer, made me cringe. How could he live like that? I guess he didn’t really have a choice, poor sod. When he finally accepts himself for who he is, and gets together with Luke, their relationship gradually makes him more confident and assertive. Although things between them were good – very good – when Noah wasn’t running away from his troubles and Luke wasn’t being a brat, for every good day there seemed to be ten bad ones. And then Noah became blind as a result of an accident with fireworks and was a total ass to Luke. Luke went all Grimaldi to help Noah, blackmailing Dr Reid Oliver, the best neurosurgeon in the country (and possibly the most arrogant), to come and operate on Noah.

After a lot of snide comments, sarcasm and simply making one another’s lives a misery, Luke and Reid’s spark of hatred became a spark of attraction (I guess there really is a thin line between love and hate!) as they started to work together, consequently causing them to actually get to know one another. And by GOD! When Luke finally let go of Noah and started a relationship with Reid, we both had our eyes opened to what a real relationship is all about! So when Reid bloody well DIED, I was possibly as heartbroken as Luke.

I’m glad that As The World Turns didn’t rush Luke’s grief and get him back with Noah in time for the last episode to air, which I had been worried about since the writers could sometimes be a bit stupid with their writing. And it seemed that Noah realised that he couldn’t just keep pushing Luke away, hurting him, and then expect him to go back to him again and again.

If Luke did go to LA when he healed, and forgave Noah (which I hope he did), I think they would’ve had a more stable relationship, without the whole breaking up and getting back together like they did before. I feel they had the potential to be a real loving couple, and I hope that in the fictional world that they proved me right.

Anyway, enough of my babbling. Enjoy the pictures. And more will be going up soon.

Keep smiling! And I’m sorry if I got on your nerves with this raving about a show that ended two years ago!

Short Story: Happy

The sun rose above the hills along the horizon, filling the sky with fiery shades of red and orange. The clouds glowed yellow, and the light that fell through them reached out to Erin. But as she watched the beautiful colours mix with the greenery before it, Erin couldn’t help the dampening mood that had overcome her two months before. It lingered over her like a black cloud, and even the cheery chirps of the morning birds outside her window weren’t enough to make her smile. She mindlessly doodled on the notepad on her desk, and she sighed exasperatedly when her downcast eyes caught sight of her watch. She had been simply sitting there for what was now three hours.
The notepad was thrown across the room, colliding with the opposite wall and landing at its feet with the pages all folded and askew. Erin leaned back in her chair, rubbing her face vigorously with the palms of her hands. Why was this happening to her? After everything…
She got up. Before she could think about what she was doing she was outside, breathing in the warming air the sun brought to her lungs. She didn’t know where she was walking to, nor did she care. She just had to get out; she had to think. The wind ran its cool fingers through her tousled hair and the trees waved at her. She crossed the main road and walked through the park, and eventually she found herself standing outside a familiar building. Her feet stalled to a stop, faltering, hesitant. Was this really the right choice?


She knew that no matter how many times Troy broke her heart she would love him unconditionally. He was a charming young man at his best, with deep blue eyes that she would find herself drowning in. He was her first love, and she had been very sure that he’d be her last. But unfortunately, loving somebody like Troy wasn’t easy. He had grown up by the rules that emotions were a weakness and that men were more superior. But Erin had stolen his heart, as had he stolen hers, and the cold exterior had started to melt away, allowing them to live the wonderfully new life of first lovers.
The new flat had supposed to be the next commitment for them, the next step towards their future. Instead it seemed to have brought the coffin, each row they had being a hammer hitting the head of another nail, the tip biting into the wood. Troy hadn’t been as driven as Erin; whereas Erin knew that she wanted to be an architect from the moment she started art and design at high school, Troy had always been more laid back, not knowing – or caring for that matter – what career path he would take. So the arguments commenced, arguments about rent and bills and Troy needing to get a job. It had been the final straw when he started with his snide comments, calling her a “badgering old bint”. She had packed her stuff immediately, moving back in with her parents without another word to him.
It seemed now, of course, that it had opened Troy’s eyes to the fact that he had been a jerk. He had called her two days ago, telling her that he had sorted himself out and wanted her back. He had a new job as a sales executive and enjoying it, but would only truly be happy if she went back to him.
So she did. And now he had kicked her out. It was getting pretty embarrassing now – this was the fourth time she had knocked on her parents’ door asking if she could move back in.
“Why do you bother with him?”
She had often asked herself the same question, but the answer had been simple: she loved him. She loved him with all her heart, and she knew despite everything that he loved her too.
It was that night in the pub that she saw him. He had that young Richard Gere look about him and his eyes seared into hers with an intensity that took her breath away. He was an assassin, he joked, later explaining that he actually saved lives as opposed to taking them away. He was sarcastic yet charming, arrogant yet complimentary, and those eyes drew her in like a moth to a flame.
She couldn’t help but feel like she had cheated on Troy when she awoke in the strange bed. The covers flew across the room as she jumped up and rushed to get dressed, feeling sick and hung-over despite the fact that she had never drank a drop of alcohol in her life. Ian had left a note on the bedside table to inform her that he had rounds to do, to which she sighed her relief. At least she wouldn’t have to face any awkwardness with him.
The sickness feeling only intensified as she caught sight of Troy going into work. Guilt wasn’t a sensation she was used to, and now she felt like she was overcome by it. She couldn’t think straight; leaning against the nearest wall she took deep breaths to calm herself down, feeling as her heart rate started to slow gradually. Why was she acting like this? Troy and she were over. She was allowed to be with whoever she wanted.
But maybe Troy was the only one she wanted to be with.
A couple of days later she found herself in the pub she met Ian in, her eyes searching for the Richard Gere lookalike. She wasn’t sure why she was so drawn to him. Maybe it was because she knew he wanted her. Maybe she’d decided that the thrill she got from this mysterious doctor had her feeling like her 24 years as opposed to a nagging mother. Maybe-
“Looking for someone?”
She turned to be met by the dark stare that make her breath hitch in her throat. “No, not at all,” she said too quickly, and she chastised herself for making it so apparent that she was nervous around him. His smirk was not cocky as she’d expected, instead cheeky and…

She shook her head and returned her gaze to the bartender.

“A coke, please. Diet.”

“Diet?” Ian mused. “Health freak?”

“No,” she snapped before she could muster a calm state of mind. “I just prefer the taste.”

“Ah. Make that two,” he called to the barman before meeting Erin’s puzzled look and winking at her.

It was perceptible that the doctor was genuinely attracted to her, and she to him. But it was also evident that Erin was scared. She was scared of this thing – whatever the hell it was – with Ian, and she was scared of the idea of turning her back on what she once had with Troy for good.


This feeling nearly caused a collapse in the supermarket when she bumped into Troy. Why? Of all people in the supermarket, why him?

“Woah, hey!” he’d said, turning to meet her shocked expression with one of his own. “Erin.”

“Troy.”

The silence between them had been deafening, not to mention awkward, and Erin had left without another word. She felt all over the place. Guilty. Torn.

And now here she was. Standing outside the building that held her fate. Possibly the building holding her future. Her hesitant steps became confident, and she walked inside, taking the elevator to the required floor. It was as if she had punched his name into the elevator because the doors opened to him. Of course – he was probably going to the cafeteria for his lunch break.
“Erin?” The smile that came to his face was both pleased and puzzled at the same time. It was adorable, and at that moment she knew that she had made the right choice.
“Hey.”
“What are you doing here?” he laughed. “I thought you hated-” She cut him off with a kiss, a kiss full of fear and desire, love and pain, the need to be happy. And he kissed back with as much intensity, holding her firmly in his arms.
“Not that I’m complaining, but what was that about?” he asked when they broke apart.
“I want to be with you,” Erin breathed. “I want to be happy…with you. Ian…”
“Shh…” Ian kissed her attentively, gently stroking her cheek. Erin found herself leaning into the touch. “Let’s get something to eat, shall we? Then we can talk.” He kissed her once more before leading her back into elevator, a hand squeezing her own slightly. Erin looked up at the doctor and smiled as the doors slid shut. She knew she was finally going to be happy.

Cowgirl Rant!

I love the American TV series ‘Dallas’, and was heartbroken like everyone else had been the first time round when Bobby was killed by Katherine Wentworth. So of course, when I heard that they brought Bobby’s character back at the end of the series, I was ecstatic. The whole series had been a dream, which I found fair enough. But HELL I was disappointed with Pam’s reaction when she woke up and found Bobby in the shower.

Don’t get me wrong, at first the writers had got it right – the first thing she did was walk away from him, looking as though she’d seen a ghost. But when he confronted her she was just like “Oh, it was a dream” and that was pretty much the end of it.

HELLOOOOOO! She had gone through a heck of a load of grief getting over Bobby’s death, Mark had come back to her alive and in remission, she had even married Mark. And she just dismisses it all like that? Who does that? Doesn’t she care that this means that Mark is still missing? Doesn’t she care about all the pain she felt for…I dunno how long?

It does annoy me when writers are lazy…

Short Story: The Shame

I remember when I was a little girl I dreamt of fairies and unicorns, and all things pretty. But now that I am older I realise that none of that is real, and now everything I dream of is ghastly, with ugly streaks of pain, fear, and most of all, shame. If only I’d opened my eyes sooner – they would not be haunted by this madness. But the damage is done and now I will have to live with the shame of it for the rest of my life.
I was naive, that’s all I can tell you. My parents took no notice of me so when it happened I didn’t understand, until the clawing at my face and screaming happened. My counsellor doesn’t understand me; it’s as if, at times, I’m speaking a different language.
“Why?”
“I don’t know why.”
That’s the main conversation we have.
Walking over to the reception now, the familiar fear and shame rise up to the surface, only to drift back down again as the receptionist smiles at me with assurance. Kindness. I’ve never been kind I realise, and the shame resurfaces immediately. And as I walk through that door, the feeling only intensifies. I see her sat with him. Oh the pain I’ve caused her. I nearly slam the door shut and run out, but I know I can’t avoid her forever so instead I close it behind me and sit down, completing the triangle. I look from my counsellor to her and back again, over and over, until she opens her mouth to speak. My eyes rest shamefully on her.
“Charlene. Why?”
I want to answer but my tears prevent me. I loved her daughter really, but I did it anyway. And as I sob, to my surprise she shifts her chair towards me so that she can fold me in her arms. And over my gulps and hiccoughs, I can hear her sniffing quietly, which only makes me think again of what I have done, causing me to burst into fresh tears.
What feels like a lifetime afterwards we finally break apart, and I pull myself together with such a force that the waterworks come to an abrupt end. I look at the poor woman, studying her mascara stained cheeks, and the little smile she gives me. And as I study it, I notice that the smile doesn’t just contain the sorrow and grief I had expected for the loss of her beloved Kate, but also something else.
Sympathy.
For me.
And so the story spills: the party, the drinking, the jealousy, the rooftop, the fight, the fall. And so now, although I still feel terrible, although my mind is still guilt-ridden…
Although I still carry that shame, I now know that what my counsellor constantly tells me is true, and I’m not alone. I will always feel that shame, but the support I will be receiving will help me through it. And so, as I walk out that door, as I walk past that reception and back home, for the first time in six months I do something I never thought to be possible again:
I smile.

The Long Way Home – Chapter Nine

“So what was it that you couldn’t tell me over the phone?” Bea asked as soon as she saw Kris entering the cafe, nudging towards him the mug of coffee she'd ordered. She had been at work when he’d phoned her, and quite frankly she couldn’t be happier for an excuse to get out of the office. It had been a long day of simply sorting out files and files that really didn’t need sorting, and waiting and praying for the phone to ring with a person on the other end not trying to waste her time trying to sell her company mobile phones or whatever else was on the market for much bigger businesses than hers. Hers. It had such a lovely ring to it.
 
“I told them,” Kris whispered, just loud enough for her to hear. When Bea simply looked at him, a frown creasing her otherwise smooth forehead, he added, “Our parents. I told them that I was gay.” Her eyebrows rose high then.
 
“Really?” she said. “Well how did they take it? Did they take it well?"
 
“If you consider walking out without another word as taking it well...”
 
“They walked out?” Bea could feel anger starting to bubble inside her gut.
 
“Grandma and Uncle George were okay about it; they accept me. But Mom and Dad just walked out. And Daniel...” Kris trailed off, eyes closing at the memory of last night, the door slamming behind him as he ran out. ‘Don’t touch me!’ he’d yelled.
 
“Daniel was there?”
 
“Yeah. He was.”
 
“How was he?”
 
“Not good. He didn’t take it too well...” ‘Don’t touch me!’ It rang in Kris’ ears, and his mind was riddled with the look the green eyes had shot at him, one filled with realisation, anger...fear. He shrugged his shoulders, eyes directed towards the floor.
 
“Oh Kris,” Bea sighed. She got up and hugged him, holding him tight in her arms as she felt the growing patch of fallen tears dampening the left shoulder of her blouse. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am.”
 
“No,” Kris sniffed, pulling away so he could give his sister a sad smile. “It doesn’t matter.” His eyes froze upon a spot behind Bea, to which she turned to realise that Daniel had just entered the cafe. Daniel clearly noticed them, but quickly averted his attention to the barrister. Kris heaved a sigh, lowering his eyes to his cooling drink. "Anyway," he started suddenly, slapping a smile on his face. "Enough about me, what about you? How's the business going?"
 
Bea considered him for a moment before telling him about the stress of learning all the ins and outs of being the manager of a business. “It’s hard work, but that’s why I love it I guess,” she concluded. She paused a while, frowning slightly. “Kris, did you hear anything I said just then?”
 
He snapped out of it then, plastering a smile on his face. “Sorry, yes of course I did. You were always happiest when you were stressed...which probably makes you the most complex person to have ever walked this Earth!”
 
“And with that, I’m off,” Bea chuckled, getting up to put her coat on.
 
“What?” Kris stood up with her. “But it’s Bank Holiday! You can’t be working!”
 
“Let’s just say I have something I need to sort out before tomorrow,” she said mysteriously. She winked at him cheekily before leaving.
 
 
***
 
“Mom! Dad! A word.”
 
She threw her coat over one of the chairs in the kitchen, sitting down on the sofa in the living room as she waited for the footsteps upstairs to join her.  Her glare stuck to them like superglue when they came into view. It was like the tables had been turned – they were the naughty kids and she was the parent.
 
“What is the matter with you two?” she demanded to know. “It took me months to persuade Kris to tell you guys that he’s gay, and you just reject him? Who does that?”
 
“You knew all this time?” her mother asked in disbelief.
 
“Yeah, I knew. And I would never have made him tell you if I knew you would’ve acted like you have done.” She stood up in frustration, towering over them as they remained seated. “He’s your son! He is still your son! Just because he likes guys instead of girls, doesn’t mean he’s any less of a human being!” She stared them down, anger bubbling in her gut. “You know,” she began, “when I was little, I wanted to be just like you guys. I looked up to you both; you were my heroes. And you were Kris’. Hell, Dad, don’t you remember how close you used to be with Kris? Don’t you remember how you would make model aeroplanes together, and...and that model ship you both worked on and managed to get the strings all tangled up? He was still gay then and you didn’t have a problem with him. Now you know, you don’t want anything to do with him?”
 
She snorted slightly in disgust as she spun on her heel and left the house, the door slamming behind her. Larten immediately got up; stretching in that telltale way that said he was trying to hide the beginning of tears.
 
“She’s right, isn’t she?” It was more of a resignation than a question, and he merely nodded. “Oh Larten, what have we done?”
 
 
***
 
“Erm, Kris baby?”
 
It took a while for Kris to recover from the shock; since he came out to them last night his parents hadn’t even acknowledged him unless they really needed to. Now his mother was beckoning for him to come into the living room, and although at first he hesitated he found his legs carrying him towards them. Sitting in the chair adjacent to the sofa that his parents occupied, Kris couldn’t help but think up the worst case scenarios that could be about to turn his world upside down.
 
They were kicking him out unless he decided he was the straight son they wanted.
 
They were going to make him join the army to de-gay and man up.
 
They were going to-
 
“Your father and I still love you, Kris.”
 
“I’m sorry?” He couldn’t believe his ears.
 
“Kris, this isn’t particularly easy for us to get our heads round. As a parent you think of all the milestones you’re going to see in your child’s life, like their first steps...first words...graduating...getting married...having kids of their own...” She looked into his eyes anxiously, wondering how to continue. 
 
“But Mom,” Kris interjected, “gay people can still marry and have kids.”
 
“I know,” his mom nodded quickly. “I know. But...this just wasn’t what we expected.”
 
“But what you must know, son,” his father piped up, “is that we still love you. And we will be with you every step of the way, supporting you. Because you’re still our son; you’re still the same Kristos I know and love.”
 
Kris felt so emotional in that moment, his smile almost splitting his face in two. The three of them shared a group hug, mother and father holding the brave young man they were proud to call their son.
 
“I guess you’ll be going to your mother for advice on boys then,” his father joked when they eventually broke apart, earning himself a chuckle from Kris and a light slap from his wife. “Hey!” he laughed.
 
“That is a good point though,” his mother said, cocking her head thoughtfully. “Are there any guys that have taken your fancy?”
 
But Kris had already left the room, opting to play with his younger siblings upstairs. The two parents shared a knowing look.

Short Story: Tears of Liquor

We all make mistakes. Some are pretty harmless. Others…not so much. Sometimes mistakes cost us something, something precious. I lost something precious as a consequent for my actions.
I’m not supposed to drink. Three years ago I was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas – as a result of constant binge drinking. I’d fallen in with the wrong crowd; we would meet up in the woods and drunkenly bob our heads in time to the heavy metal blaring from the portable stereo. My parents were always working night shifts, so it was easy to sneak in and out whenever I wanted.
I remember I’d had a stomach ache for couple of days, on off, but hadn’t thought much of it since it was quite dull. But as the weeks went on, I started to realise that it was getting worse. Waves of nausea would almost knock me off my feet, and I’d lost my appetite altogether. Then one night as I was boozing with my friends, I suddenly threw up. Someone screamed at the red blood that swirled in the yellow liquid, and then everything went blank.
I woke up a few days later in a hospital bed, recovering from a pancreas resection – the inflamed parts of my pancreas were removed and the ducts directly connected to my intestines, reducing the pressures on the ducts and improving the drainage of the pancreas. After several weeks in recovery, not to mention endless lectures from my parents, I was allowed home, and after a month of close surveillance from my parents to make sure that I was attending my Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, things started to return to normal. Well…as normal as they could; I was moved to another school, and that’s when I met her.
She was as messed up as me, yet she was able to give her heart to help anyone. Her chocolate eyes would always betray her if she ever decided to hide what she thought or felt, and she gave me the protection and affection I needed. We were friends instantly – best friends. She opened up a part of me I kept buried – she had the key nobody else could have. I told her that I was a recovering alcoholic, yet it didn’t deter her. I remember she smiled and simply said,
“It’s okay. I’ll always be here for you. I promise.”
Then she kissed my cheek and held me close.
“You are so brave,” she whispered.
She never let me forget that. Yet I still let her down.
We’d all gone out into town. Something happened that I couldn’t talk about. I’d been bottling it up for what felt like years, but I had only been in recovery for a little over fourteen months. It hurt because reality was different to the desire, the thoughts, the imagination…
We were dancing in a club, her and I; the others were on a different floor. As much as I wanted to join them, screaming the words to Slipknot and Black Veil Brides songs, I continued to strut and jive to the likes of Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. For her. She was so beautiful – her eyes were closed and she was so lost in the music. I’d never seen her like this. Mesmerising. Exquisite. I couldn’t keep my eyes off her.
Then some asshole came over, started talking to her. She leaned in to hear him. Laughed at whatever he’d said. I felt something in the pit of my stomach stir, come to life. It screeched angrily at him, whoever the hell he was, breathing fire that burned my insides. She didn’t notice that I had gone until I had knocked back my eighth shot of black sambuca.
“What are you doing?” she chastised me.
“What does it look like?” I spat.
“You’re not supposed to be drinking. What about your-”
“ANOTHER!” I shouted over the music, ignoring her.
“Kirsten, you’ve had enough,” she said, trying to take the shot from me, but I quickly downed it, spilling most of it down myself. I wiped my mouth with the back of a gloved hand, eyes glaring at her, before brushing past her and kissing the first guy that made eye contact with me. I took him by the hand, stumbling and pushing past people to get to the gents’ toilets. But she intersected.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” I screamed at her as she dragged me outside. I tugged my elbow out of her grasp and fell over.
“What am I doing?” she yelled back. “What am I doing? What are you doing? Look at you! Look at the state of you – you’re a mess!”
The look of disgust and hurt on her face seemed to sober me up immediately. I stood up and reached out to her but she recoiled away.
“Kat-”
“Don’t touch me,” she said coldly. She couldn’t even look at me.
“Kat, I-”
“I said don’t touch me.”
***
The taxi back to hers was tense and uncomfortable, the silence thick inside the vehicle. I barely dared to breathe in case I made things even worse. I felt sick, but I managed to keep the bile from rising up in my throat, causing a sob to escape my lips instead. I wasn’t sure if she hadn’t heard it due to the rain tapping on the windows and the hood of the taxi, or whether she chosen to ignore it, but either way I decided to try again.
“Kat, I’m so sorry-”
“Stop the car.”
“I’m sorry?” the taxi driver spluttered slightly.
“I said stop the car.”
She didn’t even wait for it to come to a complete halt before opening the door and storming off through the curtains of rainfall. I called out to her, cursed, and paid the driver before running after her, taking care to stay on my feet.
“Kat!” I shouted. “Kat, wait!”
I eventually caught up to her, grabbing her shoulder. She merely stopped, not bothering to look at me.
“I’m really sorry, Kat!” I shouted over the rain. “I was being selfish!” Nothing. “Please, say something! Yell at me, hit me, curse me, anything!”
She spun around then, eyes flashing in the light of the streetlamp above her. I couldn’t stop the flinch that the look caused to move me, and I could feel the beginnings of tears threaten to fall, prickling the corners of my eyes, a lump rising in my throat.
“What? So you can feel better about yourself?” she snapped. “Why did you do it? You know you’re not supposed to drink at all. One drink – one little drink – could kill you. You get that? You could’ve killed yourself!”
“Well maybe I should!” I screamed before I could stop myself. Her eyes widened, tears shimmering in those chocolate brown eyes. “Maybe I should!” I screamed again, the alcohol my lips consumed now consuming them. “Because what’s the point in me being here if I can’t have you?”
“You do have me!” she cried. “I thought I was your friend! I thought-”
“You don’t get it!” I screeched. “Don’t you see? I love you!”
The rain seemed to cease slightly, as if even the heavens were as shocked by my confessional outburst as she was.
“I love you, you stupid cow!” I sobbed. “I love how you become a part of your favourite songs whenever they come on the radio. I love how you’re so down to earth and compassionate to everyone. Hell, I even love how you believe that unicorns exist in Canada! I just love you!” The look on her face was one of shock, and she seemed to pale. “Well?” I asked, my voice still shaking from the tears. “Say something!”
“I…” She couldn’t think of the words. “I…I can’t do this.” She started to walk away. “I can’t do this right now.”
She left me standing in the dark, shivering and sobbing in the middle of the road. I couldn’t care less though. I just knew that I’d lost a wonderful friend for good.
***

I still regret what I did that night. I hurt the one person I cared for the most. I made her mad. It’s been a week; I know I’ve lost her for good.
***

I’m awoken by a buzzing noise. I look to my alarm clock. 04:13. I realise through my drowsiness that it’s my phone vibrating. Picking it up sleepily, I look at the caller ID and my heart skips a beat.
“Hello? … You are? … Okay, I’ll just get some shoes on and I’ll be right down.”
Sure enough her car is there, waiting outside my house. I try to ease the trembling as I struggle to properly shut the car door after me. I don’t look at her, and she doesn’t look at me. She just drives.
We reach our destination within fifteen minutes. Parking the car, she leads the way towards the beach and we sit on the sandy steps, overlooking the sea. We stay silent for what feels like a lifetime, watching as dawn starts to creep into the skies. The sun’s fingertips are curling over the edge of the distant waters, and the wind brings a taste of salt to the tongue when it darts out nervously.
“I’ve been thinking a lot,” she starts. Looking at her I see a slight frown creasing her forehead as she thinks of what she’s going to say next. “I’ve been thinking a lot, and I want to apologise.”
I’m stunned to say the least. “You?” I ask. “But you don’t need to. None of this is your fault.”
“I thought that maybe-”
“No! No, it’s not your fault! I think I just have a thing about wanting what I can’t have…and then getting in a strop because I can’t what I want.” Our laughter was light yet nervous. “I’m not going to drink again,” I say, holding up my little finger, bent like a hook. “I promise.”
She must be able to read the sincerity in my eyes because she hooks her little finger around mine, and we smile at each other before she rests her head on my shoulder and I hold her close to my side. We watch as the sun rises, calling upon a new day. A fresh start. A new beginning.