Status: In Progress

The Majesty of Choice


Gerard, frozen in fear, turns to the door to see the two people he hates most in the world standing there looking like Christmas has both come early and been canceled. Their facial expressions are so mixed he doesn’t know which term is more accurate. Both of their mouths are stretched so tight that Gerard’s not even sure if their lips are still there.

“Um, you,” Hattie says to Gerard, pointing at him, and looking like she hasn’t determined yet what she intends to say to him.

“Gerard,” he says.

“What?” She asks in her pretentious, obviously fake accent that she picked up to make herself look more noble. It doesn’t really work when her threadbare dresses look as shabby and worn as the dish rag in the kitchen.

“My name is Gerard,” he says, “in case you’ve forgotten.”

“Oh,” Hattie says, while Olive’s steadily tightening brow turns it into one long bushy one instead of two already very bushy ones. She’s standing behind Hattie like some sort of bodyguard, which Hattie most certainly doesn’t need, because no human or animal within one hundred square miles wants anything to do with her. Except maybe to push her off a cliff, but in that case a bodyguard isn’t entirely needed because it would be a mercy to everyone.

“Can I speak with you privately, Gerard?” She asks, looking uncertainly at Patrick. Gerard too eyes Patrick who looks like he just dropped a baby on its head. He looks so guilty and nervous that Gerard doesn’t even know how he hasn’t internally combusted. Patrick probably thinks he’s done something really wrong. Admittedly, he probably has, but Gerard’s not going to hold the guy accountable for it. Gerard can be a stubborn guy sometimes and it’s not Patrick’s fault for getting annoyed with that fact.

That doesn’t mean that Gerard isn’t still kind of angry with Patrick for saying what it was he was saying a minute ago, but he’s going to set that aside for now seeing as Hattie and Olive may or may not have just overheard Patrick telling Gerard he’s in love with the Prince.

This is ten shades of not okay, because Hattie and Olive are both in love with the Prince. They both hate or at least dislike Gerard. They both have nothing holding them back from expressing their disapproval of whatever Gerard may do. As far as they know, Gerard likes the guy they both are in love with. Gerard is the same gender as the guy they think he’s in love with. Lastly, Gerard has to do whatever they say. This is a recipe for disaster, and Hattie’s just been given a giant fucking mixing bowl to cook up whatever shit she’s got stewing in that evil little brain of hers.

“Whatever you have to say can be said in front of Patrick,” Gerard says, hoping he’s not going to regret that later. Really, right now what he needs is moral support. He doesn’t want to be forced into anything, and he feels like, at least with Patrick here, he might have some act of defense.

“Don’t argue with me, Gerard,” Hattie bites and Gerard feels the order hit him like a brick. That’s going to be inconvenient.

“Fine,” Gerard says.

“Hallway,” Hattie orders, “now.”

Gerard, who literally can’t refuse, does as asked of him. He mumbles something to Patrick, who stays where he is on the floor of Gerard’s room, even by himself there’s still little room on the floor for Gerard to even get to the door, because the room is just that small.

Patrick stares at him questioningly as Gerard closes the door, and there’s a million unanswered questions that Gerard is leaving behind that door when it faintly clicks shut. The hallway is dark with the sun not making it through the window at the end of the hall where Hattie drags Gerard for some illusion of privacy but obviously Patrick’s going to have his ear pressed to the door. Hattie, apparently smart enough as to realize this actually makes to drag Gerard down the stairs. When he tries to refuse, she tells him not to, so he follows. What else is there for him to do? He can’t disobey an order.

Hattie gets to the bottom of the steps and her face shows a thousand emotions all going through a cycle to determine which one is best suited for this situation. Gerard really wishes Ray were here right now. Gerard doesn’t hear him busying himself around the house so he doesn’t know where he could’ve gotten off to. He’s probably in town. Probably on some useless errand demanded of him from Buggy. Buggy herself is having a lie in which is her way of saying that she won’t be awake until sundown.

“I don’t even know where to begin,” Hattie says.

“How about with goodbye?” Gerard asks, and she looks at him angrily, turning a steady shade of scarlet. It’s a tragic state of nature that when you’re already ugly to begin with, getting angry makes you look like a very disgruntled radish. Unless your Hattie. Then you look like a disgruntled radish stuck on the other side of somebody’s shoe.

“Is that meant to be funny.”

“I mean it’s funny if you have the mental capacity to understand that it was meant to be derogative.”

“What?” Olive asks, speaking up which makes Gerard remember that she’s even there. Honestly she’s more of a shadow of Hattie than she is an actual human being, and between the two of them they have the intelligence of Gerard’s finger nail.

“It was an insult, Olive,” Hattie says, in a turn, snarling at Olive rather than at Gerard which is honestly not new. The poor girl probably gets more verbal abuse thrown her way than Gerard but she’s too dim to see it coming at her.

“Oh,” she says, and it takes her a second to process that ‘insult’ means bad, and then she gets a face like she’s got a bit of rotten egg stuck under her nose.

“Tell us about the Prince,” Hattie says.

“Well he’s the son of the King. That’s typically how that works. He’s not yet the King which is why he’s called the Prince. Someday, if lightning finds itself so unfriendly as not to strike him down, the Prince will be the King. He’ll have kids, they’ll be Prince’s and so on until somebody gets stabbed in the dick, thus ending one reign and beginning a new one.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Forgive me, if you don’t clarify, how am I to know to what you’re referring?” Gerard asks. He may not be allowed to argue, but no one ever said he couldn’t be snarky.

“That guy,” Hattie says, pointing at the stairs, obviously referring to Patrick, but Gerard plays dumb.

“That’s Olive you dingbat,” Gerard says.

“No, not her,” Hattie groans, and she rubs her temple like she’s stressed from even speaking to Gerard. “The guy in your room.”

“Which one?”

“The guy!” Hattie repeats.

“Still not sure who you’re talking about,” Gerard says, shaking his head.

“Whatever. That guy, he said you were, ugh, I don’t even want to say it,” Hattie says.

“Falling for the Prince,” Olive finishes for her. At least she comes in as some sort of use other than just an animate footstool.

“Yes well I do tend to fall over when thinking about him. My sheer disdain for that man does that to me. Just a hiccup of my biology, I must assure you now. May I go?”

“That’s not what it meant!” Hattie says, shouting angrily at Gerard’s lack of compliance. “He implied that you liked the Prince.”

“He’s mistaken.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“That’s a shame.”

“You like the Prince,” Hattie spits at him.

“I don’t even know him.”

“You met him, we heard. Everything, we heard it all,” Hattie says, and Gerard’s blood runs cold. How long were they actually behind that door?

“Well you need to pick the wax out of your ears then,” Gerard says, “Because you misheard every word we said.”

“We didn’t,” Olive says defensively and Gerard has this insatiable urge to flick her on the nose and he doesn’t know why.

“You must’ve.”

“You’re sick,” Hattie says, jabbing her finger at Gerard’s chest, forcing him backward.

“My temperature is solid; I promise you that there’s nothing to worry about.”

“Your mental state is sick, I mean,” Hattie clarifies.

“You’ve no proof of that accusation,” Gerard replies, starting to get defensive. He feels like he’s being backed into a corner. Both figuratively and literally, because Hattie keeps stepping closer and the only place for Gerard to go is the wall.

“You know you are.”

“I’m not.”

“You met the Prince, and now you’ve gone and fallen for him, haven’t you?”

“No,” Gerard says.

“You have!” She says as if she’s just received a different answer to the one Gerard spoke.

“You think you know me but you don’t,” Gerard says.

“I know you very well right now,” Hattie says confidently, “you’re a pervert.”

“I’m not!”

“It’s in your eyes!”

“Those are called pupils, you fuckwit.”

“Just tell us the truth!” Hattie says.

“About what?” Gerard asks, but he’s not going to be able repress his own tongue if these two push any further.

“You like the Prince, don’t you?” Hattie asks.

“Yes goddammit,” Gerard says, “so what?”

“That’s gross,” Hattie says.

“So are you,” Gerard replies.

“It’s his fault,” Hattie says, pointing at the stares again. Gerard doesn’t know what grounds she has to blame Patrick but he’s terrified of the road she’s going down. And he has every right to be scared.

“Patrick’s?” Gerard asks.

“I don’t know what he did but he did this to you!” Hattie insists.

“Did what?” Gerard asks, “make me like the Prince? That’s no one’s fault but the fucking Prince’s. That bitch.”

“It’s his fault!”

“It’s not,” Gerard says honestly. Just because Patrick sees right through him doesn’t make it his fault that Gerard is like this. Whatever ‘this’ is.

“I don’t want you talking to him,” Hattie says.

“It’s not his fault, he didn’t do anything.”

“He must have, I know he did.”

“He’s innocent of whatever you’re pinning on him. I’m the one who’s fucked up, not him.”

“I don’t want him in my house!” Hattie yells.

“It was my house first, bitch,” Gerard replies, and this, he decides, was not the right thing to say just now.

“I want your friend out of this house.”

“I don’t,” Gerard says.

“Tell him to go,” Hattie says, like a slap in the face.

Gerard is panicked to say the least. His heart beats like a bird flapping its wings, and he feels like he’s sinking. He feels like the floor is inching away from him and the ceiling is pulling away too. He feels like he’s being stranded in oblivion and he doesn’t know where to run to get away from it.

“I don’t want to.”

“Do it!” Hattie screams back.


“Because he’s a bad influence.”

“No he’s not,” Gerard says, resisting the urge in his body that’s dragging him to the stairs. He can’t stop it. There’s nothing he can do. Nothing. He can’t stop it.

It’s the most painful thing in the world to know that you have no say. Having no voice makes life’s purpose seem so far off. It’s a terrible feeling to have to do what your told. It’s a terrible thing to be forced into things. It’s a weight not many can bear, and Gerard sometimes thinks that having to hold it makes him stronger, but he sees now that it makes him so much weaker.

Strength is not measured by what pain you have suffered. It is not measured by who has the most persistence. It is not measured by biceps, or by anything remotely physical. Strength is measured by those who have the power to speak up. Gerard does not have that power. He has the will, but he doesn’t have the ability.

“Just tell him to get out of this house,” Hattie demands, “and tell him he’s not allowed back.”

Gerard wants to speak up for himself. He wants to say no, and he wants to be resilient. Gerard doesn’t have that choice though.

“You’re jumping to conclusions!” Gerard pleads, “please be rational. It’s not his fault, blame me.”

“And tell him you don’t want to be his friend,” Olive chips in, and honestly Gerard so wants to punch her in the face. The one time she says something and it’s that. This girl just went to the top of Gerard’s list.

“Tell him that you never want to see him again,” Hattie says, like one final kick to the gut.

But Gerard doesn’t refuse. He doesn’t even argue. He can’t. He feels his body dragging him up the stairs like his body has a different idea than his mind.

It’s almost like Gerard’s brain goes blank, and he’s watching a scene from someone else’s life. This isn’t his body. This isn’t his house. These aren’t the steps he walks up and down every day. This isn’t his room that he’s walking into right now, and this isn’t his friend. These aren’t his words. This is all someone else’s life. This just can’t be his.

Because he wouldn’t be doing these things if this were his life. He wouldn’t say these things that are coming out of his mouth right now if this was his life. He wouldn’t be able to look a person in the eye who he cares for so much and tell them that he never wants to see them again.

Gerard wouldn’t do this to a person. He just wouldn’t. So why is he? Why is it that he can’t stop the words from falling out? Why is it that he’s not in control of his actions? Why is it that what he’s saying is making Patrick’s face fall? Why would anyone say such cruel things?

But Gerard is saying this. He’s telling Patrick he doesn’t want to be his friend. He’s telling him that he never wants to see him again. He’s telling him to get out of the house. And he doesn’t want to say these words. But he can’t stop it.

“You’re joking,” Patrick says, and Gerard honestly doesn’t know if he’s trying to convince Gerard of that or himself.

“No,” Gerard says. “Get out.”

“Is this all because of what I said about the Prince?” Patrick asks, still not willing to believe him.

“No,” Gerard says, “can you just… make this easier for both of us?”

It’s a tossup as to who’s eyes are pleading more with the other. Gerard doesn’t want Patrick to go and the only thing he has to say that is his mind, because his mouth won’t listen. And at this point, he’s not sure if Patrick would listen either.

“Are you going to tell me why?”

“I can’t,” Gerard says breathily.

“Alright fine,” Patrick says, standing up and looking years older than he had a moment ago. “I give up.”

Gerard doesn’t know what Patrick’s giving up on. He doesn’t know if he’s giving up with this conversation, or if he’s giving up on Gerard, but whatever it is he’s giving up on is like a stab in the chest to Gerard. He can feel the knife in his heart, but when he looks at it, it’s not there. He can actually feel the pain and he’s certain of the blade but it doesn’t exist.

And Patrick, he can feel the knife in his back, but it’s as illusive to the eye as Gerard’s. Because the pain that he swears he feels in all in his brain and that fact is what makes it feel a million times worse.

“I’m-” Gerard starts but he doesn’t know. He just doesn’t know what to do. He knows that he needs to be rid of this life or this curse or something and he doesn’t know what. He just needs everything to stop.

Gerard’s got about two good things in his life. He’s got Ray, and he’s got Patrick. That’s it. He doesn’t have wealth, or popularity, or aspiration. He doesn’t have a real family, and he doesn’t have overflowing intelligence. What he’s got is hopelessness. All he’s got is the people who care to be around him. That’s it.

As Patrick walks by him, Gerard doesn’t even notice because his brain is breaking down bit by bit. It feels like a shattered piece of glass and the pieces are flying everywhere.

All that Gerard is boils down to what he knows, and especially who he knows. He knows so few people in this gigantic world and almost none of them are worth keeping around. He’s bread from a family that’s been separated all his life for one reason or another. He doesn’t know where his heart is or where on a map he falls. He knows so little of anything. All he knows is what he can touch and feel and see.

He knows that life isn’t fair, and he knows that it’s supposed to be but that’s a far off dream in the back of the mind of those too pessimistic to see better. He knows that his life is harder than most. Gerard knows these things, and he understands that life is cruel and hard and all it will ever bring are obstacles.

What Gerard wasn’t aware of is that the world spins only for pain. It spins only to cause hardship and to cause broken hearts, and it spins to ruin lives. It’s not here to create benevolence, nor is it here to create perfection. All earth is made for is tragedy, because they make the best stories.

But Gerard doesn’t want his life to be just another tragedy. He doesn’t need that. He’s lived the tragic bits, he’s had enough of them. His whole life so far has been the mess that people are supposed to have spread out throughout their life, but for Gerard it’s all been clumped together and it’s starting to seem like there’s no relief from that. There’s no escape from drowning in life.

Life is terminal and he has no choice in it. He doesn’t get to choose what he wants in his, because he’s forced to hear only what others have to say. He’s been born into a world so cruel and spiteful, and it’s been made all the harder with this curse he’s been given. He doesn’t get to choose. He doesn’t get to start over. He has only this one life, and this one mind, and this one voice, and this one heart, and it’s all chipping away steadily.

Life is supposed to have ups and downs. That’s what people tell you. But Gerard’s life is a steadily declining, long, overgrown down.

Gerard’s got two things in his life that he actually cares for. The second the door slams shut behind him, all he has is one.
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So I wrote this whole chapter and then I lost it which is why it took so long, but hopefully it's still okay. Please leave a comment!