Tag Archives: writing

Homosexuality and Bullying

Credit: Fotolia

I have taken part in several flash fiction challenges over the years. I love writing, and writing extremely short pieces of fiction really pushes me and helps me to develop more as a writer. Hopefully at some point I can make time to continue this guilty pleasure.

I had wanted to discuss two different issues on this blog at some point in time; however, after going through my old file of stories, I found something that should really be categorized as “flash flash fiction:” The challenge was to write a story in only 100 words. 100. That is probably as long as my “About Me” page on my blog. Ridiculously brief. And that’s why I took the challenge!

What’s interesting is that the 100-word flash fiction piece addresses both of the issues that I wanted to write about. Why not kill two birds with one stone? I originally wanted to discuss each topic in separate posts, but I will attempt to merge them here and try not to bore you with an outrageously long post.

Anyway, here is the flash fiction piece entitled “Bullies and the Bullied:”

We always made Todd close his eyes in the shower after gym class.  Once, during our barrage of insults, I threw his clothes in the trash barrel.

Todd spoke softly with a lisp and only hung out with girls.  As far as I knew, he never got beat up; no guy wanted to touch him.

After that school year, we never saw him again.

***

My son’s junior high photo smiles at me from the mantle. “Of course I still love and accept you, Michael,” I say to it, wiping my eyes.

When you get home from school, I’ll tell you that, buddy.

(I wonder how many of you counted those words…? I might have been off by a few.)

The inspiration for the second half of the “story” came from a conversation that I had with my wife shortly after our oldest son (now seven-years-old) was born. I have read about quite a few parents over the years who had to come to terms with the fact that their son or daughter was gay. When I lived in Japan, I had a Canadian friend who was disowned and told to “go to hell” by his parents after coming out to them.

Of course my wife and I didn’t have to think about our response at all; we would love and accept both sons because they mean more to us than life itself. I would never have the heart to cut off all contact with my two little buddies.

Now, that doesn’t mean we would support the lifestyle. I’m sure you noticed that this blog is written by a Catholic, and I accept and believe what the Catholic Church teaches on homosexuality. But nowhere does it say that anyone should be looked upon as sub-human.

I am really ashamed to admit that the first part of my story really happened. I was young and foolish. Too concerned with trying to fit in, I joined in on the taunting and verbal abuse of my fellow seventh-grader. How I wish I could go back and shake my younger self by the shoulders and scream, “Look at yourself! Think about what you’re doing to this poor kid!”

But I can’t go back. All I can do now is hope and pray that “Todd” is safe and not going through the harassment like he did every day after gym class so many years ago.

Maybe I joined the crowd because the focus of my peers was temporarily off of my awkward, uncoordinated self. Or maybe because I had to take my frustrations out on someone more vulnerable than I; anger and hurt from my father’s continued physical and verbal abuse during my entire childhood would build up from time to time.

There is never a legitimate reason to bully or hate someone. In fifth grade, our family moved to a new city, and that meant a brand new school for my sister and me. By that age, every kid in my new class already had their social groups fixed, and they made it clear that I wasn’t allowed in. Needless to say, I was bullied and even had mud thrown at me. It wasn’t until later in junior high that I finally made a few friends: other outcasts who knew that strength in numbers would be the only way to survive the dark, scary corridors of high school.

Going back to the topic of homosexuality, the Bible and the Catholic Church have never taught that it is a sin.  Rather, they teach that homosexual activity is a sin because it goes against the laws of God.

God gave each and every one of us dignity when He created us. As a result, every person on the planet deserves our love and respect.

~t


That Fateful Night: An Excerpt

Credit: realhdwallpaper.com

I have been writing a lot for the past couple of years. How much is a lot, you ask? Well, I have a few completed manuscripts that I’ve accumulated.

That’s great!! What are you waiting for?? Send them in!!

Ha.

If only it were that easy.

I haven’t wanted to release any of them yet. And the one manuscript that I did shop around turned out to be lacking something. Oh well. We live and learn.

Live.

Yes, it’s all about living. That much I know.

This current project feels like it might be the one that sees the light of day. It may very well be the one that gets published self-published. Why? Because it’s the only one that feels right: the story that is bleeding out of my still-open wounds. It’s not like I’m on a 1,000-word-a-day writing binge, but I’ll get it written at some point.

My goal is to have it finished and bound before my mother passes away. She’s not sick or anything, but she’s the one who keeps urging me to publish it, so I’d at least like to finish it before she does pass away someday. She wants me to get my story out there so others can learn and benefit from it. Plus, she thinks it’ll earn me millions of dollars.

Yeah, right. It helps to dream, though.

Anyway, below is an excerpt from my work in progress (I almost said Enjoy! but decided not to). Mind you, it’s a rough draft, so please overlook mistakes of any kind:

 

**************

 

I never thought I would be so brave as I rushed toward my death. No goodbyes, no crying (and I was quite the crybaby). The four margaritas, each with an extra shot of tequila, had given me the courage, though. They had taken the credit just like everything else in my pathetic life.

Luckily I had enough sense to pick up my prescription at the drive-thru. The Muslim lady with the head scarf gave them to me through the window just like she always did. She has her faith. That’s good, I thought. I had mine: nearly two full bottles of Xanax.

Like in that Clint Eastwood flick where the one-armed deputy had two guns in his belt.  “But you only have one arm,” someone had asked him. “Well, I don’t wanna get killed on account of not being able to fight back,” he had responded. I, too, wanted to be like that.

 

**************

 

Not so smart now, are you?

Why was my mind still working?

Somehow I knew it wasn’t God’s voice; sounded too familiar.

I didn’t see anything.  No blackness.  Just… nothingness.  Even with all the liquor and drugs in my system, I was still somehow tied to reality. What was going on?

 

***************

 

“Scott, Scott, where are you?!” The voice was frantic. I knew it was my wife’s, even in my condition. That smallest hint of recollection. Funny how the mind worked. Her voice sounded tinny, like it was coming from my grandma’s childhood radio that she had shown me pictures of.

I was fumbling with my work bag on the floorboard. “I can’t find my phone!!” I was frantic, too.

But why? 

Oh, I know. 

The redneck standing outside my passenger window. I’m not actually sure if he was a redneck, but that’s what I called those guys in Texas who drove those huge gas-guzzling pickup trucks. I think I had asked him if he were okay. “I’m fine, but your car is totaled,” I remember him saying.

I never started up my car.  I was still in the crowded parking lot of El Ranchito… right?

“Where’s my blasted phone?!” I shrieked again and again. It was no longer in my bag. I was going by my sense of touch, unable to see. I could still hear my poor wife’s frantic question coming through the receiver like a short-circuiting megaphone in the darkness of my mind.

“Scott!!”

 

******************

 

–killed someone!  You could have—

I was on my back, staring up into a bright light. Nothing but radiant fog, like headlights shining through early morning mountain air. It was a woman’s voice. She seemed to be addressing me.

–could have killed—

–someone!

You could have—

Yes, I get it, now shut up, I thought.  All I was conscious of was my vision, or lack thereof; I hadn’t noticed my limbs, if I were even able to move them.  Was I strapped down?  Was I in an ambulance?  Were we in motion?

Who cares?  The radiance was giving way to a shadow; an eclipse entered my line of mental vision and sent icy pellets of fear through my body.

I’m dead.  Oh my God, help me…

Someone had an arm around me and was helping me walk. I felt cold. I sensed that nothing was covering my legs. Where were my clothes? I was doubled over and staggering like an old man, a few baby steps at a time. I’m 6’3” and a lean, solid 220 pounds, so whoever was helping me was pretty strong, that was for sure.

Come on…  you can do it…

An old man’s voice. Maybe it was God.

 

*******************

 

~topaz


Dear Rhonda

This post consists of Rhonda Elkins‘ comment that she left on this blog and my reply. I didn’t intend to make them into a blog post, but it seemed like the right thing to do: I realized there was some information contained in our exchange that could be helpful to people.

Topaz,

I am greatly moved that you have made an entry in your blog about my blog and the loss of my beloved daughter. Your writing is beautiful and moving. What I am very happy about also, is that my blog and my feelings about my daughter’s suicide made an impact on your life and cemented your promise to never do that to yourself. In the depths of depression, many people don’t see the impact that it will have for those left behind, they only see their intense mental pain and want to end it. However, if people know beforehand, before they get to that point, maybe that knowledge can be retrieved in that dark moment and decide not to do what their depression is asking them to do.

I wish you happiness in your life, and if you ever need a friend, I will be here. Thanks for mentioning my blog. The more people can read about what suicide does to those left behind the better and I also want to fight against the stigma of mental health problems which prevents many people from seeking help. I think this is what happened to my daughter.

My name is Rhonda Elkins. I really did not realize I had not put my full name on my blog. It’s in the article I wrote way down at the beginning of my blog, but sometimes people might not go back that far. I don’t mind people knowing who I am.

Please keep in touch and thank you.

***************************

Dear Rhonda,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. Everything I wrote in this post was true and from the depths of my soul.

When I used to be a Bible discussion leader back in college, members told me that they admired me for the way that I could “feel.” I never really knew what they meant until recently. I often feel for others so much that it overwhelms my soul and envelops me in a dark cloud.

I blame this ability/curse on the reason why I haven’t been able to achieve more in a career. I feel like such a loser because I’m approaching middle age with a Master of Arts degree, and I am still underachieving professionally. This thorn in my side, as I refer to it, is more than likely my illness. I think God is showing me that it can be a strength after all. I don’t know.

I didn’t want to tell you about this blog entry because I don’t like drawing attention to myself. I figured that if you found it on your own, then it was meant to be. That’s one reason I blog anonymously; the other reason is, of course, the personal nature of my posts. As you mentioned, there is an enormous stigma tied to mental illness that keeps me “in the closet.”

You’re right: Many people cannot think rationally in the depths of depression. I know I sure didn’t. For some unknown reason, it just wasn’t my time to die. Right before my first attempt, I remember cursing God and telling Him that He would have to physically come down and stop me. I said all this as I consumed about six shots of tequila. I said it one last time back in my car before I swallowed 40 Xanax tablets (1 mg each).

As you can see, I should not be here right now.

Maybe God wanted to use me as a testimony to help others. Again, I don’t know. I haven’t mentioned this publicly, but I attempted a second time last October. However, I got scared and changed my mind as the carbon monoxide fumes started burning my throat. I called 911 and was soon whisked away. My two little boys and my wife were waiting for me at our local community center for a Halloween event; I never showed up. It was the second time in two months that I had disappeared from my family. I am amazed and humbled that my wife is still with me.

My support team consists of two certified therapists, my psychiatrist, and my mother. I meet with all of them regularly (Well, my mother lives out of state). One of my therapists used to be an interrogator for the U.S. Army, so he pulls no punches. I also spent time in three different mental hospitals last year and earlier this year.

I already consider you a friend and it goes without saying that I will be in touch on a regular basis, because that’s what friends do.

[~topaz]