Gone

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Black Mambo - Glass Animals

Benji

Several weeks passed without another incident for Jey. At least without any that he told me about. He told me he was laying low at home, avoiding Adrian at all costs. Most days he went home with Aspen, staying out until his mom called him practically begging him to come home. I had made Jey tell Aspen about the situation one day when the two of them had come over after school. In that moment, I swear Aspen could've burned holes in my walls the way her eyes burned with rage. "He was hitting you?" she clarified through clenched teeth. When Jey nodded, she set down the monster in her hand and had to go take a walk around the block, chain smoking, before she could come back inside and settle down. After that, she started making sure he went home with one of us after school to minimize the amount of time he spent at home.

He also called me once he did get home a lot of nights. As long as Adrian was out of the house. My mom was starting to catch on that Jey was different than my other friends. She started asking me how Jey was doing almost every day which she had never done with Simon, Wyatt or TJ. One day as I was leaving for school, she put a gentle hand on my shoulder, "is Jorge coming over today?" she asked with a funny little smile on her face.
"I'm not sure, Mom," I replied, raising an eyebrow at her.
"I like him, Benji," she pulled me in for a hug then, standing on her tiptoes to put her arms around my neck, "a lot."
"Me too."
I excused myself as quickly as possible then, pretending to have a really persistent itch on my nose to try and hide my blush.

When I pulled into the parking lot 15 minutes early, Jey was already sitting on the retaining wall outside. He had on his navy knit cap and his arms were wrapped tightly around his middle as he shivered. I beeped my horn lightly at him and his head snapped up. As he approached the car, I could see that something was wrong. He walked more hunched over than usual and limped a little on his right leg. His backpack was clearly stuffed full. When the door opened and he climbed in, throwing his overfilled back into the backseat, I could see that his eye was black. A nauseating purple spread from his lash line down over his cheekbone. He held his head steady, chin jutted out, and said nothing as I looked at him, tears coming to my own eyes. "JeyJey," I gasped, gently brushing my fingers over the shiny, swollen skin. He clenched his jaw harder, his lips tucking in as his eyebrows sunk lower.
"I'm gone," he hissed.
"What?"
"He told her. My mother was upset that Adrian came home late and woke her up banging around and his response was 'at least I'm not a queer.'"

I was speechless. Hot, angry tears were flowing freely down my cheeks now. I wiped one away with a balled up fist. "It all came out, then," he hiccuped now and a little bit of his stony facade chipped away, his chin starting to quiver, "there was so much yelling. She didn't even give a shit that he's been beating me. She told me I could stay for the night but not to come back. That she couldn't deal with 'my sin' in her house. Then, once she had gone to bed, Adrian just fucking lost his mind." He pointed weakly at his bruised eye, then let his hands drop into his lap. His shoulder started to shake and I could see tears making dark spots on the sleeves of his turquoise sweatshirt.

Still unsure of what to say, I finally just reached out and laced my fingers with his. He squeezed. "Jorge, we'll figure this out," I promised him. He nodded, wiping his nose. "You feeling up for school?" Before the words were even out of my mouth, Jey was shaking his head furiously. "I can't let any of the teachers see this," he sniffled, "it might make this whole situation worse." I squeezed his hand again and nodded. Jey laughed a little, telling me that I was a bad influence on him when, as if on cue, Aspen threw open the door to my backseat and threw herself down across the bench seat. "I may get you to skip school, but at least I didn't give you a nicotine addiction," I teased. Jey laughed wetly, reaching behind him with his free hand to hold Aspen's. "Ha ha," she stuck her tongue out at me. I turned in my seat to face her. She laid across the seat, the hood of her oversized sweatshirt covering up her messy hair. She had big, gray bags under her eyes. "I called her last night," Jey explained softly, "she knows everything."

"Right," I put my seatbelt on, not releasing Jey's hand, "School of Krol it is. Since we're a bunch of delinquents." I put on my blinker and toward back towards home, dialing my mom's phone. She always knew exactly what to do.
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Hi, it's me your friendly neighborhood fan fiction author. Sorry this chapter sucks. That's it. Pls keep reading it will get better. Emotional highs and lows coming. I promise.
Luv u ❤️

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