A Way Out: Book One

Chapter Seven: Matt

Carson went back to school the next day.  He wanted to be with me longer but he had to get back to his college life. I wanted him to stay longer as well but I knew I would see him soon enough. I went back to work to keep my mind busy so I didn't miss him as much.  I did, however, find myself thinking about Matt. He was such a sweet kid, so it was hard to hear him tell me all those terrible things that had been happening to him. I had guilt that I couldn't tell something was going on so I could help him sooner. I had to remind myself I did help him. I gave him what he was desperately seeking, someone to listen to him tell about his horror at home. I wanted to look in on him to make sure he was okay but I knew I couldn't, at least he was safe.

As the weeks went by Carson talked more about coming out.  He didn't know when, where or how but he knew he was pretty ready to tell his parents then everybody in time. I told him I would be there if he wanted me to be or whatever it was he decided would be fine. His birthday was coming and I couldn't wait.  I planned on going down to spend it with him.  He didn't know this, of course, it was to be a surprise. However, I couldn't decide on what to get him. I had so many ideas but I wanted to make sure it was just the right thing. I thought of jewelry, clothes, movies or music but I couldn't decide. In the end, I decided maybe I should just wait to see what speaks to me.

On a cold wet November morning, I had just gotten to the center to open up for the day. It was one of those mornings that I was running late because things kept going wrong like my alarm didn't go off and my car didn't start.  As I stood at the door looking for the right keys to open the door I heard a car pull up. I got the door unlocked when I heard a deep voice say "Excuse me" 

I turn around and see it was a cop, a big burly one too. "Good morning officer how can I help you?"  I replied to him 

"I am looking for a" he looked at his notepad "Kirk Justice," he said when he looked back up.

"That is me, is there something wrong?"  I asked nervously.

"Do you know a young man by the name of Mathew Clark?"   

"I know a young man by the name of Matt"  My heart dropped and my stomach turned.

"Have you seen him?" I noticed he was a Sargent, not just an officer. 

"Sgt why don't you come in."  He nodded and followed me in.

After I got in my office I turned on the space heater to get the room heated up. I got my stuff put away then leaned against my desk.

"Sgt. the Matt that I know has not been around for weeks, not since child services took him into protective custody." 

Showing me a picture he asked, "Is this the young man that you know?" 

I took the picture from him. It was Matt for sure but he had blonde highlights in his hair and he was bigger in the picture.  "That's Matt all right. But last time I saw him he had black hair and was quite thin.  Again that has been weeks ago." 

"Are you certain you haven't seen him?" He sounded doubtful I was telling the truth.

"Absolutely I haven't, in fact, we miss seeing him here. He is shy but we noticed when he wasn't able to come around here anymore."  

Silence.  "Sgt. Freeze would you please tell me what is going on here?"  He remained quiet but didn't look away. "Sgt. please, you came here to talk to me for a reason so it's pretty clear something is wrong."   

"The young man has run away, he didn't come home from school yesterday. We are looking into everywhere he has been known to visit."  

"Like I said I haven't seen him, do you have any idea why he ran away?"  he was quiet again.  I was getting annoyed with this, I understand the need to be quiet about things with children in protective custody but when one is missing it's a must all is done so the child is found safe.       

"Sgt. I'd guess the reason my name came up in your investigation wasn't just because I am the director of this center. But also because I am the one that called about him being abused which led family services into taking him. The more you can tell me the more I can help and hopefully, the sooner we can get him found."  He shifted his weight I could tell he was thinking of what to say or what not to say.

"Like I said he didn't come home from school. He wasn't reported missing until about 9 last night.  Noone has seen or heard from him since school."

"There that wasn't so hard was it? I really don't know Matt all that well but I do know this, he likes to read here sometimes. He told me that he hides in the park at night when he didn't want to go home. Which park I don't know, one near his home I'm guessing. He never spent much time with any of the kids here so I doubt they will know where he is but I will ask them this afternoon."  

"Thank you, Mr. Justice we will look into what you have told us. You will call if you hear anything won't you?"  

"Yes, of course, I will."  He handed me his card, thanked me and left.

 I spent the rest of the morning worrying about Matt while I worked.  I really didn't know him very well but for him to not return from school was a bad sign. It took him some time to come talk to me about what was going on at home so something must be going on for him to not return to the home he was placed in. There wasn't really anything I could do at the moment. But after work, I knew I had to look into helping more if I could.

I went to lunch with Debbie since she texted me to ask if I wanted to join her.  We had a great lunch and talked about Carson and me. She was happy that we kept growing closer and that he was accepting himself more. She teased me about her hearing wedding bells. I just rolled my eyes at her and told her it was much too soon.  Our relationship was still young, it had lots of building before that was even thought about.

When we were done I bid her farewell and headed back to the center. At 2 I was working on a list of things we would be needing soon. Somethings I can just go get but the bigger and pricier things I had to write up a proposal letter to the committee for approval. When I was done with the letter I needed to stretch so I got up to walk around and find something to drink.

I opened the door to find Matt of all people. He had his hand up like was about to knock on my door.  He looked so exhausted, e]he clearly hadn't slept much if any last night.  I gave him a hug and told him to come with me that I needed a drink. In the break room, we sat at the table with the cokes I had gotten from the fridge and a bag of chips from the cupboard. I stole a yogurt and apple for him. I would replace them later.  He didn't say anything he just ate and drank.

"How have you been?" I asked him but he just shrugged his shoulders.

"Matt look at me," I told him. He didn't want to but he did in the end. "Matt I know."  I paused for a reaction. He just looked at me blankly.

"The police came by this morning asking if I had seen you." Panic filled his eyes, he looked like he was about to bolt so I said  "Matt I know you came here for a reason. You feel safe here, it will stay that way. But you need to understand that I have to let them know where you are. I will do what I can to let you stay here for the time being. However, you realize you need to go back at some point." His head dropped. I moved over to the seat next to him and wrapped my arms around him. He cried but not like the first time he came to me.  When he calmed down I lead him to my office and he lay on my couch. I covered him with a blanket and rubbed his back until I knew he was asleep. Then I stepped out to make a call I really wasn't ready to make.

I called Sgt. Freeze told him Matt had shown up at the center but would be it okay if he could stay and get some rest. He said that was fine for now but he would have to come and get the boy. I told him I would call family services to let them know where he was.  So I did call them, I insisted he was safe and was sleeping at the moment and promised I would call when he woke. I also asked if he would be placed in the same home he ran away from assuming that was the reason he ran away in the first place. 

I got the run around at first but I got hold of his social worker. She told me not to worry that everything is fine. I had a hard time not blowing up at her but was able to calmly tell her that Matt is way worse now than when he first came to me for help. If she wasn't going to look into why he had run away I would and in doing so would make a lot of noise.  I knew that scared her, no way would she want to get into trouble for putting him in a place he shouldn't be.

I kept busy and stayed quiet so Matt could sleep but at a quarter to 3, I felt I needed to wake him up to get him off to where he needed to be but first I was going to out of him what was going on. I softly shook him calling his name.  He rolled over to look at me he looked confused for a second. Then he must have realized where he was.  "Matt sit up, we need to talk."  He sat up and rubbed his eyes.  I hated waking him up but I had to.  "Matt I usually let you kids come to me to talk things out at your own pace but we don't have time for that, you need to tell me what is going on here."  He leaned back and turned his head away his dark hair falling in his eyes.  I brushed his hair out of his eyes so he could see me. That hair reminded me so much of Carson's.  He just stared at me. I moved closer to him and put my arm around him, he leaned his head on me. I wanted to push things along but sometimes you can't rush. So I remained quiet. 

I had a sudden thought, maybe I should talk it could help him some.  "Matt that day you come to me looking for help you asked me who was in here with me. I told you he was just my friend.  That wasn't the truth, he is my boyfriend, his name is Carson. I didn't tell you who he was because we weren't making our relationship public and he wasn't ready to let others know about him." He remained quiet.

"Last spring and part of summer I had a break down because I was having a hard time with a break up with James. You never met James because he didn't ever come here. Anyway, I went for a long ass walk to clear my head.  It was really long I walked for almost 2 days.  The only reason I didn't keep walking was that a cutie came along and offered to help me. I had my doubts he could help me at all. But as it turned out he helped me in so many ways."  

"Was it Carson that helped you?"  he finally said. 

"Yes, it was Carson that helped me. I had talked about what had happened and how much it hurt lots of times but for some reason when I talked it out with Carson it helped me see things more clearly."

I told him a very edited version of what happened with Carson and me in the first few days of us knowing each other.  The more I talked the more Matt talked as well.

Suddenly he blurted out "I don't want to go back there. I hate it there." 

"I don't want you to be anywhere you don't want to be either but sometimes we don't have a choice. I know that is not what you want to hear right now but that's how it is."  I then asked, "Why did you run away?"  He turned away from me. 

"Matthew you have to least tell someone and I have a feeling you don't want anyone else to know though." 

He turned to me and said "Do I have to tell? Can't I just forget about it?"  

"No, you don't have to tell anyone but lying won't help you through whatever is going on with you right now.  I know it was really really hard to come to me about your abuse. I also know it helped you feel better about it. Even though it led you into the foster system for the time being. Not to mention any other feelings it causes by telling what happened to you. In the end, it will be better if you told someone  about this at least." I let him think about what I had said.

Part of me just wanted to take him home with me. But I knew that wasn't going to happen.  "She uh um, she caught me jerking to a hot guy in a magazine the other night."  he blushed a lot. So that is it, no wonders he didn't want to tell anyone but wanted to just forget it. He clearly didn't go back to the house because of his embarrassment.

I waited for him to say more but he didn't  "Well I see why you didn't want to go back or tell me what was going in. But let me ask you this,  what part of that causes you so much embarrassment or shame or whichever?"  he avoided eye contact with me.   "Matt, come on answer the question."  As luck would have it there was a knock at the door.  "You wait right here," I said to him as I got up. He looked scared again and had that look he just wanted to disappear.  I opened the door. It was Gram and the Sgt. from this morning and a few more people.  OH fuck this isn't going to turn out well.

After closing the door behind me. I told Gram, thank you and I whispered not to let anyone in my office until I returned.  I looked right at the Sgt. and asked him to come with me. I requested who I assumed was his caseworker to come as well. They followed me into the staff break room and I closed the door.

"What is this all about where is Matt?"  The caseworker asked 

"He is in my office. We were talking things out when you all interrupted."  I said it not so polity as I normally would. I was very annoyed.

"We came to take him back"  I cut her off 

"I know that much but why all of you? It shouldn't take that many people to pick up a 15-year-old boy."   I looked at them like they should know better. 

"They insisted on coming with me to pick him up, they felt it was best." The Sargent finely got out 

"Let me tell you what the best thing was to do. You should have called me to arrange for me to bring him to your station. But instead, a uniformed officer and two women come into MY center full of kids to drag out a boy that has been through too much as it is. Do you have any idea what that looks like to all those kids?  How that is going to make Matt feel?"  

He tried to interrupt me as did the caseworker a few times but I had to get my rant out.   "Now had you called me I could have brought him to you calmed down and possibly more willing to go with you but right now I know he will not leave that office without a fight. We both know that won't solve a damn thing. In fact, I'd bet he would run away again."  I could tell this Sgt. could get what I was telling him.  The Caseworker was on edge.

"What do you suggest be done Mr. Justice?" the Sgt. asked 

"What do you mean what does he think should be done?" She blurted out.  He eyed her to zip it.

"You leave and let me finish talking to me. He trusts me, hell I could be the only one he does trust at the moment. So I am using that trust to get him to talk about why he left. I was close too in fact. But now I don't know if he will keep talking to me."

It took some time but Sgt Freeze was able to convince the social worker and who I assume was the foster Mother to leave. I agreed to bring him in when I got him comfortable again. I went and sat down on the couch next to Matt.

"Where did you go?" he asked worriedly. 

"I was talking to the cop that was here this morning asking about you and your caseworker.  I told him you needed to talk some more and I that I would take you to them when you were ready."

"I said I wasn't going back!" he was pissed

"And I told you there was no choice that you have to go back with family services,"  I said firmly looking right into his eyes.

"Can't I just stay with you or something?'' I was shocked I didn't expect him to say that. 

"I'm sorry but you have to be with people that are licensed by the state to care for a child under their care." 

"I'll just run away again." he pouted

"Matt that won't solve anything you damn well know it."  He didn't say anything but just glared at me. "Listen why don't we continue where we left off?"  Again nothing was said.

"Alright get up let's go," I said standing up.  

"What? Where are we going?"  he was worried

"I am taking you back.  If you don't want to talk anymore I will take you back right now." 

He was quiet then said, "OK I'll talk." 

Sitting back down I asked. "Why did you not go back to the house after school yesterday?"   He looked at me like he would rather be anywhere but there at that moment.

"I'm too embarrassed to go back."  

"Matt teenage boys do that all the time it's almost expected. I bet she didn't even put much thought into the whole thing.  You know that she was here? She came with them to take you back."  

"She did?"  he was surprised

"Yeah, she did. She only looked worried about you.  I bet she didn't even care what you were doing but she did care you didn't go back home and you were out all last night in the cold."  he must have been thinking of what I told him about the foster parent. 

"What if she hates me?" 

"Why would she hate you, Matt?" 

"Because it was a guy I was jerking to." his head dropped that was another big issue he had dealing with. I could tell he was trying not to cry. I lifted his head so he would look at me. I wiped the tears from his face. I could feel his worry.  

"Have you thought at all that maybe she didn't even see that?  Maybe she just saw what you were doing nothing more?"  

"Well no not really."   he shook his head

"What is there for you to worry about then?"  He shrugged his shoulders "Tell me, do you like it there at all? Do they treat you right?"  He nodded yes. "Then there is really no reason for you not to go back. Besides you could be going back home anytime now." 

"Yeah I could, but I would rather be with you."  

"You are with me right now. When you do go back home you can come here just like you use too." 

"NO I mean I wish I could live with you. I don't want to go back it's not really a home never was."  I hugged him to me. I knew he felt so lost and alone and wanted to find a way out of the nightmare he has been in. 

"You know that can't happen but I am more than happy to remain part of your life. But you need to remember you need to stay at your foster home for the time being. No running away, if you keep this up you will end up with another one you may not like so much."  he just nodded his head.  

"Now why don't we get you back?"  He just nodded again. I took one of my cards wrote my privet number on it and handed it to him. "Here take this. You can call me whenever you need to okay. Remember, what you told me won't leave this office. What you want to tell them is up to you." He took the card and smiled at me.

On the way over to the police station, I asked: "Are you in counseling at all?"  

"No why?" he seemed confused

"I thought I should ask, seems like you really need someone to talk to."  

"I talked to you already."  

"Yes, you have talked to me but having someone that you can talk to more often would be beneficial to your healing." 

"Why can't I just talk to you about things?" 

"Because I am not a licensed counselor let alone for the long term, I only talk to the kids at the center if they need someone to lean on from time to time.  Anyone, I feel needs counseling or could benefit from it I work it out with someone to try to make sure they get it." 

"But I like talking to you, you understand and you make me feel better."  he was feeling sad again which is not what I wanted to happen. 

"Matt I'm glad you like talking to me and that I help you feel better but you need someone that really knows how to work with children in your situation. I'm not saying we can't talk anymore but it would be best if you had a professional to work with okay?"  

"You really think so?"  he sounded doubtful

"Yeah, it wouldn't hurt at all. You may even like it more than you think." 

"Okay."  was all he said about that.

When I took him in I talked to the social worker and foster parent about him seeking counseling to help him through the mess he has been in. I put in their head this wasn't just idle chit-chat but they need to look into it for him. 

 With a reluctant goodbye from both of us, I left him then headed home. I showered put something more comfortable on and left for the mall. I didn't want to be alone at home and since Carson won't be able to talk till later I figured this was the best thing to do.  Besides I had to find something for his birthday.

I walked around slowly taking my time checking out all the shops here and there. I could get one expensive gift but I found different things here and there from various shops he might enjoy. I got him a new wallet because I knew his was in bad shape.  I found a T-shirt I knew he would love and got that as well. 

In the music store, I saw so much I knew he would want but I had to limit myself here Christmas wasn't too far away.  That and I knew he wouldn't want me to spend too much on him. In the end, I got him some wax for his violin bow and a kit for cleaning the violin as well. 

I didn't have to give all that to him for his birthday I could save some of it for Christmas. When I found what I felt was plenty of gifts I went to the food court to find something to eat.  I decided on some Chinese. When I sat down to eat I got a text. It was from Carson.   I miss you  I miss you too  I replied.   On and off he sent me texts while I ate.  where r u?    at the mall alone?   Yep had a rough day dnt want to hme alone right now.  

why what happened  Matt ran away  The kid you talked to when I was there? 

Yep, he the 1  They find him yet?  Actually, he came to me I then told him about the cop coming in the morning telling me about Matt and about Matt showing up.    Why he run away?   cnt tell I promised

OH okay, I hope he will be okay  BTW    What?

told him bout us bout why and how we met.   why you tell him that?   As a way to encourage him to talk more. Telling him my mess got him talking

OH well, that good then.   Can u tlk tonite?  I texted

Yes but not for long tho   any amount will do. Get back to your work call me anytime.

 I will 

I love you, Carson 

love you more babe

 I really wished we could talk more but sometimes just texting was enough. Oh one more, he sent me a selfie.  I sent him a thank you then that was the end of our texting.  I stopped at a jeweler just to see what they had. When I saw the little emerald violin on a chain I knew I had to get it for him. I asked the clerk to pull it out so I could get a better look. It was perfect, exactly what I was waiting to come across just for him.  The adorable male clerk rung it all up and a pair of earrings for Debbie for Christmas I knew she would love. They offered to wrap them and I accepted. I told him that the earrings should be Christmas wrap but the necklace can be wrapped in anything. 

I left the mall feeling much better than when I got there. I was so busy looking in the shops to worry much about Matt.  I really hoped he would get through all of this in time. He deserves to happy like he got sometimes at the center. 

When I got home I put the gifts way. I sat and watched TV while I checked my private email and Facebook.  Nothing new there just the same stuff but my sister-in-law posted pictures of their kids. I missed them so much, they don't live all that far away but I haven't had time to visit them like I should. However part of my new life is making time for things I never made time for. I thought I needed to go visit more often but I knew I would see them for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  

At that moment I had an urge to call Mom. We talked for least an hour. She told me about things and I caught her up on things in my life.  I told here about Carson. Why I waited for so long I don't know but it felt like the right time. I told her how and why we met. I told her how he changed my life for the better. 

I sent her a picture of the two of us. "He is younger than you Kirk, How old is?"  She was annoyed I could tell.

"He will be 20 in a week or so,"  I replied

"Isn't he too young for you son?"

"Mom you don't understand, age does not matter with us. I love him for who he is and to honest I forget he is younger than me most of the time anyway. Trust me once you meet him you will see he is not like any other 20 old out there." 

"Are you doing the right thing, Kirk?"

"Mother when we met I had no idea things would turn out like this. The more time we spent together the more we liked each other.  I wasn't planning on dating again after what happened with James I really didn't but feelings for him developed and he developed feelings for me as well. You, yourself thought I had found someone, you even seemed happy about that then. I did find someone he is younger than me is all." I was upset by then.

"All right son, you say you love each other I will accept that. When do we meet him?"  

"I don't know yet for sure, probably during one of the coming holidays. Since he is at school he can't come here much."   We chatted for a little bit longer then bid each other good night.  I got ready for bed after that and lay in bed reading waiting for Carson to call.

Mom upset me with what she said. Am I doing the right thing? How could she say that? Isn't he young for me?  Who cares if he is, we love each other? He means so much to me and I to him.  We have only grown closer to each other since that day we met. We have even opened up to each other more as well. It is still easier talking to each other about things than with other people.

Oh, I missed him so very much. Every time he leaves it is so hard on both of us. What time we do get together is really needed.  I loved getting to hold him or he hold me when we slept. Holding him in my arms he melts away any stress, depression or worries I have. James never really even did that. 

When he called I felt much better, more relaxed. He told me about his day and I told him about mine.  I told him about Matt, I left out what he told me of course. Carson told me he hoped that Matt could get things worked out for the better. 

"I'm glad I called you, I am feeling so less stressed right now," he told me  

"I'm glad you called me too, I feel a lot better. I love helping those kids when they reach out but I have a hard time letting things go sometimes. But so far I haven't needed to help many with deep issues, those are the hardest. I am one of the only people they feel they can reach out to for help." 

"I bet it can be hard but at least they do have one caring person to reach out to,"  he said.

"Yes, you're very right."    

"So what did you get at the mall? Anything for me?" He asked all excited.

"Actually yes I got you a teddy.  Hope pink is okay that's all they had in your size."   I smiled to myself

"A teddy huh? Well if you got it for me I'll have to wear it even if it's pink."  we both giggled.  I was picturing him in a pink teddy.  

"No really, what did you get?"    

"Well, I got earrings for Debbie for Christmas and a few other things here and there. I found a few good Christmas presents. I probably should do more shopping before the huge crowds hit the stores." 

"I'm sure she will love them and I should do some Christmas shopping too before it gets too crowded."

"OH, I just remembered I did do some shopping online for the siblings and their kids.  Just need to do a few more including lil things for the volunteers. I always get them a little something every year." 

"Oh, that's nice of you to do." 

"Yeah, I do it as a thank you for their help. You know there is one more person that I should shop for."  

"Who?"  he perked up

"This really cute guy I met. I can't stop thinking about him at all."  

"Is that so?"  he sounded kinda put off. 

"Yep, he is such a sweetheart every time I look into his eyes I get lost. I just love kissing his soft lips except when he gets a bit rough and bites mine though."  

"He bites your lips? That's not very nice."  I could almost hear him smirk when he said that.

"No it is not but I put up with it because I love him so much and he puts up with me."  

"You love him but he only puts up with you? Are you sure?" 

"Yep pretty sure."  

"Huh, I heard he loves you very much and puts up with you too."   

"He loves me huh? I'll have to keep that in mind then."   We couldn't hold it in anymore and busted out laughing. 

"You really had me going there for a second, I was worried there was someone else in your life." 

"Nope, just my emerald eyed college boy."  We talked for only a short time later because he had to get back to studying and off to bed.  


I was really scared when that guy threatened he was going to out me to everyone I know. I fell apart and all I could think of was to call Kirk even though he was at work I knew he would talk to me.  He tried his best to calm me down but I wasn't thinking at all. When he promised we would talk it out that night I did start feeling better.

Like always though my mind started racing. I suddenly felt like taking a drive even though it was really late. I ended up on the freeway and just drove. When I realized where I was I was closer to home then school so I just went to be with the only person I wanted to be with, Kirk. With the gate opener and the key he gave me I could just slip in and join him in bed. Lucky he didn't put the chain on.  He scared the shit out of me when he came out saying something with a raised voice.  But then he wrapped me in his arms and some of my stress melted away.  He took me to bed and held me as we slept. As I was falling asleep all I could think of was this is where I belonged.  

At his office, I did feel better talking things out with him and getting more sleep on his couch. I wanted to stay in his arms but that boy Matt needed to talk to my man. So I just went and hung out with the kids and got caught up with them I forgot my worries. I never told Kirk but a few of 'em asked if I was Kirk's boyfriend. I wanted to say yes so bad but I just told them we were friends. That made me feel that I needed to be me. So I can be free to tell people that Kirk and I are dating, even if we never really said it at all. We knew in our hearts it was true.

At one point Kirk stepped out of his office grabbed Gram took her to his office. Then came back out and we made eye contact. I knew something was going on but I wasn't sure how bad it was until a guy in a suit and 2 well-dressed women showed and headed straight into his office. Gram came out after one of the ladies went in there.  They all stayed in there until all the kids left.  I went into his office after I turned off the lights. I stayed with him for an hour when he got a call that made him relax.  He never told me what all of that was about but something told me it was really bad when Matt left with the 3 adults. Kirk wasn't right that night so whatever happened really affected him. When I got home from the store he was asleep on the couch but didn't wake up until I was cooking.

I went back to school the next day even though I wanted to stay where I felt I belonged.  I hated being away from him I really did.  I kept my self really busy with work and studying to keep my mind occupied.  Ethan helped lots too, that's my roommate. He is a great guy and we hang out together when we have time.  I scared him when I suddenly left in the middle of the night and didn't come back for a couple of days. But I just told him I had to get home for something.


A few days later after I had gotten home from work I got a call from a number I didn't know. I avoid those kinds of call but this time I felt it was okay to answer it so I did. 


"Kirk?" a quiet voice replied. 

"Yes, this is he." 

"It's ah I mean this is Matt." 

"Oh hi, Matt how are you doing?" 

"Okay, I guess. I called because you said if I wanted to talk I could uh call I mean."  

"Yes, I did say that. What can I do for you?" 

"You, you're not busy are, are you? I can call another time if you are busy."  he sounded so nervous

"No Matt I am not busy. We can talk, but first, you need to relax bud."  

"Uh okay I, I will try."

"Good. What is it you wanted to talk about?" 

"Um well uh, can we get to that later?"

"You just want to talk and get to what's on your mind later then?"  

"Uh yeah if that, that's Okay."  

"Yeah fine, just talk away, about anything you want," I told him

"I don't know what to say."  

"Why don't you start with what you were thinking when you decided to call me?"  

"I guess I could."   he paused for a bit.  "I'm scared.  I feel my whole life is falling apart but I don't know what to do because I do not have any real control over what's going on." he sounded sad and upset.

"That's is a very good place to start, keep going." 

"Sometimes I wish I didn't tell you about my life, what was happening at home but I am also glad because I'm not scared to go home anymore and I am sleeping better. I am eating better too."  I waited for him to keep going he had a lot to get out.  "But this isn't my home I want to go back to my home even if it isn't all that good it's still mine.  My bathroom, my bedroom, my bed and my stuff." I could tell he was starting to tear up a bit. 

"I understand Matt, I know you want to be home but I also know part of you doesn't want to go back there."  

"Yeah you're right I kinda don't.  That's why I don't know what to do. Mom is doing better with going to AA but I don't know how long until the next time she starts drinking again. I wish I could live with my Dad like my little brother got to live with his."  

"Well, why don't you then?" 

"I, I don't"  he heaved I knew I was trying to hold back the crying. I waited for him to calm down then he continued.  "I don't know who he is let alone where he is."  he let out a sob. 

Oh, that poor boy, he is in so much pain, more than I ever could have imagined. I let him cry it out then when he calmed down, he said  "I'm so pathetic aren't I?"  there was so much pain behind that question.

"No Matthew you are not pathetic I promise."  I tried to reassure him

"Yes I am my life is shit, I'm ugly, I don't even know who my own Dad is." he was almost screaming

"Matt listen to me. You are not pathetic in the least.  You are far from ugly. It doesn't matter if you don't know who your father is or not. That does not make you who you are.  You make you who you are.  You have dealt with so much but that is not your fault.  Things will get better I promise." 

"Yeah we will see."  he went quiet on me.

"Matt, are you going to be okay?"  I said with concern

"Yeah I, I just hate my life so much right now but talking to you is helping me so much. Thank you."

"You are very welcome. I am glad you came to me that day. I know it was really hard for you to do but it was for the best. I know you see that."   

"Yeah, I do."  

"Now can you tell me what it was you wanted to talk about before?" 

"Yeah, I guess we can."  I didn't say anything I let him say what he wanted. 

"Do you really think I should be in counseling?  I don't really want to tell someone I don't know about me, my life, my feelings."   

"Yes I do, I think it's the best thing for you. It is hard telling someone you don't know things about your life but sometimes it's easier than you might think."    

"I don't know, seems weird to me and besides I like talking to you."   

"It is weird but you should at least try it. I'm glad you like talking to me and I like talking to you too."  

"Will we still be able to talk like this even if I do have counseling?"  

"Yeah, that wouldn't change anything at all."  

"Good.  I kinda do want counseling but I don't at the same time you know?"  

"Yeah, I get it.  When you feel you are ready let your foster parent and caseworker know.  I made sure they understood it is the best thing for you."  

"Okay I will, thank you so much."  he sounded like his spirit was lifting a little.

"You are most welcome. Listen why don't I let you go I'm sure you gotta eat and I know I do."  

"Okay, thanks again talk to you later."  

"Anytime buddy. Have a good night."  

"You too bye."         


When the call ended I went to shower, put on something warm and looked for something to eat. I decided on soup since it was the perfect thing for such a cold autumn night. I wasn't in the mood for TV so after I ate I headed to bed to read some Nifty stories. At some point, I dozed off. When I woke again I put my tablet away then went back to sleep.

Author's Notes:

A big thank you to Max and Mason.


Comments always appreciated at C. J. Gibb