5
min

How Courage Works

Image of Sofia

Sofia

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I lay in my bed staring at nothingness as waves of anxiety crashed on the shore that is my brain. I wanted to move. I knew if I could just sit up this feeling would go away,
this void in my stomach, yet I lacked the motivation to do so. I had played out the thousands of ways to do this in my head, picking through each one and finding its flaws, but somehow it wasn't how each one could fail that bothered me, it was the reaction I would get that scared me away from doing it. I had to get up, I sighed, I moved but as I did the feeling didn’t go away. I walked over to my desk, it was covered in homework that needed to be done. It seemed to stare at me with questioning eyes as if to ask are you really going to do me? I stared back at it debating whether or not I should sit down and begin or sleep. I knew I had to do it, so with yet another sigh, I sat down and picked up my math homework.
“Stupid geometry,” I muttered under my breath. I took a pencil that was sitting askew on my desk and began to write as the sound of graphite on paper ruined the silence that once was there.
My mom called out, “Matthew, time for dinner,” into the empty hall. I slowly stood up and made my way into the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror. I looked half asleep, my auburn curly hair was tangled, greasy, and in desperate need of a haircut. I looked away from the mirror and washed my hands.
I sat down at the dinner table as my mother brought a dish that looked all too familiar, baked potatoes. I didn't have a problem with them but my mom insisted on making them as often as possible, it’s getting rather old.
“So how was your day, Matthew?” my dad asked passing the plate of steaming potatoes to me. “It was fine” I replied, I hated lying to them like that but I couldn't tell the truth without them getting worried about me.
“Well, what happened?” asked my mom trying to persuade more out of me.
“Well a kid in my calculus class fought the teacher today,” I said making the story up “Like physically fought?” my mother said with astonishment.
“Yeah” I sheepishly replied.
“I cannot believe what kids do now, but let us pray before we eat,” my dad said as he bowed his head and began the ritual that made me want to vomit. “Let God bless this food and show love to his children, we pray that we are healthy, happy, and grateful for another day of life on this wonderful world you have made for us, in Jesus name we pray amen.” I raised my head and took part in the small talk that was mandatory at every family dinner. Dinner finally ends, I washed my plate and headed back to my room.
“Wait!” my mother called out just before I could touch my doorknob. I turn back and peer down the hallway at her “what?” I respond longing for the comfort and security of my room.
“You’re okay right?” my mother asked. She looked worried, that didn’t seem to affect my answer. “Yes,” I reply monotone and lifeless. I thought for sure she would call me out, but she didn't. I walked into my room and sat down at the desk and began to work again, even though doing it seemed pointless to me. I stared down at the blank pages of work I had to do and cursed the public school system.
Somehow I managed to finish all of it and put it away. I got ready for bed, when I finished, I stared at the ceiling letting my insecurities creep in from the dark corner I had put them in. I don't know why I feel like this all the time, maybe it’s a hormonal thing, maybe something is wrong with me. I grabbed my phone from my bedside table and turned off the light. I hated feeling and thinking like that, so instead, I got lost in a world of technology from YouTube to Instagram to Snapchat and back to YouTube. I didn't look at how late it was, and I didn't really care to be honest. Finally, I stopped and put down my phone after realizing it was about 12:30, I set an alarm and rolled over in my bed. Tonight it took a while to fall asleep I would ease in and out of a relaxed state but never really be asleep.
I woke up to the blasting sound of the stereotypical alarm. I turned it off feeling tired and sleepless, which of course I was. I grudgingly got out of bed and threw some clothes on, grabbed my backpack and headed into the living room. I didn't feel like eating so I checked my messages, I had a new one from Brodie hey, good morning hope to see you today. I smiled and was glad someone wanted to see me. My dad called me from the garage “Matthew, we are leaving hurry up!” I walked into the garage and slid into the passenger's side of my dad's jeep and turned the radio on, clicking until I found my favorite station. The music surrounded me, hugging me and letting me forget everything. I was so lost in the songs that were playing I didn't even realize I had arrived at my school, Pine Valley High, I stepped out of the car and trudged to the doors. I was so tired I forgot the entire walk to first period, I sat in the back row counting the minutes till the bell would ring. I passed through the first three periods of the day in a haze, but I was really excited for fourth period because maybe the one person who wanted to see me would be there. I walked into the classroom disregarding everyone except Brodie, he looked up and smiled at me. “Hey, you're here,” Brodie said, “So are we still on for our date tonight?” He asked as I sat down beside him. “Yeah I'm telling my parents tonight too, just so you know,” I said anxiously waiting for his reply. “ Matthew that's great! Do you need my help or advice? And what time are you going to tell them?” Brodie said perhaps a little too excited. He had already come out to his family and introduced me to them. “ Yeah, I will be okay, I have a plan kinda. I'm going to do it right before we go out, that way I can just leave after.” I said. I wanted to keep talking to him, he reassured me in every situation, but the teacher walked in and began talking. We loved passing notes during class, but I still wished we could talk. The last periods of the day flew by and before I could realize it I was walking home. It was a short walk from the bus stop to my house, I entered my house and walked up to my room and threw my backpack onto a chair, I collapsed into my bed. How on earth am I going to do this I thought over and over again, maybe I’ll just shout it and run. After half an hour of overthinking it, panic began to set in. I knew if I didn't stop panicking I was going to have a panic attack, but that thought did nothing good for me. My heart began to race and my breathing became sporadic. I felt as though I was drowning in a sea of invading thoughts as I gasped for air, my mind could no longer protect itself from the intrusive thoughts. I could no longer remember what I was supposed to do when this happened, as I became light-headed. I don't remember how I calmed down but I did. I fell asleep not long after and woke up late, at 5:47, nearly time for me to leave at 6:00. I got ready quickly, the time is now 5:57 when I rush into the living room where my parents are. I hear a honk outside, Brodie, I dash to the door as my phone dings, Be Brave!, Brodie texts me. I look at my parents, everything inside me telling me to just leave, but I don't. “Hey guys, so” I pause stuttering, I look down at my hand shaking “I-I’m gay, and that’s my boyfriend outside. We are going out, bye” I say. Before I can see their reaction, I run out the door and into the car, I look at Brodie and say “I was brave, now drive” and we leave.
After our date, I almost forgot about coming out until I walk up to my front door. Brodie agreed to stay for a few minutes in case I needed him. I see a bag on my front steps with a note that reads we are sorry but being gay is a sin, come back when you aren't a sinner anymore. In shock, I stumble back to the car and show Brodie the note; “You're gonna stay with me, it's going to be fine. Sometimes bravery doesn't work out the way you want it to” Brodie says. “You’re gonna be okay” then he pulls out and drives away.

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