I could fly away
I could fly so high
I could fly away
And maybe see you again
I could fly away
Todd Anderson sat under a maple tree in the sunny little town of Lakeview, New York. The town itself was nothing special, just an ordinary small-town USA kind of place. In fact, there was only one thing to recommend it- the "down-to-earth, homey little resort sure to cure all that ails you"- or so the brochure proclaimed. Lakeview Spa and Resort on Lake Ontario had somehow become Todd's parents' answer to what to do with their suddenly traumatized son.
Todd was traumatized. It just wasn't anything new. And other than the fact that in Neil's death he had suddenly found a wellspring of inspiration for poetry, he really didn't have anything left to live for. So Todd sat under a tree that should have been soothing, in a small town that could have been a chance to get away from it all and wondered when he'd get up the courage to actually do something about the fact that his life had absolutely no meaning anymore. He didn't have Neil to inspire him. He didn't have Mr. Keating to challenge him. And he didn't have Knox, Charlie, Meeks or Pitts to support him, or tease him, or… or anything. And being alone really, really sucked.
And then it happened. Something ordinary. A figure walking through the park, toward him. Just an person, taking an average walk in an average town. Only it wasn't average, it was…
It's so cold in this place
I'm just looking for a familiar face
And all I see
And I just want to know
Where do they go
When they all disappear
In the night
And I'm alone
"So, let me get this straight. Your parents didn't want to 'intrude upon you', so they got you your own little bungalow at a resort- one waaaaay on the other side of the freaking grounds?" Charlie asked incredulously.
Todd and Charlie had returned to Todd's room at the resort to talk. As Charlie had noticed, Todd was currently residing alone. The resort's bungalows weren't exactly luxurious, but the bedroom was fairly spacious. And as Charlie had noticed while using the facilities, the bathtub was humongous.
"Yeah, that's the theory." Todd replied
"Theory. What's the actuality?"
"They don't want me to mess up their perfect life. See they go to parties and they have other couples over- your parents among them, I'd imagine- and they don't need a silent testament to the effects of the choices younger generation make among them. I can't be my brother. I don't want to try anymore, and they know it." Todd said resignedly. "So, they drag out the pictures of Jeffery and life goes on as usual. You know I don't think they'd really be disappointed if I just vanished. They'd all be relieved."
"Hey, now. Don't go taking like that. If nothing else, I'd be out a summer 'playmate.'" Charlie grinned. His smile slipped when Todd just looked back blankly. "So what were you doing when I found you today?"
Todd stared back blankly. What was he doing? He was writing. It was the only thing he ever did anymore. He didn't have the will or the talent to do anything else to ease the pain. After Neil's death, it had only taken Todd a few days to realize that he suddenly had something to write about. It had only taken two weeks of counseling sessions to realize that no one would ever be able to understand what had really happened to Neil. Only someone who had been there could know.
Charlie's voice pulled Todd out of his daze. And suddenly, Todd realized- Charlie had been there.
"Writing. I was writing." Todd murmured, still caught up in the implications of his realization that he wasn't the only one anymore. Charlie was here.
"You still write?
Todd dropped to sit on the bed.
"Yeah, I write. Poetry, mostly. It just seems like… since Neil… there's not really much else for me to do. I just… I have to do something or I feel like I'll just explode into so many pieces, and I'll never be able to be whole again."
Charlie moved to sit next to Todd. It was strange how much better he felt, just knowing that Charlie already knew what had gone before. Charlie knew what had brought Todd to this point. But Charlie didn't know everything. Charlie didn't know all about Neil.
"But I'm not whole now, either. See, Neil was my best friend."
"Yeah, Todd. I knew that. I'm really sorry abou-"
Todd's hand over his mouth silenced Charlie. Todd stared into Charlie's eyes, willing him to understand that this was going to be a very serious moment and Nwanda tactics would not be welcome.
I've never been the brave one
I've never done the deeds
I never wrote the songs
It was you all along
I've never braved the storm
Or fought for what was right
I've never righted wrongs
It was you all along
"All the things I've done have been because of Neil. All the things I've written I mean. 'Cause Neil was my best friend, but he was more. I was… um… I, IwasinlovewithNeil." Todd rushed all of the words out, as if saying it quickly made it easier. The truth was that it had to be said quickly, or he'd never have been able to get it out at all. "I wanted Neil to be more than a friend since the first time I saw him."
Charlie watched as Todd rose and moved toward the window. The fading sunlight painted golden and red highlights onto Todd's upturned face. The evening breeze stirred the closed air in the room, ruffling Todd's hair. Charlie thought that he had never seen anyone just…glide… the way Todd did as he moved toward the window.
"I fell in love with Neil the first time he protected me from your wit. And every time he looked at me without pity or scorn or indifference, I loved him more. So I wrote about it. Truly terrible rip-offs of love poems throughout history. Until that night, before the play, I told him. I told him that I loved him and that I was sorry, but I had to tell him and he could hate me if he wanted to."
Charlie let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding when he saw the tension suddenly drain from Todd's body. Standing at the window, looking out into the dying reds and golds of the bleeding sunset, Todd looked at peace.
"He said he loved me. And it was the most wonderful sound I have ever heard. And then I kissed him. And you know what? Neil kissed me back. Me. I kissed Neil Perry. And then I was holding him up and he was holding me up. And we just stood there like that. In front of the window, we just stood there and held each other for hours. Until he had to go to get ready for the show. And then Neil kissed me. And I wasn't alone."
Charlie watched the luminescent joy shine from Todd's innocent face. The light shifted and darkened as the sun fell below the horizon. The last rays of the sun and the first rays of the moon were caught in the tears silently sliding down Todd's cheeks. Charlie was startled by his own hiccing intake of air, startled to realize that he was crying, too.
"I sat down and I wrote. I wrote for Neil until it was time for us to leave for the play. And the play, the play was spectacular." Todd's hushed voice ensnared Charlie once again. "But then Neil died. Do you know what I think he did? I think he stood in front of the window with the moon reflecting off the snow onto his face. And he blew his head off."
Todd's arms hugged his body. His calm recitation was finished. Todd turned and looked at Charlie. The tears he found on Charlie's face shocked him.
Charlie's voice was just as calm when he spoke. "Come with me."
And he walked out the door. Todd followed him along the silent paths to the shore of Lake Ontario. Looking out over the rippling waters the two youths stood in silence. Until Charlie spoke.
"I knew. I knew that Neil was going to do something, and I didn't stop him." A moment passed. "I saw him after the show. And I saw the old bastard, too. Neil looked at me and he said goodbye. And I knew."
After a moment Charlie made eye contact with Todd. Two young men, finally really seeing each other.
Charlie reached out. And waited.
Todd took his hand.
Finger twined together, the two stood with the moon reflecting off sand onto their knowing faces. When the moon had finally risen and all the stars were out they walked back. They settled onto Todd's bed. And they slept.
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