Beautiful Nightmare

Contributor: André-Naquian Wheeler

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We were wrestling in Joshua's backyard and Joshua was on top of me, winning as usual, when I sat up suddenly. I wanted to taste the smoothness of his oatmeal colored skin. I leaned in to kiss him and allowed my love to fall either on a pair of receptive lips or on the cold hard ground of shame. Luckily, I felt the squishiness of his lips battling with mine and I closed my eyes and enjoyed the pomegranate chap-stick taste of his bean-bag lips. I swear to you I could feel him smiling. He was smiling I tell you and that’s how I’ll be able to sleep tonight after all of this. Knowing that during that one moment in time that he was breaking hours of temple and Torah studies to swim naked in love, Joshua was happy.
When we broke away from each other we didn’t say or do anything. We just stared at each other and allowed what had just taken place to sink inside of our minds. Then, suddenly, Joshua pushed me to the ground with a cold, hard thrust and knocked the wind, and happiness, out of me. Then he got off of me and crawled a few feet away and began to pray feverishly.
“Please forgive me, please forgive me, please forgive me, please forgive me...” Joshua repeated over and over again. “Please forgive me, please forgive me, please forgive me…”
I crawled over to him and placed my hand on his shaking back, “Joshua I’m sorry I just-”
He turned around violently and screamed in an agony so loud I’m sure that blood had to be swimming inside of his throat. “Don’t touch me faggot!”
“Joshua I’m-”
“You’ve ruined me!” He screamed and began to claw at himself madly. On his chiseled arm in thick deep red lines he carved in “D-E-A-T-H” with his nails and I sat by helplessly and foolishly in awe at the power of my tainted love.
I knew that this was a problem bigger than me so I ran out of Joshua's backyard and over to the temple next door. I ran inside, interrupting the service in progress, and yelled out to the Rabbi: “Joshua is going to kill himself! Joshua is going to kill himself!” I don’t know where those words came from or who thought of them because up until that moment I had been telling myself that this was all just Joshua being a Jewish coward again. That he would get over this. That he had to get over it. But as I stood inside of that packed temple and thought back on the red fury that had been swimming inside of Joshua's eyes I guess I knew then that he was going to do to himself what I had been too chicken to do to myself countless times before.
The Rabbi and the congregation followed me out of the temple and over to Joshua's backyard. Joshua had taken to slamming his head against an oak tree repeatedly, passionate red blood stains now sliding down the tree’s bark.
“Look Joshua!” I said pointing to the crowd of people behind me. “They said it’s alright! It’s alright for you to love me!”
“No it’s not! No it’s not!” He wailed rocking himself back and forth. “It’ll never be okay to God!” He pulled out the hunting gun from the tool shed his Dad had believed Joshua didn’t know the combination to. “It’ll never be okay.” He said grimly resolute.
The crowd began to shriek and run around in fear but I stayed where I was. I wasn’t scared. Even if he didn’t want to admit it to himself I knew that he loved me too much to ever think about hurting me. At least on purpose that is.
At that point the police showed up and I thought that it would be a good idea to call Joshua's parents and let them know that their son was about to kill himself because of their stupid rules but no one answered. They were at temple. The other temple two towns over that they walked half an hour to specifically because it said that Joshua and me were not okay.
Of course then the news showed up with their bright lights and cameras. The crowd now a safe distance away had come up with a catchy chant of “It gets better! It gets better!” and for a second the lies appeared to be working on Joshua. Instead of screaming in constant agony he had taken to silently weeping.
“Joshua…” I pushed out of my throat, determined to be the stronger one for once. “It’s going to be okay. God’s not mad. Look,” I said gesturing to the crowd of us trying hard to undo years of fundamentalist propaganda residing inside of Joshua with our very own. “It’s okay.”
Joshua stopped crying, stopped shaking and stared up at me with his powerful Neptune blue eyes and mouthed “I love you.” The snot and spit on his lips stretched out into thin long lines as he created the words. And then he did it. He killed himself.
The only person I had been brave enough to throw my love onto had been bought down by it.

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André-Naquian Wheeler is a 19-year-old Texas native currently studying Journalism at New York University. His work has been featured on Mr. Beller's Neighborhood. You can find him on twitter @andre_daren or on tumblr @andrenaquian. He spends his free time reading, dancing to Beyonce, and chasing his dreams.
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