Mikey’s 18th Birthday
“Mikey! Wait! What’s going on?”
Heath had walked into his boyfriend’s house to hear Mikey’s dad laying into him and Mikey yelling back, but he had no idea what the fight was about this time. Mikey had run up the stairs and slammed the door closed, but Heath followed anyway, closing the door softly behind him.
“Mikey! What’s wrong this time, what happened?”
When Heath didn’t get an answer, he moved slowly towards Mikey and turned him around slowly to see tears streaming down his face.
“Oh babe.” Heath pulled Mikey into his embrace, holding him tightly while Mikey hid his face in Heath’s neck.
Heart breaking for the man in his arms, Heath stroked his boyfriend’s hair softly while sobs wracked his body.
This wasn’t the first time this had happened. Ever since Mikey’s mom had died, Mikey and his father had been at odds. About everything. About his grades, about his lifestyle. About Heath. Mikey fought back as best he could, but Heath could tell that Mikey’s spirit was next to broken.
Their plan had always been to graduate high school and get out of town. Mikey would follow Heath to college, but instead of attending, get a construction job. He had plenty of references.
Plans were made by the light of the moon while lying on a scratchy wool blanket at the lake, lying in each other’s arms under a tree at the park on afternoons when Mikey’d convinced Heath to skip school. They were ready.
They’d both been saving their money. Heath wouldn’t be eighteen until September, but he had plenty of financial aid and scholarships and even had a job set up on campus in the library. He knew Mikey had to get away from his toxic father. He’d talked about it with his parents. His parents had agreed with him and were going to allow Mikey to move into his brother Greg’s old room.
That’s why he was here; it was Mikey’s eighteenth birthday. He was going to give him a key to his house and help Mikey pack his stuff.
Suddenly, Mikey pulled out of his arms. “I can’t take it anymore. I can’t. I gotta get out of here.” He started rushing around the room, violently opening the closet door and pulling out a duffle bag, which he then started filling with anything and everything at hand. When that was full, he grabbed a trash bag and filled it, too.
“Mikey, babe, slow down.” Heath tried to grab Mikey’s wrist, but he pulled away.
“I can’t. I can’t. I gotta do this. I know we had plans, but I gotta get out, I gotta get out now.”
Heath’s heart sank at Mikey’s use of the past tense. “That’s why I’m here. I–”
Mikey wouldn’t let him speak. He dropped everything and brought his hands to Heath’s face. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I love you. I love you, but I just can’t live in this town anymore. It’s sucking the life out of me.”
For a second, Heath forgot about the birthday present he was planning to present. His eyes welled up, all of the emotion he was feeling was choking him. “But where are you gonna go?”
Mikey kissed him on the forehead. “Don’t worry about me. I’ve got some connections. I just…I have to go. God, please understand, please.”
“I do,” he whispered. “But…but what about me? What about us?”
“You’re off to college in a couple of months. You can survive without me for that long.”
Heath’s stomach dropped to his feet. No, this isn’t the way it’s supposed to go. “Mikey, please, don’t leave. I’ve got something to tell you.”
Mikey pulled away. “I gotta go.” He picked up his duffle and trash bag and headed for the door. “I’ll call you later, ok? I love you.”
Ten minutes later, Heath was standing in the same spot. He was stunned and heartbroken. He loved Mikey, but he also knew Mikey. Mikey wasn’t coming back for him. Mikey wasn’t going to call, wasn’t going to write. Mikey was going to escape.
Heath knew it was for the best. He wanted Mikey to be happy, and if that meant he left the state, left him, then that’s what was best.
Didn’t mean Heath was going to be happy, but he’d have to try.