He left the club early that night, nodding to the bouncer on his way out through the back gate. Crowds roamed between the bright signs of the kebab houses and the clubs. He was, so he thought, the only one walking away.

A wrong turn down Quarry Road, brought him to a spot outside the town gardens. This street was quiet on his eyes, lit only by intermittent streetlamps or whatever moonlight made it through the sycamores. He has been here for an hour, on that bench, there, opposite the gates. A moth poked a lamp above him. As long as it, he, or she – how could you tell – kept its distance from him, he was fine to share this space.

The primary colours of the club’s cubicle walls were burnt into his retina. Is this what he would always remember of this night? The night he spent in the loo, lingering above a toilet basin stuffed to the brim with tissue. Some poor sod will have to clean that, he thought. Sickness wasn’t his concern – not then – maybe later. He stood there static, like the colossus of Rhodes (even he was proud of himself for thinking up that reference with that much alcohol in him), trying to keep his balance. He must avoid the puddle on the floor and the various diseases that teemed on the surfaces around him. It was not the most comfortable of places for him, but he was sure whatever could harm him in here was much preferable to what laid out there.

Despite the pulsations in his ears, he was surprised how loud the moth patting against the streetlight was. He could feel the tease of sickness in his chest. He could be somewhere else. In the arms of a girl, in her bed, or in her. That could be him, everyday. He’d have the choice of anyone. But, in the words of his year five teacher, he needs to man up. It feels like unwelcome wisdom to him. Like some cruel reality every young boy must accept no matter how wrong it feels. 

You could barely see his tears. And that is Good, he wouldn’t want you to see. His arms were soaked, which he wiped carelessly onto the nice shirt his mum had bought for him. He said no to drugs, sticking to his promise. His ‘friends’ consoled him. He isn’t boring for not wanting to take some, they told him, but he knew it was going through their heads. What solution do they always prescribe, especially when he dances stiff, enclosed within himself? More beverages. But alcohol doesn’t free him, make him silly, or stupid. He isn’t like them – those Guys, it only made him more conscious of where he was.

He still didn’t feel ready to give up his childish eye for basic pleasures, or emotion, too. This meant life was painful, but it could all go away very quickly, couldn’t it? All he had to do was drop his guard and let them batter him into shape.

Those figures of myth, immortalised in the sky: Orion the Hunter, Hercules, and Perseus weigh down on his determination. The gardens’ gates seemed more like the gates of Elysium. Locked for him, until he lets them consume who he is. The next day, he could drain himself of colour, and abstain from anything pretty. That is what the fashion companies want to enforce, isn’t it? Wear burgundy, navy blue, black, or white, nothing else. It’s character building, says dad, it is part of growing up a man. If this is so, then he will refuse to grow up. He can hear the contemptuous scoffs of his elders, but he is not as naive as they believe.

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