Gerard leaned against the chilled metal railing, just looking down into the churning river below him. He took a drag off his cigarette.
A while later, he wasn't sure how much time had passed, he heard soft footsteps to his left. He glanced up to see a short boy walking towards where he stood in the center of the bridge. He had short black hair and he was wearing a school uniform. His face was bruised and streaked with black, flaking blood. The boy saw Gerard when he was a few steps away. He stopped next to him and leaned against the railing, looking down into the river.
"Hey," he said softly.
"Hey," Gerard answered, still watching the boy.
"What are you doing out here?" the boy asked.
Gerard took another inhale off his cigarette and followed the boy's gaze into the river.
"I was thinking about jumping."
The boy let out a short, breathy laugh.
"What?" Gerard asked.
"Me too," the boy answered.
The two stood for a while and watched the dark, gray waters rushing a few hundred feet below them.
"Frank," responded the boy. He turned to look at Gerard and extended a hand. Gerard shook it then they both turned back towards the river. Gerard snuffed his cigarette out on the railing and dropped it to his feet. There was no breeze to blow it away.
"So, how come?" Frank asked a few moments later.
"How come you're gonna jump?"
"Oh." Gerard hadn't wanted to talk to anyone about it since it happened, but... he might as well tell Frank. "My little brother was murdered. A few weeks ago."
"Oh, I'm sorry," Frank muttered, completely sincere.
"Yeah." Gerard took a deep breath. "He was my best friend, you know? I don't think I can do this without him."
"Makes sense," Frank sighed.
"What about you?"
"I'm gay," Frank answered without hesitation.
"Oh. That... doesn't make sense," Gerard admitted.
"I'm Catholic," Frank added. "My dad won't talk to me anymore, and my mom cries whenever she looks at me." Frank took a moment to loosen his school tie and pull it over his head. "I get beat up at school a lot now."
"So, ya know." Frank shrugged. He extended his hand over the edge and dropped his tie into the river. They both watched it flutter downwards.
"Did you leave a note?" Gerard asked after a few minutes.
"I didn't. I think I probably should have, but... they'll figure it out."
More time passed in silence, both boys staring at the river.
"Can I ask you a favor?" Frank asked, sniffing a little.
"I've never had a first kiss."
Gerard turned to look at the high schooler, all black eyes and bloody lips.
"Can I-?" Frank looked up at Gerard in the glow of the street lights. "Will you-?"
Gerard reached a hand forward and touched Frank's cheek. His skin was overly hot. He reached his other hand out to lightly grab Frank's hip and pull him closer. Frank went with a slight stumble.
Frank's lips were split and cracked from whatever beating he had taken, but warm, so warm. Gerard kept his lips shut for a moment, then gently parted them to run the tip of his tongue over the boy's sore lips. Frank's mouth opened easily and he sighed softly as they deepened their kiss.
Frank's hands were fisted in the front of Gerard's hoodie when they finally pulled apart. He pushed closer to Gerard, pressing his face into the older boy's chest. Gerard wrapped his arms around Frank and squeezed gently.
"I'm scared," Frank whispered. His voice was cracked now and Gerard could tell he was crying.
"I know. I think it'll be better though. It has to be, right?" Gerard told him, muttering into Frank's black hair.
"My dad said I'm going to hell."
"I don't think you will."
"If I do, will you be there with me?" Frank asked, barely audible over the lump in his throat.
"Yeah, I'll be there, Frankie."
They stood together, the smaller boy wrapped in the arms of the older, for a long time.
Eventually though, Frank pulled away.
"You ready?" Gerard whispered, gently wiping tears away from Frank's bruised cheeks.
Gerard let go of Frank and reached into his pockets. He pulled out his cigarettes and his wallet, then set them on the cement sidewalk. He grabbed onto the metal railing and began to climb over.
"Will you wait, for me? Please?" Frank asked.
Gerard hoisted himself over, clinging on tightly, then helped Frank over. They turned together to look into the water, backs against the railing.
Frank reached over and grabbed Gerard's hand. Gerard squeezed back.
"You ready Frankie?"
"I'm ready, Gerard."
Chapter 2: Coming Home
The note, the cigarettes, and the wallet.
The janitor broke the lock off Frank's locker and let it clang open. The principal watched on as Frank's parents sorted through their son's belongings. They found the note sticking out of his Algebra textbook.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I'm not sure how big of a sin suicide is compared to being gay, but Pastor Rick can probably tell you. I just couldn't handle it anymore, you know? You guys hated me, everyone at school hated me. They beat me up a lot.
I've never even fallen in love, you know? I don't think that's fair, but whatever. Maybe I'll meet a nice guy where ever I'm going.
I know everyone thinks I'm going to go to hell, but I just... I just don't see it.
Why would God hate me for being how he made me? Or do you think it was a mistake? Can God make mistakes? You'll have to ask Pastor Rick, probably.
I was thinking of taking Dad's gun, that one in the shoebox in the back of his closet that I'm not supposed to know about? But then I figured, you guys probably hate me enough without having to clean up after me, right? I wonder what that would look like?
Anyway, you know that huge bridge I always wanted to fish off of when I was a kid but you guys told me it was too high and there probably weren't any fish in there anyway? I'm just gonna jump off there. I think it's high enough. I probably should've Googled it.
I guess I'm rambling, huh?
I just wanted to tell you that I love you both, even if you hate me. I'm sorry I couldn't be Right.
I don't know what's going to happen now, but I hope it's better then this.
Four blocks over, in an old brick house filled with dust and odd collectables, Gerard's parents and grandmother sat around the dining room table. They weren't talking, just staring into their coffee cups.
Gerard's mom had finally stopped crying enough after Mikey's funeral to come down to breakfast, but she wasn't hungry. None of them where.
Someone knocked on the door, but no one noticed for a while. The knocking got more insistent.
Gerard's mom finally blinked and climbed stiffly to her feet. She shuffled over to the front door and opened it.
On her stoop was a uniformed police officer and a priest. The cop was holding two Ziploc bags, one with a pack of cigarettes, another with a battered black wallet.
Gerard's mom started crying.