Isaac walked toward the youth center where he had started volunteering on weekends. As long as it didn’t interfere with his college classes, he planned to keep doing it. He recognized some of these kids. Well, not them exactly. But, he saw himself in some of them. The bad home life, some afraid to go back to that home, a few afraid to admit parts of themselves, even in this safe place.
He’d never had this, just that park where he’d often meet Jonas. Thinking about that hurt. But, he’d done the right thing. He couldn’t face how the army might change the boy he’d loved. All he knew was the volatile mess his father had been when he got out. No, he couldn’t live through that again.
It was better this way.
He kept walking, turning down the volume of those thoughts. Even if Jonas didn’t turn into a man like his father, he didn’t know how he could handle the fear. So, he just wouldn’t.
He came to a stop when he saw a boy sitting on the bench outside the center, his knees pulled up to his skinny chest, arms wrapped around them. Isaac thought he’d seen him hanging around before, but he hadn’t spoken to anyone. Isaac didn’t even know what his name was.
Isaac slid onto the bench beside the boy. “You’re not going inside?” he asked after a moment.
The boy didn’t respond, just stared down at the ground. Isaac reached out to put a hand on his shoulder, but he jerked hard away from him. His sleeve rode up, and Isaac saw the line of bruises and old scars running up his arm. The boy pulled his sleeve back down. Still, Isaac’s stomach felt queasy. It was like being tossed back half a dozen years.
He’d been this boy once.
“Have you told anyone?”
“They’d never believe me. Not this time. Not again.”
“I believe you,” Isaac said. “No matter how many times the person who hurts you insists they didn’t do it, even convinces others that’s true, I’ll believe you.” He pushed up the bracelets on his wrists, showing the boy some of his own scars, not all of them put there by his own hands. “I’ll always believe you.”
I combined Stream of Consciousness Saturday and Story a Day prompts once again. The prompt for SOCS was to use “vol” in a word somewhere in the post. I found 3. 😀 And I used the Story a Day prompt “They were never going to believe me. Not this time. Not again.” This takes place several years before Jonas & Isaac’s story starts.