Authors: Stephen Chbosky
Tags: #Social Issues, #Emotions & Feelings, #Epistolary fiction, #High school students, #Juvenile Fiction, #Bildungsromans, #Diary novels, #Coming of Age, #Homosexuality, #Epistolary novels, #Friendship, #School & Education, #Death & Dying, #Adolescence
Sam came down and when she saw me, she turned to Bob.
"What the hell is your problem?"
"Come on, Sam. He likes it. Ask him."
"How do you feel, Charlie?"
"You see?" Bob actually looked a little nervous, which I was later told was paranoia.
Sam sat down next to me and held my hand, which felt cool.
"Are you seeing anything, Charlie?"
"Does it feel good?"
"Are you thirsty?"
"What would you like to drink?"
And everyone in the room, except Sam, erupted in laughter.
"Are you hungry, Charlie?"
"What would you like to eat?"
I don't think they would have laughed any harder even if what I said was at all funny. Then, Sam took my hand and stood me up on the dizzy floor.
"Can'mon. We'll get you a milkshake."
As we were leaving, Sam turned to Bob.
"I still think you're an asshole."
All Bob did was laugh. And Sam finally laughed, too. And I was glad that everyone seemed as happy as they seemed.
Sam and I got up to the kitchen, and she turned on the light. Wow! It was so bright, I couldn't believe it. It was like when you see a movie in the theater during the day, and when you leave the movie, you can't believe that it's still daylight outside. Sam got some ice cream and some milk and a blender. I asked her where the bathroom was, and she pointed around the corner almost like it was her house. I think she and Patrick spent a lot of time here when Bob was still in high school.
When I got out of the bathroom, I heard a noise in the room where we left our coats. I opened the door, and I saw Patrick kissing Brad. It was a stolen type of kissing. They heard me in the door and turned around. Patrick spoke first.
"Is that you, Charlie?"
"Sam's making me a milkshake."
"Who is this kid?" Brad just looked real nervous and not in the Bob way.
"He's a friend of mine. Relax."
Patrick then took me out of the room and closed the door. He put his hands on both of my shoulders and looked me straight in the eye.
"Brad doesn't want people to know."
"Because he's scared."
"Because he is ... wait ... are you stoned?"
"They said I was downstairs. Sam is making me a milkshake."
Patrick tried to keep from laughing.
"Listen, Charlie. Brad doesn't want people to know. I need you to promise that you won't tell anyone.
This will be our little secret. Okay?"
With that, Patrick turned around and went back into the room. I heard some muffled voices, and Brad seemed upset, but I didn't think it was any of my business, so I went back to the kitchen.
I have to say that it was the best milkshake I ever had in my life. It was so delicious, it almost scared me.
Before we left the party, Sam played me a few of her favorite songs. One was called "Blackbird." The other was called "MLK." They were both very beautiful. I mentioned the titles because they were as great when I listened to them sober.
Another interesting thing happened at the party before we left. Patrick came downstairs. I guess Brad had left. And Patrick smiled. And Bob started to make fun of him having a crush on the quarterback.
And Patrick smiled more. I don't think I ever saw Patrick smile so much. Then, Patrick pointed at me, and said something to Bob.
"He's something, isn't he?"
Bob nodded his head. Patrick then said something I don't think I'll ever forget.
"He's a wallflower."
And Bob really nodded his head. And the whole room nodded their head. And I started to feel nervous in the Bob way, but Patrick didn't let me get too nervous. He sat down next to me.
"You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand."
I didn't know that other people thought things about me. I didn't know that they looked. I was sitting on the floor of a basement of my first real party between Sam and Patrick, and I remembered that Sam introduced me as her friend to Bob. And I remembered that Patrick had done the same for Brad. And I started to cry. And nobody in that room looked at me weird for doing it. And then I really started to cry.
Bob raised his drink and asked everyone to do the same.
And the whole group said, "To Charlie."
I didn't know why they did that, but it was very special to me that they did. Especially Sam. Especially her.
I would tell you more about the homecoming dance, but now that I'm thinking about it, me letting out the air of Dave's tires was the best part. I did try to dance like Bill suggested, but I usually like songs you can't dance to, so I didn't do it too much. Sam did look very pretty in her dress, but I was trying not to notice because I'm trying not to think of her that way.
I did notice that Brad and Patrick never talked once during the whole dance because Brad was off dancing with a cheerleader named Nancy, who is his girlfr. And I did notice that my sister was dancing with the boy she wasn't supposed to even though a different boy picked her up at the house.
After the dance, we left in Sam's pickup. Patrick was driving this time. As we were approaching the Fort Pitt Tunnel, Sam asked Patrick to pull to the side of the road. I didn't know what was going on.
Sam then climbed in the back of the pickup, wearing nothing but her dance dress. She told Patrick to drive, and he got this smile on his face. I guess they had done this before.
Anyway, Patrick started driving really fast, and just before we got to the tunnel, Sam stood up, and the wind turned her dress into ocean waves. When we hit the tunnel, all the sound got scooped up into a vacuum, and it was replaced by a song on the tape player. A beautiful song called "Landslide." When we got out of the tunnel, Sam screamed this really fun scream, and there it was. Downtown. Lights on buildings and everything that makes you wonder. Sam sat down and started laughing. Patrick started laughing. I started laughing.
And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.
November 7, 1991 Dear friend,
It was one of those days that I didn't mind going to school because the weather was so pretty. The sky was overcast with clouds, and the air felt like a warm bath. I don't think I ever felt that clean before.
When I got home, I had to mow the lawn for my allowance, and I didn't mind one bit. I just listened to the music, and breathed in the day, and remembered things. Things like walking around the neighborhood and looking at the houses and the lawns and the colorful trees and having that be enough.
I do not know anything about Zen or things that the Chinese or Indians do as part of their religion, but one of the girls from the party with the tattoo and belly button ring has been a Buddhist since July. She talks about very little else except maybe how expensive cigarettes are. I see her at lunch sometimes, smoking between Patrick and Sam. Her name is Mary Elizabeth.
Mary Elizabeth told me that the thing about Zen is that it makes you connected to everything in the world. You are part of the trees and the grass and the dogs. Things like that. She even explained how her tattoo symbolized this, but I can't remember how. So, I guess Zen is a day like this when you are part of the air and remember things.
One thing I remember is that the kids used to play a game. What you would do is take a football or something, and one person would have it, and all the other kids would try to tackle that kid. And then whoever got the ball next would run around with it, and the kids would try to tackle him. This could go on for hours. I never really understood the point of this game, but my brother loved it. He didn't like to run with the ball so much as he liked to tackle people. The kids called the game "smear the queer." I didn't really think about what that means until now.
Patrick told me the story about him and Brad, and now I understand why Patrick didn't get angry at Brad at the homecoming dance for dancing with a girl. When they were both juniors, Patrick and Brad were at a party together with the rest of the popular kids. Patrick actually used to be popular before Sam bought him some good music.
Patrick and Brad both got pretty drunk at this party. Actually, Patrick said that Brad was pretending to be a lot drunker than he really was. They were sitting in the basement with some girl named Heather, and when she left to go to the bathroom, Brad and Patrick were left alone. Patrick said it was uncomfortable and exciting for both of them.
"You're in Mr. Brosnahan's class, right?"
"Have you ever gone to a
Laser Light Show?"
"Beer before liquor. Never sicker."
When they ran out of small talk, they just looked at each other. And they ended up fooling around right there in the basement. Patrick said it was like the weight of the whole world left both their shoulders.
But Monday in school, Brad kept saying the same thing.
"Man, I was so wasted. I don't remember a thing."
He said it to everyone who was at the party. He said it a few times to the same people. He even said it to Patrick. Nobody saw Patrick and Brad fool around, but Brad kept saying it anyway. That Friday, there was another party. And this time, Patrick and Brad got stoned although Patrick said that Brad was pretending to be a lot more stoned than he really was. And they ended up fooling around again. And Monday in school, Brad did the same thing.
"Man, I was so wasted. I don't remember a thing."
This went on for seven months.
It got to a point where Brad was getting stoned or drunk before school. It's not like he and Patrick were fooling around in school. They only fooled around at parties on Fridays, but Patrick said Brad couldn't even look at him in the hall, let alone speak with him. And it was hard, too, because Patrick really liked Brad.
When summer came, Brad didn't have to worry about school or anything, so his drinking and smoking got a lot worse. There was a big party at Patrick and Sam's house with the less than popular crowd.
Brad showed up, which caused quite a stir because he was popular, but Patrick kept a secret as to why Brad came to the party. When most people left, Brad and Patrick went into Patrick's room.
They had sex for the first time that night.
I don't want to go into detail about it because it's pretty private stuff, but I will say that Brad assumed the role of the girl in terms of where you put things. I think that's pretty important to tell you. When they were finished, Brad started to cry really hard. He had been drinking a lot. And getting really really stoned.
No matter what Patrick did, Brad kept crying. Brad wouldn't even let Patrick hold him, which seems rather sad to me because if I have sex with someone, I would want to hold them.
Finally, Patrick just pulled up Brad's pants, and said to him.
"Just pretend you're passed out."
Then, Patrick got dressed and walked around the house to go into the party from a different direction than his bedroom. He was also crying pretty bad, and he decided if anyone asked him, he would say his eyes were red from smoking pot. Finally, he shook himself out of it and walked into the main party room.
He acted really drunk. He went to Sam. "Have you seen Brad?" Sam saw the look in Patrick's eyes.
Then, she spoke up to the party.
"Hey, has anyone seen Brad?"
Nobody at the party had, so a few people went to search for him. They finally found him in Patrick's room ... asleep.
Finally, Patrick called Brad's parents because he was really worried about him. He didn't tell them why, but he said that Brad was really sick at this party and needed to be taken home. Brad's parents did come, and Brad's father, along with some of the other boys including Patrick, carried Brad to the car.
Patrick doesn't know if Brad was really asleep or not at that point, but if he wasn't, it was a good acting job. Brad's parents sent him to rehabilitation because Brad's father didn't want him to miss his chance at a football scholarship. Patrick didn't see Brad for the rest of the summer.
Brad's parents never did figure out why their son was getting stoned and drunk all the time. Neither did anybody else. Except the people who knew.
When the school year started, Brad avoided Patrick a lot. He never went to the same parties as Patrick or anything until a little over a month ago. That was the night he threw rocks at Patrick's window and told Patrick that nobody could know, and Patrick understood. They only see each other now at night on golf courses and at parties like Bob's where the people are quiet and understand these things.
I asked Patrick if he felt sad that he had to keep it a secret, and Patrick just said that he wasn't sad because at least now, Brad doesn't have to get drunk or stoned to make love.
November 8, 1991 Dear friend,
Bill gave me my first B in advanced English class for my paper on
To tell you the truth, I don't know what I did differently from the other papers. He told me that my sense of language is improving along with my sentence structure. I think it's great that I could be improving on these things without noticing. By the way, Bill gives me A's on my report cards and letters to my parents. The grades on these papers are just between us.
I have decided that maybe I want to write when I grow up. I just don't know what I would write.
I thought about maybe writing for magazines just so I could see an article that didn't say things like I mentioned before. "As ---- wiped the honey mustard off of her lips, she spoke to me about her third husband and the healing power of crystals." But honestly, I think I would be a very bad reporter because I can't imagine sitting across the table from a politician or a movie star and asking them questions. I think I would probably just ask for their autograph for my mom or something. I would probably get fired for doing this. So, I thought about maybe writing for a newspaper instead because I could ask regular people questions, but my sister says that newspapers always lie. I do not know if this is true, so I'll just have to see when I get older.