by Richard Norway
What am I worried about? He won’t tell anyone; I just know it. He won’t. Would he? I just can’t deal with all of the questions if he did.
We had dinner together tonight at our favorite pizza place, and when I tried to go to sleep after I got home, I kept thinking about the evening. Rob was sort of tense, and all we talked about was school. Then when I mentioned his mother, he stopped talking, but I kept talking about her and....
The door to my room slammed open, and I pulled up the comforter to shield myself. It was my Dad. “Uh... Dad... what do you want?” I asked.
“Rob, what did you say to Mark tonight? What did you say to him to make him call your principal?”
Dad stepped up beside my bed and looked down at me.
“Mr. Pederson is downstairs right now, and he said that he needs to talk to you about what you said to Mark. And I want to find out why he’s here at such a late hour. What’s going on Rob?”
It had happened. Mark had told someone, the principal of our high school. I’d seen Mr. Pederson around school, but we’d never met. Mark liked him a lot, but to me he seemed sort of unapproachable. I then looked up at Dad. He looked very irritated and I wondered if he would be able to believe me now.
I steadied myself. “Dad, I think you’ve taught me well. You’ve taught me about the strength you get from being honest, and about the stability you get from being yourself.”
“Are you going to tell me what’s going on with Mark?” Dad was glaring at me now.
“Yes, but I think you’re going to be surprised. Let’s go down and talk to my principal.”
I got out of bed and quickly pulled on my jeans and T-shirt from the day as my dad watched me. I turned to see the lack of calmness in his eyes and I smiled at him, just a little smile. I breathed a big sigh, walked out the door and headed downstairs.
“Rob Ryerson?” It was Mr. Pederson, my high school principal, standing in our living room.
“Yes, that’s me.”
“I hope your father didn’t upset you. I didn’t have a chance to tell him everything about why I was here before he rushed upstairs to get you.”
“What’s this about Mr. Pederson?” my dad asked, but I already knew.
“It’s about Mark.”
My dad’s head turned and he glared at me, but I continued to watch my high school principal.
“He’s your boyfriend, isn’t he?” the principal asked.
“Yes he is, but how do you know? And why are you here?”
“Rob, Mark left me a voicemail message that he was going to kill himself tonight after you two finished dinner.”
Now my dad was upset. “Mr. Pederson, if you knew Mark was threatening to kill himself why didn’t you call the police or his parents?”
“Because I was out until late this evening, and I didn’t pick up my voicemail messages until I got home. Thank God that Mark had left me a second message after he and Rob had dinner. I listened to both of his messages. Because of the second message, there was no reason to involve the police, and I came here after visiting with Mark and his father.” He turned to me. “And you know what was in that second message, Rob?”
“Yeah, I know. Mark changed his mind.”
My dad stared at me. “Why didn’t you tell me about this when you came home tonight?”
I turned and looked directly at my dad. “Well, because you wouldn’t have believed me. No one would have believed me. Remember, I’m only sixteen, you know?” That was one of the things Dad always said to me, ‘Remember, you’re only sixteen, you know?’
My dad’s eyes shot open.
“Mark’s mom died this morning.” I said. My dad’s head fell as I turned back to Mr. Pederson.
“Yes I know, and you knew before meeting Rob for dinner, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, I knew. At dinner I asked Mark how she’s doing in Heaven because that’s where she is. I told him that she’s always going to be looking down at him, watching him to make sure he’s okay, and that she’ll always love him. That’s when he told me he’d planned to kill himself."
I couldn’t hold back any longer as the first tear slid down my cheek.
“Look, I didn’t know Mark called you or that you knew about his mom.”
Mr. Pederson smiled and put his hand on my shoulder. “Mark’s second voicemail message was about how you told him that his mom is looking down and watching him. He said he found a reason to keep on living because of you, that you gave him a reason to keep going, and that the two of you cried together.”
“Mr. Pederson, Mark is the love of my life, and I would have done anything, I would do anything, to be with him, to keep him going.” I was being honest and being myself, and I had no hope now of stopping my tears.
“Rob, the reason I’m here is to thank you. You saved a wonderful young man’s life tonight, a wonderful young man who told me that you are the love of his life.”
Mr. Pederson turned to my dad. “Mr. Ryerson, your son is also a wonderful young man. You have every reason to be very proud of him.”
My dad looked at me, pulled me into a hug, and a smile broke out on his face.
“Mr. Pederson, I think that Rob and I need a few minutes together… alone.”
Mr. Pederson looked at me and my dad and smiled. “I’ll let myself out. And Rob, you need to phone Mark. I know he’s waiting for your call.”