The Two Sides of Me by Matthew Sparks

A true story

"Sometimes the ones you are closest to are the ones you don't really know"

Prologue

Have you ever felt trapped? Have you ever wanted to just be normal and liked? Have you ever dreamed of doing something exciting? Have you ever wanted to be good but yet you kind of wanted to change? Well, I have felt all of these and more.

My name is Matthew and I'm fourteen and to many I have everything I could possibly want. I have a wonderful family, a good church, and I have many other things that any boy could want. You might say I have the perfect life. All of these things are great but there's some things that I went through thinking that life just evolved around fitting in and being cool. What follows is my story of adolescence. I've went through things that no one knows about. Many of the things in this story may not seem important to many people but these things in this story had a big impact on my life. This story may shock some people. But it is time I express how I feel and tell of all the things I've gone through. I want people to know so maybe they'll understand my sadness and happiness and my outlook on life. What you hold in your hands is the key to my past and the key to my heart. . .

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Chapter 1

Day 1 (My Life): I sit on my bed swinging my feet from side to side. It's a sunny summer day and all the world is singing. I hear my parents voices in the kitchen. Mom is rumbling around in the kitchen busy fixing supper.

I turn my gaze to the window and sigh. I see a bird fly by the window and sadness fills my heart. I am a fourteen-year-old boy with brown hair and green eyes. I am your average teenage boy in appearance but really I'm quite different from other teenage boys. I like to write stories, I like to watch animated and romantic movies, I like to read a lot, and I want to be an actor. I feel different from everyone else.

I live in Irvine, Kentucky on a small farm with my parents and eighteen-year-old sister. We live in the farm house that my Dad grew up in. We built on several rooms to the original house and we also put a downstairs in it.

I have a best friend Ben, whose thirteen. He and I grew up together so we've been best friends for a long time.

I home school and I've never been to a public school. Usually when I get my school work done I get on the computer. I write stories on the computer and here lately I've been writing poems. I used to think that poems were a little weird but now I like to write and read them J .

I go to a small church that has only a 'hand full' of members. I like it there a lot. My Uncle is the pastor of the church.

In the evenings I like to go outside and walk to the river. We live close to a river so I can go there anytime I want. There's this place on the river bank that I really like. It looks just like a beach. I sit there on the sandy banks and listen to the river water ripple. It is moments like that that I cherish because for once I feel happy.

Chapter 2

Day 2 (Under the Pressure): I enter the church with my family. I sit down in our pew. Ben and his family sit in the pew in front of us. Me and Ben usually talk before church starts but we didn't this time.

Soon church starts and the preacher begins to preach. I listen attentively.

After church is over I step outside onto the porch. I look around for Ben but I don't know see him. I walk around to the back of the church. As I do I hear voices.

As I near the back of the church I step out into the light. I see Ben and Anthony talking. (Anthony is sixteen)

Ben sees me coming towards them

"Hey Matthew," Ben says smiling.

"Hi guys. What are you doing?" I ask

"Anthony's fixing to smoke a cigarette," Ben says.

I am a little shocked because we have always been taught that drinking and smoking and stuff was wrong.

I watch as Anthony lights the cigarette and inhales it.

"What if somebody finds out?" I ask.

"They won't unless you go and tell them," Anthony says threateningly.

"I don't think you should be doing that," I say and I turn and walk away.

As I walk away I hear them laughing. I hear Ben say, "He's too chicken to do anything that's normal or wrong."

Out of sight and in the shadows I lean up against the concrete wall of the church. Tears well up in my eyes. I breathe deeply trying not to cry. I had never gone through this hurt before. Their laughter had hurt my feelings and Ben's words had hurt my feelings as well. I hate myself now because I am different and I'm not brave. I'm not brave enough to do anything that goes against the rules. But I just want to do right. What's wrong with that? Am I weird for wanting to do right?

"They're right. I am too chicken to do anything normal and wild. I'm a weirdo and a freak," I say to myself as a tear slips down my cheek.

I sit in the car with my family as we drive home from church. I am sitting in the backseat with my sister.

"Are you okay?" my sister asks.

I smile and nod. I try to put on my happy-go-luck face. That's what I do. I try to act happy when I'm sad so as not to draw attention to myself. When I feel as if I'm dying inside I put on a smile. My sadness is invisible to everyone around me.

That night I lie in bed. Everyone is asleep but sleep will not come to me. I am still thinking about what happened tonight at church. I can still hear Ben and Anthony's laughter and Ben's words. I climb out of bed and go to the bathroom.

In the bathroom I stand staring at my reflection in the mirror. I see a nerd and a freak in the mirror. I see a loser in the mirror. I see a child that's afraid to face reality. I see a child transforming into a young man.

Tears fill my eyes and my body shakes with sobs. I sink to my knees and lay on my side on the cold bathroom floor. My tears fall to the floor like rain. I am afraid, so afraid. I'm afraid to do bad things. I'm afraid to face life. If I don't do bad things like all the other guys I'll be labeled as "The Chicken and the Weirdo".

So I know what I must do. I must talk to Ben about being cool and everything. I'm just going to have to try with all my heart to be like all the other guys and not be such a "chicken".

Chapter 3

Day 3 (Ben's disturbing words): Ben is spending the night with me tonight. We are going to have so much fun. I can hardly wait! I've already got planned what we can do. We're going to watch movies and do all sorts of things.

Ben arrives at 3:00 that evening. And after we have changed our clothes me and him go for a walk in the woods that is on my family's farm.

We walk through worn trails and through tall grass. We talk about girls, movies, and other things. It is such a great evening and we have the best time.

That night at 11:00 me and Ben are sitting on the couch talking.

"Ben, do you think I'm weird?" I suddenly ask.

"No, I don't think you're weird. You like girls don't you?" Ben asks.

"Yes I like girls, but I don't mean that kind of weird. I mean. . .do you think I could be like Anthony? Cool and stuff?" I ask.

"Sure you could. But your parents wouldn't let you be cool. Just like my parents wouldn't let me," Ben says.

"I'd give anything to just have one day to be cool. I wonder what it's like?," I ask smiling.

"It must be wonderful. You know we should talk to Anthony. Maybe he can help us out somehow," Ben says.

"Yea maybe. But I'd feel bad to do something our parents wouldn't like. I mean they've tried to raise us right and everything. I'd hate to turn into a rebel after all they've done, and are still doing for me. I love them a lot and I want to do what they think is right," I say.

"I know what you. But just think of all the things we're going to miss out on!" Ben says sighing.

Ben's words keep going over and over in my mind. "Just think of all the things we're going to miss out on," run through my mind and it depresses me. Will I ever be able to be cool?

Chapter 4

Day 4 (Talking to Anthony): I sit at the table with my family eating supper. Different topics of conversation are going around. But I don't hear any of them. I am lost in thought. I am thinking about how I can try to be cool.

That night after everyone is asleep I climb out of bed. I go into the bathroom and stand in front of the mirror in the bathroom. I stare at my reflection. I start trying to talk cool and stuff. I have decided that the next time I see Anthony and Ben I won't be telling them smoking's wrong. As a matter of fact I won't be telling them that anything is wrong!

Today is field trip day! I'm going on a field trip with a bunch of other homeschoolers. Ben and Anthony will be in that group. Today is the day that I must prove myself to be a cool and normal guy.

We are going on a field trip to The Thoroughbred Horse Center. I am kind of excited about going to this place but I am more excited (and nervous) about trying to act cool in front of Anthony and Ben.

I am sitting between Anthony and Ben. We are riding in the backseat of Ben's family's car. (You see all the mothers of the homeschoolers are going along on the field trip)

Anthony begins to tell me and Ben about a party he went to the other night.

"What kind of party was it?" I ask.

"It was the greatest party! Me and my cousin went to it. There's lots of dancing, beer, and hot babes. Whew man!" Anthony says trying to be quiet so his mother and Ben's mother can't hear our conversation.

"So did you actually. . .I mean. . .the girls. . .did you. . ." Ben says not sure how to put what he's wanting to say.

"What? What do you mean did I actually do what?" Anthony asks.

"Did you. . .you know. . ." Ben whispers.

"Did I do it with a girl, is that what you want to know?" Anthony asks smiling.

When Anthony says this I gasp. I wish I hadn't gasped because how was I going to be cool if I gasped when something like that was said?

"Yea, did you. . .do it?" Ben asks.

"(**** ) yeah!" Anthony says smiling.

My mouth falls open and I almost gasp, again, when Anthony says the cuss word. I had never been around anyone who said such words.

Anthony sees my gasp as he says the cuss word.

"What? You afraid of cuss words or something?" he asks.

"No. . .I just. . .never mind," I say shifting uncomfortably.

Anthony then continues the story of the party he went to. Surprisingly me and Ben are sitting and listening eagerly. I find Anthony's story rather exciting. He tells us how he kissed his first girl, drank his first beer, and danced his first dance. I have to admit I am a little enchanted by the story and so is Ben. It is exciting because Anthony is telling us the unknown. He's opening our eyes to whole new world. He has experienced things that me and Ben will never experience.

Anthony isn't able to finish the story because we soon arrive at The Thoroughbred Horse Center. As we pull up to the Center Anthony sighs.

"I'd rather be partying and getting high somewhere than to be here at this ******* place," Anthony says.

Again I catch myself gasping because I was afraid the adults had heard Anthony say that other cuss word. But then I saw they hadn't.

All the other homeschoolers arrive and we all gather around at the entrance building of the Center. Finally our tour guide emerges from the building. She is a pretty girl with long black hair.

When Anthony sees her he nudges me and Ben in the side.

"Hey watch this," Anthony says smiling wickedly.

He makes the bad sign with his hand and points out his middle finger at the girl.

Thankfully she doesn't see him do that. I am shocked. I can't believe Anthony had just done that!

We all soon climb onto a tour bus that will take us all through The Thoroughbred Horse Center. I am sitting by a window in the bus and Ben is sitting beside me. Anthony is sitting across from us.

I enjoy the horse center a lot. We all get to see jockeys and their horses galloping around the exercise track. We get to see famous racehorses. We even get to meet an extra that was in the movie "Seabiscut". I really want to talk one-on-one with the guy because I want to be a Screenplay writer/Actor when I grow up. I don't get to talk to the guy personally but he tells us a about some things.

After that meeting is over we all go back to the tour bus and climb on.

Soon the tour is over and we all get off the bus and go to our cars. We leave The Thoroughbred Horse Center.

I am sitting between Anthony and Ben as we ride home.

When Anthony's mother and Ben's mother get into a deep conversation, Anthony then starts telling us the rest of his 'party adventure'. Again me and Ben are the attentive audience.

_______________________

That night I lie in bed staring up at the ceiling. Everyone else is asleep but I am wide awake. I am thinking about what Anthony told me and Ben today. I can't get the story out of my mind. I begin to wonder what it would be like to be in Anthony's shoes for one night. Could I ever be like him? Would I ever be brave enough to do bad things?

Chapter 5

Day 5 (My First Step): I sit in the pew at our church on Sunday. Church hasn't started yet so me and Ben are talking.

"Anthony told me he wants to show you and me something after church," Ben says.

"What? Did he tell you what it was?" I ask.

"No, he didn't but he said it is really good," Ben says.

Our conversation is broken up when the preacher gets up to the pulpit.

As the preacher begins to preach I try to listen but I can't. I am thinking about what Anthony is going to show us after church. What could it be?

As soon as church is dismissed me and Ben go outside. We stand on the porch looking around for Anthony. We see him standing by his car and he motions for us to come over there.

We walk over to him and he gets into his family's car. He reaches over and grabs his portable cd player.

"Here, I want you guys to listen to his really dirt song," Anthony says handing the cd player and headphones to Ben first.

Ben places the headphones over his ears and listens to the song. When he listens to it Anthony takes the headphones and hands them to me.

"Here Matthew, listen to this song. It's really good, if you know what I mean," Anthony says chuckling.

I stare at the headphones and for a moment I don't take them. I am afraid to take them. I glance up and see my Dad standing outside on the church porch talking to some of the men.

I then turn my gaze back to Anthony and Ben. They are both staring at me, waiting for me to take the headphones. I feel torn. Should I just walk away and not listen to the dirty song? Or should I just listen to the song?

"Hey, you going to listen to it or what?" Anthony asks impatiently.

I reach out slowly and take the headphones. Peer pressure has overcome me.

"I can't let my Dad see me listening to this," I say.

"Oh okay. Just squat down here beside the car. He won't be able to see you," Anthony says.

I squat down beside the car and place the headphones over my ears. I hear the music and it pounds into my ear drum. It is loud and fast and unlike any music I've ever heard. I begin to hear the singer say many swear words and then the song starts talking about sexual things. I can feel my face turning red with embarrassment as I listen to the music.

Finally the song is over and I take off the headphones.

"Great song huh?" Anthony says smiling.

Ben nods and I nod although I hadn't really liked the song. It had embarrassed me and I starting to feel guilty for listening to it.

"I have something else to show you," Anthony says reaching under the car seat. He pulls out what looks like a page torn out of a magazine. But before we can see what it is it is time for us to leave.

"I'll show you tonight after church," Anthony says as we all leave.

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I arrive at church that night with my family. Our church has a Sunday morning service and a Sunday night service.

Me and Ben aren't able to talk this time because the church service starts a little early. The preacher begins to preach and time passes.

The church service is over and I am standing outside with Ben. We are looking for Anthony but we can't find him. Then we see him standing in the shadows by the church. We walk over to him and he leads us behind the church.

There's a light pole behind the church so we could see good.

Anthony sits down on a nearby picnic table and we join him.

"Okay you guys ready to see this?" Anthony asks.

Me and Ben both nod and Anthony reaches down into his pocket and pulls out the folded torn piece of magazine. Slowly he unfolds the paper and when he does we see a picture. The paper is a really a page from a magazine.

I gasp when I see the picture. It is a picture of a naked woman.

"Oh my gosh!" I say completely stunned.

"Yea, it is pretty awesome," Anthony says chuckling.

Me and Ben are both stunned by the picture. Never in all our lives have we seen such a picture. For the first time our innocent eyes are shown reality. It scares me a little bit and embarrasses me. I know that it is wrong to look at such pictures and I shouldn't have looked at it. But I was desperate to do anything to keep from being labeled "the weirdo or the chicken". It may seem crazy to some people but peer pressure can do strange things to a person.

Chapter 6

Two weeks later (Humiliated): I am sitting in our family's car. We are all on our way to a Camp Meeting in Elizabeth town. Me and my family always go to these Camp Meetings. It's kind of like going to a revival only you stay in a motel all week. I don't really like motels but we have to stay in them.

We arrive at the motel at 2:00 in the evening. Dad gets us a room and we go to unpack in the room.

8:00 PM: I am sitting in the large church where the Camp Meeting takes place. I am one of the hundreds in the church building. A preacher is in the pulpit preaching. I reach up and wipe my forehead because I am hot.

9:30 PM: The Church service has ended and I now sit by my Mom. She is talking to one of the women at the Camp Meeting and my Dad is talking to someone as well.

I glance around the building. There are many people and many faces. I see a group of teenagers across the room. Anthony usually hangs out with them when he comes to the Camp Meeting. ( Ben and Anthony are supposed to come to the Camp Meeting later on in the week) Of course I never did hang out with the group of teenagers because they were all known to get into trouble a lot. But I had a feeling that I'd be hanging out with them this time.

Wednesday: Ben and Anthony, along with their families, arrive at the motel. I am very glad to see them because I have been alone all this time.

That day after the church service everyone goes back to motel. Me and Ben hung out while Anthony hung out with all the other teenagers.

Me and Ben walk to the lobby room where Anthony and the rest of the teens are.

"Ben, I. . .really don't want to go over there with them," I say.

"Ah come on Matthew! They're not aliens or anything," Ben says laughing.

"I know. Okay let's go over," I say reluctantly.

We walk over and sit down beside Anthony on the couch in the lobby. I see four other teenaged guy along with several girls. As we all sit there one of the boys sitting next to me puts his finger between my eyes.

"Hey look guys he has one eyebrow," he says laughing.

Of course they all thought that was hilarious. I have to admit my feelings we hurt but I got over it. After awhile when all the other teenagers have left me, Ben, and Anthony go to Anthony's motel room. Anthony and this other guy (Rufus) were sharing a motel room.

As we step into Anthony's and Rufus' room, Anthony tells us to make ourselves at home. He offers us a Sprite and we take them

Anthony then grabs the TV remote and turns on the TV. He starts flipping through the stations. He stops at one TV station that was VERY bad. It was probably the worst thing I'd ever seen.

"Are you sure we should watch this? I mean this is really bad," I say.

"Ah it don't matter. Bad = good," Anthony says laughing.

At that moment Rufus steps into room. He's a heavy boy with a bad attitude.

He plops down on the bed.

"Wow, so you found the porno channel?" Rufus says smiling.

Just when Rufus said that I was taking a drink of Sprite. When he said porno I was stunned and I coughed and pop went everywhere. They all start laughing and I wipe the pop off my clothes.

"Anthony, we can't watch porno! That's just one thing that I'd rather not watch," I say.

"Well, we're not forcing you to stay here and watch it," Anthony says.

On that day I was in the spotlight. It was like they were all watching me and waiting for me to make my decision.

I did something that day that was so hard for me. I slowly stood and walked out of the motel room. I close the door as I step outside. But as I do I hear Anthony, Ben, and Rufus talking.

"What is he? Is he gay or something?" Rufus asks laughing.

I don't wait to hear anymore. I close the door and walk outside. I turn and walk hastily. I walk around the whole motel. The whole time fighting back tears. I feel as if I'm dying. Why do words hurt so much? Why are people so cruel? Why is doing right so hard? I knew that day that I must try to get back on the good track. I had to or I would be pulled into a terrible world.

Chapter 7

Week after Camp Meeting (Outcast): I am now sitting in my room at home. I am back from the Camp Meeting. I am very glad to be away from that place. I got tired of facing Rufus and all of those other teenagers.

I had started doing better. I didn't do anything bad and I was trying to get back to the innocent boy that I once was.

Tonight is Wednesday so I need to get ready for church.

_______________________________

I stand outside of the church after the church service. I see Ben talking to Anthony and I walk over to him.

"Hey Ben," I say as I approach him.

He doesn't heed to my call but continues walking. I stop dead in my tracks and watch as he walks over to Anthony. I try again. Only this time I walk over to him and Anthony.

"Hey guys what are you doing?" I ask smiling.

They just nod and continue on with their conversation. Ben is talking about one of his favorite singers.

"So, have you two listened to the new Josh Groban cd?" I ask.

They stare at me as if I'm crazy.

"No, I haven't listened to it and I'm never going to listen to it," Ben says.

"You might like it if you listened to it," I say cheerfully.

"No, I'm more into tough stuff you know? I'm not into wimp music," Ben says.

His harsh words cut into me but I try to overlook them.

"Do you like any of the Christian singers?" I ask.

This time Anthony speaks.

"You mean you listen to that junk?" he asks disgustedly.

I don't say anything instead I just turn and walk away.

_________________________

I sit here on my bed. It's nighttime and all the world is asleep. I'm very sad right now. I just want to cry. I stare around my dark room and a sense of loneliness consumes me. I feel so alone and so afraid. I wish for someone to come and hold me, to tell me everything will be okay. Nothing seems to be the same anymore. I had changed a lot in such a short time. It's all happening so fast!

I cover my face with my hands and cry. I soon rise and walk over to the window. I sit down by the window and look up at the stars. The heavens are so peaceful, unlike me. For once I just wish I could have peace and no more sadness. Why is it that I'm always sad? Why do I find solace in the darkness of my room? Why do I feel like I'm weird? Why do I have to prove that I'm not weird and that I want to be a man? Why do I feel as if I'm the only different person in the whole world? Why is that when I walk through stores I feel out of place? Why can't I be normal? I can't answer these questions and I don't suppose no one can.

I wish that I could be someone else. I wish I could be bold and outgoing. Instead I'm shy and timid. I have tried to be a different person but I failed. I've tried to be bad but I just can't do it. I've tried to be normal but I can't be normal. Everyone says I don't try hard enough to be normal. But no matter how hard I try I am still who I am. I sometimes wish I could change but I can't and I just wish everyone would except it.

The glass is cold as I press my face up against the window and I can taste my tears as they fall. Hurting here is where I'll always be. Sometimes I ask myself "Is hurting here my room where I belong?" I don't know and I'll probably never know. I have two sides, one side strives to be good and kind, and the other side longs to be accepted and it is this side that is willing to do anything to just be accepted.

I raise the window up and press my face against the screen. I can't stop the tears. I feel trapped and alone. The darkness surrounds me in my pain and I sink to the floor. I glance over to the nightstand that sits in my room. I see one of my pocket knives lying on the nightstand and for a frightening moment something passes through my mind that says to end it all. I turn my head away from the knife and grip the floor trying to hold on. Trying to stay strong. Trying not to give into the temptation. Tears of frustration begin to fall from my eyes as I hold on to my very existence.

"Oh God help me! Please help me not to let go. Help me to go on. Even though everything seems so hopeless. Even though I may never be accepted please just help me," I pray silently.

I struggle for a long time in the darkness until finally I fall asleep on the floor. But I wake during the night and I crawl up into bed and try to sleep.

Soon I will be fifteen and I know there will be many more challenges and pressures that I'll have to face. If the truth be told I'm a little afraid. I want to make the right choices and I want to do right but so many things seem to be against it. It's very hard to live right in this world of pressures and temptations. I've done things I'm not proud of but I've learned from my mistakes J .

Every part of this story is true. It was very hard for me to write because it's my life's story. I know that to some people some of the things I've done may not seem all that bad but they were to me. They were horrible to me and I only did them to be accepted. Peer pressure is strong and it hurts but you can get through it. It may not be easy but as long as you believe in all the right things and just push peer pressure away you'll be fine. You may not seem fine at the time but you'll soon be glad you're not doing bad things. You can never be happy doing bad things. Never.

A lot of teenagers today are faced with suicide. Don't give up when you feel like ending it all. Hold on to all the memories and all your dreams. These things will help you and make you realize that you don't want to die yet and you can stand up and be brave and face the world. Just hold on J .

The End