I was the only person he could count on. No one else understood. Not really. They didn't realize he couldn't help the way he was. They didn't know that it wasn't something he did by choice, not completely. This was the result of something that had started developing ages ago. His behavior that seemed so strange and pointless to those who didn't know anything, that didn't know it was the sad product of a great pain that had left a gaping wound in his soul. Without a method of healing, with no encouragement to overcome the suffering, he crumbled in on himself.
The poor thing. I didn't blame him.
Though, thinking back to the day I first met him, he's much different. Years have passed, yet I remember those days as clearly as if they had happened just moments ago. Closing my eyes, I can envision every detail. I can see him crouched in that room, his knees to his chest, arms around his shins. He had been so pale that his skin seemed to glow with a sickly shine in the dim, morning light. Hair framed his face in a sheet of deep red curls. Wow. I hadn't met anyone with hair quite that color before.
Back then, I was just getting started in my career. The apartment building was old, very old, and supposedly haunted. It was owned by a man that no one had ever seen, since he was always living on a private island or something. Supposedly, one could still rent out a room, but no one ever did. There was a man who ran a little tour guide on the bottom floor, but he was older than the Earth and not very useful. I was able to walk right past him, my camera at the ready, and quietly explore the ancient building without any disturbances.
To be honest, the only things I really expected to find were worn down furniture, cobwebs, and maybe some strange markings that were more than likely manmade. None of that bothered me. I was just a photographer looking for something interesting to get a snapshot of. I almost passed straight by that closed door, not wanting to deal with prying it open like a few others just to find cardboard boxes or emptiness. But something drew to me that room. I had to know what was inside. I just had to.
That's where I found him. He was sitting against the wall, fast asleep. From my position in the doorway, I could just faintly see the slim fingers of one hand twitching as he dreamed.
A quick glance around revealed that he had been there for a while. My guess was longer than a week, but less than a month. Empty soda cans were stacked in a pyramid in the middle of the floor next to a rock (obviously, he had created a game for himself). The trash from countless candy bars, potato chips, and other items that I suspected were easily stolen from the confection stand downstairs were carefully tucked into a corner of the room for later disposal. I also spotted a duffel bag of clothing, and something that looked like a nest of blankets and pillows.
So many thoughts were running through my head as I stared at him. Was he homeless? Was he sick, hurt, dangerous? Was he dead? Was he dying? What should I do? Should I leave him alone, wake him up, call the police? And so on and so forth.
One thing stood out very clearly, however. This person couldn't be much older than twenty.
Everyday after that, for three solid months, I made a visit to that building. For the first two weeks, the boy ignored me. He rejected my advances completely. He even threw a rock so hard at my head, I swear that it vaporized upon contact with the door when I ducked to avoid a sudden death.
That must have been some kind of test, because after that, he stopped trying to make me leave. He was as tense and wary as a cornered rabbit, but he let me come in and sit down on the floor. It took some convincing, but I was able to learn that his name was Rosario, he was twenty (I love it when I'm right), and that he ran away from home because he was scared of people. That wasn't surprising.
Over the days that followed, I managed to get Rosario, who I had nicknamed Rosie, to trust me. I brought him food, proper food and not candy, for him since I was very worried about his health. Along with the food, I brought some clothes, a spare sleeping bag, and a battery operated lamp so he could see by more than a dim light bulb at night. I even brought a coloring book with a box of crayons. Just little things to make him more comfortable, to get him to trust me.
God, it was hard, hard work, but totally worth it.
Bringing him home to my apartment for the first time was like bringing home a brand new puppy. I spent days preparing. I was up well into the night taking care of small details. Anything and everything that I could possibly think of to make this reclusive boy as comfortable as possible in his new home. The building that he had been huddling in for the last four months was being torn down. He really had nowhere else to go, and once he accepted that, he was willing to come with me.
At first, Rosie was nervous. He peered around the apartment cautiously, rested his hands on surfaces and peeked into containers. I already knew that he had to come from a terrible past to make him so afraid of human contact, but that's when I decided that everything he had known, his entire environment growing up, was hostile in order to make him fearful of what might be lurking behind the television. I later learned that he wasn't exactly paranoid, but very phobic. Rosie didn't like to be caught off guard.
After what felt like hours of showing the tense individual around, pointing out things like safety equipment in case of an emergency and the location of the spoons, Rosie moved to sit down on my couch. His dark brown eyes roamed around one last time, fingers tucking a lock of curly red hair behind his ear. I didn't expect much, but then, something amazing happened. The recluse that I had saved from a possible death by crushing as his home fell down on his head leaned back with a soft sigh, and smiled.
He actually smiled.
It was the first time I had seen him smile, and it simply made him glow.
Right at that moment, I fell in love.
Oh, yes, I know that sounds cheesy, but it's true. I did develop feelings for this young man. I was honored by the fact he trusted me. He talked to me, and I talked to him. Rosie was very patient and willing to listen. The poor thing was absolutely starving for attention. Talking was hard for him, and he often stumbled over his words, stuttered, or stop mid-sentence unable to carry on. It was awkward for him, I know, but Rosie tried so hard for me. How could anyone dare harm this beautiful soul?
The longer we were together, the more I came to understand my strange friend. I watched his behavior, and took little notes. There had to be some medical explanation to his behavior. He was so dependent on me. I didn't mind, it made me feel useful and needed, but I knew that it was hampering Rosie's ability to function in normal society. He didn't like to make decisions. Any kind of decision. Yes, he was capable of telling me what he wanted to eat for dinner, and he was capable of telling me that he didn't like this or that, or thought something was annoying, but he avoided decisions that might have a large impact on his existence. Convincing him to look for a job was like yanking teeth from his jaw with my bare hands.
But he did it, and I was proud. Never mind the fact that the job didn't require him leaving our home, and wasn't technically a job. Rosie sold commissions on some art community website thing. I had discovered that he had amazing artistic ability. I learned that after so many years of self isolation dealing with pent up frustration and loneliness that he had used art as an outlet, as a release for the emotions he couldn't control.
When he told me this, I couldn't help but laugh. How stereotypical! A lonely little boy with no one for company but his paper and his pencil? It was hilarious!
After the look Rosario gave me, after feeling the pain and the anger in his expression burning a hole into my very soul, drowning me in guilt and my own stupidity, I decided that I would never throw a person into a stereotype again. Especially not Rosie.
A little over a year had passed before we actually became a couple. It was a wonderful feeling for us both. Rosie had never been in a relationship before. I found it completely natural for him to be nervous and shy about it. He gave me the cutest little kisses in the world, and blushed every time my fingers brushed against his skin. Such a sweetheart.
How could anyone bear to hurt him in the past? I never had to ask anything of Rosie! He kept the apartment tidy. He cooked healthy, hearty meals that left me full and satisfied. He did laundry. He kept tract of the groceries, and the bills. He reminded me of important things I might have otherwise forgotten. He was the perfect little housewife.
Going out on dates was difficult, though. Rosie didn't handle other people well. We stuck to more private places, like parks and the occasional movie during the middle of the day, when no one else was around. I took him out for a fancy dinner once or twice. He enjoyed that, despite the nervous glance he would give whoever was waiting on him. He was a strange man, but I loved him.
Honestly, I did love him.
That first night we had "intercourse", as Rosie so bluntly (and cutely) put it, was special. I'll never forget it. Candles. Chocolate. Flowers. Poor thing didn't exactly know what to expect, and he did scare me a few times with his expressions, facial and audile, but he clung to me afterwards, breathing against the skin of my neck while his lips formed three words I highly doubted he had uttered to anyone else before. He was perfect.
But I'm not. I'm human, and full of ugly things.
We spent two and a half wonderful years together. He was happy. I was happy. One little incident brought everything crashing down on my head. When I look back, I don't think he even realized what was going on. It happened that quickly over something completely normal. A friend came over to visit. Rosie kept his distance, isolating himself to the kitchen while my friend and I chilled on the couch for an hour or two. We hugged. She left. Rosario attacked.
Slender arms wrapped around my neck, I felt him press a kiss to my skin. He said something cute and adorable that I didn't really register. After a moment, I found myself shirtless on the couch, watching as he used a magic marker to doodle on my chest. It was something he had done before, something he enjoyed, and something I didn't mind allowing him to do. His little snorts of amusement were always worth it. This time, he did something different. After he turned my tummy into an ocean, and my collar bone into the starry night sky, he drew a heart on the left side of my chest, and wrote the letters "I-L-O-V-E-Y-O-U" inside of it. I stared down at it with a gentle smile, completely moved, but stopped when he leaned down to kiss the 'E' with a single whispered word.
Everything changed after that. The things I found adorable were suddenly annoying. Rosario was too clingy. Too willingly. Too eager to please. He did everything without having to be asked. When I did request something, he simply smile and nodded, and was all too happy to do whatever I asked of him. He wasn't his own man. I felt like he was letting me take advantage of him, and step all over him as if he was just a rug. Of course, that wasn't true. He did things for me because he loved me.
But . . . I was still taking advantage of him.
Slowly, I began to push away. I made up reasons to be alone, claimed to need more "me" time. I went out constantly, never came home when I said I would, left for entire weekends without warning, anything and everything legal I could think of.
Just by looking at his face I could tell he was worried about me, but it wasn't enough. I wanted Rosario to hate me with every fiber of his being. When I came home at three in the morning, I wanted him to be angry and demand what I had been up to. At one point, I made it so obvious that I was cheating on him that my best friend slapped me in the face and called me a whore. Rosie simply offered to hold an ice pack to the swelling of my cheek.
On the day before our three year anniversary, I hit him. Hard. Not just once, but three times. Everything I did to try and make him hate me wasn't working. Finally, I lost it. So many horrible things came out of my mouth, and he just stood there staring at me with big, brown doe eyes and a lost expression. All I wanted was to make him see that I wasn't right for him, that I couldn't love him the way he deserved to be loved, that he needed someone that would do as much for him as he did for me, that I wasn't ready to be tied down forever.
The first hit was purely out of anger. I hit him hard enough that my palm and fingers tingled, and he stumbled to the floor. While I glared at him, I hoped that he would stay down.
Instead, Rosie stood back up. His blazing red hair fell into his eyes. He was so confused, so innocent, so stupid. I hit him again, hating that trust he smothered me with. This time, his head turned, but he remained up right. Tears were in his eyes, my name written questioningly on his perfect lips. By the time my hand landed on his poor cheek a third time in a desperate effort to make whatever was holding back this young man's fury, I was sobbing. The rest of the night was spent with me bawling like a baby into Rosie's shirt as he cradled me in his arms.
Our third anniversary day was the best day we ever spent together. I woke up to find him smiling down at me. It was pretty easy to tell that he had been injured. At least, it was to me. The makeup didn't fool me, no matter how good of a job Rosario did covering up the marks of my violence. For a while, I was too busy being angry and depressed to realize that neither of us owned makeup. Not that I knew of. Half way through a delicious breakfast of French toast and strawberries, I came to the conclusion that because he loved me enough to forgive me, Rosie had gone out to test and buy various makeup products to cover the purple and the blue stains I left on his pale skin.
All by himself.
I was so proud of him.
While he slept on the bed, I packed up my bags as quietly as possible. I felt guilty for being so brutal and pushing him beyond his sexual capabilities, but I wanted him to be too exhausted to try and stop me in case I was caught. This was for his own good. Rosie was smart. He had taken care of himself before with absolutely nothing, and he could do it again while he had everything he could possibly need right here. I would continue paying for the apartment, since I could afford it, and all other expenses were well within his ability to meet. He would be okay.
"Good luck," I whispered. Before I left, I pressed a kiss to his soft, full lips.
We never spoke again.
Do not think that anything I have written here is an accurate description of AvPD.
I am not a doctor nor a genius. Research can only take you so far.
Everything I write is for entertainment purposes only, and the stretching of reality is to be expected.