Chapter 7: Freedom and Rising Sun

It was another day in school, and of course my classmates were gossiping left and right. Hattie and I were inside the classroom with another "Jude likes dick," on the blackboard.

I still didn't have the courage to speak for myself. The least I could do is keep ignoring their silly antics. I was jealous of Marion. He had a strong sense of individuality. I wasn't like him.

I had a talk with Amy one more time.

"What do you want, Jude?"

"What have you against me now, Amy? Is it because I rejected you?"

"Is this about the gay thing? Don't look at me like that. All I did was spread the word. The ones who got it just decided to make fun of you."

I growled, but then I just let it go. She did promise to leave us alone.

This is what people get for being different. They call this country "The Land of the Free," but when you try to take one step out of the norm, they make fun of you. Bullshit.

Marion told me one time that the "cool kids" manipulate you if you have a simple mind and a weak sense of individuality. The ones they can't manipulate, are a threat, so they try to break them. Simply put, if they can't use you, they try to break you. If they're trying to break you, it means you have a strong sense of individuality. In that case, would that mean I had been staying strong all this time? Thanks to Charlie and Marion, I haven't been broken, not yet at least, but I do feel myself breaking.

My parents and I were having dinner. The atmosphere was a bit gloomy. I was afraid, but I had to take the opportunity.

"Mom, Dad…"

"Yes, son?"

"I want to go back to Japan, after this school year is done."

"No…" My dad answered.

"We have a good life here, and we should stay together as a family."

I didn't say anything else and just continued eating.

The next day, I was in the middle of my class, still contemplating about the trouble that I've been going through and the trouble I would go through. I felt my breathing getting heavy and short.

The teacher stopped writing on the board when he heard me gasping and being short of breath. My body was trembling. I could barely hear Hattie and the teacher yelling. Soon enough, I blacked out.

After that, I was excused from school for a week or two. Hattie told my parents that I was being bullied lately and that might have contributed to my anxiety attack.

I had been going to the psychiatrist. I would lie down on that inclined bed and end up crying, telling my psychiatrist that I hated myself so much for being that way. I also told him that there was someone I envied, someone who was so strong, no one could break him, and I hated that I wasn't like him. Marion shone like the rising sun. For me, he was a symbol of freedom. I wanted to smile like him.

I preferred watching the fireworks in summer festivals rather than the 4th of July fireworks, but it wasn't really the fireworks I missed. What I missed was the smile of the person I loved. I wanted to be with him again.

The psychiatrist talked to my parents. He recommended some therapeutic exercises for me. He also suggested that a different environment might help me get better. It may not help in making my condition disappear, but it could help me manage it.

I was almost ready to go back to school again. My parents called me downstairs and wanted to talk to me.

"Jude, after this school year, you'll be continuing your high school in Japan. Your mom and I thought it's for the best," said Dad.

"We don't want you away from us, but your well-being also matters, and it might help if you're out of the U.S. for a while," Mom added.

"Of course, you'll come back here after you graduate, and continue your college here."

I put a palm on my face and shed tears. "I'm sorry, Mom, Dad… I just can't handle it anymore."

"It's okay, son."

They reached out to me and gave me a hug.

I told Charlie and Marion the great news. They said they were glad I was feeling better.

"Marion, I'll be going there soon and continue my high school there."

"Really?! That's great! We're gonna have a lot of fun together."

"I look forward to it... It seems I'm not strong enough.

"You're still human. It's fine to cry once in a while."

"I'm going to enroll at Gurenn High when I get there."

"We'll be schoolmates, then. I'll count on that. We're gonna have a lot of time together, going to festivals, watching fireworks."

"Yeah, I'd love that."

Author's Note: Thanks for reading. This is the last story of the Dream Stream: Origins series. To be honest, I didn't know what I was writing anymore. Anyway, thanks to Banana Sins for proofreading and thanks to Kimmo for giving me some plot ideas. Feel free to follow my social media pages for some art and check out the main series in Webtoon. Thank you so much.