I’m standing at the train station. I have the number the counsellor gave me in my pocket if I need it, of the lady who will always open her door to me. The train back to my area is coming in twelve minutes, the schedule says.

I’ve got my backpack. I charged my phone before I left. It was off for three whole days cos I didn’t bring a charger.

I was too shy to ask for one but then the supervisor at the shelter showed me where I could plug it in at a terminal in the library. So I’ve got battery. As I turn it on about twenty messages come into my inbox. My phone buzzes every time one arrives.


dude r u alive? we r so worried. love you please be safe


levi please call me apparently you’ve run away im so worried I don’t know what to tell your aunt im so worried please call me


Babe, I’m so sorry this happened. Please know that I will support you no matter who, what, where, when you are. You’re amazing. I love you. You’re indestructible. Phone me when you need me, k? xxx


My darling please phone me ASAP.

I dial Aunt Blessing. She picks up immediately.

“Where have you been?” she demands.

“I’m sorry. I got lost in town and … I’ll tell you when I get there. I’m coming home today.”

“Thank God, thank God you’re safe. Oh, my child …”

She is crying.

“Please don’t cry Auntie,” I say, because it makes me wanna cry too.

“You’re safe? You’re OK? Nothing’s happened to you?”

“Auntie, I am in perfect health,” I laugh, fibbing a bit. She is silent for a second and I can hear her sniff.

“Bless you my boy. I know what it’s like for you in our neighbourhood. People are so cruel.”

“They can be.”

“They are! The way they treat you! It’s … it’s not right! But I will stand up for you.”

“Not everyone is a hater, Auntie, so I’m discovering.”

“Really? Did you meet …,” and she whispers here, “a boyfriendYou are not alone.

It happened to me, and I am here, I am alive and I won’t hide away from haters.

Neither should you, OK? You’re special. You deserve to be alive as much as anyone in this world. And that’s the truth.

Just hold on.

There’s nothing wrong with you. Never forget that.



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