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Thorns, Fire, and Petals

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Blurb

Life always had its fair share of pain, lust and love. But will there be a similar pattern for the life of a gay?

Carlo's life seems to be fine, silent and still when an incident changed his life completely. He found himself in a totally new environment, new company and new experience.

In the embrace of someone…

Strong, warm and unshaken.

Is this for real? How long will it last?

Will there be happiness after all of this?

Inspired from a true story. Thorns, Fire and Petals

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Chapter 1: My Escape
Will I have my rainbow after the rain?--- Carlo *** "Calling all passengers for Flight A081 bound to Bangkok, please proceed to gate 3…" Carlo woke up from his daydream as he listened to his flight boarding call. It's been a week since he left the hospital, some of the bruises and wounds have eventually healed at least the visible ones. Finally, he will leave the horrible nightmare behind although not everything in his life is bad. He will surely miss his friends and his Nana (Grand Ma) who loved him dearly. "Jane, let's go" calling his cousin who is napping by his side. The airport queuing and document processing is longer than the flight, the passenger needs to be at the airport at least 3-4 hours ahead of the flight not to mention the 2-3 hours traffic within the metro just to get to the airport. And flying to Bangkok is just 3 hours. Jane woke up and picked-up all their belongings and waited in line along with the other passengers. They gave their passport and boarding pass then walked to the aircraft. The flight attendants greeted them and led their way to their seats. He quickly passed the other passengers, found their seats, and placed their bags on the cabin, he sat down near the window while Jane sat beside him. "Are you okay?" Jane asked him.  Jane is a cousin from his father's side, they practically grew up together. They went to the same elementary and high school. She is opposite Carlo, she plays street games with the other kids, they tease her a lot because she's like one of the boys ready to fight and always on the go. But despite that strong character, she's sweet and thoughtful. She's always there beside me, we're like soul sisters. He looked at her and nodded, "Yeah, I'm fine" he voiced. "It's not like it's my first time leaving for Bangkok". "True, but it's for a different reason unlike before which is just vacation. This time you're not sure when you're coming back" she said as she buckled up and placed her shoulder bag under her seat. "Agree! It's good that you came for a holiday, at least I have someone to be with." "Yeah, what a coincidence or maybe faith." she smiles  He cleared his throat and asked, "So, have you managed to finish all the stuff you needed?" "Well, the majority yes. My employment certificates were requested before my arrival hence, it's ready when I picked it up. My school TOR will be sent via courier so I think I got everything." "What do you need all those documents for, I thought you already have them before?" he said while grabbing the inflight magazine. "Well it's for Academic qualification, I'm processing my documents to Canada while working. My friend said it will take some time before completing everything, she suggests that I do it now while I'm young and my chances are higher. I just need to enhance my career and gain relevant knowledge. So, what about you? Why did you suddenly want to leave?" "It's a long story, I will tell you soon. For now, just think of me requiring a new air to breathe. Besides, your Bangkok story seems awesome, not to experience. I would love to explore the different parts of Bangkok far from the wholesome stuff that my Dad's preparing me whenever I come here." He said while smirking on her. "Do you plan to stay with your Dad or you want to live with me?" Jane asked him "For now, let me live with Dad first since he offered me to stay with him while I look for a job. We can anyway go out on the weekend as you promised, I'm excited to go to Patpong, besides I know you're busy with your new boyfriend." "He's not yet a boyfriend, we're just dating. And it's not like I'm gonna bring him home." "Oh, come on Cuz, will I take the liberty of you bringing him home? Of course not" He chuckled while teasing her. She pinches him while laughing.  "Tell me what is this new flavour of the month like? And how is he different from the last one." "Oh, forget the last one. He's a jerk. He just wanted to get me to bed. Jude, on the other hand, is a bit different. I was not interested in him at first since we work together, but the people around seem to be matching us whenever there's an opportunity. So, I tried, after all, he seems to be serious and interesting. He's witty which I like and not so clingy'.  "Hmmm, that sounds so good, I hope nothing changes after a month or so. Tell me does he have a brother?" "He had a younger brother, too young for you." she shrieked looking back at him "Haha, funny, let's go out some time so I could meet some of his friends." "Alright, I'll tell him and give you a call. I would go for a nap for a bit just wake me up when we reach Bangkok" "Ok" Carlo rolled his eyes as he went back to his magazine. After flipping and reading the magazine, he got bored and placed it back to the seat pocket in front of him. He decided to get his phone since the seatbelt sign has been switched off. He scanned his photos of the concert he went with his friends, he also got clips of them singing with the band. It could have been an unforgettable night; they all came in pairs, Elaine with her boyfriend Ryan, Ria with Richard, and him and Eman (short for Emmanuel). After the concert they went clubbing, they had a couple of drinks and danced to live music. Ryan and Stephen also danced with him on the dance floor teasing each other and having fun. It's like any other weeknights with this gang, the last time we did this was in College. He smiles as he remembers the good old days. The only difference this time is that Eman was there. Eman is one of his gay besties and office mates, they got so close since they both like to do the same stuff. Eman is serious whenever he is in the office, he doesn't do girly stuff. He does that so that his subordinates will treat him with respect during working time. He's the only one who can tease him at work which He only does it whenever they're alone. It's not a secret that they're both gay but they just wanted to be more professional at work. His train of thought continues. That night was still young compared to our usual hang out but I decided to leave early since Nana would be waiting. I didn't know that someone was following me, I've only noticed it after the jeepney ride. “He has been following me from the concert to the club,” he stammered as he remembered. He has been in my peripherals throughout the night. I took a deep breath, why did I just remember this now. The memory of that night continues to play in his head. He sees himself rambling past the street lights swaying a bit, checking if he's there. At first, his perpetrator was a bit far but after two blocks he called out his name, then he realized he was practically behind him thus he started running. He then grabs him and hits him in the stomach, he keeps on mumbling some words which Carlo refuses to listen. He tried to block and throw some punches but he's quite strong and subdued him. That punk even kissed him, it was disgusting. He can remember the taste of alcohol and cigarettes from his mouth, then, he recalls how his perpetrator went crazy and started pounding him again next thing he knew he was in the hospital. "I would move on from this," he murmured to himself. This horrible nightmare will be forgotten just like these bruises. He is not worth my time and my mind. Yes, I know who that monster was but this is the last time I would evoke in the thoughts of him.  He returned his phone to his pocket and decided to lay and close his eyes. His mind starts to wander again. It's not in my plan to leave Nana or my friends, my dream is only to find someone I can settle with and live a normal life. He shook his head to stop his mind from thinking and looked out the window. The plane is now up in the clouds, he can see the ray of lights beaming. If life is just as easy as these clouds, floating free with no worries when sorrows arise it will show its darkness and when the problem becomes heavy it will let go of the rain and everything will be back to normal. He released a deep sigh as he watched the clouds pass by.   *** The plane finally landed after 3 hours flying. We headed to the immigration and grabbed our luggage then went to the exit. "hmmm, I can smell the Pad Thai and tom yum" he chuckled, glaring at Jane who is now pushing their luggage cart. "You're crazy, you know that! Someone may hear you and get offended." "I didn't say anything offensive, besides I love pad thai and tom yum."    After looking at the crowd, I saw my Dad waving, I waved back and headed in his direction. We walked to where his car is parked, he placed our baggage at the trunk, I sat on the passenger seat while Jane took the back seat with Luke, my half-brother. "Ate (Big Sister) where's my treat?" Luke asked Jane. Jane gave him a big sounding laugh positioned to tickle him. "here is your treat" she started tickling him  He giggled and fought back, tickling Jane as well. They stopped when Dad called out Jane.  "Jane, come with us first, your Aunt Lucy prepared some food. Then I'll drop you off at your boarding house," my Dad told Jane while driving. Then he glanced at me and asked "So how are you, did you manage to talk to your Manager?" he was talking about my resignation after the incident. The two still keep giggling and continue flirting with each other. "I'm alright now, I still have bruises in my rib part but the medicine is doing its job so it is fine. With regards to my resignation, it's irrevocable and my manager understands since we're talking about my safety." "How about your Nana, how is she?" "She's doing okay, she's getting a bit old but she's still strong. She still does her garden routine, Uncle Uloy does all the other work at home whence she's free most of the time." "That's good to know, call her once you arrive home. I was a little worried about her when she called me, informing what happened."  "Yes, I'll call her later. I also don't want her to think so much of me." I said glancing outside the car.  We arrived home after two and a half hours' drive from the airport. I chatted a little with my siblings and aunt. I gave their pasalubong (treats from home), I got them some delicacies like Piaya (is an unleavened sweet bread), Polvoron, and Ensaimada (a sweet bun with sugar on top, it is also known as 'Cabello de ángel') which they like so much. I didn't bring much since most foods are similar in the Philippines, Thai's have more spices, they eat a lot of veggies and their food are poignant compared ours but other than those, some rice delicacies are quite similar. Jane had dinner with us and Aunt Lucy even packed her some food to bring home. After sharing a few stories with my Dad and my Aunt I said my goodbyes to Jane before finally resting in the shared room with Luke. The room is big enough, it has a pulled-out bed which I normally use whenever I stay here. It used to be a guest room when I was younger. I have 2 siblings with my Dad, Rowena is 12 years old, she has grown so much almost 5 feet now. She looks very much like Aunt Lucy, she has shoulder-length thick hair, thick eyebrows, and long lashes.  Luke, on the other hand, looks like my Dad except for the long lashes he got from my Aunt. He is 8 years old and a little skinny since he is so energetic. He has a birthmark visible on his left wrist which he always plays, copying Ben10 tapping it and shouts, "It's hero time!". We all laugh whenever he does that. My Dad met my Aunt here in Thailand, She works in the same company as him before. Dad used to tell their stories in the past, he described her as a strong woman who is not afraid to tell what's on her mind but at the same time, she keeps her silence and listens. She listens to him, she makes him feel important I guess that's what Dad liked the most about her. With my Mom, he cannot win an argument, she is always right and always needs to be right. I was about 10 years old when he left us for this family. At first, it was painful, I even blamed myself for their separation. I didn't understand what was going on but soon after, it seems I grew out of it. I guess I got tired of waiting and eventually accepted the truth that they will not get back together. I lived my life with Nana, my Mom's Mother while my Mom went to Dubai after separating from Dad. We needed a steady source of income and working abroad pays more. Perhaps, she also yearns to find herself, after all, they've been together for 10 long years. Life must have been difficult for her since she has me, the constant reminder of Dad.  They both have a family of their own now, they visit during their long holidays, send me some presents and pay for my needs. Growing up seems a bit lonely, I do have a lot of friends but at the end of the day, I am alone, I have no one to talk to. I have everything yet I feel empty. As time goes, I learn to appreciate the small things in life, during puberty I realized I’m not the same as the other boys in school. Although I had a few male friends since I played basketball in elementary and high school, it slowly shifted. At the end of senior high, I surrounded myself with girls not because I like them but for the reason that I feel comfortable being with them as if I am one of them. I supposed it changed when I realized that I prefer the same s*x for a partner.  I am used to this life now and somehow; I enjoyed the freedom, the solitude, the stillness, and simplicity of life. I wonder where destiny will bring me. I need a plan somehow, I need to earn a living first then find a place of my own. I know Dad would also want me to have a place of my own. That would be the goal for now. I feel content by the thought of it as I finally drifted to sleep.

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