A Confident Rebirth

A short story adapted from a short script I wrote.

It was a beautiful summer day, not a cloud in the sky. Calvin had invited his friends over for a pool party and he was waiting with Hamza for their two other friends to arrive. While they waited, they passed a volleyball back and forth in the shallow end of the pool. The pool was quite large, the shallow end itself was almost the size of a regular pool. White pavement wrapped around the pool and led to a large deck on the backside of the house. 

About ten minutes later, Nick and Matteo finally arrived. Nick notices that Matteo looks rather nervous. 

"Dude, relax. At least try to have fun?" Nick gave him an encouraging smile, but it didn't do much to help Matteo's anxiety. 

"This isn't really my idea of fun."

"Yeah, your idea of fun is hiding in your room watching weird movies all day," Nick rolled his eyes as they continued into the large backyard. 

"They're not weird," Matteo defended but said nothing else. 

"Yo!" Calvin yelled from the pool when Nick and Matteo stepped up to the side of the pool. "Sup, guys?"

"Hey, Cal," Nick gave him a casual wave.

"Teo, you're not swimming?" Calvin asked when he noticed that Matteo was wearing a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved shirt. 

"I uh left my swimming suit at my dad's," Matteo lied the best he could. 

"I think my brother has a pair you could borrow," Calvin offered and started to get out of the pool to grab the swim trunks.

"No no, it's fine," Matteo quickly reassured him. Calvin stopped in his tracks and gave his friend a questioning look. 

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I'm good just hanging out," Matteo nodded a little too eagerly. 

"Ok, man," Calvin shrugged.

"Step aside, losers," Nick announced before he took his shirt off, tossed it on the ground, and jumped into the pool making a huge splash. 

Matteo shook his head and laughed at his friend before taking a seat on a deck chair. He watched as his friends played pool volleyball and had fun without him. He didn't really mind, though. Matteo was used to being an observer rather than a participant however sad that may sound. 

The sliding glass door opened and Calvin's little sister, Mia, walks out with a tray of fruit punch. Mia was only eight years old, but she was quite the personality; she was independent and insisted she do everything herself. 

"Calvin, look!" Mia yelled with a giant proud smile on her face. Mia also loved her big brother more than anything. She wanted to impress him with everything she did. "I made fruit punch!"

Calvin looked over at his little sister from the pool and a big smile grew on his face. "Nice job, kiddo!"

Mia carefully walked across the deck and towards a table that sat next to Matteo who watched the young girl approach. The tray was heavy, getting heavier with each step. Matteo could see her arms shaking as she got closer. She was lifting the tray up to put it on the table when Matteo realized she was going to spill. However, he realized a little too late. The tray slipped from Mia's weak hands and crashed all over Matteo, the red fruit punch soaking into his white long sleeve. 

The loud crash caught the attention of the boys in the pool who all looked over at the punch-covered Matteo and the embarrassed little girl. Hamza and Nick started laughing uncontrollably while Calvin quickly climbed out of the pool. He trotted over to Mia and knelt down next to the teary-eyed little girl. 

"I'm sorry," she whimpered. "I didn't mean to."

"It's ok, Mia, it was an accident. Why don't you go get a towel for Matteo?" Calvin said in a soft voice. Mia nodded before running back into the house to grab a towel. 

Calvin turned to Matteo who was frozen in place, fruit punch dripping off the sleeves of his shirt. "You ok?"

"Fine," Matteo nodded. "A bit wet."

Calvin laughed slightly before standing up. 

Mia quickly came back with a towel that she handed to Matteo before retreating back into the house. Matteo used the towel to dry off the best he could.

"I'll give you a change of clothes," Calvin offered Matteo who looked at his friend gratefully. 

"Thanks," Matteo nodded. 

Inside, Matteo was in the bathroom in only his boxers. He continued to dry off while Calvin got him a change of clothes. 

Unknown to his friends since he always wore long sleeves and jeans, Matteo's left arm and both of his thighs were covered in scars and cuts. Also unknown to his friends (save Nick), Matteo had a tattoo of a big black snake wrapping around his entire right arm. 

Matteo stared at himself in the mirror, ashamed of his body and what he'd done to it. The scars served as a reminder to him that he was worthless. That's what he thought anyway. 

A small knock came on the door before it opened just a crack. "I know you said you were fine, but I grabbed you one of my old swimsuits so you could hang with us in the pool. You don't have to play volleyball, just come chill." Calvin said and stuck his arm into the room. In his hand was a pair of green swim shorts. 

Matteo's heart sunk into his stomach. He didn't want to be rude and decline since Calvin was being nice enough to help him, but he didn't want to wear the suit either. Not knowing what else to do, Matteo slowly took the shorts from his friend. 

"Sweet, I'll see you outside then," Calvin said before closing the door and leaving Matteo to himself again. 

Matteo stared at the green swimsuit in his hands. What was he supposed to do now? Calvin had taken his clothes to put in the laundry so this was all he had. 

Reluctantly, Matteo changed into the swimsuit. He stared at himself in the mirror again, mind racing with thoughts. 

Lost in his thoughts, Matteo had been in the bathroom for over ten minutes and Nick began to get worried. 

A knock came on the door interrupting Matteo from his thoughts. "Hey, you ok?" Nick asked from outside the bathroom door. 

Matteo didn't answer. 


"Nick..." Matteo said softly. He knew what he had to do, but he didn't know if he could actually do it. 

"What's up? Is everything ok?"

"I have to tell you--" Matteo's voice cracked as tears began welling in his eyes. 

"What is it, Teo?"

No reply. 

"You know you can tell me anything," Nick said softly, sensing that his friend was in despair. 

The bathroom door slowly started to open, but came to a stop after opening just a crack. 

"Teo?" Nick asked. 

"Please don't hate me," Matteo said.

"Teo, what's going on?" Nick was beginning to get really worried. Why was his friend being so...weird?

Very slowly, the bathroom door opened to reveal Matteo standing silently with his arms at his sides and his head ducked in shame. 

Nick's face paled as he took in Matteo's multiple body parrtstr covered in scars and cuts. 

After a moment of silence, Matteo spoke. "Sorry--"

"Don't," Nick interrupted him. 

Matteo glanced up at Nick, confused at his serious tone. Nick stared back at him, eyes serious and full of sorrow. 

"What?" Matteo asked. 

"Don't apologize."

"It's fine, Nick...I know it's gross," Matteo sighed. 

"No. It's not. It's not fu*king gross Matteo and you don't have to be sorry. Ok?" Nick said in a serious tone. "I'm gonna be honest...I don't know why people...cut...I've never understood it and I'm not sure I ever will...but it's not gross."

Matteo ran his hand across the scars on his left arm as a moment of silence passed between them. He looked at the floor in shame. 

"Teo," Nick said slowly. "Do you want to kill yourself?"

Matteo bit back his tears. "No...not lately anyway."

Nick nodded slowly, biting the inside of his cheek in an attempt to hold back his own heartbroken tears. 

"It just..." Matteo continued. "It feels like an addiction...I know I should stop...but I just...I don't know how."

"I know, Teo...it's ok," Nick spoke softly. 

Nick stared at his friend, completely heartbroken. 

"Do you want me to drive you home? I'll tell Calvin I'm feeling sick and we can go," Nick offered. 

Matteo, looking at the ground, slowly shook his head. Nick paused, unsure of what to say. 

"Should I go talk to the boys?" He asked. 

Matteo hesitated before slightly nodding his head to which Nick nodded back in return. 

Now in the kitchen, Matteo leaned against the kitchen table nervously rubbing the scars on his arm. He stared at the wall in front of him in a daze. 

Nick peeked into the kitchen from the sliding glass door and gave a little knock to snap Matteo out of his daze. "Ready, Teo?"

Matteo bit his lip and rubbed his arm harder before shaking his head. "I can't do this."

Nick opened the door and stepped into the kitchen to talk with his friend. "You can. I know you, Teo. You can do this."

Out on the deck, Calvin and Hamza stand awkwardly waiting for Nick and Matteo to come out. Nick had told them that Matteo had scars and cuts on his arms and legs and they didn't know how to react to that. 

Finally, Matteo stepped out onto the deck with Nick close behind. Both Calvin and Hamza look at the ground trying to avoid the inevitable. Hamza, however, sneaks a glance up at Matteo and his eyes widen. 

"Dude, what the hell?" Hamza stepped up to Matteo who looked pale as a ghost. Hamza grabbed Matteo's right arm and inspected it. "That's the coolest tattoo I've ever seen."

Nick, who had almost had a heart attack when Hamza stepped up to Matteo thinking he was freaking out over his scars, became confused and looked at Matteo. "You didn't show the boys your ink?"

Matteo shook his head shyly. He began to relax as Hamza continued to look at the tattoo and paid no attention to his scars or cuts on his other limbs. Calvin finally looked up and joined Hamza in admiring the tattoo. 

"Dude, that must've cost a fortune," Calvin gapped. 

"No, actually, it was free. My mom's a tattoo artist."

"Yo, you think you could hook me up?" Calvin laughed. 

A genuine smile grew on Matteo's face. "I'll see what I can do."

Nonbinary creative writer who wants to change the world.

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