©2020 Q* Anthology of Queer Culture

An independent student publication in the Charlottesville and U.Va. community

The Mountain

March 20, 2020

**TRIGGER WARNING**

Homophobia 

Physical abuse/domestic violence 

Verbal abuse

 

Please take care of yourself before, during, and after reading. 

 

 

I had at last found salvation in the small cottage at the top of the dark silent mountain. He had taken me in. Finally, my father had shown he could be a dad, and not just the man who abandoned me. I lay there warm on the couch appreciating a kind of serenity I had never known before. There were no lights to shine through the windows when you lived at the mountaintop, and the thick blankets of snow muffled even the sparse sounds of wolves howling in the distance. The cold quiet dark gave refuge from the comfortable chaos I had grown accustomed to. “Finally, I can get away from my old life,” I said quietly to myself, before falling into my serene slumber. 

If only I could have made it through one night. My sleep was broken by a loud bang as a towering man burst through the front door. Before I could get up, I felt a yank on my collar. It was like a noose tightening around my throat. I felt his hot whiskey-soaked breath on my face as he held me up. 

“What the hell is this, Damian?” he bellowed, holding something in his hand. I still had sleep in my eyes and the world was out of focus, as if my mind was trying to pull me back into the harmony of my dreams. “I asked you a damn question! What is this?” 

As my eyes came into focus, I saw he had usurped my coat and found my pipe. It was right there in his hand. He held it out as if to wound me with my past sins. “I… I don’t do that anymore,” I sobbed. “I just never threw it away,” I begged as tears started welling up in my eyes. 

He threw me down and delivered a hard punch to my chest. My father had never hit me before. It was as if he had struck my soul. He then threw me across the threshold of the door and into the frigid night air. I gasped, gulping as the icy wind swallowed and surrounded me. 

“I take you in and this is how you repay me!” He yelled as he hit me again. I attempted to square my balance, but the only thing my foot caught was the ice on the stairs. I slid and fell to my knees before this mountain of a man. I quickly tried to get back up, to do anything, but every time I thought I could he was there to shove me down again and again. It was like the tragic Greek punishment; I was Sisyphus and he was my boulder. 

 

He continued to yell at me, and his words seared into my memory. “You are gonna die on the street, like your faggot friends. You are just another worthless, diseased fag.” By now I was covered with cuts and bruises, but I had managed to get away. 

I left the cottage and didn’t look back. I never wanted to see that bastard’s dirty face again. He was probably too drunk to care what would happen to me anyway. 

Looking forward, I hobbled down the mountain road. It was a long way to any shelter from the winter storm. I felt the gusts of frigid wind, each more intense than the last. “He’s right, the mountain air whispered to me, “No one wants you. You have always known.” It was the specter of death, waiting for the storm to liberate my spirit for his reaping. I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone to use my last few ragged breaths. 

“911, my dad just beat me. I’m freezing,” I managed to get out through my chattering teeth. 

“Okay, sir, where are you located? Do you need medical attention?” she replied. 

“I don’t know. I am in Tahoe somewhere near the top of the mountain. There are no other houses around. I’m walking down and it’s cold and I’m scared.” 

The conversation continued as the lady tried to figure out where I was. At some point she must have figured it out because she said she was sending someone. I don’t know if I cared anymore, but I couldn’t feel my arms as the sting of frostbite went away and numbness settled in. I remember looking up to the stars, thinking that this was how I would die, alone and frozen on some mountain. At that point, I gave up and collapsed into the snow. 

It was cold. An hour ago, I had been surrounded by warm blankets. I thought that after years of homelessness, I finally had a home. I lay there in acceptance of my new fate, staring at the stars as if they might change it. My world was once again out of focus. I could feel my tears solidify to my face. As I lay on the brink of unconsciousness, I managed one final breathless phrase past my frozen, chapped lips.

 

DAMIAN JESSUP 

All pronouns 

College of Arts & Sciences 

Class of 2021, Women, Gender, and Sexualities 

 

Damian is a nontraditional college student. This memoir is part of his journey dealing with parental rejection, especially pertaining to his sexuality and substance abuse addiction.

 

 

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