Beasts of Beyond


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« on: March 04, 2019, 09:35:34 PM »

NOTE: This book deals with things such as homophobia and all around the mistreatment of LGBTQ+ people, and it goes in depth with the horrors of conversion therapy. Please do not read if this could be triggering to you. Thank you.

Spoiler: ShowHide
“Corinth! Mom and Dad want to talk to you now!” I hear a voice outside my door. Great, now what do they want? I groan, getting up from my bed. Which was very comfortable, by the way. It was six in the morning! They couldn’t let a girl sleep in on a Saturday? “Corinth! It’s important, come down here now!” That voice grows louder.
“Okay, okay! I hear you, Ezekiel. I’m going down in a minute, I’m getting dressed!” I snap at him as I open my closet and pick out what to wear.
I decide on something casual, a blue shirt, a black hoodie, and some jeans. I close the closet, looking at my room. It always felt like a safe haven for me. So, I take it in one more time, and appreciate it.
I open the door, and start walking down the stairs, my hand gripped tightly on the railing. I was half-expecting a birthday party, it was my thirteenth birthday, so something like a cake would have been nice. I could not wait. Even if birthdays were not too over the top in the family, there was still some stuff. I expected a “Happy Birthday, Corinth!” Or, “You’re finally a teen, Cori!”
Instead, what I got was, “Corinth, you’re leaving for this wonderful place called Hope in Love and Life.” Those were words coming from my own mother, I could not believe that it was… that it was my birthday ‘present’? I could feel the sickness rising in me, that feeling of a stone sinking in the pit of my stomach. Why? Hope in Love and Life, or HILL, was a homosexual conversion therapy or ministry. So, what was the problem?
“I’m not a lesbian! I’m not homosexual!” I can hear my voice shatter, even if I try to make it strong, as if I’m sure I know what I’m saying. I heard about those places, where people go through shock therapy. Even if you loved Jesus before, you were told how much of a sinner you were. I would be told everything I knew. That homosexuality was just people trying to fill the void in their heart in the wrong ways. That it was a sin, but we would still try to reach out to that community, those people, in love. But they wouldn’t think I knew that, they would try to make it seared into my head.
My father speaks, his gaze holding nothing but coldness. “Well. darling, you’re starting to act too masculine, that’s a warning sign. You may not know it yet, but the seed of sin has been planted within you, and we need to get it dug out before it takes root. I know you may not like it, but you’re going to HILL. That’s final.”
I have to swallow a gulp in my chest. “Wait! What about…”
“Corinth, get ready. This is not up for discussion, you have your first session in a couple hours.”
I do what he says, and hop into the car. I did not want to, but I was supposed to obey my parents. The place is somewhere that is about three hours away, near the small mountain town of Vail. It was… natural, I supposed. Before I know it, Ezekiel, Mom, and Dad all hop in the car.
“Cori, dear… why don’t you change into something more feminine? Like a dress. You look like Ezekiel, a boy.” My mother says, pointing to him. Of course they would point to him, he was always so perfect.
“Yeah, Cori! I’ll even help you pick out a nice shirt and a skirt, you’ll be very pretty. You want to leave a good impression on your therapist, right?” He tries his best to be helpful, and not in a rude way.
“Um, no… It’s three hours away. And there won’t be anyone I’d…” I began but was cut off by my father.
“It’s because she wants to look a guy. Get girls to like her, turn them and deceive them to be dykes like she is.” My father growls to himself, trying to be quiet, but not succeeding.
That leads to silence in the car for the rest of time, me shuffling awkwardly in my seat, and Ezekiel looking like he was ready to pray for me.
It feels so, so long until I see where we’ve headed. It’s a small patch of forested land, with a church in the front. By the way they’d kept it with gates and locks, you’d would’ve thought this was a mental hospital or something. Which, I guess it was. The building was huge. It was pearly white, with gold accents. Of course. They’re very adamant about promising salvation.
“Let’s get going,” hisses my father behind me, shoving me forward. “The sooner you get treatment, the better.”
I shove my hands in my pockets, stumbling forward for a couple steps before managing to walk straight to the gate. All the while, thoughts were swirling in what could be described as a tornado. Did I really act too masculine? Was I gay? I didn’t know.
“Cori, dear, your father just wants you to be like the little girl you were when we first saw you,” my mother whispers to me, breaking me from my thoughts. She gently wraps an arm around me, leading me to one of the smaller buildings conjoined to the largest one. My mother opens the door, and I start to go in.
My father walks in first. His steps were loud, as if a bit of earth cracked underneath his feet whenever he moved them. My mother gives me a small glare, though it appears more forced than anything.
I walk in, standing against the wall. The clock ticks and ticks, over and over. Every time it ticked, it filled us with more anxiety. And we were just waiting for the pastor to arrive. The air is filled with so tense an atmosphere, I swore that I could cut through the air. Maybe it’d make a good souvenir.
With an exaggerated slam of the door, the pastor makes his way over to the desk. He is not old, nothing like I expected. A handsome man with a nice suit that fight modestly, and appeared to be in late twenties to his early thirties. “Can you tell me why exactly you’re seeking treatment for your daughter?” He asks, flipping through some pages and his eyes narrow as soon as he sees my name. “You named her after a city of lust and greed? You named her after Corinth? You could have named her something like Naomi, who was a follower of God. Ruth, who abandoned her own city, culture, and religion for God. Or even Lydia, one of the first females to be converted.”
“Ah, yes, but remember that Corinth was transformed by two great apostles, Paul and Peter.” My father explains, tapping his hand against the desk. It was as if he was nervous, which would suggest he actually thought about me for once.  Well, I suppose that he put some effort into actually making my name into a good one, instead of being what it was meant to.
“Right, of course. But, I must say, I’ve not much information on your daughter here. I mean, I don’t even have the birth certificate!” The pastor says, though it’s almost jokingly. The way my parents react suggest otherwise. I cannot tell the expression on their faces, but they’re looking at each other. Are they nervous? Did they forget the birth certificate at home? If that was the case, thank God, then. Maybe I’d be able to go home rather than stay in this place for sinners. I look up, and notice that my dad was whispering something to the young pastor. The pastor pulls away, and nods. “So, you must have forgotten it. That’s okay, they have your birthday memorized. By the way, happy birthday, Corinth.” His voice isn’t condescending or harsh, or demeaning. I was spoken to like a human being, treated like one. It allowed to me to sigh in relief. Then, he turns once more to my parents. His gaze almost narrows, and he tries to be as welcoming as he can. “So, why do you see treatment for Corinth?”
“Well, we believe that she is going down a dangerous path. And we want to get it to halt before she goes down any further,” Mother says, gently grasping Father’s hand, before holding on to it tightly.
“Hmm, okay. What is this ‘dangerous path’ you speak of? What is the exact reason you are seeking treatment for your daughter?” The pastor asks, writing something in my files. His green gaze holds steady, no true emotion flickering out of it.
“Same-sex attraction,” my family tells him. All at the same time. It was as if they practiced this, rehearsed this.
“I told you, I don’t have same-sex attraction!” I snap angrily. I like guys, and that was final.
“You do, you just don’t know you do. And we’re going to get it fixed!” Father finally yelled. He stands up, the chair falling backwards. “When you become an adult, and want to be gay, then-- then we’ll finally give you to the Devil, like you want. But until then, we’re gonna try to get our girl back, and finally have a daughter that God would be proud to call His own.” He would have grabbed me, had it not been for Ezekiel standing in front of him.
“Father, let her deny it. She may be telling herself that so the thoughts can go away. She figures if it isn’t spoken about, they will go away. You’re accusing her, of wanting to go to the Devil. This denying is proof that she doesn’t. If she thinks she’s perfectly normal, as heterosexual, then she will be. If you stick the idea in her head that she’s gay, then what choice does she have except to believe it?” My brother calmly explains, his hands up. He doesn’t want anything physical to happen, and it shows when his amber eyes look at the pastor for help. My first therapy session has gone swimmingly, hasn’t it?
The pastor clears his throat, looking at the scene that just unfolded in front of him. He is shocked, that much is clear. And it appears that he sides with Ezekiel, but cannot say it. He did not need a window being broken because someone’s father went too Christian on him. He waits for a minute, possibly to see if the tension dies down, before speaking. “Yes, well, I think there’s been enough family talk for now. Please step outside and let me speak to Corinth, alone.” To make his point clear, he begins to shoo my family out physically. Once they are out, he picks up the chair my father was sitting in, and beckons me to sit on it. “Now, young Corinth, I know this is all very scary to a young woman such as yourself. You didn’t know you were coming here, were you?” He asks as I sit down.
I shake my head, making sure to be calm and polite, like I was always taught to. “No, sir, I had no clue. They just woke me up, and told me that I was going to HILL.”
“And how did that make you feel, Corinth?”
“It… it made me angry. The fact that they felt like they knew that I was homosexual, when I’m not. It feels like the… the stuff I said did not matter to them.”
“And, do you think that anything they may have said be right? Anything at all?” He taps his pencil against the desk.
“That I might be more masculine? Too masculine, I guess?” I ask. I was supposed to the be one that was answering all the questions, but I asked instead. I shrugged my shoulders, unsure of how to respond.
“Too masculine, too masculine. Hm… has your father always been around your life? Like, could you call him overprotective, Corinth?” The pastor asks. He jots something down in his notebook, and looks up.
“Um, before that, actually, I would like to know your name.” I say, standing up and extending a hand. I offered a small smile. After all, we hadn’t introduced ourselves to each other.
“John. John Riley.” He says, shaking my hand. “It’s very nice to meet you, ah, Corinth Brooks. But back to my question. Is your father overprotective or not?” He asks, sitting down once more.
   “Yes, he is.” I say, sitting down myself. Father always tried to do what was best for me, even if that meant not being able to hang out. Or… do anything, really. The most I could do was join the youth praise band at church. And that would be it. He always had to know where I was going, what I was doing, and who I was doing it with.
   “Got it. And your mother, Corinth? Had she been absent from your life?”
I nodded. I don’t talk about it much, but my mother was in a really, really awful place a few years ago. She was drinking, prostituting, smoking, doing drugs… and so much more. I do not blame her for seeking refuge in these practices -- many people do. But that meant she left her children to grow up without a mother. Without knowing the lullabies that would be sung to you every night, or the hug that would be given to you once you got home from school.
He sighs, and it is clear that there is something going on in his head. Some gears that had not clicked for me. He turns to the next page, before deciding to flip back to the original one, and sticks it into my files. John looks at me, and offers a hug. “Corinth, I know what’s going on here. And I know you’ve had a stressful day here, so while I was going to ask you more questions, I won’t.” He begins, wrapping his arms tightly around me, as if he was my brother. “I just want you to know that your parents do care, your brother does care, we all care, God cares. And we want to see you grow into a Godly  woman. Don’t fret, with the right treatment, you can win. You can win this battle over sin.”
At first, I returned the hug. But as he spoke, more and more words falling out of his mouth like he’d just regurgitated whatever was in a textbook, something felt wrong. It did not feel right. This place did not feel Godly. At all. And it made me worried. A thought enters my head for a split second, that this isn’t what they think it is. That my parents are gone, and I should run out of here and find the nearest town. Avon? Beaver Creek? Vail? One of those three towns had to do something to get me out. But I realize that if what he was saying was true, that this is what God wanted me to do, then who am I to deny the Lord of Lords? Tentatively, unsure of myself, I sit down again after the brotherly embrace.
“Corinth, this may be hard to hear, but… I am recommending in-patient treatment for you.”
« Last Edit: March 04, 2019, 10:00:53 PM by muddymutt »


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