Disclaimer : I do not own Gilmore Girls, et cetera...

Thank you: Julina, Meghan, Arianna

He feels like the luckiest guy in the world sometimes.

No longer is he the kid whose father split hours after his birth. No more is the boy who clasped his hands and hung back uncomfortably, watching his class board a Greyhound, because his mother didn't pay the five dollars for the trip to the farm. He's not the preteen who was jumped in the schoolyard (and at the corner of Jackson Street, and outside of the deli where he could buy juice for only a quarter) anymore.

He hasn't made the New York-Connecticut-New York-Connecticut-California-New York-Connecticut-New York trip since he was a teen.

He remembers being this person, though.

He remembers feeling neglected and abandoned, and then angry and cheated. He knows embarrassment, he knows disappointment, he knows failure.

There are nights when, as she sleeps beside him and he lays awake, dead sights and scents weave through the space between them, and rest, smothering him, upon his chest.

And this weight that hurts him (pressing, and pressing at him mercilessly) forces him to go back.

He is three, and his only toy (a superman action figure) is thrown at him. It cracks against the wall, and some of the plastic pieces scatter across the dust-covered floor. And she's yelling, his mom, yelling and screaming, and he doesn't know why, and his superman is broken, and she just doesn't care.

He is five, and she (still his mother) has left her sweater on the couch. He sees knots and ties. He turns off the television, pulls himself up to the couch, and takes the sweater into his hands. His fingers are too tiny, but he tries and tries, picks at them, blistering himself, until all of the knots are gone. She comes home from work, and she sees the sweater, untangled and expensive and worthless now. He smiles up at her, and then she is screaming again. He still doesn't know why.

He's eleven, his back to the concrete, with the words "guinea", "cracker", and "white trash" being yelled at him, syllable upon fist. There is blood on his face and nothing in his pocket.

A year later, he's twelve, and he still has a bloody face. The man he hopes won't become his stepfather is hovering over him, face in his, and Jess can feel the vessels breaking, the bruises forming.

(It is usually now he gets up for a drink, and pulls her close when he comes back to bed, so that it is her head on his chest, and not the chilly air that holds so much.)

But there are times when he can't find the strength to move a limb, and he gasps a desperate breath, because he knows fifteen is coming.

Fifteen. The weed, the two, and only two, hits of coke. The vodka burning at his throat, the fights, the truancies, the parties. Lying on top of an older girl, heart racing, her making a point of letting him know that she's more experienced than him. The sex (with all of the busty girls), after that. The deals, the money, the lack of money. Poker, porn, his friend's affair with a teacher.

He hates fifteen. He was stupid.

Stupid again when he was sixteen.

And then there was the day when his mother handed him a bus ticket. They fought; she left, he sulked.

She came home that night, drunk. It was all too real to him.

She enveloped him in a hug, and he remembers how cold her flashy gold shirt was against his body. She whispered to him, promising that all she needed was a little bit of time, and when he came back from his uncle Luke's, things would be different, she would be different.

And he'd looked up at her, for some assurance he knew wouldn't be there, and saw only the grey lines of her alcoholic face.

But today, the "she" is not his mother. The promises she recites are real, the gold that wraps around his finger is warm, and when he lifts his face to hers, he sees no grey, but hopeful blue.

And he thinks he's luckiest guy in the world.