The asphalt glistened after the rain and the trees swayed gently in the soft autumn wind. The air was fresh, the maple leafs were breathtakingly beautiful that time of the year, warm, flashing orange and red. The sun peaked from behind the clouds and the water droplets on the street glistened on its gleam. The light was a warm, beam of light, running in different directions as the dispersed pieces of clouds moved across the sky, at times swallowing the sun behind them completely.
When the rays touched your skin, it was warm for a moment, but the wind was whimsical and didn’t allow such pleasure to last for long. Michael sighed, saw a huge pile of fallen leafs on the side of the street, and couldn’t hold back the urge to kick it. The pile fell apart, but, as the leaves were wet and stuck on each other, his childish whim hadn’t caused greater grief to the park employees.
Michael reached to pick up one lonely leaf from the ground and played with it as he walked forward. He smiled slightly, studied the veiny surface of the leaf and it’s bright autumn colors before he allowed it to slip from between his fingers, watching as it gently fell on the dark green grass.
Once again, he drowned himself in his thoughts, that had been bothering him for days. Slowly, he moved forward on the wet street, not even noticing a water puddle as he stepped into it. His shoe became soaking wet, and he looked down, feeling annoyed. What else? He asked in his mind and sighed. The shoe was creaking, his sock was soaked and it made him shiver from the sudden coldness. He was beginning to get more and more absent-minded. These thoughts had taken up too large a part of him, and they had only grown stronger during the summer.
Love: it was supposed to be something wonderful! It was supposed to… but it was unfair and cruel… Why him? Why couldn’t he have fallen in love with someone else? Michael kicked a lonesome stone on his way and cursed. The sun hid behind a cloud, and, now, his shoe had a soaking cold puddle in it, making a wet splash on his every step.
As he tried to think of something more agreeable, he once again found his thoughts dwelling on his friend. He smiled secretively to himself as he remembered how Tony had laughed on his own silly joke so hard that he had fallen over from a chair. Tony had always been funny, little crazy and oh so lovely… Michael sighed. Falling in love with your best friend was complicated enough without the fact that they were the same sex; it was the cornerstone of his grief, so completely insuperable. Why did this have to happen to him? He had tried so hard to be normal, and now he was tired.
He couldn’t sleep, and had no taste for food. Surely Tony had noticed something wrong by now. Michael knew he had, but the other boy didn’t have a clue as to what was bothering him. Michael wished that he could tell him, but, in all honesty, he was afraid of the other boy’s reaction. They had known each other their whole lives. People had teased them of being like brothers without any idea how it bothered Michael. Brothers? Hah! It was the last thing that he wanted to be to Tony; it would have crossed the line…
When had it started? When had the feelings changed? Perhaps they had always existed and only now bloomed once they were nearing adulthood.
”Hey Mikey, wait!” The running steps echoed against the asphalt, and Michael was startled from the familiar voice. He stopped in his tracks and turned, seeing Tony running towards him. His freckled face turned into a grin
Michael watched his friend with confusion, seeing Tony even made him forget the unfortunate state of his shoe.
”Tony, what… Where-?” He tried to reach for the right question, stuttering slightly, which was rare for him to do.
”Man, I tried to shout from the distance!” Tony breathed, slightly out of breath. He lowered his hand down on his friends shoulder, leaned towards the ground, let out a small chuckle, and, then, brought his gaze back up to see his friend’s face.
”You’ve played in water puddles again, haven’t you?” He teased, almost making Michael blush, which also was rare.
Michael cleared his throat trying to overcome his confusion. ”I didn’t even notice when I stepped in one,” he explained. ”Where are going?”
”I was coming to look for you,” Tony grinned. ”You saved me the trouble of walking all the way to your place.”
”Looking for me?”
”I was near by,” Tony shrugged. ”Visiting Steve…” He continued and looked at his friend. ”Tom’s party!” He called out, grinning at Michael’s confusion. ”I knew you had forgotten! You haven’t spoken one word of them! What is wrong with you?”
”Nothing… There’s just been so much going on…” Michael noticed that he was stammering again.
”Ha! It’s some girl, isn’t it?” Tony thought. ”I wonder who she is?” The other boy tilted his head while observing him. ”You’re warming things up with Jenny perhaps?”
Michael felt somewhat uncomfortable. He had been dating Jenny for almost a year, but they had broken up last Spring by his initiative. But now, at the end of the summer, they had gotten closer again. They had gone for walks a few times, and had coffee together and once on a so called real date at the movies. Michael saw how fervently Jenny wanted more. He would have liked to give more, to feel more, but those feelings didn’t come. The kisses and the touches did not bring the feeling that they should have, it was just embarrassing and uncomfortable for him… He just felt friendship for her. And now, this moment here, Tony near him, that feeling of light touch on his shoulder, he felt it still lingering, even though it had been so short. He felt everything he wanted to feel with Jenny and the realisation ached his chest.
“We’re just friends, Jenny and I,” Michael finally replied.
Tony cocked his brow skeptically. “Have you remembered telling it to Jenny too? “He inquired amused but saw his friend voiding his gaze and decided to leave it at that. Maybe Michael had another girl in mind? – He would dig up the truth later at the party.
”Well, hurry home so you can get out of those wet shoes, I will come by your house a little later so we can go together. Tony patted his friend on the shoulder and smiled gently. ”You’ll tell me about that other girl later.” He winked and turned on his heels. ”See you soon, Mikey!”
Michael looked after Tony. He hoped he could tell Tony the truth. And how fervently he hoped that his confusion would be mutual and they could share it. He would tell the truth and Tony would reveal that he felt the same way for him. At the same time, he knew it was just a dream. Probabilities were not on his side…
Tony sat on Michael’s bed, sipping the beer that he had sneaked with him in his backpack. It was warm, but it would do, fulfill its purpose, at least. He observed his friend with interest, who was looking for an appropriate shirt from his wide collection of clothes.
He allowed his gaze drift downward on his bare upper body and couldn’t help but to admire the way the muscles moved under the soft and perfect olive-toned skin. Michael’s skin always looked slightly tanned. Tony had recently started to notice even more how perfect his best friend looked, how beautiful he was.
Michael was the most beautiful man he had ever seen, and thinking about it was exceedingly confusing. Tony tried to calm himself down. He knew that he wasn’t the only straight man who had noticed Michael’s looks to be strangely captivating.
Michael moved in front of the mirror to look at himself and pulled a black tank top on.
“Jenny won’t be able to keep her hands to herself when she sees you,” Tony laughed.
Michael glanced at him through the mirror with that same confused look on his face, the same one that he had when they had met outside earlier, but, this time, his confusion lingered only for a moment and was soon replaced with a cunning smile.
”You think?” He asked, cocking his eyebrow, looking sexy. ”She wants me?”
“Michael, everybody wants you,” Tony replied in an amused tone, knowing just how much Michael loved to hear compliments.
When the other boys gaze was back in his reflection, Tony allowed his gaze to move lower on Michael’s body. He gazed at his bottom, nicely round and firm, wrapped inside tight jeans that fitted perfectly. Tony’s thoughts wandered to what his butt would feel like under his palms and licked his suddenly dry lips. Had he ever seen a more perfectly shaped behind? He suddenly couldn’t remember. When he finally understood what he had been thinking, he got scared, but, still, he couldn’t remove his gaze, even though he knew he should and fast! He tried to distract his mind, tried to think of women’s breasts, big and round and so perfectly smooth!
Michael squeezed some hair-wax into the palm of his hand and rubbed his hands together. Then, he ran his fingers through his hair, messing it. He observed his own face in the mirror until he happened to catch another glance from Tony. He was surprised to see where his friend’s gaze was locked onto. There was a pinch in the bottom of his stomach, an almost painful spark of hope, and although reason tried to tell him to leave it at that, he couldn’t. The temptation grew too big and, in the end, what harm could it do?
”You too Tony?” He asked keeping the cunning tone.
”What? Me too what?” Tony asked before realizing what Michael had meant. ”No! I’m not gay or anything!” Although those words felt painful to hear, Michael made up his mind that he wouldn’t let them get to him; not now, he would tease his friend a moment longer testing his boundaries.
”Then why did you look at my butt so… interested?” He asked and grinned, at the same time wishing that it wasn’t just a game.
”I wasn’t looking!” Tony yelled in his defense.
”Yes you did! I saw. I’m not blind. You looked for a long time.” Michael laughed, enjoying the situation far too much than he should have.
”No!” Tony still insisted.
”Yes you did! You want me. You’re lusting for me.” Michael was grinning. Tony’s face was red, and he knew his friend would get mad, still he wasn’t able to stop.
”No I don’t! Shut up.”
”Uh, you want me really bad… You want to fuck me senseless.” Michael continued to tease and chewed on his lip. It would have been wise to hold his tongue. After all, he knew full well of his friend’s temper, which occasionally lead to mild violence, but Tony had never been violent to him, not even threatened. The only situations that Tony’s violence had sprung forth was when he had defended Michael after he had gotten himself in trouble.
”Stop it Mikey, or I’ll…” Tony breathed, his hands squeezed into fists on his side and his face still remained pink. Michael didn’t really understand why Tony took his jesting so seriously now. This wasn’t the first time that he teased his friend in similar fashion.
Michael turned his face and smiled. ”Come silence me then, if you want”, he said sniggering quietly.
”God dammit Michael, you’re so fucking annoying at times,” Tony huffed. Michael turned back to face the mirror.
”But you like me anyway?”
”But I like you anyway,” Tony repeated.
”And you want me because of it.” Michael stated next, knowing he was moving in unclear waters.
”And I want….” Tony started, but then looked at him angrily. ”No I don’t! Not like that!”
Michael turned, grinned, and came closer. Her heartbeat madly. but somehow he managed to cover how nervous he felt. He sat down next to his friend on the bed, keeping a small distance. ”Yes you do.” He whispered, leaning a little closer. Tony looked at him for a moment as his eyes narrowed into thin lines and he breathed heavily. For a moment Michael felt the sting of uncertainty, maybe he had gone too far? He thought, but then, quite surprisingly, Tony grabbed the collar of his shirt and pulled him into a passionate kiss. Michael’s heart pounded, was this a dream? It felt so real? He responded willingly to the kiss after recovering from the surprise. And for a moment it was passionate, strong hands on his back. Tony’s mouth tasted of beer he had drank earlier, and maybe he had already been drinking a couple of them before he had come? Maybe that was the reason for this? However, the other boy didn’t appear so drunk that he would have worked completely without understanding? This kiss was full of repressed desire, the most passionate he had ever experienced and then… just as suddenly as it had begun, it was over… Tony withdrew, embarrassed and shocked. He pushed Michael farther and groped to his feet.
”Dammit… dammit…” He cursed over and over, stumbled backwards, and Michael looked at him confused, his lips glistening, slightly swollen and red. ”Dammit Michael!” Tony pointed at his friend almost accusingly. ’You are so beautiful’ -cursed… ”I’m not… but you are so… Dammit!” He spluttered and escaped the room.
Michael touched his tingling lips with confusion. Tony had kissed him. It wasn’t only imagination. It was real. He breathed fast, happy and confused, and then realized how fast Tony had left him. They would have to talk… to clear things… Hope… He felt a spark of hope touching his chest. Could he really be that lucky?
Trembling and overwrought, Michael took his over-shirt and got dressed. He would go to Tom’s party, hoping to find his friend and clear things up between them. He was afraid and hopeful at the same time; if Tony felt the same way, he wouldn’t have to fear any longer.
Anxious, nervous, had Tony even arrived at the party? He had left so suddenly…
Michael congratulated Tom little hastily, gave him the gift he had gotten in a rush and tried his best to smile, all the while looking around. Half of their school seemed to be there, but he couldn’t see Tony anywhere.
”Hi Michael,” the familiar voice cooed somewhere close and made Michael turn to the source of it.
”Hi Jenny,” he greeted the girl with a soft voice and smiled. He wanted to ask if she had seen Tony, but thought that it might sound rude to ask so early on. ”How are you?” He asked, instead, and the girl grinned appearing somewhat drunk. Her tolerance for alcohol had never been laudable.
”Fine, now that you’re here.” She replied and stepped closer. ”I missed you. I would like to talk to you, in private…” She whispered and reached to take Michael’s hand in hers.
Michael felt uncomfortable, but didn’t dare to pull his hand away from her hold too soon. Last month’s confusion had lead to foolish actions. He had wanted to be normal so badly that he had ended up giving false hope to Jenny. They had dated almost a year, broken up before the summer, and then, just before the school started… Michael regretted it; things were complicated enough. Jenny would hardly understand if he told her the truth… If possible, he wanted to avoid telling her for a moment longer.
”Did you miss me?” Jenny asked, nestling close to him, Michael cleared his throat.
”We just saw each other yesterday…” He replied and smiled, the girls eye’s darkened for a moment, causing a new stab of regret in his chest. The girl seemed to notice, seeing how she smiled again.
”Let’s get you something to drink…” She whispered and pulled the boy towards the living room.
Michael noticed the few jealous looks that he got; Jenny was a stunning girl, perhaps one of the prettiest in their school and any guy would have been lucky to walk in his shoes. How he wished that he could feel that way himself.
On the other hand, Jenny got similarly jealous looks from the other girls; there was no doubt that Michael wouldn’t have comparably been the school’s, or maybe even the whole village’s, handsomest boy.
Michael’s grandmother from his mother’s side was Spanish, and he had inherited the most flattering features from her. Michael’s skin was beautiful, flawless, olive tanned. Chocolate brown eyes were framed with dark, thick eyelashes. His hair was warm brown, soft and full. Michael had the figure of a dancer: he was slim with lean muscles. His height reached up to 180 centimeters. Michael was one of those people who turned heads wherever he walked, girls as well as boys, women as well as men. The boy was, like many would have said; breathtakingly beautiful.
Michael took the glass of punch that Jenny offered.
”Listen, is Tony here?” He finally dared to ask.
”Yes, I think he went outside. Funny, I thought you two would arrive here together.” Jenny answered tilting her head little to the side.
”I’ll go and talk to him,” Michael said looking out of the window.
”As long as you hurry back, I also need to talk with you…” The girl smiled and Michael responded to the smile hastily before retreating to the cool air outside.
He found Tony sitting at the swings outside, and Michael sat next to him, trying to catch Tony’s eye.
”Tony?” He breathed. Tony turned his gaze upward, taking a gulp of his beer.
”What now?” The other boy asked, trying to sound indifferent.
”You left so suddenly. Don’t you think we should talk?” Michael asked, trying to interpret the look on his friends face.
”You know what. I didn’t just imagine it,” Michael responded. Tony was quiet. Michael collected all his courage to say what he had been thinking for several months.
”Tony, that kiss… You don’t know how I’ve longed for it… I’ve fallen in love with you, you know… and I…” Michael stammered slightly and gently reached for his friends hand.
Tony looked at him with confusion, his eyes wide, moment of silence that felt heavy around them. Tony’s eyes moved down to the hand that held his own and the confusion changed into disgust. He quickly pulled his hand on his lap and looked around them hoping that no one had seen.
”God dammit Michael! What are you going on about?” Tony snapped looking at him with conflicting emotions. ”That kiss was a mistake, do you understand!” Tony spat. ’That kiss was the best I’ve ever had’ The voice in his mind argued, but Tony didn’t want to acknowledge it. No, he didn’t want it to be true!
Michael’s lower lip quailed, he felt a stab in his chest and his eyes were beginning to water, but he did everything he could to prevent his tears.
”I know what I felt Tony…” He whispered. ”I’m scared too. This isn’t easy, but no one kisses like that unless there’s something real behind it…”
Tony’s face twisted with rage.
”It was a mistake! Some sick whim and… and drunken mistake!” Tony’s voice was low now, asphyxiated almost.
”You’ve never gotten drunk from one beer so much that you wouldn’t know what you’re doing…” Michael stated with a slightly bitter tone, hurt by Tony’s reaction.
”I’m not gay!” Tony snapped. ”It’s sick, forget that talk! I don’t want to hear about it ever again, do you understand?!”
Tony got up, his hands squeezing into fists. His face was still red from fury, and he looked down at his friend in threatening way. He saw Michael’s eyes glimmering and there was a part of him that wanted to reach out and wipe away the tears, to comfort, to hug, to hold… And these emotions only freaked him out more than before. They weren’t right! ”It’s disgusting…” He hissed before he turned and hurried back inside. He wanted to drink and forget, forget that doomed kiss and forget what Michael had said! He wanted everything back to normal.
Michael hadn’t been able to stay. When he had gotten back inside, he hadn’t seen his friend and couldn’t be sure if he had stayed at the party or not. At that moment he didn’t care though. Michael had simply wanted to hurry home, be in his own bed, hide under the blanket, and, preferably, sleep for the whole week, if possible, even avoid going to school on Monday.
Jenny had tried to stop him from leaving, asked with confusion why he was in such a rush, but Michael hadn’t been able to explain. He could hardly find his voice. He was painfully aware that nothing could ever return normal after that night.
Dreams that night only stayed as far away as they wished, though. The air seemed suffocating and hot. His body sweated all over and the sheets wrapped around his damp skin. Horrible pictures were running through his mind at a relentless pace: how Tony would hate him, how he would laugh and tell everyone. What if the whole school found out? Michael tossed restlessly, cursed his own stupidity, and at the same time cursed Tony and his silly prejudices!
That kiss had been real, and it was an enormous lie that Tony didn’t enjoy it!
By morning Michael was completely exhausted, more tired than when he had gotten to bed. He rubbed his face and tried to convince himself that somehow everything would turn out okay. Monday was threateningly close though, if he would just… fall ill? No! He couldn’t be that big of a coward.
His muscles were aching, his head pounding, his neck felt stiff, he had to force himself to get up. ’I’ll make it through this, somehow,’ he whispered in his mind as he walked in front of his mirror. His hair was sticking out all over, which almost made him growl at his image, and groom them compulsively. When he finally managed to get them somewhat settled, Michael got dressed and stepped downstairs; perhaps if he could make himself eat something, sleep could come better?
His mother pottered around in the kitchen in her usual manner, humming happily to herself. His dad sat in front of the table and read the Sunday Paper while sipping tea. He brought his gaze up and smiled at the sight of his son.
”Rough party, eh?” The man laughed and winked. Michael sighed tiredly.
”Oh well…” He shrugged disparagingly and took the sport pages from the news paper that his father offered him.
”Good morning love,” the mother smiled as she turned and poured him a cup of tea without asking if he wanted one. ”Did you have fun last night?
Michael shrugged again, looking at the report of the Saturday’s football game with a concentrated expression, although, in reality, he just read the first sentence over and over without going further. ”It was okay,” he finally remembered to answer.
”Was Jenny there?” His mother asked and served him toast with his tea.
”Yeah,” Michael replied shortly, bringing the tea cup on his lips.
”She’s such a nice girl that Jenny,” the mother stated. ”Isn’t she, Henry?” She asked her husband.
”What? Yes, definitely very nice. When are you bringing her back to visit?” The father momentarily brought his gaze up from the magazine.
Michael sighed with irritation and glared at his parents.
”We broke up at Spring, don’t you remember?” He practically snarled.
”Sure, we simply thought, well Jenny’s mother said that you’re spending time together again?”
Michael looked at his mother resentfully; did parents always have to gossip with each other?
”We’re just friends, that’s all,” he responded somewhat rudely.
”I think you have a new girl in sight”, the father chuckled, glancing at his wife.
”There is no god damn girl! It’s fucking annoying that I can’t even eat breakfast in peace!” Michael snapped.
”Michael! That use of language is completely out of line!” His father scowled and gave him a dark look to which Michael responded with defiance. ”Apologize,” Henry insisted.
Michael stayed silent, glaring at his parents with annoyance.
”Apologize or go to your room to think about your behavior!” Father repeated.
Michael stood up, collecting the sport pages with him and marched out of the room without saying a word.
”What on earth is the matter with that boy, lately?” The mother sighed shaking her head.
”Hormones,” the father stated calmly, concentrating on his magazine. ”Don’t worry. He will apologize when hunger overcomes his pride,” he continued to sense his wife’s hesitation.
”I hope so,” the woman sighed, starting to clear the table.
The whole Sunday had went by in rather tense atmosphere at home. He had been moody and whinged, until finally, before bed time, he had finally submitted and went to apologize to his parents. His acting up was more due the fear. He knew he had to tell them as well and wasn’t at all too trusting that he’d get their approval. Both were religious. His dad had one time sighed that he didn’t understand same sex relationships; complete hogwash… So there was no way that Michael could expect them to take this news lightly.
The night before Monday didn’t go any better. At morning he woke feeling even more exhausted. Going to school frightened him; he could only guess what he would have to face, and, although he had thought to prepare himself for the worse, he was still bitterly disappointed.
He couldn’t help but to notice several heads turning as he walked past, whispers carried the stares, quiet snickers, blushing cheeks, angry glares. Michael swallowed, so most of the students knew. Over the weekend the rumors had traveled throughout the School. How could Tony deceive him so? He wanted to ask his friend straight forward, but he soon saw that he wouldn’t get an opportunity for a private talk. Tony stood next to the lockers with their other friends. They all looked at him as he approached, and Michael’s heart began to beat madly as they sluggishly walked towards him. He saw a flash of guilt in Tony’s mien as their eyes met for a flashing second.
”Watch where you are walking fag!” Tom hollered loudly, shoving him with such force that Michael lost his balance and fell over. Jarring laughter filled the hallway, and no one helped Michael to collect the books that had fallen from his hands. Michael brought his hurt gaze to Tony, who suddenly looked away and continued on his way with the others.
He tried to collect the remains of his pride, gathering his books, gritting his teeth, ignoring the pain on his knees and hands. What ever happened, he wouldn’t go running to his mother; he wouldn’t cry. He would hold on through the day as well as he could; he would be strong. They wanted him to break, Michael knew that.
He sighed deeply as he opened his locker after the first period. This definitely was the most difficult day that he had gone through. He had fallen so many steps from the lateral of schools hierarchy: from the top step to the one at the very bottom.
He heard the steps from behind him and turned.
”Hi Michael,” the girl’s voice was quiet. She held a book against her chest and the look in her eyes was somewhat insecure and sad. ”Say that it isn’t true,” she asked tilting her head and took a step closer. ”It can’t be true Michael. Tell me that they’re lying.” She pleaded and looked at him, searchingly with her blue gray eyes, as if searching for the truth on his face.
Michael sighed and glanced around, too many curious eyes were following them and he turned to close his locker. He then lowered his hand gently on the girls shoulder.
”Come,” he asked leading her outside, to a secluded place, so they could talk in private.
They sat at a nearby bench. Jenny was looking at him expectantly, but slightly frightened. It would have been tempting to suddenly deny everything and somehow return to that easy but mendacious life. On the other hand, living a lie had become so hard, and Michael felt tired. The damage had been done.
”I didn’t know how to tell you. I didn’t know how,” Michael started , chewing at his bottom lip and taking her hand seeking for comfort, with hope that she might understand. Jenny shook her head and closed her eyes. She released a repressed sigh. ”I do care for you and I hope we can still be friends.”
Jenny opened her eyes looking away. ”God dammit Michael,” she cursed silently and pulled her hand away from the hold before bringing her hurt gaze back to the boy. ”We were going out for almost a year!” Her eyes glimmered from tears. ”You’ve made an ass out of me!”
”This isn’t easy Jenny. I tried! I care for you! God only knows how much I want to be different!” He breathed, tried to calm down, fumblingly touching her arm, but she flinched away.
”Do you know how hard it is to hear from a stranger that the boy I love, the boy I’ve been with, and…” She shook her head. ”To hear that he is… That you! You never even wanted me! Imagine how foolish I feel now! The way I’ve poised myself on you and now… You made me believe! You lied to me…”
”I didn’t mean to Jenny…” Michael swallowed. He saw her crying and couldn’t hold back his own tears anymore. ”Forgive me… I was so confused, I still am… I wanted to tell, but I was afraid… please Jenny…” He reached out to wipe the tears from her face. ”Forgive me…”
”Don’t touch me!” The girl hissed and stood up. Her eyes were red. Her mascara had ran under her eyes. A dark line of tears left a crack on the makeup on her skin. ”It hurts too much…” she whispered. ”I can’t do this now… I just can’t Michael…” She shook her head helplessly before turning, Michael watched as the girl hurried towards the main door where her friends waited. They tried to hug her, but she shrugged them off, stepping toward the door and hurrying inside.
Michael felt even worse. The day was more exhausting mentally than he ever could have imagined. The continuous implies, nagging and pushing. Some looked at him with pity, but still didn’t dare approach.
He had never felt more alone. How could he go through the rest of the year? Were none of his friendships stronger than this?
When he arrived home, he was exhausted and ready to burst into tears. He couldn’t say a word to his mother, just hurried upstairs into his room and fell down on his bed. He lied there, unmoving, curled up. He didn’t want to return back to school; everyone hated him now.
There was a quiet knock on the door.
”Yes?” Michael asked with hoarse voice. His mother peaked in carefully.
”Can I come in?” She asked. Michael didn’t look up, didn’t reply. He heard his mother sigh. ”What is it dear?” She asked as she closed the door behind her and stepped in further. Michael wiped his face and sat up uncomfortably, still avoiding her gaze. ”What happened?” The voice was so soft, concerned, similar to the one that comforted him when he had been small and hurt his knee falling off his bike, ripping his new jeans. He had been afraid to tell her.
Michael shook his head, felt the tears in his eyes, and hid his face.
”Go away,” he asked weakly, not wanting to show her that he was crying. He was too old for it anyway.
His mother didn’t care. She sat down beside him and gave him a hug. ”You can tell your mother,” she whispered softly, and Michael, desperately needing the comfort, didn’t want to reject his mothers embrace. He couldn’t completely relax either. ”Darling, what’s happened?” The mother stroked her son’s cheek, pressed a gentle kiss on his forehead, and sensed his hesitation. Michael’s head rested on her shoulder until he pulled away, appearing slightly confused and restless.
”You’ll start hating me as well…” He mumbled and got up, his mother gave him a confused look.
”Michael, I could never hate you. You’re my child. You could never do anything that would take my love away.” She assured, clearly worried by now. Michael glanced at her, wrapping his arms around himself, shivering as if he were cold.
”I’m gay,” he whispered, his voice hoarse and nervous. ”Can you accept it?”
His mother looked at him with confusion, perhaps even slightly upset?
”Michael…” She started with a hesitant voice, clearly not knowing how to continue. ”You don’t know what you’re talking about,” she sighed, her voice quailing, searching her son’s face in disbelief. Michael shook his head with frustration, wanting to scream.
”It is true! Can’t you understand! I’m gay, and now the whole school knows because I told Tony on Saturday. That…” His voice deceived him and he squeezed his eyes shut, groaning quietly. When he opened his eyes he looked outside to the sunny autumn weather; the sun had been up all day, almost as though it were mocking him.
”It’s only a phase, I’m sure that… Alright, my dear, don’t worry. Let’s forget this. You’ll meet some nice girl. I’m sure that many have similar phases.” His mothers face was gentle. She nodded, smiled almost comfortingly as she stood up. ”Soon this nonsense will disappear,” she whispered. ”Others will forget as well.”
Michael turned as his mother tried to reach out to hug him. He stepped back, wanting to laugh bitterly.
”It’s not a phase, not a disease, nothing that would simply disappear if you close your eyes! How can you be so blind?!”
”It’s a sin, it’s dirty!” His mother breathed. ”The Bible…”
”Screw the whole Bible! Screw the religion! I don’t care! What good has it done?! You can pray a thousand prayers and it won’t change it! Can’t you see it mother? Can’t you understand? I’m not hurting anyone. I can’t change. I’m finally telling the truth!” He breathed tensely, irritated that his mother didn’t understand, that no one did. ”You said that nothing would make you hate me? What did you think I would tell you? Would it have been better if I said that I was a criminal?”
His mother shook her head, feeling hurt.
”Come to your senses Michael, what will your father say when he hears this?”
”If you have nothing else to say, then please leave. I can’t do this now.” Michael sighed.
”Michael I just…” The woman approached, tears filling her eyes. She felt hopeless; she would have to pray for God’s guidance.
”Go!” Michael roared and pointed at the door. His mother, startled by her child’s harsh voice, still not ready to believe his words, but not knowing what to do, turned and left to room quickly, afraid of what would happen when her husband would find out.
His father found out a couple of days later. They sat in the living room, when the man spoke about a rumor that he had heard, he had frowned as he had talked with disbelieving amusement, at the same time irritated that someone would spread such a hurtful and dishonest rumor about his son. But, after he told history about his confusing day and looked at his family, his wife had a distressed look upon her face, and his son sat silently, almost calm, without showing even the smallest sign of outrage. Silently, glass of brandy in one hand, pipe in the other, his father put the pieces together in his mind.
”Michael, why are you not saying anything?” He asked almost tightly. The boy’s serious gaze met his father’s, and, if the TV hadn’t been on, the silence that settled in the room would have been thick enough to cut with a knife. It was as if all of them were holding their breath. Finally, Michael sighed.
”It’s not just a rumor dad, it’s true. I’m… I’m gay.” His voice was quiet, resigned in hearing the rage that would follow. The father lowered his glass slowly, his hand trembled, face serious and turning to hatred.
”What nonsense are you saying? No, Michael, not you! Not my son!” The man hollered as he stood up. ”It’s filthy,” he hissed, face gnarled into sneer. ”You’ll go someplace to get treated, a shrink, we’ll fix you back to normal.” He got serious nodding firmly.
”Dad, you can’t be serious! I’m not sick!” Michael screamed with an upset tone and rose face to face to his father. The man’s face twisted with disgust and rage.
”I will never accept it! My son is not that kind of… animal!”
Michael almost burst into hysterical laughter. The situation was crazy in every way. Wasn’t there anyone in the world who would think sensibly? Who was still living in the modern day? Everyone seemed to be stuck in some weird world of prejudices, and it made him feel sick.
”I can’t change! Whether you approve of it or not!” Michael shouted with defiant rage. His dad brought his hand up to hit him. He had never hit him before, but now he definitely looked like he could. ”Go on, hit me then!” Michael encouraged him. His mother’s desperate cry snapped them both back to reality; the woman was crying.
”Stop! Both of you stop!” She begged with a broken tone.
”Now look what you did!” His father grumbled angrily, shaking his head in disgust. ”Go to your room. I can’t bear the sight of you right now.” He hissed, and, for a moment, they looked at one another, briefly. Michael knew he was being sincere. He had no intention of accepting this.
His parents’ reaction hurt more than anyone else’s. His father had never looked at him as coldly as he did then, never with such despite. Michael feared that they both had stopped loving him for real. He was alone and the whole world seemed to have turned against him.
Everything would be easier if he had a boyfriend, Michael had decided, someone who would understand, hold him and assure him that everything would work out. It would probably be easier to handle the situation if he had someone to count on, and that was why he had decided to try his luck. He was only seventeen. It could be that they would turn him back from the door, but maybe they would think that he was old enough? Michael felt excited, nervous…
It felt uncomfortable to approach such a strange place all by himself. He wished that he could have had someone with him, but there was no one to ask; everyone still seemed upset with him.
Michael arrived early enough at the club so that there wasn’t much of a line yet. Still, his heart pounded madly as he approached the doorman and did his best to look confident. Still, under that cold amused gaze, he felt so small and insecure. He forced a smile upon his face and could only hope that the man wouldn’t inquire his age. It was difficult to say if the man had any suspicions or if he was taking a knowing risk when he nodded approvingly and showed him in. The man seemed to be grinning at him, almost laughing, perhaps sensing how lost the boy would be in a place filled with grown, horny men.
Michael swallowed. It was difficult to find his confidence, now. He was only a child still, desperately wanting to step into bigger boots already. In his school he had once been the king, but here he was a fish on a dry land, a lamb amongst the hungry wolfs.
His insecurity must have been visible, for the looks of strange men on his body felt too intrusive. He felt like turning around and going back home. Still, his mind would not allow such cowardice. He brought his chin up, gritted his teeth; he had to be determined and calm.
However, the first touch on his bottom quickly made him seek for a place to sit. He had never felt as insecure, as fearful. Strange faces sneered around him, laughing and winking, looking his way with meanings he wasn’t certain of.
Many had seen him, many were curious, but Michael had woken interest in one man whose meeting he’d live to regret. Michael hadn’t noticed him at first – there were too many new things that stole his attention. It was only a matter of time when someone would approach.
Finally Michael felt the intense stare on his skin and turned. The man smiled and tilted his head, curiously watching his reaction. Michael answered a smile more shy than he intended.
The man was handsome, no doubt about that. He wore a gray suit. The top buttons of his shirt were open. His dark hair was combed neatly, a light bristle framing his angled face. His clothes fitted on him perfectly, revealing that, underneath, one would probably find a well-trained, muscular body. The man was a lot older, over thirty at least, perhaps closer to forty? Michael estimated and couldn’t help but feel curiosity towards the stranger, so intensive was his gaze, somehow mysterious?
Finally the man approached, knowing well that the boy couldn’t stay alone for long. He lowered his glass on the table and smiled.
”Where’s your date?” He asked politely and Michael’s attention was drawn to his accent, he wasn’t from England.
”I’m alone,” Michael replied smiling slightly.
”Really?” The man asked pretending to be surprised. He had observed the boy long enough to know that he was. ”Mind if I join your company, unless you’re expecting someone else?”
The boy nodded, smiling, causing the man to want him even more.
”Perhaps you would like a drink?” The man suggested.
”Thank you… Beer?” Michael smiled, observing the man who nodded and smiled almost gently.
”I’ll return to you soon.” The man said and left towards the counter. He glanced behind him and smiled with satisfaction, noticing the boy following him with his gaze. Young and inexperienced: an easy catch. He chuckled in his mind as he bought the boy the drink he desired and returned.
Michael thanked the man, smiled, and tasted it.
”You’re not from around here,” He stated tilting his head flirtatiously.
The man smiled, quiet for a moment before replying.
”I’m from New York. Just here for a business…” He didn’t hide his interest. He looked at the boy, openly admiring him. ”Richard… Ricky…” He said, holding out his hand that the boy took, grinning sweetly.
”Michael,” He replied.
”You look very young Michael,” Ricky smiled. ”Can I inquire your age?”
Michael hesitated for a moment. ”Twenty five,” he lied thinking that his young age would otherwise make the man to back off.
The man cocked his brow, smiled skeptically and also somewhat amused. ”Are you really? I would have guessed twenty.”
Michael laughed, looking into the man’s eyes.
”I’m really just seventeen,” He finally whispered. ”Is that bad?” His look became slightly worried, and the man could hardly control himself. The age was perfect, the boy was incautious and naive, if he played his cards right…
”Not at all, don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone,” The man grinned. ”But I am a lot older, does that bother you?”
Michael hesitated, but finally shook his head. ”I see no reason why we couldn’t talk.” He answered. The man tilted his head, noticing the boy’s hesitation. He decided to make a bolder move and lowered his hand on the youth’s thigh.
”Only talk?” He asked. The boy held a confused gaze, even slightly nervous. Under his touch he could feel the boy quailing. It was simply delicious. ”Relax,” The man smiled, removing his hand for now. It was no use in scaring the boy too early. ”I’m sorry if I intrude, I don’t mean to frighten you, you are simply so…” The man sighed giving him a mesmerized look. ”It’s been long time since I saw something equally as beautiful.”
Although it was certainly not the first time Michael had heard a similar praise, the man’s essence caused him to blush.
”Thank you…” He answered with a smile. The man’s adoring gaze stroked his wounded self-confidence. Everyone around him seemed so disappointment in him.
”I’m only saying what is true. Surely you must realize your own charm,” The man smiled, tasting his drink. Michael didn’t reply, simply continued to smile.
”Tell me more about yourself, I’m intrigued,” Richard asked, leaning forward, and Michael uttered a soft laugh, perhaps even slightly confused.
”I don’t know where to start.” He answered and took a hold of his glass, his fingers playing nervously on its surface. The situation was new and confusing. A grown man’s attention was completely different than the that of the girls his age. The same methods surely wouldn’t work.
”You have an exotic look about you. Where do your roots come from? Or am I mistaken to think they might come some place different than here?”
”My grandmother is Spanish. My father is Irish. I was born here.” Michael replied softly.
”I was right then,” the man grinned. ”And excuse me for staring. I can not help myself… What else…” He stopped to think. ”What are your hobbies? Do you study?”
”Dance, football, playing piano… I’m in High school…” The man had his gaze fixed on his fingers. He brought the boy’s hand up, holding it for a moment.
”Your hands are beautiful, so delicate…” He whispered kissing his palm. Michael couldn’t help but snigger. ”I’m confusing you? I am sorry,” the man whispered lowering his hand on the table, touching it lightly. ”You think of me as an old pervert?” He asked joking.
Michael shook his head.
”No, this just, this is…”
”New?” The man suggested making the boy nod. Ricky smiled. ”My interest confuses you, I can understand that. I don’t want to pressure you or make you feel uncomfortable… Would you like me to leave?” He asked.
Michael shook his head lightly, causing the man to chuckle inwardly. He had to be careful, patient. This reward was something he really wanted. The boy had to be still untouched, at least as other men were concerned.
”I would like to kiss you,” He admitted, looking at the boy. This kind of sweet talk usually worked on the young ones, older would have found it more or less amusing and cheesy. The boy’s chocolate eyes met with his own. He smiled and saw the boy thinking about it. It was good to let him think that he controlled the situation, think that he had him wrapped around his little finger. He gazed at the boy almost pleadingly, awaiting and slowly bringing his hand to his knee. ”Your lips are so inviting…” He whispered and the boy smiled still, remaining silent, perhaps waiting to see what he would do. Ricky leaned forward. ”I’m going to steal a kiss from you,” Ricky grinned. ”What will you say?”
”You do not have to steal something that is freely given,” Michael smiled, but still didn’t make the first move, but waited for the man to make it, feeling excited.
He felt the man’s hot breath on his skin, the scent in his nostrils, the hand gently touching his cheek and softly moving in his hair; Michael closed his eyes for a moment, shivering from anticipation and as he opened his eyes he found himself looking straight in the dark eyes of Ricky, much darker than his own. His lips parted, and the man’s lips touched his as lightly as a feather. He smiled, and the touch returned more determined this time. The man’s stubble tickled his skin and made Michael grin into the kiss. His hand fumbled down on the man’s thigh, hearing his pleased groan. The hand in his hair brought him closer, the kiss grew more intense staying gentle at the same time.
The kiss was different. Michael couldn’t explain it with words. It just was. Maybe it was more determined? Controlling, without being unpleasant in any way, the man’s hand moved along his thigh and Michael felt himself shivering. He could sense the man’s desire and enjoyed it. Suddenly he wanted to test how deep it would be, how much the man would be ready to do for him.
”I have to go…” He sighed drawing back slowly.
”Not yet,” the man’s voice was hoarse and his gaze slipped down to his moist lips, leaning forward to steal another kiss. ”I get you a new drink,” He promised. Michael smiled without promising anything and the man walked towards the bar. When Ricky got in front of it, Michael stood up, looked straight at the man and smiled. He walked towards the door making sure that his gaze followed him. The man tilted his head, smiling curiously although somewhat surprised. Michael was certain that the man would follow him outside. He was counting on it.
When he got outside, he walked slowly along the pavement, all the time expecting to hear the footsteps behind him.
”Hey there pretty boy, where are you going?” He heard a drunken voice asking and turned his face to the sound. The man was somehow ragged looking, balding and middle-aged, dawning a beer belly. The sleaze ball gave him a lecherous look as he stood there, leaning his back against the side of his car.
”That’s not your business to know,” Michael responded rather rudely.
”Come with me? I have a big house and something else that is big,” the man laughed and gripped his own groin. Michael felt sick.
”No, indeed I will not.” he said sharply, not hiding his disgust. He hurried his steps but the man kept following.
”I could pay you,” The man said, stopping him and waving a large sum of cash in front of his nose.
Michael grimaced and felt a shudder running through him.
”Not for any sum!” He called out.
”Why?” The man didn’t let go of his arm.
”You disgust me, let go! I’m not a prostitute!”
”Aren’t you? God damn whore; I’ll fucking show you!” The man raised his fist and Michael sighed in fear, preparing for a hit that seemed inevitable.
Ricky got there just in time, he grasped the other man’s collar and shoved him against the nearest wall. He looked at the other man threateningly, eyes narrowed with rage.
”What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” He roared. ”The boy is mine. You stay away from him; is that clear?” He hissed in the other man’s ear. ”You leave this boy alone, understood?!” He demanded with more audible voice.
”S-sure, take it easy mate,” The man stammered raising his hand up in defense.
”Good, now leave from my sight!” Ricky pointed at the dark street ahead, releasing his hold. The fearful man escaped the scene.
”Are you alright?” Ricky asked and turned towards the boy, giving him a concerned look.
”Y-yes, thank you,” Michael breathed and the man smiled. He stepped closer, pulling him into his embrace.
”You ran away,” He whispered kissing the boy’s cheek softly.
”I believed that you would follow,” Michael admitted shyly, causing the man to utter a laughter.
”So you were teasing me?” The man cocked his brow and Michael almost blushed. ”You are cute, I want to see you again, can I?” He asked, touching the boy’s cheek tenderly.
Michael nodded. ”I think I would like that,” he whispered and leaned forward to kiss the man. For a moment they looked at one another.
”Well then, I think it’s best to get you home, it’s late.” Ricky whispered and Michael smiled happily.
”Thank you,” Michael whispered, glad that the man seemed to want more. He wanted so badly for someone to care for him and love him the way he was.
Evelyn sat in the kitchen looking at the clock nervously and waited, where was the boy? When the front door finally opened, it was already past Midnight.
”Where have you been?” She asked when the boy stepped into the kitchen.
”Out,” was the short reply. Michael came to the fridge, took a carton of apple juice, lowered it onto the counter and searched for a glass.
”It’s none of your business!” Michael snapped and filled his glass with the cold drink.
”Yes it is, I am your mother; I want to know where my child is at evenings!” Evelyn responded in an upset tone and got up.
”Alright, I was at a bar, you know, one where only men go to?” Michael answered knowing that it would annoy his mother.
”Michael, do you think that we’re not trying? We’re trying hard to adjust in this situation.” Evelyn gave him a serious look.
”This situation? Yeah, you’re doing a brilliant job in it aren’t you? Especially fathers ’adjustment’ had been specially successful.” Michael retorted with sarcasm. The mother gave her son an exhausted look. She was clueless. She tried her best, tried to reconcile the relationship between her husband and their son, and, at the same time, accept that she would never see her child getting married or having children of his own. The cleft between them only seemed to grow wider and wider, despite all of their attempts. It was difficult to understand each other. In the end she sighed deeply, she didn’t know what to do or say.
”You should try to see this from our view too, this isn’t easy.” She said and Michael shook his head.
”And you think this is easy for me?” He asked with a sigh.