As I used my key and walked in through the front door, I noticed this really delicious scent coming from the kitchen. I kicked my shoes off and followed my nose as I saw my mom taking a sheet out of the oven with a dozen chocolate chip cookies spread across it.
"You're baking cookies?" I smirked. "It's, like, eight O'clock at night."
My mom put the cookie sheet down on the cutting board next to a square tin box. Apparently, this was her second dozen of the evening. "I didn't know that there was a specific time table allotted for baking cookies." She said. "Besides...why not? Every once in a while, it's good to have a tasty treat on hand. Just because. Am I right?"
With a grin, i said, "You a NOT wrong."
"Good. Then grab a paper towel and get a couple of these while the chocolate chips are still soft and gooey." She replied, reaching for her spatula so she could scoop the cookies up without tearing them apart. They were sooooo warm and smooshy. And they smelled delicious! "So...did you have a good time over at Ryan's house?"
"Yeah. I did. It was...fun." I smiled. And as she placed a few cookies on my paper towel, I looked up at her for a moment, and I felt that weird sensation all over again. That urge to just...take advantage of this totally normal moment between us and just...'confess', you know? The weird thing is...I wasn't afraid that my mom would freak out and end up disowning me or anything over my sexual preference. She was far from being a homophobe or some sort of super religious zealot. I figured that she would understand, and maybe even give me a big hug to let me know that she was willing to accept me for who I am, no matter what. And yet, there was this invisible wall between us that I was afraid of breaking, climbing over, or even peeking around. Not because of the threat of any danger...but just because of the idea that things could change between us.
It's a strange realization, you know? All this time, I've been hiding my feelings for other boys from my mom for all of these years...and blaming her for my inability to come clean about it. But now? Now I think I'm starting to realize that the only thing that was stopping me from telling her who I really am is...well...me. Sure, I couldn't deal with that before, so I projected my insecurities onto her so I wouldn't have to experience the temporary discomfort of having her know that I was gay...but I'm starting to wise up these days. It was never her fault. It wasn't her threatening me that kept me silent, it was just...me being afraid.
What happens when the fear melts away? What happens when I have to choose between being forever burdened with this dark secret, and being unfathomably happy with the boy of my dreams? It was a simple choice. An easy choice. And while it may still give me the shivers every now and then...I think that day is coming much sooner than I thought it ever would.
"So, what did you guys have for dinner?" My mom asked, grabbing a paper towel and getting a few warm cookies for herself.
"Spaghetti and garlic bread. It was pretty good."
"Better than mine?" She asked with a sly smile.
"Nothing comes close to Mom's home cooking." I said.
"Good answer. Well rehearsed. I taught you well." She rubbed he hand on my head a few times, then stood on the other side of the counter from me as we both picked up a freshly baked cookie and took a deep bite or two. "Oh wow....that's good!"
"Soooooo good!" I answered.
"I really had a taste for freshly baked cookies tonight. This is like Heaven for me right now." She took another bite, and I could see some of the melted chocolate smear across her bottom lip as the warm dough of the cookie practically melted in her hands. They were good, there was no doubt about it. But, as much as I enjoyed them, I could tell that she had been craving the taste for baked cookies for quite some time. Hehehe, it warmed my heart to take such pleasure in every bite.
Feeling a little nervous, I smiled and said, "Do you think that maybe I can save a couple of these and, like...take some to Ryan tomorrow?"
"Certainly. It's not like either one of us needs to overindulge in two dozen cookies. But a single evening of decadence is ok. Shhhh...just between us." She grinned, licking the excess chocolate smudges off of her fingers.
Why was my stomach quivering the way it was? Exactly what was it that I was thinking about telling her? "Mom...?"
"You know...Ryan is...he's like..." The trembling got worse. It got harder for me to breathe and my hands began to shake as I attempted to calm myself down. "...He's my best friend. Like...ever."
Gee, that sounded like an important declaration to make out of the blue, didn't it?
She wrinkled her brow for a moment, and then said, "Well, that's good. You boys have been so close for so long now, I basically consider him my second son at this point."
"Yeah...cool..." I said. But the urge kept pushing me to say more. "I just...I care about him. Like...a lot."
"That's the best feeling in the world, Randy. To have someone that you trust, and someone that you can count on when you need them most. I'm glad you two are so happy together."
"Yes. Of course. I can't even remember who you were before Ryan came along and started hanging out here after school. You're a completely different person, and I mean that in a good way." She said, picking up another cookie. "Not everybody gets that kind of luck. Finding a true friend that lives right down the street from them and goes to the same school. From what I've seen, you two may end up growing old together."
It made me feel good to hear her say that, but I still don't think she was picking up on the subtle hints that I was trying to give her. I was tempted to say more, but reached down to shove another cookie in my mouth to keep me from spilling any more beans than I already had in terms of telling her the truth. I thought about it...but kept my composure instead.
"Who knows, Mom? Maybe we will." I said. "I mean, that would be, like...cool with you, right? If Ryan and I were...together?"
Without really thinking much about her answer, she said, "Sure. Why wouldn't it be? I think you guys are great together."
My eyes met hers for a moment, and she almost began to detect my ulterior motives in the way I phrased my last question. I could have stood my ground and let the momentum build up to telling her how head over heels in love with my super sexy boyfriend...but I looked away, and just finished off my second cookie while it was still warm.
There I go...getting in my own way again.
"Thanks for the cookies, Mom. They're amazing." I said, wiping my mouth with the paper towel but cupping it in my hand to make sure that I didn't spill any of the sugar sweet crumbs on the floor. "I'm gonna...I'm..." I found myself at a loss for words, but as I saw the growing concern on her face, I felt the pressure of having to explain my sudden mood swing, and it scared me off from saying much more.
Yeah. Not today. This isn't the time. Later. Maybe tomorrow. You know...when I'm able to breathe properly and get my thoughts together. I'm just going to put it off until I have a strategy as to how to approach her with this, that's all. I mean, she might know already. Honestly. She might have suspected that Ryan and I were just a little too close to just be neighbors and high school buddies. She might have overheard us whispering or caught us kissing when we didn't think she was looking or...whatever. I mean, he literally climbed into bed with me when I was sick. Didn't she think that was weird? Should she? I don't know. This would be a lot easier if she just told me that she knew what was going on between us, and then I could just nod and admit that she was right. It would still be scary, but it would be better than me having to come up with some slick way to work my sexual preference into an average 'Taco Tuesday' conversation and not have it be a totally bizarre experience for the both of us.
I didn't say anything more, or even finish my sentence. I just sort of backed out of the kitchen. But the strange thing is...I didn't feel as defeated as I usually did whenever I scared myself out of telling her the truth. I didn't feel like a total coward. In fact, when I got to my room and closed the door...I took a moment to lean back against it, close my eyes, and just smile to myself. Like, an actual smile that seemed to brighten me up, inside and out. I'm going to tell her. I'm really going to do it. I'm going to tell my mom I'm gay. I mean...not right here, right now...but I honestly think that I had evolved to the point where it was no longer a question of 'if'...but 'when'.
And I never knew how soothing that was until I felt it wash over me.
I woke up pretty early that next morning, feeling super relaxed and full of energy. I don't know if I was doing something extra, or if it was just the joy of getting over feeling like garbage for the first half of my Spring Break and finally getting over the flu to enjoy the sunshine for whatever time I've got left. Either way, it was only, like, nine O'clock in the morning...and while I could really use some hugs and kisses from Ryan right now, he's even more of a night owl than I am. So I'm sure he was still asleep at this point. I figured I'd give him some breathing room, and maybe call him in an hour or two.
Hehehe, 'tired and cranky' Ryan is still pretty sweet...but 'wide awake and sexy' Ryan is much more fun.
I washed up and got dressed in something casual for the day. I teased my hair for a few seconds, and decided to take out the trash and go get the mail. My mom had already gone to work, so it was easier for me to drag the trash can to the curb for pickup when the care wasn't there in the driveway. However, when I reached the sidewalk, I happened to look over at Tyler's house to see little Ariel sitting there on his front step with his legs crossed. He had his head down, trying to write something down on a piece of paper, but he kept scratching it out every few seconds. He hadn't even noticed me yet. He was seriously focused over there.
"Hey, Ariel! S'up?" I called out. He jumped a little bit, completely oblivious to the rest of the world until my voice snapped him out of it. He bashfully waved at me, and as I started to cross the street, he immediately stood up on his feet to greet me, using his fingers to lightly push aside some of his dark brown locks to keep them out of his eyes long enough to say hello.
"Hi, Randy..." He blushed. He was smiling, but kept his gaze directed towards my shoes. "You don't look sick anymore. That's good."
"Thanks to your gramms, I feel a lot better. So thanks for that. It was exactly what I needed." I said.
There was a pause, and I asked him, "So what's going on? Is Tyler not home today?"
"Oh...ummm, not now, I guess. I mean, he told me that he was doing something early today, but he'd be back soon. I guess I'm just sorta early." I noticed that he was secretly trying to put the piece of paper that he was writing on in his back pocket, but I didn't say anything. He, obviously, wasn't comfortable with sharing it. I'm betting it's a love letter to Tyler. Ariel is just a love letter kind of guy.
"Well, I'm not doing anything right now. You wanna hang out over at my house for a bit until Tyler comes home?" I asked.
Ariel suddenly looked up, his widening a bit at the idea of me inviting him over. "Can I do that?"
"Hehehe, can you do that? Of course you can. Come on over. I've got some cold root beer in the fridge if you want some."
He began to fidget a little bit, switching from one foot to the other. Then he looked back at Tyler's front door, then back at me...and he nervously answered with, "O-O-Ok...I think that would be...rad."
What was he so worried about? Hehehe, it's not like I was some creepy stranger in a white van. That boy can be hard to figure out sometimes. He followed me back up the driveway, and I walked through the front door...noticing a moment of hesitation as Ariel peeked inside. "Is your mom home?"
"Nah, she went to work already." I said, which made his blush deepen a little bit. "You can come in, ya know?"
"Uh huh. I'm...yeah...ok. Here I come." He said, and finally stepped in so I could close the door. "Sorry..."
"Huh? Nothin'." He said, and then giggled to himself a bit, causing me to give him a weird look. "I've got some weird stuff in my head today, that's all. It's not you, Randy."
"Alright. If you say so. Hehehe!" i said. "Root beer?"
"Yes please." He said, and I grabbed us a couple of glasses and put some extra ice in them to make it even colder. When I handed it to him, Ariel had to look around for a spot on the counter to put down a little box that he was carrying with him before reaching for the glass. He took a sip, and he saw me looking at it. "Oh...that's for Tyler."
"Really now?" I smiled, raising an eyebrow.
He nodded with a grin, and then began to snicker to himself. "I dunno...I was feeling sorta smooshy, so...I thought I might go out and get him something. Just to let him know that I really like being his...boyfriend." Ariel looked so happy that I was waiting for him to wiggle right out of his own skin at any moment.
"Oh wow! Look at YOU, being all sweet and romantic. You're the man, Ariel."
"Hehehe! Unh unh! I just...I wanted to let him know what was in my heart." He said, his hair sliding forward to hide his eyes from me as usual. "Do you think he'll like it?"
"Of course. Tyler will love it. It's his favorite thing in the world."
"Is it really???" He said.
"Hehehe, no. I'm kidding, Ariel. I have no idea what's in the box. You haven't shown it to me yet."
"Oh! Oh yeah! Silly!" He said, facepalming himself for a moment before putting his glass down and opening up the box to reveal a small golden necklace with a tiny little bear on the end of it. He handed it to me for closer inspection, anxiously looking for my reaction. "I bought this for him at the mall yesterday. He doesn't know about it yet. I wanted it to be a surprise. It kinda looks like the bear he won for me at the carnival, so I thought it would be pretty cool. Right?"
"Nice! That's really cute, dude. Is that real gold?"
"Ummm, I dunno. It's, like...'gold-ISH', I guess. But it was the one I wanted to get the most." He said, and then he took a big gulp of his root beer, fidgeting again as he he sighed, "I really just...I really like him a lot, Randy. Tyler is so much better than anything I ever could have hoped for in my life. He's just...he's beyond words. When he kisses me...it's like...I've never felt so real. He makes loving him so easy sometimes."
"I know the feeling." I smiled, putting the box back in his hand. "I really think he's gonna melt when he sees this."
Ariel's blush deepened. "I hope so. I like it when I do something to make him happy. It's, like, the coolest feeling ever." It gave me a warm feeling inside to see Ariel so happy. Look at him...his still squirming with delight, almost as if his body was literally being tortured by the act of trying to hold his explosive outbursts of love and affection at bay. Hehehe, that boy's got it BAD! "Randy...can I ask you something?"
"Sure. What is it?"
He hesitated for a moment, and then he said, "Tyler doesn't, like...I mean, does he...?" He took a moment to try to get his thoughts together and give his question another shot. "Sometimes...he seems a little sad."
"Sad? Sad, like how?" I asked.
"I don't know. Just...not all the way happy. He would tell me if I did something goofy to mess things up, wouldn't he?"
I put my glass down and said, "I'm not sure what you mean, but I'm pretty sure that Tyler is thanking the angels above every single day for bringing you into his life. Hehehe! I highly doubt you have to worry about messing anything up." Ariel sort of nodded in agreement, but i don't think he really believed me. I can understand him being a bit insecure about boys like Tyler though. It's just one of the many rites of passage that you have to go through when you're dating one of the hottest boys in school. "He talks about you, ya know?" I added. Ariel suddenly choked on his sip of root beer and started coughing while holding his chest. "Omigod, hehehe! Dude, are you ok?"
"Never mind all that. Go back to what you said. Tyler talks about me? Really? Like...to you and Ryan?"
Why would that be so surprising to him? Geez, does he not realize how utterly adorable he is in every possible way? "Of course Tyler talks about you! Why wouldn't he? He loves you."
"Awwww...see? How am I supposed to compete with that?" Ariel whined softly.
"Compete with what? Hehehe, dude...you're FINE! You and Tyler are both fine. Don't think too much and start worrying about stuff that isn't even there. It'll only drive you crazy in the long run. Trust me on this. I'm, like...the undisputed king of thinking too much." I told him.
"Yeah. I guess." He mumbled. "I try. Really, I do. I just...I need to make him feel the way he makes me feel. And he makes me feel soooo good that...I dunno...I feel like I should be doing more." Ariel peeked up at me for a bashful moment of recognition. "I guess that sounds pretty weird, huh?"
I smiled at him and said, "Doesn't sound weird at all." Then I grabbed my glass and said, "C'mon, let's hang out in my room for a while and talk. K? Strictly off the record. Promise."
"Really?" He asked. "M'kay..."
I'm not exactly sure what Ariel's got to tell me, or what I'm going to tell him in response...but if it helps him and Tyler get even closer than they already are...I'm thinking that it'll be worth it.
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