"This can't keep happening every day, you know?" Colin smiled as we walked towards the back door.
"Hehehe, do what?"
"Just hang out every day like this."
"Why not?" I asked with a smirk. "I'm willing to bet that we can do this as much and as often as we want to."
He sighed, brushing his fingers through his hair. "Yeah, but...at this rate, we're going to end up accidentally becoming friends or something. And that's going to be weird. Hehehe!"
"It won't be weird." I told him. "And it certainly won't be 'accidental', not by any means." I sort of brushed it along with a little laugh, but it was sincere.
I didn't want to come off as heavy handed or aggressive in any way. The last thing that I wanted to do was scare him off again. Trying to keep in close proximity to Colin's charm and beauty was like trying to catch a butterfly in a wide open field. Even when I'm close enough to grab a hold of him, I have to be delicate with those fragile wings of his. He breaks so easily.
"So, where are we going?" He asked, not really responding to what I told him just seconds ago.
"I don't know. I didn't really have much of a plan, to be honest."
"What? No plan? Awww, man...so we're just going to wander around for a while? Is that it?"
"Wander around together for a while. Yep." I grinned. "Is that alright?"
"I'm starting to think that you're the weird one around here. You know that?"
"Why?" I asked. "It can't be all that insane of an idea to think that I just enjoy being around you, ya know."
"Isn't it though? Hehehe!" He said softly. "It's not your fault or anything...but sometimes I just feel like I'm stuck in the middle of this really long 'joke', and I get tired of waiting for the punchline."
Ok...so, I'm not going to get anywhere if I keep waiting for Colin to come around and stop doubting himself. I mean...look at him. He's beautiful. I definitely think so. It's not this flashy, over the top, boy model, thing. His beauty is REAL. You know? It can't be faked, duplicated, or manufactured. And it's not just in his features either. It's like this refreshing glow of radiant sunbeams...illuminating every part of him, inside and out. On some subconscious level, he's got to know that, right? What's he got to be so damned nervous about?
"Well, I for one, like your company. You must be wearing your 'cool kid' disguise again." I smiled. "Maybe you've got me fooled. But I don't see that as being such a bad thing."
Playfully, Colin rolled his eyes and looked away from me. "Come on, Russ...seriously? I mean, thanks for the encouragement, but I should tell you that it's only gonna end up as being a big fail on your part in the end."
"Because." He shrugged.
"Because why? That's your answer? Come on, tell me." I said. "What kind of devious defect are you hiding from me that makes you think you're so unlovable."
"I'm sure I could fill a whole Marvel Cinematic Universe with my list of defects, trust me."
"I'm definitely missing out on one hell of a party, then. Because I haven't found a flaw yet...outside of your absolute refusal to use a backpack to carry your books through the hall." I kept trying to think of ways to get past this emotional barricade that he kept throwing up in my face, hoping that it would wear down eventually. But he was really good at maneuvering around even the sneakiest of compliments.
"Having just what I need for the next few classes keeps me from forgetting things that I need. If I just stuff a bunch of random garbage in a backpack all the time, then I'll never be able to keep track of the mental inventory over what's in there and what isn't. So I keep my gears grinding. And don't diss my personal brainwork habits, buddy! Hehehe!"
Don't let him turn this whole thing into a joke. He's deflecting as a defense. I don't mean to push so hard, but he's not making any progress in meeting me half way here. If he's not gay, that's cool. Just tell me. It'll hurt, sure...but I'd rather know now so I can stop chasing his heart around like a frightened squirrel all day and night.
I said, "Still waiting on my answer."
"Hehehe, don't be a brat. Gosh. What do you want from me?" He blushed sweetly.
"I want to know who you are, Colin. I want some details. I want...I want to be closer to you, ok?" Did that sound more flirtatious than I meant for it to sound?
"I know that most people think that's an easy question to answer, but it really isn't, when you stop and think about it." He said.
"I don't really even know who I am yet." He said. "I feel like I almost had a grip on it once...but then I lost it. Heh..."
"Hehehe, why? What happened?"
"High school happened. That's what. I'm away from most of my friends, except for Missy, and I'm in this gigantic building where I barely know where I'm going most of the time, or who to ask for help if I get lost." He said. "Basically...I feel like I'm starting all over from scratch again. Square one. I guess I've gotta figure myself out in a whole new way than anything I was doing before."
I was still trying to find myself a nice little soft spot in Colin somewhere that I could snuggle up to and maybe get him to talk more, but he just kept squirming his way right out of it.
"How come we almost never talk about you, Russ?" He asked. "Are you, like...a secret agent or something? What's with all the questions, all the time?"
"I'm not as interesting as you are. That's all."
"I seriously find that hard to believe. Especially if you mean that in comparison to a little baby freshman bookworm like me." He scoffed. "Why don't you tell me something about you for a change?"
"What do you want to know?"
"Depends on what you want to tell me."
"Well, I have ten fingers, ten toes...go to school...I know how to grill up a mean hamburger on a barbecue grill..." I said.
"You're joking, right?" He asked. "Hehehe, you're going to have to do better than that."
"I already told you...I'm not that interesting. The most incredible part of my day is the time that I spend listening to what's on your mind. There really isn't a whole lot to tell you."
"Whatever." He shrugged with a little grin. I still don't think that he believed me, but I was happy to at least still have his attention for a little bit longer. "You might think your life is boring, Russ...but I'm sure a lot of people would give up everything to be you for just one day. Just to feel what its like."
"What it's like to be what?" I asked, and Colin froze, as if he had suddenly backed himself into a corner with no possible means of escape. "Go ahead. You can tell me. Off the record."
"I shouldn't have...you know what? Just, I think it would be cool to be you for a day. That's all."
"You say that as though it isn't cool to be yourself instead." I told him.
"I thought we were supposed to be talking about you here. Why are you reversing it?" He said with a bit of a whine, now looking around to avoid my eyes. Don't get me wrong, it was absolutely adorable...but counterproductive.
With a slight pause, I said, "There's nothing wrong or uncool about you, Colin. I mean...you've got to know that, right?" As I felt my heart beating just a little bit faster, I felt my emotions becoming a bit more impatient to make a significant dent in his armor.
"Thanks..." He said, peeking over at me before bashfully turning away again and working to clear his throat, now clouded with a touch of panic. "I'm sure that...me being me won't be much of a problem. Especially since I don't have much of a choice, anyway. Heh..."
His halfhearted laugh came off as fake. Almost sad. I gently bumped him with my shoulder while we were walking, and I said, "I'm sure there are plenty of girls out there who love you just the way you are." Then I nervously added, "Probably a few boys too. Hehehe!"
Colin didn't say anything at first. He kept his eyes forward, staring out as far as he could to the end of this nearly endless sidewalk. Then he mumbled a little something under his breath that was so soft and shaky that I couldn't make out a single word of it. When I asked him to repeat it, he had to clear his throat again, his body looking incredibly fragile as he began to tremble so hard that it almost became hard for him to walk straight. "I said...I've got way too much homework these days. I was just talking to myself, I guess. High school can be...difficult. I wasn't really prepared for...you know...everything going on in that place..." Then he lowered his head, and softly said, "...Whatever."
"Homework? What are you...?"
"You know what? Come to think of it...it might be better if we wandered around some other day after school. I mean, I've got soooo much to do, and I feel like I'm spacing out on you."
With a sigh, I couldn't help but to display a bit of my frustration over one of Colin's many evasion tactics. "There we go. You're running away from me again."
"I'm...I'm not running away, ok? I've just got some stuff on my mind."
"Stuff that you can't push aside for just a little while so we can talk for longer than a couple of minutes at a time?" I said, feeling myself getting a bit angry, but doing my best to hold it back.
"Maybe 'pushing stuff aside' isn't an option for me right now." He said.
Trying to hold back, I asked him, "Look, if I said something wrong..."
"Who said that you said anything wrong? Maybe I just have a bunch of homework that I have to take care of. I mean, can't the just be a normal, everyday, possibility?"
"So why bring it up right now?"
Colin stopped walking, taking a small step further away from me. "Right now?"
"Yes. Right now." I said. "Why is it that you work your ass off every time that I pay you a compliment or try to be nice to you?"
"Maybe I don't need you to be nice to me!" He said a bit more forcefully.
Ok, soooo...this whole outing was going a completely different way from how I pictured it in my mind. I didn't mean to come off like some sort of a jackass, but...arrrghhhh! It's aggravating to have Colin constantly dodging me like this all the time. "Look...I'm sorry, ok?" I said. "If you've gotta get home, then...I'll just see you some other time, I guess."
"Well, aren't you merciful?" He said with a strained voice. "Thanks for allowing me to go home whenever I feel like it."
"I'm not trying to fight with you, dude..."
"There's nothing to fight about. It's just not a good day for me to wander aimlessly through the streets doing absolutely nothing when I have homework due tomorrow morning."
He wasn't making this easy. If anything, he seemed to be working harder to make things more difficult by trying to get me to dig myself even deeper into this angry hole so he'd have yet another excuse to stay away from me. And I realize that I've never really been this infatuated with another boy before...but what started out as a thrilling challenge and a giggly sensation in the center of my stomach...is now turning into this boiling hot tar pit that just seems to drag me down further and further into despair the harder I try to get out of it.
But, whatever. It's not like I can 'force' Colin to accept my compliments or spend any quality time with me. I'm just tired of wondering whether or not I should just stop protecting my deepest feelings for him and allow my heart to break completely so I can start the grieving process and move on already.
Locked in a stalemate, our eyes connected briefly...and I said, "Listen...if I'm bugging you, just tell me to back off, and I will. Ok?"
"No, I'm being serious. No hard feelings." I lied. "If I'm bothering you, feel free to tell me that I'm bothering you. I've got 'homework' too, ya know?" Colin fidgeted for a moment, leaning from one foot to another. Stuck. Conflicted. Not wanting to shut me out, but too scared to open up either. So, I saved him some grief, and I said, "You can get home ok, right? I mean...we'll hang out some other time. But only if you feel like it." With that, I started to back away from him as well. I don't want to be a creep about this. I'm not some kind of boy 'predator'. If he's not into me, then so be it.
"Russ?" He whimpered softly.
"It's totally ok. Promise."
"Don't be mad at me..."
"I'm not mad. I swear."
"You're MAD at me!" He said.
But I worked up the best grin that I could to hopefully put him at ease. "Nah. I'm just good at taking hints. I still love you though. No matter what."
Colin began to wiggle and fidget even more frantically, but it only made me feel worse. I didn't want to force him to feel bad about any of this. After all of the times that I had to live with people gawking and gazing into my eyes with the hopes of snatching me up to make me their very own, I know how uncomfortable it can be to have someone admire you against your will...and then expect more than what you're willing to give them just for the sake of being 'polite'. I didn't want to be that guy. No pressure. No tricks. No petty mind games. I can be man enough to leave him alone if that's what he wants. I think I was just a bit too anxious to cross another bridge and maybe take a shot at letting him know how I felt about him. That's all.
But Colin was right...it ultimately ended up being a big 'fail' on my part.
"See ya soon, k?" I said. Now that I was backing away from him, even with this desperate hope inside that he'd call me back...or chase me down...or something...I just kept going. And eventually hoisted my backpack up on my shoulder to turn around and walk home. Leaving Colin there to struggle with whatever he thought was so awful about himself in that particular moment.
It hurt to have him out of my sight. It really did. The rejection began to ache and churn violently in the center of my stomach, my heart weighed down like a giant clump of wet cement in my chest as I attempted to brush the feeling aside and try to get back to functioning like a normal human being. After all this time, I was thinking that I would finally experience my first brush with loving someone else as this magical experience...full of hope and rainbows and giggles and tingly feelings that would keep me up at night. But maybe I've been privileged because of my looks. Because this sucks. All I fear is self doubt and insecurity and dread over scaring away the one boy ho means more to me than anything else in my life right now. I feel...more lonely than I ever did before. At least with Joey, I could fake it for a little while. Satisfy a few silly urges and skip around the house with a smile on my face as if that actually counted for anything. But...I obviously had that whole thing backwards. And it's still just as confusing as ever.
Because, while the sensible part of my brain is constantly telling me to give it all up and stop torturing myself like this...the most irrational parts of my heart keep working to overpower those thoughts at every turn. It wouldn't let go. It threaten to shut itself down if I even ATTEMPTED to disconnect myself from the intense beauty that I saw within him. How can people not fall all over themselves just trying to get to know him better the way that I do? What would make him think, for one second, that he wasn't worthy of every good thing that life and love could ever hope to offer him? It just doesn't make any sense to me. None at all.
As I walked away from him, I thought I might have heard him say my name again. Maybe some kind of olive branch that he was offering to keep me from feeling bad. But it wouldn't have worked. Even if I had looked back over my shoulder to acknowledge his beckoning at all. I didn't want him to pity me. I didn't want him to feel like he had to impress me. I just...wanted to appreciate him for the amazing boy that he was, you know? He doesn't have to fake it. He doesn't have to try to be breathtaking. I just wish I had a significant way of letting him know that without...you know...chasing him away again.
Whatever. I just want to go home. Maybe this wasn't as 'meant to be' as I was hoping it would be.
Maybe that idea is just a bunch of mystical bullshit that's better off left to those tiny booths at the circus or something. Crystal balls and all.
The moment I walked through my front door of my house, I could already feel a heavy pout taking over my whole demeanor to the point where I physically felt weak from it all. This can't be heartbreak, can it? Colin didn't tell me to piss off and leave him alone or anything. It's not like he told me to stay the hell away from him or anything. It's just...that's what it feels like when you want to be soooo close to somebody and they continue to keep you at arm's length every second that you're together. I can't keep it from hurting. I'm trying...but I can't.
I don't have any right to blame him for wanting to take things slow or just be friends or...whatever it is that he's looking for in terms of us being a couple of guys hanging out. But not knowing? That's killing me right now. If I push too hard, I look like a pervert with some sort of creepy agenda. If I pull back too much, I look like I'm not interested, and Colin might go looking for somebody else. I was SO sure that I had this whole thing worked out, and now...?
Now, I'm just alone again.
So utterly alone...
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