Unfortunately, it didn't take Drew long before he started stressing himself out over how long it had been since he left his house. It made me wonder what his father must have said to him at some point to make him so terrified of letting him know that he was willing to spend time with another boy. I mean, it's not like his father doesn't understand what the word 'gay' means, right?
Having a parent simply pretend to be tolerant and understanding seems like it would be even worse than coming right out and saying, 'I hate you'...you know? I mean...it's like...it's ok if Drew is gay as long as he never dates or even talks to another boy in my presence. And never has sex. And never gives in to his sinful thoughts for as something as sweet as a kiss on the lips. What's the point of that? It's just not possible to want something so beautiful, something that completes you and makes you feel real joy in your life...and then walk around suppressing that all day to the point where it makes you feel sick inside. That's no way to live. Trust me...I tried that. And before Drew came into my life...it was a self loathing misery that I would never wish on anybody.
It's not fair to expect somebody else to suffocate in silence simply because you have a problem with it.
Drew deserves so much better than that.
I noticed him getting more and more nervous as we got closer to his house. His smile fading. His conversation shriveling up until it was almost nonexistent. I almost felt bad for bringing that level of 'shame' into his life, just by being there. Making him feel soooo bad simply because he was associated with me. I almost wanted to turn around and leave before his dad looked out the window and caused him any further pain by...by just...
Then, all of a sudden...it clicked.
Ohhhhhh...now I get it.
I guess this is the way that Drew feels about being around me in school, and having me pay the price for it. I don't want to stay away from him because my feelings have changed in any way, or because I didn't think that he could handle what was about to come his way if his dad decided to be a pest about it all. I just felt like garbage because I was being associated with the humiliation and fear that he might experience...just because I was there. I guess, in some weird way...it would feel like it was all my fault. Wouldn't it?
I seriously thought about maybe stopping at the end of the block, but that seemed like it would be a bit rude. I really didn't mean to cause him any trouble. I feel like such a freak all of a sudden. And when Drew noticed my pace slowing down while I struggled to figure out what might be the best move in this situation, he looked back at me and asked, "Are you ok?"
Softly, I told him, "If you want to go on ahead without me, I'll understand, you know? I know your dad is probably looking out for you."
His pouty little lips stuck themselves out for a quick second before he tried to erase the involuntary emotion from his face. Damn he's cute. See? This is one of those moments when I wish I could just hug him close and kiss him to let him know how much my heart felt like it was beating for him, and for him alone. "It's ok. Ethan, when I said...I mean...that's not what I meant. Really."
"Yeah. It is." I said. "But it's cool, though. I understand. I promise. I get it." He hesitated for a moment, bashfully shifting from one foot to the other as he began to struggle with the idea as well. "Path of least resistance, right?"
"Right..." He replied. There was a sadness in his voice. In his eyes. I really don''t think he wanted to do this, but I chose to let him off the hook.
"I'll see you tomorrow, right?"
"Fifteen minutes late. Just like always." He was trembling, and so was I, but I kept my distance. Giving him a genuine smile as I took a few steps further back so that I could make my way back home. I turned my back on him, and he turned his back on me...both of us going our separate ways. It already hurt to be apart from him. It really did. And then, I hear him call out, "Ethan?"
I turned around, and Drew gave me an adorable smirk, rolling his eyes as he reached out his hand for me. Expecting me to rush over and take a hold of it.
I really wanted to, but...instead, I said, "Drew...you don't have to do this."
"Yeah. I know." He smiled. "But I kinda think it'll be better if I do."
So...I slowly walked back over to where he was, and I reached out to hold his hand too. Just like he wanted. And we moved to finish our walk towards his house. Still holding hands. Still smiling at one another. Still madly in love.
"Honestly, Drew...you're too good to be true. You know that?"
"Far from it, I'm sure." He said.
"You didn't have anything to prove to me. I would have been fine just going home without having to make a big deal out of this."
Drew giggled in the cutest way, replying, "Well...that would have been pretty interesting...considering that you left your bike at my house."
"What the...? Omigod. Hehehe!" I said, blushing. "Oh yeah. I kinda forgot about that."
But after sharing a few boyish snickers with one another, Drew peeked up at my eyes from beneath his canopy of beautiful brown curls, and he shyly told me, "I would have done it anyway. I guess we both have to find a way to be ok with stuff like this if we expect anybody else to be ok with it too. I mean, right?"
"Yeah. Definitely." I sighed, and gave his hand a squeeze as we allowed the rest of the world to melt away. Who needs it anyway. I've got Drew, and he's got me. What else could ever hope to be seen as important to us?
We made it back to his house and I noticed a slight movement in the curtains covering the front window, meaning that Drew's dad was obviously watching us. It made me extremely nervous, and I'm pretty sure that the moment had the same effect on Drew too, because I could feel his hand trembling slightly as he held on to me to keep himself strong. I wasn't even sure how much of a 'rock' I could really be for him in that moment...but if he was willing to rely on me for support, then I was willing to give it to him.
We both exchanged a brief look, and then marched up the driveway so that I could unlock my bike from his fence. However, the front door opened up before I could even get all the way out there, and his father walked out, his intimidating presence bearing down on us with enough weight to nearly cause our knees to buckle right then and there.
"Drew...don't you have some homework to get to?" He said. "You can't just stay out all afternoon and play with your friend here."
With a shaky voice, Drew simply replied with, "Dad? This is Ethan. We know each other from school." It was a fearful attempt at an introduction, and I was glad that we weren't holding hands anymore when he said it, but he was determined to make it count, regardless.
I timidly looked up from my bike lock and gave his dad a little wave as my voice struggled to squeak out a tiny, "Hello..."
Drew's dad nodded briefly in my direction, but that was pretty much the end of it. Needless to say, he wasn't anywhere near as happy to see me hanging around with his gay son as his mom was. I'm starting to miss her already. "Let's go. C'mon." He said. "I'm sure you'll see Ethan tomorrow."
"I'll be there in a minute." Drew said.
"In a minute, ok?" Drew demanded, silently drawing a line in the sand.
His father looked over at me again and just decided not to make a scene, I guess. "Dinner will be ready in about an hour..." He grunted, and turned around to go back in the house.
"It was nice meeting..." But before I could finish my sentence, he was already closing the door.
It was at this moment that both of us sighed with relief, releasing the hold on our breaths so loudly that it kind of caused us to giggle at one another. Hehehe, I suppose that whole situation was a little scary, wasn't it?
"Omigod...did I really just do that?" Drew asked, his hand holding his heart while he tried to catch his breath.
"Dude...what the hell? I half expected him to come out of that front door with a shotgun or something!"
"I'm never going to hear the end of this. I just know it."
I said, "Well, I mean it's not like he didn't know already. You know...about..."
"He knows about me, sure. But he doesn't know about you. That kinda changes things. He's going to start asking some very weird questions now. Ugh!"
"I'm sorry." I told him. "I wasn't trying to make things difficult around here for you. I just really wanted to see you. In case you haven't noticed, I might have a tiny bit of a crush on you. Hehehe!"
Drew turned dark pink in the face almost immediately. "It's ok. I needed that. And whether my dad knows it or not, I think he needed it too. I mean, he's not abusive or anything about me being gay...but it's about time he stopped trying to ignore it. Sometimes that part of it can be just as bad as a slap across the face. If anything, I should be thanking you, Ethan."
"Thanking me?" I asked. "Well, this is unexpected...especially with me causing so much turmoil and havoc in such a short amount of time."
"No, sweetie. You didn't cause anything." He said, and lifted himself up on his tiptoes to give me a delicate kiss on the cheek. "My dad is just going to have to get used to seeing me drool all over you like a Saint Bernard whenever you come by. Because you're too awesome for me to ever let go. And he can either be a part of something that makes me happy, or he can step aside and let me handle it on my own. Either way...I still have you."
"I still have you too." I smiled. Then adding, "But I still wanna see you in the clown costume though..."
"STOP with the clown costume thing! Hahaha! It's never gonna happen!"
"We'll see..." I said, and gave him a wink as I turned my bike around and began to ride down to the end of the driveway. "Later."
"Bye..." He grinned, swooning as I blew him an invisible kiss and he pretend to catch it and press it against his chest. Awwww, my baby is so cute when he wants to be.
I talked to him on the phone later on that night, and it seems as though his dad was pretty quiet for most of the night. Something that Drew couldn't tell if it was a good thing or a bad thing, but he was thankful that he didn't have to talk about it much over dinner. I have to admit that it sort of made me think about the relationship that I have with my own parents, and whether or not I could just walk in the living room one night while they're watching TV...and just, like...'tell them', you know?
Just come right out and say it. No regrets, right?
I mean, what can they really do to me if I was just one hundred percent honest with them? They're not going to KILL me! I once shattered the back window of my dad's truck with a brick just to see if I could. I'd like to think that telling him that I like boys in a romantic, and even in a sexual, way would be a lot easier to take. And certainly a great deal cheaper.
I had to mow a LOT of lawns that Summer trying to work that debt off.
And my mom doesn't seem to have any real problems with gay people. I think one of the ladies she works with at the office is a lesbian, and I can't remember her tossing any slurs around about her. I highly doubt they would kick me out of the house and leave me homeless. And it's not like they can chain me up in the basement and whip me with rusted wire and fish hooks until I turn 'straight' again. So what am I so worried about?
A little embarrassment? A period of awkwardness? Possibly a few stricter rules when it comes having boys over to the house? Problems that all seem so miniscule when compared to the potential of truly being open and proud about my love for Drew. A boy who is more than I ever could have wished for and more. So, like...what's stopping me? You know? I keep asking myself that question, and I never come up with a decent answer that makes sense.
And yet...I can't ever get my feet to move when I think I'm finally ready to do it.
I freeze. My throat constricted and ties my vocal chords in knots until I'm unable to speak at all. So, as much as I feel like I'm ready...I'm obviously not ready. At least not yet. But I'm warming up to the idea. Promise.
The next morning, I got up feeling pretty upbeat and hopeful for the future. Hehehe, I don't know, it was just like...I was finally beginning to figure myself out, you know? Figure out life in general, really. I can't explain it, but I felt a little bit better about just being me than I did before. It was weird.
I thought back to what Drew's mom said to me in the car the night that she drove me home, about a weight being lifted when Drew finally decided to tell her that he was gay for the very first time, and I just kind of thought she was being metaphorical when she said it. But the truth is...I think I actually, physically, felt a bit lighter than I did when I went to bed last night. I mean, is that even possible? Even my mom noticed it when I sat down to eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast. She was like, "You certainly look like you're in a good mood this morning." And I haven't even come out to anybody yet. Imagine what she might have seen had I actually found the courage to walk into the living room last night and sputter out the biggest confession of my life so far. That would be crazy.
I left the house for school, a brand new spring in my step, feeling good about who I am and finally being able to fully realize how lucky I was to have the blessings in my life that I have right now. I just...I felt like I was finally comfortable in my own skin. And that's a huge step for me. I've definitely come a long way with this whole sexual abnormality thing, huh?
And then...I got to school.
Now, don't get me wrong...I realize that I'm just a teenager and that I can feel a little insecure sometimes. Maybe even a little paranoid. So when I walk through the hallways and too many random people make eye contact with me...I start getting all self conscious about it. Like, did somebody put a 'kick me' sign on my back? Do I have something on my shirt? Is my hair all fucked up? Did a bird shit on my shoulder? What's going on here. I could hear a few whispers...and maybe a few giggles too. I tried to block them out, seeing as they couldn't possibly know about me and Drew yet. I hadn't even told anybody yet. And it's not like they caught us making out in the library or anything. So what gives?
Then...at the other end of the hallway...I saw it. Clear as day.
It took my eyes a moment to adjust, because I could hardly believe what I was looking at. It actually took a moment for it to really settle in. But as I slowed down my pace and approached my locker...I saw the permanent marker again. But this time, it was much worse than before.
'Faggot', 'Ethan's A Faggot', 'Cocksucker', 'Ass Jammer', 'FREAK'!
My whole locker door was covered with one hurtful slur after another. I think 'freak' was the most flattering comment of them all. It took me all that effort to scrub that first 'Fag' comment away with Patrick's toothpaste idea...and the same despicable piece of shit came back to do it again. And again. And AGAIN! And all I could do was stand there like an idiot and look at the damage that had been done.
I mean, what do I do? Whoever did this...how can they be such a loathsome son of a bitch? I mean, why? Can anybody explain to me why? What did I ever do to THIS asshole? What kind of heartless trash individual works so hard to make somebody else's life so miserable just for a lack of having anything better to do?
As more people passed me in the hallway, I just sort of lowered my head and tried not to make eye contact with a single one of them. It was humiliating. SO humiliating. And I didn't know how to fix it, because if I spent all DAY scrubbing my locker clean again...this idiot is just going to come right back and try to hurt me all over again. He's never going to stop. He really hates me that much, and I just have to sit here and take it. What other option is there?
Sighhh...and here I was just beginning to feel good about myself again...
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