After an awkward minute or two...I began to wonder if I should just get up and leave. I was trying to be honest about my feelings here but...it looks like that was a big mistake on my part. Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut and just suffered in silence instead of trying to go for something that was obviously far out of my reach.
Maybe spending my afternoons naked with Joey is all I should expect out of love. Hell...maybe it's all that I even deserve at this point.
I didn't hear any movement in the house, and I just wrote it all off as Colin being too polite or simply too scared to come right out and ask me to leave. And, yes...it really hurt for me to come to that conclusion...but seeing as I've already made a huge mess of things and didn't want to make them any worse, I decided to get up on my own so I could save him the trouble of having to kick me out himself.
I was heading towards his bedroom door when Colin suddenly appeared in front of me, his eyes a bit red and swollen. With a sniffle, "I'm sorry, Russ. I really am, ok?"
"Don't be sorry." I told him. "I get it. Just...forget that I said anything, and we can call a truce on it later on. Maybe. I don't know. For right now, though...I think I should leave."
"I didn't say that I was kicking you out..." Colin said, his eyes misting up as he fought to maintain his composure.
"You didn't have to."
I attempted to push my way past him, but he whimpered, "Russ...look, I...I really..." He was struggling really hard, and I couldn't understand. I mean, it's not like I didn't open the door for him by making the first move here. Why is he making this so difficult? "...I really like you too, ok? Maybe....even a little too much."
"Too much? What is that supposed to mean?" I said, the pain in my heart spreading rapidly as I saw him breaking down right in front of my very eyes.
"You don't understand, alright?"
I walked back over to where he was and he took a few involuntary steps backward to keep me at arm's length. I was beginning to get so frustrated at my own confusion in this whole fucked up situation. "No. I don't understand any of this at all. What's going on, dude? I don't get it." I tried to step closer to him, but he put his hands up and stepped away from me again, afraid that I might do something as utterly terrifying as touching him or something. "Colin! Tell me! What is this?"
"You don't want to know. And I'm not...who you need to be with, ok? I told you...I just don't think that I can do this."
"Do WHAT? What have we done? I just told you that I like you, and you said that you like me too. What's so scary about that?" I asked. "Colin, if you're like...in the closet or something, that's fine. I'll be patient. It's not like I'm going to run out and tell everybody that you like boys. I haven't told much of anybody either..."
"It's not that..." He mumbled softly, looking down at his feet. "...I'm just...I'm done with falling for other boys. Ok? I'm just...I'm not really built for that kinda thing. I can't handle it." I gave him a strange look, and he stepped aside and said, "Can you just...come back to my room for a minute? Please?"
I could still feel the hurt from his earlier rejection, but my curiosity over what any of this even meant was a stronger pull than my pride could override. I hesitated for a second, but the look in Colin's eyes was so vulnerable at that moment that I couldn't help but to give in. So I walked back into his bedroom and sat on his bed. Much to my surprise, he sat next to me...even if he seemed to be trembling a bit at the moment.
"I wasn't trying to hurt you, ya know?" I sulked.
"I know." Replied. "Like I told you before...sometimes I have the bad habit of making myself sad when I shouldn't."
"Me telling you that I like you made you sad?" Ugh...that sounded even worse than it did in my head once I said it out loud. "Gee, thanks. Thanks a lot."
"I didn't say that." He whimpered. "That's not what I mean, I would never say that."
"Well, it's kind of hard to figure out what you mean when you won't tell me." I said. "I mean, did you think that I wasn't gay? Because I am, ok? I'm not out at school or even to my family yet, but I like boys. I just...I do."
"Russ..." Colin sighed, closing his eyes as if to block me out. "...Please stop."
"Why???" I asked. "Look, if you're not into guys, then just say so. I can deal with that."
"I am into guys. And I knew that you were too. That's what makes this so hard on me."
"What's hard about it? I mean, can you at least give me a chance or something?"
"Because I promised myself that I was just done with this sort of thing."
"What sort of thing? Done with what?" I asked...and he kept looking away like it hurt him to talk to me. "You know what? Maybe I should just go and let you think about things for a little while, because this is killing me inside."
"I'm done with love, ok?" He cried as he saw me standing up to leave. "I'm done...being an idiot. I'm done trying to be something that I'm not. It's so stupid."
Still confused, I sat back down and tried to get him to look me in the eye, even as he wiped a stray tear away from his eye. "I never said you were an idiot, Colin."
"Not you. Just in general." More tears began to flood over and roll down his cheeks as he did all he could to fight them back, apologizing for being so weak in front of me. I just didn't understand, and thought I never would. But he finally surrendered to the truest feelings in his heart, and he started his story. "Look...a little over a year ago...I met somebody online, ok? I was just past my thirteenth birthday, I hadn't told anybody that I liked boys yet...I was having, like...this inner crisis, you know? Because I wasn't normal. I didn't fit in. The friends that I had before were getting girlfriends and we didn't bond in the same way anymore. All of the boys that I liked were just...not interested. The very idea that I could ever actually 'be' with somebody was so crazy and so ridiculous that I just figured I would have to spend the rest of my life alone, you know?" He said. "But then...I met Ricky in a random chatroom one night, and everything changed."
"Ricky?" I asked, already feeling a little disheartened by the idea that someone else my already have laid claim on his heart before I even got here. "Is he...your boyfriend?"
"For a while...it sure felt that way." Colin sniffled. "After all of the boys that I chased around, dreaming about them, obsessing about them, wishing that I could have one of my very own someday...just to hold hands or to make out with on the couch for a little while...someone to hold me close and share all of the affection that I had to give...I had never really been in love before. We just met by accident, and we started talking and laughing and...then I got to see a picture of him. And he was gorgeous. He was like, one of the most beautiful boys I had ever seen up to that point. My heart got all swept up in the moment, and we kind of started flirting with one another...then he told me he was gay. And that he really liked me, even though he lived in a different state far away." Colin had to wipe his eyes again, but the tears kept coming, regardless. "I never ever told another person that I was gay before. He was my first time even being able to type the words out on a laptop screen. And I told him that I really liked him too. It was like...this miracle of a moment, and I felt so happy that I broke down into tears and just let my heart soar, you know? I don't think I've ever felt more magic before in my life."
He paused, and I don't know why I felt a certain soreness in the center of my heart...knowing that he loved someone else...but I had to ask, "So...what happened?"
Colin's face wrinkled up as he began to cry again. "We became online boyfriends. I never had a boyfriend before. We talked every night, and sent each other little messages to say good morning, or good night, or just to say, 'I love you'. We talked on the phone, we traded pictures, we told each other everything. He was like my best friend. And when we were horny, well...we got a chance to share that too. Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, and months turned into a little over a year. Having my very first boyfriend was everything that I could have ever dreamed that it could be and even more." Colin reached for some tissues to blow his nose. "Ricky was so cute, you know? It was stupid of me to think that I would be the only one to notice. Or that he wouldn't notice anybody else." Colin's bottom lip began to quiver as it looked as though his heart was breaking all over again for the first time. "And then...this past Summer, just before school started...everything just kinda slowed down. And then it stopped. No excuse, no reason...he just, like...abandoned me. And I don't think I'll ever find out why."
"Ouch. I'm sorry, man. That fucking sucks." I said.
"I really thought that I was in love, Russ. I really did. And I was convinced that he felt the same way. And this wasn't some two week 'fling' either. We were happy together for a really long time. I wanted to go visit him, or have him come visit me. We were making plans to be together and talked about how amazing it would be to actually kiss for the first time. But...as far as I know...he just found somebody new to drool over. Somebody better looking than me. And I was left all alone. It was like, 'Have a nice life, asshole', and he just bailed on me like we never had anything special together at all. He just...forgot about me." He sobbed. "And I tried to call him, but he wouldn't answer. I looked for him in the chatrooms we all went to, but he never showed up. I though something bad might have happened to him, but after trying to write him a few emails or texts to see what happened...he changed them so they'd bounce back to me. And it's not like he didn't know how to contact me. Like I said, I shared everything with him! But just woke up one morning and decided that he didn't love me anymore. And that was that. No warning. I didn't have any say in the matter at all. And it HURT, Russ! It hurt sooooo much!" That's when he said, "I found myself in a very dark place when that happened. If it hadn't been for Missy standing by me and holding my hand...I might have done something...bad. You know...to myself."
"Oh..." I said softly. "...Omigod..."
"But I DIDN'T though, ok?" He said abruptly. "I was just...I was lost. Heartbroken. Severely depressed. I just...I didn't think that Ricky would do that to me. He promised that he'd never do that to me. So my heart was ripped in two. And all I could do was curl up in a ball and cry for months afterward. Because I know that he's out there being someone else's perfect boyfriend, and I was left here to suffer through the loss of the first boy that I ever loved all by myself. I just felt so alone." He said, wiping his eyes again and trying to hide his emotions as best as he could. "I was being so stupid." He said. "I never meant to fall for some cute boy and give my heart away to him like it was totally worthless. I certainly didn't mean to give it away online. At least if it was in real life I could have had some fun and sexy memories attached to the time I wasted thinking that he gave a shit a bit me to begin with."
"I'm DONE with the whole boyfriend thing! Ok? Do you get it?" He snapped. "I'm never going to put myself through that level of pain and daily torture ever again. I won't survive it. It just hurts too fucking much, and I'm not going to let you back me into a corner and force me to feel those feelings again. I won't!"
Hurting for him, I said, "I don't know who this 'Ricky' guy is or why he did what he did...but that has nothing to do with me. As far as I'm concerned, he fucked up something special for a quick infatuation or two that probably wasn't half as awesome of what you were willing to offer him in terms of being a real boyfriend to somebody. But you can't blame me for his mistake, Colin. That wasn't my fault."
"Stop it. I'm not going to let you hurt me the way he did." He said, more tears rolling down his cheeks. "You know why I like comic books, Russ? Do you? Because there are heroes, and there are villains. And heroes always win in the end. Because if your heart is pure and you act with the best of intentions...then you get all of the rewards that you deserve for being a good and decent person. But those are just comic books. Fictional fairy tales that don't have any place in the real world. The truth is...all anybody cares about anymore is themselves. They don't give anything. They don't share anything. They can't even be bothered to talk to you unless they think they have something to gain from it." He said. But what really hurt was when he added, "And now, here you are, at the corny Froshman's house while his parents aren't home. Telling me that you like me? Why? What is it that you think you have to gain from it, huh? What is it that you want from me? Just tell me so I can give it to you and push you out of my life before you have the chance to lead me back to suicidal thoughts and time wasting tears for someone who couldn't give less of a shit about me if he tried?"
"Jesus, Colin!" I gasped. It was like a dagger in my heart, causing my very soul to bleed out of me from the wound he left behind. But, before I left to go suffer another heartbreak of my own, I wanted to state my case first. "If you think that I don't give a shit about you, Colin, you'd be wrong. Maybe this Ricky guy found someone else, and maybe he totally ghosted you like an asshole and doesn't care how you feel about it. He was your first real love, and even if it was just an online thing...you believed in it. And you trusted him. I can understand that. But what I'm telling you, right here and right now, is that I'm nothing like him. At all."
Colin rolled his teary eyes. "I doubt you'd tell me if you were..."
"I'm NOT." I demanded. "You may think that I have no idea what you're talking about when it comes to that feeling that you have sitting in the pit of your stomach right now...but I do." I said. "People...they look at me and just assume that I'm soooo lucky to look the way that I look. Like I've got everything all figured out, and don't deserve a moment's worth of human empathy because I probably don't have a care in the world. How could I, right? I can have anything I want at the snap of my fingers. And the world keeps turning. Well, I know what it's like to not feel like anybody gives a shit about me either."
"Don't make fun of me..."
"I'm not." I said.
"I don't believe you." He told me. "I'm not the 'hero' in this comic book life, ok? And it took a lot of pain and a lot of heartbreak to get me to accept the fact that I'm never going to be the boy that other boys come chasing after. They just look past me. They don't want whatever it is that I have to offer. You think they want to hear me talk about comics and my drawings and make goofy jokes all the time? You think I appeal to the boys that I fall the hardest for? Boys like YOU?" I was a bit surprised by that, but let him continue. "Everybody just wants a cute face, and six pack abs, and a tight ass to stare at all day long. That's it. I'm not glamorous, or adventurous. I come home from school and do my homework and study for finals. That's it. And I was dumb enough to look at a boy like Ricky and convince myself that he could ever possibly be interested in some lame and boring piece of garbage like me. Do you have any idea how 'below average' I am to somebody like that? How am I supposed to measure up to somebody so far out of my league? What am I supposed to do? Wow them with my charisma and charm and win them over with my intelligence and wit? That's not a 'thing', Russ. There are hot boys every, just looking for other boys just as hot as they are. And they don't care who they hurt in order to be together. So I'm done trying to compete in a game that I was never made to play. It's so stupid...but I'm not. I'm not putting myself through that horror ever again. Trust me on this."
"What makes you think that I would ever mistreat you or break your heart like that?" I asked, feeling as though this whole conversation was SO unfair.
"Because you're one of them, 'Goldie'! Or did you not realize that when you woke up and looked at yourself in the mirror this morning?"
"What? Do you think I just wake up and stare at my reflection every day, thinking about how sexy I am? That's ridiculous." I said. "I like you for who you are, Colin! I just love being around you. Why can't you accept that?"
"Because you're going to break my heart all over again. And I don't want that. I'm better off alone."
"I'm NOT going to hurt you! Not intentionally!"
"NO! Of course not!"
And that's when Colin stared directly into my eyes with an almost angry squint, and he asked, "And what about Joey? Hmmm?" My breath got caught in the back of my throat, and I found myself looking away from his accusing glare. "Yeah. Didn't think I knew about that, did you?"
"Did he tell you?" I said.
"He didn't have to." Colin said sadly. "It's obvious that you don't hang out with Joey because of his grades."
"Colin, that's a completely different situation. And I'm not even interested in continuing that relationship. It's...it's complicated..."
"But it's not really all that complicated, is it? You're hot, Joey's hot, you decided to hook up. End of story." He said. "Love and feelings and common interests? What does it matter? You got what you wanted already, I'm sure of it. And you can have more of it any time you want. If not from Joey, then from one of a hundred other cute gay teens that would quickly drop to their knees and thank God for the chance to be with a boy like you. Take your pick. And when you're done...you'll recycle them like unwanted trash and find yourself another one. What do you care? At least you're being efficient."
I don't know why I felt so ashamed in that moment...but I did. This wasn't the kind of quality time that I expected to spend with my most favorite boy of all time today. I'm not one of those boys that he's talking about, right?
I mean...am I?
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