"Ok, so...this is what we're working with tonight..." Salvie said, cheerfully showing me the 'spread', as he called it. "We've got our bright and flashy fireworks over here, then we've got our 'noisy' ones. The noisy ones are great for adding a little bit of extra emphasis to what you're doing, but the flashy ones are the ones you use to get the most attention. You want to trade back and forth with those so you can keep them naturally balanced until you run out. And then...we have our surprise 'whistle and pop' category flares." He grinned at me and let his eyebrows wiggle in the cutest way as he picked a few of them up to show me up close. "The perfect mash up between the other two. A crazy, one – two combo punch of sound and fury. These are the ones we use in between the other time when the instinct calls for a bit of competitive flare. Always an entertaining filler between any bigger displays, but only if you set them off at just the right moment. They can be crazy deceptive, right? The neighbors think we're getting ready to do something big...so they set off their big signature fireworks to match us. But it's a ruse, you know?" He looked so damn CUTE, putting his game plan together and teaching me what was what. Hehehe! God, I wish I could kiss him right now. It's really hard not to. I'm fighting it as hard as I can...but he's being more adorable than usual tonight.
"So, you fake them out with the simple stuff…" I said.
"...And then we wait for them to respond. And while everybody is watching the sky above their houses...we're setting up the real party favors, right here on the front lawn. BOOM! Hehehe!" He said. "Then...it's all eyes on us while they scramble to reset and rearrange their positions, you know? Like I said...it's all about timing."
Looking over at Salvie, seeing his smile as some of his dark hair flopped down into his face...and I felt my heart cramp up from the excessive activity. He casually ran his fingers through his silky hair to push it back in place, and I felt the chill of actual goosebumps being raised on my arms! Omigod, he's so hot! I was actually losing my mind here! I was, seriously, going to do something crazy tonight. I could just feel it. There's no way that I was going to be able hold back for one more night. Salvie was pulling me so hard into this hypnotic tractor beam of intense teenage infatuation...and I just couldn't stand it anymore! I mean, LOOK at him! God....he's soooo beautiful. How am I supposed to keep up this stupid act of not being totally, head over heels, in LOVE with him at this point? It's just not possible anymore. I can't deal with this. I just...I can't! I have to say something. Or just...kiss him quickly on the lips before he's able to shove me off of him! I can do that, right? And maybe get away with it? Maybe he'll write it off as some sort of a goofy joke or something...not knowing that my lips touching his was the most incredible, most mind-blowing, experience of my entire life.
Or, you know...maybe that would be considered sexual assault. Some blurred lines there.
Still, I can't...like...I can't even stand still without squirming wildly in my own skin. I'm SO in love right now!
"Ok, so we have a few mega snaps and smoke balls. But those are mostly just for show. They're fun, but not a part of the actual throw down, you know?" Salvie said, with me staring at the smooth beauty of his flawless face while he was talking to me. "Now, these are zoomers. Very cool, but they don't last long. So they don't have much of an impact in the long run, and you've got to have others ready to go behind them the second we set them off. We've got these giant sparklers, but they're only for people who might walk or drive by in the neighborhood. Just to make our house look festive, but we can't, like...'launch' them into the air for the whole neighborhood to see. So we've got a whole different strategy concerning the stationary stuff." He said. "They're supposed to be cold sparks, and they say that you can even light them indoors...but I wouldn't recommend it. It just looks friggin' dangerous, you know? Besides, you never know when you're gonna get some loose leakings of gun powder on these things. It could blow up in your face without any warning at all, and we're desperately trying to be safe about this stuff."
"This all seems a bit...overwhelming, to be honest." I said, looking at all of the weaponry that we had staring us in the face.
"Does it?" He asked. "Don't worry, bro. It's easy to work out once you get your hands on everything and start actually doing it. It only seems confusing when you try to put it all together in your brain ahead of time. Once you start handling the goods and start seeing their effects above the house and get in the groove, it becomes second nature almost immediately. You'll see." His eyes met mine, and we connected for a second or two before I realized that I was staring at him like he was a piece of meat, and that was not going to end up working well for me. I feel like a creep. It wasn't enough for me to break my addiction to dreamily gazing at his unnaturally pretty face and golden skin...but it remained, like a splinter, in my common sense. And then...we both had our attention diverted up to the neighborhood sky as a few more fireworks went off from two different places, almost simultaneously. "Those are the Logan's and the Taylor's for sure. They're getting started. I'll just bet that the Mackenzie's are waiting for us to get going before they bring the pain. Hehehe! We've got a few surprises for them this time though. C'mon, let's grab some of these boxes so we can..."
It just happened. I...I can't explain what I was thinking or why I was unable to control myself...but as we both stood alone at the back of Mr. Alvarez's truck...fireworks spread out on the lawn at our feet...I suddenly lost my grip on my self control and I quickly leaned over to kiss Salvador on his cheek!
Don't ASK me why I did it!!! Because I don't know! I just...I had to do it, ok! I felt like I couldn't breathe, and I was dying inside...my only salvation being even the briefest of kisses with the one boy who had brought so much light and awe to my mundane life in such a short amount of time. The mind-blowing euphoria of being able to get an emotional taste of the forbidden fruit that I have been longing for since I first laid eyes on him. But the relief from my constant torture was short lived, as I saw a look of shock cross his face...and I instantly regretted making any move at all.
It was like pouring salt on a slug...the way my insides shriveled up with pain and anguish and began to die. Salvie's face wasn't masked with a GOOD look of shock, or a BAD look of shock. It was just...shock, I guess. And the silence that passed between us seemed to be endless, causing me to hide my face from him and turn away for fear that this would be the moment that he called me a 'fag' or something and refused to ever hang out with me again after tonight. Maybe even tell his family. Maybe even tell MY family! I don't think I've ever felt so vulnerable. So exposed. Why did I do that? Did I really think that I was going to be able to get away with kissing another boy on the cheek and just go back to my everyday life without dealing with the harsh consequences of such a harsh and revealing 'attack' like that?
There was this gentle heaving in my chest that made me feel like I was going to eventually start crying over my stupid and overzealous mistake...but not quite yet. I was sure that I'd have a few moments to make some sort of lame excuse and bow out gracefully before he began to shout me out for the abnormal piece of subhuman trash that I was for thinking that he would ever be attracted to other boys.
I liked him. I REALLY liked him! But I guess that'll have to just be my problem. Not his. I mean, fair is fair, right? At least he's not totally freaking out right now.
Some more fireworks exploded overhead, and Salvie and I found it so difficult to look one another in the eye. I wish that I could come up with something to say. Something clever, or witty, or dismissive over what just happened. Maybe I could make it seem like a really unfunny joke or something. You know? Like I was just kidding around, and if he thought that I was being serious or tried to tell anybody what I did...I could just turn it all around, right? Like...no HE was the one who wanted to kiss! I was just goofing around! Psh! Perv!
Couldn't I just do that? Or maybe play it off as though it was no big deal? We're buds. Buds kiss each other on the cheek all the time. It's practically a custom made greeting in some countries overseas. Why would this be any different? There's got to be a way out of this. I know it. Am I thinking too much? I'm thinking too much aren't I?
More fireworks. It looks like things were officially getting underway now, and I was stuck here with one of the most beautiful boys EVER...slightly younger than me...and drowning in silence. Ugh!
I need to say something. Anything! I just can't handle the intensity of this uninterrupted 'hush' that's fallen between us. I should just, I don't...maybe I'll...
Softly spoken, Salvie was able to break my panicked fever by simply saying, "You can….grab that box, and I'll grab this one. K?"
His voice was shaking. Why was it shaking?
I'm fucked. I'm SO fucked. Oh God...why did I give in to such a temporary burst of lustful temptation??? I could have eased him into it a bit more. Maybe buttered him up with a few compliments first or something? What is he thinking right now? Is he as lost in a tantrum of boyish hysteria the same way that I am? Or is he just being polite and playing it cool for now so he can tell me to get lost after the holiday? I'm losing my shit here!
"Josh?" He said quietly.
"Yeah?" And it was then that I heard a couple of loud 'popping' noises from down the block, and remembered that I was supposed to be grabbing a box of fireworks to carry out into the front yard. Sorry. I was a little preoccupied with the idea of my entire LIFE being completely ruined from this evening forward! Excuse me if I seem a bit distracted right now. "Oh! Right! Yeah...this box?"
"Yes. Those are already separated so...I mean, we just need to set them up, and we'll improvise from there." His eyes made brief contact with mine, but it was quick. Scary and brief and full of doubt. And what I was hoping would be as much of a magical moment for him as it was for me...turned out to be the clumsiest attempt ever made by any boy ever who wanted to take that first baby step towards maybe finding someone special to have and to hold and care for as something more than just 'my cute friend who lives in the same neighborhood as me'. You know...like normal people.
Jesus...you know, I have a ten year old cousin who has already gotten half of this process worked out for himself. But he likes girls, and that's encouraged. So he has an entire world full of people who are willing to cheer him on, and a million romantic movies and TV shows to draw inspiration from. What do I have? Shame and secrecy and stupid silence while I pick up random fireworks off of Salvie's lawn. I can't even get him to look at me now. There are no Shakespearean quotes or radio airplay love songs that fit my particular situation. No proud T-shirts or unoffensive jokes about liking what I like in another boy my age. Just immature thoughts, underdeveloped emotions, and a series of spontaneous, unrehearsed, impulses that lead me to alienate the boy I love more than anything in this world by jerking forward to kiss him when I really REALLY didn't mean to!
Oh god...I can feel the shameful tears coming now. I should have made a smooth exit when I had a chance. Now I have to rush it before I start bawling in front of him like some kind of a weirdo.
"You know...before I carry these out..." My voice was trembling too now. Much worse than his. "...Let me just...I'm gonna run in the house really quick. I'll be right back, ok?"
"Ummm...k." He agreed. "I'll come back and make two trips. Or...well, I mean, it's no biggie."
"No way. It's cool. I'll only be a minute." I told him, and our eyes met again, with him quickly looking away from me again.
Yeah...I'm pretty sure that's a bad sign. I fucked up. I fucked up so hard. All for a little smooch on Salvie's cheek. Such a waste.
And yet...totally worth it. Heh...as I kept playing it over and over in my head, again and again, I tried to mentally prolong the moment by allowing the jitters that led up to it and the jitters to follow sweep me up and carry me off into some sort of nonsensical fantasy dreamworld where Salvie's reaction would have been...a bit more affectionate than the one that I got from him. His body is so soft and warm, his skin...so smooth. Pressing my lips against his cheek, even if only for a second, gave me a series of full body shivers that thrilled me beyond my ability to contemplate it all at once. Even with the humiliation of it turning out to be such a disaster, I found it hard to catch my breath. I mean, at least I gave it a shot, right? I'd be kicking myself forever if I hadn't.
I went into his house and closed myself up in his bathroom. I just...put my hands down on his sink and stared at my reflection, completely lost as to what to expect from the rest of my life going from here on out. It was really weighing that heavily on my shoulders. Maybe some people just think that this is a minor thing that will pass and eventually fade into the past where I barely even remember it anymore. But...I'm a teenager, you know? I don't have much of a 'past' behind me to build off of in terms of figuring out whether things are going to get any better in the future or not. I have no well of wisdom to draw from. No guiding light in the dark fog of inexperience and fear. All I have is...'me'.
Me, and this teary eyed reflection of myself in the mirror. To say that it's a crutch made of glass in matters of the heart would be an understatement of epic proportions.
And yet...it's all I had to stand on. So, unless I planned to spend the rest of our last evening together hiding out in this bathroom and feeling sorry for myself, I might as well go back out there and face whatever backlash that I've got coming to me. Right? What other choice do I have at this point?
I wiped my eyes on the back of my wrist, and stood up straight, shoulders back...hoping to push forth some level of strength and confidence for the remainder of the evening so I could maybe leech a little bit of fun out of this neighborhood fireworks thing tonight before Salvie decides that I'm not worthy of being invited back to his house any more.
Breathe, Josh. You're ok. Everything is going to be ok. Think it. Want it. Believe it.
Let's get back out there...
I opened the bathroom door...and was surprised to see Salvie standing right there in front of me with his arm raised, as if he was about to knock. "Oh. Hey..." I said.
"S'up?" He replied, a nervous tremble in his voice.
We both froze for a moment...fidgeting slightly...blushing like crazy...not knowing what to do with one another as I attempted to erase all of the tell-tale signs that I had of my unavoidable craving for him and everything that he was as a beautiful person, both inside and out. But as our pause lingered, I began to feel like I was the abnormality in this whole equation...and I tried to hide the shame of it as best as I could.
It sucked. Salvie had this magical 'wow' factor that was unlike anything that I've seen before...and even though he didn't have a girlfriend or anything, I found myself already getting jealous of the lucky girl that got to have him first. She was going to be the envy of my entire life. And she had better fucking appreciate her standing in this game of love and affection. She had better thank the stars above that a sweet, charismatic, untouchably beautiful boy like Salvador would ever even choose to look in her direction and...
Suddenly...I felt it. An unimaginably soft pair of boyish lips being pressed against my left cheek with a totally innocent amount of pressure and suction. I think he actually closed his eyes when he did it too. It was equally as spontaneous and unexpected as my kiss was for him just a few minutes ago.
Now it was MY turned to be totally shocked, and unsure of how to react. Possibly tossing poor Salvie down the same rabbit hold of terror and self doubt that I had been struggling through until I opened up that bathroom door.
Poor Salvie was shaking and cringing and wiggling to the point where I almost wanted to reach out to him to make sure that he was ok. Did he just kiss me? Like...was that on purpose? Was he just returning the favor, or was that like...an acceptance of my feelings for him. This was moving so much faster than I ever thought it would. But...emboldened by his 'non rejection' of me...I sort of jerked forward and kissed him on his other cheek. I was on autopilot at this point. I had no idea what I was doing here, but...it felt good. And there's nothing more erotic than seeing a fierce blush building up under Salvie's golden skin. It nearly took my breath away.
Pausing for a moment, I found an entirely different sense of comfort, being wrapped up in this unforgiving silence of ours. Seeing him sway and swoon nervously with a similar craving, a boyish sense of impatience, that I was at that very moment...both relaxed and excited my pounding heart, simultaneously.
Is this it? Is this what I've been searching for from him this whole time?
What the HELL is going on here???
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