By Petros firstname.lastname@example.org
Foreword: I'm writing this story as if it were a book (wrongly or rightly), and so it's being
written as if it were to be read in order without a few weeks between each chapter. Consequently
it may get a little confusing and seem disjointed. It isn't though. If it seems that way, have a quick
scan over Chapter 11 and then come back to it.
I couldn't feel my legs. I'd been sitting for hours, cross-legged on the floor, waiting. Waiting and staring. The red lights that formed the display on my alarm clock must have been burning a hole in the back of my eyes. I felt nauseas with fear. The possibilities were too dreadful to consider and the anticipation was killing me. There was nothing I could do, nothing but wait. So wait I did.
The clock read five minutes past six when the phone eventually rang. My hand was trembling as I reached out to answer. I hesitated, my hand hovering over the receiver, and then I took a deep breath, swallowed and picked up the handset. It was Derek. I knew that before I answered, even before the phone rang. It had to be. He had to call. "Hello," I said tentatively into the microphone.
"Pete, is that you?" came Derek's reply. I was relieved. The waiting was over. I was afraid though. Terribly afraid. What would Derek have to say?
"Yes, it's me. How are you?"
"I'm fine. How are you?" he asked, sounding nervous, almost hesitant.
"Been better," I replied, trying to sound calm.
"I can imagine. I heard what happened this afternoon.... the whole school knows."
"I expected that, you know how news travels. So what happens now?"
"I don't know. It's going to be... I... I can't help you. It's too much of a risk, god knows what might happen. I... I'm sorry. I really... I... I think it's over. I can't go on." I was stunned. The thought had entered my head, but as terrified as I'd been I never really believed it would come to this. How could he? Right when I needed him the most he runs away. I should have expected it; he'd run away before. I couldn't speak, no words would come to me. "Pete. Pete, are you there? Look, I've got to go, we're due at the airport soon. I... I'm sorry..." I hung up. I'd heard enough. My mind was racing. I stood up. I felt dizzy. My mind plunged into darkness.
The next thing I can remember, I was sitting propped up against the side of my bed with my mother leaning over me. "Peter, Peter, can you hear me?"
"Mum, wha... what happened?"
"I don't know. I think you must have fainted, I heard a crash so I called up to you. You didn't answer so I came up and you were lying on the floor, passed out."
"Oh right, umm, ok," I said and then memories of exactly what had happened, and caused me to black out, came rushing back to me, flooding my mind and almost over whelming me again. It was over. He was gone. And nothing I could do would bring him back, not now. "Uh, I think I stood up too quickly, I'll be fine," I told my mother, trying desperately to get rid of her so that I could be alone. I needed to be alone.
"Ok, if you're sure honey. Let me know if you feel off at all, I'll check up on you soon, ok?"
"Sure mum. And thanks." She smiled and then left, leaving my door slightly ajar.
I lifted myself up onto my bed and then fell back. I closed my eyes and instantly my head was filled with images of Derek, and the two of us together. I could remember so clearly, so vividly, the first time we met. Over two years ago, out on the football field not five minutes from here. I could remember his striking appearance and his gentle good looks. I remembered how he confused me, how different he made me feel. I remembered how we'd become friends at school and then how, just as I'd given up all hope, he'd confessed his feelings for me. It had been a dream come true but now it was over. I could scarcely believe it. It took a while to sink in. It was over. A great sense of loss began to slowly creep through me until I was completely overcome by it. Tears began to well in my eyes. I rolled over and buried my face in the pillow. The tears flowed freely as I cried hysterically.
I cringed from the memories as my mind turned to the afternoon. I tried to stop it and think of something else, but I was unable. I was torturing myself and there was nothing I could do about it.
We'd been in English, Steven and I. It was our last class before lunch, which was, for the two of us, the last of the day and of the week. I suppose we were both anxious to get through the class and get home so we weren't paying as much attention as we should have been. We were more interested in chatting to each other and having a laugh. The teacher didn't find it very funny though and she kept the pair of us back after the bell. It was the last day before the holiday and she would have been looking forward to the time off just as much as we were; I guess that's why she let us off with a warning. Even English teachers had more heart than to give out punishment exercises over the holidays. We fled from the classroom and bounded down the corridor to the stairs. We burst through the doors and almost ran straight into Mr Murphy, our registration teacher, who was about to come through. We apologised and continued on our way at a more sedated pace.
"So, what you go planned for the holidays?" Steven asked as we started down the stairs.
"Nothing much planned. You?"
"Nowt much either, just hanging out with you I guess, seeing as you won't have your boyfriend around to fuck," Steven replied.
"That sounds good. I'm gonna fucking miss him," I mused as we reached the second floor. As we did a third voice joined our conversation.
"What the fuck?" It was Kevin Bryden: school thug. "Fucking your boyfriend eh? So you are a fucking poof! I fucking knew it, wait till word gets round about this. You're gonna fucking die poofter!"
I panicked. Who wouldn't have? I made a futile attempt to save myself. "You don't know what the fuck you're talking about, I'm not fucking queer."
"I know what I heard, you - Steven - you said it, is he?" Kevin demanded, turning his attention to Steven.
"No way, we were just kidding," Steven said unconvincingly.
"Fuck you, you're probably fucking bent too. Poofs!" Kevin screamed and then ran off down the stairs.
I turned slowly, from where Kevin had disappeared from sight, back to Steven. There was panic on his face. The self same panic that I guessed was present on my own. I opened my mouth to speak, but was lost for words.
"Oh shit." He'd captured the situation near perfectly with those two choice words. The shit had truly hit the fan this time.
"Don't worry, I doubt he'll say anything about you. It's me he doesn't like," I said trying to reassure Steven. It was my fault. I was the one who was fucking gay. If I could have just been normal then this whole mess would never have arisen, I told myself.
"Yeah, I think," I told him.
"But what about you? He heard what I said! Fuck! Fucking hell! I'm sorry, I'm so fucking stupid, I should've kept my mouth shut!"
"Whoa! Chill out mate, it's not your fault. I'm the queer, I was bound to get found out," I said despondently.
"No, don't talk like that. Please. You've done nothing wrong, it's my fault," Steven almost snarled at me. He was hurt. He seemed angry with himself or with Kevin. I wanted to take his anger from him, it wasn't his fault. I didn't want him to suffer because of me.
"No, no, it's not your fault. It's Kevin's if anyone's I guess," I turned and started walking down the stairs. I felt sick. I wanted, no I needed, to get home; and fast. "It'll be fine," I said, fooling neither of us. I picked up my pace, hurrying down the stairs.
"Petros, wait up, are you ok?" Steven called after me. I could hear his footsteps, heavy, pounding on the stairs behind me as he rushed to catch me.
I reached the bottom of the stairs. There was a foul stench in the stairwell entrance. Rotting food, and the unmistakeable smell of urine. It was unpleasant at the best of times; now it made me retch. I pushed open the heavy swing doors leading onto the playground. I gulped at the fresh air. The sudden sunlight stung my eyes. Steven was beside me. I was aware of his hand on my shoulder. I could vaguely hear his voice asking if I was all right. I was not all right.
I looked around the playground. Hoards of other pupils seemed to surround me; they stood huddled in crowds watching, whispering. I could feel their eyes staring at me. I could sense hatred burning in their eyes. They knew, my mind screamed out. I felt dizzy. I had to escape. I started across the vast expanse of tarmac that lay before me, keeping me from the school gate - which loomed ominously ahead of me. The playground seemed to be against me. The millions of tiny blobs of chewing gum trodden into it's surface, some as old as the school itself no doubt, were alive. They were sticking to my feet, holding onto me, not letting me go. The gate lay before me: The gateway to freedom. I started to run. I ran as fast as I could. I sprinted across the yard and through the gate. I didn't stop. I sprinted along the street, past Jamie's house. Memories of that first fleeting encounter moons ago returned to torment me. It was his fault. Jamie. Jamie made me gay. It was all down to him.
I carried on past his house. Down the hill I ran, across the playing fields and into my own street. I was in familiar territory at last. The houses seemed to welcome me. Friendly houses. The lively gardens, rich with the vivid colours of autumn, gave me energy; I ran faster, and faster still, onwards towards my home. I rounded the bend in the road and my house came into view. The dark sandstone structure, which to some could seem gloomy and foreboding, was a welcome sight, I could feel it's warmth extending towards me and encompassing me, drawing me in towards it.
I burst through my front door and slammed it behind me. I was safe. I slumped to the floor with my back to the glass door. I sat there for what could only have been moments, with my heart racing and my breathing shallow, before the doorbell rang. I jumped with fright, smacking my head against the door as I did. I think that knocked some sense of reality back into me. I stood up and opened the door. A very red faced Steven stood, hunched forwards leaning on his thighs, panting on the door step.
"You... can... fairly... fucking run," he gasped between breaths. With one hand on the back of my head, I reached out and guided him by the shoulder into my house, and through to the sitting room where we both sat to recover. Once we'd both caught our breaths Steven asked if I was ok.
"I dunno. I feel... umm, pretty fucked up I think," I told him.
"You fairly took off through that playground, you feeling sick or something?" he asked.
"No," I said and then paused. I thought hard about why I had taken off as I did. "They knew, they all knew. They were staring and they knew," I said slowly. That wasn't a reason, but it was all I had.
"Don't be stupid, they don't know, how could they?" He was right. Of course they didn't know. "You know what Bryden's like, he slags everyone off, no-one'll believe him anyway."
I wanted to believe Steven but I couldn't. He was right about Kevin; he did have something bad to say about everyone, but I knew this was different. He'd heard us. He knew. And because he knew, he wouldn't give up on it. Rumours only seem to die away when they're not true. "No," I said after some time, "they will believe him. I'm fucked."
Steven stood up and crossed the room and sat down next to me. "It'll be Ok," he said reassuringly as he placed his arm round me, "what's the worst that's gonna happen? If they do believe him you'll get called names for a few weeks, then they'll get bored. We'll all stick by you, and stick up for you. And I'm sure Derek'll help you through,"
Derek. I had barely even thought about him, until now. What would Derek say? He'd stand by me, right? Like Steven said. Or would he want nothing to do with me? I began to panic, fearing it could be all over. Derek had an image to protect, and what if that mattered more to him than I did? I started crying. "He'll dump me," I sobbed, "if he doesn't he'll get found out too, and he won't let that happen."
"No way, he wouldn't do that," Steven said. But what did Steven know, he barely knew Derek at all. I wept onto Steven's shoulder, unable to talk, nothing left to say, all afternoon. Steven was great. He sat and tried to console and comfort me, until he had to go. Then I was alone, alone and waiting for Derek. Steven must have thought I was being stupid, to him my reactions must have seemed entirely disproportionate. I was sure he was humouring me. Why would he understand though? What experience could a heterosexual suffer that could compare to being outed at high school.
I shook the memories from my head, out of the past and back to the present. Single, and hating it, I picked myself up off the bed. I looked back at the clock. It was nine thirty. I walked over to my stereo and flipped the radio on, just in time to hear the start of 'I don't want to talk about it'.
I can tell by your eyes that you've probably been crying forever,
And the stars in the sky don't mean nothing to you,
They're a mirror.
I don't want to talk about it,
How you broke my heart,
If I stay here just a little bit longer,
Won't you listen to my heart,
Fresh tears began to roll from my bloodshot eyes and down my already tear stained face. I sat down on the floor, hugging my knees in to my chest, and stayed there until my mother found me just before midnight as she went to bed. She was worried about me, but I wouldn't talk. She got me up and made me get ready for bed. Once I was in bed I couldn't sleep. My mind was racing, filled with images of the good times, the bad times and all the other times. I couldn't believe it was finished. And with Derek a thousand miles away there was nothing I could do about it.
It was five twenty six am when I last looked at the clock. I must have fallen asleep shortly after that. I awoke around midday on Saturday, feeling refreshed, revitalised and ready to face the world. Then I remembered what had happened. I began to weep once more. I closed my eyes and curled up and didn't get up until six o'clock. I dragged myself wearily out of bed and ambled downstairs wearing a tee-shirt and jogging trousers.
My parents were worried about me. Steven, they told me, had phoned three times and Jenni had been to the door. They told them that I was ill, and still in bed. My mum sat me down and gave me a mug of hot lemon tea while my dad cooked me up a miracle cure: chicken soup. I finished the drink and hungrily devoured the soup. I hadn't eaten since breakfast on Friday. I was starving, and could have eaten all night; I was feeling awful though, and didn't want to be around anyone so I retired to my room. I spent the evening in bed staring blankly at the TV, paying little to no attention to whatever was on. Jenni came round again on Sunday afternoon. She came in and sat with me for a while.
"Hey love," she'd said, "I heard what happened..." I looked puzzledly at her. "Kevin Bryden heard you and Steven talking, and he's spreading it around school that you're gay, remember?"
"Oh, yeah that." I replied.
"Uh-oh. What else happened?"
"Derek. Derek fucking happened," I told her starting to get angry. "He found out, and he called me up and dumped me. He wants out because he doesn't want found out about, and it'd ruin his macho image to hang around with a poof, so that's it. Finshed."
"Oh God, how could he? When you needed his support the most," Jenni almost cried as she embraced me. "I'm so sorry. Oh babe, I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault," I told her, "should've seen it coming. It was too good to last," I said almost laughing at the bleakness of the situation. It wasn't funny though.
She did her best to cheer me up, but it was to no avail. She left again a few hours later, and I felt just as bad as I had when she arrived. I was so depressed I didn't know what to do with myself. I barely left my bedroom the whole weekend.
It was Tuesday before I first left the house. I was still feeling very low but I wanted to get out of the house. Being stuck in the same room, with the same people around me all the time almost drove me mad. I called Jenni, but she wasn't home. I called Steven and asked what he was doing. He wasn't doing anything, so he invited me round to his house. I accepted the offer and started on my way to Steven's house. About half way there I almost turned back.
It was early afternoon and the streets were quite quiet. I saw a group of five or six guys that I recognised from school, some of them from the year above mine, and some from the same. They were standing in a roughly circular crowd on a street corner. I was walking on the other side of the road. I heard them laughing and joking loudly as I neared them. As I got closer one of the noticed me and pointed me out to the rest of the group. I could feel my hands start to tremble. They quickly quietened down once they'd seen me. I kept my gaze fixed firmly ahead of me. As I passed them I could hear them whispering and sniggering. I could feel them staring at me. Their hating and fearing looks burned into my wounded ego. It took all the strength I had not to fall apart. I wanted to turn and run. I wanted to be somewhere else, even dead. I fought to remain calm, and keep walking. I walked on, trying not to seem as scared as I was; I tried to look confident. I crossed the road and then turned off onto the footpath that would lead me safely into Steven's estate. As soon as I turned the corner, I glanced over my shoulder to make sure they were out of sight, and then I ran. I ran non-stop, as fast as I could, until I reached Steven's door. I almost flew straight into Steven, who had come out to meet me.
"Whoa, slow down man!" Steven said as we pulled ourselves apart.
"Sorry, didn't expect you to be there," I said, gasping for breath.
"I saw you running, from my window, and came down to make sure everything was alright. What's up?"
"Just running. Nothing wrong," I lied. He could tell. We went inside, and into his kitchen where we both sat at the table.
"So, what happened?" he asked again. We sat in silence for a few minutes. Finally I spoke up.
"I ran into some guys from school, they knew. The whole school must know. They were pointing and laughing. I ran away, I was running from them."
"Did they touch you? Were they chasing them?" Steven said, starting to become visibly agitated.
"No, no it's alright. They didn't do anything, I just felt so... so small. You know? Everyone around knows my deepest secret, and it's like the world is staring at me and laughing. It is staring and laughing. I'd have probably been okay if, well, you know..."
"No..." Steven said slowly, visibly straining to think what might be wrong.
"Jenni didn't tell you?"
"No, tell me what?"
"Oh. Me and Derek split up," I said doing my best to stay calm.
"What?" Steven exclaimed. "What happened?"
"Someone told him I guess, so he phoned me and dumped me on Friday night. Cunt. Too wrapped up in himself," I said as I began to sob, "didn't want to get found out, or have his reputation spoiled by having a queer friend."
"Shit man, that sucks." Steven said. He stopped to think for a moment then continued, "It'll be Ok."
"How?" I interrupted.
"Because, he's just in shock. He'll calm down and get used to it like everyone else will, then things will go back to the way they were. I hope. Anyway, if he doesn't then he's not worth worrying about, and that'll leave you free for some other lucky guy."
"I guess you're right. You got anyone in mind though, I could use a good fuck?"
"Well, now that you mention it..." Steven replied, batting his eye lids seductively.
"You?" I laughed.
"Yeah, what's wrong with that? Don't you fancy me?" He demanded.
"No, well, shut up! You're not gay anyway,"
"Oh, who says?" he said sounding hurt.
"No-one I guess..." I said. "So, do you want to?" I asked jokingly, but not sure if I meant it or not.
"Yeah, why not," he said grinning.
"Are you fucking with me?"
I left Steven's house feeling a whole lot happier. I hadn't forgotten about Derek or what happened, but I was feeling a lot better about myself. With Steven and Jenni's help I made it through the week. It was tough, and things almost got quite nasty on Friday night.
We were out in Glasgow, at an under 18s disco, which were held weekly in some of the city's nightclubs. It was half past ten, the disco had just finished, and we'd all been cleared out to make room for the drinking guests. We all (Jenni, Steven, Neil, Gary and I) wandered back to central station. Before we got there, the others decided they wanted food and disappeared into a burger joint that was still open. Not being hungry, I waited outside for them to re-appear. While I was waiting, two guys from school, one in my maths class and another who was in the year below me I think, came my way.
"Well, well," the older one started, "look who it is, it's poof boy. All alone in the city, well we knew you were gay, but a rent boy too?"
"If that doesn't deserve a beating then I don't know what does," his young friend announced. Inconveniently, there was a dark and unpleasant looking alleyway only a few yards down the street from us. "Get him?"
"Yeah, let's do the bender." I was sure that they were about to grab me and beat the life from me when I became aware of three figures standing at my side.
"Is there a problem here?" Neil, the largest of us, inquired of my assailants.
"No, we were just chatting," the older one said, glaring at me as they walked off.
The weekend passed slowly, and painfully. School was drawing near once again and I was dreading it. School meant Derek, and that wasn't something I was looking forward to facing.
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