Most of this is actually fiction, but some parts are, well, sort of autobiographical. The names of the characters, though, have been changed so as to protect their privacy. As with most stories, however, the author retains all rights to this story. Without the permission of the author, no reproductions or links to other sites are allowed.

Oh, important too: this deals with male homosexual love. If you are not of legal age (18 or 21, it depends actually where), or if you live/are in a place where material such as this is illegal, or if you are simply offended by homosexuality and/or homosexual themes, please leave.

This story has no sex scenes in it.

It's hardly been two years since I've left my high school, yet somehow it feels as if it were such a long time ago. I really don't know why. It could be the wide expanse of my university campus, but I've actually grown quite accustomed to that; maybe it's the sudden submersion into a pool of strange people, which made me lose what little power I used to wield back in high school. But whatever it is, I feel as if college has been draining me - sucking the youth out of me, pulling me into a vortex of pre-pre-midlife crisis.

And I'm just nineteen!

Some people would say I look younger, which would inevitably have me grinning like a fool. Honestly though, I don't "feel" nineteen. I feel like I'm somewhere between 50 and 60 - although I really have no basis for saying so. It's as if I've passed my prime - I know I'm not going to look much like this for long. Soon, my forehead will start to wrinkle and my hair will start falling off. (Actually, I think my hair has started falling off already.) And when I think about how I've started wilting, how my decline has made its tiny but staggeringly evident appearance, I start feeling depressed.

Yes, reading through it all, I can't help but think how vain I actually am. But, what can I do? My youthful, carefree high school days have long gone. And yet, I feel as if nothing significant has happened to me.

I've never shoplifted or vandalized, and experienced the thrill of thinking that someone might be hiding around every corner waiting to show me his badge and start saying, "You have the right to remain silent." Sure, I may have aided a little in some kids cheating at school... (Chris, could I see your answers? I'm not so sure about mine...) but doesn't every warm-blooded student do that? And I've had a whole lot of crushes but I really can't say I've been in love. Just in like. A whole lotta like, verging on obsession. (Being gay in an all-boys' private high school, what do you expect? Any warm-blooded youngster like me would. Just to clarify, though, I'm not really a serial liker. I just pinpoint certain, interesting ones. Seriously though, I think I just obsessed over one.) I haven't yet made an emotional connection, much less a physical one. In my book, the former comes before the latter. But sometimes, when I feel so down, I get so tempted to forget the rules I've set for myself.

I guess that's what makes me as vain as I am.

Which is possibly why I couldn't help but feel a bit envious of my college classmates. Compared to me, they've squeezed out as much as they could from their youth - and relished its essence.

As for me, I just sat and watched, while the essence of my youth evaporated, leaving it dried up like a prune. (Or a raisin, for that matter, since I am not really such a big guy.)

Of all my college friends, it is only Tara who knows that I am gay. I really wouldn't say she's offensive, just a little too outspoken and a bit too brutally frank sometimes, except when it comes to her boyfriend, Spanky. (I honestly don't know what his real name is: Tara just keeps on calling him that so I quickly adapted and started calling him Spanky as well.) When she talks to him, it seems as if her blatant displays become endearing.

(Didn't I say I was envious?)

We were sitting outside Spanky's classroom one day when all of a sudden she said, "Chris, are you gay?"

Normally, when someone asks this question, there is some kind of build up and you could be somewhat prepared. Not so with her. Since I didn't have the preparation time, I just sat there, gaping at her.

"Well? Are you or are you not?"

"Where did this come from?

"Stop hedging and answer."

"Uh... I am." I made it sound like a question, with the intonation rising at the end, right at "am."

"Okay. Have a boyfriend?" She said it so matter-of-factly that I was taken aback. I knew that my cheeks were warm even without touching them. She? She just went on, prodding me and asking about me and my gay life without batting an eyelash. Surprisingly, I answered her in all honesty. She didn't really tell me what suddenly inspired the question... but a lot of people actually think I am. They're just too polite to come out and ask me. Maybe it's because I get effeminate sometimes?

When the bell rang, and Spanky finally came out, I thought she'd go, "Hey Spanky! Come over here and kiss Chris! He's never done it before." Thankfully, she just winked at me, mouthing, "our secret." Spanky didn't notice.

I knew, right then and there, that we would be really good friends.

Since Tara and I shared almost the same classes, we'd have the same breaks every day. We hang out a lot with each other, and whenever potential eye-candy passed by, she'd raise her eyebrow in the general direction of Mr. Hotstuff.

And we'd start rating: 10 being the highest, 1 being the lowest. Oddly enough, out of the seventy or so men we've rated, we've only agreed on around... three. Whenever I'd give someone an 8 or a 9, she'd say, "3" or "2." And whenever she'd give someone an 8 or a 9, I'd say, "2" or "1."

I even went out and brought my high school yearbook to her and we rated each and everyone of my "certain, interesting ones." Again, we didn't agree. Not even with Vincent. (Or Vince, as I used to call him.) The one I obsessed over.

What can I say about him? He was a member of our high school basketball team, and yeah, as you can imagine, he was quite tall. (At least, to me he was.) When I stood beside him, I'd only reach up to his nice, pouty lips.

Erm... yeah.

I think he stood from around 6'1" to 6'3"; pretty impressive, considering I'm only 5'6". He had pretty features: Smiling eyes. A light complexion with just the right amount of freckles scattered on his cheeks and across his straight nose. Beautiful jet black hair that cascaded down and framed his roundish face. A bright smile when he's sincere, a shy one when he's embarrassed.

What really drew me to him, though, was his inherent... charm. I guess you could call it that. It didn't really have much to do with his looks. (Okay, that was a lie. The first time I saw him, I secretly prayed that he'd be in my homeroom soon. True enough, the year after, there he was! And not only that, we shared a whole lot of subjects together! I honestly thought then, "It's a sign.")

His attitude, the way he carried himself though, pulled me even closer. I'd find myself smiling whenever I'd see him do little things - like bite the joint on his thumb when he'd get nervous, or smile his shy smile when he'd be called to answer by our teacher(s) but when he had somehow forgotten the question (because he'd have been busy talking and chuckling with someone else). Ironically, though he was on the basketball team, he wasn't so big-headed about it. He didn't push anyone out of his way at all. And that added to his appeal... well, to me at least.

What sealed the deal though, was the strange but equally wonderful glow I'd get whenever he'd do things... to me. During our last year in high school, he sat next to me in almost all our classes - and his left arm would be draped around my shoulders almost all the time. (Normally, his right hand's thumb-joint would be busy being bitten.) At some point, he would eventually pat my head or pinch my cheek. (Once, our teacher caught him doing this and raised her eyebrow at us. He just smiled his shy smile and looked down. The smile simply doubled my happiness: the pinch had made me all fluttery.)

Of course, I didn't take it as anything early on. He was a cute, cute guy, with a cute, cute attitude. But he had a girlfriend then, so I was acutely aware of his... "straightness." So whenever he'd pinch my cheek, I just thought that we was slightly eccentric.

But everytime I'd feel that strange but equally wonderful glow, it's fleeting ephemerality made reality almost unbearable. I had to sit beside him each day - with his arm draped around my shoulders. But I was confined to just that and nothing more.

Yes. The more I thought about him, the lonelier I felt.

When we graduated, we went to different universities. He was offered a basketball scholarship in a university I couldn't get into.

So, while my unconditional "10" wasn't based solely on his looks, Tara's miserable "4.5" was. (Still, even without his childish-childlikeness, I would've given him at least an "8.5.")

I did miss him. I missed him bad. And somehow, when I daydream about him, any imperfections he had were lost in the haze of my obsession.