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.
This story 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.
Again, this story has no sex scenes in it. ^_^ And if you have time, please read "Similar Differences" under the College section of Nifty. ^_^
"Doesn't it look weird to have someone waiting for you while you practice?"
I wanted to say, 'to have a classmate, who happens to be a guy, waiting for you' but I didn't. He didn't deserve that.
The second term had just started, after two weeks of R and R. Judo practice got more and more intense. It sometimes stretched on till 10 or 11 at night. The big tournament was only a week away.
"Doesn't anyone find it weird?" He just looked at me with his brow all scrunched up and his mouth half-open. I didn't know if he was mocking me or what. If I were a girl, I would've slapped him right then and there, but, then again, if I were a girl, it would've been less... weird. "That I wait for you for so long?"
Suddenly realizing what I've been talking about, he simply said, "Oh."
I should've known he wasn't capable of mocking me with a feigned stupid look. It just wasn't him to do that. But I marveled at the quality of how he replied.
How profound: "Oh."
We were walking away from the gym. It was around 10 or 11. By then it had become a routine: I'd wait for him after practice, and then, we'd drive over to his place for late dinner. Most of the time I'd end up sleeping over too.
"Uh, not really." That was a qualification if I heard one.
"What do you mean, 'really?'"
"Why are you acting like this?" A hedge. Then again, it did occur to me that I was nagging him. "You sound like a nosey, jealous girl." The edge with which he said it and the expression on his face shut me up. With just a single line, he changed the momentum of the whole ballgame.
For a while, we walked in silence to our cars, side by side.
"Ry, it's just that," I started. I didn't want him angry, but I did want to clear the air, "aren't people talking?"
"Why would they?" His reply wasn't hard or harsh. It was soft and almost pleading. It was like he whispered a prayer into the night, and didn't expect it to be answered.
"Ry," Walking beside him, looking up at his profile, I couldn't exactly tell what he was feeling. Anxiety? Fear? Anger? "Ry, I have a reputation. A gay one. I'm sure you know that."
"So? What does that have to do with us?" He answered a bit too quickly. So he did know I was one of the campus fags.
"Ry, aren't people talking about us?," I tried again. "I mean, I go over to your place, I sleep over. I wait for you for three hours during practice."
"Chris, do you want us to stop?"
There was the question. But I didn't know the answer to it. Part of me said, "Yes! Everything's so complicated! It's tiring!" but the other part simply said, "No."
"I don't know."
"Chris, there isn't any 'I don't know.' Please. Do you want us to stop? That's all that matters. I don't care what other people say."
For a while, I hesitated. I knew we had to.
"Ry... I don't want to," he breathed a sigh of relief before I added, "but we have to."
Then we stopped walking. He tilted his head up, looking straight at the sky.
This was where it all started, though it wasn't the very same place. He came up to apologize, in between looking up at the sky and looking down at his shoes, trying to gather his thoughts. I tried to listen, but ended up bawling and clinging to him.
"Chris. Please. Just for a little longer."
That night, he held me tighter than he'd ever held me before.
Ryan and I continued what we were doing, although we were more careful. We saw each other less frequently.
"Hm. It's happening again. Remember last sem? The Ryan-drought." Tara said one day.
"Yeah, it is."
"Well at least it isn't going on for three weeks in a row."
"Chris, what's up with you and Ry?"
I looked straight at her. "Nothing." And that's the truth.
I wouldn't say my friendship with Ryan had tarnished. I'd still go over to his place on weekends and we'd still have fun being with each other. We still shared a bed, but not as often as before.
Mrs. Corwen wasn't home that lazy Saturday afternoon. She had a Nursing Seminar somewhere and wouldn't be back until Sunday morning. Ry was in his room on the second floor, and I had my place on the rug in the living room, watching TV.
A Cooking Show was on. I was mesmerized by green leeks and transparent onions jumping around in a pan with a thin veil of smoke uncoiling upward. The searing shhhhh sound was not letting up in the background either.
That was one of my frustrations: cooking. I remember my monstrosities back when I was younger. Mom usually had to make back-up whenever I'd volunteer to help. (Whatever I made usually ended up as a black, smelly mess in the litter bin.)
"You must be really bored."
I must've been really enraptured by the show that I didn't hear Ry come down the stairs.
It embarrassed me a bit to be caught watching a cooking show and I felt as if I had to explain myself, "I thought it was interesting..."
Hm. Good explanation.
"Really? I didn't know you cooked."
"Oh, I do. I cook stuff really well. So well that they become charcoal. Very useful for barbecuing."
He just smiled at that. "Nah. I'm sure you're great. Hey, wanna cook dinner?" Was he crazy? "C'mon, I'll help you out. Don't worry."
As far as I was concerned, I knew that he was the better cook. But I was very tempted.
There's just something about cooking. It's like you're giving life to someone. Well, maybe that's too much. But seriously, when someone cooks for someone else, doesn't it say something? The cook would pour everything, his inner being into the carcasses of livestock so that they could live again in the happy stomachs of their charges. It was a craft so special, so... sanctified.
That's how I honestly felt about cooking.
"Okay. But only if you help me," then, thinking that I should do something special for Ry, I added, "But I want to do it on my own, somehow."
"Why don't I just watch and give you advice?"
"That's more like it."
Preparing the main dish, a stew with vinegar and soy sauce, took me around thirty minutes. I was running around flustered through the kitchen, finding pots and pans and pouring ingredients together while Ry was just seated saying, "Okay, enough," "Stop," and "Good." I felt like a one-man track team training for a warped marathon.
As the stew was simmering in its pot with the smell of vinegar and soy sauce floating throughout the air, I felt very light.
It was a strange sense of accomplishment.
For starters, though, we were supposed to have a simple salad with boiled eggs. I got three from the egg carton and dipped them in a pot of boiling next to the stew.
Two pots on the stove. What could be more perfect?
"I just remembered. The last time I tried to cook eggs was for a Spanish cultural project back in high school."
Vince, being my seatmate, (literally) grabbed me and held me with his arm around my shoulder when our Spanish teacher told us to pair up for the project. In the back my head, I was thinking about how wrong it would get - but then I tried to console myself by thinking that maybe he knew how to cook.
But when he said, "How do you crack an egg?" I knew we were in trouble.
Considering the circumstances, we had it fairly easy. All we had to make was a Tortilla Hispanola, which was basically egg with potatoes and onions.
We had eight eggs, enough to fill a pretty large pan. But after I asked him to beat them, ("How could you be so cruel?" he asked. It was a very corny joke. Cute. But corny.) the mixture seemed to have been reduced to half.
It didn't really matter much, though. We were having fun. He'd make a stray comment about brutality to eggs, I'd retort about the state of the nation's potatoes ("What are these, mutant potatoes? They seem to be getting bigger and bigger!").
When I was slicing the onions, occasionally wiping the tears away, he went on and on about how I'd find someone new. He even had the gall to hug me from behind to whisper, "I'm here for you," with a faked French accent that didn't sound French at all.
I probably should've done the beating myself, since I wasn't an expert knife-handler. Slicing the potatoes was difficult - we had to cut them up thinly.
And I ended up cutting myself. "Ow!"
In a flash, he was beside me, "Are you okay? What happened?" He took my little hand and started examining the fingers. I had cut myself at the top part of my left pointer finger.
Knife-cuts like that aren't really big, but are usually deep.
I was about to say, "It's okay, I'm fine," when he did the unthinkable.
He sucked on it.
My face - my whole face, not just my cheeks - felt hot. Not just warm, but hot. With my jaw hanging loose, I just stared, my eyes as big as the potatoes I was slicing.
I guess that's why he became self-conscious about it. With an "Oh, sorry," he ran out of the kitchen. Dazed, I just kept on looking at where he had been standing, and then at my finger, then back to the air which had replaced him.
When he got back, he had a white plastic box with him that had a red cross on it. "Here, wash it."
He led me to the sink as if I were an old lady crossing the street. I was so out of it.
The cut had been clean but it stung. He washed my finger and gently dabbed a little alcohol on it "just to be sure." Finally, he wrapped a band aid around my finger.
"Sorry 'bout that." Then he turned red. "Um... when I was a kid, I used to suck on my fingers when I'd cut them."
"It was nothing," Actually, it was something, but I didn't have the guts to tell him that. And suddenly remembering what he just had done, I said, "Thanks. You'll make a great doctor someday."
That was his ambition: to be a doctor.
In the end, our omelet wasn't a complete failure. Though we barely passed that requirement, I had my band aid and everything that went with it.
At dinner, Ry was the first to taste the stew. I didn't want to be the first one to try it at all. He grimaced, made a face.
I knew it: I was hopeless.
He must've read my expression really well because, all of a sudden, he burst out laughing. "It's great!"
"Are you just trying to make me feel better?"
"No! No! Go ahead. You try it."
I did. And it was pretty good. A smug-warm feeling started enveloping me.
"You must feel pretty good about yourself, huh?"
"Why'd you say so?"
"Written all over your face." He was smiling. "It's a good thing you didn't cut yourself. I would've had to suck on your finger then." He said, almost trailing off at the end.
When we started cleaning up, I just had to thank him for helping me.
"I had fun."
"Really? Yeah, it was fun." Immediately after, Ry seemed to regret saying it.
A moment had ended. Something would eventually follow.
It was about one in the morning. Ry had rolled over to his side of the bed, while I was steeped in my own thoughts. It was one of those times when I couldn't seem to sleep.
As if I've forgotten how to.
The afterglow had left us some three hours before, and in its wake, I'd usually feel that way: feel nothing. If I'd get lucky, I'd drift off to sleep. If I didn't, which was usually the case, I'd end up being pensive for the next few hours.
My reverie was broken, though, when I heard soft sniffling.
Though it was very soft, I was sure of it: Ry was crying. And I didn't know what to do.
I rolled over and forced him to face me, but he wouldn't look at me. He just pressed his face to my chest and continued to sob.
I couldn't do anything at all. With my chin on his head, I tried to rub his back as I held him, gently whispering, "Shh... it'll be okay," even though I knew it was all useless.
Soon he stopped.
He had fallen asleep.
The emptiness I felt, I thought, was nothing compared to the emptiness that lay inside him.
But both were eating us alive.