Loving you, loving me
No, that last chapter was not the end. Many have written to me asking me that question. Perhaps it was just the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the beginning of the end. Or something like that!
What follows is a work of fiction. The story revolves around teenage gay males and includes sexual and other contents that may be offensive to some. If you think this might be the case, or if you are under the legal age in the area where you live, please do not read any further. Any resemblances to persons, names, or places are unintentional and mere coincidence. Please respect my efforts in writing this, and do not copy or reproduce any part of the story without my permission.
There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
There's nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be in time
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
"It sort of just happened. I wasn't
expecting it either."
"Whoa, let's back up a bit. It `just happened'? You don't go around hugging people for no reason."
"We were in a play."
"But how many people in class had an intimate love scene like yours?"
"I--I guess we were the only one..." I answered.
"Dave, Dave, you have no idea,"
Nicole said grinning like she knew something I didn't, "I knew it all along!"
Her brown eyes lit up with a mischievous sparkle.
"Huh?" I was puzzled, and wondering what she was talking about, and what had transformed her surprise, or perhaps shock from before, to amusement all of a sudden.
"Oh, come on, genius! Isn't it obvious? He likes you!" Her face had a smile spread from cheek to cheek as if she had just uncovered gossip of the century.
"I don't know," I said uncertainly, even though inside I partly knew that she very well had a point, "It was all an act, and I guess he wanted to make it all the more dramatic." But then, could it be that he...? Then my usual pessimism launched a paralysing offensive and won my thoughts over. Children laughed in the distance.
"Gosh, Dave, from the walk in the sunset, to that romantic afternoon in the storm, and now this," she teased, barely able to hide her chuckles, "And let's not forget those ambiguous love messages in class. Boy, Dave, you're really moving fast!"
"They weren't love messages!" I said, feeling embarrassed that she was making a big deal out of perhaps nothing. With my luck, most excitement about things that seemed to forespell some sort of happiness or a change from the routine and mundane life that I led usually amounted to nothing. "We're not going anywhere at all. Just close friends, I guess." Closer friends than what Leo and I have done together up till now I've never had before.
The sun was bright today, and the
sky clear, almost cloudless, like a fine summer's day. Only the temperature and
chilling breeze betrayed the fact that it was already mid-winter. More and more
Nicole had been insisting that we go to the park whenever I visited. I guess it
was a pleasant change from staying indoors all day. She could have a breath of
fresh air, just like the others who were out walking their dogs, or children. Or both.
"Don't be so pessimistic. This could be your chance to be with someone, to finally experience all those things you dream of," she said. Nicole seemed to have this gift of luring the deepest and most well concealed thoughts and longings out from deep inside of me. She knew that I've always longed to be loved, and to love in return. She knew that with each passing day that I was alone, the more I felt hope of finding someone to share life with drain away. I was desperate, perhaps because everyone in class seemed to have someone--someone to talk to, someone to walk with, someone to smile about, someone to laugh with, someone to share with, someone to care about. And whenever I saw couples cuddling and kissing I could not but feel jealousy rise; jealousy which in turn becomes regret and remorse at why I was so alone. I looked at the children playing in the playground in the distance, and envied their playfulness.
"Like I said before, I'm not even sure he's gay," I said with a hint of sadness. I guess I would be a little disappointed if he turned out to be straight, though it would just have to be something I had to live with. Being gay, I've always believed, made it even more difficult to find someone. Straight people have it easier since they could just go for the opposite sex. But with gays it's not like you could tell who is who, and I was a total beginner in this `strange new world', so still unsure about the `subtle' signs, let alone tune my `gaydar' on the same receiving and transponding frequency as other like-minded people.
"Oh, you and your pessimism!" Nicole said as she reached over a gave me a light slap on the head, the way you would when a child said something wrong, not out of mischief, but more because he simply didn't know any better. "Believe me, Dave, I have a `feel' for this kind of thing. I've seen Leo around in school, and together from the things you've just told me, I really think he is interested in you." She winked at me as she said that, and the wink seemed to channel this funny feeling into me, and temporarily I felt uplifted. Perhaps there was a possibility, even if it was only a slight possibility... Hope thrives on slim possibilities. Naked trees around us held their bare arms up high, like silent men and women reaching for the heavens in prayer.
I didn't answer, but just stared at my feet, which shuffled the dirt around my shoes. I wasn't sure what I was trying to build, if anything, with my feet and the little dirt under the green bench we were sitting on, but it kept me occupied. The face of the bench bore markings left by people who felt it necessary to leave their mark for all to see. There were the expected swear words, and rude doodles. But in the confusion of tipex and permanent marker pens a number of genuine, heart-felt declarations shone through. Clear confessions, honest admissions, open affirmations to the big wide world of their deepest and purest thoughts. Perhaps someone who once scrawled here did so out of the hope that maybe there is a chance, however small, that the other person would see the message, feel the same in return, and a miraculous love affair would then follow. Perhaps someone had hidden all these emotions inside all along, but was simply afraid of saying them out loud. Perhaps they were afraid the other would not feel the same way. Perhaps they were afraid of their own feelings, baffled by them because the feelings were so strong, so intense, so confusing. I glanced at them, and felt them speak to me.
"You OK?" Nicole asked. A young boy screamed with excitement as he dove down the slide. The centerpiece of the playground was a house with a slide, ladders, holes and ropes to climb on. A magical place, where children's fantasies, dreams and imaginations met in a world in which they could play the hero, or the villain, or both.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just thinking."
"About him?" A small sweet smile flashed across Nicole's face.
"I guess," I admitted. It was true that Leo's face, body, eyes, voice--everything--had been imprinted on my mind ever since that eventful play we did together. Or perhaps even before then. It confused more than anything. One part of me told me to get over it, and kept telling me that it was just innocent playacting. Another part, the curious and desperate me, saw something deeper behind the words and touches that afternoon in the aula. Sure it was a play, but plays are often a reflection of reality...if not the truth.
"Well, why don't you find out if
he's interested," she said, as if it were that easily done. "So
what happened after the play?"
"I left," I answered honestly. Black ravens croaked, sniggering like old ladies.
"You just left?!" Nicole asked, with
a low gasp and wide open eyes, obviously stunned from my reaction. She put her
hands around her bloated belly, as if the shock of what I just said triggered a
reaction from the little being inside as well.
"Yeah, I left. I had a class to go to, and I didn't really feel like staying around," I said. I did that a lot after classes. I'd just disappear off to the next class or somewhere else as soon as possible, because I never felt comfortable in all that commotion and chaos whenever a horde of students were released from the classroom cages.
"Dave! What's wrong with you? You could have at least stayed and perhaps Leo might have had something he wanted to say to you!"
The thought did cross my mind. But perhaps because of that I left. Inside I was confused, and not prepared for facing the catharsis of our little climax together on stage. I was lost then, lost for words and lost in the warmth I felt when he hugged me, but it also scared me, because the whole experience summoned feelings so powerful I could not know any more what I was feeling or thinking. Much like the characters we played. And that scared me. A little creek flowed silently by, mirroring the confusion of branches looming over it.
"And you didn't see or talk to him after that?" Nicole asked, looking like she was hoping that the unexpected turn of events after the play would have a happy end. "Tell me you did!"
"No I didn't. It was Friday, and almost the end of the day, so we haven't seen each other again since."
"Oh..." Nicole was obviously disappointed. "Weren't you the least bit curious what might have happened? Like I said before, and I'll say it again, it's not everyday you touch or hug someone like he did, even if it's just for a play."
"Of course I was curious. But I was scared, Nicole," I glanced in her direction, afraid to look her too long in the eyes, and then looked into the distance, at the children running and playing around as freely and naturally as the wind that blew around us. "I guess I just left because I was afraid of what might happen."
"You were escaping from reality again," Nicole said with concern, "It's not good, Dave. You know that." I knew. I knew.
"I know it sounds strange to just leave, but I was afraid to get hurt," I said.
"Why would he hurt you? He seems to have feelings for you, and the last thing he'd want is to hurt you, Dave." Rationally I knew this, but emotionally I could not deal with it; not after the things I've been through, and the many ways I've been hurt throughout my life. I was and have always been afraid and distrustful of strangers, afraid that they might do something to hurt me. But Leo was no stranger...was he?
"It's crazy, I know." More ravens joined in the sniggering in the background.
"Do you like him?" she asked.
"I guess so. He's not like anyone I've met before," I answered. And though I haven't met many people in my life, Leo was someone who made me feel at ease and smile. Which makes it all the more confusing why I was afraid of becoming closer to him, however much I wanted to.
"What did you feel when he hugged
"It felt so..." I paused, trying to relive that moment in his arms, and trying to capture a word out of many that ran like wild deer in my mind, "...fine. Like everything was alright," I said, closing my eyes slightly as again I drifted, dreamt and drowned away. "I felt so warm and safe. Nothing I've felt before." The sun's rays touched us, stroked my skin tenderly and soothingly, but it was a different kind of warmth altogether.
"That's it then. So what's the
"I'm not sure what to do. I'm afraid to face him, because I don't know if he feels the same."
"Do you love him?" she asked. Now more than ever, I felt like she was a therapist who used short simple questions to delve into the depths of my confused and troubled mind.
"I'm not sure. I don't know what it means," I replied. I really didn't. I had no idea what love was, and had never experienced it before. Sure, I've read about it, heard about it in songs that are constantly being broadcast on radios, seen it in tear-jerking movies, but never did I come across it. And I often wondered if I ever would.
"`Love is..."she began, and just as I thought she was going to give me so great big explanation of what love is: " `Love is all you need...All you need is love'" She broke into that catchy familiar song of the Beatles, singing and humming, her head swaying from side to side in tune with the melody. "`All you need is love... all you need is love, love, love is all you need...'" I smiled at the unexpected change in the air, and hummed along with her. The ravens had disappeared. Other song birds which sat silently in the tree tops surrounding us began to sing along, as if trying to join in the melodious mood.
"Thanks, Nicole," I said and looked into her eyes, genuinely touched that she always seemed to know what buttons to push to cheer me up. "You're really a special friend."
"What for? If anyone is to thank, that should be me," she said as she put her arm around me, semi-hugged me and brushed her cheek against mine, "You're the special one here. I could never have survived the past few months if you weren't around..." She paused and looked away for a few moments, into the empty space in front of her, as if scenes of the pains and sorrows of the past flashed before her. "And you're always there when I need you. Always." She took my hand and squeezed it. Her eyes seemed to water.
I smiled nervously. I could never handle compliments well, even if I deserved them. I never thought I deserved compliments.
"Remember how when you and I first met," she recalled, "I was sitting on a bench at school, in tears, and you walked by. You looked at me, then quickly looked away and walked on. Then you came back again, because you felt something was wrong, and you just couldn't bear to leave me there."
"Yeah, I remember," I said timidly. Her sunken face that day came to mind, and I remember how after walking a few steps I turned back because I was afraid that she might do something...`rash'. I understood what `rash' could mean. Even though I didn't know her then, I was worried about her. Sadness and grief hovered all around her, and I knew all too well what that feels like.
"It was so silly," she continued,
half smiling as she recounted what happened, "He and I got into a big fight,
and I was distraught, and you saw that." She turned to look at me intensely.
The look and silence seemed to connect the space between us, and unite all the
things we've gone through together in the past years... in that moment of
silence, in that one look. "You see people, Dave. And that's a gift."
"Maybe..." I muttered softly.
"And you take care of people, always thinking about other people's feelings," she said, again a little pool wallowing in her eyes, "But who takes care of you?"
"I'm not sure," I said, looking into the distance at the children on the playground. A mother bent down to her child to put a warm coat and wrap a warm scarf around her little angle. Somehow it was a very moving few moments. "I guess I'm alright by myself." The wind suddenly howled and hissed in my ear, as if it was angered by the little lie. Branches overhead swayed up and down in a sudden commotion.
She sighed: "If you weren't gay, I'd jump on you any time!" A big smile suddenly flashed across her face, as she tightened her arm around me. "You know, you're going to make some lucky guy really, really happy one day."
"Maybe..." I said shyly. For a moment I mind trailed into fantasy mode as I imagined myself sitting on the beach at sunset, sitting next to `the one'. I indulged in that temporary moment in which my mind created images and thoughts of the perfect little world where everything was wonderful and beautiful. Strangely, the face of `the one' sitting next to me was someone I knew. Someone I had just met and gotten to know in the past few weeks. Unmistakably, it was his face...
I felt a vibration in my pocket, followed by three sharp beeping sounds.
"Is that your phone?" Nicole asked.
"Yeah, I guess. But who could it be?"
"Oh..." Nicole said and grinned, "Could it be...? Is it he...?"
I fidgeted in my pocket and fished out my phone. It wasn't a call I realised as I glanced at the little polygraphic screen, but a text message. Curiously I pressed `Read', and for the matter of seconds until the message appeared I was filled with a little excitement and a lot of anticipation.
"Hi Dave, hope you're alright. Was wondering how you were since you disappeared after the play. Hmmm, you know the Xmas ball this Friday...do you want to go? Please come, it'll be fun! Take care of yourself, OK? LEO :)"
I didn't know how to react. They were just words, but it they seemed to express so much more. It was as if I could feel his sadness about my disappearing act, his embarrassment in `asking me out', his hope of me going to the ball, and his genuine concern for how I was. Or was I reading too much into what were simply words? They were just simple words on a little screen, but they paralysed my thoughts and body. I trembled a little. Children laughed and screamed in the distance.
"What is it, Dave? Who is it from?" Nicole asked curiously as she leaned over to peer at the text on the little screen.
"Uh..." I managed to get out of my throat uneasily. My fingers were trembling, and with the trembles I could hardly hold the phone steady. It fell from my hand, bounced once or twice in the dirt beneath the bench and landed with a thud at my feet.
"What's wrong? What's the bad news?" Nicole asked as she tried to lean over and reach for the phone. Of course with her big bloated belly she couldn't get very far.
I breathed in and out deeply, and lowered my arm to pick up the fallen phone and handed it over to Nicole. "Here, you read it."
She took the phone and her head darted from side to side as she read the message. She let out a loud laugh and said: "HA! See Dave! I knew it was him! Oh, this is so great!" She was overjoyed, and I was a little unsure why.
"He's just asked you out to the
ball!" She was almost screaming in delight, and she stood up at such a speed
that I never realised a heavily pregnant woman could move so quickly. "This is
so great!" She seemed to be jumping up and down, obviously more excited and
thrilled by what the message meant than I was.
"He didn't really ask me out. He just asked if I wanted to go," I said.
"What's the difference?" She stopped jumping and asked. And it was then that I realised there wasn't much of a difference. Again, my pessimism had gotten the better of me.
Just then, Nicole suddenly cupped her stomach with her hands tightly, and her face grimaced in pain. Her knees bent as her body slouched forward.
"What's wrong, Nicole? Are you in pain?" I asked quickly and jumped to my feet to hold her steady.
"I don't know what's wrong," she said, panting, "But there was a sudden sharp pain. I think it's the contractions again. The doctor said I'll experience them more and more before the baby comes." Her face turned pale, her eyes squinted and she seemed to be sweating, even though it was freezing. She was obviously in a lot of pain.
"It'll be OK, Nicole. I'm here," I reassured her and held her hand, "I think you had too much excitement just now," I teased, "Let's calm down and sit for a while." I took her by the arms and led her to the bench we sat on and sat her down slowly.
I stroked her back and she breathed deeply, in and out, in and out. A young mother pushing a pram walked past us. Her little baby peered his (or was it her?) head out of the curtains of the comfortable carriage he was riding in, grinning. The mother looked at us, perhaps recalling what it was like not so very long ago. Leaves twirled and danced on the ground, rising higher and higher, only to fall to the ground again as the invisible wind ran out of breath.
"You alright now, Nicole?" I asked out of concern.
"Yeah, I'm better now," she said, "But what about you? How are you going to answer that message?" A smile flashed across her face, and I was surprised how she could be in pain one minute and then suddenly go back to something which, perhaps, wasn't all that important.
"I'm not sure," I said, "I'm not sure."
-- -- -- -- -- --
"You're really quiet today," she said, jumping around in the sand, her long blond hair swaying loosely around her shoulders.
"Oh, uh, it's nothing. Just something on my mind, that's all," he said, looking out to sea. Gray water merged with the darkening dusk sky and together formed one unbroken canvas in different tones and colours. Splashes of orange, yellow and magenta hue spread across horizon, and around where the sun shyly hid the clouds were coated with bright golden rim, as if reflecting a glimmer of hope. Further from where the sun was hiding, the evening palette of varying shades of violet and blue coloured the horizon. Waves crashed on the shore, creating crumbling sounds you'd hear when you stepped on dry leaves, only much coarser and louder.
"Oh, OK," she said, and sprinted towards the open sea, only to ran back again a moment later as the incoming tide chased her away. He looked at her, at her agile sprints and free movements and envied how happy she looked, and resented how unhappy he felt. He closed his eyes slightly and felt the breeze on his cheeks as a few loose strands of his hair tickled his forehead.
"Come on, let's run around and get our feet wet!" she urged on, grabbing him by the hand and trying to pull him away from where he was standing, and away from his deep thoughts. He didn't budge. On his red, rosy lips he could taste grains of sea salt.
"Uh, you go ahead. I'll pass this time," he said quietly, but felt slightly guilty for having disappointed her. He was the one who had suggested they come to the beach together, but he was the one who seemed to be spoiling the time they had together. He stood there on the empty beach with his hands in his jacket pockets. He kicked a bit of sand off of his shoes, but more sand clung onto them as soon as he put his feet down. The weak sunlight cast a dim shadow on his face, and wisps of hair blew into his eyes. His head was as overcast as the clouds above.
She sprung around and did a cartwheel on the soft sand. Normally something like that would make him laugh, and sometimes he'd seize the split second when she's upside down to grab her by her feet and dangle her in the air a bit. Today was different. He didn't see the point, and he was in no mood. More waves crashed and crashed like layer upon layer of mirrors onto the shore. The chilly sea wind blew around his ears, sounding like hushed eerie whispers. He shuddered.
"Is something wrong?" she asked out of concern and seized controlled her hyperactive self. "If there's something, you can always tell me, you know that, right?" She grabbed hold of his arm and held it tightly with both her hands to reassure him of what she just said, nudging him in his chest a little with her head. He felt as if she had struck him in the heart.
"No, no," he answered, though he looked down as he did. "There's nothing wrong." He tried to put on a feeble smile to mask his feelings, but the way he bit his bottom lip betrayed the fact that he was in a wintry mood. He deliberately avoided her bright eyes and her forever glowing smile. He knew he could not face them at that moment, for that would add to the confusion.
"How long have we known each other, Leo? There is something! I know you too well!" She smiled mischievously and ruffled his hair with her hands. She enjoyed doing that, and the soft touch of his sandy hair. She positioned herself in front of him and stood there, her head looking up at him, trying to capture the gaze in his eyes.
He couldn't stand it any more. He couldn't hide his feelings any longer, and felt like he was betraying her, someone he loved and cared about deeply. Her sullen face of concern lured the hidden secrets from deep inside of him. She was everything to him. He had to get it out, he had to tell her the truth, or else he might just explode like a ticking bomb. He usually told her everything, but not this one thing that nagged and troubled him, and that had been nagging and troubling him for some time now. He was very uncertain how she'd react, and most of all, he was uncertain how it would change the nature of their relationship. They had something deep between them, a deep bond that was inseparable and built on many moments of shared happiness and tears. It was a difficult decision, and he was afraid to loose her, but in not telling he felt a barrier growing between them. He felt he was betraying her, lying to her, and hurting her, despite the fact she had absolutely no idea of what was going on. Or perhaps it was due to that fact that he felt he was betraying her. He was frightened and lost, but at the same time felt it was time he faced the truth by revealing it.
Seagulls cried bravely and flew in circles above them, cheering him on. The beach was deserted.
"Marianne, you know I love you lots," he said, his voice full of hesitation and slightly stammering. He looked at her with the most innocent and defenceless set of eyes which were rimming with warm tears. He felt like he temporarily stopped breathing. And his heart stopped. "There--there is something I need to tell you."
-- -- -- -- -- --
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