Loving you, loving me
Chapter 11

A very special thank you to Sterling, new-found friend and editor.

Don't people just love parties? The drinks, dancing, drunkenness and sexual vibrations beating to the sound of music (not THE movie)... Well, there's a party right here!

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.

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Deliver me

Sarah Brightman Coprygith 1998 Eastwest Records

Deliver me, out of my sadness.
Deliver me, from all of the madness.
Deliver me, courage to guide me.
Deliver me, strength from inside me.

All of my life I've been in hiding.
Wishing there was someone just like you.
Now that you're here, now that I've found you,
I know that you're the one to pull me through.

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I looked at myself in the mirror, and breathed deeply. I never did like looking at myself, and have always tried to avoid mirrors, or anything that could remotely reflect the image of my face, my body, me. Seeing myself made me feel ugly. They say ugly people can shatter mirrors. I always expected mirrors to shatter whenever I looked into them.

But tonight was somehow... different. Something had changed the way I felt, and that changed the way I felt about myself. I stared at myself in the mirror, and for a few moments, for the first time in a long, long time I was content with what I saw. Not happy, as I don't think I could ever really like myself, just content. And I was fine with that.

I was all dressed up, in a slick black tuxedo with matching trousers. Underneath I wore a snow-white shirt, neatly pressed and still lingering with the scent of magnolia fabric-softener. A small black bow-tie trailed around the collar like a ribbon on a present ready to be opened. The ends of the sleeves were longer than the sleeves of the tuxedo, and the contrast of black and white looked stunningly smart. Two silver cufflink with blue markings on the faces adorned my cuffs.

The radio played softly in the background, and my racing heart sang along:

"So go on, go on
Come on leave me breathless

Tempt me, tease me
'Till I can't deny this..."

The quick rhythm of the song echoed the mood I was in. I was excited, perhaps a little scared as well, but actually sort of looking forward to tonight. It was more the unknown, and imaginings of what might happen, that started the adrenaline rushing and pumping around my body. Since last night I've been unable to get my head away from the idea of the Christmas ball. Snapshots of what it would be like flashed like a random slideshow in my head. I could almost picture the scene, see people dancing, feel the pulsating beat of music tremble the floor, and feel my eyes being blinded by the occasional flashes of lasers and other spotlights. But the main attraction of all was, of course, Leo. Images of how gorgeous he looked all dressed up and fancy brought me to a dream-like state of mind. And I imagined silly little dialogues we would be having...and na´vely I even pictured an intimate little routine with just the two of us, while the whole world watched in awe. All in my mind...

Earlier in the week I sat with Leo in History class again. And though we couldn't talk openly because of Ms Scarybottom's ultra-sonic sense of hearing, he again asked if I was going to the ball through our ritual slow form of `instant messaging'. I didn't reply yes immediately, but he kept on insisting that it would be fun. He wrote many more messages with arguments why I should go, like I would be missing the event of the year, and that everyone else would be there, and that it was probably the last time we would be able to `enjoy' ourselves before the big exams. It got to the point he was almost pleading. One very ambiguous message said:

"I'd miss you if you weren't there."

I wasn't really sure what to make of that message, let alone how to respond to it. He then looked at me with the saddest set of puppy eyes and pouted his lips, as if he would be thoroughly disappointed if I didn't attend. I was never good at saying no... though I didn't exactly say yes either. All I said was an equally ambiguous "maybe".

Here I was, less than an hour to the big event. I never was a great fan of parties. I just hated the feeling of standing there all alone and trying to look cool or interested. And I was always too self-conscious to just loose myself and start dancing away. And then there were the girls...I was afraid of them like a little boy would be afraid of the dentist. But then again, this was the last ball ever before we all graduated and went our separate ways. If I didn't go now, when could I ever again? And most of all, Leo would be there. That alone was reason enough to go, I guess.

I put on some face toner and rubbed moisturiser evenly on my skin. I used Chapstick on my lips, and puckered them a little to keep them nice and moist against the freezing temperatures outside. To my hair, which was still a bit damp from the hot shower before, I applied a little gel. I ran my fingers through my hair, ruffling it a little. Just above my forehead the wisps parted into small spikes in all directions. I grabbed the bottle of my favourite perfume and sprayed it modestly around my neck and wrists, and a little on the chic clothes that changed the way I looked and felt. As the odour dissipated throughout the bathroom, I temporarily lost myself in the delightful freshness and lightness of the fragrance. What wonders scent can do to your mind!

Raising my eyes slowly, I again I looked at myself in the mirror. The more I looked, the more I found it easier to look. Who was this person? A slim figure stared back at me, and I almost couldn't recognise myself. A little hesitant at first, and a little uneasy, a little uncomfortable to even think that way about myself, but I was... good-looking. Or at the very least, looking good...And it had been a long, long time.

As I ran down the stairs and toward the door, Kitty stopped me in my track. She meowed at me, and strutted over to my feet. I crouched down and stroked her head, sending her purring and butting my hand with instant pleasure. "Well, Kitty, afraid you'll have to be alone tonight, `cause I'm going to the ball! Wish me luck!"

She meowed back affectionately, looked at me intensely with her mesmerising green eyes, acknowledging what I just said. She blinked, purred some more, and meowed again, sending vibrations of warmth throughout my body as I stroked her softly, gently and tenderly. With temporarily shut eyes, I wondered what that must feel like...a soft, gentle, tender stroke from someone...

I stepped outside and the door closed behind me.

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The aula doors opened in front of me. I slowly tread forward. The excitement about coming here had now somehow morphed into anxiety, and my stomach started to churn as I felt my palms moisten. My jaw ached as I realised for who-knows-how-long I had been clenching them together tightly. I could already feel the floor trembling from the beat of the music, a tremble which seemed to make my own heart trembles even worse.

"HALT!" a voice called out, making me jump a little from the shock. "Ticket inspection!"

I couldn't make out their faces in the dark, but two guys stood tall inside the swung-open doors of the aula and had their arms folded like football hooligans you wouldn't want to meet in an alley in the middle of the night, alone. The only things remotely pleasant about them were their silly Santa Claus hats. "Hold on, I've--" I said tensely as I fumbled in my pocket for the ticket, "--got it somewhere." The more I searched and couldn't find it, the more I felt myself sweat and the embarrassment level soar. "I know I have it somewhere," I said, trying to avoid their eyes, and not feel intimidated by their looming postures and stern stares that resembled the looks of prison guards.

"And where's your date?" one of them asked, or more like demanded to know.

"Uh...I don't have--really have one," I answered nervously, realising then I might be barred because both my ticket and my date are missing. I was shivering, really intimidated by the sudden obstacle I had encountered, which added to the fresh fit of anxiety attack I was experiencing as I neared the aula. "Is it--is it really necessary, I mean--" I continued, hoping if I just said anything they'd be `nice', or at least `nicer', "I mean--I mean I'm in the final year and it's the last--"

"Dude, dude, calm down," the one on the right said, with a smug smile on his face, and gesturing his hands the way you would to calm someone down, "We're just playing with ya! Just go right inside, man!"

"Oh," I said, out of relief, and felt my apprehension slowly subside, but not completely fade. I grabbed the back of my neck with one hand, running it up and down the length of my neck in a desperate search for something firm to cling onto for that sense of security I lacked, and the remnants of which had been chased away by the mean prank those two had just played on me. Silently I stepped forward, chaperoned by a self-esteem that had again received another blow to its already tattered state and the stifled sniggers behind me.

I entered another world. The first few seconds I stood at the door, trying to adjust to an aula which had put on a foreign face, while at the same time allowing the people already present to adjust to my arrival. Or perhaps nobody even noticed. Gone were the usual rows of chairs to make room for an impromptu dance floor. A black swarm of what I guessed could only be people occupied the space with their twisting and turning bodies. It looked like a crowded bee hive entrance, teeming with chaotic and random movements. They were swerving and swinging their bodies around, waving and weaving their arms and legs wildly in all directions. In the dim light they didn't look human, but more like zombies lost in a dreadful nightmare from which they may or may not wake. My mind shuddered.

I shifted silently towards the back of the aula, passing people who looked at me like they looked through me. I tried to avoid their eyes, fearing the awkwardness that might rise if I did make visual contact, and if they saw that I had come and, more pathetically, come alone. A giant disco ball swung and spun, suspended above the crowd like a traffic light on a stormy day. I stared at it and tried to capture the rays of light that reflected in all directions. Patches of white light flickered randomly around the room, like a sudden snow fall which disappears as soon it hits surface. The stage lights joined in the light show as they twirled and whirled around the aula dizzyingly. During those split seconds when a beam of light happened to shine directly into my eyes I was blinded. I felt my head was spinning, spinning, spinning as fast and haphazardly as the rays of random lights. And this was before I even had anything to drink.

I did what I usually did at parties, and stood by the food section. With something to look at, and something to munch on, I found that it kept me occupied and away from those feelings of awkwardness. Having something in your hands to hold onto was an easy way to keep them from fumbling nervously, or being gnawed by my teeth out of uneasiness. A lonely and inconspicuous Christmas tree stood in the corner. Its needles were dry, lifeless and shedding, as the confusion of branches shivered in the terrible techno music. At its base, where beautifully wrapped and glittering presents are supposed to be, there was just emptiness.

Tables, decked with elaborate white linen, had been arranged neatly in a long line in the back of the room, and decorated with a myriad of coloured hors d'oeuvres. There were the usual crackers with an assortment of toppings, ranging from different coloured cheeses to sausages of all shapes and sizes, from smoked salmon to caviar. A pompous attempt to be `bourgeois', I thought, when really most of us couldn't care less how elegantly and meticulously the food had been arranged in style on the shiny silverware. Some vases with flowers that looked like they had gone to sleep--or worse, died-- lined the edges of the tables. I pitied those droopy leaves and buds, and thought it must have been from the foul stench of cigarettes and beer hanging around in the air. Wine glasses were piled on top of one anther like a pyramid, which unfortunately was quickly loosing its beauty as people picked from it. One little nudge and it would be quite the... `party crasher'. I smiled at the naughty thought.

With a plate in hand, I stood in a darkened corner and watched the world go wild. I was beginning to have second, third, fourth and fifth doubts about being there. Glancing around the aula, I wondered if I could just make a quick exit without being noticed. A dozen steps to my right, the emergency doors were left ajar. I looked around again, trying to look preoccupied and like I was already very much into this wonderful music and mood that pressed on me like still air on a dry, oppressive summer's day. In the back of my mind, I had not forgotten why I dragged myself to this ball. I searched and searched in the darkness, for the reason I came.

Droplets of sweat formed on my chest. I reached for a snack and as soon as I put in it my mouth felt the soggy crackers melt like sand on my tongue. Had it not been for the glass of juice I quickly forced down I would have spat everything out. So much for the bourgeois `delicacies'. I eyed the surroundings nervously again, in search of someone I knew, to perhaps strike up a conversation. My mind searched simultaneously for things that might be interesting to say should I be fortunate enough to find someone willing to talk to me. I knew parties were a place to socialise, to loosen up and have fun. But I felt miserable, tense and anti-social. Not that I didn't want to talk to people. It was just I was afraid to talk to people, afraid that I would be boring to talk to and have nothing interesting to say. I felt like a social failure. The fact that all around me everyone was either dancing and enjoying themselves, or huddled together with some others, laughing and talking, didn't help. In the darkness I could only see their lips move up and down, down and up like an abstract and tantalising mime. Dance music blasted and blared from the boom boxes at the front. He was still nowhere to be seen. My heart slowly sunk.

I stood there, glancing around nervously again and again...again and again. In situations where there were many strangers around, I always felt like countless eyes were constantly watching, constantly judging and constantly scrutinising my every single move. My arms moved uncomfortably around me, like two long serpents in search of a resting place. But wherever they slithered and fumbled around to, they never stayed long. First they reached for the back of my neck, my fingers like fangs digging hard into the moist skin there. Then they slid silently down to rope around my stomach, as the fingers sank into the crevices between my ribs. Feeling uncomfortable again, they slipped around my waist, then eventually curled themselves for a few moments before my chest. How restless they were! How restless they made me feel!

Time passed slowly. My reason for being there was still nowhere to be seen. I tapped my feet lightly in a pathetic attempt to `get with the flow', but stopped as I realised I was just playing along, and lying to myself that I was enjoying any of this. I glanced around some more, put a mask on my face, trying to look like I was having fun, but knew deep inside that I was secretly counting down to the moment when this was all over. I felt sweat beads on my forehead. In the darkness everyone puts on a different mask.

"Hey, Dave, you came!"


"I'm here!"

I felt a tap on my shoulder, and I turned to my right. Oh, oh...

"I'm so glad you're here. You alright?"

"I'm OK," I said half-heartedly trying to look disinterested. I took a few steps back, but was trapped by the table behind me.

"Wow, wow! You look great tonight!" she screamed above the music.

"Thanks...uh," I said shyly, unsure whether she heard me, and thinking perhaps I should return the compliment, "You look-- go--go-- good too." I was stuttering again. Amanda wore an elegantly draped and embellished one-piece evening gown. Even in the dim light I could see it was red, like the colour of carpets you lay out for VIPs. And there, centimetres before my eyes, was a large patch of exposed skin around her breasts which frankly were a little too exposed for my taste. She was pretty, I guess, in her dark and mysterious Mediterranean way, and was always popular with guys who just couldn't keep their eyes and hands off of her. But I tried as hard as I could to settle my eyes somewhere else. Needless to say my hands were nowhere near her. The serpents shyly tangled themselves in a coil behind my back and trembled slightly.

Just then the music changed suddenly from the techno racket before to a slow and moving ballad. Couples crooning with love gathered on the dance floor and started slow dancing. Was the music mocking me, teasing and taunting me, testing to see how much more discomfort I could manage without breaking down?

"...The lady in red is dancing with me, cheek to cheek,
There's nobody here, it's just you and me,
It's where I want to be,
But I hardly know this beauty..."

"Hey, would you like to dance?" she asked while lifting her hand to place it on my shoulder, and stroking it slightly, "I guess I'm the lady in red tonight, huh?" she continued, in a weak attempt at humour. I wasn't to be humoured. I wished somebody else could be there, instead of just she and me. And being there was definitely not where I wanted to be. I winced and my nerves tightened, along with my jaw and the muscles in my legs and arms from the uninvited and uninviting touch. True, I hardly knew this beauty before me, let alone appreciate it.

"Uhhh...no tha--thanks," I replied firmly, or at least as firmly as I could, trying not to let my unease show. At the same time my shoulder shifted slightly in a vain attempt to shake off her wicked hand which seemed to be hurting me without any effort. 

"Oh, come on, don't be so shy," she insisted, and less than subtly stroked my shoulder again, and this time followed by a firm grasp as her hand cupped my shoulder blade so hard I though she was trying to rip it off. She had an intense look in her eyes, and her sparkling upturned eyelashes looked like they were trying to hook me in. I looked away in a show of resistance. The normally soothingly beautiful ballad was one of my favourite continued, but I was beyond soothing.

"...And when you turned to me and smiled, it took my breath away,
And I have never had such a feeling,
Such a  feeling of complete and utter love, as I do tonight..."

"Rea--lly, I don't fe--fe--feel like it..." I said, still looking away, trying to avoid her. My breath was definitely taken away, not by her, but by the fact that she was inching closer and closer. Of love between she and I, there was none to speak.

"Why? Am I not good enough for you?" she asked, smiling and stepping forward. As she did, her cleavage parted. I closed my eyes, ground my teeth and tried not to look.

"It's not that--it's just I--I--" My mind raced around in a search of a reason that would not hurt her feelings, but at the same time show mine clearly. I was stuck and trapped. That embarrassing scene when I ran out on that girl who unexpectedly kissed me disobediently flashed before my eyes.

"What's wrong, Dave?" She prodded with her question, and prodded my shoulder at the same time. Though it was a weak prod, I felt like my body and personal space, which I treasured and shielded so well from all else, was being invaded. "Don't you like me?" As she said that she seemed to purposely brush her long hair to one side, the way a girl would do to attract attention. Mine was certainly repelled.

"It's ju--ust just that I--I--" I stammered terribly, and felt a bead of sweat flow down the back of my neck. My chest was teeming with an oppressive feeling of fear, anxiety and discomfort as my mind, already numb and empty, tried in vain to find something to say. Something convincing...something powerful... something believable enough that she would just leave me alone.

"What is it? I really like you, and hope we can get to know each other better," she said, blinking her eyes rapidly in an attempt to cast a magical spell. A spell which on `normal' guys would more than put them in a trance, but which I was immune to.

The hand which she placed on my shoulder now slid down...down...down to my chest. I looked down, just in time to see two of her fingers wriggle their way like worms into the space between two buttons on my shirt. I gasped and felt my abdomen clench, squeezing the butterflies up into my throat, almost choking me with a sudden shortness of breath. Nobody had touched me like that in a long, long time, and I didn't like to be touched! "I--I--I," I stammered some more, as I tried to roll the words I had decided should more than effectively retaliate against her unwelcome incursions into my well-defended body and soul--the very parts of me that no one else could penetrate. "I--I--I'm gay."

There! I said it! Louder and clearer than I have ever done before! Nothing was more convincing and powerful and believable than the truth.

"WHAT?!" she screamed, opened her eyes widely, dropped her jaw to reveal her gaping mouth, and raised both her hands to her face to recreate a scene that could very well overshadow Edvard Munch's masterpiece.

I was in no mood to stand around and exchange more `pleasantries'. Having been freed from her wicked hand and Medusa-like gaze, I looked around and saw the emergency doors were still ajar. Without thinking, I just ran, ran, ran toward what to me looked like safe haven. As much as I tried to avoid dancing couples and people carrying drinks and snacks in their hands, it was inevitable in the crowded aula that my dash for the exit caused a few collisions. With a loud thud I charged against the doors and they flung open like a blast ripping through them. I did not look back, but I could hear a plate or two crash and smash onto the floor into a thousand pieces, followed by angry shouts and rude cursing. I did not look back, for I knew it would be painful, painfully embarrassing and fill me with even more shame and guilt than I already had. My world seemed to have ended in those few moments, but the music did not:

"...But I hardly know this beauty by my side,
I'll never forget the way you look tonight;
I never will forget the way you look tonight...
The lady in red, the lady in red..."

As I stood on the lawn outside panting, I silently hoped I would forget... Forget those staring eyes, those judging faces, those snide comments, those humiliating giggles. Forget the moment I once again chastised myself into isolation for the rest of the year... Forget the mess I had caused and just ran out on...Forget for the sake of forgetting. Forget, simply forget. Forget that I ever was born, or that I ever existed. Just forget. Forget. Forget!

Life drained out of me. Blood in my veins retreated from the surface of my skin as it came into contact with the chilling wind that blew. Hush, hush, hush...The wind seemed to whisper. Like a mother trying to comfort her lost and fallen child, the child who was about to break into tears. I felt so alone suddenly, so very alone standing there in the cold, cold night, with my back turned against the crowd, turned against the rest of world in all its merriment and warmth inside the aula.

I couldn't help it. I just couldn't. I felt my eyes rimming, rimming with moisture. My vision blurred to a hazy gray. I slowly shut and rubbed my eyes, and then tasted the salty water on my finger tips. Swallowing deeply, I swallowed the wallowing tears, broken pride and final ruins of my self-confidence. I felt the ground tremble, or perhaps it was I who had been trembling all along, but simply did not realise it until now...

The doors creaked behind me. Footsteps crunched the frozen lawn. I heard soft breathing as someone approached, closer, and closer, and closer...

"What do you want?! Please--please--please just leave me alone," I cried out from the depths of my parched throat, my body heaving in deep intakes of breath, my eyes and nose sniffing and sobbing.

The footsteps stopped. All I could see was the elongated shadow of a figure from behind me. A shadow lying mere centimetres away from my own, so close that they almost merged to become one.

"Dave..." a voice, one that was so soft, so soothing, so calming, so comforting, fought with the whispers of the wintry wind. "It's me."

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Thanks for reading till the end (but not the end). Comments and suggestions are always welcome at formosa1984@gmail.com

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