Loving you, loving me
Before you start reading:
Thanks to Tim for proofreading and his
This may be a confusing chapter because there are jumps in the narrative. But if you've been reading attentively, then you'll figure out what's going on soon enough : )
What follows is a work of fiction. The story revolves around teenage gay males and may include 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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He stared at the piece of crumpled scrap paper lying on the table. He had scribbled a number on it earlier in such a way that only he could decipher what the figures were. For the last ten minutes or so he paced up and down his room, feeling emotions he never thought possible before. There was anxiety, nervousness, excitement, frustration...all of the above stirred together like a strong cocktail mix that made his head spin.
Something was holding him back from doing what he wanted to do desperately. What's wrong with me? It was a simple phone call, but one which made him hesitate. How difficult can it be? He had made plenty of calls before, and he knew the procedure. Pick up, dial, talk, talk some more, then hang up. It was that easy. But this one seemed all the more difficult, and he didn't understand why. In his mind he kept on trying to construct what he would say on the phone and tried to anticipate the response from the other person. But even that wasn't enough to raise the courage to actually make the call.
He sat himself down on the edge his double bed and buried his face in his hands. He breathed deeply in and out in an attempt to calm his mind. But it was no use. He felt his body tremble slightly, but he didn't know where this strange sensation came from. He leaned back, dropped the weight of his entire body onto the bed, and spread his arms and legs out in movements that resembled an angle with outstretched wings. He stared at the creme coloured ceiling and the memorising glow of the ceiling light. Soft music played in the background, and like so many songs written and sung before, this one was about love. He closed his eyes, hoping that his mind would clear.
Even with his eyes closed he could still see...that face, that smile, those eyes, that boy.
When he opened his eyes again the troubling thoughts and doubts flooded back. He sat himself up again. The bed sheet and duvet lay in a tangled mess behind him, much like the state of his mind at that moment. He stared at the back of his right hand and could still vaguely make out the marks that were left on them. He closed his eyes slowly and with his other hand caressed the back of his right hand in an attempt to reconstruct that soft, warm touch...
This is ridiculous. It's only a phone call! With that thought he leapt to his feet and straightened himself up. He strode over to the desk made out of hardened transparent glass and again his eyes glanced at the piece of crumpled paper lying there. The phone was just centimetres away, next to the computer screen. He reached for the cordless phone and held it in his hand so tightly that after a few seconds he felt his wrist start to ache. With trembling fingers he tapped the numbers scribbled on the crumpled piece of paper and then the dial button. He held the phone to his ear, and he felt the palm of his hands moisten. His heart raced and his breathing gathered momentum.
"Oh God!" he called out and quickly pressed the dial button again to hang up. His hand let go of the phone like it stung and poisoned him, and the phone tumbled onto the carpet with a muffled thud resting at his feet. His chest felt like air was being sucked out of them and his mind went wild and blank at the same time. Why was he so nervous all of a sudden? He felt so foolish and defeated, so useless and hopeless all at once. And most of all, the strange mix of fear and excitement in talking to the person he just called and hung up on hovered like a cloud in his mind. Sure he could be shy at times, but he also knew that he had it in him to overcome obstacles bravely and without fear. Life experiences taught him that much. But the situation before him now was unprecedented and beyond words, and he was confused.
He leaned on the glass desk and peered into the computer screen. He wasn't sure what he was looking for in the blank black screen, but he stared expressionlessly at it. The distorted image of what unmistakably was his face and upper body reflected back. Outside the wind howled and bare branches danced in front of his windows to the wind's command. He felt himself shiver, unsure whether it was mostly because of the cold or the nervousness that gnawed every bit of his usual confidence away from inside.
Then it was decided. No more hiding, no more hesitating, no more doubts. He scooped the phone at his feet up and straightened his body and his mind out. Here goes nothing. He fumbled for the piece of crumpled paper and looked at it again, memorising the number. His fingers still trembled slightly, but his heart was set. He dialled the number carefully and held the phone to his ear. The phone started to ring...
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The tune to An die Freude echoed in the air. I had set my ringtone to Beethoven's choral symphony because every time I heard it it somehow filled me with a strange source of strength and courage. Perhaps it was Friedrich Schiller's words about joy—about its ability to unite people and its ability to triumph over all else. Seek and you shall find joy, it is written. And I had been looking for a long time.
The mobile continued to ring, flash and vibrate. I reached for it and peered at the screen. Strange... no number was displayed. I had a sort of fear of answering phones, and even worse were phone calls of unknown origin. It was bad enough that I was always total nervous wreck in front of strangers. On the phone you can't possibly see the body language of the person you're speaking to, so I always felt at a disadvantage since you couldn't figure out how the other person is really reacting to what you're saying. I sat myself up on the sofa I was lying on and swallowed deeply before I answered the phone.
"Hello, David speaking," I said, trying not to give away the fact that I was feeling somewhat nervous.
"Hi, son! How're you doing?" As I recognised that familiar voice I felt my unease slip away.
"Oh, hi mum. How are you doing?" I asked.
"I've been alright,
just a little tired. I'm in
"You work too hard, mum. You really should take care of yourself!" I said with genuine concern in my voice.
But you know how it is." I knew perfectly how it was. Ever since dad decided to
suddenly leave us one day she has had to fend for herself and juggle bringing
up two children alone. It's not unheard of, but it's hard. And when an
opportunity at a multinational consulting firm came along, she took it. That
was four years ago. We knew that the job was demanding, but we didn't realise
that she'd often have to spend weeks, or even months travelling and living
abroad. As time went by the number of days we spent together in a given year
could be counted with one hand. Sometimes she'd hop home, but before you know
it she's on her way to the airport again. And I'd be left along again, standing
there by the passport control, watching her back fade into the crowd. "So how
have you been? How are things at school?"
"I've been well," I said, though as soon as I finished that football accident flashed into my mind. There was no need to mention that. There was no need to get her all concerned, since she'd start feeling guilty again that she wasn't there for me. "School's been pretty much the same. Teachers have really been pushing us lately, and threatening us with doom if we don't get our act together."
"Yeah, I can imagine, son. Just a couple more months, and trust me it can only get better!"
"If better means working overtime and flying from place to place, then I'd rather stay in school!" I said light-heartedly.
"I know, I know. You don't need to rub it in every time!" she said. She often felt guilty for `abandoning' me, and tried to make it up to me as best as she could. She provided me with everything I needed and more, and I was grateful for that...only...only there was one thing I really wanted she didn't have in abundance. Maybe there was difference between wanting something and needing it. That was how I often comforted myself.
"Well there's really not much else going on," I said. "Though we've been having really freakish weather lately. The other day it started pouring all of a sudden!" My mind flashed to that stormy afternoon...and to the fun I had with Leo. I stopped myself before too much detail was revealed. I wasn't ready, not yet.
"Hope you're dressed warm enough!" she said with concern. And I sort of expected what was coming next. "You should eat well and don't be so thrifty all the time. If there's anything you want or like, just treat yourself to it." Like any mum this was her `tape recorder mode'. She knew me too well, and knew that I treated others better than I treated myself. I never felt it was selfless or that I made sacrifices or anything like that, just that I didn't deserve anything other than the bare essentials.
"I know, I know," I said half-heartedly.
"So are you alone right now?" she asked with this strange mischievous tone in her voice.
"Yeah, mum. Of course I'm alone. There's just Kitty and me here," I answered, and as if she thought she was being called, Kitty strutted silently over and butted her head softly against the leg I had dangling over the side of the sofa, purring. I loved it when she did that. It gave me the feeling that I was loved, and I needed that. I stretched my arm and with my fingers softly combed the soft fur on her head between the ears. She loved that. A low purr reverberated continuously in her throat.
"Well, you never know. I just thought someone who's smart, good-looking, independent and also can cook would have girls all over him by now," she joked. Argh, it was weird to be described in those terms by your very own mother, right? I shivered slightly at the thought, unsure whether it was because of the image of the girls she conjured in my mind or the topic we were creeping onto that always crept me out.
"Mum! Stop teasing me like that!" I said, "You know there's no one in my life." And that was the truth, the sad truth.
"I'm still waiting for the day when you introduce me to your girlfriend, David." She probably enjoyed tormenting me this way. I always thought it was a `maternal privilege'.
"You'll have to keep on waiting then, because there's no girl." And there won't be as far I could tell. Though there might be a boy...but even for that I had to keep on waiting. And dreaming.
"OK, OK, no need to get so upset." I wasn't upset, just irritated whenever this conversation came up, and it often did. Perhaps it was the fact that I wasn't ready to reveal the truth, and that it was killing me in hiding, or perhaps it was the amount of hope and pressure she seemed to be putting on me.
was an awkward hesitation in her voice, "David, have you heard from your
"No," I replied firmly. A simple answer.
"Oh...OK," she said sadly. "I guess I should be going. I'm really tired and have to get up early tomorrow."
"Before you go, mum," I quickly added hoping she'd not hang up so soon, "Do you know when you'll be home next?" Maybe it was weird that a teenager like me would want his mum to be home. Not, perhaps, when you consider the fact that I've basically had to live and grown up alone by myself since the age of thirteen. Whereas other people were praying for the day their parents would leave the house and an opportunity for them to have endless partying, beer binging, smoking up or whatever craziness teenagers love to lose themselves in, I missed her. Sometimes I felt like I've had to grow up too quickly, when actually inside I was still a child, just trapped in a grown-up mind and body. Whereas other people my age go through the `normal' phases of rebellion, shouting at their parents and what not that are part of growing up, I never experienced any of that. And I felt I was not `normal' for having missed that kind of upbringing and those phases of teenage life. It added to my sense of insecurity and self-loathing.
"Oh, son, I
really can't say. You know how it is," she said disappointedly. I knew very
well how it was, but still it didn't stop the fact that it hurt. "But I promise
that whenever I have the chance I'll try to be home. I promise you that."
"I know, mum, I know." I said, trying to contain the sadness that gripped my feelings. The world moistened and blurred around me.
have to go now, son. Speak to you soon!"
"OK, mum. You take good care of yourself and don't tire yourself out. Love you..." I said, my voice trailing in the end.
"You take care too. Love you too. Goodnight!"
Before I could say another word, the line went dead...
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He put down the phone for perhaps the fifth time that evening. He had repeated tried to call, but each time the line was engaged and each time he was redirected to an automated answering machine. A soft and somewhat nervous sounding voice would then spring to life. The answering machine played the same message time and time again, but however many times he heard it, it didn't sound boring. Instead, the voice was soothing and warm...and it made him feel warm. He didn't leave a message, as he always thought they were so impersonal. Each time he hung up before the beep.
Perhaps it's not meant to be. Many things in life cannot be forced, be that feelings, plans, circumstances or people...and yes, love too cannot be forced. What is not meant to be is just not meant to be.
He lay down on the bed and dimmed the lights. The wind outside howled and cried. He closed his eyes to sleep.
But he couldn't.
Because of that face... that smile... those eyes... that voice... that boy.