"Wake up, Daniel! I'm not gonna tell you again. If you're late for school, that's gonna make me late for work. Now come on, let's get a move on." My mom shouted up to me from the kitchen downstairs. But the fact is, I was already awake. In fact, I hardly slept at all last night. It's times like this when the pain of what I've lost comes creeping back into my heart and weighs it down until I can hardly breathe anymore. I just laid there in my bed with my eyes open, the covers pulled over my head, and tried to forget it all over again so I could be somewhat 'functional' today in school. The hurt never left like I thought it would. It only gets worse. And every single day after that experience has been a clown mask made of glass. And if you look closely enough, you can easily see it cracking around its permanent grin.
I was 14 when it happened. I wasn't really prepared for it at the time. Shit...I didn't even know what it WAS at first. But within a four month period over the summer, I had experienced the greatest love that I had ever known...and that love was followed by the most unendurable pain that the human heart can stand without collapsing in on itself and disappearing completely. Complete emotional crash and burn. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe it was feeling the ultimate high before the big fall that made it so devastating. Who knows? I'm not really sure how it works, or how it's supposed to work. All I know is that I'm through tinkering around with a machine that I, frankly, don't understand. Love.
His name was Adam. Even our names, Adam and Daniel, seemed to have a cool 'ring' to them when said together. Or...maybe not...but you know something? Every strange signal and freak occurrence becomes SO clear, SO obvious, to you when you're in love. It's like being able to understand things on an entirely different level from anyone and everyone around you. It makes even the simplest moments in your average day something miraculous. I never knew the world was full of so much magic until I found it in his kiss. His perfect, loving, kiss. But the moment that affection left me, all of that fabulous 'energy' went with it. Dissipated into thin air. Along with ANY hope that I EVER had of being happy with anyone ever again. You see...even though it was one of the most incredible experiences of my young life, I can now only think of the way it ended. Only 'briefly' do I think of how wonderful it made me feel, or how it made me WANT to go to school to see him, or how it made me smile for no reason at all. Then, after those few quick flashes of joy have passed through my mind, I remember the misery to follow it. The realization that good old 'Danny' was as worthless and lonely as he deserved to be. That's just the way it goes, I suppose. When you first get fucking 'DUMPED' by someone you're still in love with. You spend weeks, even MONTHS, trying to find a suitable reason for being treated so harshly. Some kind of explanation as to why I was so awful, so ugly, so boring, that I couldn't be loved by someone I cared SO deeply for. I think I'm breaking some kind of record for how long a heartbreak like that can last. I loved him with all my fucking HEART! All he had to fucking do was love me BACK, right? I mean, I would have moved heaven and earth for him if he had only ASKED me to! What did I do wrong? Were my eyes the wrong color? My hair? You'd think there would be room for someone with dark hair and brown eyes. Maybe Adam only liked other blonds like himself. Maybe he found someone else? Someone 'better'? Maybe he's not gay anymore. Maybe he never was. Maybe he was just experimenting. Maybe he did it because he thinks he's too young to date. Maybe he's a damn government SPY, and his commander told him that there would be no lovemaking while on a mission! WHATEVER! C'mon! Give me SOMETHING!!! Something that would make this pain seem somewhat justified in its intensity as it eats away at my heart like a pack of fucking TERMITES!!! Something that would tell me that I deserved this misery because I was a screw up and did everything wrong. THAT I could deal with in a week or two. THAT would make some kind of sense and give me a concrete 'problem' to work with! But THIS? THIS was a torturous searching and longing to retrace my every step, criticizing myself and apologizing for every little thing I've done since we first met. And that only made me feel worse than before....if THAT'S possible. I'd rather he just come out and tell me I was fucking 'too ugly' to be with or something. At least that's a reason I could be MAD at him about! But no, I never got an answer concerning why he would hurt me like this. I never found any absolution in the way that it ended. It was just...'over'. And that was that. After all the laughs and kisses and tears we've shared together, I didn't even get a fucking proper goodbye. Not a 'kiss my ass', or a 'thank you', or even a bullshit fake sentiment to say 'I wish you the best, and I hope you find someone who will make you happy someday'. I suppose that was going to have to be good enough. I suppose I wasn't worth anything more to Adam than that.
"I've got breakfast on the table over there, so eat up. We've got about five to ten minutes, ok?" My mom said, and was rushing around in her freshly pressed business suit as usual.
"Thanks mom..." But I couldn't even finish the sentence because her cell phone rang. Naturally, she turned around with her finger up to tell me to hold on, and turned her back to me so she could talk. I was so used to that finger now, that I didn't even take offense to it anymore. I just sat there and ate my breakfast. She didn't know what I was going through anyway. I couldn't tell her what was wrong. Somehow, explaining that I'm gay, had a boyfriend, and lost him, would take longer than the short window I had between the rings of that damn cellular phone. So I sulked, and I sucked it up, and I pretended that everything was all roses and gumdrops. What else could I do? I'm obviously alone in this.
Adam was, at one time, everything that I could ever ask for. He was a lightning bolt from God Himself. Someone cute, AND funny, AND cool? And here in my neighborhood, just a few blocks away, not in some foreign country that I couldn't even pronounce, much less visit? AND my age, in the same grade, in the same school? And on top of everything else...he turns out to be gay too??? To find someone so perfect, so special...to feel that divine intervention taking place...to 'see' the numbers lining up in all the right places...it's indescribable. It's like suddenly believing in a higher power that you didn't even know was there! Like having God look you up in the phone book and calling you on the phone just to tell you that he thinks you're cool! I was so untouchably happy that I couldn't even contain myself at one point. You'd think a love that makes you feel like that would last for all eternity. That something so perfect could never go sour, get old, or be....'over'. Let me warn you, no such love exists. Not ANYWHERE. I'm convinced of that now.
I remember it all so clearly. His blue eyes almost glowed in the dark, and they stared right through me that first afternoon when he nervously told me how he felt about me. A love I always wanted, and never expected to have. I had been drooling over Adam for months, his slim frame, his wide shoulders, his smooth skin. I had been dreaming about the possibility of 'if only' until I had almost exhausted my reserves of sexual creativity. I chased him around school, talked to him whenever I could stop stuttering long enough to form words, and touched him every chance I got. To hear him say he liked me in that way was, to me, the voice of every angel in Heaven singing to me at once in perfect harmony. I wanted it, wished for it, prayed for it...every second of every hour of every day! But NEVER in my wildest dreams did I think it was actually POSSIBLE! I'm just not that lucky. I didn't even have to say anything. He actually told ME first that he loved me! How awesome is that? I NEVER would have had the guts to tell HIM! He must have really liked me! I didn't even know what to say! It didn't make sense to me at all, not even for weeks afterwards. It was like finding that giant oasis of water after wandering around the desert for too long. Sure you 'see' it, you 'feel' it, even 'drink' from it...but you still wonder if it's real. Simply because you know that you don't deserve to get it so easily after searching for so long. Why should I suddenly be blessed with someone like Adam? Who knows? But I went from having nothing but a wet dream and a good seat behind Adam in class, to having a full blown boyfriend, overnight. And it felt great! He became my whole LIFE! The only thing that made this world bearable anymore! Because he somehow helped me to find my place in all this emotional chaos. He was the only stone I had left to stand on.
"C'mon Danny, eat up! We've gotta run in a few minutes." My mother said impatiently, and then went right back to talking on the phone. "Yes, I'm still here...." She really had no idea, did she? My mask must be better than I thought. Which is a good thing. Even if...sometimes...I just wish somebody would notice how utterly 'broken' I am. Just for a little while.
The funny thing is, we never once had a sexual encounter of any kind. Never. It wasn't needed for what we had. Some touching here, some rubbing there, some cybersex, some phone sex, and LOTS of kissing and rolling around. We could make out for hours, and it was just as erotic as anything I've ever seen in a porno flick. Because it was real, and it was ours. We would talk for hours on the phone, write daily emails, hang out everyday after school, ate lunch together, movies, the mall, the arcade...we were inseparable. Adam had this wonderful ability to make you laugh at yourself, and build up your self esteem at the same time. He could look right through you and coax you into telling him what was wrong, and then he'd sit down and talk it out with you. Sometimes, his insight into things was eerily close to what I needed to hear, and he got you to trust him, you know? You would put your faith in him, and he made the bad feelings go away. I made it a point to tell him I loved him every chance I got. Then...all of the sudden...'nothing'. It came to a screeching halt and I was thrown out of my paradise without warning. No reason was given whatsoever. It just didn't 'work' anymore. Just like that. The phone calls got further and further apart, the emails got shorter and shorter, and suddenly he was busy with 'other' things. Things he would rather be doing than hanging out with me. Or even TALKING to me, for that matter. I stressed myself out over how to hold on to what we had, trying to 're-create' it somehow...but my efforts were useless. He was no longer into it, and I had no idea how to make it work again. I had no idea what made it work in the FIRST place. And as we drifted further and further apart, in the fourth month, I got my first 'unreturned' phone call. That's the dagger that stabs the deepest. When they just don't care enough to answer you anymore. Adam had never once taken longer than an hour to return my call. But this one night, it just went unanswered, and after a few more of those, I kinda got the 'message'. There was no interest in talking to me anymore. Not like there used to be, anyway. Whatever purpose that I had in his life, I had served it, and he was done with me. I was wiped out of Adam's life so quickly that I almost thought that he had been TOLD to get rid of me by some intimidating third party, holding him at gun point and saying 'Dump him, or ELSE!' But that wasn't the case. He just completely stopped being concerned about me and my feelings one day. I wanted to call him. All the time, in fact. But I was stuck. Stuck between pestering him into talking to me when he probably didn't want to, and making him think that it would be 'okay' if he decided not to call me ever again. It was such a frustrating balance of questions and unknown theories. Am I trying too hard? Not hard ENOUGH? How many chances should I give him? Is this a test? Is it over? What the HELL am I supposed to THINK??? I've never done the relationship thing before. What am I doing wrong here? I love him, he loves me back. How complicated can it be? This is how it's supposed to work, right? Guess not, and that's what eventually led to the end.
"Alright....sure thing...goodbye." My mom finally hung up the phone and looked over at me again. "What's wih you? You're moping around an awful lot today."
"It's nothing. Forget it." I answered.
For the first time that morning, she looked concerned with more than getting to work on time. "Are you feeling ok, Danny? What's wrong?"
"Nothing. I said forget it. Ok?" I said, a it frustrated with her even asking at this point.
"Honey...look, I know I'm working a lot trying to close this deal, but if you just bare with me for a little bit longer..."
"It's NOT you, Mom! Alright? I just...I don't wanna talk about it. I'm fine." I said, feeling the cracks in that glass clown mask spider webbing their way out more and more as I fought to keep myself 'normal'.
"Sighhh...I'm sorry, Danny. Ok?"
"I told you, I'm alright."
"Well...I hate to rush you, but we've gotta go. Ok? Take that toast with you and let's get in the car. We're late." And she straightened her dress, grabbed her bag, and walked out the back door to the car. I couldn't necessarily tell her that I didn't want to go to school today, and I CERTAINLY couldn't tell her why. So I put my shoes on, grabbed my backpack, and I did what I was supposed to do! I fixed the mask on my face, and went out to try and deal with a world that didn't give a damn about my precious feelings in the first place.
I got into the car with my mom, and she pulled out of our parking space in a hurry. I didn't feel like talking to her, but I didn't feel like thinking about Adam either. But it was going to be one or the other, and I guess talking took more energy than I had, so the choice was simple.
I'm not so sure if you could really call it a 'break-up', or a 'discussion', or a 'mutual agreement', or anything ELSE for that matter. Neither one of us ever said 'goodbye'. There was no big argument or adulterous act made. We never said it was 'over', or that we should date other people, or that it wasn't working out anymore. We didn't say anything really. I just had to sort of ASSUME that he was no longer in love with me...at ALL...and I had to silently act as though I was cool with that decision. Believe me, I wasn't. It was made without me in mind. And he never once had the guts to just tell me to fuck off and leave him alone. Never once. However, no matter how selfish and hurtful and unfair this whole situation seemed to me...I guess I knew that it had nothing to do with my feelings. And it had everything to do with his. If he didn't feel the same way...if he didn't love me with the same passionate devotion that I had for him...then he just...didn't. And it was MY burden to carry, because he probably didn't give a shit. That REALLY sucks! But not half as much as the fact that I couldn't really be mad at him for it. That's the part that has kept these painful tears in my eyes ever since. That's the part that has kept me alone.
After a short 'break' from one another, we somehow were able to pretend that things were normal between us. Without a SINGLE mention of the intense heartache he put me through. At least *I* was pretending. HE seemed to have no trouble whatsoever looking me right in the fucking eye and smiling on a daily basis after that. In fact, he would go to school and laugh and play without so much as a nudge from his conscience about what he fucking DID to me! I wasn't convinced that he missed me very much at all. Not in a boyfriend sort of way, not in an 'old buddy' sort of way...not in ANY way. Was I really that easily forgettable? Did I mean so little to him that he could just push me aside without a second thought as to how much I was hurting over this? I was kinda thinking that I meant enough to him to at LEAST be FRIENDS! I was kind of hoping that I would be the guy that he would be telling his next boyfriend about. That I'd be the one that he compared all of the others to. I thought that he would at least pay me that tribute for the fun times we spent together and the moments we shared. But nope, nothing. No mention, no goodbye, no 'I will always remember you'....nothing. I was easily cast aside to make room for someone else in his life. And that fucking hurt...a LOT. It hurt so much that my dying spirit felt like it was swallowing me whole!
We still hung out together for a short while, but were we still friends? Did I even know the meaning of the word anymore? All I knew was that he was done with it all, done with ME, and I was left baffled and wondering why. Because of that, I felt a bit distant from him. I held back the emotions in order to prevent them from hurting me anymore. He frightened me. He had the power to hurt me like no one else on the planet could. He could control my ups and downs with a single word, or with the slightest hint of his smile. And I resented the fact that someone who had once hurt me so badly, still possessed that level of control over my emotions. Our friendship tried to remain strong, but it had weakened in the places that really mattered. So after a few more weeks of struggling and uncomfortable moments, we began to grow apart. Soon only becoming familiar faces in the hall, and Adam becoming a painful memory in my past.
"Did you get your lunch?" My mom asked, trying to put on lipstick at the stoplight.
"I've got money, I'll buy something at school."
"How will you get home if you spend your bus money?"
"I'll walk. It's no big deal..." Another ring from the cell phone, and I clammed up. Taking my place at her side as her little quiet distraction from work. I'd HIDE that damn phone from her in the house if it stopped ringing long enough to not give away its location every five minutes. So I looked out the window, and went right back to my thoughts.
I remember months going on after our second 'silent break-up' without definition...and the harder I tried to maintain my normality around him, the harder it got to even hear other people mention his name. I tried to hate him with everything I had, but the second he said anything to me at all, I thought to myself, "Wow! He still loves me, if only just a little bit." And thoughts of us getting back together plagued my mind again and again. I flirted with little hints here and there, making him smile, and it was almost like being a couple again. But it was all a fantasy, one I was happy to be wrapped up in every once in a while. It stopped me from feeling the pain of knowing that I wasn't good enough to be his lover.
I wrestled with my thoughts for soooo long. Do I love him? Do I hate him? Does he love me? Does he hate me? Does he think I hate him? Does he see me as a friend? Is the only thing keeping us apart something that I did? Or didn't do? Or something that he didn't know about me that I should have told him? Or the amount of attention I pay to him? He called me!!! Does that mean he cares? Or does he feel 'obligated' to call me? Should I call him? Will he be pissed if I do? Is this a good sign? A bad sign? It was a constant battle between my heart and my mind, and no matter which one lost, I was still going to feel empty inside when it was over. Finally, one evening, I realized how long it had been since we had really spoken to one another. And I knew that if he had any interest in me whatsoever, even as a friend...he would have been making at least a MINOR attempt to fucking talk to me. He would care. He would at least meet me half way, or think about me once in a while, just to say hello. But he didn't...not once...not anymore...not ever.
That was it, I couldn't force it, I couldn't fix it, I couldn't make it happen. He just....didn't want me. Hey, tough shit. It happens, right? It happens to the best of us. First time it's ever happened to ME, but I'm sure that's the way it goes. Anyway, like I said, I just wish I had some kind of reason is all. Something to say, "Hey Danny, if you're ever lucky enough to fall in love again, maybe you shouldn't do that particular thing that fucked up your relationship next time. Then you won't completely RUIN it like you did with Adam." I never even had a clue, and I felt lost. Adam was still there, and yet, he was 'gone' somehow. Out of the range of every emotion I could possibly offer him. I would have given my life for him at one time, but it was...as I said before...'over'.
"Alright, last stop. You've still got a couple of minutes before the bell." My mother pulled the car over to the side, and looked over at me. I think her intention was to get me out of the car quickly so she could make it to work on time. But when she looked at my face, that business dedication left her eyes, and a motherly instinct took its place. "Danny?"
"I...it's just..." There were times when I wanted to tell her. There were times when I needed her to sit with my head against her chest and have her tell me everything was going to be alright. But...if I was ever gonna do it, today wasn't gonna be the day. "I'm just tired. That's all." I lied.
"Danny...if there's something wrong...you know you can tell me, right? I mean, whatever it is...we can talk about it..."
"I'm fine. Just...didn't wanna be here today." I mumbled, and opened the door to step out. "Go. You've still got time to make it." And I slung my backpack over my shoulder, walking towards that front door. Starting a brand new day. twenty four hours 'further away' from what was once a happy time in my life.
It was now an entire year later since Adam...a YEAR...age 15, high school, a whole new ball of wax. And you know what? I won't lie, it STILL hurts. Sometimes it hurts worse than when it happened. Days like today. Sure, I spent many hours crying about it, ignoring it, doubting it, hating it...but even though I had run the entire gauntlet of emotions, and even though time did what it could to heal the deepest of my wounds, the pain was still there. Deep down, I felt like shit, constantly, and I hated it. Disgusted with the heavy weight that made my whole world move in slow motion, muddy and bleak. I never wanted my heart to beat for anyone else, ever again. It just hurt too damn much.
While spending my days thinking of ways to somehow 'get back' at Adam for making me feel this way, I longed for him even more. I thought that maybe if I at least got revenge in some way, that I could regenerate some of my self esteem and feel 'human' again. But in the end, whether it was the love, the problem, the pain, or the solution...Adam remained at the center of it all. He was going to get almost all of my attention no matter what. And to be honest, I just didn't want to think about him anymore. I didn't want to 'feel' anything anymore. And yet, I desperately needed to find a way to make him see that I didn't need him to be happy. Without his approval, what would my rebellion mean? He'd get away with it, and I'd still be alone. Even with somebody else...i'd be alone. I went through every fantasy I could possibly think of. You know, the usual...
A) The one where he finds the error of his ways, heartbroken, missing you terribly, and gets down on his knees begging you to take him back. And you tell him how it's too late and you've moved on. Making him hurt just as bad as you are hurting now.
B) The one where you find someone else. Someone so beautiful, so incredible, so mouthwatering and sexy and sweet, that it makes him INSANELY jealous of you both. Then you and your new beau live happily ever after WITHOUT him, while he stews over what he missed out on, and what he could've had.
C) The one where you become extremely popular and everyone wants a piece of you, making him regret letting a cool guy like you get away from him. Wishing that he hadn't given up on someone so beautiful and well known.
D) The one where you simply disappear off the face of the Earth and he never sees you again. But he spends the rest of his life searching for his first love, because he realized too late that you were his one and only soul mate, and he'll never find anyone else who will love him like you did. Ever.
E) The one where you turn out to be super super hot and he can't help but fall in love with you again. However, THIS time you use your gorgeous face and body to tease him until he cries for mercy. Letting him get so close, but never giving him what he wants. Twisting his heart into almost nothing.
...And a bunch of others. Where I become his savior in a bad situation, or a major celebrity, or incredibly rich, and it becomes MY turn to shut HIM out, and make HIM feel like a total bastard for what he did to me. Then of course, there was that one fantasy that included me running him over with a tractor and dragging him sixteen blocks by his fucking genitals. But in the end, when all was said and done, as much as I tried to hate his stinking guts...I just didn't. I couldn't. The very thought of him sharing his laugh with someone else depressed the SHIT out of me! The fact that someone else would get to kiss those lips, run their fingers through that blond hair and over his silk like skin, that they'd get to taste parts of him that I never even got the chance to SEE...burned me up inside like you wouldn't believe! It cut me to the bone...THROUGH it even...and he didn't even care.
God...why couldn't he just transfer schools or something? Or better yet, just jet off from the face of the fucking planet and go live on the MOON somewhere so I wouldn't have to see or think about him anymore. Because that's all I did. After a YEAR! A YEAR, with no real connection, no make-ups, no phone calls, nothing, not on his part...and I STILL think about him! It STILL fucking hurts!
Is this some kind of sick game? Why won't my heart just LISTEN to me and STOP already??? He doesn't WANT you anymore! Don't you get it? It's OVER! Let him go and move the fuck on already before you end up killing us both! But my heart wouldn't heal. It REFUSED to heal, and it just kept pumping out a lethal dose of pain and anguish throughout my entire body until the poison was enough to overwhelm me. Day after day after day. Will it ever end?
The beginning part of my day was hardly memorable. It was kinda hard to concentrate when I was like this. Don't even know why these feelings decided to blindside me every once in a while out of nowhere. I did get some breaks from the misery of it when other people were around though. The more you surround yourself with people, the less it hurts. Because you find yourself working so hard to smile for their benefit, that it keeps the pain away for a while. Five people, ten people, FIFTY people...the more, the better. I'd surround myself with a THOUSAND people if I could just keep myself from breaking down into a fit of tears for just a few minutes longer. Even if that damn clown mask somehow found a way to permanently attach itself to my face....I'd keep smiling until the cracks were too numerous to hold it together anymore. And when that happened, and it shattered into a million pieces...I'd go home....and work on building another one. The mask was all I had. It was all I had. It was.....
"Mr. Burke, please try harder to pay attention in my class." The teacher spoke, and I was tossed out of my miserable dream world.
"Sorry." I made an attempt to listen again, and did a pretty good job of taking notes and the like. This will wear off. I just need to shake it off, that's all. When I get home, I'll sneak into dad's liquor cabinet and take a few swipes off the Jack Daniels. Between him and my mom, they drink so often they won't suspect it was me draining the bottle. They weren't drunks, mind you. They just liked to have a glass or two after 'stressful days at work'. And that habit was very beneficial to a teenager who wanted to get lost and escape his thoughts for a while.
As the first few weeks of the new school year went on, I made a few new friends, got a few new school books, and there were actually times when I could work up a genuine laugh around the other kids. But then I'd catch a glimpse of Adam at the end of the hall, or hear his laugh, or see his name on the roster for sports or awards of some kind, and my world turned black again. Instantly. Which forces me to ask myself...is it truly better to have loved and lost? Because I don't really see a bright side here. I could be happy right now if I had never felt that energy inside of me. If I had never tasted a fruit so sweet, that I'd rather starve than eat anything else. They say that life is short, but they're wrong. At times like this you realize that life is LONG! Very, VERY, long! Days, weeks, months, years...it just goes on and on and on. God forbid you have to live that life in pain. God forbid you have to bear that pain alone.
I believe it was some whacked out pothead that pulled the fire alarm that afternoon during school. He was probably just pulling it as a prank. And while it's normally a hassle to deal with the whole 'calmly walking in single file' thing, events like that can sometimes spice up an average school day. So I didn't mind the distraction at all. We all instinctively filed outside like the good little robots they expect us high school kids to be, and stood on the front lawn. My only frustrating question was...why did it have to be during my GYM class??? If I was taking a math test, the place would be locked down tighter than Alcatraz! But it turned out to not be such a bad thing, because Adam takes his gym class the same period that I do. Just in a different group. So when I saw his class on the far side of the lawn, standing outside with us, I got the opportunity to stare at his legs in those beautiful navy blue gym shorts of ours. His legs were long and smooth, very fine lond hairs, almost invisible to the eye, and tight calves. Not muscular really, just thin and tight and soft and soooo cute. And the thighs, leading up to that perfect little teenage butt of his. Rounded and tight, pert cheeks with little cups at the bottom, just enough to squeeze and maybe a little bit more. And his chest, those little brown nipples covered only by that thin piece of white nearly see-through fabric they called a gym shirt. And his blond hair being blown softly by an Autumn wind that seemed to be whispering love songs in his ear. I think it must have given him a slight chill, because I saw tiny little goose bumps appear on his arms and on the side of his neck. I swear...I can see them from all the way over here. He's only gonna get more and more beautiful as he gets older, ya know? I can tell already. He's so flawless. So very unique.
Sigh...what am I doing? Seriously....what the hell am I doing to myself here? Why am I still even LOOKING? Am I stupid or what? How much suffering am I willing to put myself through before I just give up? I should be throwing ROCKS at the son of a bitch for savagely tearing my heart in two without giving a fuck whether I survived it or not...but instead I was dreamily gawking at him like some little girl with her first crush. Thinking about how I use to touch those thighs, kiss those lips, and hug those slim hips of his against me. Necking and rolling over each other for almost an hour without taking a breath. Desperately needing the sex, but too scared to go through with it. Afraid to come out of our little comfort zone. Now that I think about it, I wish I had given him my virginity. I wish I'd had sex with him just ONCE! At least then I could have tasted his body and been left with a hot memory that would have made losing him worth the empty feeling inside. Grrrr! Come on Danny, stop thinking about him. Am I turning psycho or what? This CAN'T be healthy!
I tried to stop looking a few times, but gave in to my impulses every time. I just didn't want him to catch me looking. I'll be damned if I stroke his ego by letting him know that I was still aching to have him in my arms again. Even if I did. DEPERATELY!!! I know that it was a game that I was destined to lose either way, but it was the only game I was comfortable playing right now.
Then, purely by accident, I caught a glimpse of something behind Adam that I hadn't noticed before. I guess I was focusing on him so hard, that I didn't even see it at first. It was another boy, a little taller than Adam, but not by much. Almost to the point of being 'skinny', but far from 'boney', and he was staring right at me. Did he catch me looking at Adam??? SHIT! I turned away as soon as I was spotted, and pretended to not notice. The last thing I needed was someone speculating on my sexuality and spreading it all through high school. A rumor in this place spreads faster than the plague on a crowded train! And he could do it with one yell if he said it while the whole school was out here during afire alarm. I tried to sneak a peak back over to see if he was still looking. Nope, the coast is clear. Thank goodness. Hopefully it was just written off as some random gaze and it didn't mean anything. When I got a few seconds of courage, I took a closer look at this other boy...not bad. Adam's cuter though. Hey, I can't help it. He IS! The other kid was FAR from ugly, believe me, he just wasn't...he wasn't...Adam. Then again, nobody was. You know?
He had broad shoulders, and a smooth, long neck. His flat chest and stomach were slim and tight, his arms looking slightly longer than what was proportionately correct. He had brown hair with blond streaks added to it. It was actually kind of cute. And blue eyes. VERY cool liquid blue eyes. SHIT! He caught me looking again! I turned forward, hoping to play it off. But as soon as I got a chance, I took another peek at him. And a few more. And more still. But he caught me looking almost every time. It was almost as though...he was looking back.
"Danny! What's up man? It's cool...having a fire drill and all, huh?" Great, it was Eddie from my English class. Yapping away as usual with his weird California 'valley boy' dialect. I was a bit too preoccupied to talk to him at the moment, but he kept going anyway. He was ranting about this and that, and normally, that jabbering would have been a welcome relief from whatever miserable thoughts I was entertaining at the moment. But today? Today, what concerned me the most was the fact that he was standing between me and Mr. Mystery over there.
"Uh huh...sure man." I said without even paying attention. I tried to make it look like I was listening while still glancing over his shoulder, but I had to be careful to not let my eyes give me away. Eddie rambled on without end, and finally, the boy behind Adam casually, almost secretively, looked up at me again. I decided to try something different this time, so I didn't turn away so fast. And neither did he. We actually made eye contact this time, and held it for a few seconds. Which to me, felt like a hundred years. It was...intense. Like, this really cool 'fear' came over me. Not a 'fear' as in scared stiff, but a 'fear' as in excited beyond belief. I felt a jiggling in my stomach, and my hands got sweaty, and it was almost like a DARE for me to hold that eye contact for one second longer. And then, he looked away...actually blushing a little bit with a smile! A SMILE! I hoped Eddie didn't see my eyes widen. I hope he didn't hear my heart stop. I hope God wasn't playing another joke on me. Some things in life...they can happen so suddenly that you find yourself being spun to the ground before beingable to catch your own balance. It kinda ruins that whole concept of a 'stable reality', you know?
The other boy only briefly glanced at me in a passing sweep of the lawn with his eyes, but he didn't dare play anymore staring contests with me again. Still, it surprised me, and it was hard to keep from smiling myself. This was somewhat unexpected.
"What are you looking at, dude?" Eddie spun around, and I hoped to God he didn't see the boy I was gazing at. Oh pleeeeease tell me he didn't see me looking lovingly at another BOY! PLEASE! Eddie was the type of guy to shout out his discovery to the world without any impuls control at all. He might apologize for it later, but what good would THAT do me? "Ahhhh...I see what you're staring at!" He grinned slyly. Oh great, the gig is up. "Hot piece of ass, isn't it?"
Say WHAT? I think I was really taken off guard by that statement. "Huh...wha..?"
"Cindy Shuffleman...hot piece of ass, isn't she? I'D flip her flapjacks, dude. Yes sir!" And he nudged me in the shoulder playfully with a wink. I looked back across the lawn, and she was standing next to the handsome boy I was currently looking at. Needless to say, she had avoided my roaming eye completely. But thank God she was there to save me from being discovered.
"Uhh...yeah...'flapjacks'. Gotchya. Look, I've gotta go, Eddie. Ok? I'll see you later." I left Eddie standing there, walking a few steps away from him in order to get some space. I needed a quiet moment to think about this. I wondered about whether or not I should go up and say hello to him. I should probably say something right? What if I never see him again past today? What if he was just looking to tell me that I had a booger in my nose or something? Or what if I had a 'flapjack flipping' hottie standing next to me, and that's who he was looking at all along? Great. THIS is what I have to look forward to. Starting all over again with twice as much confusion as I had before.
I honestly entertained the idea of just 'introducing' myself. He was a total stranger, but hey, might as well take a chance, right? Besides, it was just 'hello', it's not like I had to bare my soul to him or anything. I could have sworn that I was actually walking towards him...but when I looked down, my feet weren't moving at all. And when I looked up again, I saw Adam standing in front of him again, and I remembered why I had a reason to be scared of this sort of thing. There he was, his blond aura bathing everyone around him in the bright light of infatuation, and him feeling so good about the fact that not a single one of them would be able to have him unless he decided to pick them out of the crowd. It must be nice.
I looked at him, laughing with some friend of his....being so blissfully happy without me ever crossing his mind...and I backed down instantly. As I heard the bell ring, my heart sank again, and I let the stupid idea of it go. The students began to file back into the building, and we all followed suit. I looked over at the boy again, disappearing into the crowd....maybe for the last time as far as I was concerned, and silently sent him a mental goodbye. I saw Adam go back through the doors behind him, and I recalled it all. The pain, the hurt, and the tears. And I didn't want to go through that again. How in the hell did I even survive the first permanent scarring of my emotions? If it were to happen AGAIN, I'd probably write myself off as completely worthless and jump in a live volcano to end it all. We were friends, companions, and later we became boyfriends. After all that we'd been through, if Adam didn't love me...who the hell would?
I thought about the whole experience throughout the rest of the day, but any time I even TRIED to be positive about the possibilities, the negativity crept in and clawed at my confidence continuously until it left me.
I remember that first night when Adam said he would call me, and just didn't. I can remember thinking that there might have been a problem before that moment, but that defined it for sure. I distinctly remember sitting on the living room couch, waiting for the phone to ring. Watching the minutes tick away and mentally trying to make up excuses as to why he was taking so long. Maybe he's late, or held up, or his phone went out, or a giant robotic crab dragged him into the sea. Whatever. The longer I waited, the more I felt stupid for wasting my time. But I COULDN'T leave!!! My body wouldn't let me. Because even when the clock hit midnight, I 'knew' that the phone would ring the second I wasn't there to answer it. You wouldn't think that a missed phone call would be enough to totally break someone's heart, but it was. And I was too hurt to even be angry. Somehow my mind made it MY fault. And my self pity snaked its way around me for days afterwards. I thought about that one night, and wondered why the hell I wanted to go through that again. Why? What if this new kid REALLY hurts me? What if he's just as bad, if not worse, than Adam was when it came to my feelings? What if I REALLY took an emotional turn for the worst this time, and it...'finished me off'? I didn't want to be scared, but I didn't want to be stupid either. So what do I do? Do I just cross the street and hope that I don't get creamed by a fucking truck?!?! Or do I play it a bit safer this time around, and look both ways first? I didn't care if I spent the rest of my LIFE alone, I couldn't survive that again! I swore I'd never live through that again, and I meant every word! The NEXT time my heart gets broken, will be the LAST time my heart gets broken! And after that, I'm done. Over. I'd rather die. That pain almost devoured me alive, and I wasn't ready to face it again. Who cares if this was a different person? Who cares if this was a year ago? Who cares if I was just some dumb teenager? I know what I feel...and I hated feeling like this. I know it hasn't finished with me yet. Maybe one day I'll feel better, and I'll be fucking STUPID enough to take another risk on someone I really REALLY care about! Someone safe! Soeone who couldn't POSSIBLY ever do anything to hurt me! But for now? Trying to fall for someone, even a little bit, with my soul as torn and battered as it is at the moment...would be like trying to run a marathon on a broken leg with a bad case of asthma right after open heart surgery. And this, too, was sure to kill me this time if it didn't work out. And when I say 'kill me'...I mean exactly that. A person can only take so much.
The next school day was much better, to be honest. Despite the super whiny day from hell, I was feeling more like myself again. Not happy, just not as alone as I was when things started to swirl around in my head like yesterday. I even had somewhat of a civil discussion with my mom at the breakfast table. She really was a bit worried, which was comforting in some strange way. But the happy clown mask seemed to fit much easier today, and it felt like a good day was being born. That feeling stayed with me too.
All the way up until the class just after lunch.
I had accidently left one of my physics books in my locker, and asked to be excused to go retrieve it since my homework was folded neatly between the pages somewhere. Everything was norml, and the pieces of my day almost 'fit' again. But while wandering the empty halls, I actually crossed paths with...whoever he was. Still as cute as he was the day before, maybe even more so. I saw him coming around the corner, almost in a dramatic slow motion walk, and I silently gasped to myself as his sweet blue eyes met mine. I had never seen him this up close before, and for some reason, after chickening out the first time, I never expected to see him again. It was a big high school, what were the odds ofseeing him two days in a row? Whatever they were, they were in my favor that day. I seriously need to be thanking some angels for THIS particular stroke of luck.
He kept walking, and I felt that weird attraction rush through me as our eyes made eye contact again. It made me nervous, plastering the most ridiculous half cocked smirk on my face. "Hey..." He said, just above a whisper, as he met me in the middle of the hall.
"Sup?....." I replied, and we just kept walking passed each other. I think the urge to turn around and look again was too much for me to wrestle with. So I turned my head and took a glance. And he looked back TOO! Right before going around the corner! What was THAT? Was that good? He said hi first, so that's....like...good, right? I SO wanted to chase him around that corner and catch another glimpse at him. But I didn't dare. He was too cute. He'd know exactly what I was thinking if I did that! But he DID look at me! And he said hi. And he had such a cute voice too. And he said HI! BEFORE I said hi! Which is good. Right? Saying hi is good. He seemed cool enough. Grrrr...it's times like these that I wish I had someone else to talk to about this stuff so I could get some outside advice. Because I'm sure that my point of view was all screwed up anyway. Wow...ok, Danny...now what? Now what? Ummm...shit. I'm gonna have to take time to work this out. Damn he's cute.
I began to dig around in my locker for the book, and as soon as I found my homework, I saw him walking passed me again. Maybe he was just taking a little bathroom break or something, and was on his way back to class. Who knows? I was intrigued though. Alright, Danny...let's be a bit more talkative this time. Let's just see how he responds. Um...what to say, what to say....OH...I've got it!
As he walked by me again, his eyes timidly meeting mine again, I said, "...Hey."
".....Sup?" He answered, and the moment was over again as he kept going to class. Ok...how was that? Did we have a 'moment', or what? Was that better? Oh wait, I said hi first. Does that make me look desperate? SHIT! Man...to hell with this, I'm going back to class. I wonder if he's gay. He's GOTTA be gay. Straight boys aren't that friendly.
Now I know what everybody is thinking...he LIKES you ya dork! Um...no. I'm not falling for THAT one again! Just close my eyes and let my heart open up and let him in just so he can wreck shop and leave me in the dirt. Not this time around. We said hello, and we exchanged some glances...that was it. Is that supposed to suddenly represent some romantic interlude under the stars? I don't think so. I've gotten smarter since last time. I'm gonna make SURE this isn't a mistake this time. The next person I fall for is going to be sweet and lovable and sensitive and just plain...real. Not some fantastic creation in my mind that keeps me blind from the fact that Adam was just getting a kick out of having me around to make him feel good. Sigh...actually....I shouldn't say that. Look at me, feeling guilty for my own thoughts. Adam and I had some really good times, and a lot of laughs too. I shouldn't be dismissing him like that just because I was hurt. STILL...there was no reason to give this new kid any more credit than I had to based on our limited conversation so far. I didn't even KNOW this guy. He was just a pretty face that caught my eye. It was no different than me wearing out the VCR's freeze frame on that Hanson video whenever Taylor spoke. So it's not like I had any reason to get excited.
It WOULD be pretty nice for it to be that simple though. And somewhere deep down....deep deep DEEP down...there was a tiny spark in me that sorta wanted to 'believe' again. Even if it didn't work out, even if this guy turns out to be some asshole who ends up outing me to the whole damn school and beats the shit out of me on top of it! I just....I just wanted to 'believe' again. Blind faith in an intangible emotion that has done me more damage than benefit, believe me. It's almost impossible to work up the courage to step out in front of that truck again. Everytime you get ditched...your belief, the foundation of your trust, withers and breaks just a little bit more. Until it simply can't support you anymore.
It's funny...how easily that belief gets shattered. And how hard it is to put it back together again.