Under the Sun
After the bell rang, Ben pushed his books into his bag and then slung it over his shoulder.
"So how do you plan to study for the test tomorrow?" he asked Melanie, who was sitting next to him, still packing her things.
"I think I’ll probably make some note cards. There are a lot of things to memorize."
"I guess that's a good idea. Do you want to study together later?"
Melanie put her backpack on her shoulders and looked at Ben. "Sorry, Scott is taking me out tonight."
Ben looked at her and frowned. She really didn't look that sorry but was rather trying to hold back a smile. Ben knew that that smile meant only one thing; Melanie was planning to go all the way with Scott. Ben felt slightly disgusted realizing Melanie’s plans.
"Oh, that's cool." Ben started walking towards the classroom door. "Well, see you at lunch then."
He didn't wait for answer and stepped out into the hall. There were students walking right and left, heading to their lockers and classes.
"Hey, Ben," said Andy as Ben reached his locker.
"Hey, Andy. How are you?"
"Fine, just fine. I ran into Brett, though. Seems like he forgot to do his chemistry homework again."
Ben frowned. "I swear. Does that kid ever remember to do his homework? I guess I should go help him."
Andy laughed. "It's good that he has a guy like you for his best friend, and it doesn't hurt that you're awesome at chem."
"I'm not that great," protested Ben.
"Who got the highest grade on the last test?"
"Um, okay, well see you later," said Ben closing his locker.
Andy just laughed. "See you later, Ben!"
Ben headed to the library for his free period, hoping to find Brett. He was in luck. Brett was seated at one of the tables with a piece of mostly blank paper in front of him. He was flipping through his chemistry book while nervously rubbing his fingers through his short brown hair.
"Hey, Brett," said Ben as he approached Brett.
"Oh my god, I am so glad to see you!" exclaimed Brett when he saw Ben. "I need help."
Ben sighed. "Yup, that's why I'm here."
For the next half hour, Ben helped Brett work through his homework. After they had finished, Brett was greatly relieved and Ben was feeling less annoyed with his friend.
Brett closed his chemistry book. “So, what’s up with you?”
Ben shrugged. "Not much. I have a history test, tomorrow."
"That’s it? The highlight of your life right now is a history test?”
“I guess. It’s what I’m thinking about the most right now.”
“That’s so wrong, Ben. Seriously, you need to get laid or something. That’ll make your life more interesting"
"Shut up, Brett, my life is interesting enough and it's not like you're exactly getting any action either."
Brett shrugged. "Hey, I'm saving myself."
Ben laughed. "For that someone special? How many times are you going to tell me that crap?"
Brett frowned. "Hey, don't hate. It's called love."
"Whatever. Speaking of getting laid, Melanie and I used to always study for history tests together, but now she can't because Scott is ‘taking her out.’ When did she become such a slut?"
"Ever since she started going out with Scott?"
"Yeah, seriously, I think it's insane. It's like she can't get enough of him. What the hell is wrong with her?"
"Maybe she's in love?" replied Brett with a smirk.
"Enough of that love crap. High school teenagers don't really fall in love."
Brett stopped smiling and stared at Ben. Ben, however, didn't notice the change and when the bell rang, he got up to leave. "It's time for class. I'm off. See you later."
Brett just stared at Ben walking off. “That’s so not true. Teenagers do fall in love.”
At noon, the bell rang for lunch and all the students headed towards the cafeteria. When Ben saw "pizza" on the menu board, he felt like his day had just gotten a bit better. Pizza was his favorite food. He grabbed three slices, paid, and headed over to join his friends at a table.
"My parents are going on a vacation again," announced Mark as Ben sat down. "And, of course, I can't go."
"That sucks," Ben replied. "Where are they going?"
"Paris?" exclaimed Melanie. "That's so cool. I'm so jealous. Aren't you, Jessica?"
"Totally, Paris is so cool. And French men are so romantic," added Jessica with a sigh.
Ben rolled his eyes. "French men aren't romantic. That's just some stereotype."
"How do you know?" countered Jessica. "Have you ever dated a French guy?"
"Um no, but neither have you."
"But I will. I'm going to study abroad in France during college."
"Wow, that's a good idea, I think I'm going to study abroad too," replied Mark.
"Hey guys!" interrupted Brett as he joined them with his own plate of pizza. "They have pizza today!"
"Pizza is greasy and disgusting. Salad is so much better," Jessica said, nodding at the large amount of salad on her plate.
"If you’re a rabbit," said Ben causing Brett to laugh.
Jessica frowned. "Well suit yourself with your unhealthy ways."
Ben shook his head. "Sometimes I really don't understand these girls," he whispered to Brett as Jessica and Melanie started talking to each other.
Brett laughed. "I'm with you on that one."
It wasn't long before school was over and Ben was headed outside to the parking lot. As he walked outside, he saw Brett standing and chatting with Mark. Brett noticed Ben, said goodbye to Mark, and then rushed over to Ben.
"Dude! You have to give me a ride home today."
"What happened to your car?"
"My mom had to use it today so my dad dropped me off."
"Oh, well, come on then." Ben headed to his black Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Ben unlocked the car, threw his bag in the backseat and got into the driver's seat. He waited until Brett got into the passenger's side, and then started the car. Ben started sweating almost immediately, so he cranked up the AC to the highest setting.
"Snow Patrol?" Ben asked as he cycled through the CDs while he drove.
"Sure." Brett loosened his tie and undid the top button on his shirt.
Ben followed suit. "It's so hot. And to think it's still only spring."
"Yeah, it totally feels like its summer. Going to school just doesn't seem right. We should be going to the beach or something. Speaking of which, I really don't have any homework today, so do you want to come over?"
"Dude, I have a history test. I have to study."
"Oh, come on. You know you'll ace it even if you don't study."
"I don't know. There are a lot of things to memorize."
"You said yourself that Melanie wasn't studying, so why should you?"
"Because I don't have someone to distract me like that."
Brett smirked. "And that's entirely your fault."
"Hey what's wrong with being single? I'm perfectly happy with my life right now."
"Whatever makes you happy.” Brett smiled as he looked over at Ben. “I can't really say I'm completely satisfied with my life. Especially with all the amazing things under the sun..."
Ben finally reached home at about a quarter past four. He had dropped Brett off at his house despite Brett's persuasions that they should hang out. Ben finally agreed to spend the night on Friday, which made Brett much happier and let Ben free to go home and study for his test. Ben walked in from the garage, threw his bag down and headed to the kitchen to get something to drink. He grabbed a glass from the kitchen cabinet and was about to fill it with water when he noticed some lemons on the countertop. Seeing the lemons, Ben decided to make some lemonade, which would be much more fulfilling than just some water. Before he could start, the door leading to the backyard opened. Ben turned quickly and to his surprise, he saw someone he recognized. It was none other than the guy he had met the day before at the plant nursery: Kyle. He was wearing the same faded jeans and the t-shirt with the name of the garden center.
"What are you doing here?" Ben asked, slightly shocked to find the guy in his house.
"I'm just planting flowers for your mom."
"I didn't know that was part of your job."
Kyle laughed. "It usually isn't but you're mom bought a lot of flowers today and then she asked me if I could help plant them."
"That's awfully nice of you."
"Well, she is paying me."
"Anyway, I was wondering if I could get a glass of water or something."
"Oh, yeah, sure." Ben opened the kitchen cabinet again and took out another glass. "I was about to make some lemonade. Would you like that instead?"
"Sure, that would be really awesome."
"It'll take a few minutes but I can bring it out to you when I'm finished."
"Alright, thanks, man," said Kyle before stepping back out into the backyard.
Ben got busy cutting lemons, and mixing sugar with water. In a matter of minutes, he had prepared some fresh lemonade that, in his mind, tasted pretty good. Ben poured the lemonade into the two glasses on the countertop. He picked up one and headed outside.
It was still really hot and sunny outside. Ben found Kyle busy digging holes in one of the empty flowerbeds. He saw a number of flats of flowers placed nearby. His mom had really gone overboard with the whole flower thing.
"Here you go." Ben handed Kyle the lemonade.
Kyle pulled his gloves off and took the glass. "This is pretty good stuff," he said after taking a sip.
"Thanks. It usually doesn't turn out this great when I make it so really you're in luck."
Kyle smiled and gulped down the rest of the lemonade before handing the glass back to Ben.
"No problem," replied Ben before he turned to go back into the house.
Ben was quite relieved when he finally got back inside the air-conditioned house. He drank his glass of lemonade and then went up to his room to change. He came back downstairs wearing khaki cargo shorts and a navy blue t-shirt. He had his history notes and a pack of flashcards. He sat down at the breakfast table close to the window so he could also see into the backyard. He busied himself making note cards while occasionally looking out the window to look at Kyle working diligently on the flowerbeds. Ben was in the middle of copying down some notes when the backdoor opened again. Ben turned around to see Kyle standing there again. He had taken his shirt off and was using it to wipe some of the sweat off his chest.
"Hey, do you have a Band-Aid or something? I accidentally cut myself with the trowel," he said holding up his left hand, which had a small gash on the side and was dripping blood.
Ben was momentarily speechless at the sight of Kyle standing there bare-chested.
"Shit that looks bad. Here, come with me," said Ben, finally snapping out of his daze. He got up and started walking towards the bathroom. "Run your hand under some water first, I'll get some antiseptic wipes and a Band-Aid."
Kyle smiled and followed Ben to the bathroom. He turned on the tap in the bathroom sink, put his left hand under the running water. Ben opened the medicine cabinet, took out some antiseptic wipes and a Band-Aid, and placed them next to the sink.
"Let me see your hand."
Kyle held his left hand out towards Ben who carefully grabbed it from beneath.
"It's not too deep. What did you do?" asked Ben looking at the cut.
"I was just digging through some tough soil and when I was jabbing the trowel into the dirt, it cut through my glove and grazed the side of my hand. It was really stupid."
"Well, I'm going to rub these antiseptic wipes so it doesn't get infected," said Ben reaching over to grab one wipe. He took the wipe and softly placed it on the cut. Kyle winced and tensed when the antiseptic touched the cut on his hand.
"Does it hurt?"
"Yeah, that stuff always stings."
"Sorry but it's important..."
"Yeah, I know, go ahead."
Ben continued to rub the antiseptic wipe over the cut while Kyle just closed his eyes. Ben took the opportunity to stare at Kyle's nicely tanned and toned chest. He kept absent-mindedly rubbing the cut while he took in the sight in front of him and didn't notice when Kyle opened his eyes.
"Isn't that enough?" Kyle said with a smile, causing Ben to slightly jump and let go of Kyle's hand.
"Err, yeah, let me just put a Band-Aid on it," he said taking the Band-Aid. He ripped the cover off and quickly put it on Kyle's hand.
"Um, that should do it," said Ben stepping back.
Kyle just nodded but kept looking straight at Ben. Their eyes locked and Ben nervously gulped as he stared at the pair of brown eyes. Kyle slowly stepped forward towards Ben, backing him up against the wall. He reached out, took Ben’s hand, and placed it on his own chest. Ben closed his eyes as he felt Kyle's smooth chest. He let his hand wander down towards Kyle's abs.
"I... I've never done this before," Ben said softly as he opened his eyes and saw Kyle just inches away from him.
"That's okay," Kyle replied soothingly as he placed one hand on the back of Ben's head and ran his fingers through Ben's short light blond hair. He pulled Ben in closer so that their chests were touching and their lips were just an inch apart. Ben put his arms around Kyle's body and closed his eyes expectantly.
At that moment, they heard the Ben's mom call out. "Ben, darling, where are you?"
Ben jumped back, pushing Kyle away. "Shit," he cursed under his breath.
Kyle looked at Ben. "Does she..." he whispered.
Ben shook his head. "We should get out."
"Okay, yeah," said Kyle picking up his t-shirt and quickly putting it on.
They walked out of the bathroom and headed to the kitchen where they ran to Ben's mom.
"Hi Kyle," Ben's mom said before turning to Ben. "Where were you honey?"
"Kyle accidentally cut himself so I was just giving him a Band-Aid," Ben replied nervously.
Kyle held up his hand so that Ben's mom could see.
"Oh, dear, are you okay? Did you put antiseptic on it?"
"Yes ma'am. Ben gave me some."
"That's good. Are you done with the flowers yet?"
"No, I still have a few left."
"That's quite okay. I think I can take care of the rest. Ben can help me if I need it. Here, let me pay you." Ben's mom opened the purse she was carrying, pulled out two twenty dollar bills and handed them to Kyle. "Here you go dear. Thank you so much for all your help."
"Thanks ma’am," said Kyle, taking the money. "Well, have a good day then."
"You too," replied Ben's mom as Kyle headed towards the front door while Ben just watched silently.
"Such a nice boy," said Ben's mom after Kyle had left. "How was school, honey?"
"It was okay," replied Ben. "I have to study for a history test, tomorrow."
"Okay, do you want some snacks to eat?"
"No, I'm fine," replied Ben. He grabbed his things from the breakfast table and headed upstairs.
Ben locked the door when he reached his room and then lay back on his bed, closing his eyes. He couldn't believe what he had just been about to do before he was interrupted. He had been about to kiss another guy for the first time. He’d actually been about to do it. Kiss another guy! Ben couldn’t control the happy feeling inside of him. He opened his eyes and looked out of the window. He wondered that maybe Brett was right; maybe there were some amazing things under the sun that he had been missing out on all along...
To be continued…
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