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*** 24 Mar 2013
As you’ll definitely notice, this story is completely fictional, so any resemblance to real-life persons, living or dead, or events is simply coincidental. What you are going to read simply comes from the author’s imagination.
Two things before reading:
1. Most stories on Nifty are usually about real-life experiences or at least resemble real-life or easily relatable experiences. This story is not intended to be one of those; it tends to be more imaginative and less realistic.
2. Sexual activity is implied but not graphically or explicitly expressed.
The fields of California are wide open and beautiful. They had once been the promise of jubilance in the summers when I still rambled about and hadn’t decided where my future lied. And in those days, when my family nervously boarded a midnight flight, spent worriedly twenty-two hours of uneasiness and restlessness as if in a panic room during a full-blown and unrelenting hurricane, and repeatedly urged me to visit my dreams to ensure an atmosphere in which they could peacefully dive into their own dreams, I always couldn’t oblige. There was my reluctance to submit to the loss of consciousness because I was overexcited, being pulled in by the fields of California as if I was already there. There it was, also, the freedom to be had all summer long on my grandmother’s land where daffodils stood helplessly yet elegantly on the sidelines, a little moist and a little dry, but most certainly appealing to the average eyes.
I used to look forward to this time of year every single year. All year long at school back in my home country I dreamed and dreamed that summer vacation would arrive sooner, so that I could smell the sweet odor of daffodils, lilies, roses, grass and the oddly intriguing scent of all that underlying soil, which is indeed a true taste of our land.
But year after year I grew interested in things beyond my grandmother’s land; year after year I was attracted by something beyond our own territory, further out, where the adjacent fields rested as peacefully as our own did. I started to indulge in the tranquility of the dark after the sun had long vanished into a veil of bright stars. In my fourteenth year I started to sneak out at nights and saw the world.
Because I had an urge to look for things which I hadn’t known before. Because I wanted to expose myself to wild and ever-changing nature, from the simplest form of life – the microorganisms, and the most diminutive of plants – to the unknown, greater dangers – lurking animals, whatever they were or weren’t – in the forest. I was appealed by magnificent nature at work, decomposition and re-birth of the dead, and powers and mysteries beyond. It had soon become a matter of routine that compelled me to sneak out every night a little after nine to explore the hidden beauty in this world we live in.
There was this one night that was seemingly like any other. But I didn’t want it to be. I requested no one in particular that this very night be extraordinary since I was incredibly fed up with the tedious mundaneness of life. So I went further than I usually did, and I saw more than I was supposed to. For a second or two my right mind turned treacherous, and I was addicted to whatever danger there was hidden in the woods. Then being the good kid I was, I was struck mercilessly by a sense of guilt, enjoying carrying out the wrong, fearing the absence of the right.
But I went on anyway, for these forests had a tight grip on me, and they wouldn’t let go unless I saw what it had to offer. Beyond the depth of the woods shimmering lights flickered. I was suddenly determined to find out what they were and what they hid.
The silence itself was deadly, but I knew for sure that life penetrated this place, and man had contaminated it further. My sense of smell didn’t betray me; it kept sending in funny odors and peculiar scents, letting me know I was watched, and guarded, and nothing could harm me.
When the forest started to clear in front of my eyes, I had lost my sense of time, became a lost explorer that couldn't, or wouldn’t find his way home. Further out some scarce trees slept a lagoon the size of a couple standard football courts. I could smell the ocean in it, but I was glad it protected me from the ocean itself, from the tumultuous, unforgiving, undulated arms of terror that haunted its challengers. There was nothing wrong in observing the divine sea from a safe distance.
I found something lying on the lagoon, floating as the currents took it. This was the vision of an entity without thoughts and without impurity, for it was in the blessing embrace of Mother Nature; the entirety of the water and the entirety of the dark welcomed its integration as they merged and became one. Being part of nature and the world itself, its drifting had no intentional patterns; it carried with it an inexplicable comfort that I had sought and longed for.
But then the vow of silence and orderliness was broken, the world was crumbling, nature was tearing itself apart, as the entity, on a whim, abandoned the sweet rhythm of silence and decided to have a mind of its own. Gradually the calm water grew freckles, and the smoothness turned rough. Soon the beauty was no longer, as the entity rose to its own significance, leaving behind the world, its obedience now non-existent, its actions now governed by free will. This was the disruption of the beauty of silence, and this indeed caused the quality of the view to deteriorate in front of my eyes.
Until the moment I faced this “entity,” this unruly individual that possessed a heavenly body and a heavenly face.
He caught sight of me across the vagueness of the distance between our hearts and our physical manifestations, and I couldn’t help but smile, and smile more when that heavenly face returned it. All of the a sudden the purity and thoughtlessness of the night were back, as I watched the two of us collapse into the void of the night, wordless and expectant.
An introduction. Both of us were expecting an introduction.
“Hey, I’m Will.” I took the initiative. There was no point in wasting time waiting for a proper introduction in the soothing surroundings.
“Wes,” he said, shyly, and under a full moon half blocked by leaves, our hands touched and from there it progressed into a firm handshake.
A terse introduction. It ignited the flame of friendship, a brittle one, for now. But there was a feeling pouring out from my heart that told me this would transcend beyond the ordinary, and I needed to hold on to this very first relationship on this foreign landscape.
He was thirteen and I was fourteen, he was Caucasian and I was Asian, but both of us looked alike under this delicate lighting. We were just abstract concepts in utter darkness, and attempts to pursue clarity would always be futile. In this case, I was certain that physical vagueness would be overcome by the true connection of two eager minds.
We sat by the lagoon and looked into water below, the hills ahead, and the sky above. I wasn’t used to this lighting, me being a city boy, always a shadow under bright and perpetual building lights and street lamps. Here, in this memory of him and me, my eyes were useless. There was no remembering visual; all I could rely on here was sound, and so I welcomed the power of sound, the sound of his voice in contrast to the sound of nature, the sound of emptiness as opposed to the sound of quality and meaning; and through sounds I studied our physical and mental closeness, and the gravity we inflicted on each other. There was no concept of time in our exchange of silence and words, for if permitted, it would be a stream that would never quite reach the journey’s end, a stream that would flow into forever.
“It’s so quiet out here,” Wes said. “I can almost hear my own heart beating, and its speaking.”
“What does it say?” I said, curious.
I thought he looked me deep in the eyes then. “Murmurs I can’t quite comprehend.” A few seconds of silence. “I want to see the ocean,” he added.
But the ocean was my greatest fear, the ultimate form of evil! How do you know? Do you feel me tense and scared?
This was the moment when I felt a devil arise in Wes, and it was taking form and taking over the beautiful boy in front of me. This evil arose as if it couldn’t be stopped; it crept toward my heart through the virtual space of connections, from his tainted mind slowly to my infected soul. Overcome by fear, I had the strongest urge to leave then. Leave behind all this fear, I said to myself. Leave behind this terror, although its form is enticing. It’s darkly engrossing, I reminded myself again. It’s dangerous playing with fire, playing with an entity that can easily corrupt your mind and turn it against your body.
Remember this, I continued, resuming the silent monolongue. Remember this. Stay away from evil waters. The evil horrors hidden beneath the welcoming surface are countless! They’ll get to you! Stay away. Stay away.
“Sure,” I stuttered. There, the betrayal of the mind. A treacherous nature of Will’s young mind! From there I knew it was the beginning of a slow, agonizing death, but still I smiled back, both on the inside and the outside, because he smiled at me then. He was happy; the devil was happy. And somehow I was happy, too.
Maybe I’ll die an epic, content death, I rationalized. The water may take my body, but in my mind maybe I’ll live forever with this distinctive individual.
The sea, the waters, they were dangerous, especially at nights – my mother told me that when I was young, when swim lessons and occasional visits to the beach still intrigued me. But that was long ago. That was before I realized the true face of the ocean, and the hidden evil inside.
When I was ten, I visited Corray Bay, a tourist attraction in my hometown. This afternoon was sunny and the sea was calm, but a bad feeling had been swelling inside of me the entire day. When my father told me that I had to stay with him for the afternoon, I escaped his usually undeniable authority and into the smiling ocean.
Only to see its true face, its true identity hidden under all that beauty and calmness.
I saw him, a boy my age, laughing and playing by the waterside, waving as he ran further into the joyful sea. An hour later, he was being carried out of the water on a plank, his face emotionless, his body limp, and his eyes half closed. A desperation and a feeling of uneasiness exploded in me, and I knew that I would never forget that day.
That night, I fell into the arms of my mother, and cried, for hours on end. She didn’t know what happened, and she didn’t know that my heart cried and ached for days more.
Even with Wes beside me, him filling me up with an unprecedented extent of courage, I still saw Corray Bay and its accompanying nightmare. I still saw a vigorous body enter the beauty of the sea and a limp body never flee the terror of the true sea. I knew I couldn’t go any further than this, but when Wes said “Off with our clothes” and “Let’s go,” I simply nodded and followed, entering a fragile soul into the ultimate death trap.
The water was frigid against my body and my body was half frozen, even though it was summertime. The waves were out to get us, but we swam along with them, never once going against these arms of terror. I kept thinking that I would choke when I was underwater, but that moment never came. I didn’t drown, and I didn’t die. All I did was getting to know every part of Wes’ body. All I did was getting lost in the nakedness of nature, and the nakedness of Wes.
I didn’t know why, but I kind of had fun. When I was surrounded by water, never had I once thought of that very day on the beach; never had I once thought of that nightmare. What kind of beautiful devil are you, Wes? I’m feeling strange things, both physically and mentally. Oh, how I wish I could be forever lost in your complete nakedness.
Exhausted as we were, we sat by the sea and looked into water below, the hills ahead, and the sky above. But this time, it felt different. The world looked different; the world seemed bigger. But in this supposedly terrifying waterfront, I wasn’t diminished. The honest truth was that I had never felt stronger in my life, being courageous enough to stand up and face the monstrous ocean.
Naked as we were, we didn’t bother to put on our clothes, because that would mean drying up salty seawater and losing nature’s love. Our conversation was reserved, and our eyes didn’t meet, the two of us seemingly troubled by the shared emotion of adolescent embarrassment.
“Hey,” I whispered, disrupting the silence.
“Weren’t you scared?” he asked, patiently expectant.
Here you are, a handsome possession controlled by the evil sea, a cunningly appealing hunter in the dark. What am I to do? Should I tell him the honest truth – that I’ve never been more scared before? Should I lie and deceive him, if this sly beauty will ever be deceived so easily?
“I bet you are,” he laughed, “I’m too.” Sincerity. Is that a mask of a villain? Is it sincerity? Or is it an alternate way of mocking?
Is this the moment? I asked myself. Is this the guy? Is this the time to give in, to reveal myself? I can’t lose this battle. Oh, this battle has to be fought to the death! No, I can’t give in. I can still be one of the gang. I can still be ordinary, be just one of the guys, not one of the “others.” I should turn away from this evil possession of Satan. There is still time, still a chance to break the curse and not be fooled by the deception. Oh, but the deception is so, so believable! There is pleasure to be had and joy to be felt! This I know from my late-night wanders to places I’m afraid to go, memories I’m afraid to visit – the guys hugging and patting shoulders, the cousins sleeping over – and oh, that is raw excitement, raw ecstasy!
The hormones, the hormones, I kept reminding myself. It’s all because of the hormones! It’s not my true self that is rotten as the guys say. It’s just hormones! A stage! A phase this is, a temporarily contaminated mind! This is not me, I wanted to shout. But Wes, oh, you don’t know how your eyes, your face, your arms, your legs, and every other part of your body are arousing my desires! This is it, Wes, we’ll feel the wrath of others, the wrath of the world that we can’t escape!
Into the dark I looked, and the further I looked, the further I saw inside my mind, and the more I realized that I was halfway to insanity. This pressure, this split personality, this fragmented mind, they were leading me closer and closer to a place I didn’t want to go. Isolated. Lost. Attacked.
Am I strong enough to defend myself?
Half of my mind was devoted to Wes’ nakedness; the other was conjuring moments in time when I saw “the others,” the “homos,” the “fags” suffer.
Am I to go down this very path?
In the dark, I could see the gradient of the path so steep there was simply no hope of returning. This was a one-way passage, like going out to the vast ocean. Still, I wanted to lay my hands on his thighs and gently go back and forth through the sparse body hair. Still, I wanted to pleasure him the way I sometimes pleasured myself at night.
Perhaps I was destined to be stuck forever between
these two dimensions of reality. I didn’t understand why, but in my heart
I had the feeling that I would never get over this phase of excessive
I could literally count the number of words we exchanged, but you shouldn’t judge by the quantity of things over the quality of things. That is common sense. That is why that first night, to me, was as magical as the fields of California.
I didn’t see him for a week, and the daffodils, lilies, roses, grass and soil all seemed less attractive. The world was losing its quality.
I walked the same path every night, but only after a week did I see him again, floating on lagoon, like a possession of nature. As it caught sight of me, it sprang to great animation and became Wes once again. I thought a few stars lit up then, their dead core being revived by an invisible force.
As we walked along the coast, our steps synchronized, and our eyes blinked rapidly, avoiding the swift winds that blew sand into our eyes. The night was complete; the world was complete; we became one in the dark, maintained vaguely by a physical bond but bound by a lucid mental connection. I thought I could read his every thought then, my mind seemingly having merged with his.
This could be an imagination, or even an exaggeration. By now you probably have noticed that I exaggerate often. That is because my mind goes to extremes, visualizes extreme scenarios and conjures extreme symbols and metaphors. Wes was a heavenly devil, and the sea a monstrous creature, and my two-dimensional life a target to be haunted by demons. I think of extreme moments, and dream extreme dreams. This is who I am, and so it must follow that Wes and I were now going on quest to defeat the sea of Satan. This would be a night of adventures, and we would endlessly slay sea monsters from fairy tales. Or we would just sail on a regular wooden boat and talk the whole night.
I feel compelled to share the latter version.
Sneaking out was easy for the both of us since our parents trusted us both enough. Mind you, our parents did not know each other, and they were not aware of our blooming friendship. It was only a week after we met and I already knew that we were best friends. I couldn’t expect him to feel the same way. As I’ve said, I am a man of extremes. To put the statement forth more correctly, I’m a mind of extremes, in the sense that I think extreme things, but most of the time I don’t do them.
But this was a night that was against tradition; this was a night of lifetime. Never had I thought before meeting Wes that I would be at sea again. In front of Wes, all my defense mechanisms and all my promises to self fell apart. I still remembered the beach and the limp body of the boy, but oddly I just wasn’t scared as I had been before Wes.
And somehow I knew I had to do this, once and for all. To face the sea. Oh, the evil sea, here I come! With me I bring a warrior, one that will sail with me to places no man’s ever been to. So face me, show me how mighty you can be. This is the voyage to the deepness of the ocean, a time to conquer fear and settle rancor!
The sea was calm, but the boat still crawled listlessly above the water surface. It was out of place, breaking the absolute calmness of the sea. I imagined us beating on great waves, but the vagarious sea disappointed.
“The sea’s so calm it’s like we’re sailing on paper!” I exclaimed.
“Well, at least it’s paper with our reflections,” Wes said, looking into the absolute stillness, like a mirror in the dark with the frail illumination of the dim moon.
“It’s like there’s another world down there,” he commented. “I’d like to go there.”
Then Wes fell silent for seconds, as the dark and silence of the night took over. We looked the other direction and saw a beacon.
I said, “That must be a light house.”
Wes ignored me, his eyes still fixated on “the other world.” “I wish I could go there, and live in that world.”
I sighed. “But that is the same world. This is just a mirror, a –”
“I know!” he said excitedly. “But what if there really is another world down there? What if I can go there and be a different person?”
His thoughts sang sweet melodies and rhythms into my head, but reality struck me harder. “I’m more open to the fact that there’s only one world,” I said. “It feels less intricate and more manageable.”
“But what if you can go to that other world and never return? What if there it fits you more, it suits you more?” His eyes were glints of hope, while mine drowned with desperation.
I said, “But there is no other world. If that is a realm in which I can be my true self, I’d definitely go there. But there isn’t.”
“And what if there are all these realms and places catering for all of us?” I added. “What if there are different worlds? Everyone will then choose to go to a different world where they can be the sovereign, the sole ruler of their own kingdom. Then we’ll all be living in our own worlds, and this world that we now live in, this world that contains all the potential dimensions that we conceive, won’t this world be devoid of residents? Isn’t that kind of paradoxical then? The huge world that accommodates these dimensions that people choose to go to will be empty, but somehow inside this void there are billions of worlds, each home to a single individual.”
“I think this world just isn’t meant to accommodate every person,” Wes said. “We need different sets of rules and different sets of values. That’s why we have countries. In theory, we can move around and choose the place we want, but practically speaking, we usually can’t do that. When we’re born, our path has been determined. I don’t mean professions, or whether or not we choose to become a criminal or a cop. I mean these sets of values, these beliefs. You’re born in a certain country, and you have to live in these values and beliefs, these ideologies, these traditions. You may choose not to follow them, but you continue to be affected by them. You know, that’s why I really want to be somewhere else, without potential consequences.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, lost deep in our philosophical wander.
“I mean going to different world and not facing the consequences. You know, like I want to leave this country because I don’t like the values and beliefs here. I want to go elsewhere, but then what? What about my family? Emotionally I’m attached to them. And they feed me, and I can’t live on my own. So this choice, which looks like a choice, isn’t really a choice. I’m bound by these connections, and I’m not free. We are not free to choose. Well, maybe we are, but only to a fixed extent.”
‘Maybe that’s what life is,” I said, defeated, “we’re either fitting in, being one of many similar people in this cookie-cutter world, or we’re expecting a paradigm shift, hoping that one day we’ll wake up to see a totally different world fitting us perfectly.”
“That’s why I want so much to be in a different place,” Wes said. “You know what, this is unacceptable! If I can’t be elsewhere, I’ll either ignore the others, continue to be different and special and my own self, or I’ll change this world on my own, make it as accommodating as possible.”
I sighed, but in my mind grew a light which I recognized, one that had always been there but had always been too weak to notice. Perhaps chasing it would be foolish and stupid, but youth is naïve, and life itself probably is, too.
“Maybe we’ll succeed by being naive and determined,” I said.
“Maybe. I sure as hell will try,” Wes said, a flow of confidence filling his face.
Further into the sea we looked, and it remained calm, still smooth like a piece of paper. And our boat turned back, returning to the coast.
“What are we really talking ‘bout here, Wes?” I suddenly asked when we were on our way back and I decided that the utter silence of the night demanded words, words of clarity.
“I don’t know,” he said hesitantly. “What do you think?”
I smiled at his eyes, his glorious and beautiful eyes full of questions and unsolved mysteries. “I think you can tell me what you think,” I said, playfully. But another part of me was fully committed to this conversation. I wanted and needed to know what was on his mind.
“I kind of like you,” he said, and my eyes lit up and the stars lit up and the moon lit up.
Oh god, I thought. Oh, I wanted to say, you don’t know how much I reciprocate your words! You are bright like the stars in the sky and you are indispensable like an anchor in the dark, a guardian angel in the aggressive sea.
Blushing was my answer, but I couldn’t expect him to see me blush in this lighting, so I smiled, and said “Me too.”
There was a quick peck between two pairs of lips, but nothing more. Now we were both blushing, and it grew so uneasy and awkward. Two teenagers’ confession. Two teenagers’ professing their love, or more appropriately, their unusual interest in another friend. We allowed the quiet sea to speak for us on our way back, but it spoke nothing. It was a calm sea, so it did what it did best – smelling of salt and reflecting whatever lied above.
“So do you hear what they say at school? About people like us?” I asked, already knowing the answer. I still felt compelled to ask though, out of concern and care.
“Yeah,” he said, checking my response. Nodding, he continued, “I guess it’s universal.”
“Do you really think we can change it?” I asked.
“Honestly speaking, probably not,” Wes said. “Not now anyway. People change, and the world changes, but it takes time.”
“Sure,” I agreed. “History has taught us that.”
“We can ignore and adapt, though,” he said, “since, you know, there is no other world to dive into.”
“Who knows?” I said, hopefully, “Maybe we can even create a world that is our own. Maybe we can have faith that it exists, despite knowing it doesn’t. People are good at fooling themselves.”
“So why don’t you fool yourself into twisting your own sexuality?” he asked, smiling mischievously.
“There’s things in life that cannot be fooled into believing,” smilingly I said, “One of them is not liking you. Does that answer satisfy you?”
“It certainly does,” he laughed.
“I was scared of the sea before you suggested that we swim in it,” I said, “Now I feel a lot better about it. Now it just feels…natural. Now it just feels like a part of nature.”
His face filled with questions, and his eyes sought answers. After his sincere confession, I found it no longer possible to not tell him.
“When I was ten, I went to the beach,” I started. “Saw a boy my age went into the water, and didn’t come out alive.”
“And you’ve been afraid of the sea ever since,” Wes finished for me. I nodded, and said, “Until you.” Getting closer to him, I repeated, “Until you.”
“Well, it’s true that the sea can get real angry at times,” he commented, “but most of the time it’s calm and beautiful, like tonight. We just have to avoid it when it gets too angry.”
“I guess,” I said, turning to stare at the beacon for a little while, which, like Wes, was an anchor in the dark, to signal and guide departing or homecoming sailors.
We talked about life and beliefs, dreams and memories, lessons and successes, and we were one with the sea, one with nature. Somehow, I wasn’t afraid of these waters anymore.
Our tongues grew fervent on that wonderful evening, and our eyes were zealous awaiting the arrival of the dawn in each other’s eyes. Our hands fell into complete fatigue, and our feet were burnt by intense friction. It was a boisterous adventure, a night to remember and cherish. The mixed saliva and the seeds of love flourished in the absolute calmness of the sea.
Under the stars, there was a sudden moment of illumination, and it seemed clear. We may not change the sea, and we may not change the world, but we need not be afraid, and we need not be defiant, but we certainly cannot give up, and we certainly cannot forget who we are, because what we need to do is stay true to ourselves, and hope for the best.
Our family departed on a cool August morning. A sense of uneasiness came over me as I saw California gradually disappearing into nothingness. But Wes was already a part of me, a belief and faith that could never be let go. If this plane were to crash into the Pacific Ocean, I would die knowing there would be no more fear, no more fear of the sea, and no more fear of the world.
Wes and the Sea (gay/young-friends/2013Mar)
A Love so Star-crossed (gay/young-friends/2012Dec-2013Mar)
Growing Intimacy (gay/young-friends/2012Nov)