Chapter 1
A Delicate Situation
“Are you sure you’re going to be okay, Dorian?” My mother hugged me for
about the hundredth time. Only this time it was tighter than the others
because we were standing outside the dorm as she and Dad were getting
ready to leave.

“I’ll be all right,” I assured her as I turned and looked back at the towering
structure behind me. I didn’t want to admit it, and I had been hiding it rather
well, but I was actually scared. However, I would never let her or Dad know.

Suddenly, Dad spoke in his authoritative voice. “This is a new beginning.” He
eyed me carefully as I began to shrink under his condescending glare. I had
never lived up to his expectations, and I doubt if I would this time. “You only
get one chance. Fail it, and you’ll be flipping hamburgers at McDonalds for the
rest of your life.” Good Old Dad. The paragon of a supportive father.

“I won’t let you down, Father,” I replied sheepishly as he gave me a final
scrutinizing glance. He made a guttural sound before getting into the driver’s
seat of his black Lexus. When my mother reached out to hug me, he hollered
out, “Get in the car, Sarah!” She quickly kissed me on my cheek before turning
to get in. I stood and watched them drive slowly away. I laughed when a blue
SUV started to back out of a parking space and brake only inches from my
father’s car. I couldn’t quite make out what he was saying, but he was yelling
some kind of profanity at the driver. Yeah, my Dad. A paragon all right.

I looked around at the cars, vans and trucks. The street signs clearly said         
‘no parking,’ but it was move-in day. Parking signs went ignored when it came
to finding a closer place to park so you didn’t have to haul boxes several
blocks. My parents had made sure we arrived early enough to avoid the
congestion. At least that’s what Dad said. I think he just wanted to get rid of
me sooner. Mom and I did most of the carrying and lifting while he sat in his
car and talked on the telephone.

I looked up at the building before me. Home, at least for a year. Freshmen
were required to live in a dorm their first year. If I did well and could find a job,
then I planned to move into an apartment my sophomore year. I had already
looked into suitable housing. But for now, I had to make the best of dorm life-
a life I wasn’t looking forward to experiencing.

Just as I headed up the sidewalk to the main entrance, a young man ran into
me from behind. “Watch out, Asshole!” he shouted. He was taller and much
larger than I was, or I might have said something to him. Instead, I muttered,
“Fuck you,” and made my way into the building and to the elevator.

The dorm contained six floors, and I was on the fourth. Luckily, my room was
on the end, so I had two windows. Unfortunately, Dad had me reserve a
double room rather than a single, which I preferred. It wasn’t a matter of
money. I think he just wanted my first year to be as uncomfortable as possible
for me. He knew I was a loner and I didn’t like to socialize with others. I think
he delighted in knowing I would have to share my life with a total stranger for a
year. I guess, however, it would be better than sharing my life with him.

My father and I never got along. I suppose we may have when I was young,
but as I grew older, he had a disdain for me that I could never figure out. Well,
okay. I guess I am lying to myself. I guess I figured out he actually hated my
existence when I was about twelve. It was about that time that he knew I
would never be the man he expected me to be. Of course, finding me naked in
bed with another boy didn’t help that image at all.

So at twelve, I was more or less excommunicated from his life. No amount of    
“I’m sorry,” or living my life as a celibate monk could alter his feelings for me.
He never mistreated me or abused me. He mentally tortured me by not
recognizing my being for the past seven years. We avoided each other, and
our lives rarely crossed. He may have seen my starting afresh here as a new
beginning. To me, it was the end of living in hell.

I stopped suddenly as I made my way down the narrow hall to my room. My
door was opened, and I remembered Mom asking me before we left if I had
locked it. As I cautiously approached, I could hear people talking. One was a
woman, so I assumed that my roommate had finally arrived. I stood at the
doorway as four strangers turned and stared at me. One looked to be about
my age. He was trying to shove a large duffle bag into a small closet.  When he
turned to see me, his smile quickly turned to a scowl.

“You must be Dorian?” asked his mother as she approached and shook my
hand. His father tentatively offered me his hand. “I’m Roger Slade,” he
announced, “Travis’s father.” I turned to look at the boy standing to my right.

I guess boy isn’t the right word. Unlike me, he had all the appearances of a
man. He was about 6’2” and of average build. His hair was short and he had a
scruffy beard. He looked like one of a million young men who grow up in a rural
area. My guess was he probably played football in high school and dated a
cheerleader. Not the head cheerleader, because he didn’t look handsome
enough to hold that distinction.

“Travis Slade,” he said abruptly as he quickly shook my hand before picking up
another box and placing it in the already cluttered closet. And I was right- a
football was laying atop the upper shelf.

“Fuck!” he spat out when he couldn’t jam the box into the narrow space. His
little sister started to giggle. He turned and stood towering over me. “You got
any room in your closet?” Without waiting for permission, he walked over and
opened my closet door. Unlike him, I had packed very little. Living alone in my
bedroom for seven years, I had very few possessions. My laptop computer was
my lifeline to the world.

“I’m going to use your top shelf,” he remarked as he placed the box on it. He
then turned and asked, “Okay?” There was little I could say as his mother,
father and sister looked on. His sister kept looking at me and giggling as his
mother attempted to quiet her. Mr. Slade kept staring at me with the
scrutinizing glance similar to my father’s. He knew, I could tell it. And like
Travis, he was probably wondering if they should visit the admissions office
and ask for a room transfer.

I knew it would be a problem when I enrolled and I was assigned a double
room. No boy would want to share a room with me. I am gay, and I guess I
look gay. At least I have been told that for about the past five years. Most of
the remarks have been from my father. I don’t dress like a girl, and I don’t feel
like a girl, but I am rather effeminate looking. Not the limp wrist, screaming I
am gay type of effeminate. However, I am pretty for a boy. My mother says     
I was a pretty baby, and as I grew older, I still look pretty. Not handsome-
pretty. I have tried everything I can to be less effeminate, but nothing can
change the way I look.

I have a small, petite body with long black hair and brown eyes. At nineteen,    
I still look like a boy entering puberty. I am only 5’6” and weigh 115 pounds.
Add to that a flawless complexion and long eyelashes and you have Dorian
Gale. Even my name sounds effeminate.

My father has always hated the way I look. He wanted a boy like Travis- tall,
strong and rugged looking. If he were here right now, I am sure he would be
comparing the two of us, just like Travis’s father is doing. His mother just
smiles, probably thinking that I look like her young daughter. I would if my hair
was blonde instead of black.

Mr. Slade looked at his watched and announced, “It’s getting late. We’d better
head for home.” He patted Travis on his back, “You sure you’ve got everything
out of the car?”

“Yep, Pops,” replied Travis as he followed his father from the room.

Mrs. Slade extended her hand again to me. “It was nice meeting you, Dorian.”
She left as her daughter looked at me one last time and giggled. I walked over
to the window and looked down as they stood by the car talking. Occasionally,
Travis would look toward the building, but I didn’t think he could see me. I was
certain they were talking about me.

I went to my closet and removed clean bedding from a box. I had planned to
take the bed furthest from the door. I had even placed some clothes on it to
claim squatter’s rights, but Travis had removed them and placed them on the
other bed. His bed was already made, probably by his mother. I thought of
removing the cover and sheets, but decided it wasn’t worth it. Travis already
didn’t like me. No need to make him even more upset.

It was going to be a long year.

I had hoped that my freshman year would be different from my former life at
home. However, such thoughts were mere fancy. Who was I trying to kid? High
school had been hell. Most students considered me a freak. Boys avoided me
because they thought that by simply talking to me would cast a suspicion of
guilt by association. What was even more bizarre was that not once in four
years did I even remotely show an interest in any boy. I carefully guarded my
sexuality. And I think because of that, they thought that not only was I gay,
but it became rumored my junior year that I was androgynous.

The first time I heard the word, I had to look it up in the dictionary. I think it
was then that I truly accepted that I was gay. Even though I had been called
pretty my whole life, not once did I question the fact that I was male. My
characteristics were effeminate, but I didn’t feel like a girl. In fact, nothing
about the way I perceived myself was ever considered feminine. I did, however,
know that I was attracted to boys. Although, other than a brief
experimentation with Kal, the boy my father found me naked in bed with, I had
never acted again upon my sexual feelings. However, that never stopped the
rumors and sexual innuendos that were tossed around with frequency my four
years of high school.

Now it appeared that my new start was being jeopardized as well. My first
encounter at the university was met with the same prejudgments. My hopes
for finding a roommate who might understand me were just pipe dreams
leading now to disappointment.

I quickly made my bed and then sat down at one of the two desks in the room.
Since Travis had claimed the bed he wanted, then I felt it was only right that I
should select the desk I wanted. I took the one nearest the window. At least     
I could look out onto the campus grounds instead of staring at a stark, white
wall. I took out the box containing my laptop and other school items. I placed
them on top so Travis couldn’t come in and claim his right to the best desk.
When I finished, I walked over and sat in the hard plastic chair in the corner of
the room. I took out my manual for freshmen and began reading the schedule
for the next few days. It was now Saturday afternoon. There was to be a
mandatory freshman orientation on Monday. Then we registered for classes on
Tuesday morning. We were assigned times according to our surnames, so I
was to register at 9:30 in the morning. The rest of the day would be spent
purchasing books and supplies for my selected classes.

I had not yet declared a major, although I was considering sociology. I thought
I might be interested in pursuing a career as a guidance counselor in a school.
Since I had received absolutely no support in high school, I wanted to help
other students like me who might need someone to talk to other than class
schedules or graduation requirements. However, I wasn’t sure that a school
would ever hire someone like me. For that reason, I was leaving my options
opened.

I must have fallen asleep because I jumped when the door suddenly opened
and Travis came running in. He didn’t even speak as he opened his closet door
and grabbed his football. He slightly nodded as he slammed the door behind
him. I walked over and looked out the window. A few minutes later, he
emerged from the building with five other guys. They tossed the ball to each
other as they ran down the sidewalk.

I looked at the alarm clock on my desk. It was a little after four. I had only
been in school for about five hours and I was already bored. Nothing had
changed. However, I was used to sitting in my room for hours watching
television or surfing around on the internet. Loneliness is a bitch.

I stood and started to undress. One of the things I’d worried about was
sharing the communal restrooms on the floor. I had checked it out as soon as
I got here. There was one located on the corner of each floor. We would be
sharing it with three other rooms. It would be eight guys, unless some of the
other rooms were singles. Since I hadn’t seen anyone else arrive, I wasn’t sure
how many there would be. I needed to come up with a schedule because I   
didn’t want to shower with the other guys. Most people like to shower either in
the morning when they get out of bed or later at night. Therefore, if I
showered in the afternoon, I should be able to avoid the others.

When I was naked, I looked at my lithe body in the mirror. I could never
understand why I had never developed. Dad had a tall, towering figure. Mom
was about my height, but she was rather stocky. I had seen pictures of her
when she was a little, and she always appeared bigger than most girls. Mom
told me I had been born two months premature so that may have been the
reason. She said she almost died when I was born. I guess I had somehow
been twisted up inside her and my umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck.

They had to take me out quickly or I might have died. She was afraid to have
any more children because of what happened, so that is why I am an only child.
I have always wondered if she regretted having me after what she went
through.

With a towel wrapped around me, I crept slowly toward the bathroom. I
listened to make sure no one else was in the shower before I entered. There is
no privacy in the shower area. It is one large open room with four shower
heads. I guess they figured that guys living in a dorm wouldn’t be modest.
Thankfully, the toilets did have doors, so at least I would have privacy there.

I showered quickly before anyone entered. Just as I was leaving, another boy
came in and walked over to the urinal. He looked a lot like Travis- tall, sturdily
built with short light brown hair. Our dorm is coed, so he stopped suddenly
because I think he thought he had entered the women’s bathroom by mistake.
I guess when he noticed my flat chest, he realized I was a boy. He didn’t
speak, but he kept turning to look at me. I hurried from the room before he
said anything.

After dressing, I looked through the material to see where I might be able to
find something to eat. I was hungry because I hadn’t eaten since breakfast.
According to the information, there was a small dining hall on the first floor of
most dorms. There were also other dining areas scattered around campus.
Most were cafes and fast food shops since many students probably ate and
ran. Dad had purchased me a dining card, so I didn’t have to worry about
paying for my meals. Since I didn’t eat much, he didn’t have to worry about me
overcharging.

After examining my choices, I decided to go to a café that served Asian food. I
grabbed my laptop since it said there was WiFi service available. I wanted to do
some more research on class registration for Monday morning. I walked to the
elevator, and I had to wait about ten minutes before one of the three finally
appeared. Since students were moving in, most of the elevators were put on
hold somewhere. I looked around for the nearest stairway in case I would need
to use it in the future.

When the door opened, a boy was holding his mother and crying. It was a
funny sight. She was shorter than me, and he must have been over six feet
tall. She kept trying to assure him that he would be okay at school and he
would soon make new friends. He kept muttering that he was scared. The
elevator stopped on the third floor and a girl got on. She gave me a puzzled
look as she pressed up against me. When he started sobbing loudly, I looked
at her and rolled my eyes. She had to turn her back away from them so they
couldn’t see her giggle.

“That was weird,” she commented as we started walking away from the
elevator.

“Yeah,” I replied as I turned to watch him desperately holding his parents.        
“I hope he’ll be all right.”

“Momma’s boy,” she said as she started to laugh. “A week here and he’ll forget
who his parents are anymore.” She turned to me and smiled. “I’m Sydney
Newcombe.” She extended her hand for me to shake. “You a freshie, too?”

“Yeah,” I replied. “Just got here this morning.” I returned her smile. She
seemed extremely friendly. There was nothing particularly striking about her.
Her appearance was rather plain, like most of the people I had encountered.
She was taller than me by about two inches, and she must have outweighed
me by 30 pounds. Her hair was a mousy brown, and her eyes were blue. She
appeared to me like someone’s older sister.

“I was going to go get something to eat,” she commented with a smile. “Would
you like to join me?”

“Sure,” I replied. “I was on my way to the Golden Chopsticks.”

“Oh,” she cooed. “I love Asian food.” She grabbed my arm and we began
walking down the sidewalk. I wasn’t sure yet how college operates. I’d read
stories on the internet about wild parties and casual sex among students. I
was beginning to worry that Sydney might be considering me as her first
sexual experience on campus.

When we got to the restaurant, it seemed to be a popular dining place because
it was already crowded with students and parents. We were told we would
have at least a 20 minute wait before we could be seated. Sydney asked me if I
would rather go somewhere else, but I told her it would probably take us
twenty minutes to walk somewhere, so we might as well wait.

We didn’t say much as we stood in the crowded foyer. Occasionally, I would
catch someone staring at me. Boys would look, but then turn their head
quickly when I noticed them. Girls would stare, smile slightly and glance at
Sydney. They were probably wondering why I was with her.

It was over thirty minutes before we were escorted to a booth. I guess it was
worth the wait because many people were being seated in the middle of the
dining area at a long row of tables. It didn’t provide much privacy, and Sydney
and I couldn’t have engaged in a conversation. After being seated for five
minutes, though, I think I would have much preferred sitting there. As soon as
we ordered, Sydney began an awkward ‘getting to know you’ conversation.

Like me, she was nineteen. She had just graduated in May from a school eighty
miles away. Her parents wanted her to attend a community college, but she
wanted to get a degree in nursing. She lived with her mother, and she was the
older sister to three brothers and a sister. At least I guessed that one right.
She laughed and said that attending college would be like a vacation since she
would no longer have to look after her younger siblings.

“I love them and all,” she laughed, “but two of my brothers are twins, Donnie
and Lonnie. They’re five. If I hadn’t come here, they might never have reached
six.” Just then, the waitress brought our meal to the table. I had ordered
chicken fried rice and a spring roll. Sydney had ordered moo goo gai pan. It
tasted as good as it looked.

Sydney looked across the table at me and said, “Now you.”

“Now me, what?”

“I told you all about me,” she smiled. “Now you. I don’t even know your name.”

“I’m Dorian Gale,” I replied. “Not much else to tell you.”

“Dorian Gale,” she repeated. “What a pretty name. It sounds almost poetic.”
She laughed when I rolled my eyes. She took a bite of her meal and then said,
“Go on. Tell me more about Dorian Gale.”

When I told her where I was from and the high school I attended, her eyes lit
up. “Isn’t that kind of like an exclusive school? I heard there are strict
requirements for getting in.”

My face began to flush. The school had a reputation for being a snobbish
school. Only the children of extremely wealthy parents usually were admitted. I
took a bite of my spring roll and hoped that she would forget what I had said.
But she didn’t.

“Wait a minute!” she exclaimed excitedly. “Gale? As in Senator Jonathan Gale?”
She sat back and stared at me.

That is the reason my father views me with so much contempt. I was not a
trophy son he could drag out every six years on the campaign trail. In fact, on
his website,  I am not even mentioned. There is a picture of him and Mom, but
I am not included. One of Dad’s big campaign issues is protecting the sanctity
of marriage. Marriage to him is between a man and a woman. Even though he
never commented on it, many of his constituents also considered him anti-gay
rights. So how could he explain having a gay son, especially a gay son who
looked effeminate? So he hid me away from public view. He enrolled me in a
private school so the media wouldn’t have access to me.

“So?” I looked over at Sydney who was waiting anxiously for me to answer.
“Are you Senator Gale’s son? I didn’t think he had any children.”

“He doesn’t,” I snapped back angrily. We ate in silence the rest of the meal. I
could tell that Sydney felt uncomfortable because she’d upset me. By the time
we finished eating, I was beginning to regret treating a new friend harshly.
Sydney could become a good friend if I would only let her into my life.
However, that was something I had rarely done before.

Over Sydney’s objections, I paid for the meal. She insisted that we pay
separately, but I wanted to make up to her for my rude behavior. As we left
the restaurant and headed back to the dorm, she reached down and held my
hand. Instinctively, I pulled it away. Again, I felt she might be considering me
as boyfriend material.

She started giggling and grabbed my hand again, only this time grasping it
tighter. “Don’t worry, Dorian. I’m not trying to hit on you. I know you’re gay.”

I quickly released her hand and stepped back. “What?”

“I know you’re gay.” She reached out and took my hand as we walked away.
“You checked out every guy in the restaurant as we ate. Not once did you look
at a girl.” I looked at her and started to say something, but she just laughed
harder.

“And besides,” she remarked laughingly. “My little brother, Andrew, is gay.”

“Your brother’s gay?” I asked surprisingly. “How old is he?”

Sydney replied, “Thirteen.”

“Thirteen!” I said excitedly. “He’s thirteen and already out?”

“Not really out yet,” she informed me. “He’s only told me and a couple of other
people.”

“Your parents don’t know?”

“I don’t think so,” she responded. “They may suspect, I’m not sure.”

“So it doesn’t bother you he’s gay?”

She looked at me and smiled, “Why should it? He’s my little brother and I love
him.”

I didn’t reply to what she had said. I just walked comfortably beside her as we
held hands all the way back to the dorm. I escorted her to her room on the
third floor. She said boys were allowed in the lounge area, but they could not
go back into the girl’s living quarters. We made plans to meet at 8:30 in the
morning to go to breakfast. After a quick kiss on the cheek, I headed upstairs
to my room.

When I arrived, I was surprised to see a pair of underwear hanging from the
door handle. I had no idea who had hung them there. I took them off and
tossed them in a trash container a few feet away. I then got out my key and
opened the door.

I stopped suddenly when I noticed Travis having sex with a girl in his bed. He
looked over at me and shouted, “Get the fuck out!”

I hurried from the room. I knew what the underwear on the door meant. I
guess it was Travis’s code for me not to enter. When I stepped outside, the
wind was beginning to whirl about. Leaves were flying from the trees, and a
light drizzle was falling on my face.

As I wandered down the quiet sidewalk, it suddenly began to rain. I found
refuge under a tall maple tree, as tears started to mingle with the raindrops on
my face.


Go to Chapter 2
Copyright ©2012 by Ronyx
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