Apple of Her Eye

Chapter 8

I looked at the clock. It was now 9:15. Mom was late. I was ready to get out of this hell hole. I was dressed and ready to go. Finally, the door opened, and she walked in, followed by Dr. Lassiter.

“Sorry I’m late, Gary,” she said apologetically. “I had to stop by the school and leave them my lesson plans. I’m taking the entire day off.”

“That’s all right, Mom. I’m ready to bust out of here. You got the file?” We laughed, and I saw a smile form on Dr. Lassiter’s face.

“It’s not that bad is it?” he asked. “You’re making me feel like I was a bad host.”

“No, Doc. No hard feelings, but I’m ready to ride.” I jumped off the bed and held my hand out to my mother. “Can I drive?” She started laughing. I didn’t have my license yet, but I always asked her if I could drive when we went somewhere. She was hesitant to let me get my license, so it was my way of trying to constantly remind her I wanted it.

“If you don’t stop asking me that, you’re going to find yourself walking, Young Man,” she huffed. I knew she was kidding. I hope!

Mom got the car while I took the traditional ride in the wheelchair to the entrance. Why do they do that anyways? I was perfectly capable of walking, but they said I had to go down in the wheelchair.

“You hungry?” she asked after we had pulled out onto the highway. “Do you want to stop somewhere for breakfast?”

“Breakfast sounds good. Mickey D’s?” I asked. I love McDonald’s sausage and egg McMuffin with a hot hash brown.

“Yuck! All the nice restaurants around, and you want McDonald’s? How about Bob Evans instead?” she asked.

“Nope. Mickey D’s,” I insisted.

After ordering our breakfast, two sandwiches and two hash browns for me, a cup of coffee for her, we sat down and began to talk. I wanted to find out what had happened last night when she took Todd home and talked to his parents about Josh.

“How did things go last night? Did you talk to Mr. and Mrs. Mathews? Did you talk them out of letting Josh talk to Mr. Snow?” I couldn’t wait any longer. I needed to know.

“We talked about it,” she informed me. “I told them how you felt. Josh insisted that he was at fault, and we all agreed with him. He still wanted to talk to Mr. Snow this morning, but we made a compromise.”

“What compromise?”

“That he talks to you personally before he does that,” she replied. “I told him I want the two of you to talk about what happened. If you both feel that he needs to talk to Mr. Snow after you’ve spoken, then he will. You can meet with him alone, or his parents and I can be there when you talk. It’s your call.” She looked at me and gave me time to respond. She knew it was a big decision, and one I couldn’t make right away. Soon I came to my decision.

“I want to talk to him alone.” I knew that it would be a very awkward confrontation. One thing I knew, however, I had to talk Josh out of admitting his involvement. I was very grateful for my mother and his parents for being so understanding.

“Thanks, Mom,” I responded. “I love you.”

“I know, Son. I love you too. I’m still not sure you’re doing the right thing, but I’ll respect your decision. Every time I look at your arm in that cast and the bruises on your body, I still think he should be in jail.” She was being totally honest with me. I could understand her feelings, but this was something I felt I had to do.

We finished our meal and left the restaurant. I didn’t feel like going home right away, so we went shopping at the mall. It was fun. We walked and talked casually. It had been a long time since we had spent some quality time with each other. She is always busy doing school work. It felt good to be together for a while. At one point, we even held hands while we walked. Of course, all my friends were in class. I would never have done it on a weekend.

We stopped for a quick lunch at the food court before heading home. We arrived around two o’clock. I was really tired, and my body was beginning to ache. My ribs were killing me, and my arm throbbed. I took some painkillers and then went to my room to lie down for a while. In no time, I was sound asleep.

I had another dream. This time I was in a field, and there was a tall fence surrounding me. I walked around the fence trying to find a way out, but I couldn’t find a gate. I began to shout, yelling for someone to help me. I was beginning to panic. Suddenly, I heard a crashing sound coming from the opposite side of the fence. Someone was trying to break down the fence to let me out. They kept pounding on the fence, and soon it began to break apart. Board after board began to fall away until there was an opening large enough for me to escape. When I climbed out, Todd was grinning at me as he held an axe.

I awoke from the dream with a smile on my face. I got out of bed and went to the restroom to relieve my bladder. Since it was about an hour until dinner, I decided to crawl back into bed. I lay there for a few minutes until there was a tapping on my door.

“I’m awake!” I shouted out. “Come in.”

My mother opened the door and peeked inside. “You up?” she asked.

“Yeah, I just woke up,” I replied as I rubbed my sleepy eyes.

“Good. You have a visitor.” She stepped aside, and I could see Todd standing shyly behind her.

“Come on, Dear.” She pushed Todd into the room. “He won’t bite. Even if he does, he’s had his rabies shot.” She laughed, left the room and closed the door behind her.

“Hi. How’s it going?” I asked. I was rather surprised that he had visited me, especially after having just dreamt about him a few minutes earlier.

“I came to see how you were,” he responded, handing me a couple of papers and two books. “Here. Your mother asked me to pick up your assignments from your teachers. This should help you catch up on the work you’ve missed.”

I still couldn’t believe how shy he was. Not once had he looked up as talked. He turned and started to walk out.

“Wait, don’t go!” I pleaded. “Please. Come sit on the bed with me.”

“I really should go,” he replied. “I don’t want to be a bother.”

“You’re not a bother,” I insisted. “Please stay.” It worked. He walked hesitantly over to the side of the bed and sat down.

“Are you afraid of me?” I asked. It seemed he was always so nervous when he was around me. I wondered if it was his nature, or if it was just me.

“No!” he answered quickly. “I’m not afraid of you.”

“Then why won’t you look at me?” He was becoming extremely nervous. I felt he was ready to bolt out the door at any moment.

He looked up and asked, “Is it true?”

“Is what true?” I was perplexed. I had no idea what he was talking about.

“Is it true what they say? Are you ga…gay?” he asked nervously.

Wow! I wasn’t expecting that. This kid pulls no punches. What was I to say? I was really beginning to like him. If I tell him the truth, I stand the chance of losing the first person I’ve felt close to in some time. I had already decided that I was no longer going to hide behind a wall again. I guess it was time for the truth. I’d just have to suffer the consequences.

“Yes, I’m gay,” I answered confidently. If he was going to leave, now would be the time.

He looked at me and grinned. “Good, I am too.”

For the first time since he entered the room, he looked me directly in the face and gave me a shy smile. “I couldn’t look at you because I was afraid to. I was afraid you could tell I liked you. I wasn’t sure. I had to be sure.” Not once did we look away. We were staring intently at each other.

“I like you too,” I admitted embarrassedly. “You’re really cute.” I know my face was turning red. It was the first time I had ever told another boy I liked him. It felt good.

He reached over and took my hand in his. “I liked it yesterday when I was in your room and we were holding hands. I know it didn’t mean much to you, but it meant a lot to me.”

“Do you realize my mother saw us?” I giggled.

“Yeah,” he said. “We talked about it later. You have a really cool mom. She’s my favorite teacher.” He was squeezing my hand and rubbing his fingers gently over my knuckles, just like he did the day before.

“You talked to my mom about us?” I couldn’t believe this kid. He was shy as hell, but he could open up and talk to my mom about something so personal.

“She knows I’m gay,” he replied. “I told her several months ago when some kids were giving me a hard time in class. She helped me deal with myself. She’s great.”

“Yeah, she is,” I said smilingly. Then I began to wonder about her comments last night. She had tried to set us up. How cool is that- having your mother as a matchmaker- with another boy! A really cute boy, too!

I asked, “Does your mom and dad know?”

“No. Not yet,” he replied. “But I plan to tell them soon. Josh already knows.”

“Josh knows you’re gay!” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Why had he acted so homophobic towards me if he had a gay brother? It didn’t make sense.

“Yeah, I told him last year,” replied Todd. “Well, I didn’t actually tell him. He walked into my room and saw something I was looking at on the internet, if you know what I mean.” His face turned the cutest shade of red.

“Then why did he beat the shit out of me if he has a gay brother?” I was becoming very upset. I was also beginning to question if I had made the right decision in not telling on him.

“That’s just it,” Todd replied worriedly. “That’s why he feels so bad. He was just going along with his friends, trying to act cool. Then when you jumped him, he just reacted instinctively. After it was over, and he saw you on the floor, he saw me. He thought what he did to you, could have happened to me.” Tears were beginning to run down his cheek. I reached up and wiped them off with my thumb.

“I know you won’t believe me, but my brother cried so hard that night. He held me tight and said it could have been me.” He looked up tearfully. “He really feels guilty about what he did. That’s why he went to Mom and Dad and told them about it. He wants to make it up to you.”

Now it was my turn to cry. I don’t know why, but I did. Todd scooted over and wrapped his arms around me as we both gently cried into each other’s shoulders. After a couple of minutes, we regained our composure and looked up into one another’s eyes. A shy smile began to appear on his beautiful face.

He softly asked me, “May I kiss you?” I shyly nodded, and he leaned toward me. For the first time in my life, I kissed another boy.