It was storming when I got up in the morning. I thought it had to be an omen to how the rest of the day would probably go. I begged my father to be late to work so he could drive me to school. I didn’t want to wait in the rain for the bus.
To my surprise, he let me drive his Escalade to school. I had driven it plenty of times, but it had always been in good weather.
“You know,” he said as I drove cautiously in the downpour, “we have to think about getting you a car.”
I looked over at him and grinned widely.
“Keep your eyes on the road,” he warned. “You’re a good son. You deserve a car. Just don’t expect a BMW.”
“You’re a good son.” Those words ruined the elation I had felt earlier. I would be lucky if he would buy me a unicycle when he found out that I was gay. He looked over at me, expecting to see me show some kind of excited emotion. However, I just quietly watched the road. I could see him studying me out of the corner of my eye.
I ran through the rain into the school after arriving. As I entered the school, Cynthia was waiting for me at the door. “Hi,” she smiled. “You’re wet.”
“No shit, Sherlock,” I laughed. She looked at me and frowned. She hated it when I swore. I guess by being the daughter of a minister, she figured I would go to hell for my language. It wouldn’t be the only thing I’d be going to hell for.
She grabbed my arm and held it while we walked to her locker. It was usually our morning routine. We would go to her locker, get her books and then we would walk to mine. She would always wait for me to kiss her on her cheek before taking off to her first period class.
“Kiss me,” she said after I got my books. I leaned in and kissed her on her cheek.
“No, kiss me,” She insisted. I blushed and looked around us to see who was watching.
“I did,” I replied. I knew that a kiss on the cheek was not what she wanted.
“Kiss me on my lips,” she insisted adamantly.
“Right here?” I could feel my face turning red. She was putting me on the spot and I hated it. Why was she doing this now, and in front of everyone?
“Yes, right here.” She closed her eyes and stood on her tiptoes to give me a kiss. I quickly kissed her cheek and left her standing in the hallway.
I hurried down the hall and went into the boys’ restroom. I entered a stall and sat down, putting my head in my hands. Why had she just put me on the spot? Why did Cynthia insist on me kissing her on the lips in front of other students?
We had been dating for two years, and not once had she ever asked me to kiss her. We did once after a dance in the backseat of Jason’s car. He and Stephanie had been making out in the front seat, and I could tell by the way Cynthia was looking at me that she wanted me to do the same.
I had hesitantly leaned in and kissed her. Both of us kept our lips pressed tightly together. We must have looked like little five year olds attempting their first kiss. We ended the kiss by giggling at our amateurish behavior. We spent the next fifteen minutes holding hands and watching Jason and Stephanie in the front seat. I could tell by the movements of Stephanie’s hand that she was feeling his cock.
I think it hit me in the backseat of the car that night that I was truly gay. I had no interest in kissing Cynthia, but I became tremendously jealous of Stephanie kissing Jason. I wanted to get out of the car, go to the passenger’s side of the car, and push her out. Then I imagined myself taking her place and having sex with Jason in the front seat of the car.
I heard the bell ring, indicating that first period had begun. I was late to class, and I would have to go to the office and get a tardy slip. The school had a policy of notifying parents when their child was late to school. Now I had to go home and explain to my parents why I was late when my father had let me drive to school in the morning.
When I walked into the cafeteria during lunch, Jason and Stephanie were sitting at our usual table. Cynthia was not there. I looked at the lunch line and did not see her. After getting a slice of cold pizza and salty French fries, I walked over and sat down.
As soon as I took my seat, Stephanie gave me a cold, harsh look. Jason looked over, noticed the stare and poked her in the side with his elbow. She gave him a kiss before looking smugly at me.
“Where’s Cynthia?” Stephanie asked with a smirk. “Did you tell her to kiss off?”
“Steph!” Jason yelled angrily.
“Oh. Did I say something wrong?” She looked at Jason and batted her eyes. Then she looked over at me and gave me a wicked smile.
“You anxious to see who Mrs. Mason is going to assign roles to?” he asked excitedly, attempting to change the conversation.
“I guess.” I didn’t sound very convincing.
“Well, I know Jason is going to get the role as defense attorney.” Stephanie reached out and put her arm around his. She again threw me a smug look. “If you’re lucky, you can be a witness.”
Our conversation continued this way for the entire lunch period. By the time the bell rang, I was ready to jump up and slap Stephanie’s face. I had liked her for several years, but suddenly I hated her. Because she suspected I was gay, she felt she now had to protect me from Jason. I couldn’t understand her attitude. If she had no doubts about his sexuality, why then did she have to worry about me?
I didn’t see Cynthia the rest of the afternoon. She would usually come by after fourth period to see me. I waited by my locker, but she never showed. I wish I could say I felt guilty, but I didn’t. I was still upset with her for challenging me in the hall that morning and trying to get me to kiss her in front of everyone.
Obviously, by Stephanie’s statement in the cafeteria, she had been talking about it. She had probably talked to her about me being gay. She probably challenged Cynthia to see if I would kiss her to confirm her suspicions. I had fallen into Stephanie’s trap.
When I entered Mrs. Mason’s class, Jason motioned for me to sit beside him. Reluctantly, I walked over and took the seat next to him. Before he had a chance to say anything to me, the bell rang. Mrs. Mason asked the class to get quiet.
“Before we begin, I want to thank those of you who auditioned for roles in the upcoming mock trial project. Mr. Anderson was very impressed.”
“Have you decided on the roles yet?” Jason excitedly interrupted.
“Just a moment, Jason.” She walked over and stood before him. “You’ll find out in a minute.” Everyone started laughing when he held up his arm and started watching the minute hand on his watch.
“We think we have a roster of very capable students,” she continued. “We are expecting you to do very well for our first attempt next month.”
“One minute!” Jason shouted. Mrs. Mason looked down at Jason and frowned.
“That is not the conduct one would expect of a defense attorney, Mr. Miller.”
“Yes!” He jumped from his desk and hugged Mrs. Mason. He then looked down at me. “And Tay?”
“You mean the plaintiff’s attorney, Mr. White?”
Jason reached down, grabbed my hand and pulled me to my feet. He gave me a hug, and then he hugged Mrs. Mason again.
“We won’t disappoint you, Mrs. Mason,” he promised. “We’ll win that competition.” The class started to applaud.
I watched Jason’s excitement. He was really getting into it. I could understand why. I knew he was competitive by nature. Neither of us had ever participated in sports, so I guess it was one way he could compete and not have to pass or dribble a ball.
Mrs. Mason gave the class a reading assignment. She then called me, Jason, and another boy named Chris to her desk. We sat beside her as she explained what she expected of us. Chris was to testify as a lieutenant on the ship.
Jason shouted out another, “Yes!” when she told him that Stephanie had been selected as the dead man’s fiancée. She awaited my reaction when she told me that Cynthia would also be a witness. Another student, Wayne Wright, would complete the participants. He would also be a witness. She had three more names on the list. They would be back-ups in case one of us could not compete.
She told us she expected us to remain after school four nights a week, Monday through Thursday, for an hour and a half. She also wanted us to study off school on Saturdays. She said that it would probably be at her home.
We were told that Mr. Anderson would help us prepare. Jason seemed to become more excited as she talked. I just thought it sounded like a lot of work. I was also not too interested in spending the next month with Stephanie and Cynthia. After the way Stephanie and Cynthia had reacted today, I could foresee long, tense hours ahead.
When the bell rang, Jason ran out of the room. He returned about ten minutes later with Stephanie. Cynthia was not with them. Mr. Anderson also entered the room about a minute later. He waved at me when he came in.
“Brownie.” Jason nudged me when he saw it. “Kissing up to the big shot lawyer?”
“You’re just jealous because he waved at me and not you,” I responded. Always the competitor, he thought that I was trying to win points with Mr. Anderson. Little did he know that the two of us shared a special secret.
Cynthia walked in about ten minutes after we started. She walked over and apologized to Mrs. Mason. She was handed her study packet. She then walked over and sat down beside me. She looked over, but she didn’t say anything.
We were broken up into groups. Those who were to prepare for the prosecution were to study with Mrs. Mason. Those students included Jason and Stephanie. The defense would prepare with Mr. Anderson. Cynthia and I were in that group. I was relieved that I would not have to be around Stephanie.
They explained that the preparation for the prosecution and defense was different. Just like in a real trial, we would study separately so that the other side would not be aware of what we going to present at trial.
It was also good practice because when we when went into competition, we would not be privy to how the other side had prepared. The only time we would be practicing together was when we would actually act out the trial about a week before final competition.
I quickly grew to like Mr. Anderson. He kept asking me to call him Bernie, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. He was such a distinguished looking man, that I felt more comfortable showing him respect by addressing him as Mr. Anderson. He soon realized that I would not call him by his first name.
“You’re George White’s boy, aren’t you?” he suddenly asked after we had been studying our script for an hour.
“Yes, Sir,” I replied. I couldn’t figure out how he had known that. I never mentioned it.
“I can see the resemblance,” he smiled. “For two days I’ve been trying to figure out who you remind me of. It suddenly just dawned on me.”
At four thirty, Mrs. Mason told us that we could stop. I was exhausted. It had been a long day, and I couldn’t wait to get home and rest before dinner.
After saying goodbye to Mr. Anderson, I headed for the door. Jason grabbed my arm and led me down the hall. We stopped and he backed me up against a locker. He looked down the hall to make sure no one was coming.
“We need to talk,” he said quickly.
“What?” I asked nervously. I had forgotten our email the night before when he said he had wanted to talk to me.
“Stephanie thinks you’re a fag,” he said. He looked me in my eyes to judge my reaction.
This was it. I had been avoiding this moment for years. I knew that someday I would tell him, but I had wanted it to be on my terms, not in some deserted hallway.
“Well, are you?” He was awaiting my answer. I felt like a trapped animal. I knew if I told him the truth, I would lose him as a friend. If I lied, he would still know and never trust me again.
I looked into his eyes. I couldn’t read him. For the first time in my life, I didn’t know what my best friend was thinking. I didn’t know if he wanted me to confess it or deny it.
Suddenly, Stephanie and Cynthia came walking out into the hall. Stephanie smirked when she noticed Jason had me pinned up to a locker. She knew that Jason was trying to confirm what she had told him. She grabbed Cynthia by the arm, trying to lead her away.
Instead, Cynthia broke free, walked up and stepped between Jason and me.
“There you are, you silly boy,” she said cheerfully. She grabbed my arm and kissed me on my cheek. “I thought you forgot that I had invited you home for dinner tonight. Daddy should be waiting outside for us.”
She pulled me away and held my arm as we walked past Stephanie. She gave me an angry look as we walked by.
As we approached the exit, Cynthia pulled me up against a locker. We looked down the hall to see Jason and Stephanie staring at us.
“I know you don’t want to, but kiss me.” She grabbed the back of my head and pulled my face to hers. She positioned us slightly, so that Jason and Stephanie would not have a good view of us kissing. She pressed her lips to the side of my mouth, kissing me on my cheek. To Jason and Stephanie, it looked like we were actually kissing.
She kept me pressed to her for about fifteen seconds. She then put her arms around me and hugged me. I responded by putting my arms around her and squeezing her tightly.
“That should do it,” she said as she looked down the hall. Stephanie was standing with an amazed look on her face.
“What are you doing?” I asked. I couldn’t understand why she was behaving so strangely.
Suddenly it dawned on me. She was putting on a show for Stephanie and Jason. She was protecting me. She had to know that I was gay, and was she trying to stop the suspicions of Stephanie. She was trying to persuade them that I was straight.
I stepped back and stared in her face. Her eyes were shining with tears. I knew that she would never be my girlfriend, but I was also aware that she would always be my friend. I leaned forward and actually kissed her on the lips.
I grabbed her hand and we ran out of the building. We stopped when we got outside on the sidewalk. I looked around for her dad’s car.
“I thought you said your dad was here to pick you up?” I asked.
“I only said that to get you away from Jason,” she admitted. “He’s at the church. I can call him and ask him to come get us.”
“No.” I grabbed her hand and started down the sidewalk. “We can walk.”
We walked about three blocks to a McDonalds. I paid for our meal, and then we went outside and ate on one of the patio tables. The rain had stopped earlier in the day, and the sun had come out. We sat in silence for a long time. I guess neither of us knew how to talk about the ‘elephant in the room.’ That was a phrase I had heard my dad use a few times when people didn’t know how to approach a sensitive subject.
“You know, don’t you?” I suddenly asked her. We had to talk about it. We could not go on pretending any longer. She nodded her head as tears appeared in her eyes.
“I’m sorry,” I said as tears welled up in mine. “I never meant to hurt you.”
“I know,” she replied softly. “I guess I’ve known for a while now. I just tried to tell myself that you were shy. That is why you never tried to kiss or have sex with me. When Stephanie started saying all those hateful things about you this morning, I guess I just had to know.”
I could feel my heart literally breaking. It was obvious Cynthia loved me, and I was hurting her. She had invested three years of her life into a relationship that led nowhere. At that moment, I hated myself for playing her along just to protect my image. I tried to hold back the tears, but I couldn’t.
She got up, sat beside me and pulled my head into her shoulder. I could tell that she was crying too. We must have looked a pitiful sight to anyone inside the restaurant watching us.
“I really do care about you, though.” I pulled her toward me and held her. “I always have, but...”
She leaned back and stared into my eyes. “But you’ll never love me?”
“No,” I replied honestly. “I’ll always love you.”
“Then let me rephrase that.” She let a smile form on her face. “You’ll never be able to make love to me.”
“I guess not,” I said sadly. We sat quietly for a few minutes.
“Then I guess what Stephanie said is true?” she asked. I looked at her questioningly.
“You do love Jason.” She was waiting expectantly for my answer. It was no time to continue my masquerade. I nodded my head.
“I see,” she said as she continued to nibble at her French fries. “You have to be careful, Taylor.” She looked back up into my face. “Stephanie can be a vindictive bitch.” She stressed the word, bitch.
I had just taken a sip of my soda. I spit it out across the table when I heard her call Stephanie a bitch. I had never heard her curse before. She started laughing.
“Seriously, Taylor,” she warned. “If Stephanie thinks you want to take Jason from her, there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to stop you. Be careful around her.”
“He’s straight, Cynthia,” I responded. “I know that. I’m not going to try to take Jason from her.”
“Well, she’s already started rumors,” she informed me. “We’ll have to try and stop them.”
“We?” I asked surprisingly. She knew I was gay, and I would never be her boyfriend. However, she still wanted to help me. She reached up and touched the side of my face.
“You’re a wonderful boy, Taylor,” she said. “I love you just as much now as I did yesterday. Nothing will ever change that.”
Tears formed in my eyes again as I reached out and pulled her into me. I couldn’t imagine anyone being so understanding. We had been dating for three years, and it was the first time I could honestly say that I loved her. It was ironic that I was saying it as a gay boy, and she was comfortable with that.
“You know I love you too?” I said with misty eyes. She kissed me on the side of my cheek.
She smiled and said, “That’s the first time you ever told me that.”
We finished eating and I walked her home. We held hands all the way to her house. Her mother tried to get me to join them for dinner, but I was anxious to get home. It had been a very emotional day, and I wanted to lie down for a while.
When I walked into the kitchen, my mother informed me that we would be eating in a half hour. I went into my room and walked over to my computer. I wanted to check my email to see if any of my friends had written me.
I stopped when I noticed one from Jasonsgurl. I couldn’t figure out why Stephanie would be emailing me. I opened it up, and my face burned with anger when I read it.
Jasonsgurl: Your not fooling anyone FAGGOT