‘What is he doing here?’ I asked myself as I trailed behind him into the stadium. He looked better than he did the last time I saw him. Then, he seemed like the world had collapsed around him. I was also curious what he had done to make his parents so upset with him.
I was surprised when he walked up the bleachers on our side. I thought that he attended our opponent’s school. When he was five rows up, several girls in my class waved to him. “Over here, Blake.” He waved and sat beside them.
“Blake?” I said to myself. “That’s his name.” I sat about two rows behind them. It seemed perverse, but I wanted to watch him. I had felt sorry for him in the hospital, and I guess I just wanted to make sure he was alright. He seemed happy. The girls kept talking to him and giggling. In a way I was jealous. Blake is very cute, and I wondered if one of the girls was his girlfriend. However, as I watched them, he didn’t seem to single out any one girl as being closer than the others.
A few minutes before the game began, I noticed Ty and Maryanne scanning the seats above. Ty smiled when he noticed me. He waved and then grabbed Maryanne’s arm as they climbed the steps to where I was sitting.
“I was hoping to find you,” he smiled as he sat down. Maryanne looked past him and waved. Ty asked, “You two know each other, right?”
“Yeah,” I replied as I waved at her. “We’ve shared a lot of classes together.” She laughed and told Ty how we had worked on a science project a couple of years ago. I had almost forgotten about it.
Suddenly, there was a loud cheer as our team ran onto the field. I looked down and saw Stacy cheering loudly from the front row of the next section. She was jumping excitedly as she hollered out Craig’s name. He heard her, stopped and blew her a kiss. The girls around Stacy began laughing uproariously.
Maryanne remarked sarcastically, “I see Craig has his cheering section here tonight.”
Ty giggled and said, “You can go down and join them if you want.” Maryanne rolled her eyes and smacked him on his arm.
The announcer told us to stand for the singing of the National Anthem. A member of our choir sang it. As she did, Blake turned and looked back at me. We stared at one another for several seconds. Ty turned and gave me a puzzled look when he noticed. Blake turned back, and I wondered what had just happened. It was as if Blake knew I was sitting behind him. But why had he turned to stare at me the way he did? Even Ty had noticed. I thought he would say something, but he didn’t.
The first quarter wasn’t very exciting. Craig carried the ball a few times, but the opposing team was able to prevent him from getting much yardage. With two minutes left in the quarter, they made a touchdown on a pass from the quarterback into the end zone. They made the extra point, and the quarter ended 0-7.
I decided to go and get a drink and hot pretzel. I asked Ty and Maryanne if they wanted anything. “Yeah,” he said. “Since you’re going, get me and Maryanne two Cokes and a box of popcorn.” He reached into his pocket and handed me a ten-dollar bill.
“Be right back,” I said as I scurried down the steps. I was standing in line at the concession stand when someone stepped up beside me. I turned and it was Blake.
“Hey,” he said nervously. “Remember me?”
“Yeah,” my voice trembled as I answered. “How are you feeling?”
He frowned slightly and replied, “Okay, I guess.” Just then, the concession attendant asked me what I wanted. I gave her my order as she got me three Cokes, a hot pretzel and popcorn. I paid her and moved to the side so Blake could give her his order.
I don’t know why, but I decided to wait for him. I thought it would be rude to just walk away. He ordered a Coke and a candy bar. After paying for it, he turned and saw me looking at him. A smile appeared on his face.
“You didn’t have to wait for me,” he said.
“It’s okay, Blake,” I responded.
He gave me a puzzled look and asked, “How did you know my name?”
My face reddened. I didn’t want him to think that I had been spying on him. I said, “I was behind you when you came in. I heard those girls yell your name.”
“Oh, yeah,” he replied. He started to walk away but stopped. “I don’t know your name.”
“Seth,” I replied nervously. “Seth Miller.”
“Do you go to school here?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “I’m a junior. What about you? I’ve never seen you before.”
“Yeah, well,” he replied nervously. “I just moved here the other day. I’m staying with my cousin, Amber Murphy. Do you know her?”
“Yes,” I replied. “We’ve been friends since the first grade.” I didn’t consider Amber a good friend. Like most people you go to school with, you’re friendly at school, but you never see them outside of school. Amber was popular, and she played on the girls’ soccer team. Other than that, I didn’t know much about her.
“Cool,” he replied as he started to walk away. I wanted to say more to him, but he seemed in a hurry to return to his seat. Dejectedly, I followed behind him as he sat beside Amber and the other girls. I handed Ty and Maryanne their Cokes and popcorn and sat down. I looked onto the field when I heard a loud roar from the crowd. Craig caught a pass from the quarterback in the end zone and scored a touchdown. Stacy and her friends were going wild below.
I looked down and saw Blake and Amber talking. She whispered something in his ear, and then she turned, looked at me and giggled. Blake turned and smiled. I watched as they talked animatedly to each other. However, they didn’t turn and look at me anymore.
“What do you think, Seth?” asked Ty.
I gave him a puzzled look and asked, “About what?” I had been looking down at Blake and his friends. I wanted to see if he showed any interest in any of the three girls he was with. One was Amber who he said was his cousin. He would talk to the others and laugh, but he didn’t show any physical interest in them. Ty sat most of the night pressed against Maryanne. Anyone looking would know that they were together.
He smiled and reached out and grabbed Maryanne’s hand. “We’re going to go get a pizza after the game. Do you want to go with us?”
“Yeah, sure,” I replied. “That sounds cool.” I really didn’t care to go, but I didn’t want to go home. Craig would probably take Stacy home. He usually does after the games. I didn’t care about Maggie and Brittany. They could walk home as far as I was concerned.
I looked at the time on the clock. There were only 58 seconds remaining. Our team was up by 14 points so many people were beginning to leave. I looked down when Blake rose. He turned, looked back at me and nodded. I waved at him.
“You know him?” asked Ty. He must have been watching us.
“No,” I said. “He was behind me in the concession line. We talked a minute.”
I was surprised when Ty said, “He’s been watching you all during the game. He turned and looked back about a dozen times. You sure you don’t know him?”
“I said I didn’t,” I insisted. Just then, the game ended, and people stood and applauded our winning team. Stacy was standing and hollering out Craig’s name. He heard her and waved. He then noticed me standing behind her. He nodded and ran off the field. Stacy looked back to see who he had nodded to. Her eyes narrowed in anger when she saw it was me.
On the way to my car, Ty threw his arm around my shoulder. “Don’t forget to meet us for pizza.” He patted me on my back and scurried off to his car with Maryanne. I thought about going home, but I decided to go get pizza. It was a better option than going home and having to watch some boring movie until midnight with Mom.
Like it is after every home game, the pizza place was packed. Ty and Maryanne were already in line waiting for a table. “There’s nine people ahead of us,” he frowned when I walked up. “The hostess said they won’t have a table ready for at least forty minutes. Is that okay with you?”
“Sure,” I replied. “I got nothing else to do.” We stood around and made small talk with others around us. I looked out into the room when someone called out my name.
“Seth!” hollered Amber as she stood and waved at me. She then motioned for me to join them. “We have a seat for you,” she yelled as she pointed down at a seat. I was surprised to see Blake sitting next to it.
I looked over at Ty. I didn’t know what to do. I told Ty that I would join him and Maryanne. However, I would have to wait forty minutes. Amber was offering me a seat at their table. Besides, it would give me a chance to speak to Blake again. Ty solved my problem when he laughed and said, “Go join them. We don’t care.” He looked at Maryanne and she nodded.
I asked, “You don’t care?”
“Go,” he insisted as he gave me a gentle shove. He laughed and added, “Just don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” As I walked away, I wondered what he meant.
My face reddened as I walked over to the table. Blake had turned, and he was staring intently at me. I smiled and said, “Hi.”
“Hi,” he said shyly as Amber began to giggle.
“Sit down, Seth,” she laughed. “Blake won’t bite. That is unless you want him to.” The other girls at the table began to laugh.
Amber said, “We ordered a couple of large pepperoni pizzas. Is that okay with you?”
“Yeah, sure,” I replied. “That’s cool.”
“Good,” she laughed. “You can pay for one of them. Blake doesn’t have any money, so you can pay for his.” She gave me a wicked grin and added, “He’ll pay you back later.” The girls began to giggle again. I was beginning to become uncomfortable because they seemed to be sharing a joke that I had no idea what it was about.
The server approached the table and asked me what I wanted to drink. “Coke,” I replied. Blake held up his glass and asked if she could bring him another.
“Cutie,” she cooed. “You can have anything you want.”
Jill, one of the girls at the table giggled and said, “He already does.” The server gave her a puzzled look and walked away.
Amber asked me how I liked the game. Before I could respond, Jill and the other girls began talking about Stacy and Craig. It was obvious that they were very jealous of her. Jill looked angrily at me and said, “I don’t know how you can stand her.”
Blake seemed confused. He looked around and asked, “What is going on? Who is this guy Craig and Stacy?”
I informed him, “Stacy is my sister. She’s dating Craig.”
“Dating?” laughed Amber. “You mean fucking.”
My face reddened. I was going to tell them that Stacy doesn’t have sex with Craig, but I decided to leave it alone. Besides, they wouldn’t have believed me anyway. I said, “I don’t know what they do.”
Blake asked, “Who is this Craig guy?”
Amber giggled and replied, “You should know. You only spent half the night drooling over him. He was that cute running back you said you would like to have sex with.” The girls roared with laughter as Blake’s face reddened.
“I didn’t say that!” Blake responded as he looked at me. He couldn’t have been anymore embarrassed. At least it did answer one question. Blake is gay. And it is apparent that Amber and the others are aware of it.
“Oh, that’s right,” giggled Jill as she looked mischievously at me. “You want to have sex with Seth.”
“What!” I shrieked. I looked around at the girls as they continued to giggle. I looked surprisingly at Blake and asked, “You said that?”
He stood and shouted, “I’m going to the bathroom.” He pushed his chair from the table and stormed away.
I said, “Maybe I should go.” I looked at Ty and Maryanne still waiting in line. It didn’t appear that they had moved.
Amber reached out and grabbed my arm. “Come on, Seth,” she pleaded. “We’re just having a little fun.”
I responded angrily, “I don’t think it’s funny. You embarrassed Blake…and me.”
“I’m sorry,” apologized Amber. “I was just trying to make Blake feel better. He’s been through so much lately.” She looked like she was getting ready to cry.
“It wasn’t funny,” I replied.
Amber grinned, and I noticed a little twinkle in her eye. “But you’re still here,” she smiled.
I didn’t know what to say. She was right. If it had been any other boy, he would have stormed out of the restaurant. They had implied that Blake and I were gay. I realized that I should have left, but now it was too late to act insulted. All three girls were smiling at me to see how I would react. If I stayed, they would assume that I am gay. If I left, it might ruin my chance of ever getting to know Blake.
I acted angry as I said, “Just knock it off. Okay?” Amber let out a sigh of relief as she looked at the other girls and grinned.
“Okay,” she replied. “But only because you asked nicely.” The others began to giggle.
Just then, Blake returned to the table. Everyone was silent as he sat down. Amber reached over and gripped his hand. “We’re sorry, Blake,” she apologized. “
He looked over at me. I could tell he was surprised that I was still at the table. I think he returned expecting me to be gone. “Just knock it off,” he muttered angrily.
Amber started giggling and said, “That’s what Seth just told us to do.” She looked back and forth at us and smiled.
The server brought our pizzas to the table, and we began to devour them. Seth and I shared one, while the girls dug into the other. Occasionally, we would stare at each other. I couldn’t believe how cute Blake is. His blond hair was cut short. However, it was his penetrating blue eyes that mesmerized me. It was as if he could read everything about me.
Amber giggled when she saw us staring at each other. “I don’t want to make you guys mad,” she said, “but you two make the cutest couple.” The other girls laughed and agreed with her.
My face reddened as I insisted, “I...I…I’m not gay.”
Blake looked disappointed, but Amber giggled and said, “And I’m not the wicked witch of the school.” She held up her hand and the other girls high-fived her.
Amber reached over and gripped my hand. “Seth,” she smiled. “It’s okay. We’re not going to say anything. Promise.” The other girls looked at me and nodded. Blake reached down and briefly held my right hand. I wanted to pull away, but I couldn’t. Amber noticed Blake’s hand around mine, smiled and said, “Now. Let’s finish our pizza.”
I turned when I heard a loud commotion behind me. It was Craig, Stacy, the quarterback of our team and a couple of other players. They had walked into the dining area without waiting for a table. I turned back around so that Craig wouldn’t notice me.
“Asshole,” muttered Amber. Blake turned to see who she was talking about.
He asked, “Who is he?”
“A moron,” hissed Amber.
Blake gave me a puzzled look and asked, “Isn’t he the guy who was sharing the hospital room with me when you visited?”
I nodded my head and replied, “Yeah.”
Amber gave us a questioning look and asked, “You guys have met before? You didn’t tell me that.” I explained how I had taken my sister to the hospital to visit Craig when he was hospitalized. The girls laughed when I told them how I had gotten a bed pan for Blake.
A mischievous grin appeared on Amber’s face as she asked, “Did he watch you piss in it?”
Blake giggled and replied, “No. But he watched Craig piss in his.”
I shrieked, “I did not!”
Blake laughed and said, “Did too.”
I was going to deny it, but I could hear Craig’s voice behind me. “Hey, Gang,” he said as he looked around our table. Amber and the other girls gave him a slight wave. I froze when he put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed it.
“How you doing, Seth?” he asked. I noticed that Stacy gripped his arm and tried to pull him away. “Did you like the game?”
“Yeah,” I replied nervously. “You was good.”
“Of course,” he laughed as he squeezed my shoulder again. I looked over and saw Blake staring at his hand.
“Come on, Craig,” insisted Stacy as she pulled him away. “Don’t spend your time with these losers.” She waved at another girl at a nearby table. “Hi, Becky!” She pulled Craig away.
“Bitch,” muttered Amber. The other girls laughed uproariously. I’m glad Stacy didn’t hear her, or they might have gotten into a fight. A girl calling another girl a bitch is an automatic fight.
I finished my pizza quickly. The fun time I was having with Blake, Amber and the others had vanished when Craig and Stacy entered. All I wanted to do was leave. Craig and Stacy had taken a seat at a nearby table, and Craig was positioned so he could see me. Several times I looked over and noticed him staring at me.
I looked at my watch and pretended I had to leave. “My mom wants me home by ten,” I said.
Blake asked skeptically, “You have to be home, but your sister doesn’t?” The look in his eyes showed that he knew I was lying.
“I just want to go,” I said as I stood. I pulled out my wallet, took out a twenty-dollar bill and handed it to Amber. “That should cover for my pizza.” I turned and started to walk away.
“Hold up!” shouted Blake. He approached and asked, “Can I get a ride?”
I looked at Amber. “I thought you came with your cousin.”
“I did,” he smiled. “But I want you to take me to her house.”
I stared into his blue eyes for a moment. I know I should say no, but I couldn’t refuse. I had been having a good time with Blake. He also knew that I am gay, so I felt comfortable around him. Besides, I was curious where things might lead.
“Okay,” I said as I headed for the door. As we were heading for my car, I looked in the window at the table where Craig and Stacy were sitting. Craig looked out and scowled at me.
Blake noticed and asked, “What’s his problem?”
“He’s an asshole,” I said as I approached my car. Blake got in, looked over and grinned.
“Nice ride,” he said. “This yours or your old man’s car?”
“It’s mine,” I replied. “I don’t have a father.”
“Yeah,” he responded sadly. “Me, too.”
I pulled out onto the road and asked Blake where Amber lived. “I don’t know,” he replied. “I just moved in two days ago.” I laughed and suggested that he call her and get her address. Since we had never really been friends, I had no idea where she lived. He called and then informed me, “She lives on Hudson Street.”
“I know where that is,” I said. “She doesn’t live too far from me.” I headed that way. She lived in the same area that I did. Most of the homes had been built in the 80’s, and they were basically one design- bilevel homes with three bedrooms. It was a middle-class neighborhood, and most students who lived in the area attended our high school.
It took about ten minutes to arrive on her street. Blake had said very little which I found strange since he hadn’t seemed shy at the restaurant. I drove slowly down the road until he noticed her house. “There,” he pointed to a house with light blue shutters. I laughed and told him that my house looked almost identical to Amber’s.
I pulled into the driveway and turned off the car. I looked over and told Blake, “I had a good time tonight.”
He smiled nervously and replied, “I did too.”
We sat silently for a couple of minutes. I thought he would open the door and get out, but he didn’t. He looked over at me a few times and smiled. I sighed and said, “Can I ask you something?”
He responded nervously, “I was wondering when you were going to ask.” I had been curious since hearing his parents arguing with him in the hospital room about what had happened. His parents had threatened him that morning. I was wondering if that is why he is now staying with Amber.
“Never mind,” I said. “I had a good night.” I was just wanting him to get out of the car. I felt guilty for wanting to impose on his private life.
Blake looked over with tears in his eyes. “You want to know why I’m staying here, don’t you?”
I shook my head. “It’s really none of my business.” Tears were welling up in my eyes. “I was worried about you after what happened between you and your parents.”
He started crying. “They hate me, Seth,” he sobbed. “I told them I am gay, and now they hate me.” He was crying uncontrollably.
I leaned over the console and pulled him into my arms. “Come here,” I said tearfully as he rested his head on my shoulder and continued to cry.
He looked up into my eyes and said, “I’m sorry.”
I leaned down and kissed him.
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