After I went to sleep, I had the strangest dream. Normally, I don’t remember my dreams; however, tonight’s I remember vividly. In fact, I woke up in a sweat, shaking violently and clutching my legs to my chest.
In the dream I was a kite, and I was flying high above the ground. At first it was really beautiful, looking at the clear blue sky above and the green grass below. Then I noticed the string that was holding me up, and I followed its path downward. There stood Shaun, holding a stick with the string wrapped around it. He kept letting out the line as I soared higher and higher into the air. Then I saw that look in his eye, the one I saw on his face when he realized I was gay. He looked up at me, laughed and then cut the cord loose. I jerked and then started tumbling towards the ground. The last thing I remembered was looking down and seeing Shaun rolling on the ground laughing hysterically.
I awoke before I hit the ground. I know I shouted out in my sleep, but I guess I didn’t awaken my mother. I sat for a long time huddled in my bed, clutching my legs. I knew what the dream meant. He hated me now, and he was letting go of our friendship. I thought I had cried so much earlier, but the tears started flowing again. I loved my friendship with Shaun, and I was mad at myself for ruining it. Why couldn’t I have just contained my feelings like I have for the past five years? I don’t know what I’m going to do now without my best friend.
I have never been the most popular guy in school. I know a lot of people, and they like me; but other than Shaun, I didn’t have anyone to call a close friend. Over the years I had built a wall around me with a large moat. I guess I felt that if I didn’t let anyone close, then I wouldn’t have to explain myself to them. If I kept them at arm’s length, they would never discover my “secret.”
Shaun was different, though. I knew him before I realized about the seventh grade that I was gay, and I was able to adjust my life around it. I grew comfortable building a lie around him. The only problem was that the lie involved a truth. The truth was that I thought I was in love with Shaun. However, the wall and moat protected me. That was until tonight. My lie was now out in the open, and the walls had come falling down around me. How would he react to me now? I knew things would never be the same. I just hoped he didn’t hate me. We had too much history together. I needed him. I had no one else to turn to. I had no other close friends. Shaun had become my other half over the years. How could I go on now without him?
I guess I would find out soon. I looked at my clock. It read 3:47. Ugh! Three hours before I had to get up and go to school. I knew that I would never get back to sleep, so I decided to finish writing an assignment I had been putting off for a week for my Advanced Literature class. I sat down at my computer and turned it on. My desktop background popped up with a picture of Shaun and me. It was a picture taken last year at Shaun’s sixteenth birthday party. I had just given him a bracelet that said, “Friends 4ever.” He had grabbed me and given me a big hug just as his mother snapped the picture. I asked her for a copy, and then I downloaded it onto my desktop. I would smile every time my computer came on and I saw that huge smile on his face as he wrapped his arms around me. This time, however, it made me sad. I knew I would never see that smile on his face for me again.
I went to the control panel, found my desktop backgrounds and removed the picture. I replaced it with a blank background. Now I wouldn’t have to look at a reminder of how things used to be. The blank background now symbolized the emptiness I was feeling. I just didn’t like feeling this way.
I worked for two hours on my writing assignment before I developed a writer’s block. I realized it would do no good to continue writing. At least it had taken my mind off my problems for a while. I had been so engrossed in my assignment that I had completely forgotten about Shaun. But like all bad problems, it surfaced again once the temporary distraction was gone.
It was just after 7:00. I didn’t have to be at school until 8:15. I had an hour to shower, dress and join my mother for breakfast before heading out for the ten-minute walk to school. I undressed and looked at myself in the mirror. I stared at my face for a long time. I guess I was trying to find my soul. But all I saw looking back was my short dark hair, brown eyes and thin body. I’m not a bad looking kid. My mother tells me I’m handsome, but mothers always say that to their sons. The girls at school tell me I’m cute, and they giggle sometimes when I walk by.
Last year, Sarah Mitchell asked me if I like anyone. When I told her no, she said, “That’s good.” Later, her friends told me she liked me and wanted to go steady with me. She had pulled one of the oldest tricks in the book. She took away my ability of telling her I couldn’t go out with her because I liked someone else. Now I had no excuse. For several months we dated, until she realized I was never going to make out with her and kiss her. I told her I thought we were too young to be involved, and we should wait awhile longer. We slowly drifted apart, and she started dating someone else. She is always sitting in his lap and kissing him. Ugh. Ask me if I care.
I jumped in the shower and felt the hot water hitting my tired body. It felt good running down my back and over my legs. Normally, I would take care of business, if you know what I mean. However, the events of the last twelve hours didn’t exactly make me want to feel anything sexual. In fact, the thought of a life of celibacy was beginning to sound pretty good to me. At least it would provide safety, and I could never get hurt. Just turn my feelings off. Don’t let anyone in, and don’t show any emotion. The only thing is, that is how I have been living my life for so long. For one minute I let down my defenses, and now look where I am.
I dried off, brushed my short hair and put on my favorite clothes. I loved looking good. My mother provided me with a generous allowance, and I spend most of it on clothing. I figured if I looked good, I’d feel good. Only this morning it wasn’t working.
I went downstairs and joined my mother in the kitchen. She was cooking eggs and sausage in the skillet. It sure smelled good. Before that I had not even thought of eating; but after getting a whiff of what was on the stove, my stomach began to growl.
“Sounds like someone’s hungry,” she said with a smile. “Did you sleep all right, Honey? I thought I heard you yell out in your sleep this morning. I came to your door to see if you were all right, and I heard you typing on your computer. Is anything wrong?”
“No, Mom. Everything’s cool. I just couldn’t sleep, and I woke up early. I needed to finish Mrs. Thompson’s writing assignment, so I was working on it.” At least I didn’t have to lie. It was the truth. I just didn’t tell her why I couldn’t sleep.
“I’m worried about you, Gary,” she said. “I know something’s bothering you. I’m not a stupid woman. Remember, I’m around young people your age all day long. I can tell when something is wrong. You know I have never been one to pressure you, but I don’t want to see you hurting. If you won’t speak to me, then talk to someone. You hold too much in. You know you have to trust someone someday. Perhaps, you can talk to Shaun about what is bothering you. He’s your best friend. Maybe you can trust him.”
“What do you think you know about me!” I screamed at my mother. I had never raised my voice before to her, but I found myself losing control. Talk to Shaun? He was my problem. How could she possibly think I could talk to him? Besides, he’d probably never speak to me again.
“You’re right, you have never pressured me before,” I said again raising my voice. “Let’s keep it that way. I don’t need to talk to you or anyone else, so just get off my back, okay?”
I knew I’d crossed a line that had never been crossed before. The look on her face let me know that. She didn’t seem mad, she seemed sad. I wish she would get angry and yell back. No, she had to let those damn tears appear in her eyes. I knew I had done the one thing I didn’t want to do, disappoint her.
“I’m sorry,” I said quietly. I pushed myself away from the table, grabbed my book bag and ran out the door. I guess that’s something I’m getting good at, running away from those I care about the most. How did my life get so complicated? I wiped the tears away from my eyes as I walked down the street towards the school. I knew that sometime today I would have to face Shaun. What would I say to him? What would he say to me?