I walked with my head down the entire way to school. I just didn’t feel especially happy with myself. I had really screwed up yesterday, and I was afraid to face Shaun. We had been best friends, but I was not too sure how strong our bond was now. One stupid look, that was all it was, and now my life is ruined. I stood outside the doors of the school, and with one deep breath, I pulled the door open and entered it like a man going to the electric chair on his execution day.
As I walked down the halls, I looked up and noticed the familiar faces I had seen so often over the past few years. No one’s look seemed to change as they saw me. I guess it was a good sign. Several of my friends spoke to me and asked me how I was doing. One girl even approached me and asked me if I was going out for basketball this season.
It was one thing I had not really thought about. Shaun and I had been teammates on the school’s basketball team for the past four years. We had made the team in seventh grade, and we had participated every year since then. Shaun was a starter for the team. He played forward, and he usually averaged at least fifteen points a game. I was a bench warmer. I was occasionally called upon when someone fouled out. I wasn’t that good, but I did manage to have a game high of ten points last year. Shaun hugged me and congratulated me like I had won the hundred-yard dash in the Summer Olympics. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.
I went to my locker and got out the books I would need for my morning classes. Shaun’s locker was right next to mine, and I was afraid he would show up while I was there, but he didn’t. I then went into the cafeteria to get a donut and an orange juice before first period class.
As soon as I entered the double doors, I immediately saw Shaun sitting at the table with Melissa, one of his ‘sometimey’ girlfriends. They were sitting really close; so close it looked like she was almost in his lap. He had his arms around her waist, laughing at something she had said.
I quickly glanced at him out of the corner of my eye. A frown appeared on his face when he saw me. He moved away from Melissa and gave me the coldest look anyone had ever given me. The look hurt me, really hurt me. I hung my head and quickly went to the food line.
I waited in line behind a large group of people. Then I heard a familiar voice speak behind me. “Hey fag!” Oh God! Not right now, not here. I recognized Shaun’s voice and tried to ignore him. Maybe he would go away.
“I said, hey fag! Why are you ignoring me? You didn’t seem to be so shy yesterday,” he said louder than before. I turned to face him.
“Shaun, please! Not here, please!” I pleaded with him. I couldn’t believe he was doing this to me. My best friend was outing me in front of the entire school. Everyone was looking at us. They got quiet as they tried to listen to our exchange. Teenagers can sense when there is a confrontation approaching, and they will feed on it like a frenzy of hungry piranha. I knew if he said anything more, the rest of my high school life would be ruined.
“Look fag,” he muttered angrily as he poked me in my chest. “I don’t want you coming over to my house anymore. After trying to suck my dick yesterday, I don’t want you around me anymore. Got that, faggot? Stay the fuck away from me. I don’t play that shit!” He then stormed off, leaving me standing there embarrassed and ashamed. In all the years I had known Shaun, I had never seen him so angry.
If he was out to ruin my life, he did it just then. Suddenly, the cafeteria erupted into a buzz. Word traveled quickly. By the time I had made it out of line and back into the cafeteria, I felt a thousand pair of eyes on me. It seemed that in a matter of minutes, the entire school knew my secret. I looked over to where Shaun had been sitting. He was still sitting with his arm around Melissa. He had an evil smirk on his face.
He knew he had outed me, and he was proud of it. I couldn’t understand it. All the years of friendship, and in a matter of minutes it was over. I didn’t do anything to deserve it. I hadn’t even told him I was gay. I hadn’t made a move on him or tried to seduce him. I had only stared at him. Was that a crime? However, now I was going to have to pay dearly for it.
I didn’t notice anyone else except Shaun and the smirk on his face. Didn’t I mean anything to him? I knew he wasn’t gay, but why did he have to do this to me? Why was he enjoying it? He was animatedly talking to his friends at the table, and they were looking at me and laughing. Laughing! What did I do to deserve this?
All I wanted to do was get out of the cafeteria quickly. I picked up my speed as I walked with my head down. I must have looked really pathetic to anyone watching. My face was red with embarrassment, and tears were streaming down my cheeks.
Unfortunately, my tears blocked me from seeing a foot come out into the aisle, tripping me. I went down hard, really hard. My face hit the cold floor, and my books went flying everywhere. The cafeteria erupted into laughter. Everyone was laughing at the fag sprawled out on the floor. Not one person came to my aid. They just laughed, and I could hear some of the cruel comments they were making.
I don’t know where it came from, but I got up off the floor, collected my books, threw my shoulders back and walked proudly from the cafeteria. My face was hurting, my spirit was broken, but I let them know they would not destroy me. I was going to get through this, I had to. I just hoped Shaun was happy for what he had done to me.
After leaving the cafeteria, I went to the boys’ restroom and looked at myself in the mirror. I looked horrible. A bruise was quickly forming where I had hit the cafeteria floor. Tears had streaked my faced, and snot was running from my nose. I looked at the image that was staring back at me and didn’t recognize him. It was not the same person who had looked in the mirror yesterday morning. No. This was someone else. That person from yesterday was no more.
Suddenly, the door opened, and in walked three seniors. They were bantering among themselves, and they immediately got quiet when they saw me. They were the popular jocks. One was Josh Mathews. We had played basketball together the past few years. He was going to be captain of the team this year.
“Damn, I didn’t know queers were allowed to use the boys’ room. She should go down the hall to the girls’,” said one of the boys jokingly. The others began laughing.
“Yeah,” replied another. “I’m not going to piss in here with him watching. Fucking perv!”
“Fuck you! Fuck you all!” I screamed. I couldn’t take it anymore. I jumped at the nearest guy, who just happened to be Josh, and began pummeling him with my fists. He was much larger than I was, but at that moment I didn’t care. I just wanted to let out all my anger- anger at Shaun. Unfortunately, Josh happened to be there when I hurriedly made a wrong decision.
They were immediately on me. The other two grabbed me and held my arms back, while Josh began to violently assault me. He hit me in my sides several times, and then he punched me in my stomach. I thought I was going to puke. They dropped me to the ground, and then all three began kicking me. I tried to curl into a ball, but several of the kicks made it through. I began to fear that they were going to kill me. My mind kept telling me that I couldn’t die like this.
“Let’s get the fuck out of here before someone comes in,” said one of the boys. I heard the door close and everything became quiet. “This is it,” I said to myself. “I’m only sixteen, and I am dying on a cold restroom floor.”
The door opened, and someone entered.
“Oh my God, Gary!” Those were the last words I heard before my world began to grow dark.