Apple of Her Eye
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, 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 knew a lot of people, and they
liked 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 arms length, they would never discover my “secret.”
Shaun was different though. I knew him before I realized in about the seventh
grade that I was gay. So 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
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. So 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 a while longer. We slowly drifted apart, and she
started dating someone else. She was always sitting on 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 had 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 spent most of it on
clothing. I figured if I looked good, I’d feel good. Only this morning it wasn’t
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
“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
“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?
Chapter 3 Return to TMJ