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
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 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. 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 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
“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
“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
“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
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