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Tales told - a.k.a free reads > November 2014 prompt - floor guys - STORIES

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message 1: by Kaje (last edited Nov 15, 2014 06:03PM) (new)

Kaje Harper | 16659 comments This months winning picture has a lot of potential - is this a moment of recognition? Teasing? Challenge? A goodbye? A new beginning?

Give us your take on it - any length or form (just keep it YA.)



Story shortcut Links:
Jay D.
Iuri
Kaje


message 2: by Jay (last edited Nov 09, 2014 04:52AM) (new)

Jay Clark (jaydclark) | 488 comments Swim Team Sleepover

"Step up!" barked our swim coach.

Four boys and two girls in racing swimsuits mounted the blocks. Line four or five swimmers deep waited behind each block, boys and girls mixed together. Chris stood on block four, while I poised on block three, shoulders back, hands on my hips. I wore a practice jammer, but Chris wore a star-spangled Team USA Speedo. Water ran down our frames from the last set of practice dives, and both of us breathing hard from the sprints that followed, but I still had my sense of style.

"Take your mark!"

Chris shot me a little grin as we hunched down, one foot forward, one foot back, butts up, heads forward, fingers tucked over the edge of the block. I did not move my head, and my mirrored goggles hid my eyes, but they were on Chris and his darker, more muscular frame.

"Go!"

We launched our frames from the blocks at the same instant and kicked off to send ourselves up and out over the water like a pair of flying squirrels. For that hundredth of a second we flew over the water and then plunged down into it.

This fifty was a butterfly sprint and the last of the day before warm-downs. Chris and I streamlined with powerful dolphin kicks until our hands broke the surface. We plunged hands down and shot our faces up just enough to breathe, hips coming up to help power arm recovery. The stroke's name came from the unique recovery motion of raising arms out of the water by the hips and swooping them forward, elbows locked just above the water's surface, fingertips shooting a curved veil of stray, not unlike butterfly wings.

Chris stayed with me to the turn and the streamline off the wall. I could sense how much staying up with me taxed him. Glances told me that his form was less and less precise as we progressed toward the finish at the blocks. And he had to breathe four times to my mere two breaths, yet he forced himself to keep pace with me, falling behind only by an arm's length at the end. Once to the wall, my breathing was deep and gulping, but his was ragged and gasping. The look in his eyes told me to hang back. His Latino pride ran deep and showing too much concern in front of others would not help.

Chris was a wrestler during winter sports, while I played basketball. Both of us got into swimming to get ourselves into shape for our separate winter sports. Unlike all the rest of California, high school swimming was in the fall, instead of the spring, north of Sacramento. Chris was too short for football, or so he said, while I thought myself too skinny, so we swam and went from strangers to teammates, and best friends.

"Edgeley, Azevedo," Coach called out our last names, among three others. "You five are on pool cover duty after warm-downs. So, get to swimming. Let's try to be out of here before dark."

Campbell and the two girls, Sarah Reed and Ana Garza, trundled out the long, heavy cart with the pool covers rolled up on twelve-foot spindles. I swam the drag line across the pool to them, while Chris readied himself to drag each of three seventy-five-foot sheets and three forty-foot sheets across the L-shaped pool to him. Campbell took the drag line from me as I put my feet down in water five feet deep. He hooked it to a grommet hole in the front edge of the heavy, blue plastic sheeting. I swam back toward Chris as he pulled the sheet, like a giant roll-up shade across the length of the pool. Swimming a leisurely breaststroke, I kept my head above the surface to watch Chris work, his muscular frame rippling with each hand over hand pull of the line. As quickly as he had the edge of the cover hauled to him, Chris unclipped the hook and I swam it back to Campbell and the girls.

The process was shorter, but a bit more challenging in the eleven-foot deep diving well that gave the pool its L-shape. The pool lights were on and with most of the pool covered, I was tempted to break rules and go under the cover, but did not. Coach would be watching and the consequences would be swift and harsh, a hundred pushups on the cold concrete of the deck for breaking a safety rule.

Once the last sheet of pool cover was in place, I climbed out and started tying the sheets together at the corners with simple clothesline, using the square knot I learned in Cub Scouts. Coach trusted me and a few others to tie knots that would hold in a wind but still come undone when we took the cover off again.

I was cold and shivering by the time I went into the boys locker room to shower and change. Chris had already headed in as I finished tying knots to secure the cover. I found him hunched over on the handicap shower bench, still in his Speedo, shower water pounding down on him. I put a hand on his shoulder and he startled awake, but did not shove my hand away.

"Dude, you're not driving home like this," I told him. "Go call your folks and tell'em you're sleeping over."

"Don't call me 'Dude,'" he told me. "And I'll be fine driving home. A Mountain Dew or two and I'll chew gum to keep me awake."

"Like hell you will," I told him. "It's thirty miles of winding road to get to your ranch and if you fell asleep in the shower, you know you'll do it on the road."

"I'll let you call as long as you blame it on needing help from with our AP Bio homework," he bargained with me. "If they think I get too tired to drive, they could take away my keys or make me quit the team."

I knew his dad would never make him quit the team. His dad was who pushed him to join the swim team instead of playing football. But the keys to his Ford F-250 pickup truck was another matter. His "old" truck was worth more than my parents' family car.

"You call; I need to shower and warm up," I told him. "But it won't be a lie to tell them I could use your help with the AP Bio homework. I took one look at it and decided I'd ask you, not Ms. DeeRee, for help. You know she doesn't like me."

Chris grinned at me. "You have that affect on most of our teachers. You're the gayest straight boy I know and some people just don't know how to react to you."

I wanted to correct him and tell him that I was the straightest gay boy he knew, but decided against it. Wrestlers were very handsy, and had no sense of personal space, causing them to get labeled as "gay" as often as I was. But if Chris actually thought I really was gay, he might not let me put hands on him or him on me. And I liked the casualness of contact we had as best friends too much to let the truth get in the way.

"You're twice as gay as I am," I shot back. "Three times as gay."

"I don't peel bananas and mouth them whole in front of people," Chris pointed out, reminding me of a recent stunt of mine in that AP Bio class.

"No, you just do it in front of me, and challenge me to do it, too," I reminded him. "Just be glad I didn't share that little detail."

"I'd 've had to hurt you, if you had," Chris told me, very seriously. "It's bad enough as a wrestler to have a best friend who likes to play gay in public for laughs."

I grinned and shrugged, but I was not laughing inside. I acted out that way because I wanted to be out, but didn't dare. My dad was the pastor of the local Cornerstone Church. Sons of Evangelical preachers didn't come out of the closet in high school, or any time after. That closet door was welded shut. "I do it to shock my Holy Roller parents. You know that."

"I think you shock them plenty by having a Roman Catholic best friend," Chris told me. "My mother makes we promise to keep my St. Christopher's medal on whenever I stay over to ward off the heresy of staying with you. She says she'd be happier if you really were gay instead of Evangelical."

I didn't tell him that I'd be very happy to comply with his mother's wish, if I only dared to. Instead, I threw my hands in the air and danced in place, waving arms and wiggling my butt.

"Ooh be joo, joo! I feel the Spirit," I mocked my religion. "Hallelujah! Praise the Lord while I steal that hot water from you! I'm fucking freezing."

Chris grabbed the hand-held shower nozzle from its cradle and used it to shoot me with warm water. I grinned at him and let him blast me with it while I continued to dance "in the Spirit" in front of him. The water quickly warmed me up, and I stopped dancing to strip off my jammers right in front of him. He looked me up and down, then blasted me in the crotch with the warm water. I blocked the water stream with one hand, and smacked him with my wet jammers with the other. "Shooting me with water there could cause a reaction that'll have our team mates calling me gay for sure."

"They already do, Zach," Chris assured me. "They also accept you as a swim stud, as one of our best swimmers. You could really be gay for all any of us care. You make us all laugh and you help us all be better swimmers."

I grabbed Chris by the shoulders, dropping the jammer on the bench beside him, and shook him. "Where is my friend, Chris, and what have you done with him. The real Chris never praises anyone, not even me."

The next thing I knew I was on the tiled floor of the shower in a headlock with Chris pinning my shoulders to the wet, warm tiles. I did not let myself enjoy the moment for fear my naked body would betray just how much I liked it. I did my best to wrestle out of his hold on my, but only succeeded in rubbing our wet arms and torsos together. I gave up rather than risk an erection in front of him.

Then, when he finally let me up, the front of his Speed brushed my arm, I glanced down at his crotch, and realized that he had reacted to our roughhousing exactly as I had feared to.

Neither of us acknowledged it, but we both knew that I knew. I shrugged, and punched him in the lower abs. "Go make the damned call home. A little wrestling in the shower won't fool me into thinking you safe to drive home."

"Yes, sir," he snorted, totally relieved that I let the awkward moment pass. "I just want to know who elected you head asshole."

"No one," I shrugged, starting to get up. As he stood up in front of me, while I was only halfway up, I decided to get even, and grabbed his Speed on both sides, causing it to slide down as I stood up.

I kept my eyes on his eyes, resisting the urge to look down, until he looked down at himself. I snorted and said, "I come from a family of growers, not showers. So, don't think you make me jealous or anything."

Chris chortled and shook his head. Once again, I made the awkwardness of the moment go away by making a joke. He slapped my chest, pulled his Speedo the rest of the way off, and turned off the water before leaving the shower enclosure to towel off. I followed behind, picking my jammers up off the handicap bench, reaching for my towel as soon as I got to where I left it. We toweled down in front of one another, the awkwardness gone, and both of us just best friends again.

But as quickly as we had boxer briefs and jeans on, Chris reached into a pocket, got his phone out and made the call home to ask permission to sleep over.


message 3: by Jay (last edited Nov 09, 2014 04:53AM) (new)

Jay Clark (jaydclark) | 488 comments Swim Team Sleepover

Thankfully, when we got to my house, my parents had their dinner plates loaded, and were perched in the loveseat in the living room, all wrapped up in the Glenn Beck program. My dad hated the fact that his favorite TV news commentary show was hosted by a Mormon, but Beck had so many Evangelical types as fellow talking heads on his show, that my parents overlooked the fact that they did not consider him a "real" Christian. Every time Beck sneered at the Obama administration, my dad would exclaim, "Hallelujah! Amen!"

I waited until they were pitching some stupid product or other with my parents obviously thinking about calling into buy it to say, "We had to practice late. Chris is staying over, and helping me with my AP Bio homework."

"There's plenty of food on the back of the stove, and in the microwave," my mom, nodding without taking her eyes off the screen.

"Just remember that all that advanced biology is just leftist bullshit meant to steer you kids away from the God-given principles of the Bible," my dad contributed, also without taking his eyes off their seventy-inch flat-screen TV. I thought Beck's head was big enough in real life without seeing it enlarged that much on that screen.

I knew the program had openly gay news commentators on it, from time to time; my dad cursed a blue streak every time one of them said something he had to agree with. He hated agreeing about anything with anyone he knew to be a "flaming homosexual."

Mom was a little more charitable, but not much, having said that gays were entitled to their views right up to the point Jesus sent them all to Hell with the Mormons, Jews, and other useless sinners. I was never quite sure how Mom and Dad could support the Jewish State of Israel and still hate the "Hebrews" so much, but they did.

I thought I was going to die when Dad suddenly looked at Chris, and asked, "Your family run, jump or swim across the border to get here?"

Chris said, "My dad's family has been in California since before the Mexicans got it and before the Gringos took it from them. My great-great-great grandfather got his land grant from the King of Spain. That ancestor had Spanish nobility in his blood. My mother's family is from Mexico. Her family's hacienda in Chihuahua is about twice as big as this whole county. When they cross the border, it's in a stretch limo, with a gringo chauffeur. My grandma in Mexico likes to have white servants who don't speak the language, so she can have them deported, if they get uppity."

Chris's answer made me grin, and not just because it shut my father up. I wasn't sure how much of Chris's answer was true and how much was pure bullshit, but I knew my ancestors had much humbler origins. My ancestors came to California from the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression, dirt farmers turned preachers, three generations of them. I did not intend to become the fourth, even if I knew the Bible inside and out.

I personally thought most of the Old Testament was the tribal horseshit of a bunch of homophobic nomads, turned settlers. The New Testament was okay and more believable, right up to the point that the Apostle Paul got on his holy high horse and got back on the homophobic prattle again. The new Pope seemed a lot less homophobic than most religious leaders, but not enough to dent my conviction that most religion was strictly lawn fertilizer. I wanted to believe there really were guardian angels, and gay ones to look over kids like me. I just had no evidence of it.

"What the hell has you all glassy-eyed?" my dad wanted to know, looking me over.

"I was just thinking about God, Jesus, and the Bible," I said, truthfully enough. "And wondering if I really have a guardian angel in heaven looking out for me."

"Of course you do," my mother smiled her best, smug Evangelical smile. "You two boys run along, eat and get that homework done before it's lights out around here."

Once Chris and I were in the kitchen and out of adult earshot, he asked, "Do you really wonder about having a guardian angel?"

"Does your Mexican grandma really have white wetback servants?"

"Wetbacks, no, but some of the people who work for her are Anglo-Mexicans, Mormons and Mennonites, mostly," he told me. "And they all speak Spanish fluently. I just said that to bug your dad."

"I sometimes wish I had a guardian angel who actually got me the way my parents clearly don't," I confessed, "and I'd like to believe in Jesus, but not one who hates all the people my parents do."

Chris grinned at me. "That's exactly how I feel about Church. Except that I like the new Pope, just not enough to believe in all the rest of the bullshit that goes with. So, I wear my St. Christopher's medal, and wish I really had a guardian angel who got me, too."

My mom's cooking was better than just edible, but nothing fun or inspired. Just Midwestern meat and potatoes with canned green beans on the side. You could take the Okie out of the Dust Bowl, but not the Dust Bowl out of the Okie. Chris did not complain to have so much roast beef in one sitting, but he was picky about the potatoes, and simply did not take any of the soggy, canned green beans. I made sure to take some apples that had not gone soft from the fruit bowl on the table after we cleaned up our dishes, so that Chris could have something fresh to munch on.

As soon as we were in my bedroom, lights on, I told him to think fast, and tossed him an apple. His eyes lit up as he caught it, and promptly bit into it.

"Thanks," he said, "I really appreciate the apple. You have no idea."

"Sure I do," I reminded him, biting into the apple I kept for myself. "I've eaten at your place, every time I stay over."

"You've only stayed over twice," he reminded me, "And one of those times was last summer."

"But your mom's cooking was memorable," I assured him. "I'd stay over more often, if someone ever actually invited me to, just to eat her cooking."

"Not to hang out with me, go quad-running and horseback riding?"

"That, too, but also to enjoy food that's fresh, tasty and actually fun to eat. Your mom could open a restaurant."

"She gets told that all the time," Chris admitted, but with a measure of pride in his eyes. "I like to cook, too. She says I get my sense of spices and foods from her. All I get from my dad are my man parts; the rest of me pretty well belongs to her."

I grinned and nodded at his remark. "That about all I got from either of my parents. Man parts from my dad and some athletic talent from my mom. Other than that, I might as well be adopted."

I tossed my book bag and team bag on the floor, but set my team bag on the bed. "We should get our swim gear out and hang stuff to dry right away," I told him, opening my bag to pull out my towel and jammers. Chris immediately did likewise.

My room had two chairs, a writing table, a double bed, a dresser, and bookshelves. There were a couple of rugs on the hardwood floor. I had a small flat screen TV on the dresser, and a laptop computer on the writing table. I used clothes hangers perched on the edge of the closet door to hang out our two towels, my jammers, and his swim briefs.

I kept the room on the cool side, but Chris immediately pulled off his shirt, and kicked off his shoes. I followed his lead. We put our shirts over the footboard of the bed, and our shoes beneath it. Shirt off and dealt with, Chris almost automatically lifted his St. Christopher's medal from between his pecs, kissed it, and let it fall back into place.

Chris had a tablet in his backpack, which he got out, along with his AP Bio textbook. We sat at the writing table, chairs close enough for our bare shoulders to touch. That was the part of doing homework with Chris that I liked best, especially since I did not have to worry so much about being betrayed by any personal reactions to the warm, intimate contact.

Our homework was mostly studying the new scientific vocab from the notes we took in class. Chris had pages of dutifully taken, hand-written notes. I mostly had phone snaps of the note-taking slides, mindful that Chris almost never had to look at his notes, while I had to constantly gaze at my phone to keep up as we opened the book and went over the reading assignment. We took turns reading the dry, boring text aloud, Chris explaining concepts and the scientific talk, every time I gave him a what-the-fuck look, which was about every other paragraph. It was my job to turn the pages, and listen to him explain. I hated the work, but loved the sound of his voice. And I made the effort to get the concepts because I knew he would quiz me. I crunched down some of my apple while he read, and he bit into his when I did the reading.

"What determines the specificity of binding in an antibody?" was Chris's first quiz question for me, both apples reduced to already browning cores.

I knew the answer cold by the time we got to quizzing, but I preferred to suffer his wrath, answering, "Covalent bonds?"

"The specific chemical constitution in the polypeptide chain," Chris corrected me, and then grabbed me in a headlock, and wrestled me to the cold, hardwood floor of my room. I loved feeling his weight on me, his skin against mine, and his muscles rippling beneath his silky smooth skin. His St. Christopher's medal slapped against my chest, giving us another welcome connection. I also liked being sandwiched between his hard-bodied warmth and the floor's hardwood chill.

I put up a good fight, but always lost the match, ending up with his face leering down at mine, sometimes so close that I was tempted to lift my head up and kiss him. But I resisted that temptation for fear of losing him as a friend, and what contact I did have with him. I had to repeat the answer correctly before he let me up to sit back in our chairs at the desk. He never appeared to notice that I got every third answer wrong, just so we'd end up wrestling until I submitted to him, and repeated the right answer to his satisfaction.

The last question was genuinely difficult, and he made it that way on purpose. It took several attempts for me to get the answer right, but knowing it was the last answer and that he would no longer be pressing down over me once I got it right, I stumbled on repeating his words more than necessary. But when I finally got it right, he didn't just let me up. He kept me pinned with one hand and the weight of his body, while using the other to gently slap my cheek. "Not bad, but you wrestle like a girl. Next time, you'd better put up more of a fight or I'll really have to punish you."

He slapped my cheek again, making me really want to kiss him. His face was so close to mine. I could feel the warmth of his breath, smell his manly scent on me. I let my lips part, as if ready to be kissed. He gazed into my eyes, holding my gaze, his head ever so slightly moving down toward mine. Had I moved my head at all our mouths would have connected, then, just as suddenly, he let me up. He had that angry, almost self-loathing look on his face that he sometimes got. I did not press, I just hoped that he was not mad at me for not putting up a better fight.

Just then, and without a knock or other warning, my dad poked his head into my bedroom. His eyes went to the medal on Chris's chest. He frowned, and said, "You boys should use the bathroom and get your teeth brushed. It's lights out in ten."


message 4: by Jay (last edited Nov 09, 2014 05:37AM) (new)

Jay Clark (jaydclark) | 488 comments Swim Team Sleepover

Once we were back in my room, we got rid of our socks, took off our jeans and set them in the chairs in front of the writing table. "You can plug your phone and tablet in over here, on the desk. I have a charger cable on the nightstand for my phone."

Chris nodded appreciatively, but his eyes told me he already knew the drill. And he should have. In two years on the swim team together, he'd stayed the night half a dozen times before, usually on the night before we had an early and long bus ride to an important swim meet. This was the first time he was staying over because he was too tired after practice to drive. "So, if you know the drill, you can get the lights."

Chris instantly crouched into wrestling stance and grinned, "Loser gets the lights."

We both knew who that would be, but the challenge was on and I never turned down the chance to grapple him, have my hands on him, and his on me. Still little stung about being told I wrestled like a girl, I really did my best to conquer him that time, but he still had me on my back and pinned in less than a minute, every moment of the struggle being joyful contact with his muscular frame. Once again, he put his face down very close to mine, most of the chain and his medal laying flat on my chest. I was glad he was not pressing down over my crotch, just mostly his abs on mine, his hands subduing mine.

Once again, he lowered his face over mine to the point that mere inches separated our mouths. I felt his warm breath on me, knew he could feel mine on him, both of our mouths minty fresh from brushing our teeth. I felt myself get hard as he gazed intently into my eyes, and I fought the urge to kiss him with all my might. His gaze was so intense, his mouth so very inviting.

And then, just as suddenly as the last time, he let me up, and turned away. This time, however, I saw him grab his crotch through his boxer briefs, even though he had his back to me. I dared not let myself hope that I made him as hard for me as he had me for him. I just got up, and went for the light switch, hoping he would not notice the bulge in my boxer briefs. Darkness was a mercy that let me grip myself through my underwear, wishing it was his hand on my crotch instead of mine.

I did not want to slip into bed still hard for him, and lay next to him that way. Plugging my phone in did not take nearly long enough to get my crotch under control. So, I knelt beside my side of the bed, hands on the sheets, face on my hands. I had never prayed like that in front of Chris. I had stopped praying like that as soon as my parents stopped watching me do my prayers before bed. But since I was down there, pretending to pray, I decided that I should at least give it try, if only to distract myself from the persistent problem in my boxer briefs.

When I finally got up and into bed, Chris put his hand on my shoulder and asked, "What did you talk to God about?"

His question in the dark made me smile, made me wish I could see his expression. His voice was so open, so very sincere. I answered in kind, "I asked God to send each of us a guardian angel who really got who we are, to look over us. God knows nobody else does."

"Thank you," Chris told me. "I was hoping that was what you would ask Him. I have my Mexican grandma, but I could still use a guardian angel, for when she's busy or not here visiting."

"I'd like to meet her," I told him.

"I'd like that, too," he told me very vaguely, already drifting off, his hand still on my shoulder. "I know...she'd...like...you..."

Moments later, Chris was fast asleep, and I was wide awake, his hand still on my shoulder, and my boxer briefs tenting under the sheet and comforter. I wanted his hand there, enjoyed feeling his body warmth drift under the covers and mingle with mine. But I was so very awake. I reached for my phone, careful to not make his hand slip from my shoulder.

I brought up the browser and flipped through some of my usual sites, but I was not really interested in spoilers for Teen Wolf or which hot gay celebrity was breaking up or making up with his boyfriend, making the BuzzFeed LGBT webpage and DMZ online both useless to me. I used the light of the phone screen to make sure Chris was really asleep before going to another more provocative place. I Googled the screen names of some favorite gay porn stars, and then disabled the safe search settings.

As much as I liked looking, I felt weird looking at those guys with the guy I really wanted and couldn't have sleeping next to me. I went back to the main page of the search engine, and used my thumb to enter, "best friend to boyfriend." I got photos and video thumbnails for mostly straight boy-girl couples. I paged back and set the search for "best friend to gay boyfriend."

One of the video thumbs showed two teens watching straight porn together. I grabbed my earbuds off the nightstand, put one in the ear away from Chris, then started the video. Two guys, apparently college roommates, were getting horny over straight porn, when one offers to help the other relieve himself. I watched the video and wished real life could be that easy. Just as the touching turned into a lot more graphic oral sexuality between the two guys, I felt Chris grab my phone away from me, ripping the earbud out of my ear, disconnecting my phone from the charger. Moments later, he handed it back, and said, "I'm more pissed you'd lie here looking at that shit next to me than just admit to me that you really are gay. Turn it off and go to sleep. If you need to talk about it, we'll do that in the morning. I'm too pissed at you to talk about it, now."

I closed the browser, turned off the phone and rolled over to face away from Chris, both crushed and yet a little bit hopeful that I had not completely spoiled our friendship. It took me a good hour to finally drift off, but I did not stay asleep. I was suddenly aware that Chris was not in the bed. My back was cold and the cover was thrown back, exposing it. At first, I feared he had left in the middle of the night, so disgusted with me and what I really was that he could not finish spending the night in the same bed as me. I got up to go use the bathroom and realized that he was in it. He was on his phone, talking to someone in Spanish, "Abi, soy yo, Cristobol, tu nieto."

There was a long pause, then Chris's voice, still in Spanish, but sobbing, "Abuelita, estoy totalmente destrozado. Sí, es así, tal como me dices. Estoy enamorado de mi major amigo. Y ya supe que él es gay, también. No sé si me quiere como yo a él. Y no quiero ser gay; no quiero ser un maricón. Necesito verte. Quiero morir, Abi, quiero estar muerto y no sentir nada más. Ven a verme. Ven o me muero. No puedo más, no puedo."

Three years of high school Spanish let me get some of what he was saying, but I missed just enough to be in doubt about all the important stuff. He was telling his Mexican grandmother that I was gay, and that he was, too, but he hated himself, and couldn't deal with it. What I was not sure was if he said he was in love with me or just that he thought I was in love with him. Either way, it was tearing him up, hurting him. I never wanted to hurt him. That was the last thing I wanted. I left the door, and went back to my room.

When Chris came back into the room, sniffing away the tears as best he could, I was down on the floor in a sleeping bag from my closet. He tripped over me, went down on me, and then suddenly punched me in the ribs. Getting hit for what I had done to him, made me feel a little less awful, but not much.

"Get back in the damn bed, and stop playing the drama queen," he barked at me. "You're still my best friend, even if I am still pissed at you for looking at that porn shit with me sleeping next to you. It'd take a lot more than knowing you're gay or like to wank off to porn to make us stop being friends. I need some sleep, and now I'm too pissed to sleep. So, you can lay there, and be miserable with me."

Once back in bed, he lay on his side, turned away from me, and I lay on my side, turned away from him. The silence was sickening, but being in the same bed with him, even with so much space between us was comforting. Slowly, eventually, weariness won out over self-anger and angst. I drifted off.

I woke up on my back to the sound of my alarm, and with Chris's head on my shoulder. His eyes popped open, and he almost smiled at me, until he realized that my bare shoulder was his pillow. He sat up and looked down at me. He frowned at me worried expression. "No, I'm not going to out you to anyone," he assured me. "And yes, we're still best friends, as far as I'm concerned. But I'm still pissed at you, and you know it takes time for me to get un-pissed, so you get to be patient, and not push my buttons. Or I'll have to hurt you. Understand?"

"If it helped you get un-pissed," I offered, "I'd let you punch me out, here and now. I am so sorry."

"Yes, you are," he snickered, smacking my face with his hand. "But just let me work it out myself."

The cocky, macho Latino pride was back in his face, and I knew better to get all sentimental on him when he had that expression. It was a safe place for him to go, and after what I overheard the night before, I needed him to be safe, really safe. "I will. I just want to know what the ground rules are."

"Ground rules? There are no rules for this, for having a best friend who's gay. But if you get wood on me just because I wrestle around on you, I might have to knee you in the balls. How's that for rules?"

I shrugged and nodded, and avoided telling him that I might like a little ball-busting from him. He did not say so, but I knew I would have to tone down some of my gay talk around him. But then, having him know also meant that I did not need to put on the gay mask to share the gay reality any more.

"I don't feel like having breakfast or eating, Zach," Chris told me. "Better grab something fast to eat if you are riding to school with me. I'm going to be wheels rolling in fifteen."

I shook my head. "I need to think things through myself. Thank you for not rejecting me. And I am sorry for not trusting you enough to just come out on purpose. And for how I outed myself to you."

Chris put his hand to my cheek. "That's no reason to reject a friend as good as you are. My life is better because of you. We'll get through this. Just no more porn, okay?"

"Okay," I promised, and meant it.

After that, getting ready for school felt into our usual routine of stripping down, wrapping in a bath towel, and wandering into the hall bathroom to take turns in the shower.

My daily shower routine during swim season including shaving my arms and legs to cut water resistance. It was also something Chris did, and I actually picked up doing it from him. Shaving helped cut water resistance a little, but it was a psychological boost, as much as anything. I felt faster in the water with smooth skin, and so did Chris.

When he stayed over, I often helped him shave his legs for swimming, and he helped me. That morning, he just said, "I won't punch you if you get wood doing this, but I sure will if you make me get wood."

By the time we were done in the bathroom, I had been punched in the abs twice, and the junk once. I did not try to hide my grin from him, and he failed miserably at hiding his smile from me. He was out the door and to his truck in twenty minutes instead of fifteen. I paused long enough to pack myself a sack lunch and left on foot, remembering to take the tablet he forgot and left behind.


message 5: by Jay (last edited Nov 11, 2014 11:39AM) (new)

Jay Clark (jaydclark) | 488 comments Swim Team Sleepover

I lived less than a mile from the high school, but some of the roughest parts of town were between the parsonage house next to my dad's church and the high school. I was careful, but not too careful walking to school through that part of town. I was not often a target of bullies or other jerks, because I could defend myself, not as good as Chris, but reasonably well. When I saw the group of guys, all with cigarettes in their mouths, I knew I was in for trouble that morning of all mornings. High school kids who smoked usually had other, bigger problems than just using tobacco that way. Some aggie kids and a lot of baseball players chewed, but only teen idiots smoked. And I did a piss poor job of concealing the contempt I felt for their stupid, dirty habit.

"Hey, look, boys, it's the Preacher's fag son," one of the bigger, nastier looking guys started off. "If you get on your knees, and suck all our cocks we might let you go without beating the holy shit out of you."

"You, first," I told him. "That's what you do for your buddies, isn't it? You're the mouth, not the brains, right?"

The mouthy kid took a run at me, fists and arms flailing the air. I sidestepped him and caught him under the arm with a sold punch, winding him and dropping him to his knees.

"Like I said," I told him, "You look like a natural on your knees."

I really should have kept that smart-ass remark to myself. Punching the guy so hard made his buddies hesitate, but mocking him as he went down had them all rushing me at once. I fought them off as best I could, but six of them, including the first kid I punched was too much for me to handle. Eventually, they had me on the ground, and all I could do was try to protect my face and groin from getting kicked mercilessly by them.

I was sure I was done for when I heard the sound of Chris's truck pull up in the middle of the street. I did not see what he did immediately, still trying to protect my face and groin. Once they stopped kicking me, I looked up, and saw Chris going after them with a baseball bat he kept behind the driver's seat. And I heard him crunch bone with that bat, dropping several of them in the street, writhing in pain. The rest ran, leaving their fallen buddies. Chris reached down and pulled me up. His eyes blazed with anger, but not at me.

"I'm driving you to school and home from practice from here on," he told me as he helped me limp to his truck. "How badly are you messed up?"

"My ribs hurt," I shrugged. "I protected my junk pretty well. How's my face?"

"They didn't break your nose, but you're going to have a black eye, maybe two of them," he told me, laying a tender hand to my face. "Don't worry, you'll just be a pretty boy with a shiner or two. And an over-protective best friend."

But the way he looked at me suggested that we had moved past best friends into new territory; territory he was not ready to own up to. He helped me up into his truck and made sure I was carefully, gently buckled up. He went around the truck, swinging that bat menacingly at the boys on the ground, moaning and grabbing arms and legs, then slid the bat behind his seat and climbed in.

"Home, school or the emergency ward?" he asked me, looking genuinely worried for me.

"School. We need to get our version of the story to the principal before they do. We'll get suspended, but if we're lucky, so will they."

"They attacked you!" Chris protested. "I just defended you from them."

"But since everyone already thinks of me as gay at school," I told him, "I'll be seen as the one at fault, no matter what. And with my dad being a preacher in this town, I can't admit to being attacked for being gay or come out as gay. I just have to hope for equal justice, and not be too bitter when I don't get it. You defending me will just blow my shit back on you. You should let me to into the principal's office alone."

"The hell I will," Chris told me, his eyes claiming me as his, even if he was not ready to put words to that claim. "We're in this together, every step of the way. And damn your folks. If coming out is the only way out, then I'll come out with you."

"It could mess you up with wrestling, mess us both up with the swim team," I shook my head. I had lived too long in our small town to not know all the ways the small-minded people could get to you, if they say you as too different from them. "And you don't have to come out to me, Chris, I overheard your call to your Mexican grandma last night. I understood enough of it to know you're gay like me. If we stop pretending about that between the two of us, that's enough for me. Don't mess yourself up over me."

Chris was silent for a moment, almost until he reached the student parking lot at the school. As he slowed to pull into the parking lot, he looked at me and asked, "Did you hear the part where I told her I was in love with my best friend?"

"I heard it, I just wasn't sure if you meant that I loved you or you loved me," I admitted, grinning at him through rapidly swelling eyes and lips.

"And do you love me back?" he asked, more vulnerable than I had ever seen him.

I nodded. "I thought that part was obvious the third time you punched while I was helping you shave."

"Then, we're best friends, and boyfriends," he told me, decisively. "And that means I'm it for better or worse, right beside you. End of discussion."

"Like hell it is," I countered. "I also heard you tell your grandmother you didn't want to be gay and that you wanted to be dead. If coming out makes you even think about hurting yourself, don't do it. I couldn't stand it, if I lost you. I can take whatever they dish out as long as I know you're safe and that you love me. Every last bruise on my ribs and face was worth it if that's what it took for you to tell me you love me. But don't spoil it by taking something on that'll crush you, and ruin us."

Chris's eyes got that steely, macho Latino pride look. He was an unmovable rock when he had that look in his eyes. "Nobody messes with my boyfriend and gets away with it. And now that you are my boyfriend, I can deal with anything, everything, as long as I have you."

I nodded, accepted his offer of unconditional support. "Okay. But just know we're in for a rough ride. My parents are going to freak out and demand I never see you again. They'll want to send me to an ex-gay group or some other Holy Roller hell hole."

Chris smiled at me. "I know that your dad will be a complete asshole, but I have a secret weapon that will get him to shut up and stay out of the way. My abuelita will make him see the light. She told me I needed to man up and come out to you, if I really loved you. I should have done that before I left for school. I am as much at fault as those assholes are who attacked you. But I was afraid. I feared that I could lose what we were already, if you did not feel the same way about me."

"That really should have been obvious to you while we were helping each other shave," I told him, my efforts to grin making me wince. "I have it as bad for you as you do for me. You know that, don't you?"

Chris parked his truck as close to the school as he could, then got out, rounded his truck, and opened the door for me. I leaned in on him and his muscles more than I really needed to as I got down, thinking to myself that I never had to be shy about liking his physique ever again. "I count myself blessed or lucky as all get out, just to have you here, claiming me as your boyfriend. Don't blame yourself for anything. Let's just celebrate being together as best friends, and a couple."

"But I still want to rip those guys apart for attacking you," Chris told me, letting himself at least forgive himself for not coming out to me before he left for school. "And leaving the tablet behind was no accident. I wanted an excuse to stop and pick you up along the way to school. I was still working out how to come out to you, and ask you to be my boyfriend. Those assholes really fucked up all my plans, and they need to pay."

I grinned and shrugged. "They do need to pay for fucking up your plans, especially if you had a romantic moment planned for us. But we can still have that moment when we first kiss after we deal with the principal and his bullshit for getting into a fight."

Our progress to the school office was slow, and painful for me. I hurt everywhere. Chris kept his arm around me, supporting me every stop of the way. As we got close to the administrative wing, some of the other swim team members saw us, saw my face and fell in with us, knowing only that their team mate had been attacked. Some of them started texting other team members, and sending snap texts of my injuries to the rest of the team. By the time we got to the school office, the whole swim team had left class to flank us into the office. Chris looked nervous, but resolved, keeping his arm very possessively around my shoulder all the way in.

Just as we got to the front doors of the administration building, Chris glanced across the visitor parking lot and let out a big whoop of joy. I saw the white stretch, SUV-style limo. Chris told me, "Abuelita is already here. And giving that principal more to worry about than just us, I'll bet."

Chris, buoyed up by the sight of that stretch limo, turned to our teammates, and said, "You need to know that Zach and I are gay, and a couple, now. If that's a problem, don't feel like you have to go in and support us over what some bullies did to Zach."

Scott Campbell, the boys captain, looked around the group and said, for all them, "Well, it's about damned well time the two of you admitted to yourselves what we've all known all along. And nobody messes with one of my swimmers, straight or gay."

Even so, of the twenty-seven kids who walked to the doors with us, only nineteen actually went in, Scott being one of them. Sarah Reed, the girls captain, did not go in with us. She was a member of my dad's congregation. I saw her get on her phone as we went in, no doubt to out me to my parents. The other kids who stayed back with her were also from very conservative families, some Evangelical, some Mormon, some Catholic. But I was more surprised that so many of them still had our back as we slowly walked to the office, our progress held up by the pain it caused me to keep walking.

Scott got to the office door first, opened it, and held it open for Chris and me. The eighteen other team members all filed in after us. The school secretary jumped up from her desk and said, "You kids can't all be in here at once. You need to leave and go back to class."

But no one moved. Scott told her, "We're here to file a complaint. Zach here has been attacked, and it's a hate crime attack. They went after him because he's gay. And we demand something be done about it."

Mrs. Greene gave me a dour look. She had been a member of my father's church longer than I had been alive. "Zach isn't gay. He's a Christian. You're mistaken."

"No, ma'am, I'm not. And if you think a person can't be gay and a Christian, you're a bigot who should not be behind that counter," Scott told her bluntly. "So, get the principal out here to deal with this before we call in the press and out you for the bigot you appear to be."

Mrs. Greene's went wide with indignation, but she reached for her phone, dialed a number and spoke into the receiver in hushed tones. "Mr. Campbell has a very prominent businesswoman visiting with him and cannot be disturbed. You'll have to wait or come back later. And Scott, don't ever take that tone with me, just because of who the principal is to you."


message 6: by Jay (last edited Nov 11, 2014 12:01PM) (new)

Jay Clark (jaydclark) | 488 comments Swim Team Sleepover

"If you mean he's seeing Rosario Almonte," Chris told her, "that's my abuela, my grandmother. I'd hate to be you when she finds out you're keeping my boyfriend and me from joining her."

All color drained from Mrs. Greene's fat face. "Go in; go right on in. Don't let me detain you a second longer."

I looked my boyfriend over with news eyes, or at least one new eye, the other one was pretty much swollen shut at that point. The Almonte name was everywhere in that small town. The rice storage facility bore that name, as did the local sand and gravel plant, even the local building supply was called "Almonte Lumber Company." The high school sat on Almonte Avenue. Every business with that name on it had changed hands and fictitious business names half a dozen years before Chris and I had been born, about the same time his parents were married, actually. "That's how you plan to make my parents accept me coming out with you, economic blackmail."

"Are you shocked or upset by it?" Chris asked me, helping me walk toward the principal's door.

I shook my head. "Go for it, if it means we can actually be together."

"And it also means you'll get real justice for what those assholes did to you, tried to do to you," Chris added, reaching out and opening the door for me. He looked over his shoulder at Scott Campbell, who suddenly hung back. "You came with us this far, you should join us in there."

Scott looked pleased by the offer, but still hung back. "You know that the principal is my uncle, don't you?"

Chris tapped the name plate on the door that read: Scott Campbell, Principal. "You being named for him was my first clue, Scott. I thought he was your dad, not your uncle. Don't be shy now."

"You don't really need me, not with your grandmother in there," Scott was not convinced. "What can I do that she can't do better?"

"Sure we do," I told him. "You're our team captain. We need you more than ever, now. Please?"

Scott nodded, visibly humbled by our insistence. The three of us walked into the principal's office. Mr. Campbell looked up at us, mildly annoyed and then alarmed at the sight of my injuries.

Mrs. Almonte jumped up from her chair with an agility that belied her age, and rushed to us. "Is this Zach, mi'jito? What happened to him? Who did this to your novio, your boyfriend, mi cielo?"

She whirled on the principal. "Did you know that someone attacked my grandson's boyfriend like this?"

Mr. Campbell paled. "No-no, ma'am. This is the first I knew of it."

"This is exactly what I was telling you, Señor Campbell. If my grandson calls me in the middle of the night frightened for himself and the boy he loves, and I have to fly here by private jet to see for myself such brutality. Obviously my grandson had reason to be afraid. My grandson! Do you hear me, señor? They did this to my grandson's boyfriend! I want to see justice done before I have to fly back to Mexico. There will be justice, Señor. Your way or my way, it does not really matter to me, but it might to you. My way can be a little harsh. Comprende, Señor?"

The principal was visibly shaking. I wondered if he might pee himself, then and there.

Chris's grandmother suddenly looked up at Scott and asked, "Who are you, young man? One of my grandson's gay friends?"

Scott blushed bright red, but before I could correct Chris's grandmother's mistake, Scott cleared his throat, looked straight at his uncle, and said, "As a matter of fact, ma'am, I am. I am also the principal's namesake nephew, and I can assure you he will make sure all of us gay kids have justice over this. I am, after all, his favorite nephew."

I tried to hide my surprise, but failed. Chris just grinned, and whispered to me, "Abuelita has a sixth sense about people."

The principal stared at his nephew, caught between shock at Scott coming out to him, and relief for being rescued from the petite Mexican grandmother's wrath. She turned back on the principal and said, "Then, I do trust you to see justice done here. If you have a gay nephew who's friends with my grandson and his boyfriend, I know you will do right by them. Thank you."

Chris's grandmother turned back to me, reached up and put her hand on my cheek. "We need to get you to a doctor, mi bis-yerno. I have one here who will be very discreet. Shall we go see her?"

"I'll need to call Zach's parents--" the principal cut off at the icy glare Chris's grandmother gave him.

"Those people do not deserve to know anything," she told him. "I have diplomatic immunity, Señor, and that extends to any member of my family. Zach is now my bis-yerno, my grandson's boyfriend. That makes him family. You will tell those people nothing about a member of my family. It's no longer their concern."

To me she said, softly, "Come, mi bis-yernito. Let's go see my Latina lady doctor, so you can feel better, yes?"

"Gracias, abuelita," I smiled at her.

She gently pulled my face down to hers, tenderly mindful of my injuries, and kissed my cheek, "¡Qué lindo! ¡Tú hablas español!"

"Sí, un poquito. Quiero aprender más," I assured her.

"And you will, when the two of you come to visit me in Mexico for the holidays. It's not really Christmas, unless it's Navidad in Chihuahua, you know. I make the best Christmas tamales."

Chris and Scott helped me toward the principal's door, Abuelita gently pulling me toward it by the hand. The Principal said, "I will get to the bottom of the attack on Zach before the end of the day, Mrs. Almonte, but do you mind if I speak to my nephew for a moment, in private?"

Abuelita looked up at Scott and then at his uncle, and said, "Indeed I do mind. He was very brave to come out here just to save your sorry ass, Señor. The only reason you still have your job is because of that bravery. You did nothing to prevent this. You will not pressure your nephew or you could still go away, Chihuahua-style. But that would be very harsh, for you. Keep your nephew and my grandsons happy, and you keep your job, comprende?"

"Nieto, ¿tienen un club GSA aquí?" she asked Chris, "Do they have a Gay straight Alliance club here?"

Chris shook his head. "Most of these people think being gay is a choice, and a bad one, Abuelita."

Abuelita turned on the principal, waiving her hand at Scott. "You will start a Gay Straight Alliance club and your nephew will be its first club president. I will want a list of suitable faculty members for me to interview for the position of club advisor when we get back from seeing my concierge physician. Do not disappoint me, Señor, not again, anyway."

With that she led the three of us from the office. She looked up at Scott as we entered the outer office, and whispered to him. "If your boyfriend is out here, feel free to invite him along for a ride in my limo. I would like to meet him."

Campbell's eyes instantly went Shane Harrison, who gave him a little smile and nod in response. That meant half of the male section qualifiers on the swim team were gay: Scott, Shane, Chris and me. Scott jerked his head at Shane to follow us out. Shane followed, but so did most of the rest of the team. We ambled along the hall at the pace that the pain from my injuries would allow, along with a gentle firm tug from Abuelita, who appeared to think I could go just a little faster. I hurt everywhere, but I complied with the tug of her hand forward, and found that I hurt no worse for walking just that much faster.

Shane easily caught up with Scott, flanking him as he helped support me down the hall. Scott looked at Shane and said, "Don't hate me, but I came out to my uncle. I had to. I'm not sure why, except Chris's Abuelita asked me if I was one of Chris's gay friends and I had to admit I was."

Shane wrapped his arms around Scott, bringing him to a halt, and me with him. Shane planted his mouth on Scott's and kissed right in front of us all. "I'm not mad, I'm proud of you," Shane assured him after the kiss. "And I love you."

I looked at Chris and said, "Someone else owes their boyfriend a kiss, especially since it will be their first kiss as a couple."

"First kiss ever, for me," Chris told me, gently pulling me into his embrace.

I blushed and nodded, "First kiss ever, for me, too."

"We're pretty silly to come out as boyfriends and we haven't ever kissed anyone, not even each other," Chris told his grandmother.

"No es una tontería, mi'jito. Es el amor verdadero. If Zach makes your heart beat that way and your lips are still virgin to him, you know it's the truth love, my heaven, mi cielo. He's the love of your life. And you found him the first time. If you want proof that you really do have a guardian angel looking out for you, there it is. You found true love the very first time. That's God's gift to you, to both of you."

"Homosexuality is no gift of God," I suddenly heard my father's voice snap like a whip down the hall. "Homosexuality is the curse of Cain upon mankind! Only murder and the blasphemy against the blood of Christ are worse than laying with another man as if he was your woman!"

"You will be silent, perro! You shame yourself to speak to these angels that way!" Abuelita shouted at my father. "Hasta el burro sabe más que tú. Even the donkey knows more than you, Balaam. These boys are angels sent from heaven, and you are as blind to their purity as Balaam of old. So, close your mouth and be silent."

"Who the Hell do your think you are, you little old wetback witch?" my father bristled back.

"María Rosario Flores Guzmán de Almonte is who I am," Abuelita, "but to you, I am la dueña de tu deuda, I am the owner of your bank loan, and with one word, I could have your church and parsonage turned to rubble, ready to scoop into the trash bin. So, do not say another word against mis angelitos or I swear I will make you homeless before the sun sets. Comprende?"

"You own Almonte Savings and Loan?" my father blustered, finding it very hard to believe.

"I own enough of it that the manager cringes when I am displeased," Abuelita told my father. "If I were to call him on my cell phone and told him your church was a blight on the community, you would go home to find it rubble. Comprende? I think you do."

"I have no idea what you are babbling about, old woman."

"I see the fear in your eyes that you should have," Abuelita told him. "You will have all of Zach's things neatly packed and ready to go when we finish seeing my doctor."

"I will do no such thing, and Zach is not going anywhere with you," my father told her. "You have filled his head with all that evil nonsense about being gay just because your grandson is."

"Zach's part of my family now," Abuelita told my dad. "You just resigned as his father by declaring your hatred for God's special ones. Gay boys are a special gift from God, angels sent among us to test our love of God. You have failed in that test, so pack up his things. I am taking God's gift back. You do not deserve him, and he is no longer yours."

"Zach, don't listen to her, none of that is in the Bible. It's all lies, all of it. Come home, let us help you find Jesus again."

"I never lost him, Dad. You did. By hating people like me, people God made this way. I'm gay, Dad. God made me gay. I don't know if being gay makes me an angel, like Abuelita says it does, but if there really is a God, then I am exactly how he made me."

"I don't believe that!" my father shouted at us. "I will never believe that!"

"That is why you're not worthy to father this angel sent from Heaven," Abuelita told him, shaking her finger at him. "Pack his things, or I will send my people to do it. And they will not be kind."


message 7: by Jay (last edited Nov 10, 2014 06:17PM) (new)

Jay Clark (jaydclark) | 488 comments Swim Team Sleepover

I was not entirely sure my father was going to let us leave without a physical confrontation, even though I had the backing of Chris, Scott, Shane, and half a dozen other guys from the swim team. Dad took a tentative step toward me, hand out as if to take my hand by force. Chris stepped forward and knocked his hand away. Scott helped me stay steady, while Shane stepped forward to flank Chris.

Chris sneered at my father, "Some man of God you are. Here's your son, bruised and bloody from bullies who would have kicked him to death if I had not gone back for him. And you haven't even shown the least concern for his injuries or what they put him through."

My father's next words shocked me, shocked and horrified all of us, "They were never going to really hurt Zach, just help him see the error of his ways in being around you and your bad influence on him."

Chris's hand flew and he backhanded my father so hard that Dad let out a groan, and stepped back. "You set that up? They could have killed him. They were kicking him in the face, the ribs, the balls. You bastard, you goddamned, child-abusing bastard."

Abuelita shook her head at my father. "You should pack your things as well, reverend. Child Protective Services will have new accommodations waiting for you soon after I turn you in for criminal child abuse. There is a special Hell reserved for people like you."

I looked at her, at Chris, and said, "If I can just come live with you, with Chris, there's no need for my dad to go to jail. You will surrender parental rights to Chris's grandma, won't you, Dad? Especially, if she agrees to not press charges against you?"

Thoroughly frightened and cowed, my birth father nodded his head in agreement. Abuelita told him, "Now get out of my sight, and away from these angelitos preciosos before I change my mind, and have a little justice Chihuahua-style."

He fled, and his back was the last I ever saw of him. I had a flash in my mind of the flaming Denethor falling from the parapet of Minas Tirith. Now I really did belong to Chris and his Abuelita.

****

Abuelita's private doctor turned out to be half regular M.D. and half Latina curandera. I knew enough from Chris about such mystic Latina healers to know that not all of her methods were government approved, but I had faith in Chris and in his grandmother.

Once I was stripped bare and then given a simple cloth wrap around my waist, the curandera put her hands on my face and told Abuelita, "Because this boy is of two spirits, he also has two Nahualli: the god and goddess of water live inside him. The Jade Mother and the Father Protector are in his spirit as one. He is special, a gift from the gods like no other. He needs to walk among the ancestors to be healed, and guided. Because his Nahualli are the Water Gods, I must mix the peyote with mescal or tequila. No one else must drink what I give him. What is medicine for his Nahualli might kill another, including his one true love."

Chris, Scott, and Shane were also stripped bare and wrapped in simple loincloths, the four of us forming a loose circle around the two women.

"Your grandson also has two spirits and two Nahualli. The God and Goddess of Earth reside in him. He must eat his peyote as buttons, fresh from the earth.

"These other two boys are also special. The one named Shane has the God and Goddess of the Winds in him," the curandera said as he laid hands on Shane. "I will grind the peyote to powder, and he will inhale it like snuff."

She then put hands on Scott, and said, "And the other, the one called 'Scott', he is host to the Gods of Fire. I will make cigarettes of the sacred peyote, and he will consume the smoke of it burning to take him to the ancestors for his walk among them."

"These four are precious gifts, Rosario. You spoke truth to the Gringo preacher when you called them angels. Their aura is their angel wings and it is strong in each of them." the curandera told Abuelita, putting hands on her, "I promised you that someday your mission, your quest would come upon you. These boys are that quest for you. You are their guardian angel. The Gods will protect and preserve you as long as they need you, and not one day longer. But you will be ancient when that day arrives. You will outlive all your children, save the mother of Cristobal. She will guide them when your body finally fails you, and the Gods call you home. Are you ready to be their curandera, my daughter?"

"I am ready to serve as you would have me serve, mamacita, but you frighten me with such talk," Abuelita told the even older woman, and I suddenly realized that the curandera was actually her own real mother, Chris's great-grandmother.

I looked at Chris and saw that he knew her as both healer and ancestress. "Bisabuela came north when my mother did. They thought the mother-daughter line of curanderas would end when my parents only had me, and no daughters."

"Everything has its beginning and its end, mi'jito," The curandera told Chris. "Boys of two spirits can become curanderos, and our ways will continue one more generation in you four, if you choose. Or it will end when your mother outlives all our kind, except you four."

I watched as the old woman prepared the same dried peyote four different way, and then gave each of us our dose to take. She said to me, "Your quest will come on you quickly and leave you just as quickly. The peyote vision comes and goes very fast when infused in tequila. When you see again with your natural eyes, your true love and your spirit brothers will still be walking with the ancestors. You will help keep their bodies safe until they are back among us."

I nodded, and then drank from the tin cup she offered me, draining it to the last drop. Then, without warning, everything distorted, and I was literally in another world. There were exactly four colors in that other world and I was one of them, green, to be precise. Chris was black, Shane, blue, and Scott, red. Our four colors mixed and swirled in a kaleidoscope of shapes and hues, but everything was a mix of the same four basic colors. I had no idea what to make of any of it, until just as suddenly I was myself, looking at the two old women looking back at me.

"The first thoughts are important ones, so don't lose them," the curandera told me. "This is when the vision actually becomes clear to you."

I told her, and Abuelita, "Chris and I make one another complete, but Shane and Scott make us strong. We need them as our friends and brothers, always. And your ways will be our ways. All four of us. I have seen it."

Chris came back to us next, and in his turn said almost word for word what I said, adding only, "Bisabuelita, your task is not done, yet. Abuelita must be a Guardian to my true love until he turns eighteen. You must live here, in California, until we four are grown and go off to college. And that means, Bisabuelita that you cannot leave us yet."

"No going home to Chihuahua for Christmas?" the thought was almost too much for Abuelita.

"We have to go to Mexico for Christmas, Abuela," I told her. "You spoke truth when it said it's not Christmas unless it's Navidad in Chihuahua. We will always go home to your home for Christmas, even when you are no longer with us, except in Spirit."

When Shane and Scott came out of their peyote visions, they both repeated much of what we had already told the two women. I had connected with my Nahualli; we all had. The ways of the two old woman had become our ways, and would be for all our lives. We were on the path to become curanderos, men of two spirits who used the sacred peyote to walk with the ancestors.

It was only then that I realized that I could see with both eyes. Somehow, the peyote and the tequila had taken away all the swelling, soreness and pain. I felt like myself, as if nothing had happened to me. But when I touched my face, I felt the bruising to the skin. And yet, except for the bruises, I felt fine. "Am I good to go to swim practice today, Curandera?"

Chris's great-grandmother nodded at me. "And the water will speed your healing, now that you have connected with your Nahualli, with the Water Gods that live inside you."

****

On the way back down from Chris's father's ranch, where the old curandera had her earthen adobe prayer house, and her healing herbs, a thought occurred to me. I leaned toward Abuelita and whispered in her ear, "None of this day was an accident, was it, Abuelita? If I had not been attacked, Chris might never have declared his love for me. Scott would have never dared to come out, or claim Shane publically as his. We wouldn't have had reason to meet your mother, and start on the path to being curanderos, ourselves. All of this had to happen, and it had happen to today, didn't it?"

"Knowing that truth just means you are well on the path to becoming a great curandero yourself, mi'jito," Abuelita assured me.

"Did it all start with the prayer I uttered last night beside my bed?" I asked. "Or was our path set for us long ago?"

"Your path is always there, waiting for you, waiting for all of us," Abuelita told me, told all of us. "How and when we choose to use that path is what makes life interesting."

The four of us nodded, feeling the truth in her words.

She patted my cheek ,and said to the four of us, "While you four finish your school day and go to swim practice, I have to go house hunting. I have some prospective properties in mind. When I pick the four of you up after practice, I will introduce you to your new home."

Scott looked relieved, but Shane got misty-eyed. "Thank you, Abuelita. I didn't know how I was going to face my family after coming out so publically at school. I was afraid they would send me away to keep me from Scott."

"Think of me as your Madrina, your Godmother, mi'jito," she told him. "You are not losing family. You are family to me. Zach and Chris are no longer just your friends, but your brothers. And I will be there for you as if you were my own child until the day you no longer need me. The curandera has said so."

I felt a little sad to be leaving my birth home. I wished that somehow, my parents could accept me for what I was, and that being gay was special, not a curse or a sin. I was a boy of two spirits, as the ancient Americans termed it. Gay men were special to them, and I felt special for having used the sacred peyote to connect with my Nahualli, my inner spirit self.

Chris noticed my somber mood as we passed through the part of town where my parents lived, where I no longer lived. He took my hand in his, and said, "Don't think of it as moving out, but like a swim team sleepover that never has to end."

I grinned at him. "I like that idea. It's not really an end to anything; it's the start of something better: a swim team sleepover that'll be forever."

One thing remained to complete my special day. As the stretch limo pulled up to the school, near the end of lunch as it turned out, the four of us got out, accompanied by Abuelita. All of our teammates gathered around us, along with a lot of other students, staff members and even some parents.

In front of them all, I pulled Chris to me, planted my mouth on his and very leisurely, thoroughly kissed our first kiss ever in front of friends and foes alike. Our friends cheered and some of our foes jeered, but all that really mattered was the blissful look in Chris's eyes when we eventually parted lips.

I looked at Chris, knowing that kissing him more on school grounds was risky business. Gay or straight, we were breaking school rules. I gazed down at Abuelita, and said, "I think we're going to skip the rest of school today, and help you look for our new house."

THE END


message 8: by Kaje (new)

Kaje Harper | 16659 comments Ooh, I like the look of all the reserved boxes :) You seem to have caught a hyperactive plot bunny.


message 9: by Jay (new)

Jay Clark (jaydclark) | 488 comments Kaje wrote: "Ooh, I like the look of all the reserved boxes :) You seem to have caught a hyperactive plot bunny."

I hope so. The hyperactivity is inherent. The plot bunny has been inspired by some of the events we have discussed elsewhere.


message 10: by Jay (new)

Jay Clark (jaydclark) | 488 comments All done but for some tweaking here and there. I hope other members find it as fun to read as it was to write.


message 11: by Iuri (new)

Iuri (iuriau) | 31 comments Jay D. wrote: "All done but for some tweaking here and there. I hope other members find it as fun to read as it was to write."

Hey, you mind if I compile it in an eBook file so I can read it on my tablet? I can share it here later if you want.
I have mine to post here as well, not as long as yours though (it is, actually, really short ;P)


message 12: by Kaje (last edited Nov 10, 2014 11:41AM) (new)

Kaje Harper | 16659 comments Looking forward to yours Iuri; so glad you're writing for us :) - we'll see what Jay says.

@ Jay - as usual, a fun, interesting story with appealing guys, and some great family around them. Thank you!


message 13: by Jay (last edited Nov 10, 2014 02:34PM) (new)

Jay Clark (jaydclark) | 488 comments Iuri wrote: "Jay D. wrote: "All done but for some tweaking here and there. I hope other members find it as fun to read as it was to write."

Hey, you mind if I compile it in an eBook file so I can read it on my..."


No problem. I added a bit more to the final scene with Zach's father in message 7, to wrap things up better. I also look forward to reading your story.


message 14: by Jay (new)

Jay Clark (jaydclark) | 488 comments Kaje wrote: "Looking forward to yours Iuri; so glad you're writing for us :) - we'll see what Jay says.

@ Jay - as usual, a fun, interesting story with appealing guys, and some great family around them. Than..."


(Blushing) Not only is my hyperactivity out there, now my writing motifs are showing. Thank you for making this fun writing challenge possible.


message 15: by Kaje (new)

Kaje Harper | 16659 comments Jay D. wrote: "(Blushing) Not only is my hyperactivity out there, now my writing motifs are showing. Thank you for making this fun writing challenge possible. ..."

Since I like having family and secondary characters in stories, I don't feel like your motifs are a bad thing at all.


message 16: by Jay (last edited Nov 10, 2014 05:48PM) (new)

Jay Clark (jaydclark) | 488 comments Kaje wrote: "Since I like having family and secondary characters in stories, I don't feel like your motifs are a bad thing at all..."

Both of these motifs are things that I really enjoy in your writing.


message 17: by Iuri (new)

Iuri (iuriau) | 31 comments So, here I am with mine.

I have this project-like thing to write too-short-stories to my personal blog, that I call "One Name, One Song". I basically pick a name for a character and choose a song - so I write based on the feeling I get from the song. Now I used the image prompt as an inspiration too ;P
This was the third of them and there'll be a couple more anytime I feel it. But I should say that not all of them are/will be YA intended.


message 18: by Iuri (new)

Iuri (iuriau) | 31 comments Wesley, the wrestler

I waited for him next to the staircase, a spot I knew he’d have to cross any minute. We didn’t spoke to each other for the last five days – since he’d broken up with me – and I was almost sure he wouldn’t want to talk to me now. So I had to surprise him and that was my plan.

Wes was the most gorgeous guy in our school. Tall, strong, broad shoulders, thick black hair, dreamy, perfect. Every girl wanted to be with him. Every gay boy wanted to be with him. Every straight guy wanted to be him. But, for some weird reason, he was with me. Well, not anymore since he had broken up with me.

The reason? I was in love with him. But what did he expect? How could I not fall in love with him after two wonderful months together?

I heard his steps climbing down the stairs and jumped to meet him. An instant puzzled expression took over his face when he saw me standing there. He stopped walking for a second, staring at me, then shook his head and restarted coming down.

“What are you doing here, Dan?”

“I wanted to see you,” I say.

“We broke up,” he says back.

“You broke up.”

“So? We’re not together anymore.”

“Just let me talk to you,” I asked, stepping closer to him.

“No Dan, I don’t want to talk. You knew this was wrong, and I knew this was wrong. This was not a part of my plan.”

“Why do you have to plan everything? Why can’t you just feel things?”

He closed his eyes, breathing deeply. “Let me go, Dan. Please.”

I stepped even closer. I could stretch my arm and touch his face now. I almost did, but choose to just touch his shoulder. He shivered at the contact. His eyes were still closed.

“Let me go, Dan.”

Then I took his face and pulled him in for a kiss. And he pushed me backwards. We were on the lower steps of the staircase, but I lost balance anyway and we fell rolling on the floor. We stopped with me on top of him and I locked my eyes into his. It was written all over his face that he wanted me to kiss him. So I did.

He kissed me deeply for the briefest three seconds in history, then pushed me away easily. I tried to hold on to him and fight back, but I was no competition.

“You’re not a wrestler, Dan.”

And so he stood up and ran off the room, without looking back.

* * *

When I first met Wes, it was summer. I always loved summer because of the birds. Birds would be singing outside my window every morning, because they were happy about summer too. People always talk about the birds during Spring. Bullshit, the nicest birds are the ones of summer.

So it was summer and I had the worst idea ever: wrestling.

Let me tell you this: I am not a wrestler. If you look at me, you’ll know I’m not. I am short and fatty – not exactly fat, but I am meaty in some spots. I have strong legs, though, because I’ve been running track fields since middle school. But my non-healthy food habits always kept me overweight. Truth is I’m really into Big Macs, go figure.

One day of wrestling practice at the county club was enough for two things: knowing I wasn’t a wrestler and falling in love with Wesley.

He was a real wrestler. Strong, fast and dedicated. I felt the electricity between us the first time he threw me on the floor. I lost every single fight I got in, with him or any of the other guys. But he kept staring at me. And I stared back. Two weeks of that staring thing and we got together for the first time.

We would hang out on the summer nights, walk on street fairs and eat from food trucks. He wasn’t afraid of holding my hand in public and would kiss me under the moonlight. I knew I was in love after the first week. And when I told him on the second, he freaked out.

“You can’t.”

“I can’t what?” I asked.

“You can’t be in love with me.”

“But I am.”

“No. This is not a part of the plan.”

“What plan?”

“My plan! My life plan. I’m going to college at the end of the summer, and I’ll be a doctor. I can’t be distracted from that.”

“What are you talking about? This doesn’t make any sense.”

“Of course it does. I can’t fall in love with you, because I’m focused on my plan. If you fall for me, I’ll break your heart. I don’t want to break your heart, Dan.”

“Relax, Wes. I said I love you, I didn’t ask you to marry me, or give up college for me. It’s just summer love, ok? Relax.”

I insisted some more, and he eventually relaxed. For a while, things got back to normal. It was summer love and he seemed happy. Then he freaked out again and broke up with me.

* * *

I was waiting for him in front of his house when he got back from wherever he went. He didn’t seen angry when he saw me. Not even surprised. He knew I would be there.

“Dan, please! Why can’t you make things easy for me?”

“Because I don’t understand, Wes. If you don’t like me, why do you seem so happy when we are together?”

He shook his head, looking down at his feet. “I never said I didn’t like you, Daniel. I never even said I don’t love you back.”

“You never said you do, either.”

“So don’t jump into conclusions,” he said, kicking a rock on the ground.

I held my stare on his face and he averted my eyes. That’s when I knew: he was in love with me too. He wanted me to stay with him. But if I did, he would want to give up on his dream of being a doctor. That is what he was saying all that time: he didn’t want to break my heart when he had to go. But he didn’t want to have his own heart broken either.

Knowing this wouldn’t make things easir. It was the opposite, in fact. But sacrifices must be made sometimes. So I stood up and walked in his direction. He started to walk away, but I just shook my head.

“You don’t need to run away anymore. You won. I won’t keep pushing you anymore,” I said, walking in the opposite direction.

He didn’t understood. “You’re leaving?”

“I don’t want to. I never wanted so much to be close to somebody as I want to be with you. I don’t want to let you go… But have to,” I said. Then added, with a forced smile, “You’ll be a great doctor one day.”

We stood still for a moment, but then he smiled back. And pulled me into a tight hug.

“I wish we had met in a different time,” he said.

“It’s cool, Wes.”

He stepped back and looked in my eyes and I knew he was going to kiss me goodbye. I couldn’t do it. So I pushed us apart, forcing a straight face. “Thank you for this summer, Wesley, the wrestler,” I said.

If I wanted, I could force my presence until he couldn’t avoid me anymore. I would be sure he kept loving me so he couldn’t leave. I would make him want to stay by my side. But it wasn’t fair. On him or on me. He had a dream. He had a plan. I didn’t, so I couldn’t be the one to destroy his.

I knew I would miss him a lot. But I would get over him, eventually. Maybe not tonight. But someday. Someday, a day without him would be OK for me. For now, I would keep my broken heart as a secret, so he could move on without feeling like he’d left me behind.

If I was up to follow my heart, I would fight to be with him. But I wasn’t. He deserved to keep his own choices. This was a lost fight.

I wasn’t a wrestler, anyway.

And it was just summer love. Right?


message 19: by Kaje (new)

Kaje Harper | 16659 comments Iuri wrote: "So, here I am with mine.

I have this project-like thing to write too-short-stories to my personal blog, that I call "One Name, One Song". I basically pick a name for a character and choose a song ..."


That's a cool idea. And I love your story - bittersweet, but with a lot of hope in it. Great characters. Thank you!


message 20: by Iuri (last edited Nov 13, 2014 11:33AM) (new)

Iuri (iuriau) | 31 comments Kaje wrote: "That's a cool idea. And I love your story - bittersweet, but with a lot of hope in it. Great characters. Thank you!

Thank you! This one comes from Sara Bareilles' Gonna Get Over You (ugh, love this song). There's two more on the blog (http://iuriau.wordpress.com). Shane is not YA, mostly because of the language.


message 21: by Jay (new)

Jay Clark (jaydclark) | 488 comments Iuri wrote: "So, here I am with mine.

I have this project-like thing to write too-short-stories to my personal blog, that I call "One Name, One Song". I basically pick a name for a character and choose a song ..."


I loved the story. Dan stays his own man, and Wes has to own up to what he's letting himself lose. And your story also shows us that even a failed first love can be a building experience for both boys. Thank you for sharing it. I'm inclined to believe that Dan has found himself in letting Wes go.


message 22: by Kaje (last edited Nov 15, 2014 08:44AM) (new)

Kaje Harper | 16659 comments I agree - I love the idea that a romance or a relationship can be something good and positive even if it doesn't last forever. Most of the people we date or even fall for won't be our forever-person, but that doesn't make the time we spend and the things we learn and grow from less valuable.


message 23: by Kaje (last edited Nov 15, 2014 05:58PM) (new)

Kaje Harper | 16659 comments Anticipation

“I have to go.” Teyo paced away from me to the window and looked out. His pose was casual, but the white-knuckled grip he had on the windowsill wasn't.

“You don't have to,” I insisted. “You're not even nineteen. You have up to two years yet.”

“You did your initiation at eighteen,” he said, meeting my eyes in the reflection off the window. With the haze of sky and trees behind him, I couldn't read that look. Was he angry? Jealous? Just determined?

“Yeah, I did.” I tried to sound reasonable. “But I trained for it since I was twelve. You didn't even get recognized as a power until last year.”

“I learn fast.”

“No one can learn it all in a year.” And you're a freaking impulsive hot-head and you'll get yourself killed. And then I'll have to die too. “Give yourself as much time as you can. What could it hurt?”

“It could hurt me.” He turned to look at me. His fist was pressed against his stomach, just under his breastbone.

I doubt he was even aware of the gesture, but I knew it well. The powers burned and ached as they grew. And yeah, that was uncomfortable. But not as uncomfortable as it was to be dead. “You're stronger than that.”

“Screw you.” He paced forward, staring me down, his steps more sinuous and smooth than even six months ago. His power was already changing him. “What about us? We can't be together for real until we're both full-ranked mages. You really want to wait two more years?”

“Um.” I swallowed spit, because when Teyo turns those dark eyes on me full force I forget my own name. “No. I mean, yes.”

He laughed softly, a sexy rumble in his throat. “Which?”

“No, I don't want to wait. But it'll be damned hard for us to be together if you've lost control of fire and gotten burned to a crisp.”

“Burned? Me?” He moved in closer, until he stood just a foot from me. I could almost feel the heat inside him. Teyo was going to be a powerful mage once he came into his own. “I already command the fire.” He held out a hand theatrically, and a white flame danced across the tips of his fingers.

I muttered a little word under my breath, twisted the power, and the white flame blazed up with a sudden whoosh. Teyo yanked his hand back, swore, and doused the fire. “You jerk.”

Command that,” I said, in a deliberately snarky voice, because yeah, he was pretty good and he could no doubt convince the elders to let him step into the circle tonight. And I was terrified of losing him.

“That was you.”

“Yeah, it was. But the power is tricky. And you'll be using it to control an elemental. You think that was a dirty trick? Wait till you see what a salamander can do, just for the fun of it.”

“That's different. I'll be expecting them.”

Our eyes met, and then we said together, “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

Teyo's laugh was less strained, and even I chuckled. He said, “We're both total geeks, aren't we?”

“Except for the power over wind, water and fire, yeah.” I dropped my gaze. “Teyo, I know how you feel. I know waiting's tough, but you haven't been there, in a fully active circle. You haven't seen how even Elder Dorin sometimes has to fight to keep an air sprite under his control. It's work, not play.”

“Don't patronize me!” Teyo got into my face, one hand fisting the front of my shirt. “I'm not playing with power. Yeah, okay, I was showing off a bit. But I don't want to pass initiation because I want to make prettier flame patterns on All Hallow's Eve. I know what the work is. I want to pass because I need to. Because I feel the fire burning inside, the water drowning me, the air sucking from my lungs. I think they'll kill me, soon, if I don't get to use the full power I own.”

I froze, staring at him. When I was an apprentice I felt the forces moving through me, sure, but never like that.

He raised a hand to my hair, traced down to my cheek, and along my jaw. I wasn't sure if his touch heated my skin from the fire inside him, or because this was Teyo, touching me, with that look in his eyes. “Let me go, Nic.” He moved the finger sideways, brushed my lip with it. “I have to do this. And when I come back, a full mage, then...” He pressed the tip against my mouth.

The heated look in his eyes turned to alarm as I grabbed his arms, tripped him and dropped to pin him to the floor. He writhed under me for a moment, fighting against my weight, then stilled and let me restrain him. I left my full weight on him, for that moment of surrender, pretending it was for the sake of mastery, and not because my arms were shaking too much to hold me up. But eventually he lay there, his head on the little rug, his body relaxed. I braced myself up over him.

“Don't get cocky,” I said.

He smiled faintly, and bucked his hips up against mine. “Wouldn't dream of it. Nice cock, by the way.”

“Aargh!” I leaned down and bit his ear, hard enough to mark it.

“What the hell!” He wriggled again, futilely. “Nic!”

“Don't get smart, don't get cocky, don't assume you know anything.”

He stilled, looking up at me steadily now. His hand curled around my forearm, gripping me. I felt his calf hook over my left leg.

“When you enter the circle, be ready. Don't expect to have time to walk to the center and take up an nice stance. The moment you clear the edge, the elementals can be waiting. You're best with fire, worst with water. So I'd bet they'll hit you with air first, figuring that's the one you've neglected.” I swallowed hard.

“Go on.”

“You don't know what the challenge will be. Could be a sprite trying to stir up a hurricane off the coast, or one that just wants to strip every blossom off the fruit trees. The small ones can be trickier. Slipperier.”

“I know that.”

“Center yourself. Watch for a secondary.”

“Yes.”

“Or they might start you with water instead.” I closed my eyes for a second. “Don't listen to me. Crap.”

He arched up enough to touch his nose to mine. “I never do.”

“Don't remind me.” Behind us, the second bell rang out. The Elders would be gathering, preparing the circle for tonight's controllers to use. Including any apprentice ready to take their full place. I fought the urge to go down there with him. But I'd done my turn last night, and I didn't have much left in me. Flaring his little flame had drained my reserves. I'd be useless, and in the way, and they'd never let me though the gates. “Couldn't you wait another week? Wait till I'm back on duty, at least.”

“No.” He met my eyes. “I have to go now. Today. And Nic, I don't want you there. I'd be distracted, knowing you were watching. That you cared.”

“Of course I care!” I tried to back-pedal that. “We all care. Every member of the community wants every apprentice to pass through safely.”

He smiled. Goddess, I loved the way his lips curved like that. “You're saying you care about me the way Elder Maneli does?”

If Elder Maneli had ever had a soft, human emotion, he'd probably reached for the purge bottle to get rid of it. “Jackass.”

“But your jack. And ass.”

I licked my dry lips. “Yeah.”

For another minute we lay like that. I felt his wiry strength under me. I stared at his dark hair, the shape of his cheekbones, his mouth, the way just a hint of missed stubble marred his smooth skin under one ear.

He said softly, “Do some things for me?”

“Um. Sure.” Anything.

“Find a better shirt to put on because this thing hangs off you like a tent.” He flicked the blue linen of my sleeve.

“Okay.”

“Change the sheets on your bed, because it's bigger than mine.”

My mouth went dry. I nodded.

“Don't steal the last chocolate cookie in the larder, no matter how late I get back.”

I had sudden visions of that cookie, mummified, covered in cobwebs, waiting for a Teyo who would never return. I closed my eyes. “You wish,” I managed to whisper.

“Two more things, Nic. Look at me?”

I opened my eyes.

He tightened his fingers on my forearm, and smiled up at me, almost his familiar devilish grin. “Get the hell off me, and let me up. And then let me go.”

Silently, I eased off to the side and raised my hand so he could slide out from under me. We both stood, not looking at each other. At least, I didn't look at him. I don't know where his gaze went. I walked over to that same window. It was getting darker out there. His reflection was clearer now. If I happened to glance that way.

“I'll see you sometime after moon-set,” he said. “Looking forward to it, Nic.”

“Don't get cocky,” I said to the window.

I knew when he left. Not from the sound of the door, or the emptiness of the reflection, but from the way my body chilled when he wasn't in the room.

“Goddess go with you, Teyo,” I murmured. “And bring you back safely.”

Changing my shirt took five minutes. Making the bed took ten. Then for six hours I stood, watching the moon track across the sky outside the window, counting the minutes until it would dip below the horizon at last.

####


message 24: by Jay (new)

Jay Clark (jaydclark) | 488 comments Kaje wrote: "Anticipation

“I have to go.” Teyo paced away from me to the window and looked out. His pose was casual, but the white-knuckled grip he had on the windowsill wasn't.

“You don't have to,” I insiste..."


That's a wonderful piece, but it begs a whole novel.


message 25: by Kaje (new)

Kaje Harper | 16659 comments Don't they all ? Thanks :)


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