It’s weird. You’d think with everything I had just been through there’d be a lot on my mind. Maybe I’d be overwhelmed from two guys chasing me at once, or from trying to figure out my sexuality. Maybe I’d feel guilty from the incident with Ky in the hallway. Yet there was only one thing on my mind, and it was starting to feel like I’d never stop thinking about him.
“Earth to Artie.” Adam teased as I stared off at my book instead of reading. “You’ve been reading the same page for the past ten minutes.”
“Have not.” I defended, finally snapping into the moment.
“Sorry kid,” Lindsay supported from next to Adam. “you have been.”
“Still thinking about your girl problems?” Adam couldn’t help but tease.
“Yeah, I need to know about that like, yesterday.” Lindsay nodded as they both stared at me.
“There are no girl problems.” I shook my head. “Everything worked itself out.”
“What’s that mean?” Adam asked as a smirk began on his face. “Does that mean you have a girlfriend?”
“No, I, uh,” I hesitated, realizing the corner I had just backed myself into. “I decided to date neither.”
“Bullshit!” Lindsay yelped nearly causing me to jump. “Come on Artie, give us something.”
“There were two girls and now there’s one.” I shrugged, not knowing what else to say.
“What’s her name?” Lindsay continued to pressure. “Does she have an Instagram?”
“She actually has neither.” I said with a shrug. “It’s the weirdest thing.”
“Oh yeah?” Lindsay giggled as I began to catch her smile.
“He’s turned into such a smart ass lately.” Adam shook his head.
“I wonder where I got it from.” I joked as my gaze shifted to him.
“Alright, at least tell us which girl you picked.” Adam negotiated, ignoring my words. “Did you go after the quiet one, or the adventurous one? And how the hell did you choose so quickly?”
I shrugged and kept my mouth shut, but before I knew it I was fending off two curious stares. “Well the quiet one like, imploded.” I finally confessed as they broke me down. “She just started yelling at us in the hallway. Maybe I was leaning one way, but she kind pushed me into it.”
“Geez.” Lindsay remarked as she thought it over. “I didn’t know you were such a heartbreaker.”
“I didn’t mean to do it!” I defended in a louder voice than I intended. “I was just riding it out.”
“Have you spoken to her since?” Adam asked, forcing eye contact with me.
“No,” I shook my head. “she ignored us for the rest of the day.”
“Well give her some space, and talk to her when you get the chance.” Adam lectured in a serious voice. “You didn’t do anything wrong, but you should try and give her some closure dude.”
“How do I do that?” I asked, beginning to nervously tap my fingers against the couch.
“Be honest. Make sure she knows it’s nothing personal.” Adam explained. “Give her as much time and space as she needs, but offer to still be her friend when it’s all said and done.”
“And how do you know that?” Lindsay instigated as she looked over to him. “You’ve never had anyone fight over you before.”
“You don’t know that!” Adam defended as the conversation began to shift.
“I’ve known you for almost fifteen years! I do too know that!” She yelped as Adam turned to me and shook his head.
“Listen to your Uncle on this Artie.” Adam confidently nodded.
“Why Lindsay? How would you handle this?” I asked as Adam rolled his eyes.
“I know I made a joke about you being a heartbreaker, but I don’t know why you have to apologize if she had a meltdown.” Lindsay shrugged. “Unless you feel like you pushed her to that point.”
“I don’t think I did.” I quickly shook my head. “It’s only been like a week and a half.”
“Sounds like she broke her own heart then.” Lindsay easily dismissed.
“Lindsay!” Adam yelped as he began to stare her down. “Maybe she’s just different from you. Maybe she’s sensitive, and was scared of losing Artie.”
“And that means she can embarrass him in the middle of the school hallway?” Lindsay probed with a serious look.
“People do crazy things when they’re scared they’re going to get hurt. It doesn’t make it right, but she’s a kid.” Adam argued as their stare down grew more and more intense.
“You’re going to make Artie feel guilty.” Lindsay warned as I got pulled into their argument.
“I’m not saying he did anything wrong.” Adam clarified looking over to me. “Look, at one point you were thinking about dating this other girl right?” Adam asked drawing a nod from me. “Then do you want to see her hurt?”
“No Sir.” I forced out, too flustered to say anything else.
“Stop putting the poor kid on the spot.” Lindsay argued but Adam kept his eyes on me.
“Then help her heal by bringing her closure.” Adam lectured, ignoring Lindsay the best he could. “It’ll be the best for both of you. I promise.”
“Thank you.” I accepted as Lindsay let out a big sigh.
“You’re going to make him soft.” Lindsay groaned as he looked back to her.
“You can be strong but kind.” He said with a growing smile.
“Yeah.” Lindsay cautiously nodded, more okay with the conversation ending than with what Adam had said. “Wait! So if there’s only one girl left…” Lindsay led looking over to me.
“You have a girlfriend!” Adam shouted as I stayed quiet.
“That’s not true.” I quickly rejected as my face began to turn red.
“Come on, what’s she like?” Lindsay pressured as her smile grew. “I bet she’s a cutie.”
“She uh,” I gulped, not knowing what to say. For a moment I thought about describing Dizzy, but Adam’s met him! Hell, they play video games together! What if he pieces it together!
“Alright,” Adam laughed, seeing how uncomfortable I was growing. “we’ll give lover boy some time to process it all.”
“Yes please.” I quickly said drawing more laughter from the both of them.
Lindsay made sure to tease me a little bit more before Adam finally started the movie. Every now and again I would glance over to them and find Lindsay laying on him just like they were this afternoon. How can Adam expect me to open up, when he’s barely open with me? Sorry, but it just doesn’t work like that! Not for me at least!
When the movie finally ended and Lindsay left I noticed Adam constantly shooting me a strange look. It wasn’t like he was angry or anything, just, worried.
“I’m not telling you about her.” I warned, keeping my eyes on the book in front of me.
“I know,” He sighed, trying his hardest to force eye contact. “just, if something happens with her, come to me, okay?” I looked up but stayed quiet as I heard those words. “If you’re like Sarah you’ll want to keep it to yourself, but please, don’t.”
“Okay.” I accepted. Adam’s really that worried about me? He’s really this involved?
“And um,” He began once more in a nervous breath. “you’re a young man, and I know you’re old enough, but please remember to use condoms.” As I heard those words I felt my eyes return right back to the book in my hands. “If you have a problem getting them, tell me and I’ll pick you up some. I actually have some in my room if you need.”
“That’s okay!” I blurted out, even more uncomfortable then when they were asking about my ‘girlfriend’.
“You don’t have to be uncomfortable talking about sex.” He lectured in a calm voice. “I know back in Texas they shamed people for it, but it’s not like that here. It’s a natural part of life. You were at least taught about it right?”
“Yes.” I lied, still not looking up.
“The penis goes into the vagina.” He couldn’t help but tease, knowing it would get a rise out of me.
“Good night!” I dismissed as I rose to my feet.
“Oh come on!” He laughed, watching me quickly walk to the stairs. “Don’t get all weird.”
“I’m not getting weird, you’re getting weird.” I defended as my blush grew.
“Gotta love what teaching abstinence does to people!” Adam continued to laugh. ”Seriously,” He began as he reached back and grabbed my arm. “you’re a good kid Artie. I know you’ll do what’s right by both girls that chased you.”
“And if I don’t?” I suddenly asked, keeping my eyes towards the floor.
“Then you always have tomorrow to make it right.” He explained in a serious voice.
“The new girl, she’s really cool.” I finally opened up as he lightly squeezed my arm in support. “She doesn’t just let me sit home like I used to in Texas. I just feel, alive.”
“Good.” He smiled, keeping his eyes on me. “She’s welcome over whenever, my only rule is no closed doors.”
“I can do that.” I agreed, finally looking over to him. “So what about Lindsay? You guys looked pretty close.” I provoked, making sure to turn the tables on him.
“We’re not dating.” He quickly shot down with a shake of his head.
“She looked pretty comfortable laying on you tonight.” I instigated with a smirk.
“We’ve been doing that since we were sixteen.” He shrugged. “It’s just because we’re close friends.”
“Sure.” I sarcastically teased as he finally let me go.
“I’m being serious Artie.” He insisted as I finally reached the stairs.
“Sure you are.” I continued with a growing smile.
“We’re not dating!” He yelped as I started to climb the stairs.
“Okay.” I nodded, trying my hardest to hold back laughter.
“I’ll start talking about sex again!” He threatened, but by then I was already at the top of the stairs.
Even with Adam keeping his secrets, I learned a lot about him tonight. Him pushing for me to apologize to Ky, it shows the type of man he is. He’s thoughtful and kind, even if that means fighting with his best friend about it. I know Lindsay doesn’t agree, but I do think someone can be strong and kind. After all, I’m starting to think Adam is the perfect example of that.
That night I couldn’t get Ky off my mind. This isn’t how I wanted it to go. I never meant for anyone to get so hurt. I mean, I’ve seen guys do this all the time in Texas. They played around with two girls, and made their decision without feeling bad. So why can’t I?
The next morning when I opened my front door I found a familiar figure waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs.
“Good morning.” He smiled as I slowly descended the stairs.
“Dizzy,” I began as our eyes met. “are you going to be here every morning?”
“Depends,” He offered his hand as I reached the last few steps. “is this fun or creepy?”
“Little bit of both.” I giggled, ignoring his hand and walking past him.
I heard him exhale a deep breath before quickly catching up to me. “So don’t do it again?”
“That’s up to you.” I shrugged as I caught his smile.
“Flirt.” He teased, looking back at the house. “Where’s Adam?”
“Work.” I replied in a cautious voice. “Why?”
“Is he usually gone this early?” Dizzy asked with trouble in his voice.
“Why?” I repeated, looking over to him.
“Maybe one morning you’ll wake up to breakfast.” He provoked with a smirk.
“No! Dizzy! Just don’t break into my house again!” I yelped, more joking than serious.
“Who’s going to stop me?” He provoked, lightly bucking me with his shoulder. “Because based on your answers and the note I saw yesterday morning, I would say Adam is long gone by time you wake up.”
“I’ll get an attack dog.” I threated in a laugh. “Or even better, I’ll just have Charlotte start staying over.”
“I’d love to see that.” He played along. “I think you liked our night together. I think you can’t wait for the next one.”
“I think the next one needs to be planned beforehand.” I warned with a serious look.
“So you’re saying I can come spend the night again?” He asked as his smile grew.
“I’m saying if I were to leave the backdoor unlocked before bed Friday night and you were to find your way into my bed, I wouldn’t be upset.” I shrugged. Dizzy froze as he heard my answer before having to catch up to me once again.
“Even though we have the Zoo Saturday?” He asked in disbelief.
“It’ll make leaving together easier, and we can even stop for breakfast on the way out.” I explained with a devious smile.
“I have the perfect place in mind!” He excitedly yelped. “Our first date, I’m going to sweep you off your feet.”
“So this is our first date?” I asked, glancing over to him.
“Well, yeah.” He cautiously nodded. “Right?”
“Yeah.” I mimicked his nod as I thought it all over. “So then we’re like, dating?”
“Is that okay with you?” He checked, watching me carefully.
“Just fine.” I answered, trying my hardest to force down any insecurity rising in my head.
“What about the word boyfriends?” I saw his eyes scanning me, trying their hardest to figure out where the line was.
“Not right now.” I shot down, trying my hardest not to think about any of it.
“Alright.” He nodded his head as we reached the school. “We’ll work on it.”
“Yeah,” I agreed as our eyes met. “we will.”
He gave me one last friendly push before we carefully navigated the halls and found ourselves walking into homeroom. Ky glanced at us from the other side of the room, but quickly looked down, hoping we didn’t notice.
“Stay here.” I instructed, starting to walk towards him.
“Artie, I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Dizzy warned, trying to grab my hand.
I ignored his words and kept walking until I finally reached the quiet teen in the corner. “This seat taken?” I asked, pointing to the empty desk next to him.
“Don’t know.” Ky forced out, refusing to look over to me.
I took the seat and stayed quiet for a few moments, until I finally turned back to him. “I’m sorry,” I forced out, unsure what exactly to say. “I’ve never really been in this situation before. I didn’t realize how much I was hurting you.”
“You weren’t hurting me.” He lied, still staring forward.
“No?” I asked, waiting for more.
“It’s just, how did you pick him so fast?” Ky asked in a quiet voice. “It felt like a complete uphill battle for me, but him, you just let him walk right through the front door.”
“It wasn’t easy for him.” I shook my head. “He wore me down hard, and applied pressure any chance he could. He still is. But you’re right. It wasn’t an uphill battle for him like it was for you, but maybe that tells us something.”
“If you’re going to try and say I didn’t have feelings for you, you’re wrong.” He rejected, finally looking over with a serious stare.
“I know.” I agreed. “I mean, I had some feelings for you too.” I confessed. “But they just never went anywhere. It’s like I just never felt that spark, did you?”
“I thought I did,” He said, looking back down. “but I guess you didn’t.”
“No.” I forced out. “Then I started feeling it with Dizzy, and I’m sorry. I know that sucks for you. I know I wasn’t the best about it, but I’m still new to all of this. The city, the people, my sexuality, I’m still figuring it all out.”
“So what are you trying to say?” He asked finally looking into my eyes.
“I’m saying I’m still figuring out who I am,” I explained, carefully thinking it over. “and I, did you really want me to pick you? I think we both know what would’ve happened.”
“What would’ve happened?” He asked, but I could tell he was starting to understand.
“Maybe we would’ve dated, but Dizzy never would’ve stopped pushing. My feelings for him would’ve come out no matter what.” I answered as I began to tap my fingers against the desk. “I would’ve become that guy in a relationship that strings you along while falling for someone else. I’m sorry, I just couldn’t do that to you, or myself.”
“You like him that much?” Ky sighed as his stare fell once more.
“I think so.” I nodded my head. “I-I’m trying to find myself, like my real self. I’m sorry. I just need Dizzy for that.” He nodded as it all bounced around in his head. “I’d like to have you as a friend during that too, if you can.”
“It’s going to take me some time,” He confessed. “but I, I’ll be back with the group soon.”
“Good.” I forced a smile. “It’s not the same without you.”
“Yeah.” He said, starting to get lost in his own head. “I’m sorry I snapped yesterday. I just, I felt you slipping through my fingers and there was nothing I could do to stop it.”
“It’s alright, I understand.” I accepted as he looked back to me. “You’ll find your match, and when you do you won’t worry about him for a second.”
“I hope you’re right.” He sighed, looking past me and over to Dizzy. As he looked over their eyes met then broke as Dizzy tried his hardest to act as though he was staring out of the window next to us. “Go back to him. You guys will be a good couple.”
“Thank you Ky.” I nodded as I slowly rose to my feet. “When you’re ready we’ll all do something fun, I promise.”
He mirrored my nod but stayed quiet as I turned around and went back towards Dizzy. “So?” Dizzy asked as our eyes met. “Everything good now?”
“As good as it can be.” I sighed, sitting between him and Charlotte. “He said he needs some time, but he still wants to hang out with us.”
“I figured that’s how it would be.” Dizzy exhaled as he stood up.
“Where are you going?” Charlotte asked in a concerned voice.
“To talk to him.” Dizzy shrugged.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” She warned, scared what Dizzy’s approach would be.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “you two nearly ripped one another’s heads off last time you spoke.”
“That was yesterday.” He dismissed as he started to walk. “My best friend needs me right now, so I’ll be there for him.”
“He does realize he’s the reason his best friend is in pain, right?” Charlotte asked, but as I looked over to her shot her a serious look. “He is.” She shrugged.
“No, I am.” I tried to clarify. “I should’ve been more clear with both of them.”
“Or, they shouldn’t’ve fallen so hard for the new kid in his second week here.” She argued, matching the look on my face. “Maybe you didn’t handle it the best, but this is a little crazy. It’s like you’re a walking love potion.”
“Maybe I am.” I teased, but grew quiet as Dizzy reached Ky. Before I knew it Dizzy and Ky were holding each other close and talking. It was as though Dizzy’s head was on Ky’s shoulder and vice versa. “What are they doing?”
“This happens every time after they fight.” She rolled her eyes. “They hug and talk it over, it’s the weirdest thing.”
“It’s kind of sweet.” I began to smile, relieved it was all beginning to smooth over.
“Sure.” She sarcastically sighed. “But can we please talk about how you’re dating Dizzy now.”
“He waited for me outside of my house this morning.” I happily said, turning back to her.
“No he didn’t.” She gasped with a smile. “That’s so creepy!”
“No, it’s sweet.” I defended with a blush. “It’s like I never know where I’m going to find him.”
“Sure, stalkers are fun like that.” She teased in a laugh.
“Stop.” I whined, starting to laugh along with her. Before either of us could say anything else Dizzy reappeared right back by my side. “What happened?” I asked as our eyes met.
“We both apologized.” He shrugged, trying to hide some red in his eyes. “Everything’s cool, he just needs until Monday.”
“That’s good.” I nodded but took a closer look at his face.
“Were you two crying again?” Charlotte asked as a blush began on his face.
“No!” He lied, taking his seat next to me.
“You totally were!” I insisted as he looked away. “Aww Dizzy that’s so sweet.” I encouraged, lightly placing my hand on his arm. I saw him try and fend off a smile as he looked down at the desk.
“I’m just glad things will be back to normal soon.” He shrugged.
“Don’t fall for it Artie.” Charlotte rolled her eyes. “They both cry every time they apologize to one another. Once they fought over food, and then when it was over they were both blubbering like morons.”
“I like it.” I smiled as Dizzy looked back at us. Before I knew it he reached over with his other hand and grabbed my hand off his arm.
“Dizzy.” I warned as he switched hands and let them hang between our desks. “Dizzy let me go.” I began to laugh, trying my hardest to pull my hand away. “Dizzy!”
“Uck.” Charlotte remarked at our little game.
“You wouldn’t hold my hand on the way here.” He shrugged.
“So now you’re making me hold it in class!” I yelped as laughter filled my voice. “You psycho!”
“Are you going to hold my hand on the way home after school?” He asked as our eyes met.
“Never.” I shook my head.
“Then I’m never letting go.” He decided as we tried our hardest to contain our laughter.
As Mrs. Mowry walked into the room she glanced at our held hands then away. “Let him go.” She instructed.
“Even if it’s mutual?” Dizzy groaned.
“Yes.” She replied. He rubbed my hand for a second before finally letting it go.
“So much for never.” I quietly teased.
“You have to watch this one.” Dizzy shouted towards Mrs. Mowry. “He plays innocent, but he’s trouble.”
“I’m sure he is.” She played along before looking back towards us. “Just promise to keep him in line Artie.”
“I don’t know if that’s possible ma’am.” I smiled as a blush filled my face.
“I was worried you’d say that.” She sighed before dropping her things off at her desk and starting homeroom.
I know I’ve had class with Dizzy before, but now that we’re actually dating, well it’s hard not to constantly look over to him. He just always has something up his sleeve, always something to make me smile. The battle between class and Dizzy seemed to rage on for the next day until finally it was Friday night and I was eagerly waiting for my midnight visitor.
It was a weird feeling of excitement waiting for Dizzy to slip through my bedroom door. I thought I’d be nervous, but I know Dizzy, he won’t get caught. Besides, Adam sleeps like a log! I could probably have a party after he went to bed and he wouldn’t wake up!
My excitement grew with every passing moment until finally I noticed my door slowly creeping open.
“About time.” I teased as he slipped through the slightly open doorway.
“I had some stuff I had to take care of.” He shrugged as he dropped his bag and made his way towards the bed.
“Like what?” I asked, as I began to make out his features in the dimly lit room.
“Like art.” He smiled as I moved over to make room for him. As he took a seat on the bed he looked over to me before giving me a quick peck on the lips. Before he could pull away I leaned forward and connected on a real kiss. “I’ve been waiting to do that.” He confessed in a sigh.
“Yeah?” I asked as he laid back and rested against me.
“Yup.” He sighed as a smile began on his face. He went to say something else but kept it to himself and lightly began to bite on his lip.
“What’s that look?” I began to laugh as our eyes locked.
“I just forgot how hot you were.” He shrugged as a blush began on my face. Once more he went to speak, but this time he looked away before he could.
“What?” I asked in a laugh.
“Nothing.” He shook his head.
“No, come on.” I insisted as I forced our eyes to reconnect.
“You just, you make it hard to take this slow.” He exhaled as my blush spread to his face.
“What do you mean?” I asked, not quite understanding what he was trying to say.
“Just being all cute at school and then inviting me to sleep over.” He confessed as he looked back down. “You’re really pushing my limits, you know that?”
“I’m pushing your limits?” I giggled. “Do you remember when I cringed because you said you hooked up with Ky? Now you’re lying in my bed kissing me.”
“Uhhh, fine.” He groaned in an overdramatic voice.
“Why? What limits am I pushing?” I asked eager to hear what he’d say.
“I think you know.” He replied, refusing to say it out loud.
“I don’t think I do.” I shook my head, trying to apply as much pressure as I could.
“I don’t know.” He sheepishly began. “Maybe I want to do more than cuddle tonight.”
“Oh.” I exhaled, caught off guard by his confession.
“But I know we shouldn’t.” He quickly clarified. “I know that’s not how we should start this, but between that smile and just, you, it doesn’t make it any easier.”
“What do you mean, you?” I asked more open to the conversation than I would’ve thought.
“You don’t want to know.” He shook his head.
“I do.” I raised my eyebrow as our eyes reconnected.
“It might push you a little further.” He warned but I nodded and patiently waited for his answer. “Well like, when you had your first baseball practice yesterday, and you were waiting to leave for the field and just hanging around in your baseball pants. I don’t know they just compliment people’s bodies very well I guess.”
“I knew you were staring!” I shouted as he let out an embarrassed laugh.
“I’m sorry!” He giggled as a blush returned to his face. “I just, I really do think you’re hot.”
I rolled my eyes but knew his words were starting to wear me down. “So you have a thing for baseball players?”
“Just this one.” He shrugged as his arm began to reach around me. “But don’t worry, I’ll be good tonight.”
“Good because I, I’m not ready for that yet.” I warned in a gulp. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t like you. You know that right?”
“I know.” He quickly nodded his head. “You’re still figuring it all out and like I said, I want this to be different. I want to take this slow. I want to wait until you want it just as much as me.”
I think I’d be lying if I said that didn’t make me feel better. No matter how hard I was falling for Dizzy over the past week, well there was always a part of me that wondered if he was just in it for sex, if I was just going to wind up another conquest. But the more I get to know him, the less I think that. And this conversation, well it just went a long way with me.
“I want to do this right too.” I accepted as my heart began to beat faster. As the moment grew quiet I leaned in and found his lips again. This time it wasn’t just a peck, but a passionate embrace.
“Does doing it right include make out sessions?” He asked as our lips disconnected.
“You tell me.” I shrugged, going back for more.
In moments like this I try my hardest not to think. I know what my mind would say about kissing another guy. I know it’d try it’s hardest to make me feel bad about it. But I can deal with that later. Right now, well Dizzy’s in my bed and I just, I want to kiss him! I may not be ready for all the big stuff yet, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it! That doesn’t mean I don’t want to suck face with the guy I’m dating for a little while!
“Alright.” Dizzy broke away after only God knows how long. “I uh, I need to pump the brakes a little.”
“Can’t keep up?” I teased, figuring he was just playing around.
“Something like that.” He grumbled, turning his back to me and starting to back up into me.
“Hey,” I began to laugh. “maybe I want you to hold me tonight.”
“But you’re my cowboy.” He complained in a whine. “You’re supposed to keep me nice and safe.”
“That’s true. I don’t know how safe I would feel with you holding me.” I instigated as he turned back around.
“You’ll feel the safest you ever have.” He giggled, rising to my challenge. I mimicked what he had done but felt nervousness flood me as his arm reached around me. Slowly but surely I backed into his body as he wrapped around me. Somehow cuddling feels even more romantic this way around, like he’s fully letting me in.
I gulped as I felt something starting to poke me in the back. I heard him take in a breath, eager to see how I’d respond. I did my best to ignore it and push back further until we were both comfortable.
“Guess things are smaller in California.” I remarked as our bodies fully met.
“Tease.” He remarked, holding me even closer.
It was a little uncomfortable for me at first, having to relax into him. Yet once I got used to it I never wanted him to let me go. It didn’t even bother me that his, well, boner was poking me. I mean that’s normal right? We’re a couple. This is what happens, isn’t it? I know he felt mine the other night, and he wasn’t weird about it, so why should I be?
Once more I found myself shutting off my mind and trying my hardest to just enjoy the moment. This is clearly what my body likes, so why should I feel bad about it? Why should I act like its wrong? How could this be wrong? It all just feels so, natural.
That night I slept the best I had in a long time. There was just something about having him hold me. Something that made me feel, at home.
“Good morning.” He held me close as my phone alarm began to sound.
“Morning.” I forced out, complacent with just spending the day in bed with him.
“How’d I do?” He eagerly asked. “You feel safe last night?”
“So safe I think you should always hold me when we cuddle.” I teased as a smile began on my face.
“You wish.” He giggled before laying a quick kiss on my cheek. “Just tell me at any point today if I’m going too far.”
“Alright.” I accepted, slowly starting to think it over. This is it, this is my first real date with another guy. I’ve gone on a date or two with girls before, but those always felt so, fake. And this, well it’s scary real. “Will people stare?” I suddenly asked.
“Maybe.” He confessed in a sigh. “Does it matter?”
“No.” I rejected, hoping I fully believed it.
“Well if people start staring, just look at me, I’ve got you.” He smiled, laying another kiss on my cheek. “Besides, maybe we’ll give them something to stare at.”
“Too far!” I teased as he finally let me go.
“And this?” He asked, climbing over and planting a kiss on my lips.
“Not far enough.” I giggled, escaping from under him and heading to one of my drawers.
It always amazed me how goofy he could be so early in the morning. It’s like he’s always just living. There’s never really a moment where he overthinks things. For better or for worse he takes advantage of every second of his day.
On the bus ride to our surprise breakfast spot Dizzy made sure to pump me full of music. I can’t say it was anything I really liked, but it was nice to see him so passionate. It’s clear he loves all types of art. From reading, to drawing, to music, it all inspires him.
“Alright,” He sighed as we stepped off of the bus. “so I’ve never actually been here.” He clarified. “But my Mom used to get me donuts from this place all the time as a kid and they’re sooo good.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.” I teased but as the small shop appeared in the distance I couldn’t help but smile.
“My Mom said the line can get pretty long, so I know another place down the street if you want.” He offered, as he saw a line wrapped around the building.
“Lines are for chumps.” I smirked as Dizzy began to smile. “Trust me. I’ll have us in and out faster than double-struck lightening.”
“Go get ‘em partner.” Dizzy laughed, in his terrible fake accent.
I felt him staying close as we pushed past the line in the doorway and into the small shop. It wasn’t anything too special, just a counter with a display case and a few tables for people to sit around it. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I saw some of the donuts in the cases. Some were decorated with chunks of chocolate bars or cereals with others were designed like famous snacks.
“I told you this place is great.” Dizzy bragged, seeing the amazement on my face. “So what’s the plan from here?”
“You’ll see.” I teased, stepping up to the case. As I got there I noticed a man in a familiar black work t-shirt rushing around the back. At first it didn’t look like he was doing much, but pretty soon it was clear he was doing almost everything at once. From checking on all the different machines around him, to running in the back and bringing out donuts, it was like he was the captain of a ship.
“Wait,” Dizzy exhaled as he finally noticed him.
“Adam!” I yelped as he passed by the case. “Adam!” I shouted a little louder, finally catching his attention.
“Yeah?” He asked, but the second he turned began to smile. “What in the hell are you doing here?”
“We decided to stop for breakfast on our way to the zoo.” I explained, taking another look around at the shop. “Dizzy’s Mom used to always bring him home donuts from here, so we figured we’d give it a try.”
“I’ve never been here before though.” Dizzy clarified, still piecing it all together. “So you like, work here?”
“I like, own it.” Adam teased, clearly enjoying the opportunity to celebrate his hard work.
“Why didn’t you tell me that?!” Dizzy exclaimed, turning towards me.
“I didn’t know you were taking me here!” I replied in a laugh. “I didn’t even know that this place was such a big deal.”
“I wouldn’t call it a big deal.” Adam swayed his head as our praise started to mount.
“Shut up, you love this.” Dizzy dismissed, looking around the case.
“I do.” He laughed as Lindsay passed behind him.
“Look who stopped by.” She remarked, looking over to me. “How are you doing hun?”
“Good, yourself?” I politely asked, as Dizzy and her made eye contact.
“Surviving.” She answered, looking at the line of people stretching out of the door.
“So what do you boys want?” Adam asked watching some of the other employees quickly trying to satisfy the line.
“Can I get the Oreo donut?” Dizzy asked as Adam reached into the case.
“Artie?” Adam asked, dropping the first donut into a bag. “We have some with fruit if you want.”
“No, I want the smores one.” I couldn’t help but smile as Adam began to laugh and grab the donut.
“So you’re a kid after all!” He teased in a yelp before handing the bag over to me.
“How much do I owe you?” Dizzy asked reaching into his pocket.
Adam made a face before waving us away. “Enjoy the Zoo.”
“No, I’ve gotta pay you something.” Dizzy insisted, unsure how to approach the situation.
“Just make sure Artie gets home safe.” He shrugged before stepping up to one of the registers and helping a customer.
“We’ll eat them on the bus there?” I asked as he nodded his head.
“Your uncles really cool, you know that?” Dizzy smiled as we made our way to a nearby bus stop.
“I know.” I proudly agreed. “He’d be even cooler if he started bringing home donuts.”
“Or if you started bringing them to me at school.” He teased, seeing what he could work out.
“Play your cards right and we’ll see.” I played along with a smile.
“I knew I dated you for a reason!” He exclaimed in a laugh. We goofed around for a few more minutes until the bus finally arrived and we started the journey to our next destination.
“How good are these donuts?” Dizzy asked as I took my first real bite. I always joke that Adam knows junk food, but oh my god! Adam really does know junk food! This is the best donut I’ve ever had! And not just because it’s covered in chocolate! “Give me a southern saying about it, let’s go.” He ordered, seeing the look of excitement on my face.
“You sure?” I asked as he quickly nodded his head. “How southern?”
“The most southern you can get without being racist.” He provoked, taking a friendly shot at my heritage.
“This is so good it’d make childbirth easy.” I forced out drawing a big laugh from him.
“That wasn’t southern, it was just weird!” He cackled, trying his hardest to keep himself under control.
“Those things get eerily close sometimes.” I shrugged with a proud smile.
He nodded and let me finish up my donut before looking back to me. “You got a little bit of chocolate right there.” He warned pointing to his lip. “Missed it.” He said pointing back to the spot, but shook his head as I wiped it once more. “Here.” He let out before leaning forward and landing a kiss on my lips. “I think I got it.”
“Sure about that?” I teased with a smile.
“I can try again if you want.” He giggled as I shook my head. “So,” He began starting to grow a little more serious. “does Adam know about us?”
“No.” I quickly shook as my smile faded.
“Not at all I take it.” He exhaled as our eyes locked.
“Nope.” I shook once more.
“You know when you’re going to tell him?” Dizzy asked lightly placing his hand on mine.
“I don’t know, when the moment feels right I guess.” I shrugged. “Back home was just so, so, homophobic. What if he held onto that piece?”
“Considering there were pride themed donuts in the case, I don’t think he did.” Dizzy quickly rejected. “But I get being scared. It’s intimidating and like nothing you’ve ever done before, but I think he’ll accept you all the same.”
“When did you tell your Mom?” I asked as he began to think.
“I was young, maybe around thirteen. I said it shortly after Ky came out and she figured I was just goofing around.” He explained finally looking back into my eyes. “Then I started mixing in some guys and she just kind of accepted it. I don’t think either of us ever really expected me to get serious with a guy though.”
“And what do you think about that now?” I asked, still feeling his hand on mine.
“I think I finally found the right one.” He smiled, before looking away.
Something about those words just captured me right back under his spell. Before I knew it I was leaning against him on the bus, patiently waiting for our stop. Even when he put music back on, he made sure to play the slow songs. He knew what kind of mood he wanted to set, and was doing everything he could to make me feel it.
Excitement for our day together seemed to surge through him even more as we reached my first street car ride. He tried his hardest to tell me they felt just like above ground subways, but I think he enjoyed the slight nervousness that infected me when we stepped on. He held me close as we took off and just like that I was reminded of the new world I lived in. I guess he was right, it was like a mix between a subway and a bus, yet it seemed so much faster! The way it zipped through the hills and streets, it just felt, magical.
When we finally arrived at the Zoo I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve been to museums and all before but never a Zoo and never something this big! Dizzy made sure to hold me close as the crowd rushed around us, but my eyes were focused on everything but the people.
“So where do you want to go first?” Dizzy asked as we reached a map. “I personally love the foxes. They’re like a cat dog hybrid!”
“They have a petting zoo?” I excitedly asked, realizing I had barely listened to what he said.
“You’re at a zoo and the first thing you see is the petting area?” Dizzy sighed with a smile.
“Well yeah, they might have farm animals and all.” I sheepishly replied as he nodded his head.
“Petting zoo it is.” He nodded before leading me to the short fences.
It took a few seconds of waiting but before I knew it we were in a pen full of chickens and some bunnies.
“These things are ugly.” Dizzy announced, taking a close look at the fat birds.
“No they’re not.” I rejected, gently starting to pet one. “They’re beautiful.”
“Weirdo.” He remarked as I carefully picked it up. Dizzy watched in amazement as the bird seemed to relax in my hands.
One of the handlers ran over to tell me to put it down, but stopped when she noticed how calm it was. “Impressive.” She encouraged.
“I worked on a farm.” I blushed, feeling the chicken ease into my arms. “Chickens are easy once you know how to work with them.”
“I agree.” She nodded as Dizzy took a closer look at the bird in my arms. “The hard part is catching them.”
“You can say that again.” I agreed as Dizzy shot us strange looks. “Or trying to avoid getting pecked by the big ones.”
“I’ve got a welt from one of the bigger ones we leave caged.” She sighed as I placed it back down. “If you’re ever unsure what you want to do when you grow up, well working here with the animals isn’t bad.”
“Yeah?” I asked, eager to hear more.
“Sure.” She nodded her head. “It doesn’t have to be cleaning up after them. You can be a vet or even just study them.”
“I’ll look into that, thank you ma’am.” I smiled, noticing Dizzy watching us closely.
“Anytime. My name is Angie, if you ever need anything feel free to come around and ask for me.” She explained. I nodded and just like that she returned to watching her chickens from a distance.
“It feels like everywhere we go you meet someone who likes you.” Dizzy smiled as our eyes connected. “I guess people just realize how special you are.”
“Smooth.” I exhaled as we made our way out of the pen. “You almost got a kiss for that one.”
“Almost.” He whined as I reached over and lightly grabbed his hand. “That works too.” He giggled.
I noticed a few people glance at our hands but no one really stared. I guess even in a place like San Francisco people still have a hard time seeing two guys together. It’s funny, just a few weeks ago I was someone who would’ve stared, but not anymore. Not now that I’ve met him.
Excitement filled Dizzy’s eyes as we finally reached the fox cages. He watched in amazement as they scurried all over the exhibit, from climbing the different rocks inside to hiding away and planning their next move.
“They remind me of you.” I suddenly began. “The way they sneak around, always planning something.”
“Is that so?” He smiled, proud of the comparison.
“Yup.” I nodded as he leaned over and quickly kissed me on the cheek.
“You liked that?” I giggled as his smile beamed from his face.
“Little bit.” He confidently nodded.
The whole trip just felt special from there. We tried our hardest to visit every single exhibit we could, or attend any show they put on. We even got to sit through a whole thing on monkeys! Dizzy tried his hardest not to tease me about it, but I could tell he was amazed when I knew nearly nothing about evolution! I had hardly even heard of it before! I was just told God created everything and it was left at that. I never even stopped to think how it happened!
The ride home we were way too tired to speak. We just rested on one another and listened to music. Yet there was still something to that silence, something pulling us together. If there were any doubts about choosing Dizzy, well there’s no way any of them survived today.
“I guess this is where we say goodbye.” Dizzy sighed as I reached inside and grabbed his bag from next to the door.
“You sure about that?” I asked with a smile.
“Unfortunately.” He groaned, throwing his back pack on. “You can always hop on Adam’s Xbox to talk to me.”
“We’ll see.” I swayed my head.
“Are you just saying that because you don’t know how to work it?” Dizzy laughed as we both grew close once more.
“Maybe.” I shrugged as our eyes seemed to lock on one another. “I don’t want to say goodbye yet.” I confessed.
“Neither do I.” He exhaled before leaning in and landing a kiss on my lips. “So let’s not say it.”
“Alright.” I nodded as he pulled away and started to walk down the stairs. “Then I’ll see you soon.”
“See you.” He reflected back, not daring to say the now forbidden word.
I rushed upstairs before Adam could see me, too giddy to hide my feelings for Dizzy. Plus, I kind of needed some time alone. I spent the new few hours just reading and letting the day hit me, until finally my mind began to turn back on.
Suddenly all my insecurities started to swarm me. My Mom didn’t raise me to go out and date guys. She didn’t raise me to live so loose and wild! I shared my bed with him twice this week! One of those nights we spent over an hour kissing! What the hell am I doing?! She passes and suddenly I go against everything I was taught?! What if being gay is wrong? Am I really going to sacrifice heaven for this?
As I felt water forming in my eyes it was hard to stop it, and before I knew it I was quietly crying to myself. I tried my hardest to calm myself down, but nothing seemed to work. The old school teachings I had repressed were finally starting to break out, and they didn’t like how I had been spending my days in San Francisco!
“Hey,” Adam lightly knocked on my door. “it was really cool seeing you at work today.” He happily spoke, not yet seeing the condition I was in. “You can stop by with your friends for breakfast whenever. It’s a really good surprise on busy days.” He encouraged but froze when he saw me wrapped up in a ball on my bed. “Woh, woh,” He quickly rushed over. “what’s the matter?”
“Nothing.” I forced out, but couldn’t hide my heavy breathing.
“I know it’s hard without her,” He began, taking a seat right next to me. “but Sarah would love to see you now. You’re on an adventure. You’re doing everything she dreamed of.”
“No she wouldn’t.” I rejected, beginning to cry harder and harder. “She would hate me!”
“Don’t say that.” He tried to comfort, hesitantly placing his arm around me. “Why, why would you even think that?” He asked but I stayed quiet. “It’s alright, you can let me in.”
“I-I, I’ve been messing around with someone.” I confessed, still trying to wrap my mind around it.
“Like I said yesterday, you’re a young man. That’s totally natural.” He supported in a loud voice.
“Not like that.” I shot down. “I, I’ve been kissing Dizzy, and we’ve been going on dates, and I just don’t know.”
“You don’t know what?” He asked, trying his hardest to act unfazed by my confession.
“I don’t know how I’ve fallen so far so fast.” I shook my head, still refusing to look up at him. “How could I do this? I know what the Bible says. I know what everyone says.”
“Hey!” Adam shouted in a strong voice, before pulling me close. “I don’t care what that book says! I don’t care what any of those backwards people say! There is nothing wrong with your feelings for Dizzy.”
“But there are.” I insisted as I began to cry even more.
“Look at me.” He insisted, trying to force my face up. “Look at me.” He repeated as he finally broke my head free and guided it up towards him. As our eyes locked I could only see emotion in his eyes. “What’s the very first thing they teach you in school?”
“I don’t know.” I shook my head.
“Well think.” He encouraged, holding me tightly.
“That, that God makes us in his image.” I guessed as he nodded his head.
“Exactly,” He shouted. “so if He makes you in His image, how could being gay be wrong? If He’s perfect and all powerful, how would He mess that up? Your sexuality, it’s given to you for a reason. It’s all just love, and if there’s a God out there, well He didn’t make love wrong.”
“But how do you know that?” I asked, still unable to calm down.
“Because Artie,” He began but hesitated. “because I’m gay.” He confessed as tears began to fall from his own eyes. “And I hated myself for so long because of it. Then, then I realized how stupid that is. That there’s no guarantee the next life even existed, so why was I letting other people tell me how to live this one?”
“That means my Mom wouldn’t talk to you because you were gay!” I pieced together as my mind wandered to the worst case scenario. “Then she would definitely hate me!”
“Don’t say that!” He warned once more. “She could never hate you Arthur. I, I don’t know what happened with her towards the end of her life, but she left you with me. That’s not something she would’ve done if she hated gay people” He tried to comfort. “Maybe she didn’t understand it, but she got over it. I know she did.”
I nodded but let myself fall into his arms as my tears continued to fall. “I don’t deserve to have you Adam.” I shook my head once more. “Why do I get this?”
“Why don’t you deserve this?” He asked, trying to stay on top of his own tears. “You’ve been through so much pain lately, you deserve every second of happiness you’re getting.”
“I don’t know.” I shook my head. “Some people don’t even get this lucky once, how is it fair I’m getting it all?”
“Because you deserve it all, okay?” He tried to hammer into my head. “You didn’t get lucky with this, I did.”
“What?” I asked, looking up to him.
“I-I forgot how much Sarah meant to me, but when she passed,” He paused as his tears began to fall faster. “it just all seemed to come back to me. Every single moment with her came back to me. She was the best big sister I ever could’ve asked for. If I could change anything in my life, it’s losing contact with her. I miss her so god damn much Artie.” He confessed, now nearly as hysterical as me.
“And to be honest,” He began once more. “I completely forgot about you. Somewhere in the shuffle of everything, I just forgot my nephew existed.” He exhaled in a broken breath. “Then, then I walked into the wake and I saw you standing there, and it was just like a piece of her had survived. It was like I still had her around.” He shook his head. “And when the lawyer said she left you to me, I panicked, I almost didn’t take you, but I’m so glad I did and that will never change.”
“I’m glad you did too.” I forced out as he pulled me in close. “I love you.”
“I love you too Artie.” He comforted, beginning to rub my back. “I promise your sexuality will never change that. I promise everything will work out. I promise you’ll always have a family.”
We stayed in that embrace for as long we needed until we were both able to clean ourselves up. He promised he’d open up a little more in the morning if I promised to as well. Something about that moment, it formed a bond between us that can never be broken. Out of all my family that’s left, he’s the only one I want, and somehow that feels like more than enough.