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    Parker Owens
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

A to Z - 30. Chapter 30 - Spotted

Spotted

No special warnings for this chapter.

Questions and issues raised in this chapter or any other chapter can be discussed at the A to Z story thread here: http://www.gayauthors.org/forums/topic/40860-a-to-z/

October 3 -

Today was full of surprises. Not necessarily good ones.

OK, one was good.  My new advanced math class?  Mrs. Gersheimer is the teacher. She wasn’t trying to get rid of me after all.

The bad surprise?

Lunch Boy.  He’s in my class.  When I walked in, I noticed him. Second row, far right.  Fortunately, it’s a smaller class, so I was able to grab an empty seat in the far back on the left, about as far away from him as possible.  He didn’t see me.

I began to have this wild hope that I could just keep real quiet, and maybe Lunch Boy would never know I was in his class.

That is, until Mrs. G. had to give it all away five minutes later.

“Andrew, what do you think? What’s the problem with this solution?” she had asked, pointing at the board. 

I spoke without thinking.  I mean, it wasn’t a really tough problem, and the error was obvious.

“I think the mistake is in the third line down,” I began. “It’s…” 

I faltered when fifteen heads turned to look at the scruffy idiot sitting in the back. I swallowed hard, and continued.

“…a problem with the square root there.”

I forget what Mrs. G had to say about that.  I can’t remember much about the rest of the period, at all, really. But I couldn’t help seeing Lunch Boy’s eyes go really wide when he saw me in the back. What was he thinking? Disgust? Disappointment? I couldn’t really tell, because he looked away again. In any case, I’d been noticed and that’s always bad. 

I wondered whether he was planning something nasty for me. For the rest of class, I saw Lunch Boy sneak quick looks in my direction. It wouldn’t be the first time I became the target of the beautiful people.

Suddenly, this class move seemed like a bad idea.

At the end of the period, Mrs. G called me up to her desk. I’d been expecting that.

“Andrew, I’m so glad you switched.  You’ll give some of the others a real run for their money. Now I’ll need you to do some of the assignments you’ve missed…”

She spent the next few minutes giving me a list of problem sets for me to do. I tried to concentrate on what she was saying.  It didn’t seem like too much extra work, but I was anxious to get to my new art class.  I nodded, wrote down what she told me to do, collected a new textbook, and hurried out the door.

My new Art class was different – and I got a new teacher. He’s an older man, with a great beak of a nose and glasses. Short, powerfully built. He’s got wild grey hair, like Albert Einstein or Beethoven, or someone like that.

“Adriano Karpus, at your service,” he addressed me when I walked in. I showed him my new schedule.

“Aaah, you’re the new boy I was told about.  Right.  So, Andrew, this is an advanced class,” he explained quietly.  The hush in the room was a real contrast with the gabble that prevailed in my last art class. 

“I agreed to give you the basic work as an independent study as a favor to Mrs. Gersheimer, you understand?”

I hadn’t known, but I understood.  I nodded.

“Good.  Now, this is what I’d like you to do…”  and he was off, giving me my instructions for the next few days.

 I wasn’t expecting another surprise.

Lunch Boy.  Again.

He was bent over something at his table by the window, so he didn’t notice me at all. Fine by me. I was told to continue working on my sketches as before. I got assigned to a new place at the other end of the room, out of Lunch Boy’s line of sight. After glancing around nervously for a little while, I found I could get just as lost in my little sketches as in the other class.

At least this was the last class of the day; I could duck out quickly and hide in the Library all afternoon.

 

October 9

God what a week.

Not the schoolwork itself; that’s still going OK. I’m holding my own with Mrs. Landon in History, and Mr. Warfield in English is tough, but fair. Maybe my writing will improve.  I doubt it.  I’m just about caught up in Advanced Trig.

It’s the tension that’s a real killer.  I think chatty Terry is going to haul me off to her table in the cafeteria by force if she has to.  This is stupid.  I wonder if I can switch Physics classes. How can she not see that I’m just not a friendly person? At least she’s moved on from the whole girlfriend thing.  Now she wants to know what I think of this or that thing on TV. Or what music I like. Or the movies playing. Or whatever.

Sometimes I think it’s a game to her. Maybe she’s trying to draw me out, make me talk. Or maybe she’s working on becoming an interrogator for the FBI.  Maybe she’s just trying to drive me crazy. 

Then there’s the chore of keeping out of Lunch Boy’s way. We have two classes together. I still don’t know his name. I’ve tried to catch it, but I’ve had no success. In any case, I can just about manage to avoid him through lunch, but there is no getting out of Trig or art class. In math, he knows I’m there. When I got there before him on Wednesday, he came in and nodded to me, carefully. Was that a warning? Good thing I can avoid the parking lot after school. I have an advantage in math class, because I sit behind him.  He has to turn to look at me, whereas I can gaze at him all I want. And despite the danger, he is still really, really beautiful. 

In a way, it’s almost funny what happened this week in Mr. Karpus’s art class on Friday.

I happened to look up and saw Lunch Boy staring.  He just sat there and gaped at me from across the room.  The look of disbelief on his face was almost worth the dodge-and-hustle of the past week. I could be wrong, but I don’t think he’d seen I was there for a whole week. Did he think I was stalking him?

Well, now he knows I’m in his art class, so I’m going to have to keep my eye out for him. Maybe once Homecoming is over I can let my guard down a little. It’s exhausting to know you could be a target every second of the day.

 

October 12

It had to happen sometime. We had to meet. All my best efforts at being invisible wasted.

He knows my name.

Yesterday, I followed my routine. I’ve been tired lately.  Maybe it has something to do with all the raking I did for Mrs. Marjorie and the Abbotts last weekend.  Maybe it’s because I haven’t been sleeping well.  A combination of hard floor and bad dreams will do that.

Anyhow, like an idiot, I decided to skip a shower last night and tried to get to sleep early. I thought I’d get up refreshed, and sneak down to the showers before anyone was here this morning. Instead, I overslept.

I packed up some clean clothes with my books and took off for the locker room.  I didn’t see anyone in the halls. Once inside, I slipped into the shower booth, slid the latch to lock it, and stripped. Once I was naked, I felt safer behind a lock.  The hot water felt so good, but I tried to wash quickly.  I knew I needed to get some breakfast, and time was a little short.

I shut off the water and reached for my towel.

I shivered. It’s always cold. I’m convinced that the locker rooms are heated by showers and sweaty athletes, not a furnace.  I hurried to get dressed. Then I heard them. I held my breath.

Voices entering the locker room – quiet, conversational – footsteps. Rustling clothes. Nobody looking for a spook living in the school. OK, time for me to take a deep breath. Stay focused. The plan: finish dressing. Stuff in the backpack.  Then just walk out and pretend that this is perfectly normal.  I could pull that off, couldn’t I?

I opened the stall door and stepped out.  The voices stilled.

There he was. Lunch Boy. Sitting on the center bench in the locker room, untying his sneakers. His shirt was off. Oh, God, he’s just incredibly beautiful. Perfect, milky skin.  I could see muscles on his flanks. He was like some classic statue sitting there in the steamy room.  His pal, the Giant, stood nearby at a locker. 

All three of us froze, looking at each other, for just a moment. The tall boy broke the awkward silence.

“Hey, how ya doing this morning?” he greeted me, his face breaking into a friendly smile.

“Fine, thanks,” I just about whispered.

About the only consolation I had was that Lunch Boy’s eyes were wider than mine. He appeared to be as speechless as I was.

The Giant either didn’t notice our mutual surprise or chose to ignore it. Still smiling, he stepped toward me, and stuck out his hand.  I couldn’t help flinching for an instant.

“I don’t think I know you.  You’re new this year, right? I’m Kaz.”

I nodded, my voice lost. Finally, I got it working again.

“I’m Andy,” I returned quietly, tentatively putting out my hand.

Kaz the Giant immediately engulfed it and pumped it vigorously.

“Andy, I’m glad to meet you,” he said with a wide grin, “and this here is Zander, my running buddy.”

I turned to Lunch Boy. Zander.  He has a name.  His name is Zander, and he’s seriously hot. And he’s looking at me. I suddenly lost my voice again.

“Hi,” he said very quietly, raising a hand.

“Hey.”

An awkward pause.

"So you getting in an early workout?" Kaz brought us back to earth.

"Um, yeah. Something like that."  Come on, voice. You can do it. Speak, don't croak.

“Hey, that's great. Say, you don’t like to run, do you?” Kaz inquired brightly.

This must have been some inside joke with the two of them. The question brought a quiet snort of laughter from Lunch Boy – I mean, Zander – and the tension eased.

“Kaz!  Not everyone on the planet loves running, like you,” Zander laughed.

But Kaz wasn’t put off and asked again. “We go for a run just about every morning before school. What about you?  Do you ever go running?”

“No,” I admitted.

“Why not?” he asked in genuine surprise.  Kaz the Giant just didn’t like ‘no’ as an answer.

Time for a shrug.

“No running shoes,” I said, making an excuse. I felt suddenly embarrassed.

I'd made a truthful answer.  I looked down at my big farm boots.  I have sneakers for gym, bought at the thrift store at great expense to my cash stash.  But I’m no runner, anyhow.

“Kaz! Leave the poor guy alone, will you?” Zander interceded.

It was time for me to get out. Zander the Lunch Boy made my face flush and my heart race. Couldn’t he hear it drumming away on the inside of my ribs? I felt nervous and self-conscious and no way was I going to hang out and have him figure out how stupid and poor and dirty I am.

I moved to go.

“See you guys later.  Nice to meet you.”

Escape accomplished.

As I sat down to a cafeteria breakfast, with my heart rate returning to normal, I realized a miracle had just occurred. 

I’d been in the same room with Zander – the Lunch Boy I’d been avoiding for weeks – and I’d escaped without violence, without injury or ridicule. At least for that one encounter.  Kaz the Giant had been downright friendly, and while Zander might have been a little standoffish, he hadn’t been hostile.

And he is so, so gorgeous.

 

October 13

So, this Homecoming crap is getting out of hand.  Today, after school, there is supposed to be a big parade in town.  I guess the student council and the football team and everyone drive cars and floats and stuff down Main Street.  They’re even letting us out early for this. 

Not that I have any intention of going. 

And I’m not going to the big dance on Saturday after the big game.  Ugh. Big parade, big game, big dance.  I just don’t feel like I’m a part of this. 

Terry asked me who I was taking to the dance today. Again.  I tried to ignore the question, but she persisted.

“Come on, Andy, I’m not going to tell anyone.”

I shrugged for the thousandth time.

“Look, I know you’re new, so if you need a date, I could probably…”

She trailed off as she met my long, steady stare.  Really?  Trying to fix me up?  I shook my head.

“You are going, aren’t you?”

Shrug.

“Well, what about the game?  Where are you going to sit?”

Shrug.

“You could come and sit with me and my friends.  There’s a space for you if you want it.”

Shrug.  I know she was trying – really, really hard – to be friendly.  But I know who her friends are:  Kaz, who is even more outgoing than Terry, and Zander Lunch Boy, who is way, way too dangerous.

I’m still avoiding Zander. I still have to stay out of his way, out of sight. A smile from him, and I’d be a goner – all my shrugs and defenses would be useless, and he’d have me telling him anything in seconds.  I can’t let him find out my secrets. That I’m wanted for murder. That I’m homeless. Or gay.  God, the bulge in my jeans will give that part away if I spend more than a minute in the same room with him.

It’s been hard to keep out of sight for some reason.  I see him in corridors that he didn’t use last week, or in places I thought he didn’t go between classes.  I duck away before he can spot me.  I’ve made sure to shower in the dead of night, so I don’t run into him in the locker room again.

At lunch or in class, I try not to stare, but I can’t help trying to memorize the details of what he looks like. Dark brown hair, deep brown eyes.  Wide shoulders, narrow hips. He’s not scrawny like me, but he’s nowhere near bulky like some of the people I've seen this summer.  His arms have some serious muscle, I can tell.  He must do something besides running.

There are more important things.  A friendly face. A broad smile.

At other times, it really doesn’t matter that I can’t see him.  I see his face at night in the dark of the library, and when I stretch out on the closet floor to sleep. I see it on the computer screen in class, and in the reflection in the windows as the sun goes down.

Ugh. I know I’m hopelessly crushing on Zander. I want him to forget I exist, yet I also want to be near to him.  I can’t help trying to watch him when I see him. It’s a kind of itch I can’t help trying to scratch.  I know I have to stop, or I’m going to get really badly hurt.

Today, in art, he passed my table where I was working. I looked up from the shadow on my paper.

“Hey Andy,” he smiled quietly. And walked on.

I had trouble concentrating for the rest of the period.

(***)

 

You don’t forget the moment you finally come out.  When you finally admit to another person that you’re different. That you’re gay.  My friends were insistent – they wanted to know who I was taking to the Homecoming Dance.  Terry was getting warmed up, arming herself with a list of last-minute dates she could call on to bail me out.  But I wasn’t going. There weren’t going to be any more lies, no more masquerades.  That didn’t mean there had to be an announcement – just that they could go to the dance without yours truly. Terry finally got pissed at me when it really sunk in.  Kaz just looked at the two of us helplessly, wondering how to make peace.

And then there was Mom and Dad. They had to get in on the torture, too.

“What time does the Homecoming Dance begin?  Will you be out late?” Mom asked at supper.

“No idea.  I’m not going.”

“Not going?  Why not?  Forget to round up a date?” That was Dad, trying to be funny.

“No.  Just not going.”  I stared down at my plate, mulishly.

“Really? You had such a good time last year,” Mom persisted. Why couldn’t she just give it a rest?

“Yeah, well, that was last year.”

“I’m sure Terry could fix you up with a girl, if you asked,” she went on, as if I hadn’t said anything. And Terry’s penchant for matchmaking is, well, legendary.  “Surely, there must be some girl you want to take.”

There’s probably a reason why this was the moment I snapped.  All summer, the subtle pressure to find a girl, to get interested again in a girl, to be straight, to be normal, had built. All through the hot summer months, I fought the urge to stare at all the bare male flesh at the pool. All fall, I’d been captivated by the single most beautiful boy I’d ever seen, who I couldn’t seem to get anywhere close to. And against all this played the hints, the expectations to fill – from friends, from my parents – be straight, be straight, be straight - the stress of it was getting impossible to bear.  This was it.

“…there must be some girl you want to take.” Echoed in my head.

I slammed the table with my hand.  The forks and knives jumped. “NO! Get it through your skull. I don’t want to take a girl to Homecoming!”

Stunned silence greeted my outburst.  Did I just shout at my Mom? Nobody talks to my parents that way.  Least of all, me. Instantly, I regretted losing my temper. Mom just got under my skin, with all the girlfriend crap.  She just sat there, mouth open, unable to say anything. Dad, eyes narrowed, considering. No one said anything.

It was Dad, who broke the long stillness with a quiet question.  “Perhaps…is there a…boy… you’d like to take instead?”

How the hell did he know?  What made him ask that? I stared at the table. It didn’t matter now.  No lies.  No hiding.

Slowly, I nodded, tears forming, then rolling down my face.

Mom gasped. Another shock, bigger than the first. 

“I see,” was all Dad said, very softly.

What else was there to say?  And now, I’d probably lost them.

“I’m sorry. I'm sorry. I’m gay, and I can’t help it. Please…please…don’t…please don’t hate me.  I’m sorry!”  I began to sob, sitting there at the table, with my half eaten dinner in front of me. Tears blurred my vision. 

Then I felt it.  A warm hand taking mine. Dad.  It was easy to tell by the feel of his big, strong hand.

“There’s no chance of that,” he said steadily, “you’re my son.  I love you.”

A chair scraped. A warm hug enveloped me.  Mom.  She was crying, too, holding me, rocking me back and forth.

“My poor boy.  My baby, boy.  I love you. I’m so sorry, so sorry…”

By the time the tears dried up, we were all emotionally wrecked. We cleared up dinner in near monastic silence. I went to bed early but not before Mom stopped in the bedroom door. She hovered there, arms crossed. She cleared her throat.

“Zander? Can I say something?" She paused a moment. Then she went on, speaking softly. "I want to say I'm sorry. I’m sorry that, as your mother, I didn’t let you feel safe enough to…to tell us.  That I must have pressured you to be someone you weren’t.”

What can you do but hug your Mom when she says something like that? 

“It’s okay, Mom,” I murmured into her hair as we embraced, “as long as you still love me, it’s okay.”

And it was okay. A little weird for a while, but basically, okay. The hard part was going to be telling my closest friends.

(***)

 

October 17

I’m cold.  I’ve been cold for days.  I think I’m going to be cold forever.

I spent Friday night – late – doing my homework, after everyone else had finished the preparations for the big dance on Saturday evening.  I spent Saturday working for Mrs. M and the Abbotts.  It was chilly and rainy Saturday, and by late afternoon, I was pretty wet.  I’d raked leaves outside for much of the day, and my thin denim jacket really wasn’t keeping me warm, even though I wore a t-shirt and a flannel shirt underneath. I was just as glad to keep out of the way of Homecoming festivities.  I missed the big game; I was working.

The trouble started when I walked back to the school after finishing up at the Abbott’s.  The game and the dance meant that I couldn’t sneak back into the school building. In the late afternoon, there were monitors at the locker room doors, and the other doors were locked. Later, after dark, there were too many people streaming into the building – teachers, students, and so on. Most were in formal clothes – nothing like anything I’d wear – I’d have stood out like a sore thumb in my damp clothes trying to get in the building.  I realized too late that I’d planned this badly. I’d hoped to get warm in my tight little closet, and rummage for something to eat in my pack. Instead, I wandered around town, hungry and shivering, trying find a dry place to hole up for the night. I finally made my way down to the park near the river.

I spent a bad night in the bushes, near my original spot from six weeks ago.

It was a lot colder Saturday night than when I limped into town back in August. Besides, a number of kids fetched up in the picnic shelters near my hiding spot around midnight after the dance must have finished, passing beer and who knows what else between them. They had a grand old time until the cops came and broke up their fun.

I slept badly under the dripping branches of an evergreen, getting wet and muddy from sitting on the ground. If that weren’t bad enough, Uncle Ray featured prominently in a terrible dream where I was being chased down a long hall and…the rest is too awful to write about.

I must have been quite a sight on Sunday – yesterday - morning, and I hesitated about getting up and walking around.  If I hadn’t left my backpack in its Library closet hiding place on Saturday morning, I might seriously have chosen this moment to get out of Blackburn and head south.

For a few minutes, I considered trying to slip into one of the many churches in town.  They’d be warm, at least.  However, as it was Sunday, there was no chance I’d get into a church without being seen. I realized, in my current state, I’d create a sensation, or I’d be thrown out for being the smelly, homeless bum that I am.  Someone might even call the police, or social services.  No way. Wet and miserable, I took the long trek to the grocery store, taking back streets as much as I knew how. 

There, at least, I was able to cash my checks for working the day before.  I immediately used the proceeds to buy something to eat. I found the restroom and tried to clean up a little.  I still looked like hell.

I tried to dawdle as long as I could in the Price SavR, but I had to leave before anyone took much notice of me and began to wonder. 

Back out in the misting rain again, I decided to explore further away from town.  I knew there was a big box store on the bypass road. It turned out to be a pretty good place to hang out unnoticed for much of the day. 

Later in the afternoon, I tried going back to the school another time, only to get wet and cold all over again. Finally, I had an idea. I remembered that my first day in Blackburn began in a little barn not far out of town.  Why I didn’t think of it sooner, I don’t know, but then, I’ve always been stupid.

I turned my footsteps that way. 

I walked along the road running east outside of town, trying to remember the house. I eventually spotted it, and the barn behind.  However, I couldn’t just march into the barn and find a spot next to the animals.  Instead, I retraced my steps and crept through the remains of the tall grass well away from the house and into the woods behind the barn. As dusk approached, I was able to enter the gated pen for the animals out of sight of the house and creep up to the barn.

I listened for sounds of anyone within.  Silence. I peeked around the side of the barn; I remembered a side door giving animals access. In the fading light, I scuttled into the barn and into shelter. 

This time, I had no pack, and no flashlight.  I knew I had to hurry to use what little light I had left. I set my watch alarm for very early in the morning today, so I could walk back to school and get an early shower. I did my best to hide in the hay. As I fell asleep, I remember thinking that the pile was a lot lower than I remembered it from my previous stay.

I had good dreams for once. Dad and Uncle Ray must have been haunting someone else last night. Instead, I had that dream where I felt someone holding me close, arms wrapped around me. This time, it was so real, I could have sworn I felt a kiss on the back of my neck. I woke from that dream as my alarm went off, and I didn’t want to stir from my warm spot in the hay. But I couldn’t do that.  I knew that I had to be out of the barn and away before anyone stirred in the house. 

The llamas and goats and barn cats moved away warily as I rose, blundering in the darkness.  Retracing yesterday’s steps, I made my way outside. At least the rain had stopped.  The sky was clear, and it had turned colder still. Turning up the collar on my still-damp jacket didn’t do much to keep off the chill. Taking no chances, I circled around the back to the road and glanced at my watch.

I knew the precise moment the janitors would open the school, and I wanted to slip in unnoticed for a quick shower. Hopefully, I wouldn’t encounter Zander and his friend Kaz the Giant again.  I figured they would be spent from their weekend of partying and celebration.

Well, I got my hot shower.  I was almost warm for the first time in two days. But Kaz and Zander entered the locker room just as I was leaving.  Clearly, Homecoming did not mean a break from running in the morning.

Kaz broke into a wide grin the moment he saw me. Zander, on the other hand, looked unhappy.  He looked tense.  He looked like I always felt when I knew I had to go home to Dad and face a beating.

“Hey, Andy, how’s life?” Kaz hailed me, oblivious of his friend’s obvious discomfort. How could he not notice?

“Hi,” was all I could manage. Like the coward I am, I walked past them and out the door. 

I wanted to linger with them.  I wanted to take the time to be friendly.  OK, I wanted to spend time with Zander. He looked so down, I wanted to give him a hug and tell him that whatever was bothering him would be all right.  He needed comforting, and I wanted to be the one to do it.

But that’s ridiculous, of course.

 

My deep appreciation to Craftingmom for her kind and patient editing for this and every chapter.

Please leave a review. Comments of all stripes and varieties are welcome.

Copyright © 2016 Parker Owens; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Another nail biter chapter. I was almost hoping Andy would get sick from being so cold, then he would be forced to deal with his situation. Now there is Zander who is nervous about telling his friends he is gay. Perhaps the two boys will get together soon to compare notes! It seems Andy is slowly coming out of his shell. Another very good chapter..

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On 11/24/2015 05:13 AM, slapshot said:

Another nail biter chapter. I was almost hoping Andy would get sick from being so cold, then he would be forced to deal with his situation. Now there is Zander who is nervous about telling his friends he is gay. Perhaps the two boys will get together soon to compare notes! It seems Andy is slowly coming out of his shell. Another very good chapter..

Thank you for reading and reviewing! Andy is nervous as hell about being spotted, and yet drawn to Zander like a moth to a flame. He's got to be wondering if he's about to get burned again. But it's so damn hard to resist the urge to crush on someone, isn't it?

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This was a fantastic and long awaited chapter Parker!

 

Zander fleshed out. All his insecurities. I'm suspicious that this Monday is the day he comes out to his friend ...more reason for his mood, which Andy picked right up on.

 

Andy showing concern for Zander. That's big!!

 

The boys are locked into two classes and the morning shower room. It'll happen. We can certainly sense it coming. Who will break their shyness and insecurity first? A good question. All the money will be on Zander, but I don't know. I guess I usually bet on the dark horse ...hehe.

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On 11/24/2015 06:10 AM, skinnydragon said:

This was a fantastic and long awaited chapter Parker!

 

Zander fleshed out. All his insecurities. I'm suspicious that this Monday is the day he comes out to his friend ...more reason for his mood, which Andy picked right up on.

 

Andy showing concern for Zander. That's big!!

 

The boys are locked into two classes and the morning shower room. It'll happen. We can certainly sense it coming. Who will break their shyness and insecurity first? A good question. All the money will be on Zander, but I don't know. I guess I usually bet on the dark horse ...hehe.

Well. Now at least there is something to be thankful for around the Turkey. Andy is still the more deeply anxious and wary of the two, perhaps - but he has very good reason for this. And even if - if - Andy and Zander manage to talk at all, it will take a long time for Andy to trust, as we've seen already. Rejection, or even the hint of that, would hurt him deeply.

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I was really glad to see that Andy had the same math teacher, simply because the poor kid misunderstood that entire situation and took her trying to help his education to progress further as a rejection of him. He needs some kind of positive reinforcement, and I think that may have helped him a little to realize she wasn't rejecting him as her student.

 

Also, I was glad to see people being genuinely friendly with him, and trying to make an effort to get to know him better. The one thing that truly separates Andy from his peers is the fact that his life is a lot more complicated than theirs. They were dressed up for a dance and out partying while he was struggling to make money, stay warm, and slept under a bush. His reality is so much more harsh than theirs. I do wonder, even if he's ever able to feel safe enough to talk about himself, if he'll have trouble relating to anyone who tries to be his friend.

 

I'm definitely enjoying how things are progressing and can't wait to see how those two boys end up interacting with each other. One thing I like about Andy, is that deep down inside he still has a friendly spirit. He might be afraid of getting hurt, but he still was friendly and courteous with the boys trying to say hi to him.

 

Anyway, great chapter as always, both lighthearted and sad at the same time.

Edited by spikey582
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On 11/24/2015 07:08 AM, spikey582 said:

I was really glad to see that Andy had the same math teacher, simply because the poor kid misunderstood that entire situation and took her trying to help his education to progress further as a rejection of him. He needs some kind of positive reinforcement, and I think that may have helped him a little to realize she wasn't rejecting him as her student.

 

Also, I was glad to see people being genuinely friendly with him, and trying to make an effort to get to know him better. The one thing that truly separates Andy from his peers is the fact that his life is a lot more complicated than theirs. They were dressed up for a dance and out partying while he was struggling to make money, stay warm, and slept under a bush. His reality is so much more harsh than theirs. I do wonder, even if he's ever able to feel safe enough to talk about himself, if he'll have trouble relating to anyone who tries to be his friend.

 

I'm definitely enjoying how things are progressingo and can't wait to see how those two boys end up interacting with each other. One thing I like about Andy, is that deep down inside he still has a friendly spirit. He might be afraid of getting hurt, but he still was friendly and courteous with the boys trying to say hi to him.

 

Anyway, great chapter as always, both lighthearted and sad at the same time.

Thank you very much for your thought and insights. You're absolutely right that Andy has to work at relating to people. He's just not used to it. Eustace was good for him that way, but he wasn't a kid. It will take a long time for Andy to feel safe enough to confide in anyone. Safety and trust can take a long time to develop. And maybe Andy will take Mrs. G at face value now - maybe he really gets she was trying to compliment him on his intelligence.

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I really liked the way you wrote the scene where Zander came out to his parents - very touching and heartwarming. Sadly, lots of parents don't react that way.

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On 11/24/2015 11:18 AM, Diogenes said:

I really liked the way you wrote the scene where Zander came out to his parents - very touching and heartwarming. Sadly, lots of parents don't react that way.

No. Very sadly, no. Andy discovered that the hard way. But it's what I would want for every kid who has to go through it. And thank you especially for that comment, because I had difficulty writing that portion - trying to balance emotions, and avoiding too much saccharine. Wish Andy had been as lucky.

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This story just keeps getting better and better. :) I knew that LB - Zander - would be in Andy's new classes. ;) The tension you're building between them is perfect. I can't wait until they actually have a real conversation. Great job, Parker. :)

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Even though, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, I was very happy that Andy managed another two weeks. He is being successful in his classes too so that is so good for him. Unfortunate though, he had to sleep outdoors and in the barn. But hadn't that happened, he would've missed Zander. At least they're exchanging stunted hellos. He is trying to remain invisible and fighting this pull to Zander at the same time, poor guy. People seem to be drawn to him though, to want to be his friend. Obviously there is something about him, but as much as he may want to there's no way he's going to let anyone in just yet.
Zander is feeling anxious about coming out to his friends, but I dare say it will go well. I look forward to how that goes as well as his and Andy's next meetings.
Zander's parents were stellar.
Great job Parker.

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On 11/24/2015 01:26 PM, Defiance19 said:

Even though, I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, I was very happy that Andy managed another two weeks. He is being successful in his classes too so that is so good for him. Unfortunate though, he had to sleep outdoors and in the barn. But hadn't that happened, he would've missed Zander. At least they're exchanging stunted hellos. He is trying to remain invisible and fighting this pull to Zander at the same time, poor guy. People seem to be drawn to him though, to want to be his friend. Obviously there is something about him, but as much as he may want to there's no way he's going to let anyone in just yet.

Zander is feeling anxious about coming out to his friends, but I dare say it will go well. I look forward to how that goes as well as his and Andy's next meetings.

Zander's parents were stellar.

Great job Parker.

As I said to Diogenes, I wish every kid in Zander's situation had parents as understanding as his turned out to be. Andy's dad sure wasn't. Though Andy and Zander now know one another's names, it's a long way before Andy will be able to trust anyone, I think. Thank you so much for your reading and insight. This was a hard chapter to write.

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On 11/24/2015 12:56 PM, Valkyrie said:

This story just keeps getting better and better. :) I knew that LB - Zander - would be in Andy's new classes. ;) The tension you're building between them is perfect. I can't wait until they actually have a real conversation. Great job, Parker. :)

Oh, thank you for you kind words. You predicted they'd be in class together, so kudos in your direction. Hope this chapter was worth the read and the wait. For Andy, he must feel terribly nervous, terribly exposed. Someone knows his name, someone he's afraid of, even if that fear is irrational. I really appreciate your sticking with the story through its bleak chapters.

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Nice so we see Zander made whole.. and coming out. Nice parental reaction.
Andy wanting to hang with Zander and the Giant, that's kinda cool. Maybe Zander's gaydar is working... hmmm
nice chapter, Parker
tim

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On 11/26/2015 12:15 PM, Mikiesboy said:

Nice so we see Zander made whole.. and coming out. Nice parental reaction.

Andy wanting to hang with Zander and the Giant, that's kinda cool. Maybe Zander's gaydar is working... hmmm

nice chapter, Parker

tim

Sorry I missed this one...Zander's gaydar may be pinging away, though he probably doesn't know enough to call it that. Yes, it's almost a relief that they can actually be together for a few moments....thank you always for reading and sticking with them...

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On 11/26/2015 09:53 PM, Puppilull said:

The scene with Zander's parents made me all teary eyed. I would have hugged his mom too.

Mom and dad were the ideal, I think. I hope every kid in the same situation can have parents like those. I found that a very difficult scene to write, and it went through a number of edits and re-edits before it ever got anywhere near my editor..,,thanks so much for your reactions and review...

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"It’s exhausting to know you could be a target every second of the day." That one line is a stroke of genius on your part--a perfect summary to the caged, trapped boy's life. But, with Andy now meeting Zander, his classes giving him some self-esteem, and his weekend jobs taking money pressures away, I'm hoping this is the start of a turnaround. Hell, I'm exhausted from just reading all this stuff about Andy--imagine having to live it!
As for Zander, he's certainly diving into the coming out process. Not only did he surprise his folks (who were absolutely model parents on this!), but he's moving forward quickly to tell his friends. I'm hoping that all goes well, especial with Zak, since he seems to be perhaps his closest friend.
I'm all out of "likes" today (10 chapters at once will do that!) but this chapter deserves it. You covered a lot of territory in just one entry--and perhaps shown a turning point in Andy's life.
Incredible job!

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On 01/24/2016 08:09 AM, Robert Rex said:

"It’s exhausting to know you could be a target every second of the day." That one line is a stroke of genius on your part--a perfect summary to the caged, trapped boy's life. But, with Andy now meeting Zander, his classes giving him some self-esteem, and his weekend jobs taking money pressures away, I'm hoping this is the start of a turnaround. Hell, I'm exhausted from just reading all this stuff about Andy--imagine having to live it!

As for Zander, he's certainly diving into the coming out process. Not only did he surprise his folks (who were absolutely model parents on this!), but he's moving forward quickly to tell his friends. I'm hoping that all goes well, especial with Zak, since he seems to be perhaps his closest friend.

I'm all out of "likes" today (10 chapters at once will do that!) but this chapter deserves it. You covered a lot of territory in just one entry--and perhaps shown a turning point in Andy's life.

Incredible job!

I thank you for your very kind comments, especially after a multi-chapter binge. You may not recall this, but you were one of the he first to welcome me to GA. I appreciate that, and I appreciate your insights and thoughts about Stefan-Eric-Andy's life. It's hard enough just realizing the poor kid has had three different names in six months. The good part in all your observations is that Andy (for we must call him Andy now) has stayed put for the longest time since he fled Carlsberg. Many thanks to you for your reviews and most especially for your reading Andy's story.

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I want to say I'm sorry that Andy had to sleep outside in the rain with nowhere to go since the school was off limits on Saturday because of the homecoming dance. At least Andy now knows that the lunch boy is Zander and he now has 2 classes with him and Andy's still afraid to say more than a few words to him. I hope that Andy will realize that not everyone is like his dad was, and that he can relax a bit and enjoy his time in Blackburn isn't so bad. He's doing good in school especially since he moved to the advanced class for math and art even though he's still doing the work in the lower art class as the move to this art class was a favor to his math teacher. He's ran into Zander and Kaz twice now when he's gone to the locker room for a shower before school starts for the day. Andy needs to find some courage and try to start making a few friends and then he'd see that people aren't the same everywhere he goes. Andy keeps trying to put himself down and hasn't grasped the idea of getting praise for working hard in everything he does, like working at Mrs Marjorie's house on Saturday and now because of the work ethic that he has, he's picked up another house that needs to be taken care of because the couple have no children to do it for them. I like the reaction Zander got when he got upset when his mom kept saying something about him not going to the homecoming dance and that Terry could probably set him up with a girl to go to the dance with. Zander finally spoke up and said he didn't want to go with any girl to the dance and then he apologized for yelling at his mom and then his dad said maybe there was a boy he wants to go with instead, he broke down then and said that he was gay and he was sorry that he was and asked his parents to not hate him because he was gay. The first one to say anything was his dad and that he wasn't angry with him and that he loved him no matter what his preference is and then his mom said the almost same thing as his dad had. The chapter was written very well, there aren't many parents today that would have the same reaction to Zander being gay as his parents were. 

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@Butcher56 Thanks again for commenting so thoroughly. It is indeed a long way for Andy to come when he realizes that not every adult, not every man, is like his father. He learned that from Eustace Whitley, and maybe now he is realizing the truth of it. And now Lunch Boy has a name; and he knows Andy's, too. What a pity he could not know Zander's mind as well as his name. But he would surely have envied Zander for his parents' response to Zander's coming out.

 

Thanks very much for your reading of the journal, and for your comments.

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Zander's coming out to his parents brought tears to my eyes. Andy is slowly coming out of his shell. So we now know why Andy and Zander are shy, I wonder how long before they talk.

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1 hour ago, chris191070 said:

Zander's coming out to his parents brought tears to my eyes. Andy is slowly coming out of his shell. So we now know why Andy and Zander are shy, I wonder how long before they talk.

Andy is beginning to trust, just a little bit. Yes, now we know why Zander has been shy, and may remain so. Andy is unlikely to initiate any conversation, as it would be far too dangerous. And yet, he must yearn for it, too. Thanks for continuing to read, and for your comments.

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44 minutes ago, CincyKris said:

Zander!!!  The title makes perfect sense now!  

:) I'm so happy you kept reading Andy's journal - so that the title makes some kind of sense. Thank you!

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